The Past Week In Conservative Stupidity

Over a year ago Bobby Jindal warned that Republicans “must stop being the stupid party.” They have not been doing particularly well at following his advice. To extrapolate this to the conservative movement, this week provided two more examples of what can only be labeled as stupidity dominating conservative conversation–the intentional misinterpretation of the Congressional Budget Office report on the Affordable Care Act and reaction to Olympic coverage from Russia.

This is not to say that all conservatives believe these things or are stupid. However, the prevalence of stupidity does seem to have increased tremendously in the conservative movement and Republican Party in recent years. Even ignoring the easy targets such as Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, the caliber of conservative discourse generally seen today is far different from what came from past conservatives such as William F. Buckely, Jr., who also fought to keep the Birchers and other predecessors of today’s Tea Party out of the GOP. Barry Goldwater might have many views which liberals find objectionable, but he also warned about what would happen if the religious right took control of the Republican Party. Even Ronald Reagan was not so foolish as to oppose any tax increase or to prevent increases in the debt ceiling to allow the Unites States to honor its debts.

It is understandable that some conservatives might have been misled by the initial headlines on the report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. Many journalists, overly influenced by conservative arguments and lacking adequate understanding of health care policy, initially were inaccurate in their coverage. Once the report was more fully evaluated, it was clear that the CBO report actually showed that there is no evidence of an increase in unemployment due to the Affordable Care Act as Republicans had been predicting would occur.  Instead the portions of the report on employment showed that Obamacare was projected to be successful in one of its goals--saving people from the “insurance trap.”

Until the Affordable Care Act came into effect many people continued in jobs they did not want because they would be unable to obtain health insurance if they left their current job. Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance is no longer tied to employment. Now people are free to retire at an earlier age if they desire, instead of waiting until age 65 when they qualify for Medicare. They are also free to leave large corporations to work for small businesses, or perhaps even start a business of their own. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation wrote about projections for an increase in entrepreneurship and self-employment last May. The CBO report confirms that they were correct. This can help boost the economy.

While an initial mistake regarding this might have been unintentional, there has subsequently been many corrections. Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post,  corrected errors in reporting in writing, “No, CBO did not say Obamacare will kill 2 million jobs”.  Kessler concluded with saying, “we award Three Pinocchios to anyone who deliberately gets this wrong.” Factcheck.org also corrected the misconceptions.

As some people leave jobs they no longer want or need, their jobs can open up for others. In testimony before the House Budget Committee, CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf confirmed that the CBO report suggests the Affordable Care Act will reduce unemployment. Even Paul Ryan corrected fellow Republicans on this point. Besides reducing unemployment, the CBO report showed that, while Republicans had been demanding an end to the risk corridors in order to agree to an increase in the debt limit, the risk corridors actually wind up saving the government eight billion dollars. The CBO projects a deficit of $514 billion in 2014, representing three percent of the Gross Domestic Product. This is down from 2009 when deficit was at 10.1 percent of GDP, and more in line with the average size of the deficit compared to GDP over the past forty years.

Conservatives are rarely willing to give up on their criticism of the Affordable Care Act even when contradicted by the facts. They continue to repeat fallacious arguments about death panels or their false claim that Obamacare constitutes a government takeover of health care. Finding that those who received cancellation notices from insurance companies generally received better coverage at a lower price under the Affordable Care Act did not end their claims of people supposedly losing their insurance under Obamacare.

Conservatives remain unwilling to give up the argument about people leaving their jobs, spinning it to suggest that the Affordable Care Act encourages people to be lazy parasites on society instead of working, ignoring the actual types of people this is likely to affect. Conservatives have been presenting “horror stories” of people allegedly harmed by the Affordable Care Act which typically turn out to be untrue once the details are examined. Finally we are seeing newspaper reports emphasizing the positive aspect of freeing people from the “insurance trap.”

While conservative columnists such as Ross Douthat fear that Obamacare will lead to a “strong work disincentive while looking at a population of childless, able-bodied, mostly working-class adults,” these are not the type of people I am seeing as benefiting by freedom from the “insurance trap.” If the health care debate is turning into one of anecdotal cases, I’m thinking of an affluent friend who, because of health history, cannot obtain insurance on the individual market so his wife has been working full time in a job purely for the health insurance, even though they have no need for the income beyond the benefits. I have a patient who was left without insurance when her husband retired in his early sixties and then struggled to pay her medical bills. As of January she finally has comprehensive coverage she can afford. These are the types of people who are benefiting from the supposed disincentive to work under Obamacare.

