SciFi Friday: Trailers for Razor and The Other Boelyn Girl


With little news over the holiday I’ll present a couple of trailers. Battlestar Galactica: Razor airs on the SciFi channel Saturday night with an extended DVD to be released on December 4. The trailer for the DVD version is above.


It will hard to beat Natalie Dormer’s portrayal of Anne Boleyn on the Showtime series, The Tudors but if anyone can do it it is Natalie Portman (pictured below on the day she appeared on Good Morning America wearing a John Kerry shirt). Portman plays Anne while Scarlett Johansson plays her sister Mary in The Other Boleyn Girl (trailer above). The movie is scheduled to be released February 29, 2008.

Yepsen Predicts Possible Edwards Collapse

During the final days before the 2004 Iowa caucus, David Yepsen noticed Kerry’s momentum and readers of his reports were not shocked by Kerry’s upset victory. This time around Yepsen sees Bill Richardson as the candidate with momentum while John Edwards risks a complete collapse. In an interview with Fox News, Yepsen discussed what the candidates had to be thankful for on Thanksgiving.

Yepsen: “I think if you’re John Edwards, you’re thankful this is going to be over with on January third. John Edwards has not been doing well lately, he’s slipping a little in these numbers. That’s not a good trend line for him. He’s got to get this thing over with fast.”

Yepsen said he fears Edwards could fall so far that New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, currently running fourth, could slip into third place — and would therefore be most thankful for that.

“I think one of the things that could happen is that Edwards could collapse, sag, fall apart, not do well,” Yepsen said. “And that leaves Richardson in real striking distance of third place. Richardson has run a good campaign. He’s got some support here. If I were Edwards I’d be worried about sagging so far it could enable Richardson to take third place.”

Kucinich Finally Realizes Edwards Cannot Be Trusted

The fifteen percent threshold rule in the Iowa caucus makes being the second choice of the supporters of other candidates an important factor in determining the ultimate winner. In 2004 Kucinich threw his support to John Edwards helping him come in second place, but it now looks like he won’t make that mistake again. I always found that decision strange considering that both Dean and Kerry were far closer to Kucinich’s position on the war and civil liberties issues than Edwards was. It took an article in The New York Times which did make some errors to finally convince Kucinich he was wrong.

The article alleges that ““Mr. Kerry had increasing doubts about the war. But Mr. Edwards argued that they should not renounce their votes — they had to show conviction and consistency.” This is not entirely correct as Kerry had made it clear at the time of his vote for the IWR that he would only support going to war if we were proven to be threatened by WMD. When Bush failed to prove this, Kerry opposed going to war before the war started, even calling for regime change in Washington in protest. Kerry often repeated the slogan “wrong war, wrong place, wrong time” during the campaign.

Despite the inaccuracies of the article, the Times is correct that Edwards was a supporter of both the war and the Patriot Act. While Kerry had opposed the war, some felt that he did tone down his opposition to the war during the campaign due to Edwards’ influence. Regardless, Kerry is not a candidate this year but Edwards is and Kucinich is right in questioning Edwards. Kucinich released a statement which concludes:

“John Kerry was hammered by the Republicans and by many in the media for changing his positions on the war and other issues in the 2004 campaign,” Kucinich noted. “The fact of the matter is that he wanted to come out against the war in 2004, and John Edwards argued against it.”

“Now,” Kucinich continued, “we have a candidate who voted for the war and voted to fund the war, but says he against it. He voted for the Patriot Act, and now he complains about its abuses. He voted for China Trade in 2000 knowing that Americans would be hurt, and now he’s decrying the unsafe products pouring into this nation from China. He supported nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain, now he’s against it.”“Will the real John Edwards please stand up?” Kucinich said.

The Internet and Coverage of Ron Paul

During a recent discussion of the Paul campaign, former Paul staffer Eric Dondero (who split with the campaign due to differing views on the Iraq war) made the following point:

It’s kind of amusing to me to see all these media folks and Ron Paul critics attacking him and his campaign for all these contributions from questionable groups as if this was something new. Ron Paul has a very long history of hanging out with fringe, far-out groups. This is not something that has all of a sudden arisen in 2007 with his Presidential race.

I suggest for all these media types looking into Ron Paul and his ties to fringe groups, go back a few years. Don’t just look at 2006/07. Go back to the 1990s. Go back to the Libertarian Presidential campaign.

There’s a lot there yet to be uncovered.

I have no doubt that this is nothing new. There are a couple of differences now as to why these things are being discussed as opposed to when Paul ran as the Libertarian Party candidate in the past.

