Trailer for The Next Doctor

Sunday on BBC One. Simulcast in the United States on BBC America and in Canada on Space at 2 pm Eastern Time.

Kerry Brings About Resumption Of Mideast Peace Talks

Yesterday, Secretary of State John Kerry announced the resumption of peace talks between Israel and Palestinians. It is too early to say whether the talks will be successful, but it is a hopeful sign that the two parties are engaging in direct negotiations for the first time since 2008 and an attempt in 2010 which quickly fell apart.

Getting this far is a promising sign from John Kerry in just his first year as Secretary of State. Imagine how much better the world might be if things had turned out differently and he had won in 2004, completing his second term as president last year (with perhaps a Barack Obama with four additional years of Washington experience starting his first term this January). A few more voting booths in Democratic urban areas of Ohio might have made all the difference–something to keep in mind as Republicans increasingly turn to voter suppression as an election tactic.

SciFi Weekend: Dexter Returns; Prince Charles Does Dalek Impersonation; The John Hurt Doctor

Episode 801

There will be a short edition this week as I continue to vacation in the location of Somewhere In Time (although not because of the mediocre time travel movie).  I haven’t seen hardly any genre television, but did download the first episode of the season of Dexter and watched one night over the past week.

Dexter resumed six months after Deb shot LaGuerta, with Dexter holding up much better than Deb. However, as we know that this is the final season, there are a few possible situations developing which could lead to Dexter’s downfall. Deb says she shot the wrong person and, while so far I wouldn’t make this my top prediction, this could lead to her ultimately either killing Dexter or turning him (and possibly herself) in. Dexter killed the criminal which Deb was investigating/living with and didn’t dispose of the body in his usual manner, possibly leading him to become implicated either for this crime or becoming at risk from the criminals after the jewels. The biggest risk to Dexter may come from Dr. Vogel, who knows about Dexter’s past, having assisted Harry in developing the code. She is overly confident over her own safety, telling Dexter he cannot kill her because she doesn’t fit the code, considering that Dexter has broken it several times. From the previews it appears that she wants to use Dexter to kill off someone else, which is yet another potential source of danger for Dexter.

Vulture has an interview with Charlotte Rampling, who plays Dr. Vogel.

charles-and-camill_2607755k

Prince Charles did a Dalek impersonation and The Telegraph had some potential spoilers about the identity of the John Hurt (nothing which hasn’t already been speculated about on line).

Costume designer Howard Burden, who showed the royal couple a selection of costumes from the show, disclosed that the anniversary episode will feature John Hurt, who will play a “dark Doctor” seen briefly at the end of the last series.

He said: “There was a gap between Paul McGann playing the Doctor and Christopher Eccleston, when we didn’t see a regeneration, and John Hurt will fit into that gap. He is a past Doctor, not a future Doctor.”

Looking Ahead to 2016

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.

There Really Is A War On Christmas

While the American right wing and Fox are whining about nonsense in the United State (appealing to the need of conservatives to feel like a victim) it turns out there really is a war on Christmas–in Saudi Arabia:

Saudi religious police stormed a house in the Saudi Arabian province of al-Jouf, detaining more than 41 guests for “plotting to celebrate Christmas,” a statement from the police branch released Wednesday night said.

The raid is the latest in a string of religious crackdowns against residents perceived to threaten the country’s strict religious code.

The host of the alleged Christmas gathering is reported to be an Asian diplomat whose guests included 41 Christians, as well as two Saudi Arabian and Egyptian Muslims. The host and the two Muslims were said to be “severely intoxicated.”

The guests were said to have been referred to the “respective authorities.” It is unclear whether or not they have been released since.

The kingdom, which only recognizes Islamic faith and practice, has in the past banned public Christmas celebrations, but is ambiguous about festivities staged in private quarters.

Saudi religious police are known to detain residents of the kingdom at whim, citing loose interpretations of Sharia and public statements by hardline religious leaders to justify crackdowns.

Saudi Arabia’s head mufti Sheikh Abdel Aziz bin Abdullah had previously condemned “invitations to Christmas or wedding celebrations.”

Romney Unable To Shake Etch A Sketch On His Candid Opinions

The secretly taped comments from Mitt Romney continue to dominate the political news today. Romney’s comments were wrong on so many levels. Beyond the obvious problems of his attack on nearly half the country and on those who legitimately need assistance, he is so out of touch that he doesn’t realize he is actually attacking Republican voters. Despite the right wing myth that they are the job creators and Democrats are welfare leaches, a large percentage of those not paying income taxes are Republican voters. This includes the low-information white male voters who make up a huge percentage of GOP voters–many of these pay payroll taxes but don’t make enough to pay income taxes. Many are also elderly Republican voters who no longer have an income to pay income tax on. Those not paying taxes also include students (who might become job creators after completing their education) and members of the military (who might also be future job creators).

