The silly story of the day came from Wawas, which I believe is a more upscale 7/11 type chain on the east coast. Mitt Romney’s defenders say that initial video clips were misleading, suggesting that Romney was out of touch by not being aware of machines which will dispense a sandwich at the simple touch of a button. Right wing bloggers, who are only too eager to spread clips and quotes from Obama and other liberals out of context, became upset when apparently this was done to their guy. Of course this practice is wrong regardless of who does it, and everybody should stop doing it.
For the sake of discussion I will give Romney the benefit of the doubt and assume that his campaign’s explanation for what occurred at Wawa was true. Their explanation was that Romney was comparing the ease of getting a sandwich from a machine in the free enterprise system to the difficulties of an optometrist who allegedly had to fill out a 33-page form to change his address for Medicaid:
“I met an optometrist this morning and … this optometrist wanted to change his billing address. He moved his office from one side of town to the other, same Zip code, same post office. But he wanted to change his address. He got a form from the federal government. This is so he could get reimbursement from the federal government for the services he provides for the poor and seniors.
“The form he gets to change address is 33 pages long — 33 pages long. He calls someone to ask how to fill it out. He calls someone in government. They tell him what to do. He sends it in. They sent it back. It wasn’t done right, got to do it again, another 33 pages. He calls another person. They tell him what to do. Doesn’t get it right the second time. The third time’s the charm, though. This takes several months during which time he’s not getting the checks for the work he’s doing for people who need his care. That’s how government works.”
There are more serious problems with this explanation than the original storyline that Romney was surprised by the sandwich machine. The original storyline presumably was intended to emphasize the idea that Romney is out of touch, but would that really hurt? Does anyone, either pro or anti Romney, really think that Mitt Romney gets sandwiches from vending machines, and would this really influence anyone’s vote?
On the other hand, the later explanation emphasizes the fact that Mitt Romney just cannot be trusted. First of all, Romney is comparing apples and oranges when comparing the ease of purchasing a sandwich with monitoring of those who provide professional services. The government is actually sending payments to the optometrist, giving them more interest in knowing for certain that the person they are sending the checks to is really the right person. Fraud is a widespread problem in health care, but not in selling sandwiches, making monitoring more important. The bureaucratic burden in health care is not limited to government programs such as Medicaid and Medicare. Medical professionals are also burdened with paperwork demands of private insurance companies. The bureaucratic mindset is not limited to government.
Of course even with these differences a 33-page form to change an address sounds ridiculous–and is not an accurate claim. Mitt Romney is so eager to make government look bad while campaigning that he has no regard for whether what he says is true. Some blogs have linked to an example of a two page form (with two pages of instructions) for a change of address. Many state Medicaid programs, as well as Medicare, now use a totally computerized system to change information. When I sign on to these systems they are already populated with information on file, making it a simple matter to update any changes, and then sign and fax in an attestation form that the changes are accurate. Possibly the entire system has 33 pages on a medical professional, but it is only necessary to update the pertinent section.
I also wonder about the intelligence of the optometrist who Romney quoted if he had this much difficulty with a form and the process took months. I guess if he was brighter he wouldn’t be supporting Mitt Romney, and the idiocy of Joe the Plumber extends to other professions.
Barack Obama made several important points in his economic address today (full transcript here). He began with an essential point for his campaign. This is not just a vote as to whether people are satisfied with the economy at present, as Romney would like, but a vote between two different paths to follow:
And in the coming weeks, Governor Romney and I will spend time debating our records and our experience, as we should. But though we will have many differences over the course of this campaign, there is one place where I stand in complete agreement with my opponent: This election is about our economic future.
Yes, foreign policy matters, social issues matter. But more than anything else, this election presents a choice between two fundamentally different visions of how to create strong, sustained growth; how to pay down our long-term debt; and most of all, how to generate good, middle-class jobs so people can have confidence that if they work hard, they can get ahead.
Now, this isn’t some abstract debate. This is not another trivial Washington argument. I have said that this is the defining issue of our time and I mean it. I said that this is a make-or-break moment for America’s middle class, and I believe it.
OBAMA: The decisions we make in the next few years, on everything from debt to taxes to energy and education, will have an enormous impact on this country, and on the country we pass on to our children.
Now, these challenges are not new. We’ve been wrestling with these issues for a long time. The problems we’re facing right now have been more than a decade in the making.
And what is holding us back is not a lack of big ideas. It isn’t a matter of finding the right technical solution. Both parties have laid out their policies on the table for all to see.
