Bob Woodward’s nonsense about the budget battle and sequester is increasingly looking like a pathetic attempt to get attention. Woodward has been been making blatantly incorrect claims about the situation along with baseless attacks on Obama. He tried to top that by claiming that the Obama White House has been engaging in Nixonian personal attacks on him. Gawker has repeated some of Woodward’s claims that he has been threatened:
Woodward appeared on CNN’s Situation Room to discuss his claims regarding the sequester. When Wolf Blitzer asked him to described the White House’s reactions to his claims, Woodward paraphrased the above email exchange, attributing it to a “very senior” White House official. Here is what Woodward said:
“It was said very clearly, you will regret doing this… It makes me very uncomfortable to have the White House telling reporters ‘You will regret’ doing something that you believe in.’ I think if Barack Obama knew that was part of the communications strategy—let’s hope it’s not a strategy, but as a tactic—he’d say look, we don’t go around saying to reporters, you will regret this.”
Woodward doubled down on his claims about the White House “strategy” in a The Politico interview published last night:
Woodward repeated the last sentence, making clear he saw it as a veiled threat. “‘You’ll regret.’ Come on,” he said. “I think if Obama himself saw the way they’re dealing with some of this, he would say, ‘Whoa, we don’t tell any reporter ‘you’re going to regret challenging us.’”
“They have to be willing to live in the world where they’re challenged,” Woodward continued in his calm, instantly recognizable voice. “I’ve tangled with lots of these people. But suppose there’s a young reporter who’s only had a couple of years – or 10 years’ – experience and the White House is sending him an email saying, ‘You’re going to regret this.’ You know, tremble, tremble. I don’t think it’s the way to operate
Today Politico released the actual email exchange:
From Gene Sperling to Bob Woodward on Feb. 22, 2013
I apologize for raising my voice in our conversation today. My bad. I do understand your problems with a couple of our statements in the fall — but feel on the other hand that you focus on a few specific trees that gives a very wrong perception of the forest. But perhaps we will just not see eye to eye here.
But I do truly believe you should rethink your comment about saying saying that Potus asking for revenues is moving the goal post. I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim. The idea that the sequester was to force both sides to go back to try at a big or grand barain with a mix of entitlements and revenues (even if there were serious disagreements on composition) was part of the DNA of the thing from the start. It was an accepted part of the understanding — from the start. Really. It was assumed by the Rs on the Supercommittee that came right after: it was assumed in the November-December 2012 negotiations. There may have been big disagreements over rates and ratios — but that it was supposed to be replaced by entitlements and revenues of some form is not controversial. (Indeed, the discretionary savings amount from the Boehner-Obama negotiations were locked in in BCA: the sequester was just designed to force all back to table on entitlements and revenues.)
I agree there are more than one side to our first disagreement, but again think this latter issue is diffferent. Not out to argue and argue on this latter point. Just my sincere advice. Your call obviously.
My apologies again for raising my voice on the call with you. Feel bad about that and truly apologize.
Hardly sounds very threatening, and from his response it doesn’t appear that Woodward initially saw this as a threat:
From Woodward to Sperling on Feb. 23, 2013
Gene: You do not ever have to apologize to me. You get wound up because you are making your points and you believe them. This is all part of a serious discussion. I for one welcome a little heat; there should more given the importance. I also welcome your personal advice. I am listening. I know you lived all this. My partial advantage is that I talked extensively with all involved. I am traveling and will try to reach you after 3 pm today. Best, Bob
Conservative writers were initially excited about Woodward’s attacks on the Obama White House, but Media Matters cites several who now realize “we got played.”
The Republican Party has moved to the far right in recent years–far to the right of Barry Goldwater and even Ronald Reagan–while the Democrats have moved towards the middle. The voteview blog has analyzed recent presidents and the result is exactly what we already knew:
Our findings here echo those discussed in a prior post that Republicans have moved further to the right than Democrats to the left in the contemporary period. Indeed, as seen below, President Obama is the most moderate Democratic president since the end of World War II, while President George W. Bush was the most conservative president in the post-war era.
On the other hand, in many ways Obama has had success at passing liberal polices in some areas where other Democratic presidents have failed. This success might be partially because of his moderation, and that a more liberal Democrat might have had fewer successes.
