“Maybe I’m a dreamer, but I wish mental health care were as easy to get as, say, a gun.” –Andy Borowitz
“Maybe I’m a dreamer, but I wish mental health care were as easy to get as, say, a gun.” –Andy Borowitz
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.
“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.”
“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
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.
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.
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:
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’:
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.
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.
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?
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.
Here’s the plan for all my friends from the 2004 campaign. It is admittedly a long shot. As Secretary of State, John Kerry brings about peace in the middle east, brokers a world-wide agreement on reducing carbon emissions (especially looking impressive when he gets China to go along), and convinces Great Britain to give us their secret as to why they have so many cool TV shows which we have to pirate here.
People question why we didn’t elect John Kerry in 2004, realizing that pictures of him wind surfing were not a good reason for him to go down to defeat. Kerry gets the 2016 Democratic nomination, nobody believes anything from the Swift Boat Liars, and John Kerry gets elected president. As an added benefit, American TV finally gets Torchwood right.
“It’s reported that if you’re playing Angry Birds, the company is tracking your location. This may seem silly to you, but it’s actually how we got bin Laden.” –Conan O’Brien
I am really disappointed in NPR this morning.
During the early Inauguration Day coverage there was naturally talk of how these events include speeches referring to national unity, contrasting that with the degree of division in the country. Ron Elving claimed that many Republicans wanted to work with Obama but they got home and their constituents demanded that they oppose Obama’s policies. The reality is that the Republicans had decided to do everything possible to block Obama’s policies, even meeting to plot this on the day of his first inauguration.
Throughout its five year run, Fringe was often unrealistic, but fans were willing to forgive this and enjoy the ride. The series finale was made to feel more plausible by multiple references to prior events on the show. It also helped the flow of the episode to have the major revelations and the plan to destroy the Observers revealed the previous week.
The finale began with the need to rescue Michael, the child observer, from a detention cell on Liberty Island. On Fringe the way to get around security was obvious–go to Liberty Island in the alternate universe, which is the location of the Department of Defense, come back to our universe and rescue Michael, return to the alternative universe, and then return to our universe at a safer spot. This meant that Olivia had to receive a new series of injections of Cortexiphan to allow her to cross over and back a total of four times. Sure this was risky, but “Etta died so we could finish the plan,”as Olivia pointed out to a skeptical Peter.
This plan served a couple of purposes. For the fans, it allowed one more glimpse of the alternative universe. While some disagree, I found the alternative universe arc to be the highlight of the entire series. We got to see Fauxlivia and Lincoln again, and find that Walternate is now lecturing at Harvard at age 90. I do wish we had another opportunity to see John Noble play this role. For the purpose of the story plot, it provides a reason for Michael to have allowed himself to be captured in the prior episode, which became important later on. His capture led to Olivia injecting herself with Cortexiphan, providing her with the power to kill Windmark in their final battle and enable Michael to be taken into the future.
Sure, this was somewhat convoluted. Maybe Michael could have come up with another way to defeat the Observers and go into the future. The plan might not have worked at all if he had been taken somewhere else. Perhaps Michael could have told them that it was essential for Olivia to receive the Cortexiphan, but they might not have be willing to take this risk without high stakes such as Michael being captured.
From Michael’s perspective, being captured didn’t seem to be a problem. Windmark’s scientist found that Michael had greater intellectual powers than the Observers and a capacity for emotional responsiveness than normal humans (whatever this means). Michael clearly had more powerful mind powers than Windmark. It is also probable that he could see the future, knowing that Olivia would take the Cortexiphan and rescue him before the Observer surgeons got started on him.
Besides seeing Fauxlivia and Lincoln again, it was good to see Broyles have a major role in this episode. His attempts to mislead the Observers ultimately failed and he was captured. This provided an opportunity to see a wide variety of items saved from the Fringe Unit used in an attack which included his rescue and obtaining another gadget needed for the time machine. Having seen this tactic used earlier this season both made this attack appear more realistic within the framework of the show and eliminated the need for an explanation in this episode.
This was a good episode for Astrid. Highlights of her actions in this episode included her showing Walter another “character” from the past–Gene the cow, frozen in Amber. When they needed an ignition device (because Windmark got this from December before September/Donald could) Astrid came up with the idea to use one of the Observers shipping lanes. Again this was shown in an earlier episode of the season, making it plausible without distracting explanations or pulling something totally out of left field.
The previous episode had foreshadowed two aspects of the finale–resetting time to be with Etta again and sacrifice. I (and probably most viewers) had been expecting all season for the series to end by resetting time and returning to the scene in the park when the invasion began and Etta was taken. The idea of sacrificing Peter has come up so often that this was almost expected, but would contradict the predictions of Olivia, Peter, and Etta being safe in the park.
Once things were hinted at in the previous episode it became obvious that the ending would provide some degree of a surprise and the ending would not be exactly as predicted. A tape was found of Walter explaining that the sacrifice was that, to prevent a paradox, he would have to live in the future and could not be present in the world of 2015 when the Observer invasion (which would be wiped from history) originally occurred. With time being reset in 2015 I am not certain why the reset wouldn’t include Walter being there, but how do we argue with the results of time travel? Then, after we believed that Walter would be sacrificed, Donald decided to go instead of him, feeling greater attachment to his son and having greater understanding of what it meant for Walter and Peter to remain together. It also made more sense for Donald to go on to a life in 2167 considering that otherwise he would cease to exist along with the other Observers. We were misled about this again as Donald was killed and Walter had to take Michael into the future.
The universe was reset to 2015 with Peter and Olivia in the park with Etta. There is one potential problem with this scenario. If there were no Observers, then Peter would not have survived being brought over in the initial timeline of Fringe as he was saved from drowning by September. It is questionable as to whether this was necessary as we already saw the timeline changed so that Peter did not exist, and yet he returned (without a really plausible explanation). On the one hand, his existence in this timeline no longer depended upon him being brought over by Walter as this event did not occur in this timeline. On the other hand, Peter returned to existence in this timeline because of his existence in the initial timeline. His continuing existence in one way is even harder to justify because of the lack of Observers to have led to a timeline where he was here. On the other hand, his existence after the reset would have been more implausible if not for the way he returned in the fourth season, no longer having the history of being brought from the alternate universe with help from September. Peter’s existence, even though he should not exist, has been something we must accept from Fringe in the final two seasons.
The question of Walter’s continued existence after resetting the timeline allowed for a reference back to an episode from 2010, White Tulip, in which a picture of a white tulip had been sent to Walter after an analogous situation involving time travel. Now Peter was the recipient of the letter with a white tulip. It is sad to see this series end, but also tempting to go back and watch earlier episodes which will not have so much more meaning after seeing their role in the big picture painted over five years by this fantastic series.