What’s holding us back is a stalemate in Washington between two fundamentally different views of which direction America should take. And this election is your chance to break that stalemate.
At stake is not simply a choice between two candidates or two political parties, but between two paths for our country. And while there are many things to discuss in this campaign, nothing is more important than an honest debate about where these two paths would lead us.
Obama challenged the failed economic philosophy of George Bush and Mitt Romney:
We were told that huge tax cuts, especially for the wealthiest Americans, would lead to faster job growth. We were told that fewer regulations, especially for big financial institutions and corporations, would bring about widespread prosperity. We were told that it was OK to put two wars on the nation’s credit card; that tax cuts would create a enough growth to pay for themselves.
That’s what we were told.
So how did this economic theory work out?
OBAMA: For the wealthiest Americans it worked out pretty well.
Over the last few decades the income of the top 1 percent grew by more than 275 percent, to an average of $1.3 million a year. Big financial institutions, corporations saw their profits soar.
But prosperity never trickled down to the middle class. From 2001 to 2008 we had the slowest job growth in half a century. The typical family saw their incomes halt.
Obama continued to show the differences between his views and those of his opponent:
OBAMA: Now, Governor Romney and his allies in Congress believe deeply in the theory we tried during the last decade, the theory that the best way to grow the economy is from the top down.
OBAMA: So they maintain that if we eliminate most regulations, we cut taxes by trillions of dollars, if we strip down government to national security and few other basic functions, then the power of businesses to create jobs and prosperity will be unleashed and that will automatically benefit us all.
That’s what they believe. This — this is their economic plan. It has been placed before Congress. Governor Romney has given speeches about it, and it’s on his website.
So if they win the election their agenda will be simple and straightforward; they have spelled it out. They promise to roll back regulations on banks and polluters, on insurance companies and oil companies. They’ll roll back regulations designed to protect consumers and workers.
They promise to not only keep all of the Bush tax cuts in place, but add another $5 trillion in tax cuts on top of that.
Now, an independent study said that about 70 percent of this new $5 trillion tax cut would go to folks making over $200,000 a year. And folks making over a million dollars a year would get an average tax cut of about 25 percent.
Now, this is not my opinion. This is not political spin. This is precisely what they have proposed.
Now, your next question may be: How do you spend $5 trillion on a tax cut and still bring down the deficit?
Well, they tell us they’ll start by cutting nearly a trillion dollars from the part of our budget that includes everything from education and job training, to medical research and clean energy.
He brought up health care:
Not only does their plan eliminate health insurance for 33 million Americans by repealing the Affordable Care Act, according to the independent Kaiser Family Foundation, it would also take away coverage from another 19 million Americans who rely on Medicaid, including millions of nursing home patients and families who have children with autism and other disabilities.
OBAMA: And they propose turning Medicare into a voucher program, which will shift more costs to seniors and eventually end the program as we know it.
With people overly obsessed with tiny differences in tax rates these days, it is important to point out that out of pocket health care costs will be higher not only for seniors, but also for those in private insurance plans, if we follow Romney’s policies.Obama should be able to increase his share of votes from seniors as he explains what the Republicans plan to do to Medicare and Social Security.
Obama brought up the lack of a meaningful mechanism to reduce the deficit under Romney’s policies and the failure of Congress to act on his economic plan:
I see a future where we pay down our deficit in a way that is balanced — not by placing the entire burden on the middle class and the poor, but by cutting out programs we can’t afford and asking the wealthiest Americans to contribute their fair share.
That’s my vision for America: education, energy, innovation, infrastructure, and a tax code focused on American job creation and balanced deficit reduction.
OBAMA: This is the vision behind the jobs plan I sent Congress back in September, a bill filled with bipartisan ideas that, according to independent economists, would create up to 1 million additional jobs if passed today.
This is the vision behind the deficit plan I sent to Congress back in September, a detailed proposal that would reduce our deficit by $4 trillion through shared sacrifice and shared responsibility.
This is the vision I intend to pursue in my second term as president because I believe…
… because — because I believe if we do these things — if we do these things more companies will start here and stay here and hire here, and more Americans will be able to find jobs that support a middle class lifestyle.
Understand, despite what you hear from my opponent, this has never been a vision about how government creates jobs or has the answers to all our problems.
Over the last three years I’ve cut taxes for the typical working family by $3,600.
I’ve cut taxes for small businesses 18 times.
