SciFi Friday Cylon & Cyborg Edition: Battlestar Galactica; Sarah Connor Chronicles; and Sarah Palin, Stepford Veep?

If things remain as busy this election year I should come up with a new title considering how it has been necessary to postpone the vast majority of editions of SciFi Friday until late in the weekend ever since the primary campaign heated up. I can’t get away with ignoring the rest of the news to put out Sci Friday as I often did for much of the day on Fridays before the election campaigns. It also doesn’t help this week that I just returned from vacation, and also remain busier with remodeling portions of my home. I simply cannot be marking SF articles and blog posts to discuss when I’m being dragged around town by my wife to look at tile samples. The new jacuzzi is scheduled for installation on Tuesday and I’m not sure how that will affect my blogging schedule. (Since the master bath still will not have the new floor in and there will not be any tile around the tub yet we might hold off getting much use out of it for a while longer.)

The second Battlestar Galactica movie begins filming on Monday with Edward James Olmos directing. The movie deals with several of the Cylon characters including Tricia Helfer as Number Six, Grace Park as Boomer, Rick Worthy as Simon, Matthew Bennett as Doral and Callum Keith Rennie as Leoben. A pilot for the prequel series Caprica has also been filmed with word to come in the next few weeks as to whether it will be picked up.

The final season of Battlestar Galactica will reportedly resume in January, and will not be postponed until April as some rumors suggest. Door Q has some limited information on the conclusion of the final season  including this potential spoiler in quoting Edward James Olmos:

We’ve found Earth,” he said of the climax of the mid-season finale. “But Earth is nuked. There’s nothing there. What happens in the next 10 episodes takes science fiction in a new direction we’ve never seen before.”

Olmos ended his speech with this reassuring tidbit, given that he has described Galactica’s finale as “brutal” and “not an uplifting story”: “The human race will survive!”

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles returns this week and from reports, such as here, it sounds like there will be major developments from last year, including John becoming more like the soldier he is fated to become and getting a new love interest played by Leven Rambin. Speaking of cyborgs, IO9 speculates that Sarah Palin might be a cyborg, or at least a Stepford candidate, and offers some signs to watch for:

No-One Ever Sees Palin Go Through A Metal Detector At Airport Security. Sure, you can get away with that in Alaska – It’s a different world up there, after all, and the only security they need there are polar bears guarding the check-in desks. But on a whistle-stop tour of the other States, she’s got to be seen going through security at least once, right…? Unless… there are reasons otherwise.

John McCain’s Speeches Start Including Phrases Like “We Need To Invest More Into Medical Technology, Such As Synthetic Skin” Sure, Palin may look good on camera – But how many people have seen her up close and personal? Being on the stump is going to wear out even the best fake skin substitute we have, considering all the handshakes and baby-kissin’ there is to do, after all.

Every Woman In The Republican Party Starts To Look Like Nannette Newman. Or, in the case of Palin herself, the former spokesperson for But if all female members of the Republican party suddenly start indulging in librarian chic, then it may be time really start to worry. And if they all appear on news reports saying that nothing’s wrong, but if all the women in the audience could come into the kitchen because they have something interesting to show them? Run away.

The VP Debate Ends When Palin’s Head Explodes In A Shower Of Sparks. Look, I’m not saying that Joe Biden can’t talk up a storm or anything, but he’s never made anyone’s head explode in the past. If it happens whenever he and Palin go up against each other, I think it’s more of a sign that something is up with her than a victory for him.

So there it is. The Republicans’ plan to get re-elected will have less to do with issues and more to do with what voters take from candidates, as McCain’s campaign manager has said, but what they take away from the candidates may end up being more along the lines of a robotic replacement wife than previously suspected. It’s a devious plan, but it might just work.