Gawker uncovered this document showing how Roger Ailes came up with the idea of using television to circumvent the real news media to deliver “pro-administration” stories to viewers during the Nixon era. The advantage of television was that, “People are lazy. With television you just sit — watch — listen. The thinking is done for you.”
Richard Nixon didn’t survive, but Roger Ailes went on to put his plan into action at Fox.
If last year some fans felt disappointed that the entire season of Doctor Who didn’t have the quality of earlier episodes written by Steven Moffat, this season started an arc (foreshadowed in past episodes) which very well might exceed all expectations. The second part of the two-part season premiere, Day of the Moon, left most of the questions from The Impossible Astronaut unanswered while raising more. It should be quite a ride to see how these matters play out over this, and possibly future, seasons.
The episode resumed three months later. Just as The Impossible Astronaut appeared to start with the death of the Doctor, Day of the Moon began with Canton Delaware appearing to be hunting down and killing the companions. It all turned out to be an elaborate plan to reunite them all in what appeared to be another escape-proof prison, which the Silence could not see in. This made for some great scenes, but was a rather contrived way to allow for a brief period of action without the surveillance by the Silence. Besides, it is unclear how they could have hatched such a plan without the Silence knowing, and it was quite fortunate that none of the Silents were around when the Doctor tampered with Apollo 11, even if they believed he was still imprisoned.
At least this did provide for some answers, even if they were not the answers we were asking after The Impossible Astronaut. Were there aliens in Area 51? Yes, the Doctor, and later a Silent. Was there alien technology in Area 51? Yes, a Tardis and the material used to make the cell. Was their future technology in Area 51? Yes, a camera phone. Why did mankind go to the moon? Due to suggestions from the Silence since they needed us to build a space suit. Why did Richard Nixon keep the White House tapes? In order to record any suggestions from the Silence, on the advice of the Doctor. Do River Song and the Doctor really have a romantic relationship? It appear so (in the Doctor’s future and River’s past). Is Amy Pond really pregnant? Yes and No. See Schrödinger’s cat, or perhaps there are alternative time lines. Why couldn’t the FBI and White House handle Canton Delaware’s desire to marry? Richard Nixon might have handled his desire to marry someone black, but not a black man.
Beyond this, there were few more answers. We did see how the Doctor cleverly used the ability of the Silence to place suggestions in the minds of humans without our ability to recall them. Everyone who ever has or ever will watch the footage of the moon landing will receive the instruction to kill the Silence on sight. From time to time the Doctor has shown a dark side, and therefore it was no surprise to see him be willing to turn all of humanity into executioners of the Silence.
There has been plenty of talk about the many remaining questions, such as in this video. There are many rumors circulating around the internet but Steven Moffat has been careful to prevent fans from finding out the answers until ready to reveal them. This has included writing fake scenes for some episodes. Members of the cast know a little more regarding what their character knows. Only Alex Kingston knows what is really coming since the events to come are already in River Song’s past.
Among the many questions from the first two episodes, who was in the Astronaut suit and why did they kill the Doctor. How will they resolve the issue of the Doctor appearing to be killed two-hundred years, preventing further regenerations? What has become of the Tardis used by the future version of the Doctor? Why do the Silence care about the little girl and why did they place her in the space suit? Is Amy Pond her mother, as suggested by the picture of Amy holding the baby? Who was the lady with the eye piece? Rumors are that she will appear throughout the season, like the crack in Amy’s wall. What happened during all of the sightings of the Silence (as evidenced by the growing number of markings on Amy’s face)? Why did the Silence kidnap Amy? Why did they want her to tell the Doctor that she is pregnant? Is their ship (TARDIS?) the same as seen in The Lodger?