In theory there is a risk that “able-bodied, mostly working-class adults” might have less incentive to work, but I hardly think that providing affordable health care is enough to do this on a widespread level. Far more able-bodied adults are not working because jobs are not available. Besides making more jobs available, the Affordable Care Act can help relieve this problem in another way. In addition to freeing people to retire in their early sixties or leave jobs held solely for the insurance, people will be able to start small businesses without losing health insurance. In Republican-speak, this should also be beneficial to the economy due to making more “job creators.” The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation wrote about projections for an increase in entrepreneurship and self-employment last May. The CBO report confirms that they were correct, and to a greater degree than previously projected.

Conservatives were wrong about this argument, and now appear stupid, and dishonest, when they continue to repeat the same mistakes. I spent more space on this first example than intended, but in retrospect this is an important point which deserves repeated explanations as long as conservatives are claiming that this positive aspect of the Affordable Care Act is somehow undesirable.

The second example is bizarre outrage from the right wing over the video below which comes from NBC’s coverage of the Olympic games:

Their objection is to this line: “The empire that ascended to affirm a colossal footprint; the revolution that birthed one of modern history’s pivotal experiments.”

This is being spun by right wing bloggers as praise for Communism, including by FoxMarco Rubio, along with other conservatives commenting, does not appear to understand what pivotal means. The word refers to points which are critical or vitally important. The Russian Revolution was a pivotal point in their history, along with the history of the world. Similarly, Hitler’s rise to power was a pivotal moment. Both 9/11 and Katrina were pivotal moments during the Bush years.  The computer problems during the first month of the exchanges has unfortunately become a pivotal moment for the Obama administration. The word pivotal says nothing about whether the events were good or bad.

This was one line in a video narrated by Peter Dinklage as introduction to NBC’s sports coverage of the Olympics. If this was a political documentary we would expect information on the horrors of communism. This is unnecessary, and probably out of place, in sports coverage, especially if they desire to be polite and avoid criticism of the host country over a political system which has been overthrown (even if the current regime is repeating many of the same mistakes as under Communism).

I suspect this is outrage is partially motivated by the desire of conservatives to falsely paint liberals as socialists or Communists, such as with the absurd claims that a moderate such as Barack Obama is a socialist. To the conservative mind, the mainstream media represents liberals, especially when they fail to differentiate the evening commentary shows on MSNBC from the rest of NBC. There are rare examples, such as the absurd argument I noted a couple of weeks ago at Salon to nationalize the news media, but putting aside such outliers, there no meaningful interest in Marxist-style socialism or Communism on the left. In contrast, I would think that today’s Republicans would love modern Russia. Between its homophobia and substitution of a plutocracy for a working market economy, Russia has become an example of the end-result of the Republican platform.

Cross posted at The Moderate Voice

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Democratic Strategy For 2014: Get Out The Vote But Don’t Ignore The Message

This should be a bad year for Democrats if we go by historical trends. The party holding the presidency typically loses Congressional seats in their sixth year. It makes matters worse when their are economic problems, even if many people do realize that they are primarily due to a combination of problems created by the Bush administration and problems perpetuated by Republican actions to hinder economic recovery in Congress.

Making matters worse, the Democrats have to defend Senate seats in red states, including states where incumbent Democrats are not running for reelection. Democrats do worse in off year elections, when young voters and minorities are less likely to vote compared to presidential elections. Republicans also have a huge advantage in a system where small Republican states receive as many Senators as far larger Democratic states. Their advantage extends to the house. Between gerrymandering and the higher concentration of Democrats in cities. Republican will still control Congress unless Democrats receive about seven percent more votes.

On top of this, Republicans see voter suppression as a valid electoral strategy.

Democrats did much better in 2008 and 2012 than in 2010. They also expect to do much better in 2016, including picking up several Senate seats due to the playing field being reversed with Republicans being forced to defend Senate seats in blue states. The Democrats see the solution as making 2014 more like 2012. Their strategy:

The Democrats’ plan to hold on to their narrow Senate majority goes by the name “Bannock Street project.” It runs through 10 states, includes a $60 million investment and requires more than 4,000 paid staff members. And the effort will need all of that — and perhaps more — to achieve its goal, which is nothing short of changing the character of the electorate in a midterm cycle.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is preparing its largest and most data-driven ground game yet, relying on an aggressive combination of voter registration, get-out-the-vote and persuasion efforts.

