“Amazon announced plans for an amazing service called Amazon Prime Air. When you order something from Amazon that weighs five pounds or less, a robot will drop your package on your doorstep. It’s all part of Amazon’s pledge to drive your dog insane…
“You know in some countries seeing an unmanned drone means your village is about to be destroyed. In America it means you ordered Mad Men on Blu-ray.” –Jimmy Kimmel
Check out Sarah Palin at Liberty University lashing out against “angry atheists” who want to “abort Christ from Christmas.” She also said:
If you lose that foundation, John Adams was implicitly warning us, then we will not follow our constitution, there will be no reason to follow our constitution because it is a moral and religious people who understand that there is something greater than self, we are to live selflessly, and we are to be held accountable by our creator, so that is what our constitution is based on, so those revisionists, those in the lamestream media, especially, who would want to ignore what our founders actually thought, felt and wrote about in our charters of liberty – well, that’s why I call them the lamestream media.
The Republican Party and the conservative movement operate in a Bizzaro World where whatever they say is frequently the opposite of fact. Republicans claim to be the party of individual liberty and small government while promoting a government which is more intrusive in the private lives of individuals and the party which is far more responsible for increasing the deficit. They regularly deny the racism which is a major component of their views and the manner in which they promote create fear of minorities with their arguments against a social safety net. This conservative lack of awareness is fully on display in John Hawkin’s arguments on Why Liberalism Is On The Wrong Side Of History.
Hawkins began with the usual erroneous claim that liberals, who have historically been the party of defending liberty, stand for the opposite:
Liberals dream of one day seeing all Americans permanently locked in the smothering, cradle-to-grave death grip of the nanny state. Nothing excites a liberal more than the idea of controlling where you go to school, regulating your work and play, deciding what type of health care you’re going to have and then deciding when you get to retire and how much money you have when you do. Even if you want to choose, you can’t. Even if you want to break free, you’re stuck. You’re not allowed to make different choices because liberals have made it illegal.
Such projection of conservative views is seen throughout the article which distorts liberal beliefs while ignoring the fact that it is the conservatives who have been promoting restrictions on reproductive rights and using the power of the state to tell people who they may or may not marry. It is Republicans who seek to use the power of government to impose their religious views on everyone. Melissa McEwan has discussed this further.
Conservative views on liberty become more understandable when we understand that to conservatives, freedom frequently means the freedom to impose their religious views upon others, the freedom to avoid contributing to the social safety net, and the freedom from even necessary government economic regulations.
Lacking reality-based arguments, Hawkins resorted to an imaginary mischaracterization of liberal views:
The problem with that is not so much liberals living how they want to live; it’s that liberals want to force everyone else to live how they want to live. They don’t like guns; so no one should have guns. They like gay marriage; so everyone must be forced to like gay marriage. They like PBS; so everyone should be forced to pay for PBS…
If Justin Bieber is at the top of the pop charts, should EVERYONE be forced to listen to Justin Bieber? If Duck Dynasty is popular, should EVERYONE be forced to watch Duck Dynasty? If the two most popular foods in America turn out to be hotdogs and chocolate ice cream, should EVERYONE have to eat those two foods at every meal? We laugh at this sort of thinking in the marketplace, but that’s exactly the philosophy liberals have with government.
In reality, liberals believe in a system which results in a wide variety of views. Unlike many conservative, liberals encourage and support a wide variety individual choice–not only in popular culture but in life styles.
Considering recent headlines, it is not surprising that Hawkins distorts the Affordable Care Act with no recognition that the individual mandate was an option of a position long-promoted by conservatives, and that Obamacare provides people with more choices in health care. While liberalism has promoted a market economy, liberals recognize that there are areas where the market fails, such as in the financing of health care. The Affordable Care Act is giving choices to people who were denied health care coverage due to having medical problems–a fundamental failing of the old system. Supporting a solution using government in such situations is far different from conservative use of government to try to ban abortions, impose vaginal probes on women, restrict access to contraception, ban same-sex marriage, and prevent the use of marijuana, even for medical needs.
The historical trend has been towards liberalism. Some liberal gains of the past when government did impose restrictions, such as prohibiting child labor, are now widely accepted. Social Security and Medicare are considered essential portions of the social safety net by most people. We have reached a tipping point in which same-sex marriage is rapidly being accepted, and ending marijuana prohibition will probably follow soon after. Conservatives are on the wrong side of history–and their problem is only exacerbated when they show how they are out of touch with reality when they claim to be the party which supports liberty.