I have approved fewer regulations in the first three years of my presidency than my Republican predecessor did in his.
OBAMA: And I’m implementing over 500 reforms to fix regulations that were costing folks too much for no reason.
Bruce Bartlett, who has been an adviser to Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Ron Paul, and Jack Kemp, debunks the Voodoo Economics now practiced by Republicans. He began by showing that Americans are right when “43 percent of them hold George W. Bush responsible for the current budget deficit versus only 14 percent who blame Mr. Obama.”
The American people are right; Mr. Bush is more responsible, as a new report from the Congressional Budget Office documents.
In January 2001, the office projected that the federal government would run a total budget surplus of $3.5 trillion through 2008 if policy was unchanged and the economy continued according to forecast. In fact, there was a deficit of $5.5 trillion.
The projected surplus was primarily the result of two factors. First was a big tax increase in 1993 that every Republican in Congress voted against, saying that it would tank the economy. This belief was wrong. The economy boomed in 1994, growing 4.1 percent that year and strongly throughout the Clinton administration.
As for tax cuts over the past decade:
The 2001 tax cut did nothing to stimulate the economy, yet Republicans pushed for additional tax cuts in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2008. The economy continued to languish even as the Treasury hemorrhaged revenue, which fell to 17.5 percent of the gross domestic product in 2008 from 20.6 percent in 2000. Republicans abolished Paygo in 2002, and spending rose to 20.7 percent of G.D.P. in 2008 from 18.2 percent in 2001.
According to the C.B.O., by the end of the Bush administration, legislated tax cuts reduced revenues and increased the national debt by $1.6 trillion. Slower-than-expected growth further reduced revenues by $1.4 trillion.
However, the Bush tax cuts continued through 2010, well into the Obama administration. These reduced revenues by another $369 billion, adding that much to the debt. Legislated tax cuts enacted by President Obama and Democrats in Congress reduced revenues by an additional $407 billion in 2009 and 2010. Slower growth reduced revenues by a further $1.3 trillion. Contrary to Republican assertions, there were no additional revenues from legislated tax increases.
Putting all the numbers in the C.B.O. report together, we see that continuation of tax and budget policies and economic conditions in place at the end of the Clinton administration would have led to a cumulative budget surplus of $5.6 trillion through 2011 – enough to pay off the $5.6 trillion national debt at the end of 2000.
Tax cuts and slower-than-expected growth reduced revenues by $6.1 trillion and spending was $5.6 trillion higher, a turnaround of $11.7 trillion. Of this total, the C.B.O. attributes 72 percent to legislated tax cuts and spending increases, 27 percent to economic and technical factors. Of the latter, 56 percent occurred from 2009 to 2011.
Republicans would have us believe that somehow we could have avoided the recession and balanced the budget since 2009 if only they had been in charge. This would be a neat trick considering that the recession began in December 2007, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.
They would also have us believe that all of the increase in debt resulted solely from higher spending, nothing from lower revenues caused by tax cuts. And they continually imply that one of the least popular spending increases of recent years, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, was an Obama administration program, when in fact it was a Bush administration initiative proposed by the Treasury Department that was signed into law by Mr. Bush on Oct. 3, 2008.
Lastly, Republicans continue to insist that tax cuts are highly stimulative, often saying that they add nothing to the debt, when this is obviously ridiculous.
Conversely, they are adamant that tax increases must not be part of any deficit-reduction package because they never reduce deficits and instead are spent. This is also ridiculous, as the experience of the Clinton administration clearly shows. The new C.B.O. data confirm these facts.
Andrew Sullivan, another conservative who now debunks the lunacy of those who have taken over the conservative movement, commented:
When you check reality, rather than the alternate universe constantly created by Fox News and an amnesiac press, you find that Bush had a chance to pay off all our national debt before we hit the financial crisis – giving the US enormous flexibility in intervening to ameliorate the recession. Instead, we had to find money for a stimulus in a cupboard stripped bare – its contents largely given away, by an act of choice. I’m tired of being told we cannot blame Bush for our current predicament. We can and should blame him for most of it – and remind people that Romney’s policies: more tax cuts, more defense spending are identical. With one difference: Bush pledged never “to balance the budget on the backs of the poor.”
Mitt Romney has no qualms about doing that very thing. And he will, if he is given the chance.
Romney said of Obama, “he wants another stimulus, he wants to hire more government workers. He says we need more fireman, more policeman, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.”
