The media coverage of the Affordable Care Act has often been distorted, confusing start-up problems with the overall value of the law. Even beyond the initial problems, Obamacare is far from perfect. However, it is a huge improvement over the system it replaced in which people with medical problems were often denied health care coverage. In some cases conservatives have tried to pass off long-standing problems with the health care system, such as restrictions by medical plans on which doctors you could see, as problems with the Affordable Care Act. Fox has paraded people before viewers who were cut off by their health care plans when in reality such acts by insurance companies represent exactly the type of problem which Obamacare fixes. Previously those cut from insurance plans were often unable to replace their insurance due to per-existing conditions. Under Obamacare, there are no longer such restrictions on coverage. You might not be able to keep exactly the same insurance plan you have, but most people have the option of receiving insurance from the same company which provides better coverage at a lower cost.
The media has greatly exaggerated the fact that some people, primarily those who do not qualify for subsidies, might wind up paying more for insurance coverage. Often this is because their old plans were designed by insurance companies to limit their risk of actually paying out on claims. At very least, the “losers” under the Affordable Care Act have one significant benefit–insurance which cannot be revoked due to developing medical problems. In addition, although I will pay more next year for insurance, Obamacare has provided me with additional benefits such as covering children up to age twenty-six and covering preventative studies with no deductible or co-pay.
While there are going to be some relative losers in any change, there are far more winners under Obamacare. The media is increasingly reporting on these cases. For example, The Los Angeles Times provided several examples today. Besides providing examples of winners, the article explained:
Two-thirds of the 30 million Americans who will be eligible for individual coverage next year are uninsured today, whether because they can’t afford it now or because they’re barred by pre-existing condition limitations, which will no longer be legal. And more than three-quarters will be eligible for subsidies that will cut their premium costs and even co-pays and deductibles substantially…
Political opportunists (like House Speaker John Boehner), exploit near-term difficulties to obscure the tangible benefits the Affordable Care Act will bring to tens of millions of their constituents. When they say “this law has to go,” as Boehner’s spokesman did this weekend, they’re talking about returning people to the era of exclusions for pre-existing conditions. To people learning they’re uninsurable because of injuries from accidents, or chronic diseases, or the sheer bloody-mindedness of insurance company bureaucrats.
There are problems with Obamacare, but nobody has had to declare bankruptcy due to medical expenses and nobody has died because of being denied insurance coverage.
Three Senators, Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore), Mark Udall (D-Colo), and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M), have proposed legislation to help restore Fourth Amendment privacy protections following recent revelations regarding NSA surveillance. They have an op-ed in The New York Times which explains their position and their opposition to currently proposed legislation form the Senate intelligence committee which would codify current surveillance without providing privacy protections. Their op-ed begins:
End the N.S.A. Dragnet, Now
THE framers of the Constitution declared that government officials had no power to seize the records of individual Americans without evidence of wrongdoing, and they embedded this principle in the Fourth Amendment. The bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records — so-called metadata — by the National Security Agency is, in our view, a clear case of a general warrant that violates the spirit of the framers’ intentions. This intrusive program was authorized under a secret legal process by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, so for years American citizens did not have the knowledge needed to challenge the infringement of their privacy rights.
Our first priority is to keep Americans safe from the threat of terrorism. If government agencies identify a suspected terrorist, they should absolutely go to the relevant phone companies to get that person’s phone records. But this can be done without collecting the records of millions of law-abiding Americans. We recall Benjamin Franklin’s famous admonition that those who would give up essential liberty in the pursuit of temporary safety will lose both and deserve neither.
The usefulness of the bulk collection program has been greatly exaggerated. We have yet to see any proof that it provides real, unique value in protecting national security. In spite of our repeated requests, the N.S.A. has not provided evidence of any instance when the agency used this program to review phone records that could not have been obtained using a regular court order or emergency authorization.
