The Blue Angels are back, and if you live in Westmoreland County, you got to see a sneak peek. KDKA's Ross Guidotti spoke with the elite Naval aviators about what they're planning for the spring.
- Business Insider
"We are going to defend our workers, protect our jobs and finally put America first," Trump said in April 2020.
- Business Insider
After Twitter users noted the similarities, the CPAC organizer said the "stage design conspiracies are outrageous and slanderous."
Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has been transferred to a penal colony outside Moscow to serve his prison sentence, a public commission said on Sunday, weeks after he returned to Russia after being poisoned. Navalny's whereabouts had been unknown since Thursday when his allies learned that he was transferred out of one of Moscow's most infamous jails to an undisclosed location. He has been transferred to a penal colony in the Vladimir region, the Moscow Public Monitoring Commission that defends the rights of prisoners and has access to people in custody, said on its website.
Former President Donald Trump on Sunday hinted at a possible run for president again in 2024, attacked President Joe Biden, and repeated his fraudulent claims that he won the 2020 election in his first major appearance since leaving the White House nearly six weeks ago. Refusing to admit he lost the Nov. 3 presidential election to Joe Biden, Trump offered a withering critique of his Democratic successor's first weeks in office and suggested he might run again. "They just lost the White House," the Republican former president said after criticizing Biden's handling of border security.
- The New York Times
WASHINGTON — Led by loyalists who embrace former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims of a stolen election, Republicans in state legislatures nationwide are mounting extraordinary efforts to change the rules of voting and representation — and enhance their own political clout. At the top of those efforts is a slew of bills raising new barriers to casting votes, particularly the mail ballots that Democrats flocked to in the 2020 election. But other measures go well beyond that, including tweaking Electoral College and judicial election rules for the benefit of Republicans; clamping down on citizen-led ballot initiatives; and outlawing private donations that provide resources for administering elections, which were crucial to the smooth November vote. And although the decennial redrawing of political maps has been pushed to the fall because of delays in delivering 2020 census totals, there are already signs of an aggressive drive to further gerrymander political districts, particularly in states under complete Republican control. Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times The national Republican Party joined the movement this past week by setting up a Committee on Election Integrity to scrutinize state election laws, echoing similar moves by Republicans in a number of state legislatures. Republicans have long thought — sometimes quietly, occasionally out loud — that large turnouts, particularly in urban areas, favor Democrats and that Republicans benefit when fewer people vote. But politicians and scholars alike say that this moment feels like a dangerous plunge into uncharted waters. The avalanche of legislation also raises fundamental questions about the ability of a minority of voters to exert majority control in U.S. politics, with Republicans winning the popular vote in just one of the last eight presidential elections but filling six of the nine seats on the Supreme Court. The party’s battle in the past decade to raise barriers to voting — principally among minorities, young people and other Democrat-leaning groups — has been waged under the banner of stopping voter fraud that multiple studies have shown barely exists. “The typical response by a losing party in a functioning democracy is that they alter their platform to make it more appealing,” Kenneth Mayer, an expert on voting and elections at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said. “Here the response is to try to keep people from voting. It’s dangerously anti-democratic.” Consider Iowa, a state that has not been a major participant in the past decade’s wars over voting and election rules. The November election saw record turnout and little if any reported fraud. Republicans were the state’s big winners, including in the key races for the White House and Senate. Yet in a vote strictly along party lines, the state Legislature voted this past week to cut early voting by nine days, close polls an hour earlier and tighten rules on absentee voting as well as strip the authority of county auditors to decide how election rules can best serve voters. State Sen. Jim Carlin, a Republican who recently announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate, made the party’s position clear during the floor debate: “Most of us in my caucus and the Republican caucus believe the election was stolen,” he said. State Sen. Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat, said that served as justification for a law that created “a voting system tailored to the voting tendency of older white Republican voters.” “They’ve convinced all their supporters of the big lie. They don’t see any downside in this,” he said in an interview. “It’s a bad sign for the country. We’re not going to have a working democracy on this path.” The issues are particularly stark because fresh restrictions would disproportionately hit minorities just as the nation is belatedly reckoning with a racist past, said Lauren Groh-Wargo, chief executive of the voting advocacy group Fair Fight Action. The Republican push comes as the rules and procedures of U.S. elections increasingly have become a central issue in the nation’s politics. The Brennan Center for Justice, a liberal-leaning law and justice institute at New York University, counts 253 bills in 43 states that seek to tighten voting rules. At the same time, 704 bills have been introduced with provisions to improve access to voting. The push also comes as Democrats in Congress are attempting to pass federal legislation that would tear down barriers to voting, automatically register new voters and outlaw gerrymanders, among many other measures. Some provisions, such as a prohibition on restricting a voter’s ability to cast a mail ballot, could undo some of the changes being proposed in state legislatures. Such legislation, combined with the renewed enforcement of federal voting laws, could counter some Republican initiatives in the 23 states where the party controls the Legislature and governor’s office. But neither that Democratic proposal nor a companion effort to enact a stronger version of the 1965 Voting Rights Act stands any chance of passing unless Democrats modify or abolish Senate rules allowing filibusters. It remains unclear whether the party has either the will or the votes to do that. On the legal front, the Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday in an Arizona election lawsuit that turns on the enforcement of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. That section is the government’s main remaining weapon against discriminatory voting practices after the court struck down another provision in 2013 that gave the Justice Department broad authority over voting in states with histories of discrimination. Those who back the Republican legislative efforts say they are needed to restore flagging public confidence in elections and democracy, even as some of them continue to attack the system as corrupt. In Arizona, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, for example, the chairs of House election committees refused for weeks or months to affirm that President Joe Biden won the election. The chairs in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin urged U.S. House members or former Vice President Mike Pence to oppose the presidential electors certified after Biden won those states’ votes. Some respected Republican lawmakers reject charges that election proposals are bad-faith attempts to advance Republican power. “These are really big tweaks. I get that,” said state Sen. Kathy Bernier, who heads an election committee in Wisconsin. “But we do this routinely every session.” Bernier said the party’s election law bills, two of which would strengthen ID requirements for absentee ballots and limit ballot drop boxes to one per municipality, were honest efforts to make voting more secure. That said, proposals in many states have little or nothing to do with that goal. Georgia Republicans would sharply limit early voting on Sundays, when many Black voters follow church services with “souls to the polls” bus rides to cast ballots. On Friday, a state Senate committee approved bills to end no-excuse absentee voting and automatic voter registration at motor vehicle offices. Iowa’s legislation, passed this past week, also shortens the windows to apply for absentee ballots and petition for satellite polling places deployed at popular locations like college campuses and shopping centers. Bills in some states to outlaw private donations to fund elections are rooted in the unproven belief, popular on the right, that contributions in 2020 were designed to increase turnout in Democratic strongholds. The nonprofit Center for Technology and Civic Life distributed the $400 million that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, donated to underwrite coronavirus protective equipment, polling place rentals, drop boxes and other election needs. Unsurprisingly, some of the most vigorous efforts by Republicans are in swing states where last year’s races for national offices were close. Republicans in Georgia, which Biden won by roughly 12,000 votes, lined up this week behind a state Senate bill that would require vote-by-mail applications to be made under oath, with some requiring an additional ID and a witness signature. Arizona Republicans are backing bills to curtail the automatic mailing of absentee ballots to voters who skip elections, and to raise to 60% the share of votes required to pass most citizen ballot initiatives. Legislatures in at least five other Republican-run states are also considering bills making it harder to propose or pass citizen-led initiatives, which often involve issues like redistricting or tax hikes where the party supports the status quo. And that is not all: One Arizona Republican has proposed legislation that would allow state lawmakers to ignore the results of presidential elections and decide themselves which candidate would receive the state’s electoral votes. In Wisconsin, where gerrymanders of the state Legislature have locked in Republican control for a decade, the Legislature already has committed at least $1 million for law firms to defend its redistricting of legislative and congressional seats this year. The gerrymander proved impregnable in November; Democrats received 46% of the statewide vote for state Assembly seats and 47% of the state Senate vote but won only 38% of seats in the