They hope to make the 2014 midterm election more closely resemble a presidential election year, when more traditional Democratic constituencies — single women, minorities and young voters — turn out to vote in higher numbers, said Guy Cecil, the committee’s executive director.

A campaign based upon getting out the vote isn’t terribly exciting, but it is a realization that this is how elections are won in this polarized era. There aren’t very many swing voters, but there can be huge differences between which party does better in getting their supporters out to vote.

Besides, a high tech get out the vote campaign and an old fashioned campaign to try to sway voters are not mutually exclusive. I do hope that the Democrats also think about better ways to get out their message as the Republicans often win by doing a better job here. Sure the Republican message is pure lies, claiming to be the party of small government while supporting increased government intrusion in the lives of individuals, and primarily using big government to redistribute wealth to the top one tenth of one percent.

Democrats need a coherent message, but they often fail because they are afraid of alienating some voters by saying what they believe in. I suspect that this cowardice turns off even more voters, along with reducing the motivation of their supporters to turn out. Once again, a campaign based upon promoting ideas and one based upon voter turnout are not mutually exclusive. They can be complimentary.

Rather than shying away from social issues, Democrats need to campaign as the party which supports keeping government out of our personal lives and out of the bedroom.

Rather than running away from the Affordable Car e Act, Democrats need to stress its benefits. Beyond all the millions who are assisted by the ability to obtain affordable health coverage, there are the two million people who are freed from the “insurance trap” which forces them to work in jobs they do not otherwise want or need in order to obtain health insurance. As the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has shown, the Affordable Care Act will help reduce unemployment, decease the deficit, and strengthen the economy. Besides, we saw what happened to the Democrats when they tried running away from Obamacare in 2010.

In recent years Democrats have taken national security away from Republicans as an issue. If the Republicans want to run on their debunked conspiracy theories about Benghazi, it might be time for Democrats to remind voters of the very real failings of Republicans on 9/11, from ignoring warnings before the attack to invading the wrong country in retaliation. We saw how that turned out. It is also time for Democrats to take additional issues from the Republicans.

Challenge voters who support Republicans based upon misinformation. If they are concerned about the deficit, point out how much the deficit has dropped under Obama (as it previously dropped under Bill Clinton). Repeatedly we see polls in which voters support liberal positions but identify themselves as conservatives. They say the oppose Obamacare but also support most of the individual components of the Affordable Care Act. The only way to fight the misinformation spread by Fox is for Democrats to clearly say what they believe in and defend their positions.

Democrats are planning to run on income inequality. That is fine, but they better make sure that they make it clear that the reason is that the extreme concentration of wealth in the hands of the top one tenth of one percent is a major cause of crippling the economy and keeping down the middle class. Failure to make this connection just plays into Republican memes.

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Wingnuts Say The Darndest Things: Michele Bachmann on 9/11 Pray

“It’s no secret that our nation may very well be experiencing the hand of judgment. It’s no secret that we all are concerned that our nation may be in a time of decline. If that is in fact so, what is the answer? The answer is what we are doing here today: humbling ourselves before an almighty God, crying out to an almighty God, saying not of ourselves but you, would you save us oh God? We repent of our sins, we turn away from them, we seek you, we seek your ways. That’s something that we’re doing today, that we did on the National Day of Prayer, it’s something that we have chosen to do as well on another landmark day later this year on September 11. Our nation has seen judgment not once but twice on September 11. That’s why we’re going to have ‘9/11 Pray’ on that day. Is there anything better that we can do on that day rather than to humble ourselves and to pray to an almighty God?” –Michele Bachmann

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Bipartisan Report On Torture After 9/11

In case anyone still had any doubt that George Bush and Dick Cheney should be tried as war criminals, a bipartisan report confirms the long-standing criticism of torture being used under them:

A nonpartisan, independent review of interrogation and detention programs in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks concludes that “it is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture” and that the nation’s highest officials bore ultimate responsibility for it.

The sweeping, 577-page report says that while brutality has occurred in every American war, there never before had been “the kind of considered and detailed discussions that occurred after 9/11 directly involving a president and his top advisers on the wisdom, propriety and legality of inflicting pain and torment on some detainees in our custody.” The study, by an 11-member panel convened by the Constitution Project, a legal research and advocacy group, is to be released on Tuesday morning.

Debate over the coercive interrogation methods used by the administration of President George W. Bush has often broken down on largely partisan lines. The Constitution Project’s task force on detainee treatment, led by two former members of Congress with experience in the executive branch — a Republican, Asa Hutchinson, and a Democrat, James R. Jones — seeks to produce a stronger national consensus on the torture question.