The McCain campaign had another technical problem at the convention beyond choosing an alleged cyborg to run for vice president. Someone assigned to find a background of Walter Reed Hospital wound up using a background of a Walter Reed Middle School, with the principle protesting its use without permission. A school board member also protested with this statement:

Though I am flattered that Senator McCain chose to use a school from my district as backdrop to his remarks at the Republican National Convention, I wished he had checked with me first. As a strong believer in public education, I don’t think the Senator is the most appropriate person to showcase one of the premier schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District. He is unwilling to bring fairness and equity to No Child Left Behind and ensure that schools like Reed get the resources they need from the Federal Government. From what I’ve heard, that’s not a priority for the McCain/Palin ticket


There is a reason for including this incident in the weekly review of science fiction and television which I will get to now. Coincidentally, Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits) had a shot of the same middle school (video above) in the scene where he announced his presidential campaign on The West Wing.

Jimmy Smits has changed jobs from president on The West Wing to an assistant district attorney on Dexter. A copy of the first episode of the upcoming third season has leaked out on line (as also occurred with the first episode last season). One of Dexter’s killings goes wrong which leads to his involvement with Jimmy Smits. In addition, the days in which Dexter and Rita’s relationship was based upon neither of them being able to get very close to anyone else are long over, and Debra gets a new hair style.

Some Conservative Blogs Still Claim Obama is a Muslim


Many conservative blogs are trying once again to spread around smears that Obama is a Muslim by distorting a segment of the above interview. Fortunately this attack is too over the top for even some conservative blogs, such as Hot Air which opposes use of this smear.

It is unfortunate that there really are people who still believe the smears that Obama is a Muslim (such as in the comments to this post) due to some of the whisper campaigns which segments of the right are engaged in.

Palin Was No Tax Cutter

The choice of Sarah Palin shows the influence of the religious right on McCain’s campaign, but neither he or Palinl offer very much to fiscal conservatives. Her record on por-barrel spending is so bad that even Fox News has criticized her on this point. The Cato Institute has reviewed her record on taxation and it is not very good from a fiscal conservative stand point. They report that she offered some “narrow or minor tax breaks” but the author writes, “I see no evidence that Palin offered any major tax cuts.” The overal impression is that, “On tax policy, Alaska governor Sarah Palin has a rather uninspiring, albeit brief, record.” (Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan.)

Overall the McCain/Palin ticket has a lot to offer the hyper-nationalists and neo-conservatives on foreign policy and the religious right on social issues. They have little to offer more traditional conservatives who might be interested in issues such as small government or civil liberties. As Andrew Sullivan writes, “The selling of Sarah Palin has been about as reliable as the vetting.”

Palin Agrees To Be Interviewed By Charles Gibson

The record long wait for Sarah Palin to face the media might be coming to an end later this week. AP reports that Palin has agreed to an interview with ABC’s Charles Gibson later in the week.

I’m not at all surprised by the choice. Going on Fox News might be received by ridicule–and there is no longer any guarantee they will toe the party line any more. They certainly couldn’t risk having Palin on Fox News Sunday after Chris Wallace debunked the campaign’s claims about Palin’s record on pork-barrel spending and the “bridge to nowhere.” If you want someone from one of the networks who is likely to avoid rocking the boat and defer to authority, Gibson might be the best choice. This is fine, as long as Palin agrees to face tougher journalists in the following days.

Stretching this out, along with the announcement the choice of Palin the day after the Democratic convention concluded, is a good move for maximizing coverage for the ticket. Talk will probably continue to concentrate on the GOP ticket for several more days, helping McCain in the polls. The Republicans are good at playing politics. If they could govern half as effectively as they play politics the country would be in much better shape.

Update: People commenting are concerned that  Gibson will conduct a softball, or even whiffle ball, interview. As I responded, there is a chance that the interview might not entirely be softball or whiffle ball. Gibson has brought up a lot of the nonsense attacks with Obama in the past.

My fear is that Gibson doesn’t have what it takes to separate out the criticism which matters from that which doesn’t. I fear he will ask questions on some of the irrelevant criticism such as Bristol’s pregnancy or criticism for working instead of taking care of her kids. These are more personal concerns which the media is obsessed with but which don’t address the real concerns about Palin being vice president.

We need interviews which look at her lack of experience in national and international issues and which examine her views which are far to the right even by Republican standards. While I was never a big fan of Tim Russert’s gotcha questioning, it would be appropriate in her case as there are so many contradictions in her statements and she has already been caught in so many lies.

