Quote of the Day

“Maybe I’m a dreamer, but I wish mental health care were as easy to get as, say, a gun.” –Andy Borowitz

Republican Plot To Rig Electoral College No Longer A Threat In Most States

Last year the big fear was that unrestricted contributions from corporations and conservative groups would give the Republicans an advantage. It turned out that lots of small donors matched the big donors, and a majority of voters did not fall for Republican misinformation and propaganda. This year the fear has been that the Republicans would change the rules in states where they control the state government to rig the electoral college so that they could win presidential elections with a minority of votes. If they had passed such a plan to choose electoral votes based upon gerrymandered Congressional districts, Mitt Romney would now be president and the American experiment in democracy would be over.

Fortunately the proposal is not looking like it will pass in most states. Even some Republicans realize that a plan to openly steal elections in this way is not a good idea (regardless of whether this is due to moral qualms or fearing a backlash). Politico reports:

In the majority of states where such measures are being considered – Virginia, Florida, Ohio and Michigan, all states that voted for President Obama in 2012 but have Republican-controlled legislatures – proposals to split Electoral College votes proportionally have either been defeated or are strongly opposed by officials in those states.

The only remaining states are Pennsylvania, where an electoral vote change was unsuccessful in 2011, and Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker has expressed hesitance about any changes to the system.

In Michigan, Governor Rick Snyder has come out against the proposal, but didn’t he once oppose changing Michigan into a right to work state?
House Speaker Will Weatherford in Florida objected to the proposal with this comment:

“To me, that’s like saying in a football game, ‘We should have only three quarters, because we were winning after three quarters and they beat us in the fourth,” he said. “I don’t think we need to change the rules of the game, I think we need to get better.”

Some Republicans might also oppose this for strategic reasons. If their fortunes change so that the can win again in Virginia, Florida, and Ohio, the plan would backfire, giving Democrats some electoral votes as opposed to Republicans taking all. Even Republicans in currently safe districts might see this as a negative as it would give Democrats reason to concentrate harder on every Congressional district, possibly helping down ticket candidates pull an upset.

Quote of the Day

“Tom Tancredo, who was a congressman from Colorado and ran for president, made a bet that his state would not legalize marijuana. And of course, he lost that bet. And you know what he has to do because he lost that bet? Yes, he’s got a suck on a joint. I just hope in the next few years he loses a bet on gay marriage.” –Bill Maher

Quote of the Day

“Where did we go wrong? The Republicans had everything going for them – a terrible economy, an unpopular incumbent, and a positive message for the American voter: ‘less than half of you are parasites.'” –Stephen Colbert

SciFi Weekend: Star Wars; Batman; Battlestar Galactica; Who Killed JR?; Mad Men and Other Returning Shows; S.H.I.E.L.D.; Doctor Who Meets Inspector Spacetime

abrams darth vader 615

The big science fiction news of the week is that J.J. Abrams will be directing the next Star Wars movie. I think it is a good idea for J.J. Abrams to direct the Star Wars movie. His tendency to destroy entire planets (Romulus, Vulcan) fits in better with Star Wars and Death Star than Star Trek.

There are reports that they might wait until 2017 to reboot Batman. There is also speculation that the cast of Justice League of America, scheduled for a 2015 release, will be cut down to five, leaving out Batman until he is rebooted in his own movie. Other rumors say that plans continue to reintroduce Batman in Justice League but possibly leave out Aquaman. Incidentally, if anyone is interested in getting the Michael Keaton Batman movies on Blu-Ray, I found they were much less expensive when purchased as part of a Michael Keaton Collection (recently discounted even further on Amazon) than as stand-alone Batman movies.

Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome was turned into a web series after SyFy decided against picking it up as a weekly series. They will be televising this as a movie on February 10.

Dallas returns tomorrow night, starting with the final episodes filmed before the death of Larry Hagman. Considering all the publicity the show obtained in its original run with the mystery of Who Shot JR?, it only makes sense that JR Ewing will leave the series by being murdered as opposed to dying of natural causes. They should be able to keep this mystery, and other references to JR Ewing, part of the show for quite a long time.

Colin Morgan won the award for Best Drama Performance at the National Television Awards for his portrayal of Merlin.

Doctor Who returns on March 30 with Game of Thrones returning the following night.


Mad Men returns on April 7 with a two hour season premier. More pictures like above here. The upcoming season will include more of Betty Draper but January Jones will not be returning as Emma Frost to X-Men Days of Futures Past . Elisabeth Moss was surprised her character left Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce last season and cannot say what Peggy will be doing in the upcoming season.


While January Jones won’t be returning to X-Men, Anna Paquin (Rogue), Ellen Page (Kitty Pride) will be returning in these roles.

