Quote of the Day

“Conservatives are now criticizing President Obama because as a child in Indonesia he sometimes ate dog meat. But on the plus side, Obama is now polling very well among cats.” –Conan O’Brien

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder Might Provide A Preview Of A Romney Presidency

Now that we know that the election should come down to a choice between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney we can speculate on what will happen after next January 20, 2013. If Obama is reelected it seems a safe prediction that he will continue on a moderate course. He will continue to frustrate those on the left at times, but he will be far more rational than the extremist policies now supported by most Republicans. Economic realities will further frustrate many on the left as the fiscal conservative side of Obama is likely to dominate, but if there are to be cuts to spending I would much rather that Barack Obama as opposed to any current Republican be influencing matters from the White House.

Mitt Romeny is a little more difficult to predict considering that on any given day he is likely to have taken any position on virtually any issue. Although he has campaigned as a liberal in Massachusetts, most likely he will at best be a moderate in office, and there is the very real risk he will feel obligated to prove that he is as “severely conservative” as he now says he is.

The outcome of a Romney presidency is likely to be influenced to a considerable degree by the type of Congress which is elected. If, as has often occurred in the post-war era, he is a Republican facing a Democratic Congress, it is possible that he might govern as a moderate, figuring that it is better to get something meaningful done rather than spending his time in gridlock. On the other hand, he might be so indebted to the far right, and fearful of a primary challenge, that he might push a far right wing agenda regardless of whether it could pass in Congress.

Should Romney win, for at least the first two years it is more likely that he would also bring in a Republican Congress with him. It would be difficult for the Democrats to hold enough seats to maintain control of the Senate considering that the Democrats are defending twenty-three seats while the Republicans are only defending ten in a year going the Republican’s way. The Republicans would also only need a tie to control the Senate should Romney win. The Democrats now have a real shot to take control of the House if everything goes their way in 2012, but this becomes a very long shot if we are facing a fall in which Romney is able to take the swing states which as of now are leaning Democratic.

Ezra Klein sees a scenario such as this leading to Romney becoming a transformational president–and not in a good way:

If Romney wins the election, it’s almost a sure bet that Republicans win control of both the House and the Senate. And that matters. Right now, the GOP’s agenda is the Ryan budget, and that’s entirely fiscal: It’s a premium support plan for Medicare, and tax cuts, and deep cuts to Medicaid, food stamps and other domestic programs. All that can be passed through budget reconciliation — which is to say, all that can be made immune to the filibuster.

I would take this a step further. A Romney victory could lead to a move to the far right even if Romneyy preferred more moderate policies. A model for a Romney presidency might be seen in Michigan, where moderates and many Democrats backed Rick Snyder. Snyder is a moderate who is certainly preferable to other GOP choices such as the extremely far right-wing Pete Hoekstra, who has not been on speaking terms with reality for several years. Many Democrats supported Snyder because it was clear that there would be a Republican landslide in 2010 and wanted the lesser evil.

Unfortunately, while we were spared four years of Pete Hoekstra as governor, which would certainly have  left us in a far worse situation than we are now in, the GOP wave in 2010 brought in a far-right Republican-controlled legislature. Rick Snyder might prefer to concentrate on the economy and avoid controversial social issues, but the legislature does not feel the same. MLive showed how this has moved Snyder’s agenda to the right, despite his personal views:

Snyder has surprised some insiders by signing some bills that strayed from the economic agenda that he pledged to pursue, or perhaps leaned more to the right than the centrist governor tends to lean.

Snyder talked of staying clear of divisive social issues, but signed bills prohibiting public employers from extending domestic partner benefits.

He has said picking a fight with unions was not part of his agenda, but gave his approval to bills prohibiting school districts from collecting dues for unions.

Last week, Snyder added his signature to the bill repealing the law requiring most motorcycle riders to wear helmets – something Granholm rejected twice.

“Gov. Snyder can keep saying ‘This is not the agenda I want,’ but if he’s going to keep signing these bills it’s certainly the agenda he has,” said Doug Pratt, public affairs director for the Michigan Education Association.

“The governor says he’s a moderate guy, but when it comes to putting pen to paper it sure looks like he’s rubber stamping the extremist policies that he rejected as a candidate.”

Romney, like Synder, might prefer to campaign on economic issues, but he will not be able to avoid conservative social issues. Mitt Romney says we should leave contraception alone, but would anyone trust him to block Republican legislation which restricts it? Rick Snyder has two things between his legs which Mitt Romney lacks. There is little doubt that Romney would not be the political equivalent of a eunuch, showing no ability to stand up to the far right, regardless of how extreme. Democrats might have a better shot of blocking social as opposed to economic issues by filibustering in the Senate, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Republicans rewrite the Senate rules to prevent this if they control both Houses of Congress and the White House.