Decrease in Artic Ice Consistent With Global Warming

The New York Times has an article reporting that Artic Ice Hints at Warming, Specialists Say:

Leading ice specialists in Europe and the United States for the first time have agreed that a ring of navigable waters has opened all around the fringes of the cap of sea ice drifting on the warming Arctic Ocean.

By many expert accounts, this is the first time the Northwest Passage over North America and the Northern Sea Route over Europe and Asia have been open simultaneously in at least half a century, if not longer.

While currents and winds play a role, experts say, the expanding open water in the far north provides the latest evidence that the Arctic Ocean, long a frozen region hostile to all but nuclear submariners and seal hunters, is transforming during the summers into more of an open ocean.

Global warming from the continuing buildup of human-generated greenhouse gases is almost certainly contributing to the ice retreats, many Arctic specialists now agree, although they hold a variety of views on how much of the recent big ice retreats is due to human activity.

Besides the information contained, it is notable how this report differs from the typical article we see in conservative publications and blogs from global warming deniers. First note that the article takes an observed fact and reports that this “hints at warming.” Contrast this with numerous articles in which global warming deniers take an isolated single fact (such as here), often with distortions of the information, and use this to claim that global warming has been disproven. Science is based upon a large body of observations, not any single piece of information. While articles in the mainstream media are interesting to read, to evaluate science it is necessary to review what is written in peer reviewed scientific journals, not newspapers.

Secondly note that this article refers to the views of experts in the field, although it would be a much better article if it directly quoted the experts it is referring to.  Unfortunately scientific reporting in the mainstream media has its weaknesses even when presenting generally factual information.

In contrast to basing their article on the views of experts, articles from global warming deniers are typically based upon the writings of a handful of global warming skeptics who are often outside of the field, and who are often on the payroll of the energy industry. A review of  the scientific literature is clear in showing that the consensus viewpoint of scientists actually in the field agrees upon the role of human action in bringing about climate change.

Fox News Again Debunks McCain Campaign Lies


I’ve been very critical of Fox News in the past. While they still show signs of conservative bias and continue to present some misinformation, they do deserve credit for at least sometimes pointing out dishonesty from the McCain campaign. I’ve previously noted how Fox has pointed out that McCain has been lying when talking about Obama’s tax policies. Today Chris Wallace debunked the claims being made about Sarah Palin on pork-barrel projects and the lies about her opposing the “bridge to nowhere.” Video is above and partial transcript follows (hat tip to Think Progress along with further information placing this in context):

Since accepting Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) offer to be his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) has lied about her supposed opposition to the Bridge to Nowhere in nearly every single campaign appearance:

Palin claimed she “championed reform of earmark spending by Congress, and I told the Congress thanks but no thanks on that ‘Bridge to Nowhere,’” she said, ommiting [sic] mention that she’d campaigned for governor supporting the bridge. [Albuquerque, NM, 9/6/08]

PALIN: And I’ve championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. In fact, I told Congress thanks, but no thanks, on that “Bridge to Nowhere.” [Dayton, OH, 8/29/08]

PALIN: I told the Congress “thanks, but no thanks,” for that Bridge to Nowhere. [St. Paul, MN, 9/3/08]

This is demonstrably false. Campaigning for governor, Palin visited the town of Ketchikan to promise action on the bridge. She “said the bridge was essential for the town’s prosperity,” and that “she could feel the town’s pain at being derided as a ‘nowhere’ by prominent politicians.” She said the time to secure the funding was now, “while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist.”

Today on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace tried to pin down a straight answer on Palin’s bridge position from McCain campaign manager Rick Davis. When Davis refused to acknowledge Palin’s misleading statements, Wallace detailed her support for millions of dollars in earmarks, including the bridge:

WALLACE: During her 1.5, 2 years as Governor, Alaska continued to get more federal money for pork-barrel projects per capita than any state in the country and…she supported the Bridge to Nowhere. And it was only after the federal government dropped it out, killed it, the Congress killed it that she then opposed it. And in fact she still got the money for the

McCain’s Temper Makes It Too Risky To Have Him As President In The Nuclear Age

In his acceptance speech John McCain portrayed himself as a moderate who would cross party lines and consider ideas from both parties. His record shows otherwise. McClatchy reports:

John McCain made a quick stop at the Capitol one day last spring to sit in on Senate negotiations on the big immigration bill, and John Cornyn was not pleased.