Many low income voters do vote for Democrats, but a tremendous number also vote Republican. The biggest recipients of federal government aide are the red states, not the blue states. While Obama now receives the vast majority of all Democratic constituencies, his greatest support has come from upper middle class Democrats and independents  (in contrast to the less affluent Democrats who backed Clinton in 2008). In offending all the Obama supporters who pay a larger percentage of their income than Romney does,  Romney’s comment might help Obama keep the portion of the independent vote which has drifted away.

On the other hand, if Mitt Romney had his way, he would be joining those who pay no income taxes.

Another irony is that the increased number of working Americans who do not pay federal income taxes is largely a consequence of GOP tax cuts. In order to cut taxes on the wealthy they have had to reduce income taxes on others. It was George Bush and Ronald Reagan who pushed policies which led to many lower income working people not paying taxes, while also cutting taxes on the wealthy.

If things weren’t already bad enough, another video was released in which Romney showed hostility towards the peace process and two-state solution in the middle east. He already showed during his trip to Israel that he will not be able to be an honest broker in a peace settlement. This video further shows his inability to handle foreign affairs.

Romney’s Travel Troubles Continue

Romney’s international travels gave Jon Stewart a lot of material (video above). Things weren’t as bad for Romney in Poland as they were in London and Israel. He did receive the endorsement of Lech Walesa, but Solidarity distanced themselves, criticizing Romney because he “supported attacks on trade unions and employees’ rights.” Romney was also greeted with chants for Obama and even ran into supporters of Ron Paul while in Poland.

The trip provided another example of Romney’s dishonesty. He denied making the controversial comments which he did make about Palestinian culture in Israel. Greg Sargent found that Romney made the same fallacious argument in his book, No Apology.

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak undermined the Republican argument against Obama on Israel in this interview with Wolf Blitzer:

BLITZER: You’ve studied U.S.-Israeli relations over many years. How would you describe the relationship today?

BARAK: I think that from my point of view as defense minister they are extremely good, extremely deep and profound. I can see long years, administrations of both sides of the political aisle deeply supporting the state of Israel, and I believe that reflects the profound feelings among the American people. But I should tell you honestly that this administration under President Obama is doing, in regard to our security, more than anything that I can remember in the past.

BLITZER: More than any other president? LBJ, Bill Clinton, or George W. Bush?

BARAK: Yeah, in terms of the support for our security, the cooperation of our intelligence, the sharing of thoughts in a very open way even when there are differences, which are not simple sometimes, I found their support for our defense very stable.

Steve Benen debunked another anti-Obama talking from the Romney campaign on Israel:

Beth Myers, a top Romney aide, also told reporters recently that it’s “pretty amazing” Obama hasn’t visited Israel.

The attack at least has the benefit of being partially accurate — Obama visited Israel as a candidate, but has not been back during his first term. If Republicans choose to find that outrageous, their complaints are grounded in fact.

The problem, however, is the selective nature of their disgust. George W. Bush didn’t visit Israel at any point during his first term, and neither did Bill Clinton. Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush didn’t travel to Israel during their respective terms in office at all.

Many journalists have questioned whether Romney’s gaffes will harm him in the campaign. Chris Cillizza downplayed the damage:

It’s hard to imagine that Romney did himself any favors in answering lingering questions about his foreign policy acumen during this trip.

On the other hand, there is an argument to be made that nothing — literally, nothing — other than the economy at home matters to undecided voters. And that goes double for foreign policy, which is a bottom-of-mind issue (is that a thing?) for most voters.

In a late May Washington Post-ABC News poll, 1 — yes, one — percent of people said that foreign policy was the most important issue of the 2012 campaign. One!

Of course this might be the case when voters think that either candidate is capable of handling foreign policy. This could change as voters see that Romney is as inept as George Bush.

 

Romney Continues To Show He Is Not Ready To Be President And Handle Foreign Policy

Foreign policy so far has not been a significant issue in the presidential campaign, but that might change now that Mitt Romney, to the delight of the White House, has shown that he is utterly unfit to represent the United States abroad or engage in diplomacy. His visit to Israel was as big a disaster as his visit to London where he was nicknamed Mitt the Twit. Haaretz described his speech with the headline “In Jerusalem speech, it was Romney’s voice but Netanyahu’s words.”

Romney’s staff picked the 150 guests carefully. Religious American immigrants dominated the crowd; secular Jews and native-born Israelis were few and far between. Those present included Jewish-American millionaires, settler leaders like the former chairman of the Yesha Council of settlements Israel Harel, and former Netanyahu aides such as Dore Gold, Naftali Bennett, Ayelet Shaked and Yoaz Hendel.