The biggest questions surround the little girl and River Song (and are they the same person)? Can River Song operate the TARDIS because she is a Time Lord? (If it wasn’t the Doctor who she killed, could she have been imprisoned under the belief she killed a previous version of herself before regenerating?) Is Amy Pond the mother of River Song and/or the little girl. Who is the father? The final scene creates the most questions:
Does the ability to regenerate mean that the Doctor is the father, or did living in the TARDIS while developing turn the baby into a time head, whatever that may be, as Amy feared? If not Amy’s daughter, do the Doctor and River Song have a child? Perhaps the little girl was the result of the need of the Silence to have their own Time Lord (or equivalent) to operate their version of the TARDIS. For that matter, why did the universe explode when they took control of the Doctor’s TARDIS last season? Was their goal really the destruction of the universe? Perhaps it was an accident as they would appear to be harmed by such destruction, unless they are surviving in an alternative time line (where Amy is or is not pregnant). There is much to speculate on, and I suspect Moffat has an answer quite different from what anyone now suspects.
Unless you were locked up in the Pandorica, you should know about the two big stories of the week: the season premiere of Doctor Who and the death of Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith). A video on Sladen’s career is posted above. My initial post on Elisabeth Sladen, which includes some major scenes from her career and tributes, was posted here. This week’s episode of Doctor Who, The Impossible Astronaut, began with a message in memory of Elisabeth Sladen on the BBC broadcast. A memorial show was broadcast afterward on CBBC. The full video of My Sarah Jane A Tribute To Elisabeth Sladen is posted here. David Tennant had this to say about Elisabeth Sladen on BBC Breakfast:
Those who need a refresher coarse on forty-seven years and eleven Doctors before beginning this season can check out this video which recaps it all in just six minutes:
Both NPR’s Morning Edition and The New York Times had stories about how this season is starting on the same day in the United Kingdom, The United States, and Canada (and soon after in Australia) to reduce pirating of the show. When there was a several month delay, there would typically be 200,000 illegal downloads the week an episode aired. The article reports that BBC America will not air a new episode on Memorial Day weekend, and then be a week behind for the remaining June episodes. That will get many US fans to resume downloading on the day it first airs.Even the several hour delay between airings will make downloading irresistible. I had a high definition copy hours before I could have watched a standard definition version on cable, but if I ever get a Nielsen box I promise to turn on BBC America when Doctor Who is on.
The Impossible Astronaut began both what is probably a season-long arc and a two-part story with events of a magnitude which is more characteristic of a season finale. Now that there is no longer a gap before the U.S. version airs, posts here on completed episodes will no longer avoid spoilers.
The episode began with a few minutes of fez hats and other fun before bringing Amy, Rory, and River Song to a meeting with the Doctor (now wearing a stetson) in Utah. While breaking out of prison was no surprise, I’m not certain as to how River Song managed to get to Utah in 2011, but she always has been a resourceful person. Soon afterward the Doctor was killed, and then shot again during the regeneration cycle by someone in an astronaut outfit, leading to the Doctor’s actual death. This left the three with no choice but to burn the Doctor’s body as it goes out into the lake.
Obviously we knew that the Doctor could not really be dead, and figured that it was all part of some sort of plan, considering that the Doctor clearly knew what was going to happen and told the other three not to interfere. He even arranged for gasoline to be delivered for his funeral pyre. This was delivered by ex-FBI agent Canton Delaware, played by the father of Mark Sheppard who played the ex-agent in the 1969 portion of the story.
Moffat used some of his “timey-wimey” stuff to continue the story with a younger version of the Doctor, which was anticipated after a point was made of the Doctor’s age when he first met up with his three companions. Theoretically the story could continue after establishing that the Doctor would die when two hundred years older, but this would mean no further regenerations and that Matt Smith would be the last actor to play the Doctor. It is more likely that they will resolve this by preventing the Doctor from actually dying, and this was confirmed in an interview with Matt Smith.
While we generally know when watching a show that the main character will not be killed, Doctor Who has always appeared to place the main character in less danger due to his ability to regenerate. This episode shows that the Doctor can be killed, and that the character can feel he is at risk when taking actions which might endanger his life.
Knowing this detail of the Doctor’s future changes the dynamics as this time it is the companions who knew more, leaving the Doctor feeling very uncomfortable. He finally agreed to trust his friends and do what they say when Amy swore on something very important to her, “fish fingers and custard.”