I was initially concerned that Person of Interest would be about independent stories every week, but over time an increasingly convoluted back story has developed. If you are having as much trouble as I am keeping track of everything, the chart here will either help or confuse matters further.

Filming is starting on S.H.I.E.L.D. Cobie Smulders will be reprising her role as Maria Hill despite continuing on How I Met Your Mother for another season.

Downton Abbey is casting for a new suitor for a character in Season 4. If you saw Season 3, or heard how it end, you will know who. If you do not know, don’t follow this link.

Office Documentary Crew

After nine years the documentary crew is being introduced into the cast of The Office. Will they have a plausible explanation as to why they have been covering this office for nine years?

Emma Stone Nearly Naked.

Doctor Who meets Inspector Spacetime:

Doctor Who Meets Inspector Spacetime



Republicans As The Stupid Party and Villains

There is a Civil War going on in the GOP as Republicans fight over whether to be the Stupid Party or Crazy Party. (Most likely they will remain both). Speaking before the Republican National Committee, Bobby Jindal said they “must stop being the stupid party.” The problem is that Republicans such as Jindal are so out of touch with reality that they only recognize some of the stupid things said by Republicans as being stupid. Think Progress gave a list of Five Reasons Bobby Jindal Is Responsible For Transforming The GOP Into ‘The Stupid Party’:

  1. He permits Louisiana schools to teach creationism.
  2. He allows state employees to be fired for being gay.
  3. He has signed bills to intimidate women seeking abortions
  4. He seeks to dramatically cut taxes for the wealthy, increase taxes for everyone else.
  5. He refuses to provide health care for Louisiana’s poorest.

Paul Ryan urges Republicans not to play the villain:

“The president will bait us. He’ll portray us as cruel and unyielding,” Ryan said. “Just the other day, he said Republicans had ‘suspicions’ about Social Security. He said we had ‘suspicions’ about feeding hungry children. He said we had ‘suspicions’ about caring for the elderly. Look, it’s the same trick he plays every time: Fight a straw man. Avoid honest debate. Win the argument by default.”

“We can’t get rattled,” he continued. “We won’t play the villain in his morality plays. We have to stay united. We have to show that—if given the chance—we can govern. We have better ideas.”

Just looking at Ryan’s budget ideas, such as destroying Medicare as we know it, is enough to view Ryan and his colleagues as the villains.

They certainly do not “have better ideas.” Republicans have become so radicalized that they are limited to “ideas” which ignore facts, ignore reality, and ignore the desires of most Americans. Republicans commonly  project their failings onto others, such as claiming that Obama is fighting a straw man. The reality is that Republicans regularly use straw man arguments and refuse to respond to actual liberal ideas which are supported by a majority of voters, and often even by large numbers of Republican voters.  This is why the strategy which Republicans have come up with is not to sell voters on their ideas but to try to rig the electoral college so that Republicans can win without the support of a majority of voters. Stealing elections is yet another way in which Republicans play the villain.

Sarah Palin Leaving Fox

Know-nothing conservative politicians have little to fear from getting voted out of office. There are plenty of jobs for them at places such as Fox. Sarah Palin even quit her job as governor to make more money displaying her ignorance to even more ignorant conservatives. It looks like even a job at Fox isn’t guaranteed to be forever with Palin not accepting a renewal of a contract with Fox:

After a three-year run as a paid contributor to the nation’s highest-rated cable news channel, Sarah Palin and FOX News have cut ties, according to a source close to the former Alaska governor.

“It’s my understanding that Gov. Palin was offered a contract by FOX, and she decided not to renew the arrangement,” the source close to Palin told RCP. “She remains focused on broadening her message of common-sense conservatism across the country and will be expanding her voice in the national discussion.”

The source declined to say whether Palin would pursue a television contract with another news network, such as CNN.

It is hard to see Palin at CNN or MSNBC.  She might find  a spot on talk radio, and I’m sure she will still make a good living giving talks to conservative groups.

There is speculation, considering how rocky things have been between Palin and Fox, that Palin was not offered a new contract which she was happy with. Doug Mataconis summarized the relationship:

This isn’t entirely surprising. There have been signs for quite some time that FNC, or to be more specific Roger Ailes, was souring on Palin. Her appearances on the network have become increasingly rare, which was odd considering the fact that the network went through the effort and expense of constructing a remote studio in her home thousands of miles away form the network’s home office. Additionally, there were reports way back in 2011 that  Ailes was not entirely pleased with Palin both because of the fact that she chose to announce her Presidential intentions on a talk radio show and because of her reaction to the criticism she unfairly received after the Gabby Giffords shooting. Last year, the speculation about the status of her relationship was put into further doubt when she took to her Facebook page to complain about the fact that the network did not utilize her during the Republican National Convention. So, perhaps, this was a long time in coming.