Despite this, the surveillance reform bill recently ratified by the Senate Intelligence Committee would explicitly permit the government to engage in dragnet collection as long as there were rules about when officials could look at these phone records. It would also give intelligence agencies wide latitude to conduct warrantless searches for Americans’ phone calls and emails.
This is not the true reform that poll after poll has shown the American people want. It is preserving business as usual. When the Bill of Rights was adopted, it established that Americans’ papers and effects should be seized only when there was specific evidence of suspicious activity. It did not permit government agencies to issue general warrants as long as records seized were reviewed with the permission of senior officials.
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?)
The Day of the Doctor accomplished Steven Moffat’s goal of presenting an homage to the past but primarily looking towards the future. Just as real life isn’t neatly divided into sixty minute episodes (or serials in the case of older Doctor Who), the 50th anniversary episode combined two different stories. Both had the common theme of the Doctor finding a way to defeat an invasion and prevent destruction to either London or Gallifrey. The episode won a Guinness World Record award for the largest ever simulcast of a TV drama, being shown in ninety-four countries.
There were many tributes to the past beyond those I mention here. We saw the original opening, starting in black in white just as the series began. Clara was teaching at Coal School which Susan attended in the first episode. After several mentions of Queen Elizabeth I over the years, we saw the Doctor marry her, believing she was actually a Zygon shape shifter in disguise. (No word on what River Song thought of this). A UNIT agent (or her Zygon copy) wore Tom Baker’s scarf. David Tennant repeated his classic line, “I don’t want to go” and John Hurt said “reverse the polarity” in a tribute to Jon Pertwee. The episode included all thirteen Doctors, including John Hurt and Peter Capaldi, even if some were primarily from old clips and CGI. The episode ended with an ambiguous appearance from Tom Baker as the Curator, who might be the form which the Doctor takes after he retires. Billie Piper returned, but as Bad Wolf Rose in order to allow for her presence without altering Rose’s story.
The Doctors stopped a Zygon invasion of earth by literally bringing about the concept of a veil of ignorance, as the shape-shifting Zygons and members of UNIT did not remember which they were, giving motivation to both sides to negotiate a fair deal. From there the three Doctors tackled an even bigger problem, saving Gallifrey from the Dalek attack during the Time Wars by some way other than destroying them all. This was ultimately accomplished due to Matt Smith and David Tennant’s version of the Doctor having had more time to work on the problem, and the joint effort of thirteen Doctors.
We have now seen all of the regenerations. The webisode (posted here) The Night of the Doctor, showed the regeneration of Paul McGann to John Hurt. The regeneration of John Hurt was present near the end of The Day of The Doctor but unfortunately Christopher Eccleston declined to appear to complete the scene. Considering how little effort it would have taken to film the regeneration scene, his refusal to participate in the anniversary episode just makes him look more petty, regardless of what problems he had with the previous crew.
Although Steven Moffat had said that the numbering of the Doctors would not change, it is hard to see justification for not including John Hurt. Moffat recently said:
“I’ve been really, really quite careful about the numbering of the Doctors. He’s very specific, the John Hurt Doctor, that he doesn’t take the name of the Doctor. He doesn’t call himself that. He’s the same Time Lord, the same being as the Doctors either side of him, but he’s the one who says, ‘I’m not the Doctor.’ So the Eleventh Doctor is still the Eleventh Doctor, the Tenth Doctor is still the Tenth…
He adds: “Technically, if you really counted it, the David Tennant Doctor is two Doctors, on account of the Meta-Crisis Doctor [in Journey's End]… It’s not a matter of counting the regenerations, but of counting the faces of the Time Lord that calls himself the Doctor. There’s an anomaly Doctor slotted in somewhere, that’s all. In the script to The Day of the Doctor, Matt’s Doctor was called the Eleventh, and David’s was called the Tenth, so the numbering stays exactly the same – and we call Peter Capaldi the Twelfth Doctor.”
