Belief In God Down And Belief In Evolution Up In Harris Poll

A Harris poll shows declining belief in God and associated religious views:

Three-quarters of U.S. adults say they believe in God, down from 82 percent in 2005, 2007 and 2009, a Harris Poll indicates.

The Harris Poll found 57 percent of U.S. adult say they believe in the virgin birth of Jesus, down from 60 percent in 2005, and 72 percent say they believe in miracles, down from 79 percent in 2005, while 68 percent say they believe in heaven, down from 75 percent. Sixty-eight percent say they believe Jesus is God or the son of God, down from 72 percent; and 65 percent say they believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, down from 70 percent.

Sixty-four percent say they believe in the survival of the soul after death, down from 69 percent in 2005; 58 percent say they believe in the devil, down from 62 percent; 58 percent say they believe in hell, down from 62 percent…

Just under 2-in-10 U.S. adults described themselves as very religious, with an additional 4-in-10 describing themselves as somewhat religious down from 49 percent in 2007. Twenty-three percent of Americans identified themselves as not at all religious, nearly double the 12 percent reported in 2007.

Not surprisingly, a decrease in belief in various religious views correlates with decreased belief in creationism and increased likelihood of believing in evolution: “Forty-seven percent say they believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution, compared to 42 percent in 2005.”

While it is somewhat disturbing that in the 21st century a sizeable number of people reject science and believe in creationism, the number is comparable to those who believe in other crackpot ideas including astrology:

The survey found 42 percent of adults say they believe in ghosts, 36 percent say they believe in creationism, 36 percent say they believe in UFOs, 29 percent say they believe in astrology, 26 percent say they believe in witches and 24 percent say they believe in reincarnation, or that they were once another person.

No report on the number who believe that the earth is flat or that the affordable care act includes death panels.

Breakdown by political party is also as might be expected. The survey found that 49% of Republicans believe in creationism compared to 30% of Democrats and 34% of Independents, unfortunately leaving a substantial number of non-Republicans still denying science. Republicans are slightly more likely to believe in witches than Democrats (27% to 26%) with fewer independents believing at 27%. Numbers believing in UFOs was pretty close in each group. Slightly more Democrats (31%) believe in astrology compared to 29% of Republicans and 27% of independents.

While the general trend in compared with previous polls is likely valid, consistent with what appears to be the case regardless of the polls, the exact numbers might not be exact considering that this was a fairly small online poll with margin of error not listed.

Effects Of Another Republican Appointee To The Supreme Court

Barack Obama has certainly not been perfect (even if his faults have been greatly exaggerated) and the prospect of Hillary Clinton as president leaves me quite unexcited about voting. Despite this, it is important to remember the alternative. One of the most significant differences between potential Democratic presidents and Republican presidents is the type of people they will appoint to the Supreme Court. Nothing is definite as Republican appointees have sometimes voted for liberal positions (most recently John Roberts supporting the Affordable Care Act), but with the increased ideological gap it is best to fear the worst.  While I would separate this from any pressure for Ruth Bader Ginsberg to retire before she is ready, Think Progress does have some warnings as to what will occur if she is replaced by a Republican president:

  • No More Marriage Equality: United States v. Windsor — the decision striking down the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act — was a 5-4 decision with Ginsburg in the majority. If Ginsburg is replaced by another conservative, DOMA could roar back to life. At the very least, the nation’s drive towards nationwide marriage equality could come to a screeching halt.
  • Criminalizing Sex: Although Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down Texas’ “sodomy” law, was a 6-3 decision, one of those six justices has since been replaced by the staunchly conservative Justice Samuel Alito. If another member of the Lawrence majority is replaced, it could lead to gay sex being outlawed entirely in several states. Lawrence‘s holding, however extends far beyond gay couples to prohibit laws criminalizing non-commercial sexual activity between consenting adults. Thus, if Lawrence falls, the government could find its way into every American’s bedroom.
  • The End of Abortion Rights: Roe v. Wade is already on life support. Indeed, Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is the so-called swing vote on abortion, hasn’t voted to strike a law restricting the right to choose in 21 years. Nevertheless, Kennedy provided the key fifth vote to retain “the essential holding of Roe v. Wade” in a case called Planned Parenthood v. Casey. If Ginsburg is replaced by a conservative, there will likely be only four votes willing to retain that holding.
  • Watering Down Minority Votes: Five justices voted in League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry to strike part of a Texas redistricting map because it tried to protect an incumbent Republican congressman by reducing the impact of Latino voters. If Ginsburg is replaced by a conservative, these kinds of tactics could become common.
  • Executing Children & The Intellectually Disabled: There are almost certainly four votes on the Supreme Court to permit executions of children and the intellectually disabled. Ginsburg’s replacement could be the fifth.
  • Judges for Sale: Four justices joined a dissent arguing that there’s nothing wrong with a wealthy businessman spending $3 million to place a judge on a state supreme court — only to have that judge cast the key vote to overturn a $50 million verdict against the businessman’s company. Ginsburg’s replacement could places judges up for sale.
  • Millions Without Health Care: Finally, the decision that largely preserved the Affordable Care Act was a 5-4 decision, with four justices voting to repeal Obamacare in its entirety. If those four justices gain a fifth vote, it could not only strip millions of Americans of the health insurance that they will soon gain under this law, but it could toss the entire American health care system into chaos. Among other things, if the dissent’s plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act in its entirety were to actually happen, Medicare could lose its ability to pay claims until the agency that administers the program completed a lengthy rulemaking process that can take months.

And on top of all this, we could wind up with a president who believes in creationism, or who would choose a Supreme Court justice who would support the teaching of creationism in the schools.

Afghanistan Planning To Resume Public Stoning As Punishment For Adultery

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?)

SciFi Weekend: The TARDIS on Google Maps; Arrow Introducing More DC Characters; Iron Man 3; Under The Dome; True Blood; Homeland; Orange Is The New Black; Orphan Black; Thor; Elementary; The Newsroom; Interstellar; Star Trek Predicting The Future Since 1966

TARDIS in on Google Maps

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_on_cw

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 The Bridge, the writers all wanted Carrie (Claire Danes) 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.

Orphan Is The New Black

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.

Natalie Portman expects there to be a Thor 3.

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 Elementary here.

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.

Filming has begun on Christopher Nolan’s latest science fiction project, Interstellar.

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.

Star Trek Science

Via Techeblog

Republicans Seen As Out Of Touch, Losing Support Of Voters Concerned About Science And The Modern World

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.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who Christmas Special and Journey to the Centre of the Tardis; Fringe; Bill Prady on Romney’s View of Voting To Get Free Stuff

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.

Here is the announcement from the BBC:

‘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.

Nutty Conservative Ideas Of The Week From Denial Of The Drop In Unemployment To Why Slavery Was Good

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.

The unemployment truther movement wasn’t the only right wing lunacy from this week. A Republican member of Congress from Georgia, Paul Broun, had this to say about evolution, embryology, and the Big Bang Theory:

“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.”

Representative Jon Hubbard of Arkansas has an entire book out which explains far right wing views such as why slavery was a good thing for blacks:

“… 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.

This Week’s Wake Up Call For The Obama Campaign

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.

 

Quote of the Day

“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

Republicans Believe Obama Is A Muslim And Doubt Evolution

As seen in the previous post, Rick Santorum is mind-numbingly ignorant. The same can be said about Republicans in Mississippi and Alabama (as well as other states not included in this poll). David Weigel passes on these findings from Public Policy Polling:

Mississippi:

Screen shot 2012-03-12 at 8.29.31 AM

Alabama:

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These Republicans do show that evolution doesn’t necessarily select for intelligence.