There are mixed reports, but overall it sounds like healthcare.gov is working. The administration rushed to be able to show improvements by December 1 and concentrated on the front end–the experience of consumers shopping for insurance. The back end, or information sent on to insurance companies, still needs more work, and this is where most of the reports of continued problems are coming from.
On Monday most of the reports I heard were from either Obama administration sources discussing successes or from Republicans who were claiming defeat, reading from a script which could have been written a couple of weeks ago without regard for the changing facts. Therefore it was good to see more objective sources begin to weigh in. For example, Consumer Reports, which was critical of the early faults, now gives a favorable review to the site, at least on the front end:
After advising consumers to steer clear of Healthcare.gov in October, Consumer Reports health care expert Nancy Metcalf told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd Tuesday morning that the federal health care exchange website was improved enough following the Obama administration’s frantic month of repairs that users could confidently use it.
“Now we’re saying, ‘it’s time,’” Metcalf said, in particular praising the new window-shopping function, in which users can peruse health plans without registering with the site. The requirement to make an account before viewing options was considered one of the main causes for the site’s initial traffic bottleneck. “It’s terrific, I’ve tried it, it was working yesterday through the busiest times,” Metcalf said.
Metcalf stopped short of saying the website was fixed, noting that she was endorsing using it in the context of the short window customers have to access the site, and, more importantly, the subsidies available through it, in order to purchase insurance that takes effect on January 1. Metcalf warned that consumers had no control over the back-end problems, which are giving inaccurate information to insurance providers, and said that if you enroll through Healthcare.gov and don’t hear from your new provider within a week, your best bet is to contact the insurer directly.
Personally I plan to circumvent the back-end problems, which most likely will be fixed, by purchasing directly from the insurance company’s web site–which is another possibility. (This might not be possible for those also applying for subsidies.) One of the mistakes made in the roll out of the Affordable Care Act was to put such a heavy emphasis on purchasing through the government web site. In retrospect it would have made more sense to promote the site as just one of several ways to purchase insurance, especially in red states which failed to create state exchanges. I did find healthcare.gov to be of value, even in October, as a means of comparing what is available.
Many things about the Affordable Care Act are far from perfect. What is important is not a comparison to a perfect system but to compare the benefits of the Affordable Care Act to the problems with health care coverage in the past. The Affordable Care Act has been highly successful when considered on that basis. The Obama administration and Congressional Democrats are now starting to concentrate on selling the Affordable Care Act based upon its benefits. Politico reports:
President Barack Obama will launch a coordinated campaign Tuesday by the White House, congressional Democrats and their outside allies to return attention to why the Affordable Care Act passed in the first place.
After two months of intense coverage of the botched HealthCare.gov rollout, the president will host a White House event kicking off a three-week drive to refocus the public on the law’s benefits, senior administration officials told POLITICO.
The White House will take the lead in emphasizing a different benefit each day until the Dec. 23 enrollment deadline for Jan. 1 coverage. The daily message will be amplified through press events and social media by Democratic members of Congress, the Democratic National Committee, congressional campaign committees and advocacy organizations, officials said.
These are the important arguments, and the benefits will undermine any further Republican attempts at repealing Obamacare:
“The consequences of Republican repeal are exactly the case that we need to be making — because Republican repeal would take us backward to a broken system that hurts too many Americans — like forcing millions of seniors to pay $1,200 more for their prescription drugs,” said Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “Every poll tells us that when we make that case, voters choose Democrats.”
On Wednesday, the White House and Democratic allies will focus on how Americans are paying less for preventative care under Obamacare. On Thursday, they’ll highlight that people with preexisting conditions can no longer be charged more or denied coverage. And on Friday, they’ll emphasize the slowing growth in health care costs.
Here’s an example of why Republicans have difficulty obtaining support from outside of their base. A shirt they recently sold (picture above via BuzzFeed) says “Happy Holidays” is what liberals say on the front and Merry Christmas on the back. The shirt is sold out, but they are now selling one saying Not Afraid to Say ‘Merry Christmas.’
Republicans apparently do not understand that not everyone celebrates Christmas, but there is no room for those of other religions in their extremely tiny tent. Even many Christians say Happy Holidays. This might be to be inclusive and include other religions, it might be to include New Year’s, or it might not mean anything at all to those who aren’t interested in claiming to be victims in an imaginary War on Christmas.