Of course we know that Moffat lies, and perhaps he said this to avoid giving away the ending to The Day Of The Doctor. Now that we have seen the full story of John Hurt’s Doctor, it is harder to justify not counting him. Despite being called the Warrior, we have now seen rather standard regenerations both into him and into the subsequent Doctor. Taking a different name hardly makes sense as a way around the regeneration limit. Even if his story ended with being responsible for a heinous act, this should not change the numbering. Now that this act was reversed, there is even less reason to exclude him. There was reference to “all thirteen” on Gallifrey. The Daleks recognized him as the Doctor. If we want to go meta and try to limit the official Doctors to those who had their own shows, this would contradict the convention of including Paul McGann who, before this month, appeared in only a single movie. Surely John Hurt’s appearance in the 50th anniversary episode, along with a brief scene in the previous episode, is as significant as an essentially stand-alone move. The BBC even reposted the 50th anniversary promo picture with John Hurt included (above).
The episode has significant ramifications for the future. The Doctor now has a new goal, to find Gallifrey. I wonder if this will be a season-long McGuffin like was done previously with The Key To Time serials in the Tom Baker era. This could provide a new emphasis from the show now that Amy Pond is gone and the mystery of Clara has been resolved, getting away from the stand-alone episodes of last season. A limit of twelve regenerations, meaning thirteen versions of the Doctor, was previously established, and we have now seen reference to “all thirteen” Doctors. The search for Gallifrey opens up one of several possible solutions as it is a safe prediction that Doctor Who will not end with Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. Perhaps saving Gallilfrey will lead to the Doctor being given another set of regenerations solving this issue. There has been precedent for the Time Lords having this power.
Before we see how this rewriting of the mythology affects Peter Capaldi’s Doctor, there remains the Christmas Episode in which Silence will Fall and we return to Trenzalore (trailer above).
For those disappointed in not seeing cameos from more actors who have played the Doctor, we do have the video below which was written and directed by Peter Davison. “The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot” stars Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann attempting to make it into the 50th anniversary episode. In a way they have accomplished this. I think that this video, along with The Day of the Doctor, and An Adventure in Space in Time should be counted as parts of a set honoring the 50th anniversary.
As I was working on my impressions of the episode, Blogator Who posted the official comments from Steven Moffat. Some portions of the interview follow:
I asked Steven for his thoughts on Peter Davison’s special The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.
“I loved it. I love it, I’m in it! I’m the villain as far as I can see! [Laughs] Absolutely adorable. It was actually my idea to do that, I had bumped into Peter at a party and he said, ‘I’m going to do this little fan video about us all trying to get into the 50th. Do you mind and would you be in it?’ And I said I’ll give you a budget and a camera crew and some time and why don’t you make it for real? Make it for us? It solved a problem for me. I wanted all The Doctor’s properly involved, if they were willing, as best they could.
It maximises what you can do with Sylvester [McCoy] and Colin [Baker] and Peter because they’re not the same people were, all those years ago. You get to see Colin Baker playing Colin Baker which is much more fun that seeing him trying to do a performance that no longer suits him, frankly. And the same with Peter and the absolutely charming Sylvester McCoy, who is an absolute hero. It was brilliant, I love The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, it was gorgeous.
Regarding Billie Piper in The Day of the Doctor Steven stated:
“I thought the story of Rose, which was beautiful, was done. I didn’t want to add to it, I didn’t feel qualified to add to it. That was always Russell’s [T Davies] story. The way Russell ended it in The End of Time was perfect. I didn’t want to stick another bit in. It would be wrong.
But we did want Billie Piper, one of the absolute heroes of Doctor Who, back in the show without interfering in the story of Rose Tyler. I think I might of spoiled something if I had done that. Billie represents the rival of Doctor Who, more than anyone else. It’s all about Billie, it’s her show for two years. It’s really startling watching The Runaway Bride and you’re going, ‘Where is she? Where is she? Where is the star of the show?’