The web video above might be a good first step in changing the debate over less government. Obama points out that when Republicans talk about less government, they mean Fewer Teachers, Fewer Firefighters, and Fewer Police Officers. A follow up might also point out that Republican attacks on government also means changes to Social Security and Medicare which are so massive that the programs will no longer exist as we now know them.
I would also love to see Obama and other Democrats counter the entire meme that Republicans support smaller government. They do not. Government spending has grown tremendously when under Republican control. Republicans support smaller government when talking about eliminating necessary regulations and cutting back on government programs which most people do want. Republicans support bigger government when it comes to military spending, and when it comes to government intrusion in the private lives of individuals.Restricting access to birth control, telling people who they may marry, and involuntary vaginal probes are hardly the policies of those who believe in limited government.
Unfortunately this aspect of Obama’s campaign did not get off to a good start due to unclear wording which made it easy for the dishonest pundits on the right to take his statement out of context. Here is what Obama really said:
We’ve created 4.3 million jobs over the past 27 months. Over 800,000 just this year alone. The private sector is doing fine. Where we’re seeing problems is with state and local government, often with cuts initiated by governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help they’re accustomed to from the federal government.
Obama, of course, is factually correct. As I pointed out a few weeks ago, we have seen growth in the private sector but that has been offset by loses in the private sector. The unemployment rate would be around 7.1 percent if not for these public sector loses. Ezra Klein made the same argument with a different table than the one I used in my previous post:
Notice how the right wing loves to make noise about comments twisted and taken out of context but is always afraid to respond to the actual positions of Obama and other liberals? Throughout numerous public appearances Obama and Biden have been saying that the economy is improving, but not enough. If you actually pay attention to what Obama is saying, it is clear he does not believe that the private sector is doing fine. What is happening is that there are more private sector jobs being created. Historically there has generally been greater growth in private sector jobs under Democrats as compared to Republicans.
Republicans responding to Obama are correct in saying that the private sector is not fine, while incorrect in attributing the opposite view to Obama. If Republicans agree with Obama that more needs to do to bring about improvement in the private sector, why don’t they respond by passing Obama’s American Jobs Act. Non-partisan economists agreed it would create more jobs, but we know Republicans will not pass anything which would help the economy. While Republicans were elected to Congress with promises of creating jobs, they have preferred to spend their time promoting laws to infringe upon the reproductive rights of women, which have no chance of becoming law, while ignoring the economy.
For those who understand how a market economy works, which apparently excludes a tremendous number of Republican voters, the Solyndra attacks from Mitt Romney have never made any sense. Beyond the irrationality of the arguments there is the key point that Romney got his facts wrong in his attacks on Obama.
Some businesses are going to fail. I’ll leave it to readers to follow the above link to the fact checking. If for the sake of discussion we believe that there is any logic to Romney’s logic that it indicates a failing on the part of a public official if a company they provided assistance to should later go bankrupt, it turns out that Romney has done the same:
Romney has repeatedly ripped the Obama administration for sending federal funds to Solyndra, a California alternative energy company that went belly-up.
Decrying the White House’s decision to give Solyndra a $535 million federal loan as “crony capitalism,” Romney even held a surprise campaign stunt at the Bay Area plant Thursday.
But a day later, a Massachusetts solar panel company that received a state grant while Romney was governor filed for bankruptcy, according to the Boston Herald.
Romney personally awarded a $1.5 million renewable energy subsidy to Konarka Technologies, based in Lowell, a short time after he took office in 2003, the paper reported.
That company filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection and laid off 85 workers.
The Obama campaign was quick to pounce on the apparent double-standard.
“Every day we see a new example of Mitt Romney’s hypocrisy,” said Obama spokeswoman Lis Smith. “Mitt Romney may think he can play by a different set of rules, but he can’t hide his history of giving millions of dollars in government loans to campaign donors.”
The Romney campaign did not immediately comment on the report. Konarka collected a total of $20 million in government grants during its 11-year history, according to the Herald
“It’s a powerful line of attack that connects failed ventures like Solyndra, the bankrupt California-based solar panel maker that defaulted on a $535 million loan from the U.S. Energy Department, with the trillion-dollar budget deficits and sluggish U.S. economy of the past four years.
But it might invite unfavorable comparison with Romney’s tenure as governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007. During that time, Romney pursued a hands-on approach to economic development that favored some industries over others and, in some instances, singled out individual firms for special favors.