Pictures, such as the one above, and an official synopsis have been released for the Christmas episode of Doctor Who, The Time of the Doctor:
Orbiting a quiet backwater planet, the massed forces of the universe’s deadliest species gather, drawn to a mysterious message that echoes out to the stars. And amongst them – the Doctor. Rescuing Clara from a family Christmas dinner, the Time Lord and his best friend must learn what this enigmatic signal means for his own fate and that of the universe.
Despite the revelation of John Hurt as the War Doctor, Steven Moffat is sticking with the current numbering:
“He’s just The Doctor, Matt Smith’s Doctor is the 11th Doctor, however there is no such character as the 11th Doctor – he’s just the Doctor – that’s what he calls himself. The numbering doesn’t matter, except for those lists that you and I have been making for many years. So I’ve given you the option of not counting John Hurt numerically – he’s the War Doctor.”
If the numbering was only being done by fans it wouldn’t matter, but the numbering has appeared during the shows. On the one hand there has been talk of “the fall of the eleventh”, while on the other hand there was reference to “all thirteen” Doctors during The Day of the Doctor. The number of Doctors, if not how they are referred to, is important if there is a regeneration limit, and in this context we cannot leave out a regeneration. Moffat is separating the reference of number to Doctors from actual regenerations–sort of like the Big 10 having twelve teams and expanding to fourteen.
I previously had thought that the regeneration from Matt Smith’s Doctor to Peter Capaldi’s would be the twelfth and final regeneration, speculating that the limit might be exceeded by having the next Doctor find Gallifrey and be rewarded with a new set of regenerations. Steven Moffat has made matters even more complicated in an interview with Radio Times:
As Whovians will know, ever since the 1976 episode The Deadly Assassin it has been taken as fact that a Doctor can only regenerate twelve times in a cycle, allowing thirteen incarnations.
Officially until now, Matt Smith has been the 11th Doctor, meaning fans have started to wonder what will happen in 5-10 years time when we reach 13 after Peter Capaldi.
But Moffat has moved the goalposts, or perhaps more aptly stuck his own sonic screwdriver into the history of the show and given it a big twist.
On Saturday he told me Matt is actually the 13th and final doctor. John Hurt is officially now a doctor and David Tennant used up an extra regeneration during his stay.
In essence, the end of Matt at Christmas should mean the end of Doctor Who.
Where this leaves Peter Capaldi is unclear. But what Moffat would say is: “The 12 regenerations limit is a central part of Doctor Who mythology – science fiction is all about rules, you can’t just casually break them.
Everything changes if we consider the events of Journey’s End as showing David Tennant’s Doctor using up a regeneration (and ignoring the regeneration energy given to the Doctor by River Song in Let’s Kill Hitler). While we know that Moffat lies, or at least loves to cause misdirection with regards to speculations on future events on the show, this does force an update to previous predictions. The issue becomes more urgent to prevent Matt Smith from playing the last Doctor, which we know will not occur. Now it appears possible that Matt Smith’s Doctor might find Gallifrey and receive extra regenerations in The Time of the Doctor. Reportedly the episode will also tie up several of the loose ends Moffat has left since taking over regarding predictions of the fall of the eleventh, The Silence, The crack in time, and the Weeping Angels. There are also rumors that the Doctor will lose a limb before being regenerated.
During the above interview, Steven Moffat discussed further minisodes following the success of The Night Of The Doctor (posted here).
“I think this will usher in not so much a Paul McGann mini-series but usher in more minisodes, and I think we should take them more seriously than we used to. Night was the first one we’ve actually said, ‘Let’s make a high production value belter and let’s give them a surprise!’”
He teased: “You can count on us doing something like that again, but we won’t tell you when! I’ve actually told the BBC, ‘if we do it again we’re doing it in Cardiff and we’re not even telling you what we’re doing and we’ll give you it on the day…’
With Doctor Who Confidential no longer on the air, the BBC has released a series of brief videos giving an Inside Look on the 50th anniversary and the making of The Day of The Doctor, such as the video above. More of these videos have been posted at Geeks of Doom.
We have a long wait after the Christmas episode. Doctor Who begins filming in January but the next season will not be aired until fall. There have been reports that the full season will air in the fall instead of being split but I’m not sure how official this is.