Cornyn, a mild-mannered Texas Republican, saw a loophole in the bill that he thought would allow felons to pursue a path to citizenship.

McCain called Cornyn’s claim “chicken-s—,” according to people familiar with the meeting, and charged that the Texan was looking for an excuse to scuttle the bill. Cornyn grimly told McCain he had a lot of nerve to suddenly show up and inject himself into the sensitive negotiations.

“F— you,” McCain told Cornyn, in front of about 40 witnesses.

It was another instance of the Republican presidential candidate losing his temper, another instance where, as POW-MIA activist Carol Hrdlicka put it, “It’s his way or no way.”

There’s a lengthy list of similar outbursts through the years: McCain pushing a woman in a wheelchair, trying to get an Arizona Republican aide fired from three different jobs, berating a young GOP activist on the night of his own 1986 Senate election and many more.

The article gives considerably more detail on McCan’s history, including his early days in the Senate:

When John McCain came to the Senate in 1987, he quickly got two reputations: a Republican who’d do business with Democrats on tough issues and an impatient senator who was often gruff and temperamental.

In January, Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., told The Boston Globe that, “the thought of (McCain) being president sends a cold chill down my spine. He is erratic. He is hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me.” (Cochran has since endorsed McCain.)

Added Sen. Christopher Bond, R-Mo., who has a long list of vociferous, sometimes personal disagreements with McCain, “His charm takes a little getting used to.” (Bond, too, supports him.)

Democrats are less guarded.

“There have been times when he’s just exploded, ” said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa.

“Look, around here, people lose their tempers once in a while. But it doesn’t happen very often, and it usually happens in some contextual framework. A lot of times there’s just not much of a contextual framework for his blowing up.”

While he had a dual reputation in the past as someone who would cross party lines and as being temperamental, in recent years he has flip-flopped on many issues, siding with the George Bush wing of the Republican Party and no longer showing consideration of opposing viewpoints. This leaves us with a far right Republican with a temper, which raises concerns:

Independent experts have some concerns about McCain’s irascibility.

“Diplomacy is not often dealing with reasonable people,” said Steve Clemons, an analyst at the New America Foundation, a centrist public policy group.

“In the nuclear age, you don’t want someone flying off the handle, so it’s a critical question: Can McCain control his temper?” asked Thomas De Luca, professor of political science at Fordham University in New York.

It was one thing for John McCain to sing, “Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran.” It’s another thing to trust him with the ability to make this decision. It is just too risky to have John McCain in the White House.

Where’s Sarah?, Continued

As I noted in the previous post, Sarah Palin was the only one of the four candidates not to appear on one of the morning talk shows today, and the McCain campaign has refused all interview requests. Josh Marshall refers to this as “training wheels we can believe in.” Andrew Sullivan has checked back as to how long a delay there was between previous vice presidential candidates been named and them facing the press.

Sullivan found that It took four days for both Dan Quayle and Geraldine Ferraro. Lloyd Bentsen gave a press conference one day after being chosen. Joe Lieberman’s first press conference was one week after the convention ended, but at least he had appeared many times before the national press in the past. Thomas Eagleton was interviewed on the day of his selection and appeared on Face the Nation two days later.  George H.W. Bush gave press conferences one day after he was picked, and had been before the press frequently during the primary campaign.

Sullivan also noted that the McCain campaign can’t even get their story straight as to when Palin will grant an interview:

Here’s McCain’s response this morning on when Palin will be ready to meet the press:

“Within the next few days and I’m strongly recommending that she come on ‘Face the Nation’ with Bob Schieffer,” McCain said in an interview that was taped on Saturday.