Romney, a former private equity executive, backed tax breaks for film makers and biotech and medical-device manufacturers. His administration promoted venture capital-style funds that extended loans to start-up companies, some of which subsequently went out of business.
As the state’s top salesman, he led the effort to lure desirable employers through tax breaks and other incentives.
“That’s what governors do – they have to pick winners and losers,” said Boston University professor Fred Bayles. “It’s a calculated risk that governors and state politicians take in an effort to get jobs.”
Sometimes, as with Bristol-Myers Squibb, Romney’s efforts panned out. Other times they did not.
A $2.5 million state loan helped lure Rhode Island biotech firm Spherics Inc across the state line to Massachusetts in 2005. Romney’s economic development secretary, Ranch Kimball, touted the move as “a tangible result of the combined and coordinated efforts of the public and private sectors to highlight the benefits of locating in Massachusetts.”
The company shut down three years later, laying off all of its employees and defaulting on $1.5 million of the loan, according to MassDevelopment, the state development authority.
GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has hammered President Obama for his administration’s tax-funded investment blunders — but when Romney was governor, the state handed out $4.5 million in loans to two firms run by his campaign donors that have since defaulted, leaving taxpayers holding the bag.
The two companies — Acusphere and Spherics Inc. — stiffed the state on nearly $2.1 million in loans provided through the state’s Emerging Technology Fund, a $25 million investment program created while Romney was governor in 2003 that benefitted 13 local firms.
Overall, the federal government has distributed over $800 billion in stimulus money. Where are the sweetheart deals? Where are the actual outrages that are provoking outrage? During the debate over the stimulus, experts warned that as much as 5% to 7% of the stimulus could be lost to fraud. But by the end of 2011, independent investigators had documented only $7.2 million in fraud, about 0.001%.
Ideally the economy would recover quickly and voters would heavily support Obama for reelection. While desirable, this is not much more likely than another scenario: voters embrace science and reason over superstition and abandon the Republicans now that they have become dominated by a party which promotes the use of government to impose fundamentalist religious views upon others. Neither is likely to happen. Conservative Voodoo economics have messed the economy up too badly to recover in only four years and we have a country where, according to a recent Gallup poll, forty-six percent of Americans believe in the creationist view that God created humans in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years. Naturally those who believe this tend to vote Republican: “While 58% of Republicans believe that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years, 39% of independents and 41% of Democrats agree.”
This week’s poor jobs numbers just might be the wake up call that Democrats need and we are fortunate that this came early enough in the election year for the Obama campaign to alter strategy. It is not safe to wait and hope that the economy will improve. As Dan Baltz wrote, “the election remains primarily a referendum on his record and that their path to victory may lie less in trying to discredit Republican Mitt Romney and more in winning a battle of ideas with their Republican rival.”
Challengers always prefer to frame elections as a referendum on the incumbent. Obama needs to convince voters that we have two competing views of the role of government, and demonstrate that his view is better for the country. He must do so before Romney succeeds in repeating the usual Republican lies mischaracterizing Democrats as supporting big government and the welfare state. In reality it is Republicans who have been responsible for increasing the size of government and the deficit. Voters must be shown that when Republicans promise smaller government they wind up creating bigger government, except with cuts in infrastructure which promote economic growth, and cuts in the programs that actually help them, such as Medicare, Social Security, and education.
If Romney disagrees, press him to show where he will cut the budget. Debunk the other common Republican canards. When Republicans talk about freedom, they mean freedom to impose their religious views upon others. When Republicans speak of getting government off of people’s backs, they are not referring to freedom for the individual. They are speaking purely of reduced regulation of Wall Street, polluters, and other areas where some degree of regulation is necessary.
The jobs numbers are bad, but increasing jobs too slowly is far preferable to the tremendous job losses of the Bush years. Under the best of circumstances it was not realistic to correct this in four years. Matters are made worse by an irresponsible Republican Congress which set defeating Obama as its major priority, over improving the economy. If Obama is to be measured by the unemployment rate, we must consider how much lower unemployment would be if not for cuts in government workers. Despite these cuts, Obama’s record for creating private sector jobs is far superior to Bush’s record.
In the column I noted above, Dan Baltz also pointed out:
Romney has not broken with broad outlines of the tax-cutting policies of former president George W. Bush’s eight years in office. He wants to go further, with deeper tax cuts. Bush’s policies did not produce economic growth or job creation to match Clinton’s record in the 1990s, and his term concluded with the collapse of the economy.