Assembly and 36% in the Senate. In New Hampshire, where Republicans took full control of the Legislature in November, the party chair, Stephen Stepanek, has indicated he backs a gerrymander of the state’s congressional map to “guarantee” that at least one of the state’s two Democrats in the U.S. House would not win reelection. “Elections have consequences,” he told the news outlet Seacoastonline. He did not respond to a request for comment. And in Nebraska, one of only two states that award electoral votes in presidential contests by congressional district, conservatives have proposed to switch to a winner-take-all model after Biden captured an electoral vote in the House district containing Omaha, the state’s sole Democratic bastion. Conversely, some New Hampshire Republicans would switch to Nebraska’s current Electoral College model instead of the existing winner-take-all method. That would appear to help Republicans in a state where Democrats have won the past five presidential elections. Pennsylvania’s Legislature is pushing a gerrymander-style apportionment of state Supreme Court seats via a constitutional amendment that would elect justices by regions rather than statewide. That would dismantle a lopsided Democratic majority on the court by creating judicial districts in more conservative rural reaches. Many Republicans argue — and some election experts at times agree — that fears about restrictive election laws among Democrats and civil liberties advocates can be overblown. Republicans point to record turnout in November as proof that restrictive laws do not suppress votes. Bernier of Wisconsin, for example, said she saw little problem with a bill that would allot one ballot drop box for voters in towns like New Berlin, with 40,000 residents, and one for voters in Milwaukee, with 590,000 residents. There were no drop boxes at all, she noted, until state officials made an emergency exception during the pandemic. “The Legislature could say that no drop boxes are necessary at all,” she said. Nathaniel Persily, a Stanford University political scientist and election expert, said he disagreed. Presidential elections always draw more voters, he said, but the grunt work of democracy often occurs in off-year votes for lesser offices where interest is lower. In those elections, “if there are barriers placed in the way of voters, they’re not going to turn out,” he said. Mike Noble, a Phoenix public opinion expert, questioned whether the Arizona Legislature’s Trumpian anti-fraud agenda has political legs, even though polls show a level of Republican belief in Trump’s stolen-election myth that he calls “mind-boggling.” Republicans who consider themselves more moderate make up about one-third of the party’s support in Arizona, he said, and they are far less likely to believe the myth. And they may be turned off by a Legislature that wants to curtail absentee ballot mailings in a state where voters — especially Republicans — have long voted heavily by mail. “I don’t see how a rational person would see where the benefit is,” he said. Some other Republicans apparently agree. In Kentucky, which has some of the nation’s strictest voting laws, the solidly Republican state House voted almost unanimously Friday to allow early voting, albeit only three days, and online applications for absentee ballots. Both were first tried during the pandemic and, importantly, were popular with voters and county election officials. If that kind of recognition of November’s successes resonated in other Republican states, Persily and another election scholar, Charles Stewart III of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wrote in a recent study, it could bode well for easing the deep divisions over future election rules. If the stolen-election myth continues to drive Republican policy, Persily said, it could foretell a future with two kinds of elections in which voting rights, participation and faith in the results would be significantly different, depending on which party had written the rules. “Those trajectories are on the horizon,” he said. “Some states are adopting a blunderbuss approach to regulating voting that is only distantly related to fraud concerns. And it could mean massive collateral damage for voting rights.” This article originally appeared in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company
Minneapolis approved funding to hire social media influencers to spread information about ex cop Derek Chauvin's trial
Minneapolis is hiring social media influencers to spread information about the trial of the cop, Derek Chauvin, who knelt on George Floyd's neck.
- The Telegraph
Donald Trump CPAC speech: Former US president says he might run for White House again - latest updates
Trump's first public address since leaving office Trump to mark return to the stage with attack on Biden Subscribe to The Telegraph for a month-long free trial Donald Trump has told conservatives at a conference in Florida that he is considering running for the White House for a third time. In a speech that has so far touched on the common themes of Trumpism, the former president has repeated false claims of election fraud and accused Democrats of "recklessly eliminating our border". Mr Trump is back on to the political stage today, delivering a speech capping a conference dominated by loyalty to the former president. The address is his first major public appearance since retreating to Mar-a-Lago, his private club in southern Florida, after quitting Washington last month. Follow the latest updates below.