The first difference is that the war made Paul more significant now than when he ran as the Libertarian Party candidate. The Libertarian Party has been small group which typically received about 1% of the vote and people didn’t pay much attention to them. There were only occasional mentions of them in the news media and they were too superficial to look at these points. The libertarian publications which covered the Libertarian Party weren’t interested in discussing the types of issues which are now arising about Paul’s connections to right wing extremism. This year Paul is of some minor significance as the only Republican candidate who opposed the war giving reason for more discussion of him now than in the past.
The other difference is the effects of the internet. Without the internet, Paul would get an occasional media story but he’d still be a candidate polling in single digits and would get minimal attention. The internet allows for more detailed coverage of Paul, both good and bad.

The internet also makes it possible to easily get more information. Without the internet it wouldn’t be possible to easily pull up the fact that Don Black contributed to Ron Paul. Without the internet we couldn’t pull up old articles Paul wrote where he expressed conservative views denying separation of church and state and making ridiculous assertions such as that the founding fathers envisioned a Christian nation as opposed to a secular nation. Without the internet we would not see quotes from Ron Paul’s newsletter where he claimed that blacks are prone to violence and are incapable of coming to rational political positions.

Paul’s faults are also highlighted by the comments of his supporters who spam the internet. While their views are often more extreme than Paul’s and their arguments even more irrational, they still reflect poorly on Paul and reinforce all the negative information which has come out on Paul. Without realizing it, Paul’s supporters ensure that Paul remains a fringe candidate with a relatively low ceiling on his potential support, and helps remind bloggers and journalists of how out of touch with reality many on the far right are.

The Changing Meaning of Libertarianism

Posts on most blogs about Ron Paul rarely lead to any meaningful discussion as the Paul supporters quickly spam the comments. One benefit of using moderation to prevent Paul supporters from engaging in their usual tactic of shouting down anyone who doesn’t agree with them one hundred percent has been to allow for other ideas to come up. There are two items coming from the discussion under this post which I have decided to promote to the front page of the blog. The first has come up several times in discussions of whether the Paul movement is more one of social conservativism with some libertarian ideas or a true libertarian movement. This leads to a look at how the meaning of the word “libertarian” has changed over the years.

The word “libertarian” has become almost meaningless for a variety of reasons. The use of the word by many Republicans has been noted in the discussion but this isn’t the only problem.

The first factor which led to the change in meaning was the birth of the Libertarian Party. Back in the 1960’s and early 1970’s libertarianism was primarily used to refer to anarcho-capitalists like Murray Rothbard or supporters of government so limited that it didn’t even have the power to tax. Such positions based on principle were fine for political discussion groups and underground magazines but didn’t make a practical platform for a political party. Many libertarians such as Samuel Edward Konkin III argued against the formation of the Libertarian Party, correctly predicting how it would dilute the position. Subsequently we had Libertarian Party candidates such as Ed Clark campaigning on a platform of reducing government back to where it was under John Kennedy. Once libertarianism could mean a significant amount of government, it became easy for others who support freedom in some areas to support other government action (including the Iraq war by some or prohibiting abortion by others) while still using the libertarian name.

When I have called Paul’s campaign more a social conservative phenomenon than a libertarian phenomenon, some bloggers have argued that I am wrong on the grounds that Paul was once the Libertarian Party’s candidate. They miss the point that I was using libertarianism in its more strict meaning used before the birth of the party by which the Libertarian Party itself is not necessarily libertarian. If you want to define libertarianism as being synonymous with the Libertarian Party then by definition Paul would be a libertarian, but this is a definition which is independent of actual principles and not one I find particularly significant when looking at the positions of an individual candidate. Party affiliation is a poor way to describe an individual’s philosophy. Jesse Jackson and George Wallace might have both been Democrats at one time, but their views are certainly quite different.

Another factor is that libertarians have grown up and lived in the real world. The more consistent and extreme meanings of libertarianism look more realistic when living on a college campus than living in the real world. Many libertarians have moderated their views as they’ve lived in the real world but continue to use the label.

The word “libertarian” is also used to describe many people due to the lack of good terms to describe a variety of political positions. Many people don’t fit in entirely as conservatives or liberals. This includes people who are more liberal on social and civil liberties issues and conservative on economic issues. They support more freedom and less government than the status quo on both social and economic issues and therefore the libertarian label is often applied for lack of a better term but this is a distinctly different view from the more extreme libertarians who would support far less government (if any government at all).