On the 2013 Christmas Special, Moffat commented, “It’s a proper finale to Matt Smith, it’s the story we’ve been telling since he put the bow tie on. A lot of stuff we’ve left hanging, we tie up there. And it’s Trenzalore!” At a panel at the Official Doctor Who Celebration, including Matt Smith, Jenna Coleman and Steven, they revealed that the world “bubbly” will appear in the finale for The Eleventh Doctor.
POTUS about to make statement regarding deal with Iran on nuclear program. Next Fox to accuse Obama of making deal to reduce risk of nuclear war in order to take attention away from Obamacare problems.
The Republicans can’t win with the Tea Party, but also can’t win without their money and grass roots support. This must be very frustrating for Republican leaders. Breitbart reported on what Mitch McConnell said during a conference call with Republican donors:
On the call, according to a donor who was on it, McConnell personally named Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) as Tea Party conservatives he views as problematic for him. “The bulk of it was an attack on the Tea Party in general, Cruz in particular,” the source, a prominent donor, said in a phone interview with Breitbart News.
But the most memorable line came at the end of the call.
“McConnell said the Tea Party was ‘nothing but a bunch of bullies,’” the source said. “And he said ‘you know how you deal with schoolyard bullies? You punch them in the nose and that’s what we’re going to do.’”
McConnell is right about the Tea Party but, needless to say, conservatives are unhappy with him. We are unlikely to have a working government which can seriously address our problems until the Republicans repudiate the extremist elements which oppose our system of self-government, but even the saner portions of the party have hardly been rational players in recent years. A war between the Republican establishment and the Tea Party may result in Mutual Assured Destruction which might lead to an improvement.
Timothy Egan wrote about the South’s new lost cause. He started with how Abraham Lincoln lied in his inaugural address of 1861, essentially telling the South that if they liked their slaves they could keep them:
The comparisons of President Obama to Lincoln fade with every day of the shrinking modern presidency. As for the broken-promise scale: Lincoln said an entire section of the country could continue to enslave more than one in three of its people. Obama wrongly assured about five million people that they could keep their bare-bones health plans if they liked them (later amended when it turned not to be true).
As inapt as those comparisons are, what is distressingly similar today is how the South is once again committed to taking a backward path. By refusing to expand health care for the working poor through Medicaid, which is paid for by the federal government under Obamacare, most of the old Confederacy is committed to keeping millions of its own fellow citizens in poverty and poor health. They are dooming themselves, further, as the Left-Behind States.
And they are doing it out of spite. Elsewhere, the expansion of Medicaid, the health care program for the poor, has been one of the few success stories of Obamacare. It may be too complicated for the one-dimensional Beltway press. Either that, or it doesn’t fit the narrative of failure.
Of course conservatives cherry pick facts to support their narrative, and ignore all those which contradict their views. For example. how do problems with a web site (which are being fixed) have any impact as to whether we should be concerned about providing affordable health care to all Americans?
Russell Simmons wonders about the same thing. First he described the Republican view:
I know where Republicans stand. They have voted 47 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act, so their stance is clear. If you get sick, you’re on your own. If you can’t pay for your medical expenses, declare bankruptcy. If you have a pre-existing condition, they’ll send you a get well card when you’re on your death-bed. Whatever President Obama stands for, they stand for the opposite. Even if it goes against every principle they have advocated for in the past, they would rather destroy our country, than see President Obama pass policy that is good for ALL Americans.
He next criticized Democrats who are backing down in fear, listening to the Republican narrative of failure, and argued that the web site will be fixed:
I run websites. I have built websites. I certainly understand the complications of servers and load times and 404 errors. THIS CAN ALL BE FIXED! And it will be fixed. But what cannot be fixed, is the fact that for over 100 years we have tried to reform our healthcare system, and EVERY President before Barack Obama FAILED! Yes, we initially wanted single payer, and we had to compromise back in 2009 for the Affordable Care Act. But, it is a damn good piece of legislation that has already saved hundreds of thousands, if not millions of lives. So, let us not give up now. (**addendum: After getting attacked by the right wing blogs yesterday for my comments, let me remind them that Obamacare did not start with the website on October 1st. It started when it was passed in 2009. And since that time, 2.5 MILLION more young people have health insurance because they can stay on their parent’s plan until they are 26. And since 2010, health insurance companies could no longer deny health insurance to children because of a pre-existing condition. That has been the law before the website even launched.)
