Attacking Afghanistan made far more sense than to attack Iraq as George Bush did following the 9/11 attack. * I could see an attack to disrupt al Qaeda and was happy to see bin Laden killed, but questioned if we would see any long-term benefits from installing a government there. This somewhat confirms my skepticism–Afghanistan is now planning to restore the Taliban policy of stoning women for adultery:
Afghanistan is planning to reintroduce public stoning as punishment for adultery 12 years after the Taliban was ousted from power, according to a new draft penal code.
The move has shocked human rights campaigners and will dismay donors who have poured billions of pounds into the country for reconstruction.
It will be viewed as another backwards step at the end of a year that has seen women’s rights undermined, with a slew of legislation and murders of prominent women.
Human Rights Watch called for international donors to withhold funding if the government goes ahead with the plan.
“It is absolutely shocking that 12 years after the fall of the Taliban government, the Karzai administration might bring back stoning as a punishment,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at HRW…
As repulsive as both groups are, stoning is far worse than the forced vaginal probes and restrictions on reproductive rights which are supported by the American Taliban.
(* I would hope that by now the whole Truther line that 9/11 was an inside job by the Bush administration instead of a terrorist act by al Qaeda has been forgotten. In case anyone is still interested in that nonsense, Noam Chomsky has recently joined many others in debunking that conspiracy theory. Chomsky mocked “people around who spend an hour on the Internet and think they know a lot physics.” On the other hand, that is how the Internet works. How many other people on the far right with no knowledge of biology or climate science are coming up with arguments against evolution and global warming?)
If you check out street view on Google Maps at Earlham Green, Greater London Nr5 8DQ, United Kingdom you will see a blue police call box on the left side of the street. Place the mouse near it and then click on the double lines which will appear. This will allow you to enter the TARDIS. You will find that it is smaller on the outside than on the inside. Once inside you will be able to move around the control room. Unfortunately you cannot go further inside the TARDIS but I assume Google Maps will be working on extending their coverage of interior spaces.
Arrow show runner Mark Guggenheim discussed introducing The Flash on Arrow:
“I feel like I’m just following Bilson and DeMeo. Whatever they do, I seem to follow in their footsteps,” Guggenheim laughed. The writer told CBR that from comics to TV, the goal of the “Arrow” production team is to expand out the DC Universe while keeping the tone and feel of their show its own unique story platform.
“Honestly, I’m just excited to help be a part of expanding the DC Universe,” he said. “I think one of the big thing that appeals to me about comics in general is the idea of the shared universe. It’s a lot of fun to be able to do that in television, and growing up one of the things I enjoyed was the ‘Six Million Dollar Man’ and ‘The Bionic Woman’ and the way those two shows would interact with each other. We’re at least a season away from ‘Arrow’ interacting with ‘The Flash,” but the potential for that is really exciting for me.”
Kreisberg, who serves as Guggenheim’s show running partner on “Arrow,” will develop Barry Allen’s character in writing each of those three episodes this season on “Arrow,” and Guggenheim said that is all part of a masterplan that stretches back before their recent run of announcements. “Andrew is taking the lead on ‘The Flash.’ This has been in the works for a while and had been in the works since before Comic-Con. But we made the decision, as these things are announced in a rollout, to take a strategy where we’d announce Black Canary, Bronze Tiger and Brother Blood at Comic-Con. We felt like, ‘That’s a lot for Comic-Con. Let’s save something back for when T.C.A. comes around.’ I want to disabuse anyone of the notion that we decided to do Flash after Comic-Con. We’re just capable of keeping secrets every now and again.”
