President Obama To Appear On The Daily Show

In light of the Tea Party culture of ignorance which is dominating politics this year, Jon Stewart is trying to respond to apathy among the rational portion of the electorate. He is holding his “Rally to Restore Sanity” on the National Mall on October 30th. It has now been announced that Barack Obama will appear on The Daily Show three days before the event:

President Obama plans to appear on Comedy Central’s “Daily Show” shortly before the midterm elections, a senior White House official tells CBS News, in what will be his first appearance on the show since becoming president.

The appearance will be on Wednesday October 27th. It comes shortly before both the November 2nd midterm elections as well as host Jon Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity” on the National Mall on October 30th.

The president has been trying to rally the sort of young voters who watch Stewart’s show to come out to vote in the midterm elections amid signs that they are less enthusiastic than they were two years ago. Democrats are trying to hold the House and Senate amid predictions of a potential wave election for Republicans, and among his campaign stops in the midterm cycle have been appearances at college campuses.

While he has appeared on the show as a candidate, this will be Obama’s first appearance as president.

NAACP Releases Report On Ties Between Bigots and Tea Party

The NAACP has released a 94-page report on bigotry and anti-Semitism among those who receive a platform from the Tea Party movement.

“These groups and individuals are out there, and we ignore them at our own peril,” said NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous.  “They are speaking at tea party events, recruiting at rallies, and in some cases remain in the tea party leadership itself.

The report, “Tea Party Nationalism: A Critical Examination of the Tea Party Movement and the Size, Scope, and Focus of Its National Factions,” was written by Leonard Zeskind and Devin Burghart of the Kansas City-based Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights.

Zeskind and Burghart examined government documents and databases, including court cases, campaign finance reports and corporate filings.

“This is the first data-driven report of this type on the tea parties,” Burghart said. “Understanding their membership structures was the crucial first step that enabled us to understand the complexity of the tea party movement and to be able to specify the role of racists and bigots in the movement.”

The report cites numerous examples of what it said were racism and extremism within the tea party movement. Some of them, according to the news releases:

•The St. Louis-based Council of Conservative Citizens, the largest white nationalist group in the country, has both led and promoted tea party protests. Roan Garcia-Quintana, a member of ResistNet who served as media spokesman for a 2010 Tax Day Tea Party in South Carolina, is on the national board of directors for the Council of Conservative Citizens.

•Clayton Douglas, a former information officer for the New Mexico Militia, is a member of the ResistNet tea party. He uses his profile on the ResistNet website to advertise his own “Free American” website, on which he promotes anti-Semitism.

•The Wood County Tea Party in Texas is led by a woman who used to be involved with the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

•The 1776 Tea Party — also known as TeaParty.org — is led by Stephen Eichler, executive director of the Minuteman Project, an anti-immigrant border patrol group often referred to as vigilantes.

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Tea Party Members Conned By Conservative Elites

Karl Rove got it right in saying that the Tea Party movement “is not sophisticated” in an interview with Der Spiegel. They are a group of poorly informed ideologues who are manipulated by the far right. Dana Milbank discussed the irony of a faux populist revolt in which the common men were giving money to the Chamber of Commerce to make the rich richer (emphasis mine):

These donors to the cause of the Fortune 500 were motivated by a radio appeal from the de facto leader of the Tea Party movement, Glenn Beck, who told them: “Put your money where your mouth is. If you have a dollar, please go to . . . the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and donate today.” Chamber members, he said, “are our parents. They’re our grandparents. They are us.”

They are? Listed as members of the chamber’s board are representatives from Pfizer, ConocoPhillips, Lockheed Martin, JPMorgan Chase, Dow Chemical, Ken Starr’s old law and lobbying firm, and Rolls-Royce North America. Nothing says grass-roots insurgency quite like Rolls-Royce — and nothing says populist revolt quite like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In describing the big-business group as “us,” Beck (annual revenue: $32 million) provided an unintended moment of clarity into the power behind the Tea Party movement. These aren’t peasants with pitchforks; these are plutocrats with payrolls.

There is genuine populist anger out there. But the angry have been deceived and exploited by posers who belong to the same class of “elites” and “insiders” that the Tea Party movement supposedly deplores. Americans who want to stick it to the man are instead sending money to the man.