Conservative sites are further spreading misinformation by citing how United Health Care has been dropping patients and doctors as if this is an argument against Obamacare. United Health Care has engaged in such practices for years. Their actions are not an argument against Obamacare. They are examples as to why the Affordable Care Act is needed.
Harry Reid and Senate Democrats struck a blow against the tyranny of the minority today by exercising the nuclear option. Republican influence in the Senate is out of proportion to the number of people they actually represent due to the small Republican states having the same number of Senators as much larger states, which generally are Democratic. The Republicans have further extended this advantage by abusing the filibuster, often blocking appointments and legislation with a minority vote. In the entire history of the United States, 168 presidential appointments have been blocked. Eighty-two were under Obama and eighty-six were under all other presidents. While in the past the filibuster was more likely to be reserved for cases where the minority party had a real objection, Republicans are often using the filibuster to block qualified appointees just because they were appointed by Barack Obama. Republicans still do not accept Obama’s election and subsequent reelection
The impact of this is somewhat limited as it applies to executive branch appointments and most judges but does not apply to Supreme Court nominees or legislation. Republicans, who are outraged by this extension of majority rule, threaten to extend this should they take back control of the Senate so they can appoint more Scalias and Clarence Thomases to the Supreme Court. (Why do Republicans hate America so much?) Rand Paul even called Reid a big bully.
In order for the Republicans to take advantage of this and carry out their threats, they will need a Republican president as well as control of the Senate. At least in the short run, this doesn’t look likely. Demographic changes have made it difficult for Republicans to take the White House unless the party changed dramatically. The Republicans might manage to take control of the Senate in 2014 if all the close races go their way. In 2016, a presidential election year which already is more favorable to Democrats than an off-year election, the Democrats have to defend ten seats while the Republicans will have to defend twenty-four. While red state Democratic Senators are among those running in 2014, several blue state Republicans will be on the ballot in 2016. I’m sure Harry Reid considered the likelihood of continued Democratic control of the Senate when deciding to go ahead with the nuclear option.
I tend to be skeptical of scientific and psychological studies which attempt to describe conservatives or liberals as a group, but if this study is valid maybe that is because I suffer from the common liberal misconception of false uniqueness. A study in Psychological Science asked participants to answer whether they agreed with both political and non-political questions, and to indicate whether they thought people with similar political views would agree.
Liberals showed what the researchers call “truly false uniqueness,” perceiving their beliefs as more divergent from the beliefs of other liberals than they actually were. Moderates and conservatives, on the other hand, showed evidence of “truly false consensus,” perceiving their beliefs to be more similar to those of other members of their political group than they actually were.
Data from a second study suggest that the relationship is driven by participants’ desire to feel unique: Liberals reported a stronger desire for uniqueness than did moderates or conservatives.
Surprisingly, these trends even emerged among nonpolitical judgments, such as preference for coffee: Liberals believed their preferences were more different from those of other liberals than they actually were, while conservatives believed their preferences were more similar to those of other conservatives than they actually were.
In a somewhat related story, The Fix discussed finding from a recent poll indicating that, even if there the above study is true that there is not a consensus among conservatives, many people see the Tea Party as essentially being the same as the Republican Party.
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows an increasing number of Americans think the tea party has too much influence in today’s GOP. While 23 percent said the tea party had too much influence in a March 2010 WaPo-ABC poll, and 35 percent said the same in a Pew poll early last month, 43 percent now say it has too much sway.
Among pivotal moderate voters, well more than half (56 percent) say the tea party has too much influence on the GOP, while just 22 percent say it has about the right amount.
Perhaps more illustrative: views of the Republican Party’s ideological leaning are essentially the same as the tea party.
