AMA Backs Decision On Affordable Care Act While Conservatives Remain Irrational

Right wingers remain furious over the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act, such as one Tea Party leader hoping that those who upheld the law get colon cancer. If they are this upset about the Affordable Care Act, imagine how their heads will explode in November when Obama is reelected.

Conservatives are now making noise falsely claiming that the Affordable Care Act represents a major tax increase. McClatchy found that only about two percent of the country would be at risk of paying the penalty under the individual mandate.  Those worked up about this tax which only affects a tiny percent of the country are also ignoring all of Obama’s tax cuts for individuals and small business. In contrast, the Republican tax plan supported by Mitt Romney would increase taxes on the middle class in order to pay for even greater tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy. Republicans also ignore the fact that most Republican leaders supported the individual mandate until it became part of Obama’s health care plan (which is essentially the Republican alternative to Hillary Clinton’s health care plan).

Medical News Today reports that the American Medical Association is pleased that the Affordable Care Act was upheld by the Supreme Court:

Jeremy A. Lazarus, MD, President of the American Medical Association (AMA), said that the AMA is pleased with the ruling by the Supreme Court to uphold health reform. Dr. Lazarus added that the AMA has always supported health insurance coverage for all US citizens. The decision means that millions of Americans who currently do not have coverage may now look forward to it to either “get healthy” or “stay healthy”.

President Barack Obama’s healthcare law was upheld by the US Supreme Court on 28th June 2012 by a majority of 5 to 4. According to political commentators in the US media, the result is a triumph for the Democrats in this election year and a setback for the Republicans.

Dr. Lazarus reiterated the AMA’s position on its commitment to working on behalf of the country’s doctors and patients to make sure the law carries on being implemented in ways that both encourage and incentivize improved health outcomes and an optimized health care system.

Dr. Lazarus said:

“The AMA remains committed to working on behalf of America’s physicians and patients to ensure the law continues to be implemented in ways that support and incentivize better health outcomes and improve the nation’s health care system.

This decision protects important improvements, such as ending coverage denials due to pre-existing conditions and lifetime caps on insurance, and allowing the 2.5 million young adults up to age 26 who gained coverage under the law to stay on their parents’ health insurance policies. The expanded health care coverage upheld by the Supreme Court will allow patients to see their doctors earlier rather than waiting for treatment until they are sicker and care is more expensive.

Affordable Care Act has already helped 54 million people

He added that the Supreme Court decision ensures continued funding for vital research on the effectiveness of drugs and therapies and improves the chances for millions of Americans to receive coverage for prevention and wellness care. The new law has already helped approximately 54 million patients.

Less paperwork for healthcare professionals today, says AMA

The Affordable Care Act has helped simplify administrative burdens, Dr. Lazarus added. It has streamlined insurance claims so that doctors and their staff can dedicate more of their time to patient care, and less on paperwork.

The AMA says that the new law protects Medicare patients stuck in the “donut hole”. In 2010 and 2011 a considerable number of patients saved money on prescription drug costs.

Dr. Lazarus said “These important changes have been made while maintaining our American system with both private and public insurers.”

SciFi Weekend: Dexter; Star Trek; Total Recall; Spider-Man

The seventh season of Dexter (preview above) begins where the previous season left off–with Deb finding out about her brother. There are some hints about the upcoming season in this interview with executive producer Sara Colleton:

Since the season is picking up right where we left off, just how many curse words will Deb use when the show returns?
Sara Colleton: [Laughs] It rocks her world so there are a few classic Deb-isms. If the series-long quest for Dexter was to finally have someone who really knows him — well, be careful what you wish for because Deb now knows everything and that’s a game-changer.

If last season was about finding faith for Dexter, what is this season about?
Colleton: It is about things he’s never experienced before, which are regret, responsibility, shame, betrayal, all of those things. Also, it’s the flip side of wanting to be known, and then once you are known, there’s a loss of freedom. It comes with heavy responsibility, so he’s dealing with a lot of emotions that he’s never had before, and never been allowed to feel before or allowed himself to feel before.