And overall, the writer wanted to stress that an additional superhero – and one with some more super powers – won’t change the core of what “Arrow” is. In fact, Guggenheim leaned on a comparison with DC’s main competitor to explain how each series will develop over time. “I think a lot of people are justified in asking ‘What does this mean for Arrow in terms of its tone?’ And my answer is that the trick that we have – and this is a challenge we’ve discusses a lot and have an awareness of how to face it head on – is the fact that ‘Arrow’ is like ‘Iron Man’ where ‘The Flash’ will be ‘The Hulk.’ And just as ‘The Hulk’ coming out did not change the tone of the Iron Man movies, ‘The Flash’ will not change the tone of ‘Arrow.’ We’re very cognizant of what ‘Arrow’ is all about, and I think the Marvel movies demonstrate that each piece of a universe can have its own feel. ‘Thor’ is consistent with the tone of Thor while ‘Captain America’ is consistent with the tone of Captain America’s character. ‘Arrow’s’ tone will remain consistent much in the same way, and we are looking forward to expanding our canvass a bit. And judging from the announcement, I think the fans are looking forward to it as well.”
While Barry Allen will be on Arrow for a few episodes, he will not have his superpowers, at least not at the start. Despite not having true superpowers, Arrow does feel like a superhero show, including having the common problem of the hero being just too powerful. I just watched the first season of the show over the past week and found it to be entertaining as long as you ignore the multiple implausible aspects. On Arrow, a person with bow and arrows can easily defeat multiple people with guns. This includes not only Oliver Queen, but two other characters who use the same weapon. Oliver Queen does have fighting skills beyond this weapon. He also has an amazing ability to disappear. Typically when he is surrounded inside a closed area and anyone else would be captured, he gets away with no difficulty or even on-screen explanation. Arrow is not up to the quality of the most impressive new genre shows of the season on regular cable and broadcast television ( such as The Americans, Orphan Black, and Hannibal) but still worth watching.
There were aspects of the writing style of Arrow which makes me confident they will do a good job of gradually introducing characters. Rather than quickly giving an origin and then moving on to the main story, Arrow had flashbacks over the entire season to the island where Oliver Queen was stranded for five years and learned his skills. Rather than immediately introduce the sidekick and those who knew his secret identity, characters were gradually brought into Oliver Queen’s inner circle.
There are also a couple of reasons for Doctor Who fans to watch. John Barrowman is a recurring character all season and Alex Kingston was on a few episodes. I was hoping for the two to interact but that did not occur. Incidentally, most Barrowman fans probably know that Torchwood is an anagram with the same letters as Doctor Who. By coincidence, the name of the television show he appeared in last season is also in Barrowman’s name.
More on crossover characters from other DC comics here.
The Mandarin appears in this deleted scene from Iron Man 3.
I’m glad to see Under the Dome turn more to the mystery of the dome, not that I’m all that confident of a satisfactory resolution. Apparently when they say “the monarch will be crowned” they are speaking of an actual monarch within the small dome. I have read that one of the major differences between recent episodes and the book has been that Big Jim and Junior work together in the book. Last week’s episode may signal a reconciliation between the two.
Last week’s episode of True Blood contained the battle which we might have expected for the season finale. There are still questions. Will Sookie keep her promise to become Warlow’s vampire bride? (I bet she does not). Is the war between humans and vampires now over, or just beginning? Will those vampires who indirectly fed on ferry blood continue to be able to be out in daylight? Is Bill now returning to his normal self? Considering how poor recent seasons of the show had become, it is a good sign that, despite some ongoing problems, the show is now able to maintain interest in such questions.
Homeland writers revealed information on their plans during season two. I’ve been questioning since the end of season one how long they could plausibly continue to have Brody around. The writers may have been thinking the same thing:
Though the show’s creators already copped to plotting an untimely end for Lewis’ character way back in season one, that is until more merciful voices at Showtime prevailed, Gordon admitted that, going into season two, the writers intended to send Brody to the chopping block yet again, and were once more persuaded otherwise by the network. “We had sketched out this plan in the early parts of season two which called for Brody’s demise, which may have been premature, and they asked us to reconsider,” which Gordon credits as “the happy accident of having very good partners.”