Consider the candidates on the ballot next month who are getting Tea Party support. In the Connecticut Senate race, there’s Linda McMahon, who with her husband has a billion-dollar pro-wrestling empire. The challenger to Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold in Wisconsin, Ron Johnson, is a millionaire manufacturing executive. The former head of Gateway computers, Rick Snyder, is spending generously from his fortune to win the Michigan governor’s race.

In New York, the Republican gubernatorial candidate is developer Carl Paladino, with a net worth put at $150 million. And Rick Scott, running for governor in Florida, has a net worth of $219 million from his career as a health-care executive. Then there’s California, where the Republican Senate nominee is former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina and the gubernatorial candidate is former e-Bay boss Meg Whitman…

And who will be helping these anti-elite elites get into office? Well, there’s FreedomWorks, a Tea Party outfit run by Dick Armey, the former Republican lawmaker whose last job was with a big lobbying firm. His deputy at FreedomWorks is Matt Kibbe, who worked for none other than the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

There’s also the Tea Party Express, the creation of longtime Republican consultant Sal Russo. A colleague at Russo’s consulting firm pitched the Tea Party Express idea as a way to boost the company’s bottom line. According to an internal e-mail intercepted by the New York Times, it came from a “desire to give a boost to our PAC and position us as a growing force/leading force.”

When the common man sends money to Tea Party organizations they are helping the rich maintain their lifestyles and take cruises. From Politico:

The Tea Party Express, paid Holland America Line a total of $103,000 to send six of its staffers on four consecutive cruises on the Amsterdam. The payments to the cruise line, which appeared on a campaign finance report filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission, have started drawing attention from critics of the Tea Party Express, who have alleged that the committee is a front for Republican consultants seeking to use the populist movement to make a buck and live the high life.

Joe Miller Admits To Having Been Disciplined For Ethics Violations

Alaska Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller has admitted to having been disciplined for ethics violations as he backed down on his previous statement that he wouldn’t answer questions about his past:

Republican U.S. Senate nominee Joe Miller acknowledged Monday that he was disciplined for violating the Fairbanks North Star Borough’s ethics policy in 2008 when he was a part-time borough lawyer.

The statement, made in an interview on CNN, represents a reversal for Miller, who vowed last week not to answer any questions about his past after questions were raised about his borough work history. Miller, while continuing to refuse to speak with the Daily News and some other Alaska news media, went on CNN on Monday and conceded to anchor John King that he had been disciplined.

“John, I’ll admit I’m a man of many flaws. I’m not going to sit back and say that I’ve conducted my life perfectly,” Miller told the CNN anchor. “I will tell you that anything that I’ve done that’s not right, it’s been accounted for and it’s been taken care of and I move on and I learn from mistakes.”

While this is hardly an earth-shattering revelation, it doesn’t help his campaign a day after reports that his campaign handcuffed a reporter.

Christine O’Donnell Unaware Of Constitutional Prohibitions On Teaching Of Creationism

Considering everything else we’ve heard from Christine O’Donnell, including prior statements which suggest a belief in creationism, it comes as no surprise that she supports the teaching of intelligent design in the schools. While a new statement, it is also surprising that O’Donnell (as with many other conservatives) is unaware of Constitutional restrictions on government regarding religion:

Republican Senate Candidate Christine O’Donnell today challenged her Democratic opponent Chris Coons on his statement that the Constitution disallowed the integration of religion into the federal government, asking, “Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?”

The exchange, which prompted laughs from the studio audience, came during a debate this morning at Delaware’s Widener School of Law, which was aired by WDEL radio.

In a discussion over the whether or not public schools should be allowed to integrate religion-based ideas into science curricula, O’Donnell argued that local school districts should have the choice to teach intelligent design if they choose.

When asked point blank by Coons if she believed in evolution, however, O’Donnell reiterated that her personal beliefs were not germane.  “What I think about the theory of evolution is irrelevant,” she emphasized, adding later that the school of thought was “not a fact but a theory.”

Coons said that creationism, which he considers “a religious doctrine,” should not be taught in public schools due to the Constitution’s First Amendment.  He argued that it explicitly enumerates the separation of church and state.

“The First Amendment does?” O’Donnell asked. “Let me just clarify: You’re telling me that the separation of church and state is found in the First Amendment?”

“Government shall make no establishment of religion,” Coons responded, reciting from memory the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. (Coons was off slightly: The first amendment actually reads “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”)

“That’s in the First Amendment…?” O’Donnell responded.