Deb only saw Dexter kill Travis on the table, but will she learn everything this season?
Colleton: Yeah. Obviously this whole season we’re going to have great fun playing with every permutation that can be played between Debra and Dexter in their relationship now that this information has come out. She was on her way to the church at the end of the last season because she had come to realize that she not only loved her foster brother Dexter but she is in love with him. So now what does she do? Does she turn him into the police? Is she repulsed by him? Can she continue to love him? Does she feel an odd relief that finally she understands some fundamental part of him that always felt elusive? Dexter was always elusive and Debra always thought it was because of her, and now she knows it wasn’t about her, it was about him really protecting her.

But she is the head of the homicide division and so it has to really affect her sense of justice and the whole system. It’s a really challenging year for her to juggle. And Dexter, of course, his world is equally rocked. He’s never had to deal with these kinds of emotions — regret, guilt, a sense of having let Deb down and also, obviously, the gnawing suspicion that at any time, she could have him arrested.

Given what Deb learns about Dexter, how will that change her sudden revelation that she has feelings for him?
Colleton: It will be explored. It has to explored, because one doesn’t come to a realization like that and then completely change. But obviously what she learns is going to affect it, so all of the things that have been the bedrock of Deb’s life get moved around. That’s part of what we hope will be fascinating for our fans, is to watch and see how we play out all of those various interpretations.

Will we see a vulnerable side to Dexter this season?
Colleton: Oh, yes. It is like Superman’s cape has been taken off. He’s extremely vulnerable and that is very interesting to see and to explore.

Is there a sense of relief knowing if he’d let anyone in like he did with Lumen (Julia Stiles), he’d want it to be Deb?
Colleton: I think that’s part of it because [the relationship with] Lumen was certainly almost like acting out for his guilt in Rita’s (Julie Benz) death. But Deb has been the rock in his life from the time he was taken in by Harry. I always go back to one of the very first scenes in the pilot when he goes, “Oh that’s my foul-mouthed sister Deb and if I could love anyone it would be Deb.” They have had an incredible closeness. So that, in some ways, is a relief, but it comes with a whole new set of responsibilities.
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Speaking of Harry (James Remar), he’s always helped Dexter with his Dark Passenger, but now that Dexter’s issues involve Debra, how will his advice to Dexter differ from what we’ve seen before?
Colleton: It’s very upsetting to Harry. For Deb, she’s always suffered from feeling like Daddy’s second best. She realizes now, too, that this was never her being second best. She will learn all about Harry training Dexter and that is another thing that is going to rock her world. Again, in the pilot, when Harry tells Dexter that people deserve to die, and [in Season 5], when Deb hated Jordan Chase (Jonny Lee Miller) and she says, “Maybe there are people who deserve to die.” It’s a very complicated year on that level.
We’re really enjoying exploring all of these things because now it’s all out in the open.

What other obstacles will Dexter face because of Deb’s discovery?
Colleton: There are other complications that will come in because, at the crime scene, Dexter’s blood slide gets found by Lieutenant LaGuerta (Lauren Velez) because he loses it in the chaos that ensues and she immediately recognizes it’s his. The only other time that she had seen this blood slide was in the copy case of the Bay Harbor Butcher. Her dear friend Sergeant Doakes, everyone thought he was the Bay Harbor Butcher, and thought that when he died, the Bay Harbor Butcher died with him. Now, she begins to suspect, “Is the Bay Harbor Butcher still alive and how can I set about proving the innocence of my friend Sergeant Doakes?” That is something that’s a silent thing at the start, but it’s, again, going to be eventually working its way back to Dexter. It’s going to be very interesting to see if she can exonerate him.

What can you tell us about the new castmembers?
Colleton: We have Ray Stevenson, who — oh my God — he is such a fantastic actor. He plays the head of a crime syndicate who owns many nightclubs in Miami. Jason Gedrick plays George, the U.S. manager of all of his clubs. Ray Stevenson’s character, Isaac, comes to Miami when his very close personal lieutenant is accused of killing a Miami cop and then suddenly disappears. So Isaac wants to find out what happened to his friend and how he disappeared. The fact that it was a cop will bring them all around the Miami Metro police system. That is going to be a long story arc.

Also, we have Yvonne Strahovski. She is fantastic. She plays this woman named Hannah, who took off from this small rinky-dink Florida town and ran off with this older guy and they went on this wild killing spree. So when they got caught, she turned state’s evidence on the boyfriend, he went to jail for life and she started a new life. Years later, she’s in her 30s and she will intersect with Dexter. I would say Hannah is a still water that runs very deep and is quite unlike any woman Dexter has ever known.