If it seemed like a sudden reversal for Carrie to have decided not to leave the country with Brody, it was also a reversal of the writers’ plans:
According to Steihm, who has since left Homeland to run FX drama TheBridge, the writers all wanted Carrie (ClaireDanes) to go with Brody across the border in the season two finale instead of returning to the CIA. In fact, in the first draft, she did. After much debate, they ultimately decided it was more in character for Carrie to stay and carry out her mission with the Agency after helping Brody escape safely to an underground network.
Besides being a great show, Orange Is The New Black has supported science over religious fundamentalism, such as in the scene above with partial transcript below:
Piper: I can’t pretend to believe in something I don’t, and I don’t [believe in this]… I believe in science. I believe in evolution. I believe in Nate Silver, and Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Christopher Hitchens, although I do admit he could be kind of an asshole. I cannot get behind some Supreme Being who weighs in on the Tony awards while a million people get whacked by machetes. I don’t believe a billion Indians are going to hell. I don’t think that we get cancer to learn life lessons. And I don’t believe people die young because God needs another angel. I think it’s just bullshit. And on some level, I think we all know that.
There are a number of reports, along with a denial, that Laura Prepon will be leaving Orange is The New Black to work on a new show. If true, this would leave a major hole in the show. The reports claiming this do say that Prepon will still be present at the start of the season to tie up Alex’s storyline and she will be written out in a way which would allow her to return.
Two of the top television shows premiering in 2013, Orphan Black and Orange Is The New Black, have been combined in this mash-up giving us Orphan Is The New Black.
Fake Sherlock will be going to England in their opening episode. Maybe they will meet the “real” Holmes and Watson of Sherlock. (Ok, probably not). More news on the second season of Elementaryhere.
We expect The Newsroom to mix in major news stories with each episode. Last week they included plot elements reminiscent of other real events from The Today Show botching the editing on George Zimmerman’s 911 tape to the real life release of nude photos from Oliva Munn’s phone. The manner in which World Net Daily reported a rumor without any fact checking also is based on reality, along with being an excellent commentary on the unreliability of WND and the entire right wing noise machine.
William Shatner joins those arguing that Star Trek belongs on television in this interview:
Karl Urban, from the new Star Trek films said that “Star Trek, as envisioned, was about space exploration. And it would be really wonderful to harness the spirit of that and apply it to the next film”. Is that something that you would like to see? A greater focus on discovery in these films.
Shatner: I’m not goona second guess JJ Abrams, he’s a great director and he’s so talented. But I’ll tell you that I am going to the Lowell Observatory in a couple of weeks to deliver a speech that I wrote about Star Trek and its capacity to stir the imaginations of young people.
The idea is, that so many people’s lives have been touched by the imagination of Star Trek and children’s imaginations are so vital to the rest of their lives that… this is an aspect of Star Trek that I’m focused on.
Now let me ask you, trying to bring in new viewers, new younger viewers to expose that world to young kids and teenagers alike and really spur that imagination — is a TV show a more viable vehicle for that? Is it sad that we don’t have something like that right now, a Star Trek TV show that could really seize on the exploration part of the thing that the original series and Next Generation, that those things did?
Shatner: You know, I think you’re right. Because, JJ Abrams has found the key to getting a large audience into the movie theater, and that’s the ride. So you get a lot of the CGI effects, which is the epic movie making aspect of today, whereas in Cecile B. Demille’s time, you had to use real people. Now you don’t need to use real people and you can have infinity for God’s sake.
That’s in order to get you into the theater, because the majesty of the movie is shown by the large screen. But when you get into the small screen, you need stories… entertaining, interesting, vital stories that have a philosophy and also have an excitement about them, so that the viewer stays with it, but recieves the philosophy as a byproduct. Those were the best of Star Trek, those kinds of stories. And that kind of thing, there is always room for that. That kind of imaginative approach that stirs young people into wanting to be connected with science.