Here’s Rick “Not About The Issues” Davis:

“She’ll agree to an interview when we think it’s time and when she feels comfortable doing it,” David said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Sarah Palin is setting new records for avoiding the press, which is more significant both due to her lack of previous discussion of national and international issues and as this convention is much closer to the general election than previous conventions. Tim F. at Baloon Juice believes the reason is not simply that she is unprepared, figuring that if Dan Quayle could do it, Sarah Palin could do it:

Taking a wild guess, the answer most likely has to do with Palin’s problem with telling the truth. In her short time on the national stage Sarah Palin has lied about practically everything. She lied about opposing the Ketchikan bridge, she lied about selling a state plane on eBay and about making a profit on the sale, she lied about visiting Ireland (her plane refueled there), she lied about fighting lobbyists and pork (she set a record for both), she lied about Obama’s legislative accomplishments.

More, it now appears indisputable that Palin lied her moose hunting ass off about inappropriately using her authority to fire Alaska’s public safety chief. The public record already has more than enough proof that she lied to the Alaskan people about not putting pressure on the commissioner to fire her ex-brother in law. Then she lied about cooperating with the commission. This poses a vexing problem because even Larry King or Chris Wallace have to bring this up and there is literally nothing that Palin can say. If she repeats her earlier denials the evidence will damn her now and the looming investigation report will damn her even worse. The only credible answer would be to come to Jesus on national TV, except that she risks admitting to an impeachable offense.

She can’t lie, she can’t tell the truth. I don’t envy the campaign for the tough spot that McCain’s rash decision left them in. At the same time I don’t much sympathy for Alaska’s lying, power-abusing tinpot Bush.

Sarah Palin’s dishonesty is a major problem for the Republican ticket, but so is John McCain’s with even Fox News pointing out some of his lies. Obama’s campaign should hit hard on the lack of honesty shown by both John McCain and Sarah Palin. This would work well with both their message of change and with showing how electing them would give us another four years of George Bush-style governing.

Where’s Sarah?

Here’s the line up for today’s interview shows: Barack Obama will be on This Week. John McCain will be on Face the Nation. Joe Biden will be on Meet the Press. Someone appears to be missing.

The Republicans are in no rush. Sarah Palin will not be interviewed until she is ready. Should McCain/Palin win the election, and should John McCain become incapacitated, presumably they will also hold off on having Palin take over until she is ready. No 3 a.m. phone calls for her until she is good and ready–unless someone needs an emergency ice fishing permit. She’s ready to handle that on day one.

John McCain’s Energy Follies

The New York Times looks at John McCain’s Energy Follies, concluding:

Global problems obviously require a global response. As the world’s most profligate user of energy, and as one of its most technologically gifted nations, the United States can and should lead the way by developing more efficient vehicles and by expanding carbon-free energy sources like wind and solar power.

The John McCain of a few years ago understood this. He sponsored a bill with John Kerry that would have aggressively raised fuel economy standards, and another that would have put a stiff price on carbon emissions to encourage investment in cleaner technologies.

Unfortunately, that John McCain has receded from view just in time for the presidential campaign. He has dropped his opposition to offshore drilling, pandered shamelessly by urging a gas tax holiday, and missed several crucial votes on bills extending credits for wind and solar power.

And while his acceptance speech promised “the most ambitious national project in decades,” including efforts to improve energy efficiency, increasing oil production remains the centerpiece of his strategy.

These positions divert public attention from an unavoidable truth: a nation that uses one-quarter of the world’s oil while owning only 3 percent of its reserves cannot drill its way to happiness or self-sufficiency. And they trivialize the very hard work that lies ahead.

Mr. McCain’s choice of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate raises even more worrisome questions. Her strategy is drill here, drill there, drill now.

She would open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in a heartbeat — something Mr. McCain continues to oppose. She has sued the Bush administration for declaring the polar bear a threatened species, fearing it would interfere with oil exploration in Alaskan waters. She has questioned whether humans are responsible for climate change. Governor Palin’s views are alarmingly out of touch with reality. No less alarming was Mr. McCain’s decision to welcome them into his campaign.