Sherlock resumes on January 19 in the United States but many of us will be downloading copies earlier now that it has been announced that season 3 will begin on January 1. The BBC spread news of the date for the first episode, The Empty Hearse, by having the above hearse drive around London. The Sign of Three airs on January 5 and the finale, His Last Vow is on January 12. For those in other countries, Sherlockology has a lengthy list of broadcast dates. It also appears that there will be sort of a triangle.Martin Freeman’s real-life wife Amanda Abbington will also star as John Watson’s love interest Mary Morstan.
The Weinsteins are looking into several television projects, including some genre shows. This includes a television version of Sin City and an adaptation of the movie version of Steven King’s The Mist. Hopefully this works out better than Under the Dome (and there is no reason to believe that different people will make the same mistakes with a different story).
Orphan Black‘s second season will begin on April 19 in the United States on BBC America and in Canada on Space. I have not heard of a date being set in the UK but last year the show aired well after it aired in the United States. The season 2 trailer is above, which unfortunately contains no new footage even though the series has been filming for a while.
I watched the first three episodes of Almost Human over the holiday weekend. It does have promise. The premise appears to be that male cops are teamed with androids while hot female cops (as played by Minka Kelly) wear loose, low-cut shirts (which looks better on the show than in the picture above).
Barry Allen (The Flash) will appear on the next episode of Arrow. Initially the appearances on Arrow were to be a back-door pilot for a new show, but now CW has decided to film a conventional pilot for The Flash. There has been a lot of speculation as to whether the DC universe being created around Arrow will tie into the Justice League movie which will be developed out of the upcoming Superman vs. Batman movie. Arrow showrunner Greg Berlanti says the two universes will not be connected as Agents of SHIELD is connected to the Marvel cinematic universe.
Oliver will also be getting a mask like the one worn by the Green Arrow in the comics. I’m not sure that it is needed. If Laurel hasn’t figured out that Oliver is the vigilante yet, wearing the hood has been unrealistically sufficient. (It was a more realistic change from the old comics to have Lois Lane quickly figure out who Clark Kent was in Man of Steel.)
Nothing has spoiled True Blood more than bad writing, too many characters who nobody cares about, and weak plot lines. Compared to these problems, the season seven spoilers posted here are rather trivial.
And, finally, the Doctor is sort of like a superhero, so there’s no reason why he shouldn’t go out for coffee with Superman and Batman (unless he’s afraid of their tough questions).
Barack Obama has had a bad month but told Barbara Walters that there is nowhere to go but up:
“I’ve gone up and down pretty much consistently throughout,” Obama told ABC’s Barbara Walters in an exclusive interview at the White House. “But the good thing about when you’re down is that usually you got nowhere to go but up.”
Not necessarily. It seems there is no bottom with Congress at only a six percent approval rating in an Economist/YouGov Poll.
With the gridlock caused by Republicans in Congress only likely to get worse with regards to legislation, even if there is an end to the Republican near-automatic blocking of appointees with the change in Senate filibuster rules, it is hard to see how Congress could possible get anywhere near fifty-percent approval. Obama has a far better chance of recovering support if the relaunch of Obamacare is a success.
While some of the factors causing a drop in Obama’s support were his fault, the significance has been exaggerated way out of proportion by Republicans who are not only rooting for failure but doing everything possible to sabotage the Affordable Care Act.Timothy Egan wrote:
This organized schadenfreude goes back to the dawn of Obama’s presidency, when Rush Limbaugh, later joined by Senator Mitch McConnell, said their No. 1 goal was for the president to fail. A CNN poll in 2010 found 61 percent of Republicans hoping Obama would fail (versus only 27 percent among all Americans).
Wish granted, mission accomplished. Obama has failed — that is, if you judge by his tanking poll numbers. But does this collapse in approval have to mean that the last best chance for expanding health care for millions of Americans must fail as well?
Does this mean we throw in the towel, and return to a status quo in which insurance companies routinely cancel policies, deny health care to people with pre-existing conditions and have their own death panel treatment for patients who reach a cap in medical benefits?
The Republican plan would do just that, because they have no plan but to crush the nation’s fledgling experiment. Sometimes they bring up vouchers, or tort reform, or some combination of catchphrases. Here was Sarah Palin, who is to articulate reason what Mr. Magoo is to vision, on the Republican alternative, as she told Matt Lauer:
“The plan is to allow those things that have been proposed over many years to reform a health care system in America that certainly does need more help so that there’s more competition, there’s less tort-reform threat, there’s less trajectory of the cost increases. And those plans have been proposed over and over. And what thwarts those plans? It’s the far left.”