This could lead to a situation where the far right wing of the Republican Party could push their extremist agenda on social as well as economic issues, with no way to block them. In Michigan, Rick Snyder has on occasion stood up to the far right, such as backing stem cell research at the University of Michigan despite Republican opposition. What chance is there that Romney has the cojones to do the same?

Quote of the Day

“According to his tax return, President Obama made $800,000 last year. In fact, the president made so much money that today he endorsed Mitt Romney for president.” –Craig Ferguson

SciFi Weekend: Fringe; Doctor Who; Sherlock; Natalie Dormer on Game of Thrones; Annie in the Community Dreamatorium

It has become a tradition for the nineteenth episode of Fringe to break from the usual narrative, but this one could be a real game changer. Letters of Transit takes place in a future in which the Observers have taken over, the Fringe division officially exists to police the natives, and some Fringe agents are secretly involved in a rebellion. The episode raises questions as to whether this is the direction Fringe is moving in or if this is just one of many possible futures.Have the Observers been actually working to set this up, or maybe was this a previously unintended response to their meddling. The ending raises a number of  more specific questions. Where was Olivia? Presumably she had died previously per the previous warnings. Why was William Bell, who we have been led to believe was also dead in the changed timeline, also in the Amber and exactly why did Walter respond to him as he did? We previously learned of the negative consequences of Peter and Altlivia having a child. What about the daughter? Presumably Etta is resistant to mind reading by the Observers due to inherited abilities from her mother. It was a fantastic  episode to watch, and could be enjoyed by those who are not following the series regularly, but it remains to be seen as to how it fits into the series.

Many more pictures from Doctor Who in New York are on line, along with spoilers as to what occurs. There have been rumors that Rory is sent back in time by the Weeping Angels and is not found until he is an old man, and we see him die. Does Amy go back to be with him? There have been reports of the Doctor yelling at someone not to do something while filming. The cast has returned to Cardiff where the location of the filming might be related to these rumors:

John Barrowman wants a Doctor Who musical and to return to the series.

Doctor Who and Sherlock have inspired a lot of fan art. A couple examples are above and far more are posted here.

TV Guide interviewed Natalie Dormer about her role as Margaery on Game of Thrones:

You’re best known in the U.S. as Ann Boleyn on The Tudors. You’ve become quite the go-to girl for period drama on cable!
Natalie Dormer: [Laughs] My range does exchange beyond that. But I hear it’s a commonality to jump between HBO and Showtime and vice versa, so I take it as a compliment really.

How would you describe your character Margaery?
Dormer: She’s very genuine, she’s old beyond her age. Through her family, she’s always been educated and trained to be a political operator and play the cards for her family the best that she can for their ambition. There are comparisons you could make with my experience playing Ann Boleyn in that regard. The big difference between playing Margaery and the machinations and politics of court in playing Ann Boleyn is that Margaery a lot more of a genuine, sincere, straight-playing woman. As compared to Cersei, there’s quite a Machiavellian element to her. Margaery has a pure heart. She’s trying to do the best she can for her brother, for her house and for the good of the people, what she thinks is best for the realm.

The same is true for Loras, the Knight of Flowers, that sort of optimistic, liberal feel from the South. Michelle Fairley as Catelyn says “They’re the Knights of Summer, and winter is coming.” She feels sorry for them because they do come from a more positive, liberal attitude, environment and culture as they do in King’s Landing. I think it’ll be very interesting when the cultures collide.

In the last episode, you have a scene where you have to try to seduce your husband Renly…
Dormer: That was the first scene I shot. I was having a good laugh with the creators of the show, David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss], that it was a nice initiation to Game of Thrones. It was a bit cruel that they had to schedule it that way, but they denied all knowledge of the scheduling. I hadn’t met Gethin Anthony before, and obviously his being a veteran from the last season, he was very generous, very welcoming. The family spirit on the show is quite amazing considering the sheer number of cast [members]… You’re a new character, and there are lots of new characters for the second season. There’s this ethos on the show that starts with David and Dan and it works its way down. I was made to feel very welcome immediately, which was much appreciated on quite a delicate scene to begin with.

What can you tell us about a scene you have with Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) in the upcoming Sunday’s episode?
Dormer: I knew Aidan before joining Thrones and I think he’s an absolutely incredible actor. His creation of Littlefinger is exciting and impressive. It’s a testament to Aidan’s skill as an actor that he has managed to create this fascinating character that viewers just adore to watch how he operates. I was very excited to begin Margaery’s relationship with Littlefinger because even though she is a woman and even though she is so very young, because of the way she was brought up and the world she comes from, she’s an old spirit. Littlefinger would make a mistake in underestimating such a young, innocent woman in the game of thrones. So it was very interesting to raise my bar as an actress to play opposite an actor such as Aidan the way Margaery knows she’s going to have to raise her skills and her bar in being able to interact with Littlefinger. Maybe there’s a little bit of life imitating art there.