Also during the debate, O’Donnell stumbled when asked whether or not she would repeal the 14th, 16th, or 17th Amendments if elected.

“The 17th Amendment I would not repeal,” she said, before asking the questioner to define the 14th and 16th amendments, adding: “I’m sorry, I didn’t bring my Constitution with me.”

A later explanation doesn’t hold up:

O’Donnell’s campaign later defended her comments about the First Amendment in a statement, arguing that she “was not questioning the concept of separation of church and state as subsequently established by the courts.”

“She simply made the point that the phrase appears nowhere in the Constitution,” said O’Donnell’s campaign manager.

This is contradicted by her support for teaching intelligent design–showing that she is also unaware of the concept of separation of church and state and related legal rulings.

Quote of the Day

“Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh are President Obama’s 10th cousins. Which means they are secret Muslims.” —Jimmy Kimmel

Miller Campaign Security Guards Arrest Website Editor

Usually Republicans wait until they are in office to restrict civil liberties and abuse power.  Joe Miller, the Tea Party member who won the Republican nomination for the Senate in Alaska, looks like he is off to an early start:

The editor of the Alaska Dispatch website was arrested by U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller’s private security guards Sunday as the editor attempted to interview Miller at the end of a public event in an Anchorage school.

Tony Hopfinger was handcuffed by the guards and detained in a hallway at Central Middle School until Anchorage police came and told the guards to release Hopfinger.

Hopfinger has not been charged but the owner of the Drop Zone, the private security firm that’s been providing Miller’s security, accused Hopfinger of trespassing at the public event, a town hall sponsored by the Miller campaign. The owner, William Fulton, also said Hopfinger assaulted a man by shoving him.

Anchorage Police who responded to the call said they would leave it to the District Attorney’s office to decide whether to prosecute. They spent more than an hour taking statements, then left.

Hopfinger, who was holding a small video camera, said he was attempting to draw out a statement from Miller on why he was disciplined by the Fairbanks North Star Borough when Miller worked there as a part-time attorney. After Miller walked away, Hopfinger said, he was surrounded by Miller supporters and security guards and felt threatened, so he pushed one of them away.

Perhaps Miller has adopted the Sarah Palin doctrine that the First Amendment is to protect her from the press.

Quote of the Day

“Did you watch the debate with Christine O’Donnell, you know, the anti-self pleasuring, witchy candidate in Delaware? She wasn’t that good though. She’s not really a master debater.'” —Craig Ferguson

The Tea Party Is Typical Right Wing Extremism, Not Anything New

Frank Rich has a column today on the rage from the right, tracing it largely, but not entirely, to the economic collapse:

That wave of anger began with the parallel 2008 cataclysms of the economy’s collapse and Barack Obama’s ascension. The mood has not subsided since. But in the final stretch of 2010, the radical right’s anger is becoming less focused, more free-floating — more likely to be aimed at “government” in general, whatever the location or officials in charge. The anger is also more likely to claim minorities like gays, Latinos and Muslims as collateral damage. This is a significant and understandable shift, if hardly a salutary one. The mad-as-hell crowd in America, still not seeing any solid economic recovery on the horizon, will lash out at any convenient scapegoat.

The rage was easier to parse at the Tea Party’s birth, when, a month after Obama’s inauguration, its founding father, CNBC’s Rick Santelli, directed his rant at the ordinary American “losers” (as he called them) defaulting on their mortgages, and at those in Washington who proposed bailing the losers out. (Funny how the Bush-initiated bank bailouts went unmentioned.) Soon enough, the anger tilted toward Washington in general and the new president in particular. And it kept getting hotter. In June 2009, still just six months into the Obama presidency, the Fox News anchor Shepard Smith broke with his own network’s party line to lament a rise in “amped up” Americans “taking the extra step and getting the gun out.” He viewed the killing of a guard by a neo-Nazi Obama hater at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington as the apotheosis of the “more and more frightening” post-election e-mail surging into Fox.

He argues that the rage from the Tea Party will continue regardless of the results of the election:

Don’t expect the extremism and violence in our politics to subside magically after Election Day — no matter what the results. If Tea Party candidates triumph, they’ll be emboldened. If they lose, the anger and bitterness will grow. The only development that can change this equation is a decisive rescue from our prolonged economic crisis. Not for the first time in history — and not just American history — fear itself is at the root of a rabid outbreak of populist rage against government, minorities and conspiratorial “elites.”