Yes, it is a big and legitimate news story, for a presidency built on technical expertise, that the federal exchange is not working as promised. Ditto Obama’s vow that people could keep their bottom-feeder health care policies.
But where were the news conferences, the Fox News alerts, the parading of people who couldn’t get their lifesaving cancer treatments under the old system? Where was the media attention when thousands of people were routinely dumped once they got sick? When did Republicans in Congress hold an oversight hearing on the leading cause of personal bankruptcy — medical debt?
Obama should not have said people can keep their own insurance without an admission that this will not apply to everyone, even if they will come out ahead by changing plans. The web site problems should never have occurred but web site problems say zero about the goal of ensuring that all Americans have access to purchasing health care coverage which cannot be terminated at the whim of an insurance company should they develop medical problems. Besides, this would not have been an issue if the states had developed their own exchanges as intended. Enrollment under the Affordable Care Act has been going well in many states where a state exchange was developed. This is primarily in blue states, but Kentucky is a notable exception where Republican Governor Steve Beshear went against his party and made Obamacare work in his state. (Correction: Steve Beshear is a Democrat)
He’s an unlikely champion, not least because Kentucky’s two U.S. senators are both implacable opponents of the program.
“I knew if I was going to make a huge difference in the health status of Kentucky, it was going to take some kind of transformational tool to do that, and that’s what the Affordable Care Act is for me,” Beshear, white-haired and greyhound-lean, said as he sat behind a big maple desk in his office. “I think we’ve started something here,” he later added, “that a generation from now you’ll see a very different Kentucky than what you see today.”
Empowered to act without the Legislature’s approval, Beshear became the only Southern governor to embrace a provision vastly expanding Medicaid eligibility and open a state-run exchange for others seeking insurance. He conceded, with a small smile, that it was easier knowing he would never face voters again. “But,” he went on, “I’m convinced that in the end this is not going to [be] a negative political issue.”
He acted, Beshear said, only after independent analysts predicted the healthcare overhaul would inject more than $15 billion into Kentucky’s economy over the next eight years, create about 17,000 new jobs and produce about $800 million in state revenue. “You cannot afford not to do this,” he said he was told.
Obamacare does work when the Republicans don’t actively fight its implementation. Even with all the Republican attempts at sabotage, it appears that the most of the web site problems are being fixed and Obamacare will be running successfully. Of course a program of this complexity won’t work without some glitches, and Republicans will continue to make a lot of noise. Another factor working against Obama is that many people do not realize the risk they were at of losing their insurance in the past.
Hopefully the American people will trust their own experience over the lies from the right wing noise machine. A delay in getting a web site working properly is a minor matter. Once the web site is working and we move into 2014 most Americans will see that they really are either keeping their old insurance or replacing it with better coverage, generally from the same company if they desire, and frequently at a lower cost. They certainly are not being forced to give up their insurance for a government-run plan as many were misled to believe. Some of us will come out behind in terms of dollars spent, but generally the policies will cover more than in the past and have one huge advantage over plans prior to Obamacare–insurance companies will not be able to stop coverage due to medical problems. The real source of people losing their insurance is not Obamacare but the failed system it is replacing. Obamacare is the solution, not the problem.
“For most Americans, Obamacare is a lot of like sex. You do it online, it’s incredibly frustrating and the idea of anyone getting it makes Republicans insane.” –Bill Maher
“New Rule: Republicans have to stop saying that if the Obamacare website doesn’t work, that must mean Obamacare itself doesn’t work. That’s like saying the ice cream’s no good because you can’t find a spoon.” –Bill Maher
A couple of weeks ago I posted a recent picture of Jenna Coleman of Doctor Who modeling. For Thanksgiving I could post the usual turkey pictures, but wouldn’t you prefer to see more of Jenna? Here are three additional pictures of her modeling, and a picture from the filming of The Day of the Doctor.
And if you really wanted a turkey picture for today:
The media coverage of the Affordable Care Act has often been distorted, confusing start-up problems with the overall value of the law. Even beyond the initial problems, Obamacare is far from perfect. However, it is a huge improvement over the system it replaced in which people with medical problems were often denied health care coverage. In some cases conservatives have tried to pass off long-standing problems with the health care system, such as restrictions by medical plans on which doctors you could see, as problems with the Affordable Care Act. Fox has paraded people before viewers who were cut off by their health care plans when in reality such acts by insurance companies represent exactly the type of problem which Obamacare fixes. Previously those cut from insurance plans were often unable to replace their insurance due to per-existing conditions. Under Obamacare, there are no longer such restrictions on coverage. You might not be able to keep exactly the same insurance plan you have, but most people have the option of receiving insurance from the same company which provides better coverage at a lower cost.