How does Hannah compare to Lumen? And is there a possibility of a romance transpiring between Dexter and Hannah?
Colleton: There’s always the possibility. Whenever there’s a man and a woman, there’s always that possibility — or a man and a man or a woman and a woman or any configuration. There’s nothing needy about Hannah. Every woman that Dexter’s ever come to either the rescue of or been involved with have been incredibly needy. Lila (Jaime Murray) was one of those borderline women who other women take a look at and say, “Stay away!” but men can never resist them. You just know that they are bad news. Rita was damaged goods just like Dexter. And Lumen, when she appeared in his life, she was severely damaged. Hannah has a cool aloofness, but there’s something about her that will intrigue him.

Since the show has been renewed for two more seasons, is this definitely the end?
Colleton: This was definite. We wanted to end it this year, but the network convinced us that it would be best to do it in two years. In some ways, this is a two-season series-ender. We have worked that out and know where it’s going to end. Next year will definitely be the last year of Dexter. Absolutely.

Are you guys ready to say goodbye to Dexter?
Colleton: From the very beginning, when I first started developing the pilot, I always knew it would be a seven-year arc for this series. I feel easily that we can be an eight-year show, but I never want it to get old and stale. I want us to go out on a high and everybody on the show is determined to keep the level of it up to the very end. It’s always wise to know when it’s time to leave the stage before you’re asked to leave the stage.

Do you think Dexter has to die at the end?
Colleton: [Laughs] I would never answer that question.

Do you know what the final scene is?
Colleton: We don’t know what the final scene is, but we know where it’s going. We know now exactly how it’s going to end and how the series will end.

Alex Kurtzman warns of further bold moves in the next Star Trek movie:

Capone: So we are still in that place where they’re bonding?

AK: One-hundred percent. They only really came together as a team at the end of the first movie as a function of story. But the bridge crew from the original series, they aren’t those people yet, neither in age nor in experience. So I think the worst mistake that we could have made was to assume that they were there already at the top of the movie and skip that stuff. And the other thing I’ll say without revealing too much is that in the first TREK, we made choices–in our invention of the story–that were extremely controversial. Blowing up Vulcan, hugely controversial choice, and we knew that die hard Trekkers were either going to skewer us or accept it based on the emotional architecture around that choice. I think for us, TREK is at its best when it is making hugely bold moves like that, and there will be hugely bold moves in this one.

Last time they destroyed Vulcan. What to they do next, destroy Earth? Star Trek has a rich future history. I can see where they would not want to be locked down to every continuity detail, but I do not agree with the idea of making bold moves for the sake of being bold moves. Trek is at its best when it is Star Trek.

Robert Orci was asked about reviving the television series:

There are two major issues. Alex and I and Bad Robot want to make sure that nothing gets in the way of the movies, but number 2, Paramount controls the movies and CBS controls TV. So there is a little bit of power struggle there in terms of what happens. I have mentioned to CBS the idea of a Star Trek series and they are interested in it, but they would have to coordinate with Paramount and they would have to coordinate with Bad Robot. It is something we we are trying to figure out. If we can figure out a beautiful timing for it, it is something we would all love to do. It is tricky, with multiple chefs in that kitchen. It is something many of us are thinking about and I want to see one too.

Regarding the setting:

We haven’t even got to that point. We haven’t even gone in to pitch, because the rights of how to get it done are so complicated that we are sort of waiting to see what can really happen. And see where the avenues of freedom are. For all I know maybe it would be better to make it separate or maybe it is better to tie it into the [movie] universe. I don’t know yet.

Star Trek was always better as a series which allowed characters and events to develop gradually. I would like to see a future series back in the Roddenberry universe taking place after the events already aired, but I doubt that will happen

I’m not sure if there is any reason to do a remake of Total Recall, but at least it will have a three-breasted sex worker. (Trailer above).

The BBC looked at which predictions came true from two other movies based upon the work of Philip K Dick, Blade Runner and Minority Report.

I was already interested when HBO announced that it was adapting Tom Perotta’s novel The Leftovers for a television show. I’m even more interested now that I hear that Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof  will be producing and co-writing the series. Perotta’s novel is about those left behind after millions of people disappear from the earth in a situation similar to the rapture but without ties to Christian ideas on the event. Maybe he could tie this into the last season of Lost.