Romney read his speech from two teleprompters that were placed opposite the stage, but compared to Obama, Romney seemed gray and uncharismatic. Even from this hand-picked, extremely friendly audience, he wasn’t able to extract thunderous applause.

The speech itself sounded as if it could have been written by Netanyahu’s bureau. So it’s no surprise that when the two met later for dinner, Netanyahu thanked him for his “support for Israel and Jerusalem.”

Imagine the reaction from the right if a Democrat spoke of following the lead of another country on major foreign policy decisions the way Romney did in Israel. Romney is to Netanyahu what Tony Blair was to George Bush. Newsweek was right to call Romney a wimp on this week’s cover.

Even worse, Romney antagonized the Palestinians, which is hardly in our interest if we want the United States to continue to attempt to negotiate peace in the middle east.

Speaking to roughly four dozen donors at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, Mr. Romney suggested that cultural differences between the Israelis and the Palestinians were the reason the Israelis were so much more economically successful than the Palestinians, without mentioning the impact that deep trade restrictions imposed by the Israeli government have had on the Palestinian economy.

The Palestinian response:

In an interview with The Associated Press, Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, called Mr. Romney’s remarks “racist.”

“It is a racist statement and this man doesn’t realize that the Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli occupation,” Mr. Erekat said. “It seems to me this man lacks information, knowledge, vision and understanding of this region and its people.”

National Journal summed up Romney’s failures:

For any man who would be president there are unwritten rules of foreign diplomacy. Mitt Romney seems to have internalized some, while others apparently slipped out of the briefing book on his flight across the Atlantic to debut as a potential leader of the free world…

In Israel, Romney ignored the unwritten rule not to become overly embroiled in local controversies and disputes. He was on safe ground publicly recognizing Israel’s right to defend itself by denying Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons. However, in calling Jerusalem the capital of Israel and hinting that his administration would move the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv (a move rejected by Republican and Democratic administrations going back decades), Romney signaled that under his leadership the United States would decisively take Israel’s side in its dispute with the Palestinians, and abandon its venerable role of mediator in the conflict. He then added insult to injury by suggesting that the Israeli economy had outpaced the economy of the Palestinian territories because of the power of Israel’s “culture” and the “hand of providence.” Interjecting God and cultural superiority into an ethnic-religious conflict is never a good idea. Doing so while ignoring the obvious fact that one economy in the equation is free, and the other is under military occupation, was baffling…

Romney’s close affinity for Israel’s right-of-center Likud Party, his tough line on Russia and Afghanistan, and his unwillingness to propose solutions to climate change all sound familiar to many Europeans. “Notwithstanding their widespread disappointment in President Obama, Europeans are nervous about Romney precisely because his positions remind them of George W. Bush,” said Simon Serfaty, a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund.

It is not a good sign for Romney that he is being compared to both George Bush and Sarah Palin.

Things Still Not Going Well For “Mitt the Twitt” After Leaving London

Things just continue to go badly for Mitt Romney, even after leaving London, the site of multiple gaffes. He’s  flip-flopped on his decision not to allow the press at his fund raiser in Israel but still will leave many questioning whether he plans to tell the big donors something different from what he says in public. CNN reports that “The reporters, however, will be escorted out before Romney takes questions from the audience during the event on Monday.”

Romney was also forced to backtrack on a view expressed by an aide on Iran which Romney didn’t want expressed in public:

A top Mitt Romney foreign policy aide on Sunday said the GOP presidential candidate would back an Israeli military strike on Iran to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.

“If Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing that capability, the governor would respect that decision,” said Romney adviser on Middle East affairs Dan Senor in a briefing with reporters, according to media reports.

Any doubts as to what he will tell Israeli donors once the media is escorted out?

Meanwhile the Israelis aren’t happy about Romney trying to drag them into partisan disputes:

The high profile battle surrounding the state of ties between the allies has inserted Israel into the campaign as never before. But Israeli officials and analysts are anxious about that spotlight, and would prefer to be more of an afterthought. That’s because an election debate over Israel could damage long term ties between they countries by risking the Jewish state’s long cultivated bipartisan support in Washington.

“We don’t want to be part of the issue,” says an Israeli diplomat, who was not authorized to speak. “We have very strong bi-partisan support and we want to keep it that way. We want there to be strong relations with the US. Not with blue or red.”

Further in the article:

Republicans and the Israeli right see common cause “on three issues: the Land of Israel, religion, and family values,” says Mitchell Barak, an Israeli pollster. “There’s a natural connection to the Israeli left to the Democrats, and vice versa: That’s based on share values of democracy, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and protection of minorities.”

But that risks upsetting a key strategy by pro-Israel allies in the US of cultivating support among both Democrats and Republicans in order to ensure that there’s continuity of US support for Israel regardless of who controls the White House or the Congress.