There has been a lot of attention paid to the Hispanic vote in the past year but the Republican problem with minorities extends to many groups. Lloyd Green looked at why Republicans are losing votes among Asians. Some groups such as African-Americans might be less likely to vote for Republicans due to their history of racism and Hispanics might vote against Republicans for their views on immigration (which may also stem from conservative racism). Republicans have not provided comparable reasons for Asian-Americans to vote against them, but there are aspects of Republican policies which are unattractive to Asian-Americans. Green argues that Asian-Americans are voting against Republicans for the same reason as many other educated Americans:
These days, the GOP strikes Asian-Americans, along with many other Americans, as hostile to science and modernity. For example, George W. Bush severely restricted the use of federal funds for embryonic stem-cell research and cast his very first presidential veto to block enactment of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act. More recently, Congressman Paul Broun of Georgia—a member of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee and a prospective Senate candidate—declared that evolution, embryology, and the Big Bang were lies that emanated from the pit of Hell. Apparently, a low-taxes-only agenda is no longer enough to woo a demographic whose median household income exceeds $90,000 by the time that they become third-generation Americans.
And there is a further rub. According to the Pew Research Center, a majority of Asian immigrants hold at least a college degree—compared with less than one in three members of the overall adult population. At Cal Tech—where race, ethnicity, and legacy status are excluded from admissions criteria—Asian-Americans comprise nearly 40 percent of the student body. At MIT, which professes a commitment to diversity, Asian-Americans comprise more than a quarter of students.
What’s more, Asian-American students tend to concentrate in the STEM jobs—sciences, technology, mathematics, and engineering—that are crucial to our economy. Thus, in a sense, Asian-Americans are not just another ethnic group waiting for a politician to march in a parade, eat some exotic food, and then announce a community grant or shill for votes. Rather, they are also a subset of high-tech America, and one thing is clear: high-tech America is not in love with the Republican Party.
This is consistent with other findings from Pew Research showing that many believe the Republicans are out of touch with the modern world:
At a time when the Republican Party’s image is at a historic low, 62% of the public says the GOP is out of touch with the American people, 56% think it is not open to change and 52% say the party is too extreme.
Opinions about the Democratic Party are mixed, but the party is viewed more positively than the GOP in every dimension tested except one. Somewhat more say the Republican Party than the Democratic Party has strong principles (63% vs. 57%).
Being seen as having strong principles might not necessarily be good in terms of modern political issues. Often Republicans chose their principles and ideology over facts while Democrats tend to take a more pragmatic view of the issues. The bigger problem is that while Republicans may be characterized more by strong principles, Republicans follow the wrong principles in opposing science, knowledge, and the modern world. On the other hand, there are times when I would like to see the Democrats more consistently defend liberal principles.
Pictures from the Doctor Who Christmas Special have been released and two videos of consequence were presented at Children in Need. First there is a prequel episode, The Great Detective, in which we find that the Doctor has retired. Secondly there is the trailer for the Christmas episode in which the Doctor’s retirement on screen is a brief as we would expect.
‘The Snowmen’ has been revealed as the title for this year’s movie-scale Doctor Who Christmas special, and the episode that will introduce the new companion, a new look for the Doctor and a new monster that will have families shivering behind their sofas.
Starring Matt Smith as the Doctor, and introducing Jenna-Louise Coleman as new companion Clara, The Snowmen will follow their adventures as they embark on a mission to save Christmas from the villainous Doctor Simeon (Richard E Grant) and his army of icy snowmen.
Fans also got a sneak peak at a new costume for the Doctor, revealed in an exclusive trailer on Children in Need, while a special prequel showed the impact of the loss of the Ponds, with old friends Vastra, Strax and Jenny trying to persuade the Doctor not to give up on adventures.