- The Daily Beast
SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty ImagesBiden’s chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci hit back at South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s harsh criticism of him on Sunday, saying her comments about him at this weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) were “not very helpful” and “unfortunate.”Noem, who has received praise from conservatives for largely ignoring coronavirus restrictions and guidelines, got a standing ovation from the CPAC crowd when she boasted about ignoring the medical advice of experts and called out Fauci for supposedly being “wrong.” Appearing on CBS News’ Face the Nation, Fauci was asked if that sentiment was an impediment to the nation’s recovery.Kristi Noem Under Scrutiny for Using State Plane to Fly to NRA, Turning Points Meet-Ups“It’s unfortunate but it’s not really helpful because sometimes you think things are going well and just take a look at the numbers, they don’t lie,” he said. During an interview with Noem on the same program, anchor Margaret Brennan grilled the Republican governor and potential 2024 presidential candidate on her state’s poor performance with the deadly virus.“So for your state, you have, if you look at starting in July, which was after that spring peak, you have the highest death rate in cumulative COVID deaths per million in the country,” Brennan said, adding: “I know you’re conservative and you care about the sanctity of life. So how can you justify making decisions that put the health of your constituents at risk?”Noem, meanwhile, brushed off the question, instead telling Brennan that “those are questions that you should be asking every other governor in this country as well.”FAUCI REACTS: Dr. Anthony Fauci responds to @govkristinoem's criticism at #CPAC that the veteran medical expert is "wrong" on hospital capacity and #COVID19 caseloads: "It's unfortunate but it's not really helpful… just take a look at the numbers they don't lie." pic.twitter.com/y9Xz30lsr0— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) February 28, 2021 Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
British finance minister Rishi Sunak will announce an extra 1.65 billion pounds ($2.30 billion) to fund the country's fast vaccination rollout as part of his annual budget statement on Wednesday, the finance ministry said. "Protecting ourselves against the virus means we will be able to lift restrictions, reopen our economy and focus our attention on creating jobs and stimulating growth," Sunak said in a statement. Britain has so far given a first vaccination more than 20 million people, or more than one in three adults, Europe's fastest vaccination rollout.
- The Telegraph
Germany urged to follow Britain’s vaccine strategy as regulators look set to approve AstraZeneca for over 65s
Germany was under pressure to change its Covid vaccination strategy on Sunday after the country's top vaccine regulator acknowledged that advice against giving the AstraZeneca jab to over 65s had been flawed. The announcement came as a term of German scientists called on the government to follow the UK in delaying second doses after a study showed it could save up to 15,000 lives. Thomas Mertens, the head of Germany’s Standing Committee on Vaccination (Stiko), said on Saturday that the country was likely to change its controversial guidelines against not to give the AstraZeneca vaccine to over 65s, saying errors had been made. Promising “a new, updated recommendation very soon”, Mertens said: “somehow the whole thing went very badly”. “We had the data that we had and based on this data we made the recommendation. But we never criticized the vaccine. We only criticised the fact that the data situation for the age group over 65 was not good or not sufficient,” he said on Germany’s ZDF news network.
- Associated Press
Spacewalking astronauts ventured out Sunday to install support frames for new, high-efficiency solar panels arriving at the International Space Station later this year. NASA's Kate Rubins and Victor Glover put the first set of mounting brackets and struts together, then bolted them into place next to the station's oldest and most degraded solar wings. Rubins will finish the job during a second spacewalk later this week.
- Associated Press
The Philippines received its first batch of COVID-19 vaccine Sunday, among the last in Southeast Asia to secure the critical doses despite having the second-highest number of coronavirus infections and deaths in the hard-hit region. A Chinese military transport aircraft carrying 600,000 doses of vaccine donated by China arrived in an air base in the capital. President Rodrigo Duterte and top Cabinet officials expressed relief and thanked Beijing for the the vaccine from China-based Sinovac Biotech Ltd. in a televised ceremony.
It's been 40 years since Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer announced their engagement with a televised interview.
- FOX News Videos
Jim Jordan: Not sure GOP can work with 'radically left' Dems, pans 'Lincoln Project' folks who oppose Trump
Jordan spoke to Fox News Digital ahead of his CPAC speech Sunday.
- Associated Press
A man was killed by a rooster with a blade tied to its leg during an illegal cockfight in southern India, police said, bringing focus on a practice that continues in some Indian states despite a decades-old ban. The rooster, with a 3-inch knife tied to its leg, fluttered in panic and slashed its owner, 45-year-old Thangulla Satish, in his groin last week, police inspector B. Jeevan said Sunday. According to Jeevan, Satish was injured while he prepared the rooster for a fight.