The media has greatly exaggerated the fact that some people, primarily those who do not qualify for subsidies, might wind up paying more for insurance coverage. Often this is because their old plans were designed by insurance companies to limit their risk of actually paying out on claims. At very least, the “losers” under the Affordable Care Act have one significant benefit–insurance which cannot be revoked due to developing medical problems. In addition, although I will pay more next year for insurance, Obamacare has provided me with additional benefits such as covering children up to age twenty-six and covering preventative studies with no deductible or co-pay.
While there are going to be some relative losers in any change, there are far more winners under Obamacare. The media is increasingly reporting on these cases. For example, The Los Angeles Times provided several examples today. Besides providing examples of winners, the article explained:
Two-thirds of the 30 million Americans who will be eligible for individual coverage next year are uninsured today, whether because they can’t afford it now or because they’re barred by pre-existing condition limitations, which will no longer be legal. And more than three-quarters will be eligible for subsidies that will cut their premium costs and even co-pays and deductibles substantially…
Political opportunists (like House Speaker John Boehner), exploit near-term difficulties to obscure the tangible benefits the Affordable Care Act will bring to tens of millions of their constituents. When they say “this law has to go,” as Boehner’s spokesman did this weekend, they’re talking about returning people to the era of exclusions for pre-existing conditions. To people learning they’re uninsurable because of injuries from accidents, or chronic diseases, or the sheer bloody-mindedness of insurance company bureaucrats.
There are problems with Obamacare, but nobody has had to declare bankruptcy due to medical expenses and nobody has died because of being denied insurance coverage.
Three Senators, Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore), Mark Udall (D-Colo), and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M), have proposed legislation to help restore Fourth Amendment privacy protections following recent revelations regarding NSA surveillance. They have an op-ed in The New York Times which explains their position and their opposition to currently proposed legislation form the Senate intelligence committee which would codify current surveillance without providing privacy protections. Their op-ed begins:
End the N.S.A. Dragnet, Now
THE framers of the Constitution declared that government officials had no power to seize the records of individual Americans without evidence of wrongdoing, and they embedded this principle in the Fourth Amendment. The bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records — so-called metadata — by the National Security Agency is, in our view, a clear case of a general warrant that violates the spirit of the framers’ intentions. This intrusive program was authorized under a secret legal process by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, so for years American citizens did not have the knowledge needed to challenge the infringement of their privacy rights.
Our first priority is to keep Americans safe from the threat of terrorism. If government agencies identify a suspected terrorist, they should absolutely go to the relevant phone companies to get that person’s phone records. But this can be done without collecting the records of millions of law-abiding Americans. We recall Benjamin Franklin’s famous admonition that those who would give up essential liberty in the pursuit of temporary safety will lose both and deserve neither.
The usefulness of the bulk collection program has been greatly exaggerated. We have yet to see any proof that it provides real, unique value in protecting national security. In spite of our repeated requests, the N.S.A. has not provided evidence of any instance when the agency used this program to review phone records that could not have been obtained using a regular court order or emergency authorization.
Despite this, the surveillance reform bill recently ratified by the Senate Intelligence Committee would explicitly permit the government to engage in dragnet collection as long as there were rules about when officials could look at these phone records. It would also give intelligence agencies wide latitude to conduct warrantless searches for Americans’ phone calls and emails.
This is not the true reform that poll after poll has shown the American people want. It is preserving business as usual. When the Bill of Rights was adopted, it established that Americans’ papers and effects should be seized only when there was specific evidence of suspicious activity. It did not permit government agencies to issue general warrants as long as records seized were reviewed with the permission of senior officials.
Attacking Afghanistan made far more sense than to attack Iraq as George Bush did following the 9/11 attack. * I could see an attack to disrupt al Qaeda and was happy to see bin Laden killed, but questioned if we would see any long-term benefits from installing a government there. This somewhat confirms my skepticism–Afghanistan is now planning to restore the Taliban policy of stoning women for adultery:
Afghanistan is planning to reintroduce public stoning as punishment for adultery 12 years after the Taliban was ousted from power, according to a new draft penal code.
The move has shocked human rights campaigners and will dismay donors who have poured billions of pounds into the country for reconstruction.