While a  bad economy, along with a black president, does contribute to this rage, Blue Texan makes a point which I’ve also made many times in the past: The Tea Party is just the most recent expression of the same right wing rage which we’ve had for decades and which becomes nosier whenever there is a Democrat in the White House. Multiple polls have shown that demographically the Tea Party is primarily made up of affluent older white male Republicans. They are just recycling many of the old beliefs spread by the John Birch Society and every other right wing movement of the past several decades. Blue Texan wrote:

Anyone who thinks the Teabaggers’ unhinged “anger and bitterness” will subside in the face of an improving economy really needs to take a closer look at objective polling on the Teabaggers and review the 1990s.

The ’90s was a time of economic prosperity, but because there was a Democrat in the White House, the far-right was in full freakout mode. Back then, Clinton/Gore’s black helicopters were coming for their guns and right-wing “patriots” like Tim McVeigh and Eric Rudolph roamed the countryside.

But they weren’t called the “Tea Party.” They were the Angry White Men.

“These angry white men are one legion in a grassroots movement that has rewritten the political equation of the 1990s, and in the process helped to transform the Republican Party … An army of conservative grassroots groups has mobilised middle-class discontent with government into a militant political force, reaching for an idealised past with the tools of the onrushing future: fax machines, computer bulletin boards, and the shrill buzz of talk radio. They have forged alliances with the Gingrich generation of conservatives and strengthened their hand as the dominant voice within the GOP family.”

Sounds familiar, yes? It’s the same crowd.

Polls have shown that Teabaggers are lilly white and well off. They’re not the people getting kicked out of their houses by the banksters. They’re not unemployed. They’re not bearing the brunt of the Great Recession. They’re just doing what they do when Democrats are in charge. Obama’s death panels and FEMA camps have replaced Clinton’s black helicopters.

And of course, the fact that this president’s middle name is Hussein and he’s Muslim and black, well, that’s just a few extra scoops of nuts on the wingnut sundae.

These are John Birch Society types, and the crashing of the global economy — a direct result of the plutocratic “free market” [sic] orgy they helped usher in — is just a convenient excuse to act out.

That’s all it is.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who Immortal, But Could Have Been a Woman; Next Season To Begin In US; Sherlock To Air In US

Tom Baker Doctor Who

This week I’m taking a break from the currently airing shows and will catch up on some Doctor Who news, extending to another work by current Doctor Who show runner Steven Moffat. Incidentally, note how much of the Doctor Who news comes from leading newspapers in Great Britain, where events on the series often is big news.

Doctor Who has been able to continue since 1963 by having the lead character be able to regenerate should he die, paving the way for another actor to play the role. In a 1976 episode, The Deadly Assassin. the fourth Doctor (played by Tom Baker) revealed that he can only regenerate twelve times. The writers never suspected that he could use up all thirteen lives. Now that we are up to the eleventh Doctor and it appears the show will continue for several years, most fans have probably assumed that they would work in a way around this limitation.

With current show runner Steven Moffat being a big fan of the original episodes, I had hoped Moffat would stick to canon here (not that the show has ever been that consistent) and have the Doctor find a way around this limitation. There is precedent for this, as the Time Lords once gave the Master a second set of lives for helping the Doctor. Instead of trying to find a way around the limitation, the show is simply ignoring the old limitation. The Guardian reports:

Fans have always thought that the 13th doctor would be the last, thanks to a 1976 Doctor Who episode, The Deadly Assassin, featuring Tom Baker as the Doctor in his fourth incarnation, and revealing for the first time the regeneration limit. But a passing comment in a children’s television programme later this month is set to rewrite history and cast the Doctor, iconic hero of the world’s most successful and longest-running science fiction series, as immortal.

The moment comes in the CBBC spin-off show, The Sarah Jane Adventures, which stars former companion Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith. Matt Smith, who plays the current Doctor Who, guest stars in a two-part episode called The Death of the Doctor, to be screened on October 25 and 26. While the Doctor and Clyde Langer, played by Daniel Anthony, are in the process of outwitting spooky vulture undertakers the Shansheeth, Clyde asks how many times he can regenerate. The Doctor indicates that there is no limit. The action continues.

Fans of the show have been expecting an official moving of the goalposts for some time, but it was anticipated as part of the Christmas special, rather than in an after-school slot on the CBBC channel.