As a consequence of these trends we have the split between Ron Paul and his former staffer Eric Dondero who both call themselves libertarians but have opposite views on the war and Patriot Act. Both might be libertarians under its current use but neither would be libertarians under the more pure definition of the past. Eric Dondero backs Rudy Guilani, considering him libertarian, but I’d consider Giuliani one of the least libertarian candidates due to his views on the war and in increasing executive power. Bill Maher also often calls himself a libertarian but leans towards John Edwards, the candidate who might be the least libertarian candidate of all when his views on economic issues, social issues, and civil liberties are all considered. Any label which includes Ron Paul, Bill Maher, anarcho-capitalists, and supporters of the Iraq War and Patriot Act is no longer of very much value.

David Brooks Misses The Real Giuliani

In contrast to the more moderate views on immigration supported by Mike Huckabee, David Brooks looks at the views of Rudy Giuliani. Brooks looks not only at Giuliani’s views of today but a more moderate approach–that supported by Giuliani himself in the past. Brooks believes that the previous statements by Giuliani, as opposed to what he says today represents the real Giuliani. Brooks realizes that moderate Republicans are needed and that Giuliani had the potential to reinvigorate the Republican Party:

Of course it hasn’t turned out that way. At the moment, Giuliani and fellow moderate Mitt Romney are attacking each other for being insufficiently Tancredo-esque. They are not renouncing the policies they championed as city and state officials, but the emphasis as they run for federal office is all in the other direction. In effect, they are competing to drive away Hispanic votes and make the party unelectable in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Florida and the nation at large.

In this way, they are participating in the greatest blown opportunity in recent political history. At its current nadir, the G.O.P. had been blessed with five heterodox presidential candidates who had the potential to modernize the party on a variety of fronts. They could be competing to do that, but instead they are competing to appeal to the narrowest slice of the old guard and flatter the most rigid orthodoxies of the Beltway interest groups. Giuliani could have opened the party to the armies of dynamism — the sort of hard-working strivers who live in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx; instead he has shelved one of his core convictions.

Someday Rudy Giuliani will look back on this moment and wonder why he didn’t run as himself.

I don’t know which Giuliani is the real Giuliani, but the Giuliani who is running only locks in the Republicans as the party of extremists out of touch with reality. Instead of a rational moderate he runs as a demagogue attacking Democrats with his scare stories of how a Democratic victory could lead to another terrorist attack. The most notable moment of the debates is not one of Giuliani showing moderation but of attacking Ron Paul after Paul made the only rational comment about foreign policy in any of the Republican debates. Many who have looked at Giuliani’s record show that he was never the moderate which many believe he was and that he would exacerbate the problems created by Bush and Cheney. Regardless of who the real Rudy Giuliani is, Brooks is correct that the Giuliani who is running has no chance of reinvigorating the Republican Party and keeping it out of the hands of right wing extremists.

Huckabee Has Another Moment of Sanity For a Republican

I would never consider supporting Mike Huckabee because our views are so diametrically opposed on social issues. I am not surprised by recent signs that he might make a legitimate challenge for the Republican nomination as I’ve wondered why social conservatives didn’t rally around him as the most rational and consistent proponent of their views. As Huckabee’s position has improved it now looks like the Club For Growth knew what they were doing in launching attack ads against him over the summer as it now looks like the religious right might not fall in line behind the more mainstream Republicans who pander to them like Giuliani and Romney while possibly only pretending to share their views.

At times I’ve quoted significant areas of disagreement with Huckabee where I’ve also questioned if he wasn’t a bit out of touch with reality, such as in raising his hand to the debate question indicating he does not believe in evolution. At other times he seems like one of the more sane Republicans running, such as when he argued against the need for prayer in schools as opposed to in the home. Even Ron Paul, the only Republican candidate who makes any sense on the war, has sponsored a school prayer amendment and denies the importance of separation of church and state.

Huckabee had another such moment of comparative sanity in an interview with ABC News (hat tip to TPM Election Central) when asked about his views on immigration:

TAPPER: Another issue that’s going to come up, of course, is an issue that’s very important to Iowa Republicans, and that’s immigration. As governor, you supported the children of illegal immigrants being eligible for scholarships, and you also supported free prenatal care for those pregnant illegal immigrants who needed it. How do you make the argument to Iowans that those were the right decisions, when they’re so mad about illegal immigration?

HUCKABEE: Well, people are mad about illegal immigration because it’s illegal. They’re made because the federal government has shown just how dysfunctional it is.

TAPPER: But weren’t you enabling it?

HUCKABEE: The issue that we’ve got to deal with is that, if you have a federal government that never deals with a secure border and then fails to do anything about dealing with people when they get employed and they can get employed with false documents, the question is, why don’t you secure the border, end the sanctuary cities and amnesty, which I would do? But I wouldn’t punish the children who didn’t commit a crime. You don’t do that in this country. We have a long history of — we penalize law-breakers. We don’t penalize their children for something they can’t help.