Were you familiar with the books and Margaery before auditioning for the part?
Dormer: I wasn’t familiar with the books… I think every actor on the show makes the decision whether to [read them] or not. Even though the first season was incredibly accurate to the book, there’s the suggestion that in the future, because of the enormity of the scope of the books and the characters we already have in place on the show, that it might not be easy to be 100 percent so faithful to the books in the future. Not necessarily in the character story lines but in what we’re able to see. I had the advantage of not really knowing who Margaery was previous to going in, so I did my interpretation on how the creators saw her…

Did the costumers want you to be cold as possible? That neckline plunged to your navel!
Dormer: Oh man, yes, absolutely. It was freezing. It’s a shame. I think it was on the back of your Hurricane Irene or something, but the tail end of it came across The Atlantic and it hit the north coast of Ireland so hard. It was scheduled to happen earlier in the month when it was slightly sunnier, but because of problems with the weather, we had pushed shooting that scene. So it was really probably about fall by the time we shot it. In an ideal world, we should have been where Emilia [Clarke, who plays Daenerys] was in Croatia. That tournament scene was just unfortunate. From my experience of shooting Tudors on the island of Ireland, you cannot predict the weather. I had a lot of costume girls running over to me with hot water bottles and blankets. They were very dutiful and took great care of me.

What would best represent you on your own personal sigil?
Dormer: It’s funny you should say that because I could answer that straightaway. It’s a twist of fate. When I was a little girl, my grandfather who I was very close to used to grow yellow roses. He had yellow roses growing all the way up his drive. I remember watching him [raise] them when I was a little girl. I always used to joke when I was playing Ann Boleyn — the Tudor roses are white and red because they’re the amalgamation of the two houses during the civil war in England — I used to say, “The roses are in my life because of The Tudors, but I love yellow roses.” And it was just a twist of fate that the Tyrell’s sigil is the yellow rose. I took it as a sign at the time that I was destined to play Margaery because I’ve always had a thing for yellow roses. Now I actually have one as a sigil. It was a twist of fate.

If you sat on the Iron Throne, what would be your first edict?
Dormer: Worldwide emancipation for women, equality for the sexes in all areas.

On Community, Annie entered the Dreamatorium with Abed and became Temporary Constable Geneva to Inspector Spacetime. Video clip above.

A conservative, a moderate, and a liberal walk into a bar…

Quote of the Day

“Newt Gingrich gave a speech at a senior center. Or as audience members put it, ‘Unplug me.'” –Jimmy Fallon

House Majority Leader Agrees Anti-Semitism Is A Problem In GOP Caucus

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor appears to acknowledge that the House Republican caucus has a problem with anti-Semitism in the exchange in the above video. In his response he also seems to recognize their problem with racism. Of course when talking about Republicans, there’s also the problems of xenophobia, homophobia, and, of course, their war on women.

The problem is that these aren’t just problems which can be corrected. Use of fear and hatred is an integral part of what the Republican Party is. When their policies are only beneficial for one-percent of the population, they have no choice but to find ways to scare others into voting for them.

Quote of the Day

“New Rule: If you order the new Pizza Hut pizza with the hotdog-stuffed crust, you have to pay more for healthcare. And stop acting like this is a new idea. For years, Marcus Bachmann has been telling the delivery guy’ I’d like a wiener in my rim.” –Bill Maher

Politics Is A Game Of Inches

Thomas Friedman once again wants Michael Bloomberg to run for president. We currently have a center-left candidate from the Democrats and a combination center-left, centrist, and far-right candidate from the Republicans depending upon which positions Romney decides he wants to hold on any particular day. The big problem with Friedman and others who want to see a centrist candidate run and break the partisan gridlock is that the positions such people tend to advocate are essentially the positions held by Democrats. Steve Benen explained:

Friedman wants a party that will commit to investing in infrastructure, education, and short-term economic growth, but is also willing to make concessions and compromises on long-term fiscal challenges on entitlements. But he’s also under the impression that the two-party system is failing him — even though one of the major parties already agrees with him.

The columnist wants Bloomberg to run as independent in order to push Democrats to be more … Democratic?

Matthew Yglesias argues that this won’t even help Friedman’s problem with dropped calls.

I guess politics is a game of inches. Michael Bloomberg is perhaps inches closer to the center than Obama, making him preferable to people like Thomas Friedman. Similarly it takes just a very slight increase in the top marginal tax rate to make Obama a socialist in the eyes of the know-nothing right while the Republicans (who have done more than any group, including true socialists, to destroy a working system of capitalism) are their heroes.

Quote of the Day

“New Jersey Mayor Corey Booker last night personally rescued a woman from a burning building. Or as Fox News reported it, ‘black man loots house, steals white woman.’” –Bill Maher