Obama demonstrate that it makes no sense to respond to a sluggish recovery by voting for Romney and the same policies which caused the collapse of the economy to begin with. Baltz argued that Obama must both make his first term record more clear and provide a clearer explanation of his second term plans:
What Obama hasn’t yet done is offer any clear idea of what his second term would be about. He argues that the country should not go back, but what his real goals are for a possible second four years in office remain cloaked largely in campaign generalities.
The meager jobs report puts additional pressure on him to do more than bemoan the possible consequences of turning the White House over to the Republicans. If he is campaigning on a new agenda to lift the economy, most voters couldn’t describe it. If he hopes to come out of the campaign with a mandate for particular policies, he hasn’t talked much about them.
Obama must also attempt to get voters to look at a bigger picture than how the economy is doing today. Do we have policies which strengthen the middle class and promote economic growth, or do we return to Republican economic policies which encourage the concentration of wealth in a tiny plutocracy and stifle the economy? Do we preserve our social safety nets with Medicare and Social Security, or do we elect Mitt Romney who will rubber stamp the Ryan budget which destroys these programs as we know them.
The campaign has extended into social issues recently. While the economy will dominate the election, Obama must also point out that voting for Romney means the entire conservative Republican agenda, extending government control over the private lives of individuals. Preventing the Republicans from controlling all three branches of government is essential to preserve reproductive rights as well as to preserve the middle class.
The Obama campaign has launched the above ad on Romney’s record in Massachusetts. It is notable that Romney typically cites his business record, not record in Massachusetts, as what qualifies him to be president (even if he can’t answer questions about how his business experience makes him qualified).
David Axelrod was shouted down by Romney supporters when he raised Romney’s record. Axelrod’s response: “You can’t handle the truth, my friends,” Axelrod said. “If you could handle the truth, you’d quiet down.”
Eugene Robinson pointed out how Romney lies a lot, even by the usual standards for politicians:
There are those who tell the truth. There are those who distort the truth. And then there’s Mitt Romney.
Every political campaign exaggerates and dissembles. This practice may not be admirable — it’s surely one reason so many Americans are disenchanted with politics — but it’s something we’ve all come to expect. Candidates claim the right to make any boast or accusation as long as there’s a kernel of veracity in there somewhere.
Even by this lax standard, Romney too often fails. Not to put too fine a point on it, he lies. Quite a bit.
He went on to show that Romney both repeats the usual right wing fictions, with some embellishment of his own, and makes up totally new fictions.
Greg Sargent gave further examples of Romneys dishonesty and asked:
Many of the claims that form the foundation of Romney’s entire case for the presidency are going without any meaningful national press scrutiny to speak of. Why?
Perhaps if we really did have a liberal media. Or a news media which is willing to do real reporting.
Donald Trump is turning into a major Romney surrogate, and has been raising the discredited birther claims. One would think that this would also be damaging to Romney, but apparently he thinks he can win by bringing out the lunatic right wing fringe to vote for him.
Following the series finale of Awake I found many sites were interpreting the final scene as meaning that it was all a dream, and the accident did not occur. I posted my disagreement with this interpretation. Subsequently interviews with Kyle Killen (such as here) verified my interpretation and answered additional question. The finale went into a different form of dream after Britten was in jail in one of his realities. In this dream, Britten actually met with his self from the other reality, was followed by both of his psychiatrists, and had an unusual meeting with his wife. It might be argued the Britten in jail was the real Britten, having dreams of solving the crime and being the hero in the other reality, and developing a new dream to cope with the reality of being in jail.
Regardless of whether this was the real Britten or a dream within a dream, the episode ended with Britten speaking with Dr. Evans. She attempted to convince Britten that the world with Hannah was just a dream, but Michael then questioned what the “rules” were. Britten never had been interested in finding which reality was true–his desire was to have both his wife and son back alive. His mind coped with the death of one by creating a second reality in which the other survived. His mind now realized that he could create an even better fantasy in which both his son and wife were alive. The immediate feeling upon watching this episode was that this was a happy ending with Britten getting what he wanted. It is also an ending in which Britten is even more out of touch with reality.