If a child is gasping for air, asthmatic, and he’s on the hospital steps, what do the other candidates suggest we do, let him sit there and gasp until he doesn’t have any air left and he dies? If a child comes to our school — and our law, by the way, in most of our states, mine certainly says you’ve got to educate a child if he’s of child age — what do you, break your own law and say, “No, you can’t come in the schoolhouse door”?

No, you don’t do that. What you do is you elect a president who will fix the problem where it needs to be fixed: at the border. But if your government at the federal government is so incompetent that it fails to secure the border, you don’t then grind your heel into the face of a 6-year-old child over it. That’s not what this country does. We’re a better country than that.

John Edwards’ Plan For Fighting Hunger

The Democrats are in an excellent position to take control of the government as voters have become disillusioned with Republican failures. As good as the Democrats position appears to be, some just seem to be unable to resist repeating mistakes of the past and giving the Republicans a shot to win. Once again John Edwards plays into every “tax and spend” stereotype of Democrats which many other Democrats have been attempting to get away from.

Edwards has introduced a plan for fighting hunger which entails creating yet more government programs. When added to all of Edwards’ other plans, how many middle class voters will do the math and figure that they better vote against his party to avoid seeing such an increase in their taxes that they risk joining the hungry themselves? The Lew Rockwell Blog has a simplistic example of what the conservative response will be, but don’t underestimate the effectiveness of the argument.

While the conservative response is somewhat simplistic, I’m no more impressed by the liberal response so far. Matthew Yglesias and Neil the Ethical Werewolf note how one government program, farm subsidies, contributes to the hunger problem by altering the market to make unhealthy foods more affordable than healthy foods. If current government programs are worsening the problem this leads me to pause and consider eliminating the counterproductive programs before advocating yet more programs.

Conservatives vs. Paul Supporters on Pork

Which group is preferable, the bulk of the Republicans or those who support Ron Paul? A month ago the choice seemed obvious. Even though I disagreed with Paul’s social conservatism, Paul did seem far preferable with regards to his position on Iraq and civil liberties. Unfortunately the Ron Paul movement increasingly seems to be one of fringe groups such as white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and conspiracy theorists who have little understanding of libertarian philosophy or economic beliefs. As a result it now appears that conservatives have a better understanding of economics than many Paul supporters, at least with regards to the consequences of earmarks.

In the recent past I’ve had disagreements with Paul supporters who defended Paul’s support for earmarks to benefit his Congressional district. Many of his supporters argued that the earmarks did not contribute to increasing government spending as the funds were already appropriated. Conservative blogger Ed Morrissey presents a far more economically sound argument than the Paul supporters.

Ed, while discussing an article in Thursday’s Washington Post which showed that Republicans as well as Democrats are responsible for earmarks, explained why earmarks contribute to increased government spending. He concludes:

If you want small government, the only way to get there is to show people an honest cost-benefit analysis of Washington’s spending. Republicans who contribute to or enable pork-barrel politics delay this accountability, and in doing so perpetuate the big-government leviathan they supposedly oppose. Until the spoils system is eliminated, the demand for big government will always remain strong enough to keep DC expanding its spending and its authority.

Republicans who want small government don’t pork. It’s really that simple, and Republican leadership had better learn the lesson quickly. Just as with any other market, the only way to end unwanted behavior is to remove the incentives.

Score one for the conservatives over the so-called libertarians. Those who make reducing government spending their top priority might still be justified in supporting Paul on the belief that his record, even though imperfect, is preferable to other choices. However when Paul supporters go beyond this and argue that the pork which Paul supports does not matter we see signs of a personality cult and not a principled political movement.

Mitt Romney Pushes Fox News

When Republicans don’t like the news they know that they can always turn to a propaganda source which will present a fiction favorable to them. Occasionally they run into a supporter who might not realize this, but Mitt Romney was ready to let an Iowa Republican in on the situation. Political Radar reports:

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney was campaigning in Washington, Iowa Wednesday when he got an off beat question from one woman in the crowd.

“How do we gag the newspapers …” she asked, speaking so quietly the second half of her question couldn’t be understood. But if her question wasn’t clear, Romney’s advice was.

“”It’s amazing isn’t it?” Romney said, “Well, fortunately we can change channels. And they’re channels like Fox that can give a different perspective. And then you can also go on the Internet or you can go on talk radio and you can get a different view.”

Why bother with the facts when there is a channel like Fox which will say what you want to hear?