While the task force did not have access to classified records, it is the most ambitious independent attempt to date to assess the detention and interrogation programs. A separate 6,000-page report on the Central Intelligence Agency’s record by the Senate Intelligence Committee, based exclusively on agency records, rather than interviews, remains classified.

“As long as the debate continues, so too does the possibility that the United States could again engage in torture,” the report says.

The use of torture, the report concludes, has “no justification” and “damaged the standing of our nation, reduced our capacity to convey moral censure when necessary and potentially increased the danger to U.S. military personnel taken captive.” The task force found “no firm or persuasive evidence” that these interrogation methods produced valuable information that could not have been obtained by other means. While “a person subjected to torture might well divulge useful information,” much of the information obtained by force was not reliable, the report says.

Interrogation and abuse at the C.I.A.’s so-called black sites, the Guantánamo Bay prison in Cuba and war-zone detention centers, have been described in considerable detail by the news media and in declassified documents, though the Constitution Project report adds many new details.

It confirms a report by Human Rights Watch that one or more Libyan militants were waterboarded by the C.I.A., challenging the agency’s longtime assertion that only three Al Qaeda prisoners were subjected to the near-drowning technique. It includes a detailed account by Albert J. Shimkus Jr., then a Navy captain who ran a hospital for detainees at the Guantánamo Bay prison, of his own disillusionment when he discovered what he considered to be the unethical mistreatment of prisoners.

But the report’s main significance may be its attempt to assess what the United States government did in the years after 2001 and how it should be judged. The C.I.A. not only waterboarded prisoners, but slammed them into walls, chained them in uncomfortable positions for hours, stripped them of clothing and kept them awake for days on end.

The question of whether those methods amounted to torture is a historically and legally momentous issue that has been debated for more than a decade inside and outside the government. The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel wrote a series of legal opinions from 2002 to 2005 concluding that the methods were not torture if used under strict rules; all the memos were later withdrawn. News organizations have wrestled with whether to label the brutal methods unequivocally as torture in the face of some government officials’ claims that they were not.

In addition, the United States is a signatory to the international Convention Against Torture, which requires the prompt investigation of allegations of torture and the compensation of its victims.

Like the still-secret Senate interrogation report, the Constitution Project study was initiated after President Obama decided in 2009 not to support a national commission to investigate the post-9/11 counterterrorism programs, as proposed by Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, and others. Mr. Obama said then that he wanted to “look forward, not backward.” Aides have said he feared that his own policy agenda might get sidetracked in a battle over his predecessor’s programs.

The panel studied the treatment of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, in Afghanistan and Iraq, and at the C.I.A’s secret prisons. Staff members, including the executive director, Neil A. Lewis, a former reporter for The New York Times, traveled to multiple detention sites and interviewed dozens of former American and foreign officials, as well as former detainees.

Mr. Hutchinson, who served in the Bush administration as chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration and under secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said he “took convincing” on the torture issue. But after the panel’s nearly two years of research, he said he had no doubts about what the United States did.

“This has not been an easy inquiry for me, because I know many of the players,” Mr. Hutchinson said in an interview. He said he thought everyone involved in decisions, from Mr. Bush down, had acted in good faith, in a desperate effort to try to prevent more attacks.

“But I just think we learn from history,” Mr. Hutchinson said. “It’s incredibly important to have an accurate account not just of what happened but of how decisions were made.”

He added, “The United States has a historic and unique character, and part of that character is that we do not torture.”

The panel found that the United States violated its international legal obligations by engineering “enforced disappearances” and secret detentions. It questions recidivism figures published by the Defense Intelligence Agency for Guantánamo detainees who have been released, saying they conflict with independent reviews.

Many on the right justified these actions belieing they were necessary for our national security. Therefore I will repeat the line above which points out:  The use of torture, the report concludes, has “no justification” and “damaged the standing of our nation, reduced our capacity to convey moral censure when necessary and potentially increased the danger to U.S. military personnel taken captive.” The task force found “no firm or persuasive evidence” that these interrogation methods produced valuable information that could not have been obtained by other means. While “a person subjected to torture might well divulge useful information,” much of the information obtained by force was not reliable, the report says.