Steven Moffat, Lead Writer and Executive Producer, said: “The Doctor at Christmas is one of my favourite things – but this year it’s different. He’s lost Amy and Rory to the Weeping Angels, and he’s not in a good place: in fact, he’s Scrooge. He’s withdrawn from the world and no longer cares what happens to it. So when all of humanity hangs in the balance, can anyone persuade a tired and heartbroken Doctor that it’s time to return to the good fight? Enter Jenna-Louise Coleman…”
Matt Smith, who plays the Doctor, commented: “For this year’s Christmas special we have the wonderfully villainous Richard E Grant as Doctor Simeon – as well as lizards, Victorian assassins and deranged warriors from the future, who all return to convince the Doctor that he should board the TARDIS again and save the world. Add to that Jenna-Louise Coleman, and so begins the Christmas Special 2012. I hope everyone enjoys it!”
The BBC Cymru Wales produced drama will return to BBC One in December, with a further eight epic episodes in spring next year.
Doctor Who TV previews an episode for the second half of the season, to air this spring:
Writer Stephen Thompson speaks about his upcoming episode for Series 7: Part 2 in the latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine(#454 out today.)
He confirms the story is titled Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS and explains how the episode came to be: “My first meeting was last October. I went along with a pocketful of dream-episodes. (Still trying to work out a way to shoehorn the Krynoids in. Might yet happen.) This initial meeting is fairly predictable. Before I even open my mouth and pitch to the room, Steven goes ‘I want you to do x.’ And his idea is so wonderful, and so much more clever and interesting than anything mere mortals like myself could come up with, you end up saying ‘Yes’ and the meeting’s over in record time. Or at least the same time it took last year. And so it was. ‘Would you do one where we see the centre of the TARDIS?’ ‘Er, yeah. Okay.’ Conversation took nine seconds. And then I’m chained to a laptop on and off for the next six months, basically.”
“Actually Steven had two ancillary reasons for bringing that idea to the table. One: he admits to being haunted by The Invasion of Time – the story from 1978 set on board the TARDIS, where the sets were cobbled together at the last minute. Unfortunately a TV strike meant that studio sets were not built, and as a result our only glimpse of the TARDIS interior has been a disused hospital in Surrey with bin-bags stuck to the windows. Two: Steven knows; that I’m a pure mathematician and anything involving multi-dimensional geometry gets me excited. (There’s my geek credentials.) So – that was the brief. What’s in the middle? Plus the title. And then I’m sent off to fill in all the blanks.”
He adds: “[With The Curse of the Black Spot] my brief from Steven was very different – he said a lot of the [Series 6] episodes were dark and complex, and he needed me to write something light. This year got to indulge my inner fan. (And I got to ask my kids what rooms in the TARDIS they’ve always wanted to find.)
“This episode will be different in many ways, not least because the star won’t necessarily be the usual person. You might not even see the star, it might be the guy at the drawing board. It just might be the designer…”
Fringe is now about putting things into or taking things out of the brainstem and brain, and the consequences of such action. On Fringe, greater intellectual power tends to have dangerous trade offs, if not being outright evil. We continue to see Peter developing his Observer powers after implanting Observer technology in his neck, with Olivia now aware of what Peter has done. There is parallel story going on with Walter and Nina with Walter wanting Nina to remove the parts of his brain which William Bell removed and which were later restored.
There are so many questions leading into the final episodes of the series. I wonder if Peter might wind up being the first Observer, setting everything else in motion, and providing an explanation as to why so much has centered around Peter. Will we be better or worse off with Peter becoming more like the Observers and with Walter more like his old self? Will Peter lose all his hair? Will Walter perform a lobotomy on himself if Nina does not help him? Will the Observers continue to allow pictures of Etta to go up all over as the face of the resistance? Will Peter defeat the Observers and pull a cosmic reset switch, returning to the park with Olivia and Etta? We will have to wait three weeks to find out anything more, with the next episode featuring Peter vs. Windmark.