It will be viewed as another backwards step at the end of a year that has seen women’s rights undermined, with a slew of legislation and murders of prominent women.
Human Rights Watch called for international donors to withhold funding if the government goes ahead with the plan.
“It is absolutely shocking that 12 years after the fall of the Taliban government, the Karzai administration might bring back stoning as a punishment,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at HRW…
As repulsive as both groups are, stoning is far worse than the forced vaginal probes and restrictions on reproductive rights which are supported by the American Taliban.
(* I would hope that by now the whole Truther line that 9/11 was an inside job by the Bush administration instead of a terrorist act by al Qaeda has been forgotten. In case anyone is still interested in that nonsense, Noam Chomsky has recently joined many others in debunking that conspiracy theory. Chomsky mocked “people around who spend an hour on the Internet and think they know a lot physics.” On the other hand, that is how the Internet works. How many other people on the far right with no knowledge of biology or climate science are coming up with arguments against evolution and global warming?)
The Day of the Doctor accomplished Steven Moffat’s goal of presenting an homage to the past but primarily looking towards the future. Just as real life isn’t neatly divided into sixty minute episodes (or serials in the case of older Doctor Who), the 50th anniversary episode combined two different stories. Both had the common theme of the Doctor finding a way to defeat an invasion and prevent destruction to either London or Gallifrey. The episode won a Guinness World Record award for the largest ever simulcast of a TV drama, being shown in ninety-four countries.
There were many tributes to the past beyond those I mention here. We saw the original opening, starting in black in white just as the series began. Clara was teaching at Coal School which Susan attended in the first episode. After several mentions of Queen Elizabeth I over the years, we saw the Doctor marry her, believing she was actually a Zygon shape shifter in disguise. (No word on what River Song thought of this). A UNIT agent (or her Zygon copy) wore Tom Baker’s scarf. David Tennant repeated his classic line, “I don’t want to go” and John Hurt said “reverse the polarity” in a tribute to Jon Pertwee. The episode included all thirteen Doctors, including John Hurt and Peter Capaldi, even if some were primarily from old clips and CGI. The episode ended with an ambiguous appearance from Tom Baker as the Curator, who might be the form which the Doctor takes after he retires. Billie Piper returned, but as Bad Wolf Rose in order to allow for her presence without altering Rose’s story.
The Doctors stopped a Zygon invasion of earth by literally bringing about the concept of a veil of ignorance, as the shape-shifting Zygons and members of UNIT did not remember which they were, giving motivation to both sides to negotiate a fair deal. From there the three Doctors tackled an even bigger problem, saving Gallifrey from the Dalek attack during the Time Wars by some way other than destroying them all. This was ultimately accomplished due to Matt Smith and David Tennant’s version of the Doctor having had more time to work on the problem, and the joint effort of thirteen Doctors.
We have now seen all of the regenerations. The webisode (posted here) The Night of the Doctor, showed the regeneration of Paul McGann to John Hurt. The regeneration of John Hurt was present near the end of The Day of The Doctor but unfortunately Christopher Eccleston declined to appear to complete the scene. Considering how little effort it would have taken to film the regeneration scene, his refusal to participate in the anniversary episode just makes him look more petty, regardless of what problems he had with the previous crew.
Although Steven Moffat had said that the numbering of the Doctors would not change, it is hard to see justification for not including John Hurt. Moffat recently said:
“I’ve been really, really quite careful about the numbering of the Doctors. He’s very specific, the John Hurt Doctor, that he doesn’t take the name of the Doctor. He doesn’t call himself that. He’s the same Time Lord, the same being as the Doctors either side of him, but he’s the one who says, ‘I’m not the Doctor.’ So the Eleventh Doctor is still the Eleventh Doctor, the Tenth Doctor is still the Tenth…
He adds: “Technically, if you really counted it, the David Tennant Doctor is two Doctors, on account of the Meta-Crisis Doctor [in Journey's End]… It’s not a matter of counting the regenerations, but of counting the faces of the Time Lord that calls himself the Doctor. There’s an anomaly Doctor slotted in somewhere, that’s all. In the script to The Day of the Doctor, Matt’s Doctor was called the Eleventh, and David’s was called the Tenth, so the numbering stays exactly the same – and we call Peter Capaldi the Twelfth Doctor.”