More clips from The Amazing Spider-Man have been released, such as the one above. My favorite scene is the one below:

David Letterman: Top Ten Things You May Not Know About The United States Supreme Court

David Letterman: Top Ten Things You May Not Know About The United States Supreme Court

10. For summer promotional campaign, it’s been renamed the Taco Bell Big Beef Supreme Court
9. Public courtroom seating has a two-drink minimum
8. Under rare circumstances, decision is handed down based on applause
7. Court mascot “Supreme Kurt” is available for parties and corporate events
6. Prior to oral arguments, the justices spend 15 minutes discussing “Hot Topics”
5. Court basement features an indoor gavel range
4. Thanks to grass-roots Internet campaign, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will host “Saturday Night Live”
3. For the last two weeks, Chief Justice John Roberts has been out on jury duty
2. Fridays are “robe optional”
1. Antonin Scalia: Vampire Hunter

Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act Giving Obama A Major Victory

This has been a  really embarrassing day for Republicans, between the Supreme Court ruling against them on the Affordable Care Act and Congress holding Holder in contempt. Conservative Constitutional objections to the Affordable Care Act were so off the wall that they couldn’t even get the conservative Supreme Court to go along with their arguments. The one Republican who did have a good day was Chief Justice John Roberts. While the conservative activist judges have largely been acting as if the Supreme Court is a Senate with life terms for members, Roberts most likely did place the long term reputation of the court over winning this particular  partisan political battle.

There has been a lot of talk recently about who would win and lose with each possible outcome. As I’ve said before, this was important for Obama to win. It would be a serious blow to have his major accomplishment ruled unconstitutional. Yes, he could have run against the court or placed more pressure on the Republicans to come up with a solution, but for the most part those aligned with either political party already have their views regarding the Affordable Care Act. A ruling against the ACA would not suddenly convince lots of liberals to go out and vote for Obama if they hadn’t already planned to.  Besides, if Obama wants to convince leftists who are disatsified with him for his centrist positions to turn out to vote, there’s already Citizen’s United and the fear of overturning Roe v Wade in the future. Even today’s decision, in which the supposedly centrist Justice Kennedy wanted to completely throw out the Affordable Care Act, should convince progressives of the need to have Obama as opposed to Romney pick the next few justices.We certainly cannot count on Roberts to side with the liberals in the future.

If there are any political points to be won over this decision, it will be among those in the middle who haven’t already taken a firm stand on health care reform. A ruling that the law is Constitutional does take the wind out of the conservative opposition among those who are open-mined and not brainwashed by Fox. Some might now be willing to take another look at the law, which would be helpful for Obama. Multiple polls have clearly shown that a strong majority supports the actual provisions of the Affordable Care Act. They just oppose the imaginary version of the plan which is described by conservatives.

There is also speculation that this could help Mitt Romney by keeping conservatives angry at Obama. Those people are angry enough, and Romney does not need the Affordable Care Act to get them to vote against Obama. There are strong negatives for  Romney if he continues to make a major issue of health care reform. More talk on the issue will highlight the aspects which people do support, and Romney’s lack of a viable alternative would not help him appear fit to be president. Those already receiving benefits under the Affordable Care Act would be unhappy to have them taken away. Romney’s inconsistencies in attacking “Obamacare” would be highlighted by the similarities to his own health care plan in Massachusetts, and his support for the individual mandate until quite recently, including at the national level. If Republicans really want to campaign on their desire to eliminate both Obamacare and Medicare, this is a battle which Democrats can win

Conservatives,, who are squealing about everything from death panels to impeaching Roberts, are also upset about the mandate now being considered a tax. (Rush Limbaugh is even calling the Supreme Court a death panel).  Despite public antipathy towards taxes, I think that the Democrats could have done better selling the plan as a tax on those who refuse to buy insurance as opposed to a mandate. People don’t like government telling them what to do any more than they like taxes. The mandate feels like something being imposed upon everyone. Even people who have insurance might not like the fact that they are being told by the government that the must buy insurance. A tax on those who can afford to buy insurance but refuse to do so can be sold as a reasonable consequence in light of how such people increase cost of private insurance and are a cost to taxpayers.  Conservatives could argue that this is a case of Obama taxing the middle tax, even if the tax is selective. Obama could easily counter by pointing out his tax cuts for the middle class, and the increase in taxes which Romney ‘s plan would impose on the middle class in order to cut taxes on the ultra-wealthy.