They traveled back to 1969, with the TARDIS materializing in Richard Nixon’s oval office. I had expected that they would make use of a pre-existing set, but Doctor Who Confidential showed the crew actually building their version of the oval office. The Doctor wound up getting involved with the mystery of a young girl calling Richard Nixon every night, regardless of where he was. A new villain, which Amy first got a glimpse of in Utah, was present–The Silence. With the Weeping Angels, Steven Moffat created a threat which would kill you if you blink and stop looking at them. The Silence is even harder to fight as the moment you look away you forget that you even saw them. They were presumably behind the destruction of the universe last season, and Doctor Who fans are reporting evidence of their appearance in several previous episodes.
The Silence told Amy that she must tell the Doctor something, which probably explains why she suddenly told him that she is pregnant at what was not a very convenient time. Presumably their instructions, while forgotten the moment Amy looked away, remained somewhere in her mind. The episode ended with a cliff hanger in which we found that the little girl who had been calling Richard Nixon was in an astronaut suit. Amy, assuming this is the same person who had killed the Doctor, shot the girl.
The cliff hanger left a lot to speculate about. Was the little girl in 1969 the same person in the astronaut suit who killed the Doctor in 2011? Could the girl be Amy’s daughter? Perhaps it was River Song who was in the astronaut suit and killed the Doctor. We were reminded of River’s story (presumably to allow new viewers to catch up) and the Doctor even asked her who she killed. (“No spoilers.”) In Flesh and Stone River said she had killed “the best man I’ve ever known.” She also foreshadowed her own “death,” at a time when the Doctor would no longer know her, in Forrest of the Dead. Perhaps River is even Amy’s daughter. Someone known as Pond just might name a daughter after another type of body of water. Hopefully we will get some answers next week in Day of the Moon:
Karen Gillan does say there will be a lot of revelations in an interview in the Scotsman.com:
“There are going to be a lot of revelations,” she suggests tantalisingly. “There’s one huge one that will change everything. Steven Moffat went around everybody and only told them the bits they needed to know, and we’re not allowed to discuss it with each other, which is really relevant for the whole story.”
In an interview with The Telegraph, Karen Gillan said she wanted to be like Robin Williams, or perhaps Birttany Murphy. Karen Gillan’s interview with Craig Ferguson aired on Friday–a video is posted here.
In other Doctor Who news, Meredith Vieira and The Today Show will be traveling to the set of Doctor Who in May. Vieira will have a cameo role on the show.
Doctor Who has been nominated for three Hugo Awards, including two stories written by Steven Moffat, A Christmas Carol and The Pandorica Opens/Big Bang. A third episode of Doctor Who, Vincent and the Doctor written by Richard Curtis also received a nomination. In addition, a nomination went to a book entitled Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It, edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Tara O’Shea.
The TV boss and lead writer has opted to give the aliens a rest in 2011.
He wants to give them another make-over and bring them back with a bang next year.
Diehard fans hated the multi-coloured fat Daleks from the last series and dubbed them Dipsy, Tinky Winky, Laa-Laa and Po after children’s favourites the Teletubbies.
Moffat said: “We will bring back the Daleks.
“But there will be lots of different kinds.
“I want them to come back in a really brilliant way.
I started the post by noting there were two important events this week. Fortunately we escaped a third. According to Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, April 21, 2011 was Judgment Day, when the machines rose up to destroy most of humanity. We might have already been on borrowed time as the original Terminator movie set Judgment Day on August 4, 1997.
As teased in the new issue of EW, everyone favorite creature of habit is parting ways with his longtime roomie, Leonard.
“You have a situation where Priya is staying with her brother, and Leonard is spending time with Pryia,” executive producer Billy Prady says. “The current sleeping arrangement isn’t the best one. I think a little experimentation with people in different spots [is necessary].”
But who is the (un?)lucky soul to take Leonard’s spot in the apartment? Prady wouldn’t say, specifically, but guarantees, “It will be a human, and it will be someone we know.” Prady elaborates: “One of the things that Sheldon will [learn from] his new roommate — temporary or permanent, we don’t know — is just how long Leonard has been skating by. He’s going to have a terrific experience with this new roommate.”
The author speculates that it will be Amy Farrah Fowler. That is a definite possibility, but the two are so much alike. There could be far more conflict if Penny moves in with Sheldon to save money. There is already a bizarre chemistry between the two.