Killen described it this way:
Some fans saw the final scene — Britten (Jason Isaacs) seeing both Rex and Hannah in the house — and mistook it as a copout ending revealing the detective had dreamt the entire 13 episodes. “The idea that we’re saying nothing happened, this is St. Elsewhere, was something we actively fought against. You can still hate the finale, you just can’t say that that’s what it did. It’s just wrong and can actually be disproven watching the last four minutes,” Killen says. The show was always conceived as the way that one particular man dealt with grief that he was completely unprepared to handle. “That’s how the season ended — while he’s able to see his wife and child together, if you take a step back, what it really represents is a further fracturing of his psyche,” he says. “You understand that you don’t see your partner in a penguin suit in any version of reality — that grew directly out of the red world in which Hannah is alive [seemingly] revealing itself to be a dream. He just can’t accept that, and then [in the conversation with Dr. Evans] backs into the idea of, Wait, what if I fell asleep in my cell and then everything that happened after that was a dream? What if for the first time I had dream-like dreams in between being awake and being asleep? Once he does that, it’s almost as if his brain seizes that moment and creates precisely the thing that psychologically he’s dying for — and that is a moment with everyone together.”
One big question all season has been whether one reality was true and the other a dream, if there was some sort of quantum universe explanation in which both were equally valid, or whether there would be a conclusion like on Life on Mars in which nothing was real. Watching week by week I found that the evidence was contradictory as to which reality was real and suspected they were equally valid or both unreal. In interviews leading up to the finale Killan had said that one was real and the other was a fantasy which Britten developed due to the horror of losing either his wife or son. The reason that there was such contradictory evidence now appears to be that Killan and the writers did not have a conclusion in mind which settled this:
The show’s producers all had their own pet theories, but nothing was written in stone. “Most people felt like the red world was more likely to be real, just from a logical basis that the death of a child is something that’s out-of-order with nature and much more difficult to deal with than the death of a spouse. It felt like the death of a child is one that you might create a world to undo. So it felt a little bit like the balance was tipped in the red world’s favor, but we constantly adjusted that. One of the things we talked about was if ultimately the green world with his son was real and the red world was his imagination, was it that he couldn’t let his wife go until he’d psychologically worked out something that was unresolved with Hannah? There were arguments for why he simply could not let go of one or the other. We didn’t feel it was necessary to decide which one was his imagination now. We didn’t have a big sitdown and say, ‘This is what Rosebud means.’ We just didn’t approach it that way.”
Watching the finale I had also wondered whether this was written after Killan knew the show was cancelled and was intended to be the ending, or if this was written previously with plans to move on from this point in a second season. Killan revealed that he planned to pick up the second season from this point if the show was renewed:
The finale was written and filmed before the show’s cancellation. “I don’t know how the show could have gone on if the fundamental thing that made it work was taken away,” Killen says. He believes you can make the argument that the world in which wife Hannah survived — the red world — was the real one with just as much vigor. “Look at the state that Britten is in [there]. He’s lost. The woman who destroyed his family has gotten away with it. He’s in prison and he seems to have no hope of getting out of there. He’s essentially indicted himself with his own behavior. So if ever there were a place where you could reach a low that would cause you to create through a psychic break a world in which you do solve all the problems, and you do get the bad guy, and everything does turn out okay… I would think that would be an argument for the red world actually being real and requiring the green world as a dream to make going on seem possible. We, at least internally, made sure we could argue it both ways because going forward, we didn’t intend to have that mystery sewn up in this episode.”
Killan went on to describe how the second season would have picked up the story:
“The discussion was always that that’s where he finds himself when he woke back up in red world. It would be as if all of the dream-like elements had in fact been a dream, and he’d closed his eyes just before the guard knocked on the door and told him he had a visitor [Harper], and we’d treat it as that was the moment he went to sleep. He would know that he’d caught Harper in the other world and that he seemed unable to do anything in red. Ultimately, he would have relied on Vega to help him extricate himself from that situation.”
At that point the narratives would have proceeded in both realities (or technically one reality and one dream state) we saw in the first season, with the addition of the third state seen at the end of the finale:
“You still would have had red and you still would have had green,” Killen says.”We left ourselves open to the possibility that [producers/writers plotting out season 2] would have had a really interesting pitch for what to do with that third space, and whether there was an ongoing narrative we wanted to tell there or whether we wanted to use it as simply a surreal dream space that we could access when we wanted to and how we wanted to that let us bring other weirder elements into the show that we’d always wanted to try.” He suspects it would have been the latter. “Twin Peaks being a show that was very close to my heart and a seminal thing in my childhood, the third space was sort of our Black Lodge. It was a place where almost anything could have happened. What happened initially was he found himself in his house with his wife and his child, but there were a lot of other places we would have taken that dream space. I don’t know that it would have always been that linear or happy. I think it would have been a place where he had a lot less control than he thought.”