- USA TODAY
'We're done with that lifestyle': Jessica Watkins, Ohio woman charged in Capitol riot, renounces Oath Keepers
Jessica Watkins, 38, says she has disbanded her local armed group and is canceling her Oath Keeper membership after her arrest.
- The Daily Beast
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty ImagesA speaker at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory from the event’s main stage on Sunday, shortly before Donald Trump was scheduled to appear at the conservative movement’s premiere annual event. Former congressional candidate Angela Stanton King, who has frequently boosted the conspiracy theory on social media, called for an investigation into whether QAnon’s bizarre claims about a cabal of cannibal-pedophiles controlling the world and a mysterious figure named Q giving hidden messages to Trump supporters are real.“Let’s address it,” King said. “So we know in this election, there were some things going on in regards to the conspiracy theories with Q, right? And I think, me as a person, before I ever got into the conservative movement, I’ve always been an advocate even if it’s for abused children or it’s for those people that are incarcerated. So I think that any allegations coming forward in regards to any type of abuse when it comes to children deserves to be investigated, it deserves to be made aware of.”The CPAC crowd applauded King’s call for an investigation into the claims made by QAnon believers, which include allegations that Democratic Party leaders and Hollywood celebrities sexually abuse children and drink their blood to stay young. QAnon supporters believe in a moment called “The Storm,” in which they anticipate Trump will order mass arrests or executions of his political opponents.QAnon Incited Her to Kidnap Her Son and Then Hid Her From the Law“I think that, you know, once we find out, you know, whether this is true or not, then we can move on, but we at least have to be able to address it,” King said, claiming that the media had tried to “cancel” her for her beliefs in QAnon.CPAC speaker Angela Stanton-King is straight up promoting QAnon pic.twitter.com/BLGyeqajes— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 28, 2021 King, who served two years in prison over an auto-theft ring and was pardoned by Trump in 2020, once stormed out of an interview after being confronted over her support for QAnon. A positive mention of QAnon from the CPAC stage marks another inroad into the GOP for the conspiracy theory, which has been linked to murders and other crimes. A number of QAnon believers took leading roles in the U.S. Capitol riot, breaking into the building and menacing police officers.The FBI considers the conspiracy theory, which has also been praised in the past by newly elected Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Lauren Boebert (R-CO), as a potential source of domestic terrorism.The CPAC panel King appeared on was already embroiled in controversy, after scheduled speaker “Young Pharaoh” was dropped from the program over tweets attacking Jewish people.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
- Business Insider
Ted Cruz said the Republican Party is 'not just the party of country clubs' but CPAC is fixated on Donald Trump - a man who literally lives at one
Trump, who lives at his private Mar-a-Lago club, has already stolen the show at CPAC and will deliver his own speech on the last day of the conference.
- The Daily Beast
Michael Buckner/GettyIn 1983, Stan Lee, then Marvel Comics publisher, gave insight into his editorial feedback: “Hey, that shot is too weak. If you want a guy punching something, look at the way Jack Kirby does it. Let’s try and get that kind of force. This shot is too dull. Even if it’s a man walking in the street, look at the way Gene Colan does it. It looks interesting even if there’s no action.”During Lee’s editorship of Marvel Comics, a 20-page issue had about 100 panels for epic battles and human foibles. Lee’s direction maintained visual momentum, and tied together narratives of many characters. That overwatch created Marvel’s universe; his marketing instincts invited readers to join a re-imagination of a child’s medium.Abraham Riesman’s clear-eyed, anti-nostalgic biography True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee, shows Lee’s discontent with those skills, how he took more credit than he deserved. He was brilliant, ever-optimistic, and believed in himself too much.“That was a core tragedy of Stan’s legacy,” Riesman wrote. “He was never able to put his most inarguable achievements front and center and instead opted for the ones that were most debatable.