I have previously presented opinions on the election from people in show business. In case have not seen it, the one which you really should not miss was from Joss Whedon on how Mitt Romney’s policies would set up the conditions needed for a Zombie Apocalypse. The same issues remain even if Romney has become a toxic-asset which even Republicans now want to be rid of. Almost everyone seems to have turned on Mitt Romney for his view on the 47 percent and takers after the election, including Republicans who defended Romney on this view during the campaign. I previously commented on this post-election Romney gaffe when speaking to donors here and here. Bill Prady, creator of Big Bang Theory, weighed in on Romney’s flawed view on his Facebook page. A portion follows:
I number among my friends many who, like myself, voted for the President. Not one of them gets “free stuff” from the government (unless you count Social Security and Medicare, I suppose). My friends are hard working moms and camera operators. They are teachers and gardeners and maids. They are writers and actors. People with jobs. Two jobs, some of them. They didn’t vote to get free stuff.
Me, I created a television show. I didn’t vote to get free stuff.
We voted for the President because we share his vision for America. We believe in a country where people are treated with respect no matter who they are. We believe in the freedom to love whom you love — and to marry the person you love. We believe that no family should go bankrupt because their child becomes sick.
We believe that women can make their healthcare decisions for themselves in consultation with their doctor and their god and that they don’t need a politician to tell them what to do. We also believe they should be paid the same if they do the same work.
We believe that lowering taxes on the wealthy isn’t an economic policy and it doesn’t lead to prosperity and higher employment. The experts believe that, too — it’s in the report the Senate recently suppressed. We also believe that because we lived through it — it lead to the worst economic disaster in our lifetimes.
We believe that the men and women who wear the uniform of our nation deserve our highest respect, and we believe that when we send them to fight unnecessary wars and then don’t care for them when they return we have betrayed that respect. We also believe that if we ask them to leave their jobs and fight for us, we should make sure they can get jobs when they return.
We believe that asking people like me to pay a little more — just what we paid during the Clinton administration (one of the greatest periods of growth in modern history) — isn’t communism. It isn’t socialism. It’s fair.
We believe the infrastructure of this nation is crumbling and that we must invest in the repair of our roads, bridges and schools. And we believe that in those schools, our children — our most precious resource — should be getting the best education whether they live in Chevy Chase or Harlem.
We are hard working people who worked hard for this victory.
The Big Bang Theory get into genre (including recent references to Doctor Who) far more than politics, as would be expected on a network television show seeking to appeal to a mass audience, but there have been a number of amusing swipes at the religious right on past episodes such as here and in the clip below.
One of the many falsehoods spread by the right wing is the untrue claim that Barack Obama had promised to lower the unemployment rate under 8 percent. Of course the right wing has done quite a bit to keep the unemployment rate up, including failing to act on the American Jobs Act and decreasing government jobs. Now that, despite the best efforts of the right wing, unemployment has dropped under 8 percent, conservatives are upset. Their imaginary bar at 8 percent unemployment now works against them. Just imagine how unhappy they would be if Obama had achieved a full economic recovery in just four years, as unlikely as this would be considering how badly the Republicans had damaged the economy before Obama took office.
When conservatives are mad they don’t just get angry. They will deny and invent conspiracy theories. An unemployment rate truther movement has already begun. A conspiracy theory inevitably leads to debunking of the conspiracy, which can be found here.
“All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell,” Broun said. “And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior.”
“… the institution of slavery that the black race has long believed to be an abomination upon its people may actually have been a blessing in disguise. The blacks who could endure those conditions and circumstances would someday be rewarded with citizenship in the greatest nation ever established upon the face of the Earth.”
And don’t forget that dishonest guy who replaced the real Mitt Romney on Wednesday who took positions entirely different from those Romney has campaigned on, and attacked Big Bird.
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.
“President Obama came out with approval of same-sex marriage. He said that over the years, he has been going through an evolution on the issue. That makes opponents on the far right doubly angry. They don’t believe in gay marriage OR evolution.” –Jimmy Kimmel
The most remarkable thing about the conservative movement is not their opinions, which most ethical individuals find repulsive, but that they have their own facts, which make most intelligent individuals cringe.