If the show continued, Britten would have also had a relationship with Rex’s tennis coach, Tara, as was hinted at in the first season:
“It always felt too soon and difficult to explain. If it’s about a man overcoming the loss of his wife, he’s only overcoming the loss for 12 hours a day. So most of us deal with that by not needing to get into another relationship. What ultimately was needed to really jump-start the alternate relationship was some sort of fracturing in the Hannah-Britten story. That’s exactly what you see us building to at the end of the season,” Killen says. “Once he’s imprisoned and he’s considered essentially a mad man and there’s not really a clear way out, we would have used that and Dr. Evans to really try to convince him that that was his imagination and there was a psychological reason that he was holding himself there. That would have opened the door enough for us to begin something with Tara. And then by the time the red world resolved itself and he was extricated from prison, without really meaning to, he would have gotten himself in two different relationships. By the time things were repaired with Hannah, he would have already begun a relationship with Tara because he had been leading himself to believe that Hannah wasn’t real and it was something that he needed to get over. By the time that flipped on him, he would have been a man divided. That was something we were really eager to explore in the second season.”
Christopher Eccleston continues to insist he will not appear in a 50th reunion episode. He has previously explained this by saying, “I never bathe in the same river twice.” This never sounded like a satisfactory reason, and he has subsequently elaborated without much detail saying, “I know what went on and the people who were involved know what went on. That’s good enough for me. My conscience is completely clear.” Obviously there were problems which have not been made public.
I literally couldn’t read it without crying … It was the most highly-charged read-through I’ve ever experienced. But I couldn’t have asked for a better exit. I don’t think it’ll be what people expect.’
Gillan leaving means that Jenna-Louise Coleman has started filming. Her initial filming was behind closed doors so we do not yet know how her character will look.
Sign seen in Colorado above. If Daleks were there, it would certainly be good to warn people. Last year the same area had a sign warning “Zombies Ahead.” That would be another important warning. Besides the obvious hazards, there are serious tax implications to a Zombie Apocalypse, as is discussed in this paper, and summarized here.
House concluded last week with House and Wilson being compared to Holmes and Watson. The series ended in a manner similar to how Moffat’s version of Sherlock ended its second season, with both House and Sherlock faking their own deaths. In addition, Moffat’s other show also ended with the Doctor faking his death. Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss discussed the finale of Sherlock with The Guardian but gave no clues as to how Sherlock survived. Moffat simply says, “He did it cleverly. Very cleverly. And we know, we’re not telling – next!!” I suspect that there will be aspects which were not clear on screen so I have not worked on a full explanation as to how Sherlock survived, but here are my comments after The Reichenbach Fall originally aired on the BBC.
It seems strangely appropriate that the big war scene which this season of The Game of Thrones has been leading up to will be airing this Memorial Day weekend.
Democrats far too often move to the center and avoid matters of principle, possibly out of fear of losing votes. I’ve often thought that their compromising has been counterproductive. With the failure of Democrats to stand up for liberal principles, Republicans are allowed to promote their views without challenge. Democrats might increase their support if they made a stronger case for what they believe. It appears that Obama’s statement of support for gay marriage has changed some opinions according to a Washington0Post-ABC News poll:
Overall, 53 percent of Americans say gay marriage should be legal, hitting a high mark in support while showing a dramatic turnaround from just six years ago, when just 36 percent thought it should be legal. Thirty-nine percent, a new low, say gay marriage should be illegal…
The poll comes two weeks after Obama unexpectedly endorsed same-sex marriage after a year and a half of “evolving” on the subject. Gay rights groups predicted the president’s announcement would have a far-reaching impact on public opinion, in part because Obama described how he came to his own decision, referring to his gay friends and the influence of his young daughters, Sasha and Malia.
While greater public support for same-sex marriage is good news, there is also potentially bad news on social issues in today’s polls. Gallup found that the number of Americans who call themselves pro-choice is at a record low at 41 percent, with 50 percent calling themselves pro-life. Looking at the full poll, the meaning of this is questionable. It might partially be a matter of labels. A majority still believe that abortion should be legal under some circumstances and only 20 percent agree with the Republican line that it should never be legal. I also question how much support there would be for laws which subject either women seeking an abortion or doctors providing abortions to criminal charges.