“It was very easy to stay out of this when American presidential candidates didn’t come to Israel three or four months before the election,” says one American Jewish official active in boosting bilateral ties. “If it looks like you look like you are backing one, and the other gets elected, you are in trouble.”

Romney hoped that his foreign trip might improve his reputation and make him look presidential, as a foreign trip did for Obama in 2008. Instead his constant gaffes only underscore how unprepared Mitt Romney is to be president, despite running for the job for several years. Romney’s often bizarre behavior is bound to result in more adverse media coverage, such as in the  Newsweek cover story (cover above). The story actually suggests that Romney might be something other than a wimp:

In some respects, he’s more weenie than wimp—socially inept; at times awkwardy ingratiating, at other times mocking those “below” him, but almost always getting the situation a little wrong, and never in a sympathetic way. The evidence resonates across too many years to deny. What kind of teenager beats up on the misfit, sissy kid, pinning him down and violently cutting his hair with a pair of school scissors—the incident from Romney’s youth that The Washington Post famously reported (and Romney famously didn’t really deny) back in May? The behavior extends, through more sedate means, into adulthood. The Salt Lake Olympics remains his greatest triumph, for which he wins deserved praise. But to many of those in the know, Romney placed a heavy asterisk next to his name by attacking the men he replaced on the Olympic Committee, smearing them in his book, even after a court threw out all the corruption charges against them.

And what kind of presidential candidate whines about a few attacks and demands an apology when the going starts to get rough? And tries to sound tough by accusing the president who killed the world’s most-wanted villain of appeasement? That’s what they call overcompensation, and it’s a dead giveaway; it’s the “tell.” This guy is nervous—terrified—about looking weak. And ironically, being terrified of looking weak makes him look weaker still…

But if Romney is elected? Be nervous. A Republican president sure of his manhood had nothing to prove. Reagan was happy with a jolly little shoot-up in Grenada, and eventually he settled down to the serious work of arms control, consummating historic treaties with Mikhail Gorbachev. But a weenie Republican—look out. He has something to prove, needs to reassert that “natural” advantage. That spells trouble more often than not.

Mitt Romney: Is he a wimp or a weenie? We report, you decide.

British Press Mocks Romney as “Mitt the Twit” And Compares Him Negatively To Sarah Palin

Mitt Romney’s lack of qualifications to handle economic matters appears to be exceeded by his incompetence in foreign affairs. Fortunately for the reputation of the United States, he is being referred to “Wannabe President” by the Rupert Murdoch tabloid, The Sun, which is running a headline of Mitt the Twit. It is far better for this to come from a “Wannabe President” than an actual President. If only Murdoch’s media outlets in the United States would adopt the nickname given to Romney by The Sun.

Other British publications are comparing Romney negatively to both George Bush and Sarah Palin. I have no doubt that Mitt Romney is more intelligent than Sarah Palin, but this cannot be seen from Romney’s stream of gaffes while in Great Britain.

Former American sprinter and gold medal winner Carl Lewis advised Romney to “stay home if you don’t know what to say.”

Romney’s book No Apology has received little attention due to being based upon a fabricated attack on Obama for nonexistent apologies, but it is now receiving attention for this passage:

England is just a small island. Its roads and houses are small. With few exceptions, it doesn’t make things that people in the rest of the world want to buy. And if it hadn’t been separated from the continent by water, it almost certainly would have been lost to Hitler’s ambitions. Yet only two lifetimes ago, Britain ruled the largest and wealthiest empire in the history of humankind. Britain controlled a quarter of the earth’s land and a quarter of the earth’s population.

In citing this passage, The Independent further mocks Romney: “Its roads and houses are small? The trees probably aren’t the right height either. ”

Romney is also looking foolish with his attempts at damage control. Yesterday I heard this claim played on NPR’s Morning Edition as Romney tried to avoid looking elitist due to the expense of owning a horse competing at the Olympics:

I have to tell you. This is Ann’s sport. I’m not even sure which day the sport goes on. She will get the chance to see it, I will not be watching the event. I hope her horse does well.

Andrew Sullivan was as amazed by this claim as I was:

WTF? If your spouse’s horse were in an Olympic contest, would you not even watch? This is either a fib, designed to insulate him from whatever minimal fallout there is from owning a dressage horse; or it’s true and he’s just unlike other human beings. I mean, Obama makes sure he sees his daughters’ high school sports games. But Romney won’t even watch his wife’s horse at the Olympics?

A bizarre response such as this does more harm than another reminder of Romney’s wealth, which is well known. I see this as another example of how Romney will say anything he believes will help him without any regard for the truth. Saying that he is unaware of when the event is and that he will not be watching does not have any bearing on what Romney actually knows or whether he already plans to watch the event.