Of course we know that Moffat lies, and perhaps he said this to avoid giving away the ending to The Day Of The Doctor. Now that we have seen the full story of John Hurt’s Doctor, it is harder to justify not counting him. Despite being called the Warrior, we have now seen rather standard regenerations both into him and into the subsequent Doctor. Taking a different name hardly makes sense as a way around the regeneration limit. Even if his story ended with being responsible for a heinous act, this should not change the numbering. Now that this act was reversed, there is even less reason to exclude him. There was reference to “all thirteen” on Gallifrey. The Daleks recognized him as the Doctor. If we want to go meta and try to limit the official Doctors to those who had their own shows, this would contradict the convention of including Paul McGann who, before this month, appeared in only a single movie. Surely John Hurt’s appearance in the 50th anniversary episode, along with a brief scene in the previous episode, is as significant as an essentially stand-alone move. The BBC even reposted the 50th anniversary promo picture with John Hurt included (above).
The episode has significant ramifications for the future. The Doctor now has a new goal, to find Gallifrey. I wonder if this will be a season-long McGuffin like was done previously with The Key To Time serials in the Tom Baker era. This could provide a new emphasis from the show now that Amy Pond is gone and the mystery of Clara has been resolved, getting away from the stand-alone episodes of last season. A limit of twelve regenerations, meaning thirteen versions of the Doctor, was previously established, and we have now seen reference to “all thirteen” Doctors. The search for Gallifrey opens up one of several possible solutions as it is a safe prediction that Doctor Who will not end with Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. Perhaps saving Gallilfrey will lead to the Doctor being given another set of regenerations solving this issue. There has been precedent for the Time Lords having this power.
Before we see how this rewriting of the mythology affects Peter Capaldi’s Doctor, there remains the Christmas Episode in which Silence will Fall and we return to Trenzalore (trailer above).
For those disappointed in not seeing cameos from more actors who have played the Doctor, we do have the video below which was written and directed by Peter Davison. “The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot” stars Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann attempting to make it into the 50th anniversary episode. In a way they have accomplished this. I think that this video, along with The Day of the Doctor, and An Adventure in Space in Time should be counted as parts of a set honoring the 50th anniversary.
As I was working on my impressions of the episode, Blogator Who posted the official comments from Steven Moffat. Some portions of the interview follow:
I asked Steven for his thoughts on Peter Davison’s special The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.
“I loved it. I love it, I’m in it! I’m the villain as far as I can see! [Laughs] Absolutely adorable. It was actually my idea to do that, I had bumped into Peter at a party and he said, ‘I’m going to do this little fan video about us all trying to get into the 50th. Do you mind and would you be in it?’ And I said I’ll give you a budget and a camera crew and some time and why don’t you make it for real? Make it for us? It solved a problem for me. I wanted all The Doctor’s properly involved, if they were willing, as best they could.
It maximises what you can do with Sylvester [McCoy] and Colin [Baker] and Peter because they’re not the same people were, all those years ago. You get to see Colin Baker playing Colin Baker which is much more fun that seeing him trying to do a performance that no longer suits him, frankly. And the same with Peter and the absolutely charming Sylvester McCoy, who is an absolute hero. It was brilliant, I love The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, it was gorgeous.
Regarding Billie Piper in The Day of the Doctor Steven stated:
“I thought the story of Rose, which was beautiful, was done. I didn’t want to add to it, I didn’t feel qualified to add to it. That was always Russell’s [T Davies] story. The way Russell ended it in The End of Time was perfect. I didn’t want to stick another bit in. It would be wrong.
But we did want Billie Piper, one of the absolute heroes of Doctor Who, back in the show without interfering in the story of Rose Tyler. I think I might of spoiled something if I had done that. Billie represents the rival of Doctor Who, more than anyone else. It’s all about Billie, it’s her show for two years. It’s really startling watching The Runaway Bride and you’re going, ‘Where is she? Where is she? Where is the star of the show?’
On the 2013 Christmas Special, Moffat commented, “It’s a proper finale to Matt Smith, it’s the story we’ve been telling since he put the bow tie on. A lot of stuff we’ve left hanging, we tie up there. And it’s Trenzalore!” At a panel at the Official Doctor Who Celebration, including Matt Smith, Jenna Coleman and Steven, they revealed that the world “bubbly” will appear in the finale for The Eleventh Doctor.
POTUS about to make statement regarding deal with Iran on nuclear program. Next Fox to accuse Obama of making deal to reduce risk of nuclear war in order to take attention away from Obamacare problems.