John Edwards and Rielle Hunter, the Movie

We knew that  John Edwards brought Rielle Hunter into his campaign as a film maker but it turns out that she made a a film that was previously kept secret. An upcoming book  by Andrew Young, an aide to John Edwards, includes information on a sex tape made by Edwards and Rielle Hunter:

Former Edwards aide Andrew Young says the ex-senator and his former mistress, Rielle Hunter, once made a sex tape, according to someone who has seen Young’s book proposal.

St. Martin’s Press just inked a deal with Young, who also says in his proposal that, contrary to his public statement last year, he is not the father of Hunter’s infant daughter — Edwards is. Edwards has denied that.

Young says that his belief in Edwards ran so deep that he agreed to take the fall for the candidate, inviting the pregnant Hunter to live with him, his wife, Cheri, and their three children. Later, after Hunter delivered the baby, Young and his family moved to a different home in California.

While he was unpacking, Young discovered a videocassette, according to the book pitch. Hunter had been hired by the Edwards campaign to videotape the candidate’s movements, but this one is said to have shown him taking positions that weren’t on his official platform.

The purported sex tape confirmed to Hunter that Edwards was even more reckless than he thought.

According to our source, Hunter confided to Young that she and Edwards talked about getting married should the candidate’s cancer-stricken wife, Elizabeth, pass away, even discussing what music they’d play at their wedding.

SciFi Weekend: A Virtual Wreck; The Next Doctor


Ron Moore’s Virtuality was shown on Friday night and, after viewing, I can see why Fox left it to die by airing it on a Friday night in June. Moore just tries to throw too much into this, which perhaps would have left him with many avenues for future television series but it leaves the pilot looking like a mess.

The premise is that a ship is on a ten year mission to another solar system and, to keep the crew from going nuts or killing each other, virtual reality is used. This is to keep the crew from feeling claustrophobic and to allow them to interact with other people, even if only computer generated. The claim is that this is not a series of holodeck stories because each crew member uses their own goggles (like the virtual reality in Caprica) as opposed to being in a specific room as in Star Trek. That hardly matters.

Of course something goes wrong  in the simulations (as in Life on Mars). As this was intended to be a pilot we have a lot of mysteries and no answers. We don’t know if it is a computer glitch, a crew member messing with the programs, or perhaps Cylons influencing the ship. Crew members are attacked in their simulations, and one is even raped.  One good aspect of the show was to treat the virtual rape as meaningful to the woman involved as it had the same psychological impact as if real.

The virtual reality simulations aren’t the only place where something goes wrong. Perhaps 2001: A Space Odyssey’s HAL is involved as there is even a murder involving the air lock.

If this already seems to be throwing ideas from many sources together, it gets worse. The crew is also being filmed as the cast of a reality television series. It was amusing when Doctor Who used reality series for one episode (Bad Wolf), but this was too much for a pilot. The idea is that the company running the mission might also be playing mind games with the crew to affect their behavior and improve ratings.

If they haven’t already thrown in enough, there is yet another crisis. After they left it was suddenly found that global warming is real and life on earth is doomed (especially if you live around London or Florida).

With all this, the show still managed to deal briefly with events of the space mission. A lot of time was spent creating false drama as to whether the mission would go on or return to earth as they approached their last moment  to decide this. Of course viewers realized they would go on. Even when the captain announced this to the crew there was still false drama when they complained that the captain made the decision to go without consulting the crew. There was more time wasted as everyone got a chance to vote, and all voted to go.

This was intended to be largely a show about people in space but with twelve crew members it was difficult to really get interested in any of them. Perhaps if the show made it as a series this would have provided for more potential stories.

BBC America aired the first of this year’s Doctor Who specials. I previously reviewed The Next Doctor here when it originally aired on the BBC.

Will the Left or Right Kill Health Care Reform?

It is far from certain at this point whether health care reform will succeed. Most insiders believe that Congress will enact some form of comprehensive health care reform but it is easy to envision scenarios where they are not successful. The opposition comes mainly from the right, but there is also the view (perhaps as this is more of a man bites dog storyline) that it is the left which will cause health care reform to fail. Cici Connolly of The Washington Post examines how some activists are targeting Democrats:

In recent days — and during this week’s congressional recess — left-leaning bloggers and grass-roots organizations such as, Health Care for America Now and the Service Employees International Union have singled out Democratic Sens. Ben Nelson (Neb.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Ron Wyden (Ore.), Arlen Specter (Pa.) and Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) for the criticism more often reserved for opposition party members…

Much of the sparring centers around whether to create a government-managed health insurance program that would compete with private insurers. Obama supports the concept, dubbed the “public option,” but he has been vague on details. Left-of-center activists want a powerful entity with the ability to set prices for doctors and hospitals.

But in the Senate, where the Democrats do not have the 60 votes needed to stop a filibuster, members are weighing alternatives such as a nonprofit cooperative or a “fallback” provision that would kick in only if market reforms fail.

Pushing for the public plan does have popular support but Connolly notes that this does not mean that a majority supports the entire agenda of those on the left who see a public plan as a means of transitioning to a single payer plan. She notes that, “While recent polls show high initial support for a government option, the number declines if told the insurance industry could fold as a result.” Many who support providing the option of a public plan also desire to continue with their current insurance.

There are signs that this pressure is influencing some Democrats but others fear this is counterproductive:

One Democratic strategist who is working full-time on health reform was apoplectic over what he called wasted time, energy and resources by the organizations.

The strategist, who asked for anonymity because he was criticizing colleagues, said: “These are friends of ours. I would much rather see a quiet call placed by [Obama chief of staff] Rahm Emanuel saying this isn’t helpful. Instead, we try to decimate them?”

If this effort is based upon pushing Democrats to support the public plan there should not necessarily be adverse consequences on the success of health care reform. Of greater concern is talk among some progressives of voting against a health care reform bill which does not contain a public plan. I can envision scenarios where Republicans have enough votes to filibuster a bill which contains a public plan, but a bill without a public plan could also fail if both Republicans and some progressives vote against it.

The goals should be to reduce the number of people who lack insurance and to reduce insurance problems such as people being cut off when they develop a serious illness. These are serious problems which need to be addressed and there are multiple possible solutions. Ideological battles such as over whether to have a single payer plan should not be used to prevent meaningful reform, even if the reform will inevitably fall short of what some desire.

Obama and the Superdelegates

Last year the talk was whether Hillary Clinton could manage to win the Democratic nomination due to having a greater number of superdelegates. That turned out not to be a factor as superdelegates shifted towards Obama along with the primary and caucus voters, and now its Obama’s party. The Democratic National Committee is looking at how to change the process and one idea is to reduce the number or outright eliminate the superdelegates.

Touching on what may prove to be one of the more contentious issues considered by the DNC, one presenter, Democratic Party activist and Harvard University lecturer and former superdelegate Elaine Kamarck, suggested that it may be time to completely eliminate superdelegates since most of those party leaders clearly determined their role in 2008 to be one of ratifying the decision made by voters in primaries and caucuses.

“We can probably let go of the superdelegates,” said Kamarck.

“Their deliberative role,” she added, “has in fact been supplanted by a very very public process.”

Other matters under discussion include starting the process later in the winter and the always controversial question of who gets to go first.