The Real Story of Fast and Furious

When George Bush was in the White House, liberals had a fantasy president named Jed Bartlett on The West Wing. We realized it was fiction. With Barack Obama in the White House, conservatives have a fantasy president named Barack Hussein Obama (with a different biography than the real Obama) and alternative history playing out in real time in the conservative media.

Conservatives do not realize they are reading fiction. Stories are spread to excite conservatives which generally have little relationship to the reality. For a long time Fast and Furious has dominated the conservative media, with everyone else ignoring the story. Now that Darrell Issa is abusing his power in Congress to launch a witch hunt, reporters are starting to look at the actual facts. Katherine Eban has a report in Forbes. Here is a portion of her article:

Quite simply, there’s a fundamental misconception at the heart of the Fast and Furious scandal. Nobody disputes that suspected straw purchasers under surveillance by the ATF repeatedly bought guns that eventually fell into criminal hands. Issa and others charge that the ATF intentionally allowed guns to walk as an operational tactic. But five law-enforcement agents directly involved in Fast and Furious tell Fortune that the ATF had no such tactic. They insist they never purposefully allowed guns to be illegally trafficked. Just the opposite: They say they seized weapons whenever they could but were hamstrung by prosecutors and weak laws, which stymied them at every turn.

Indeed, a six-month Fortune investigation reveals that the public case alleging that Voth and his colleagues walked guns is replete with distortions, errors, partial truths, and even some outright lies. Fortune reviewed more than 2,000 pages of confidential ATF documents and interviewed 39 people, including seven law-enforcement agents with direct knowledge of the case. Several, including Voth, are speaking out for the first time.

How Fast and Furious reached the headlines is a strange and unsettling saga, one that reveals a lot about politics and media today. It’s a story that starts with a grudge, specifically Dodson’s anger at Voth. After the terrible murder of agent Terry, Dodson made complaints that were then amplified, first by right-wing bloggers, then by CBS. Rep. Issa and other politicians then seized those elements to score points against the Obama administration, which, for its part, has capitulated in an apparent effort to avoid a rhetorical battle over gun control in the run-up to the presidential election. (A Justice Department spokesperson denies this and asserts that the department is not drawing conclusions until the inspector general’s report is submitted.)

“Republican senators are whipping up the country into a psychotic frenzy with these reports that are patently false,” says Linda Wallace, a special agent with the Internal Revenue Service’s criminal investigation unit who was assigned to the Fast and Furious team (and recently retired from the IRS). A self-described gun-rights supporter, Wallace has not been criticized by Issa’s committee.

The ATF’s accusers seem untroubled by evidence that the policy they have pilloried didn’t actually exist. “It gets back to something basic for me,” says Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa). “Terry was murdered, and guns from this operation were found at his murder site.” A spokesman for Issa denies that politics has played a role in the congressman’s actions and says “multiple individuals across the Justice Department’s component agencies share responsibility for the failure that occurred in Operation Fast and Furious.” Issa’s spokesman asserts that even if ATF agents followed prosecutors’ directives, “the practice is nonetheless gun walking.” Attorneys for Dodson declined to comment on the record.

For its part, the ATF would not answer specific questions, citing ongoing investigations. But a spokesperson for the agency provided a written statement noting that the “ATF did not exercise proper oversight, planning or judgment in executing this case. We at ATF have accepted responsibility and have taken appropriate and decisive action to insure that these errors in oversight and judgment never occur again.” The statement asserted that the “ATF has clarified its firearms transfer policy to focus on interdiction or early intervention to prevent the criminal acquisition, trafficking and misuse of firearms,” and it cited changes in coordination and oversight at the ATF.

Irony abounds when it comes to the Fast and Furious scandal. But the ultimate irony is this: Republicans who support the National Rifle Association and its attempts to weaken gun laws are lambasting ATF agents for not seizing enough weapons—ones that, in this case, prosecutors deemed to be legal.

Further in the story:

It was nearly impossible in Arizona to bring a case against a straw purchaser. The federal prosecutors there did not consider the purchase of a huge volume of guns, or their handoff to a third party,  sufficient evidence to seize them. A buyer who certified that the guns were for himself, then handed them off minutes later, hadn’t necessarily lied and was free to change his mind. Even if a suspect bought 10 guns that were recovered days later at a Mexican crime scene, this didn’t mean the initial purchase had been illegal. To these prosecutors, the pattern proved little. Instead, agents needed to link specific evidence of intent to commit a crime to each gun they wanted to seize.