‘Picked Apart by Vultures’: The Last Days of Stan Lee“It’s possible that [Lee’s] greatest talent was editing; the only other skill that competed with it was his flair for promotion. He never sold himself as comics’ greatest editor or comics’ greatest salesman,” which he may have been, “but rather as its greatest ideas man,” a title True Believer argues he didn’t deserve.Marvel’s Fantastic Four debuted in 1961 with a deep weirdness compared to Superman’s corporate polish, or the adult-themed horror of the 1950s EC Comics. Marvel’s heroes targeted the new concept of teenagers with characters fantastical and strange, presented with Steve Ditko’s crazy angles, Jack Kirby’s inhuman designs, Stan Lee’s snarky dialogue.Does it matter who created the characters? Simplistic, childish concepts like The Thing? Iron Man? Dr. Strange? A web-shooting teenager is ridiculous—until Lee examined each panel to ensure a gripping narrative. Lee didn’t write the stories, as much as provided dialogue to fine-tune the artist’s premise. Kirby and Ditko might plot narratives, panel the comics, conceive the story’s direction, and conceptualize ideas.“What’s another word for plotting?” Riesman told The Daily Beast. “Writing.”Lee eventually claimed to have created most of the characters, that he was the brilliant wellspring, not just a grown-up guiding hand and energetic marketer. From interviews and well-documented research, Riesman shows Lee’s early willingness to give fair credit becoming an aggressive campaign of self-promotion. In one 1966 newspaper article, Lee was compared to actor Rex Harrison and credited with dreaming up the entire slate of Marvel comics. Jack Kirby, a 30-year veteran of the industry, was called an “assistant foreman in a girdle factory.” Many relationships have ruptured for less.Because the idea of “Stan Lee Presents” was too tempting. That phrase became an iconic signifier of an era, deserved and sometimes not.“It was true across Stan’s entire life, that if he came up with an idea, other people may have built up the idea, but ‘there was no idea before me’—that mattered a lot for him,” Riesman told the Beast.True Believer is not gossip. Riesman unpacks the humanity that makes popular culture bloom and fade. It is worth exploring the choices, compromises, relationships, and bitterness behind these ideas, especially when they spawn billion-dollar film franchises that drive modern entertainment.Comic book fans will react defensively toward Riesman’s account of Lee’s serial credit-taking. An argument in Lee’s favor is that any writer’s room features give-and-take. Lee and Kirby might say they conceived aspects of the Fantastic Four, and the truth is merely in the middle.“This is a dangerous line of thought for a historian,” Riesman wrote. “We should not ignore the possibility… that one of them was lying and the other telling the truth.”There was no writer’s room. Kirby wrote at home, bringing pages to Marvel after he finished the penciling. Stan’s snarky, snappy dialogue provided critical personality compared to the tin-eared scripts of DC’s Batman or Superman, but the 20 pages were often someone else’s creative vision. Getting fair credit was not easy; artists were freelancers and Lee, Marvel’s company man. The artists were also terrible salesmen for their own merits. When Kirby did speak up, his “original impetus [for characters and ideas] was always something sad and mundane,” Riesman told the Beast. “Kirby was ‘I needed to put food on the table,’ as opposed to ‘this was an evanescence of ideas from me, Stan Lee, the wonderful genius.’ It was mundane versus exciting.”Kirby died in 1994, years before Marvel’s resurgence. Ditko, creator of Spider-Man, holed up in a New York apartment, mailing out Ayn Rand-inspired screeds—an old crank difficult to take seriously before his 2018 death.Lee died at 95 in 2018—nearly 60 years to stake claims, appear in movie cameos, and pose for thousands of fans’ pictures, including with Riesman in 1998. Six decades to turn Stan Lieber, an immigrant’s son, into “Stan Lee,” an American icon. A perfect story, sold well.“Culture wants an unambiguous story about how things we love come into being,” Riesman told the Beast. “This idea that Stan’s the guy who created these characters, created Marvel, owned Marvel—none of those things are true. There’s always this vagueness or incorrectness about what he did. We should embrace that ambiguity.”Riesman uses a Lee quote to open a chapter: “If I myself possessed a superpower, I’d never keep it secret.”Riesman didn’t uncover any specific trauma in Lee’s childhood to make him that needy. Lee just wanted more, seeing comics as a springboard—Riesman chronicles test shoots of talk shows, hustling on the college speaking circuit, and book and screenplay ideas.