Conservatives have developed their own “news” sources such as Fox and right wing talk radio to protect them from hearing actual facts about the outside world. When the wish to hide the fact that they are promoting views which directly contradict the views of the Founding Fathers on subjects such as separation of church and state, they promote their own revisionist history. They ignore sound economic principles to promote their brand of Voodoo Economics, regardless of how often their economic view fail in the real world. Conservatives especially concentrate on rejecting science when the facts contradict their views, including on creationism, denying geology and cosmology when it contradicts their views on the creation of the earth and the universe, and denying climate change.
I’ve had numerous discussions with conservatives who have openly rejected science, believing scientific evidence can be ignored when it contradicts their religious beliefs, but political leaders are rarely as open in their contempt for science. Rick Santorum is an exception in his open hostility towards science. He opposes keeping religion out of government, but does want to keep science out. According to the Des Moines Register, while discussing controversial subjects such as evolution and global warming, Santorum suggested that “science should get out of politics.”
Yes, it would not serve conservative goals to base public policy upon facts, including facts established by the scientific method. As Steven Colbert has said, ” reality has a well-known liberal bias.”
GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman shifted his position on global warming Tuesday, telling a conservative audience that there is “not enough information right now” on the issue to formulate policies.
In August, Huntsman drew attention and criticism from the right for tweeting that he believed scientists’ claims on global warming.
“To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy,” Huntsman wrote at the time.
But speaking at the Heritage Foundation, Huntsman veered to the right of his former position.
I wonder how long it will be before Huntsman speaks at the Discovery Institute and says he believes that evolution is only a theory and backs intelligent design as a valid alternative.
Ross Douthat has unintentionally demonstrated that one cannot be a successful Republican candidate without rejecting science (or at least hiding their beliefs) in a post on why Jon Huntsman’s campaign for the Republican nomination has been unsuccessful. Douthat says that Huntsman has failed because, “He picked high-profile fights on two hot-button issues — evolution and global warming…” He considers this to be “political malpractice at its worst.”
In other words, it is now political suicide in the Republican Party to openly acknowledge acceptance of science. Evolution is firmly established as a factual explanation for the development of complex organisms from simple organisms and is the foundation of modern biology. The science behind global warming is accepted by well over ninety percent of scientists in the field. Despite this, conservatives reject both fields of science. The typical conservative not only rejects, but is totally ignorant of the evidence for evolution, and considers creationism to be a valid alternative. Conservatives see climate change as a conspiracy and a hoax while creating their own hoax with the bogus claims surrounding “Climategate” which have been debunked by five separate investigations.
Some climate change denialism is due misinformation on the subject spread by the petroleum industry in a campaign which is remarkably like the older campaign by the tobacco industry to deny that tobacco is harmful to health. Others deny climate change because acknowledging a problem which requires government coordination to solve is not allowed in their political worldview. Some are misled by misunderstandings about the predictions made by climate science, such as having increased snow because a warmer atmosphere holds more water. Some are confused by the difference in the ways certain words are used in science as opposed to the general public. (The different use of the word theory is also significant regarding the misinformation spread by creationists.) The table above shows some examples of how words are used in science as opposed to the way the words are used by non-scientists. (From “Communicating the Science of Climate Change,” by Richard C. J. Somerville and Susan Joy Hassol, from the October 2011 issue of Physics Today, page 48.)
While much of Europe has become more secular than the United States, they still face the problem we have here of creationists trying to use the public schools to promote their religious beliefs. The Guardian reports on a group of prominent scientists who are trying to prevent the teaching of creationism in publicly funded schools:
Prominent scientists, including Sir David Attenborough and Richard Dawkins, have called on the government to toughen its guidance on the promotion of creationism in classrooms, accusing “religious fundamentalists” of portraying it as scientific theory in publicly funded schools.
A group of 30 scientists have signed a statement saying it is “unacceptable” to teach creationism and intelligent design, whether it happens in science lessons or not. The statement claims two organisations, Truth in Science and Creation Ministries International are “touring the UK and presenting themselves as scientists and their creationist views as science”.