None of the ATF agents doubted that the Fast and Furious guns were being purchased to commit crimes in Mexico. But that was nearly impossible to prove to prosecutors’ satisfaction. And agents could not seize guns or arrest suspects after being directed not to do so by a prosecutor. (Agents can be sued if they seize a weapon against prosecutors’ advice. In this case, the agents had a particularly strong obligation to follow the prosecutors’ direction given that Fast and Furious had received a special designation under the Justice Department’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. That designation meant more resources for the case, but it also provided that prosecutors take the lead role.)

There is far more in this lengthy report, concluding with:

Issa’s claim that the ATF is using the Fast and Furious scandal to limit gun rights seems, to put it charitably, far-fetched. Meanwhile, Issa and other lawmakers say they want ATF to stanch the deadly tide of guns, widely implicated in the killing of 47,000 Mexicans in the drug-war violence of the past five years. But the public bludgeoning of the ATF has had the opposite effect. From 2010, when Congress began investigating, to 2011, gun seizures by Group VII and the ATF’s three other groups in Phoenix dropped by more than 90%.

What is reported here sounds quite a bit different from what is being discussed on Fox. We’ve seen this many times before.

Marijuana and Crime

A  study which shows that marijuana dispensaries don’t attract crime is attracting interest today among liberal bloggers who oppose attempts to restrict marijuana dispensaries. The study shows that there is no increase in violent crime around marijuana dispensaries, at least around the area studied.

The problem is that even if opponents of marijuana dispensaries accept this argument, the fact remains that to these people marijuana dispensaries are related to one crime–use of marijuana. It would be rather naive to deny that marijuana dispensaries don’t provide a means for some people to obtain marijuana for reasons beyond legitimate medical use.

The underlying issue is not marijuana dispensaries but one’s attitude towards the legal status of marijuana. I would bet that the bast majority of us who support legal use of medical marijuana are not all concerned over whether some people manage to receive marijuana for non-medical reasons. It is more important to allow those with a medical need for marijuana to obtain it than to be concerned about whether some others also manage to use the system to obtain marijuana.

Marijuana dispensaries are tied to crime, but not a crime which should be prosecuted. If Barack Obama can find justification for the use of prosecutorial discretion with regards to immigration, the same could be done with regards to marijuana dispensaries. Of course that would only be a limited solution. The best solution would be to eliminate the crime and legalize use of marijuana. As long as marijuana is illegal, those who oppose medical marijuana will be able to find ways in which the law is being broken and find justifications to restrict the use of medical marijuana.


Obama Ad and Joe Biden Hit Romney On Outsourcing

The Obama campaign is taking advantage of the recent story in The Washington Post which called Bain Capital under Mitt Romney a pioneer in outs0urcing jobs. Here is the text of the above ad. I especially like the last line:

“Day One. President Romney stands up to China.”

But would he?

The Washington Post has just revealed that Romney’s companies were pioneers in shipping US jobs overseas.

Investing in firms that ‘specialized in relocating jobs done by American workers to new facilities in low-wage countries like China.’

Romney’s never stood up to China. All he’s ever done is send them our jobs.

Joe Biden repeated this message in Iowa: “You got to give Romney credit,” Biden said. “He’s a job creator – in Singapore, China, India. He’s been very good at creating jobs, overseas.” Video above. More on Biden’s criticism of Romney:

Biden also used Romney’s own words against him.

Citing recent speeches in the Ohio cities of Cincinnati and Toledo, Biden said: “He said his experience as a businessman is what gives him a great understanding of what it takes to bring jobs back to the United States of America. That’s his premise.”

Biden continued: “[Romney] said, that outsourcers have, quote, ‘Been able to put American businesses out of business and kill American jobs.’ He went on to say if he were president, he was going to end that outsourcing. That’s what he tells you.”

“There’s a huge disconnect between what he says, and what he means, and what he’s done.”

Obama Seeks To Rebuild Middle Class As Romney Builds Campaign Based Upon Distortions

Both candidates are campaigning on the economy. Romney is devoting much of his efforts to distorting Obama’s views, taking a statement on the private sector out of context. Obama has responded with the above ad. The key portion comes at the end: “Mitt Romney and his billionaire allies can spend millions to distort the president’s words but they’re not interested in rebuilding the middle class. President Obama is.”