Proposal To Make Cigarettes A Controlled Substances–What Would The Indications Be For Prescribing?

A bill proposed in the Oregon legislature would make cigarettes available only by prescription. They would also be a Schedule III controlled substance, in the came class as drugs such as Vicodin. The Representative proposing this realizes this is not going to happen, but is trying to make a point in the hopes of reducing cigarette use.

It doesn’t really matter as this is not a bill anyone expects to pass, but I couldn’t help but consider the implications of requiring that cigarettes be prescribed as a controlled substance. While other Schedule III drugs might have risks and, like tobacco, can be addictive, cigarettes are unique. Cigarettes would probably be the only drug which, when used as prescribed, are very likely to kill their users, and have minimal benefits which might offset the risk. I don’t see how any physician could justify writing a prescription for cigarettes in such a situation. Perhaps they might be prescribed to handle addiction to cigarettes, but I couldn’t legally order Vicodin on a regular basis for somebody who has no medical indications for the drug in order to handle their addiction. What possible medical indications would there be for prescribing cigarettes?

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Large Majority Of Americans Support Roe v. Wade

On the fortieth anniversary of Roe v. Wade, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News Poll showed that seventy percent of Americans believe the ruling should stand, representing a record high. While there may be some temporary backsliding and some polls which are outliers, I believe that we will see a general trend of growing majorities supporting the liberal position on all social issues. This comes both from a general trend for all Americans to become more tolerate and pro-freedom on social issues, and from higher majorities of the young holding more socially liberal views than others.

I consider abortion rights to be a fundamental matter of individual liberty, allowing a woman to control her own body. As Mary Elizabeth Williams points out at Salon, the fact that life (in some manner) begins at conception is not the relevant issue, but it is politically smart of Republicans to grab hold of this misleading argument in supporting a position which is hard to defend rationally.

While my concern is primarily one of individual liberty, abortion rights are also clearly a feminist issue. Jill Filipovic explained what Row v. Wade means for women at The Guardian:

For women, the ability to control the number and spacing of your children is fundamental. It’s nearly impossible to overstate just how crucial that right is: without it, we simply don’t have the same prospects and abilities to live full, free lives. It’s no coincidence that the dual rights to abortion and birth control ushered in some of the most profound cultural shifts in human history.

While gender equality is far from perfectly realized, women today have more rights and opportunities than ever before. We go to college and most graduate schools at the same rates as men, and are increasingly present in high-paying jobs. We are better able to leave abusive marriages and relationships. We’re healthier, and so are our children – child mortality has greatly decreased, and a low child mortality rate is directly tied to reproductive healthcare and reproductive rights.

Reliable birth control and access to abortion means that we can pursue an education and work to build a stable career before getting married and reproducing – and the marriages that come later in life between two highly-educated people are by far the most stable. Among couples who have children, those who plan the pregnancies are happier than those who don’t.

Between 1970 and 2009, child mortality around the world fell by half, which is largely attributable to women being better-educated and better able to make their own reproductive decisions. In the US, along with Roe came safer and earlier abortions; emergency rooms are no longer lined with women injured by illegal terminations, and abortion is now one of the safest medical procedures a woman can have.

Filipovic also pointed out that “Outlawing abortion doesn’t lead to a lower abortion rate, and some of the countries with the highest abortion rates on the planet are places where it’s illegal.” Instead of reducing abortions, outlawing abortion “means more dangerous procedures and higher maternal mortality rates. Thirteen per cent of maternal deaths around the world result from unsafe illegal abortions.”

Right Wingers And Out Of Context Quotes

Taking statements out of context, and sometimes even changing the words, is a common tactic among right wingers, and some sites such as Breitbart.com make a special effort to find statements to distort and attack. Steve M. looks at a distortion from Hillary Clinton’s testimony at the Benghazi hearings. Steve introduced the story in this manner:

I haven’t been able to watch the Benghazi hearings, but I’ve checked my Twitter feed, and the lefties who’ve been watching are 100% convinced that Hillary Clinton has been wiping the floor with the Republicans who are trying to take her down.

The righties in my feed have a very different perspective. They have what they want: a soundbite they can rip from context and use as a cudgel to beat the administration and Secretary Clinton with. I’m not sure if they really expect their efforts to color mainstream coverage of this story, but it’s clear that that’s what they’re hoping. They have a new “you didn’t build that,” a new “spread the wealth around,” and they’re going to wring everything they can out of it.

You can follow the link for the full story. I’m primarily posting this to help keep Steve’s post at the top of the page of Memeorandum for as long as possible.