Back in 1976, 12 regenerations must have felt like a safely distant number to pluck from the ether. Now, however, with Smith playing the character in his 11th incarnation, circumventing the rule has begun to feel rather urgent. As JK Rowling hinted last week, once a hero has conquered the world, it is hard to put him away for good: we may also see an extension to the seven-book Harry Potter franchise, despite its very final ending and Nineteen Years Later epilogue.

All of the regenerations have been male, but at one time there actually was consideration of having a female Doctor according to The Telegraph:

Sydney Newman, who devised the long-running science-fiction show when he was head of BBC drama in the 1960s, was asked to help after the show suffered a slump in ratings in the 1980s and was taken off air temporarily.

He told Michael Grade, then the controller of BBC One, that the ailing series could only be saved by regenerating the Time Lord into a Time Lady.

Mr Newman criticised the direction the show had taken, but insisted that it could be revived by turning the lead character into a heroine.

Had the advice been accepted, actresses who could have been considered for the role include Frances de la Tour, Joanna Lumley and Dawn French.

Instead, the BBC played safe and replaced the incumbent Doctor, Colin Baker, with another male actor – Sylvester McCoy, a little-known children’s entertainer.

The idea included a transition period, returning Patrick Troughton to the role.

Mr Newman urged the controller to temporarily reintroduce Patrick Troughton, a former Time Lord, to steady the TARDIS and pave the way for the most radical change in the show’s 23-year history.

He wrote: “At a later stage Doctor Who should be metamorphosed into a woman.

“This requires some considerable thought – mainly because I want to avoid a flashy, Hollywood Wonder Women because this kind of heroine with no flaws is a bore.

“Given more time than I have now, I can create such a character.”

He called for the female time traveller to be accompanied by a trumpet playing schoolgirl in “John Lennon-type spectacles” and her graffiti-spraying “yobbo” elder brother.

The plan was not tried, and the full idea wouldn’t have worked as Patrick Troughton died six months after the letter was written.

Matt Smith Doctor Who

The show took years to recover, with Matt Smith being the third Doctor since the show was revived. The duration of Smith’s tenure has been a subject of rumor ever since he started playing the role.  Nobody knows how long he will stick around, but he has expressed interest in doing a movie (although the BBC says this is unlikley for budgetary reasons):

Matt Smith has revealed that he would be thrilled if the BBC decided to make a Doctor Who movie.

The actor, who joined the show at the beginning of the year, admitted that he would love to star in a film adaptation of the BBC One show.

He told the Daily Star Sunday: “I’d definitely be up for staying on if they did a film –
hell yeah. I would be thrilled if there could be a movie version – I want them to do it.

“There is something brilliantly televisual about Doctor Who but I think it could definitely work as a film.”

The sixth season (since the show was revived) will start with a two-part episode taking place in the United States in the 1960’s. It will be written by Steven Moffat and Alex Kingston will be returning as River Song. The BBC reports:

Scenes will be filmed in the Utah desert for a story set in the late 60s in which the Doctor, Amy and Rory find themselves on a secret summons to the Oval Office.

The episodes have been written by new series boss Steven Moffat and co-produced with BBC America.

Production starts in Cardiff this month with Matt Smith and Karen Gillan.

Alex Kingston will reprise her role as River Song.

Moffat said: “The Doctor has visited every weird and wonderful planet you can imagine, so he was bound to get round to America eventually.

“And of course every Doctor Who fan will be jumping up and down and saying he’s been in America before. But not for real, not on location – and not with a story like this one.”

It has been announced previously that series six has been split into two blocks, with the first airing on BBC One in spring 2011 and the second block showing in autumn 2011.

Sherlock

Another BBC series by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss will be premiering in the Unites States this month (although I bet most Doctor Who fans have already found ways to get a hold of the BBC episodes). Masterpiece Mystery on PBS will start airing Sherlock on October 24. Three episodes (and an unaired pilot) were done for the first season, with the show renewed for a second.

The series updates Sherlock Holmes stories to modern times but manages to remain faithful to the originals. Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays the title role, also seems remarkably like Doctor Who, leading to rumors he might be given the role should Matt Smith leave. He lacks a Tardis, but does have a companion. In this case Dr. Watson has a blog instead of a journal. Sherlock especially seems like The Doctor in the first episode, A Study in Pink, which is based upon early story in which Sherlock Holmes was more eccentric. I’ll avoid talking about any specifics of the stories which have not yet aired in the United States.