While current polls have limited predictive value as to where the voters will be in November, I do find it significant that despite what the pundits called a bad couple of weeks for Obama, Obama maintains a small leads in the national polls and a significant lead in the electoral college. There are a number of possible explanations. Possibly enough voters do realize that the economic problems are due to George Bush’s economic problems and are not anxious to return to those policies under Mitt Romney.  The stories about Romney’s years at Bain very well could be making voters question Romney’s character and interest in helping the middle class.

A new Associated Press-GfK poll raises the possibility that, although virtually everyone says the election is about the economy, voters might not actually be choosing candidates based upon the economy as they do not believe it matters. Half the voters do not think that either candidate can do anything about the economy. This could be pessimism about the policies of either candidate, along with recognizing the limitations of the president.  I do suspect we will start hearing a lot more from Obama about policies he has proposed which would have helped the economy and increased employment but were blocked by Republicans in Congress.

After Thursday, it is also possible that both health care and the composition of the Supreme Court might compete with economy as a campaign issue.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who News; Fringe; Emilie de Ravin; Spider-Man; Star Trek; Game of Thrones; The Newsroom; Rory Gilmore; Cards and Cake

Caroline John, who played Liz Shaw, died at age 71 last week. Liz Shaw was a companion to the third Doctor, played by Jon Pertwee during the seventh season of Doctor Who in 1970. Here are some clips from her first appearance when she was recruited by U.N.I.T.

Additional clips can be found here.

Did Matt Smith give away a hint as to Amy Pond’s fate:

There’s something coming up in the final days of the Ponds that was in The Eleventh Hour,” he said. “There’s a shot in that. [Moffat’s] been thinking about it that long. He always knew how she was going to… I’m saying too much already.”

Entertainment Weekly interviewed John Noble about Fringe:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s talk about some of your favorites.
JOHN NOBLE: I had some favorites. I loved the “Letters of Transit” episode, which was the one where we went into the future. I thought that was really a beautiful looking episode, beautifully told. I very much liked “Return to Westfield” because it was the first time that really the old team had got back together again — Walter and Olivia (Anna Torv) and Peter (Joshua Jackson). It was a very interesting story for all sorts of reasons. Those two stand out.

Episode 20, where the two worlds were bridged was also a fan favorite.
I loved the final conversation between Walter and Walternate where they’re in the corridor together. I waited a long time to see how that would be handled, and I thought the writers really handled it beautifully and eloquently. I loved doing that scene.

Tell me what it was like filming that.
I think I was so ready for it. For me, I realized there needed to be a payoff between the fellows. And I’ve always seen them as two shades of the one man. You know, he’s the same man, but circumstances took him in a different direction. So it was like a personal reconciliation for Walter, Walternate. I was really touched by the way they were able to be so kind to each other. I found that encouraging, and it was the way that I would have wanted it to happen. There had been plenty of abuse flying around, previously. But it was just like a human being finally coming to some sort of resting point in their life and saying, “OK, let’s stop fighting.Let’s just agree on what we can agree on.” So, on a much larger scale, I thought it was beautiful. The whole sequence was beautiful. Looking back on it now, it was really sad that separation of the two worlds. No one kind of expected it to be because I have to tell you, they’re brutal to film, those doppleganger sequences. They are really demanding, and they take forever and ever and ever and ever. But I loved that scene.

Was it hard for you to say goodbye to that character?
I always had a soft spot for Walternate. I always figured that if my world was in trouble — I mean, really in trouble — he’d be the one I’d want to be in charge. And obviously he was painted as the baddie, initially. But I never personally took it that way. I took it as a man with a job to do and a huge burden and very good reason to be incredibly angry and vengeful should he choose to go that way. But he never did take that these actions; he just wanted to save his world. And then I got the chance — I think it was maybe last season– to humanize him a bit.
Look, Walter…Walternate, I don’t really think he’s gone. I think he’s just one suit away — just put another $2000 dollar suit…

Well, let’s keep you away from suits, then — for the good of the universe.