“He didn’t want to be remembered for the past,” Riesman wrote, “he wanted to be relevant in the present.”Riesman’s research shows that Lee’s parents Iancu and Celia had left Romania at a time of growing anti-Semitism. His father’s village was the site of pogroms and violence. The past was no comfort.Lee’s career began at Timely Comics through a cousin’s husband, Martin Goodman. His first byline was “Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge,” a two-page text story in May 1941’s Captain America Comics #3, accompanied by two panels of Kirby art, their first collaboration. “Stan Lee” took the byline, not Stan Lieber. Lee later explained he wanted to save his real name’s first appearance for the novel he would someday write.Lee’s father, Iancu, had Americanized his own first name to Jack; now Stan dropped his last name, and that connection with Jewish relatives and a lost homeland. Maybe there was trauma after all. Like Riesman wrote, Stan didn’t want to be remembered for the past, but relevant in the present.Each paragraph in “The Traitor’s Revenge” matches a comic panel’s on-point action: “In an instant, both Steve and Bucky peeled off their outer uniforms and seconds later they stood revealed as CAPTAIN AMERICA and BUCKY, Sentinels of our Shores! ‘Let’s go!’ cried CAPTAIN AMERICA!”Once World War II began, Lee spent his patriotic Army duty writing training manuals and projects like an anti-venereal disease campaign—“VD? Not me!”Riesman wrote, “The key thing to remember about Stan Lee’s war years is that he was a propagandist…accomplishing military goals through simple, direct messaging designed to instill emotional reactions of loyalty and excitement.”Propaganda is too sinister. Lee communicated with a military audience using that culture’s language to inspire a collective understanding. Propaganda? Or mission-focused?That approach drove Lee’s banter with readers on each comic’s letters page. In 1965’s Strange Tales #135, a 300-word letter, from Tim Miller of Pontiac Michigan, presented ideas about the origins of Dr. Strange’s incantations, e.g., “I invoke the Hosts of Hoggoth.”“Tim, you frantic fans are the greatest!” Lee (most likely) responded. “No matter what we make up, right out of our cornball heads, there’ll always be some Marvel madman who can explain the whole thing with such logic that we end up thinking we took it from a history book!”Tim Miller probably never got over himself. All it took was a back-handed compliment, Lee’s self-effacement, and a little alliteration.“By the time he became famous,” Riesman wrote, “Lee was a wizard at stirring his readers up with direct addresses, often using the martial phrase ‘face front.’ Such verbiage sought to make the masses feel as though they were members of a legion of devoted followers who would do whatever their commander asked of them.”Lee craved the adoration, Riesman said. “He didn’t care about superheroes or comics… but he loved getting people behind something.”Lee used a jaunty style for bylines like “Unpredictable Stan Lee,” “Unmatchable Jack Kirby,” “Unbeatable Johnny Severin.” Stan came first. When he stopped writing, “Stan Lee—Editor” appeared as a brand-new credit line. Lee’s collaborators didn’t appreciate this creative bigfooting, Kirby and Ditko only the most famous. Kirby’s former assistant Mark Evanier explained to Riesman that, “Unfortunately, from day one, Jack Kirby was doing part of Stan’s job,” the writing, “and Stan was not doing part of Jack’s job,” the drawing.Despite all that, True Believer is not a revisionist take-down. It’s not unkind, nasty, or unfair—Lee’s just a creative man who wanted more than he earned.Riesman digs into Lee’s later-life efforts to recapture the fragile magic—Stan Lee Media and POW! Entertainment. Lee schmoozes Pamela Anderson’s brother to get her to star as Stripperella—a pitch that actually came to fruition. Lee didn’t write any of the 13 episodes, but it’s still Stan Lee’s Stripperella on the DVD case.Riesman interviews Lee’s business associates of his final years, Peter Paul and Keya Morgan, greasy self-promoters who are happy to provide some gossip and defend themselves against various allegations. None of it’s surprising. Of course Lee was an easy mark, and made bad choices with bad business partners. Of course he rants and raves with difficult family members. He was an old man too ashamed to admit he was put out to pasture.The important part of this story isn’t that it ended badly, it’s that it happened.Riesman interviewed Lee for a 2016 Vulture article, a half-dozen emailed questions sent through a publicist—a somewhat taunting experience, Riesman said, with closer access dangled, but ever out of reach. In those emails, Riesman asked