Forty percent say the tea party is too conservative — about the same number as say the Republican Party is too conservative (43 percent). While 36 percent of Americans say the views of the GOP are “about right,” 35 percent say the same of the tea party.
Views of the GOP and the tea party are virtually the same across all demographics. Fifty-five percent of moderates say the GOP is too conservative, versus 52 percent who say the same of the tea party.
In other words, if the tea party has moved the GOP to the right — and it has — it has done so to such an extent they are now viewed as ideologically very similar.
While the Tea Party essentially represents the extreme right wing base of the Republican Party, and not all Republicans, finding such a view in the poll is understandable considering that the far right wing is now driving the Republican agenda.
The study also found comparable numbers who found the Democratic Party to be too liberal. It would be interesting if the poll further broke down attitudes by issue. Polls have frequently found that people who do not identify with either liberals or Democrats frequently agree with the liberal position regardless of their self-identified ideology.
It is getting rather tedious to see the same headlines everyday in which Obama’s approval ratings are going down when in reality we are just seeing different pollsters measuring the same phenomenon. It is questionable as to whether this will persist considering that people are primarily echoing what they have heard about a greatly exaggerated problem along with exaggerated accusations of lying. Only a small percentage of the country are actually adversely affected–the small percentage which receives insurance on the individual market and will not qualify for subsidies. Even those of us who will have to pay higher premiums will generally receive better coverage (possibly saving money) and at very least will have one important benefit–insurance which cannot be lost due to developing expensive medical problems. When most people find that they are better off under the Affordable Care Act, the polling results might become quite different.
There was one sign of hope today. With all the adverse (and often erroneous) coverage of the problems faced by Obamacare, one might predict that Americans would support Republican efforts to repeal it. Maybe they can succeed on the 50th vote. A United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll shows increased skepticism, but continues to show that the public continues to oppose efforts to repeal it by a similar margin as last summer.
Now that there is increased attention being paid to the Affordable Care Act, Democrats should take advantage of this and fight their tendencies to go into hiding or move to the right. This is the time to reiterate the reasons why we need the Affordable Care Act. Despite its problems, it is far preferable to the previous situation where people with medical problems could not purchase affordable insurance, and insurance companies on the individual market would drop people who develop expensive medical problems once they do become sick. Those who obtained insurance through large companies might not be at as great a risk of having their coverage dropped as those on the individual market–providing that they remained healthy enough to continue working and continue their coverage.
Currently some people are losing their coverage, with most being offered better plans which will cost them less from the same insurance company. If they liked their previous plan, they should take a better look at all of its limitations compared to the new plans before worrying about having to change policies. We are certainly better off than those who lost insurance in the past, frequently being unable to obtain replacement coverage due to having per-existing conditions.
Meanwhile, despite all the negative noise, enrollment is surging in many states which set up their own exchanges–as was intended under the Affordable Care Act. When the exchanges don’t work well, people are right in blaming the Obama administration for this failure, but quite often they should also blame their Republican-run state governments for failing to set up exchanges in their states.
Republicans hope that people will see the, hopefully short-lived, problems with the Affordable Care Act as reason to reject the Democratic Party and reject the idea that Americans are capable of pooling our resources to accomplish great things, as we have done in the past. There is the danger that people will see this false lesson. With today’s Republicans in charge, Americans would have never made it to the moon, or win two world wars. There is also the possibility that people will begin to understand how many of our problems stem from Republicans refusing to participate in responsible governing, damaging the economy and trying to sabotage health care reform without having any sensible policies to offer.
“Here in New York City we have a new mayor, Bill de Blasio. He’s 6 feet, 7 inches tall and his wife is a former lesbian. She’s a former lesbian although she can be called back to active duty on a moment’s notice.
“The new mayor is not to be confused with current Mayor Bloomberg, the outgoing mayor. He’s a former leprechaun.” –David Letterman
The Night of the Doctor, a prequel video for The Day of the Doctor was released during the past week, showing a regeneration from Paul McMann’s Doctor to John Hurt’s. There is a difference in the nature of Hurt’s Doctor which we will undoubtedly learn more about in the 50th anniversary episode. Despite what we learn in this video, Steven Moffat says that the numbering of the Doctors will remain the same.