Going beyond the obvious suggestion of “don’t,” here is today’s tip for morons who are planning to have children: Name your child Palin. What better way to honor such a prominent person who has been promoting ignorance as a virtue? Today Moms reports that “the number of families naming their babies Palin tripled from 2008 to 2009.”
While the number is up, there is still a relatively small number of people naming their children Palin, or after any other living politician:
Blame Nixon. “It used to be we would have seen Palins everywhere. Up until Watergate, every election reliably brought in a measurable generation of baby names,” said Wattenberg. But post-Watergate, it became too risky to name a baby after a politician. A good politician today could be mired in lifelong scandal tomorrow. “There’s the element of risk. Presidential names are still hot, but only presidents who are safely out of office or dead. Everyone’s a little more jaded today, for good reason.”
But there is one measurable trend with political names – naming babies after politicians’ children. While Palin and Barack may not overrun the playgrounds in a couple years, their children will. Malia, Sasha, Bristol, Willow and Piper are all trending upward in name popularity.
“Bristol, Piper, Willow, that’s where you see the effect the politicians (have). It’s a safer thing, politically sort of safer, but you’re not making an homage,” Wattenberg said. “It shows that politicians are celebrities and their kids’ names are in the news,” said Wattenberg.
Bob Woodward has often been frustrating in recent years as he repeats the establishment line far too often for someone who once helped force a corrupt president from office. If he had investigated the Bush administration as vigorously as he investigated Richard Nixon, perhaps recent history might be different. The lies of Donald Rumsfeld in his new book are too much even for Woodward, who has a column at Foreign Policy exposing many of them. Before getting to the specifics, Woodward wrote:
Rumsfeld’s memoir is one big clean-up job, a brazen effort to shift blame to others — including President Bush — distort history, ignore the record or simply avoid discussing matters that cannot be airbrushed away. It is a travesty, and I think the rewrite job won’t wash.
The Iraq War is essential to the understanding of the Bush presidency and the Rumsfeld era at the Pentagon. In the book, Rumsfeld tries to push so much off on Bush. That is fair because Bush made the ultimate decisions. But the record shows that it was Rumsfeld stoking the Iraq fires — facts he has completely left out of his memoir.
What a shock–Rumsfeld lied. It looks like both Bush and Rumsfeld (along with Cheney) are responsible for what is one of the most vile acts imaginable by a government–going to war unnecessarily based upon lies. I still don’t understand why the Tea Party people weren’t out on the street protesting this one. (Oh yeah, its because they are a far right wing movement which has absolutely nothing to do with the ideals of the American Revolution.)
I am glad to see Woodward exposing several of Rumsfeld’s lies. It is a shame that his lies, along with those of Bush and Cheney, cannot be investigated more thoroughly by a war crimes tribunal.
I was ambivalent about Fringe during the first season when there were primarily stand-alone stories, but have grown to love the show as it got more into its mythology and a continuing story line. Friday’s episode brought about one major change as we saw in Reciprocity that Peter’s connection to the Doomsday Machine has also changed Peter. Finding that Peter was the one killing the shape shifters was a surprise. It was also amusing to see the effects of Walter injecting the chimpanzee DNA and I was happy to see some movement on Peter’s relationship with Olivia.Dumping a boyfriend because he had sex with your identical counterpart from an alternative universe is the lamest reason since Rachel dumping Ross for messing around when they were on a break.
While an excellent episode, I do miss the alternative universe. We’ve been promised that the show will return there, and there was some more news on this last week. John Noble has hinted about his roles:
In a recent conference call, the actor told reporters that the brain-damaged scientist will begin to “put his life back together”.
“He finally comes to face up to his limitations, but also his strength,” said Noble. “[That is] more than enough to deal with the problems. It’s a wonderful journey for Walter this season and he gets to go through all the stages.”
Noble also promised that viewers will begin to see a more human side to Walter’s doppelganger, the sinister Walternate.
“You will learn more of what made Walternate what he is, and you will see some humanisation of the man behind that steel exterior,” he explained. “He has to make some difficult decisions. We’ve done some terrific things that don’t soften him, but help to understand that he is man, not a machine.”
He added: “I hope that there is a resolution between Walter and Walternate, because I don’t see either of them as bad men.”
