Brainiac On Banjo: The Washington Comic Book Caucus?

Who was it that set up a system, supposedly democratic system, where you end up always voting for the lesser of two evils? I mean, was George Washington the lesser of two evils? Sometimes I wonder. Wide Wide River, written by The Fugs.

Well, this is amusing, and it just might be helpful.

Despite having been in Congress less than six months, Robert Garcia (D-CA) is a powerful man. He’s on the House Committee on Homeland Security as well as the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability where he’s the ranking member on the Subcommittee on National Security, the Border, and Foreign Affairs. “Ranking member” means he’s the highest-placed congressman who doesn’t belong to the party in power at that moment. He’s also co-chair of the Equality Caucus, and he’s on the Congressional Progressive Caucus. This, according to the ruling party, makes him the enemy of MAGAts both here and in Russia.

And now, he’s putting together a brand-new caucus. It’s called the Congressional Popular Arts Caucus, it’s bipartisan, and, just to show you he knows his stuff, he’s making the formal announcement at the San Diego Comic-Con next month, which is not all that far from his home. This will not come as a surprise to those who know Garcia as a major comics fan, focusing on DC comics, but I’m sure when he’s caucusing he will watch over the interests of all comics publishers. He seems like a very fair-minded guy.

You might ask “why the hell do we need a Congressional Popular Arts Caucus?” You might be familiar with the recent massive growth in Artificial Intelligence software, and you might be familiar with the concerns expressed by a great many writers and artists, not just in the comics racket, about a lot talent being replaced by a ton of zeros and ones. Or you might be a fan of Magnus Robot Fighter and want to save our future from becoming just another Philip K. Dick nightmare. These concerns — the former being the more immediate — need to be addressed, and Mr. Garcia wants to do just that. And, I’m guessing, he’ll also prevent Lex Luthor from destroying what’s left.

I think a caucus is a good idea. Given all of the book burners at his job, it might be a great idea. And, now that Senator Patrick Leahy is retiring, it would be nice to have a person under the dome who cares about our medium. Fun fact: Leahy appeared in no less than five Batman movies.

I might not have the same thoughts were this to be a congressional committee or subcommittee. Those people make laws and many, possibly a majority right now, burn those books they don’t like. A lot of them are graphic novels.

And let me remind you that it was the Senate’s Special Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency that, in 1953, sought to investigate the extremely popular allegation that comic books contributed to the rise in juvenile crime. This overall effort ultimately led to the installation of the Comics Code Authority, the failure of the majority of American comic book publishers, and the pulling of certain or all comic books from a great many retail sites all across the nation. Dr. Frederic Wertham and William Gaines were among those who testified. The sub-committee membership consisted of Robert Hendrickson (R-NJ), Estes Kefauver (D-TN), Thomas C. Hennings, Jr. (D-MO), and William Langer (R-ND). Hendrickson initially chaired of the committee but was replaced Kefauver.

Together, these senators cost hundreds of comics writers, artists, editors and such ilk their jobs. Others felt it necessary to lie about their jobs in order to be invited to neighborhood barbecues.

We don’t need that again. The government isn’t supposed to censor, but as we’ve seen lately many do not consider “banning” to be a form of censorship, let alone the most impacting form. So I think Garcia has the right idea.

Given my own background as a political activist and an armchair historian, I do not believe our governments are very good at being instruments of positive change, although there are exceptions. But stopping the government from doing more harm is important, valid, necessary and the main reason why I haven’t missed a federal or state election in my life.

This is worthy, well-timed, and in the hands of the right person.

(Thanks and a tip of the toupee to Jude Terror at Bleeding Cool for bringing this to our attention yesterday.)