A clip from The Day of the Doctor played at Children in Need above showing when Matt Smith and David Tennant met is above.
The Hub was one of the better episodes of Agents of SHIELD so far, but still remained weak. Last week Simmons was in danger but fans were disappointed to see her survive. Fitz came out looking much better in this week’s episode which was centered around placing him in danger. On the other hand, Simmons came out looking like an even weaker character than before, if that was possible. Once again we were teased with the possibility of being rid of her. One would think that Simmons would be history after shooting a superior officer, but nothing really happened. They advanced the mystery of the season about Coulson returning after being killed when Coulson found that the file about his time in “Magical Tahiti” is being kept from him. Speculation ranges from there really being magic involved to Coulson being a robot. More credence was given to the robot theory when Sky said during the episode that “He’s acting like a robot version of himself right now.” Considering the weak level of writing in this series, that might be intended to foreshadow the end result.
While this episode involved Russia and Georgia, Arrow (the far better of the two superhero series) also had its characters travel to Russia. Summer Glau’s character was a little less robotic as she wound up going to bed with Oliver in a scene which was primarily designed to frustrate the fans who have been rooting for Felicity and Oliver to get together since last season. (Yes, while this is a fun genre show, it is also a CW show.)
We have to wait until January 2, but a lot of photos from Community have been posted on line. In the picture above, Jonathan Banks of Breaking Bad appears as Professor Nichols. We don’t know the circumstances or his position (student or faculty), but Jeff is definitely back at Greendale Community College.
CBS is going ahead with a sequel to How I Met Your Mother entitled How I Met Your Father which will presumably be the same format from a woman’s point of view. I am glad that Carter Bays and Craig Thomas will be doing another sitcom but question whether network television can manage to be a little more original as opposed to doing the same thing over again. It was amusing when the original pilot, in which viewers expected to see how Ted met his wife, instead said it was how he met “Aunt Robin.” The actual answer as to how Ted met his wife took nine years and once seems to be enough to for that idea. At least the format is quite loose and does leave open the possibility of having unique aspects in the new show. There have been a lot of shows about a group of friends in New York since Friends left the air, and How I Met Your Mother was the best of them which I have seen.
What Culture! has five reasons that Big Bang Theory is good for nerds. This includes the many prominent guest stars, such as Stan Lee in the photo above.
Garry Trudeau’s political comedy Alpha House has been released on Amazon video. Review at The New York Times.
They can’t kill The Killing. Itwill receive a fourth season, this time on Netflix.
Almost Human premiers on Fox tonight. Trailer above.
“Is it possible that America may be coming to its senses a little? That may be the message from these elections we had on Tuesday because Chris Christie, the big winner, is from the not-nuthouse wing of the party – you know, he’s an indoor Republican. And the two bats**t Tea Party people lost pretty bad. In Virginia, their candidate for governor, Ken Cuccinelli went down, which is ironic because he was trying to make oral sex illegal. I’m not making that up. He wanted to make abortion impossible, ban gay marriage, and reinstate the sodomy laws against oral and anal sex. Why? Because it’s a Republicans’ job to get government out of our lives.” –Bill Maher
“Outlaw sodomy? Does this guy realize that for most people under 30, sodomy is the main form of birth control. What a platform. He wanted to outlaw blow jobs, and he lost single women in the state by 43 points. But listen to this, he won married women by 9. That’s all I need to know about marriage.” –Bill Maher
“In Alabama, the Tea Party candidate named Dean Young, who wanted to impeach Obama and compared gay people to animals, he lost to a potty-trained Republican. Boy, that is something for your resume – Dean Young: too ignorant for Alabama.” –Bill Maher
Republicans have been successful in creating hysteria over the cancellation of many previous health care plans. While very few people are impacted negatively, conservatives are creating visions of millions of people losing their health care coverage. The are intentionally confusing the need to change policies, often resulting in better coverage at a lower price, with loss of health care coverage. In response to the exaggerated coverage of this problem, Barack Obama released a fix yesterday. The Republicans, with some nervous Democratic support, passed their own measure today.