Lee about growing up in New York and its Jewish culture. “It was a fascinating answer; he answered the question about New York, completely ignored the part about Jewishness,” he said. Stan’s brother Larry Lieber told Riesman that their father, Iancu-Jack, felt Stan had turned his back on Jewish faith, ignoring the struggles of Israel, and baptizing his daughter, among other criticisms.That bitterness makes sense. Iancu left Romania in large part because of violent anti-Semitism; now his son wrote comic books about silly monsters (Bruttu? Sserpo? Zzutak?) in a world full of real monsters. It’s like an Iraq veteran baffled why their child wastes time on TikTok—maybe not grasping that followers can be monetized.“The only topic I would have liked to talk about in a more substantive way was his childhood,” Riesman said. “He wasn’t a prince, so historians aren’t chronicling his youth; there’s just his brother.”Larry Lieber, that younger brother, is the tell-tale heartbeat of Stan’s story. Larry had worked in comics since the early 1950s, and had retired from penciling the daily Amazing Spider-Man newspaper comic strip in 2018 after 32 years. He’s not the last surviving artist or writer from the old days, but his work was among the last pieces of cultural DNA connecting back to the old days. The brothers’ relationship had been acrimonious—at least from Larry’s side. They worked together now and then, and Stan didn’t completely cast him aside, but there was a constant distance.At one point, Larry had left Marvel to work for the old boss Martin Goodman at a different comic company. Stan didn’t offer a raise to stop the move, just appealed to family loyalty that had been, at best, one way. “The guy’s got millions!” Larry recounted to Riesman. “I can’t pay my rent! And he’s telling me not to write for them!”Stan had returned to New York for a comic convention and didn’t tell Larry he would be there; Stan badgered Larry into giving a deposition against Jack Kirby’s estate; Stan’s wife Joan belittled Larry with fake friendliness.In the 1970s, “when Larry was struggling to get Stan to throw some work his way. Stan kept passing the buck. Larry… eventually turned to one of the editors for help. “Well, Larry,” he recalls the editor saying, “it’s the consensus of opinion here that the only people Stan thinks about are himself and his family, and that doesn’t include you.”Larry is not nostalgic.“I mean, everyone I know is going. Gone. And I thought, did I lose him?” Larry told Riesman. “Can you lose somebody you never had?”It’s a tragedy to leave a story there—an angry brother alone at the end. So let’s not leave it there.June 1962 was just the Fantastic Four and the Hulk, with Spider-Man debuting in August. Some buzz, some promising sales. Stan, Jack, Larry, Steve also cranked out comics of suspense and monsters, but new ideas were coming.Martin Scorsese’s 1970s movies were something new; that group did the same for 1960’s comics. They even beat Scorsese to the punch—in June 1962’s “Bully Boy,” a sci-fi melodrama in Tales to Astonish #32, an under-estimated teenager makes an over-the-shoulder threat, “Are you talking to me?” before wiping the floor with four goons. That dialogue beat Robert DeNiro’s Travis Bickle by 14 years. The penciling is Kirby’s, nobody’s credited for the dialogue but it was probably Stan, and maybe Larry helped with the script. Ditko hung around, prepping Spider-Man. Look around, the revolution’s happening in New York and there were minds at work—Stan, Larry, Jack, Steve, many more.True Believer’s origin story begins in 2015. Riesman misunderstood editor David Wallace-Wells' request for a review of Stan’s new graphic memoir, Amazing, Fantastic, Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir. Riesman thought Wallace-Wells wanted a long-form profile, so he compiled research and interviews—until Wallace-Wells “informed me that he’d meant I should write a short book review. Oops,” Riesman wrote. But, intrigued, Wallace-Wells greenlit Riesman’s subsequent 10,000-word Vulture article on Lee. After Lee’s death, Will Wolfslau, editor at Crown Publishing, visualized a book’s scope in that article about Lee’s life of triumph and hubris. He reached out to Riesman’s agent with that idea.Had Wolfslau shared Stan Lee’s credit-taking worldview and punched-up writing style, the book’s title could have been Wonderful Will Wolfslau presents True Believer, scripted by Able Abe Riesman.Wolfslau did see that potential in Riesman’s article, but follow-through is the author’s domain. In 2021, editors stay in the back pages, thanked in the acknowledgments.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
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