“Creationism and intelligent design are not scientific theories, but they are portrayed as scientific theories by some religious fundamentalists who attempt to have their views promoted in publicly funded schools,” the scientists say.
“There should be enforceable statutory guidance that they may not be presented as scientific theories in any publicly funded school of whatever type.”
The scientists claim organisations such as Truth in Science are encouraging teachers to incorporate intelligent design into their science teaching.
“Truth in Science has sent free resources to all secondary heads of science and to school librarians around the country that seek to undermine the theory of evolution and have intelligent design ideas portrayed as credible scientific viewpoints. Speakers from Creation Ministries International are touring the UK, presenting themselves as scientists and their creationist views as science at a number of schools.”
I’ve disagreed with some of Paul Krugman’s writings when he as discussed politics recently, but he is certainly correct with this warning:
Now, we don’t know who will win next year’s presidential election. But the odds are that one of these years the world’s greatest nation will find itself ruled by a party that is aggressively anti-science, indeed anti-knowledge. And, in a time of severe challenges — environmental, economic, and more — that’s a terrifying prospect.
This comes at the end of a column which primarily deals with Republicans who deny climate change, pointing out that “the scientific consensus about man-made global warming — which includes 97 percent to 98 percent of researchers in the field, according to the National Academy of Sciences — is getting stronger, not weaker, as the evidence for climate change just keeps mounting.”
Krugman targetted not only Rick Perry, but Mitt Romney who has been running away from the issue out of political expediency:
According to Public Policy Polling, only 21 percent of Republican voters in Iowa believe in global warming (and only 35 percent believe in evolution). Within the G.O.P., willful ignorance has become a litmus test for candidates, one that Mr. Romney is determined to pass at all costs.
So, yes, Krugman’s warning is valid. There is an excellent chance that the Republican nominee in any given year will be anti-science. In a two party system, there is a high probability that sooner or later the Republican nominee will be elected.
I sometimes think that the Democratic Party is the most inept political organization in the history of mankind, barely being able to capitalize on an opposing party which is attempting to destroy Social Security and Medicare, and making absolutely no attempt to benefit from the hostility towards science and reason in the right wing. At least sources outside of the Democratic Party are responding to the ignorant rants from GOP leaders such as Rick Perry and those with similar beliefs.
A politician’s attitude to evolution is perhaps not directly important in itself. It can have unfortunate consequences on education and science policy but, compared to Perry’s and the Tea Party’s pronouncements on other topics such as economics, taxation, history and sexual politics, their ignorance of evolutionary science might be overlooked. Except that a politician’s attitude to evolution, however peripheral it might seem, is a surprisingly apposite litmus test of more general inadequacy. This is because unlike, say, string theory where scientific opinion is genuinely divided, there is about the fact of evolution no doubt at all. Evolution is a fact, as securely established as any in science, and he who denies it betrays woeful ignorance and lack of education, which likely extends to other fields as well. Evolution is not some recondite backwater of science, ignorance of which would be pardonable. It is the stunningly simple but elegant explanation of our very existence and the existence of every living creature on the planet. Thanks to Darwin, we now understand why we are here and why we are the way we are. You cannot be ignorant of evolution and be a cultivated and adequate citizen of today.
Darwin’s idea is arguably the most powerful ever to occur to a human mind. The power of a scientific theory may be measured as a ratio: the number of facts that it explains divided by the number of assumptions it needs to postulate in order to do the explaining. A theory that assumes most of what it is trying to explain is a bad theory. That is why the creationist or ‘intelligent design’ theory is such a rotten theory.
After an explanation of the importance of evolution, Dawkins concluded:
There are many reasons to vote against Rick Perry. His fatuous stance on the teaching of evolution in schools is perhaps not the first reason that springs to mind. But maybe it is the most telling litmus test of the other reasons, and it seems to apply not just to him but, lamentably, to all the likely contenders for the Republican nomination. The ‘evolution question’ deserves a prominent place in the list of questions put to candidates in interviews and public debates during the course of the coming election.