There is a key difference between Obama’s response and the Republican alternative. Obama’s fix is to allow people to remain in their current plans for one year, while still encouraging people to move to the plans available in the exchanges by requiring insurance companies which sell old plans to inform consumers about how their plan differs from the new plans. Hopefully people will check this out and generally find that they are getting a better deal through the exchanges, especially if they qualify for subsidies.
The Republican plan not only allows people to keep their current plans, but allows others to purchase these plans. In some cases this might be okay. The problem is that a tremendous number of policies sold in the individual market provide terrible coverage. Many only provide limited coverage, or leave out essential benefits such as hospitalizations, still leaving subscribers at risk of bankruptcy. The worst of these will dump people from the plans should they develop medical problems leading them to use the policy. Needless to say, many of the old plans could be offered at a much lower rate than true, comprehensive insurance which will continue to pay when there are medical problems.
It is true that many affluent individuals who do not qualify for subsidies will pay more for coverage. Personally I found that policies offered on the exchange do cost more than my current policy. However the plans cover things which my current plan does not such as office calls and prescription drugs. Such benefits weren’t even available locally on the individual market when I obtained my current insurance. The new policies also offer a huge benefit not available in past plans–a guarantee that they cannot be cancelled due to developing costly medical problems in the future.
In any system there will be relative winners and losers, and Obama was wrong in downplaying this fact while selling his health care plan (even if Republicans have been far more dishonest in the healthcare debate). It is estimated that about three percent of us will wind up paying more for our health care coverage. Josh Marshall quoted one “loser” who correctly pointed out that those of us who will have to pay more are hardly losers. Here is an excerpt but it is worth reading the full post:
It takes a remarkable degree of self-absorption and sense of self-entitlement to be healthy, young(ish) and affluent—and yet consider oneself a “loser.” It’s a label I reject out of shame (no matter how much the lazy, superficial MSM want to fixate on me and my “plight”) NOT because there’s anything shameful about being a loser; the shame is in thinking oneself a loser when one is actually fortunate
I live in Louisiana where 400,000 working poor people will continue to go without health care because one man, Gov. Bobby Jindal, decided letting them have Medicaid wouldn’t be good for his future ambitions. Those 400,000 are the losers. And while my healthcare.gov application has been stuck for a month now at the “View Eligibility Results” stage, where instead of my results I see a blank screen when I click the button, I know I will get better health insurance than the bare-bones individual policy I have now, even if I end up having to pick up the phone, or heaven forbid, send in paper. I will pay significantly more, but after years of being one serious illness from financial ruin, I will finally have security. And not only that; every time I pay my new premium, I am paying into a system that makes it possible for my fellow Americans who have not been as lucky as me—people who really have been losers pre-ACA—to finally get affordable health care.
I certainly don’t consider myself a loser in this deal either, despite having to pay more for insurance. The Affordable Care Act was not written to necessarily save affluent Americans money on insurance premiums–but it may wind up doing so in the long run if cost containment measures are successful. While insurance premiums might be higher, the important consideration is to make sure that everyone can obtain insurance which they can afford regardless of medical problems. In the past bankruptcy due to medical problems occurred even among those who had insurance at the onset of a serious medical problem. This will not continue to occur under Obamacare, which is far more significant than whether a handful of us have to pay higher insurance premiums.
For those who are concerned about the cost of plans in the exchange, I have a couple of suggestions which were previously considered but blocked by the most conservative Democrats in the Senate–the public option and a buy in for Medicare. If cost is really the greatest concern, then the most cost effective fix would be a single payer plan. Short of such changes, the most important fix will be to get the exchanges working so that more people will see their true options as opposed to listening to the Republican scare stories and lies.