Peter and Walter had an amazing scene in the finale, right after he shot Olivia and he was working to save her. Did you actually slap Josh?
There is a little story to that. When we were doing it, it was very complicated. What Josh had realized was that his girl was lying there dead — hurt — and then [Walter] had just come trying to reason with him. There was just no way he would have done anything except strangle Walter really. So I said to [Josh], “We need [him] to snap on this one.” And we’d never done it; there’d never been any physical contact between the men. So I said, “How about if I slap you?” And he said, “Yes, that’s what it needs.” So we put that in. And it did; it was very powerful. When a person’s in distress, sometimes they slap them. So we put that in, and it was terrific. It was effective. And it was dramatically right for what we needed to do.

It appeared from the season finale of Once Upon A Time that it only made sense for Emilie de Ravin’s version of Belle to reappear frequently next season. Her pilot for ABC, Americana, didn’t get picked up, leaving the former Lost actress free to become a regular on Once Upon A Time.

The Amazing Spider-Man will be out soon. Links to early reviews can be found here. Emma Stone discussed how scary the Lizard was.

While Star Trek‘s greatness really came from the television series, it lives on in the movies. Geek Tyrant notes that with the release of the movie currently in production, Star Trek will tie (with the Friday the 13th movies) for second in number of movies made.  Both series will have twelve movies but they have a long way to go to catch up with James Bond who is going on twenty-four. As I pointed out several weeks ago, Bond director Sam Mendes has compared the James Bond franchise to Doctor Who.

What if there were SuperPAC ads in Kings Landing like those we have here? See one example above, and more here.

The Newsroom premiers tonight and most of the ads are negative. It doesn’t matter to me. If it is written by Aaron Sorkin I’ll watch every episode and enjoy them, just like Studio 60. (I probably agree with every criticism of Studio 60 out there, but still enjoyed the show.)

Seeing Rory Gilmore lower herself to having an affair with Pete Campbell on Mad Men before undergoing the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind treatment makes me nostalgic for Rory before she became corrupted. This is how Rory should be remembered: The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge. And how did Amy Sherman-Palladino manage to get a young clone of Rory for Bunheads?

I don’t think that the flaws in the science will affect whether audiences enjoy the recently released movie, Seeking a Friend For the End of the World.

Last week was Father’s Day. Here’s a couple of kids out shopping for a card for their famous but evil father.

Or if you are in need for a birthday cake, this recipe can be found here. Extermi-cake?

Friendly Atheist Blog Questions Why Atheists Would Vote For Republicans Who Hate Them

A two party system will often leave voters with no choice but to support a party which they fundamentally disagree with in some areas. Gay Republicans have been a common topic of discussion. Hopefully this election year will lead to more questions as to how a middle class person could vote Republican. Today Friendly Atheist looked at atheists who vote Republican, supporting a party which hates them. While the post is generally right in questioning how any atheist could vote Republican, the post began with a false premise:

Mind you, I’m not saying there’s anything strange about being an atheist conservative, or at least an atheist fiscal conservative. Belief in limited government, low taxes, strong defense, a hard line on immigration, and any number of other conservative beliefs are 100% compatible with atheism. It’s normal that such atheists wouldn’t dream of voting Democratic.

Lower taxes–only for the ultra-wealthy. Most people will pay  lower taxes under the Democrats than Republicans.

Limited government–a party which supports increased government intrusion in the lives of individuals is hardly the supporter of limited government. Besides, the biggest growth in government in recent years has occurred under the Republicans.

Strong defense–compare Obama’s successes against al Qaeda versus Bush’s failure. Going to war against the wrong country does not provide a strong defense.

Hard line on immigration–ok that one goes to the Republicans. Nobody surpasses them in promoting fear and hatred of others.

There are many strong reasons why atheists would not vote for Republicans. These same arguments also would apply to secular religious individuals who respect separation of church and state. While not all Republicans hold all these views, they are common in the party. These include opposition to abortion rights, support for teaching evolution in the schools, opposition to contraception, opposition to gay rights, support for school prayer, support tax breaks for religious institutions, and the belief held by many Republicans that atheists should not hold public office.

There are essentially two things which Republicans really do support in office (as opposed to their rhetoric): 1) Reducing taxes on the ultra-wealthy (while being perfectly willing to increase taxes on the middle class and increase the deficit), and 2) Allowing the religious right to impose their views on the country as a means of buying their votes. This hardly leaves any good reason for an atheist to vote Republican, but a tremendous number of people (most not being atheists)  do vote Republican based upon their rhetoric as opposed to what they actually do in office.