I am especially looking forward to the February 25 episode which goes back to Peter’s abduction:
“Peter,” the season two episode that brilliantly chronicled how Walter Bishop accidentally abducted the alternate universe’s Peter, was such a fan favorite that producers are headed back to 1985 in an upcoming episode of “Fringe.”
Slated to air February 25, the installment will serve as a companion piece to “Peter,” according to star Jasika Nicole. “It’s going to pick up right where ‘Peter’ left off and it’s better than the first one,” she told PopWrap.
But unlike the season two edition, “this flashback is going to take place in the alternate universe as well as this universe. That’s why it’s so good, you’ll see the repercussions stealing Peter has for Walter and Walternate,” she adds.
A huge part of the fallout will involve Elizabeth Bishop. “As we’ve seen, Walternate is still with his wife and there’s a reason for that. You see all these consequences that happened as a result of that [abduction] and what that means for his relationship with Elizabeth. It’s a really heartbreaking story.”
The biggest Fringe news is that Leonard Nimoy has tweeted that he might be returning as William Bell. The actual tweet states, “Plans developing for a William Bell return to Fringe. Stay Tuned. LLAP.” As long as Nimoy is willing to return, it is hard to believe that the producers of Fringe will not take advantage of this.
I wasn’t paying any attention to the prospect of an other remake of Charlie’s Angels until Minka Kelly of Friday Night Lights was cast in the movie last week.(Kelly also has a recurring role in Parenthood this season and played Autumn in 500 Days of Summer).
ABC’s Charlie’s Angels has its trio female leads: Former Friday Night Lights star Minka Kelly’s will play a former Marine and weapons expert and Transformers star Rachael Taylor will play a con artist.
The duo have been near-deals for the roles this week and are now official on the Sony Pictures TV project. Kelly and Taylor join the previously cast General Hospital star Annie Ilonzeh.
Friday Night Lights is down to only two more episodes. I won’t give any details as many are waiting until it airs on NBC this spring, but I think this was the best of the shorter, and lower-budget, seasons done jointly with Direct TV.
In other casting news, Henry Cavill of The Tudors will play Superman.
Colin Firth says he’d like to play a bad guy on Doctor Who or Torchwood, especially Doctor Who.
Keanu Reeves has created a stir in the blogosphere by stating two more sequels to The Matrix are in the works. Perhaps we could start a fund to pay them not to do this. I’m not sure where they would go after the two terrible sequels to a great movie. Would it be feasible to just pretend the two sequels don’t exist and remake a good pair to replace them?
Luke Pasqualino will play William Odama on the upcoming Battlestar Galactica prequel, Blood and Chrome. IO9 has a larger version of the above map of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol.
Not only is this map a thing of great beauty, but it’s totally official — Grazier was science advisor for Battlestar Galactica from the very beginning, and helped to define a lot of the show’s concepts. And Espenson, as the original showrunner for the prequel series Caprica, had to do a lot of thinking about exactly how the Twelve Colonies were laid out. This info comes straight from the creators — and from the showrunner’s bible for BSG and Caprica. And Grazier, who works at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, verifies that the info in this map is “scientifically plausible.” It was created by Hollywood graphic designer Geoffrey Mandel, who made countless adjustments as the technical data underwent scrutiny…
We asked Espenson and Grazier some questions about the map, and they ended up telling us a lot more about the science and backstory of Battlestar Galactica:
I didn’t realize there were four different stars in the Cyrannus star system. I had always wondered if there were just 12 habitable planets clustered around a single sun. Where did the idea of four different stars come from? Was this in the show bible someplace? I’m especially curious about Leonis, the “heart of the colonies,” which I don’t think we ever heard about. Also, Scorpion, the “playground of the colonies.” Is that the colonial version of Risa?
Jane: Even back before Caprica the show existed, I believe Kevin and I had talked a bit about the configuration of the colonies. All the work on that is his. I instinctively loved the idea of a star cluster. The idea of 12 habitable planets all orbiting one star just seemed unworkable. And crowded. This group of stars makes so much sense. Kevin was at work on the configuration of stars and planets long before we shot a single frame.
More on the “science” of Battlestar Galactica in the full post.