 

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Polling Belief In Conspiracy Theories

Public Policy Polling found that a substantial number of Americans believe in some conspiracy theories, but fortunately not many believe that lizard people are secretly taking power. The most significant finding related to current public policy is that a large majority of Republicans believe global warming is a hoax. A significant number of Republicans still believe that Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 attacks. Here is a summary of their findings:

-          37% of voters believe global warming is a hoax, 51% do not. Republicans say global warming is a hoax by a 58-25 margin, Democrats disagree 11-77, and Independents are more split at  41-51. 61% of Romney voters believe global warming is a hoax

-          6% of voters believe Osama bin Laden is still alive

-          21% of voters say a UFO crashed in Roswell, NM in 1947 and the US government covered it up. More Romney voters (27%) than Obama voters (16%) believe in a UFO coverup

-          28% of voters believe secretive power elite with a globalist agenda is conspiring to eventually rule the world through an authoritarian world government, or New World Order.  A plurality of Romney voters (38%) believe in the New World Order compared to 35% who don’t

-          28% of voters believe Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 attacks.  36% of Romney voters believe Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11, 41% do not

-          20% of voters believe there is a link between childhood vaccines and autism, 51% do not

-          7% of voters think the moon landing was faked

-          13% of voters think Barack Obama is the anti-Christ, including 22% of Romney voters

-          Voters are split 44%-45% on whether Bush intentionally misled about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. 72% of Democrats think Bush lied about WMDs, Independents agree 48-45, just 13% of Republicans think so

-          29% of voters believe aliens exist

-          14% of voters say the CIA was instrumental in creating the crack cocaine epidemic in America’s inner cities in the 1980’s

-          9% of voters think the government adds fluoride to our water supply for sinister reasons (not just dental health)

-          4% of voters say they believe “lizard people” control our societies by gaining political power

-          51% of voters say a larger conspiracy was at work in the JFK assassination, just 25% say Oswald acted alone

-          14% of voters believe in Bigfoot

-          15% of voters say the government or the media adds mind-controlling technology to TV broadcast signals (the so-called Tinfoil Hat crowd)

-          5% believe exhaust seen in the sky behind airplanes is actually chemicals sprayed by the government for sinister reasons

-          15% of voters think the medical industry and the pharmaceutical industry “invent” new diseases to make money

-          Just 5% of voters believe that Paul McCartney actually died in 1966

-          11% of voters believe the US government allowed 9/11 to happen, 78% do not agree

Most of these beliefs are ridiculous, but a few do not really relate to conspiracy theories. Question 10 is “Do you believe aliens exist, or not?” The  question is regarding their existence (not whether they are visiting our planet) and, while we don’t know for certain, most likely there is life on some other planets, and therefore there aliens probably do exist.

Question 18 depends upon how it is interpreted: “Do you believe that the pharmaceutical  industry is in league with the medical industry
to ‘invent’ new diseases in order to make money, or not?” If you consider the marketing tactics used by drug companies. the National Institute of Health is promoting this “conspiracy theory.”

Question 9 is “Do you believe the Bush administration intentionally misled the public about the possibility of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to promote the Iraq War, or not?” The Bush administration was making statements which were blatantly untrue and which knowledgeable people at the time realized were false.  This leaves two possibilities. Either George Bush and people in his administration were utterly incompetent or they were lying. There is also good reason, based upon his actual statements and actions, that Bush had desired to invade Iraq even before 9/11, and used 9/11 as justification.  Granted there is no way to know for sure which is the explanation, but it is hardly believing in a conspiracy theory to believe that dishonesty is a more likely explanation for what occurred than the degree of incompetence necessary to rule out dishonesty. (This is not the same as believing that the Bush administration faked or was behind the 9/11 attack.)

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Late Night Comics On The Election Results

David Letterman:

“Well, it’s over, and as usual, the guy from Kenya won.”

“Obama won last night, and for the Democrats that’s great, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens in tonight’s debate.”

“It was a big night for the Democrats. Obama was on the electoral vote and the popular vote. Mitt Romney on the other side won the unpopular vote.”

“Some Republicans are taking it hard. Clint Eastwood spent the entire day buying drinks for an empty bar stool.”

“A victory like this is just the kind of thing that might sway the undecided voters.”

“The had a CBS exit poll last night. 100 percent of the people questioned in the exit poll said they were leaving.”

“Mitt waited until 1 a.m. to give his concession speech. They were talking to him and said what are you going to do now? And he said, ‘I plan to spend some time with my tax returns.’”

“Mitt Romney was very gracious in his remarks in his concession speech. Shortly after Mitt Romney conceded, Paul Ryan was untied and set free.”

Jay Leno:

“Exit polls show that President Obama did well with women, beating Romney by 11 binders.”

“Some more good news – the president announced today he is not going to raise taxes on the entire 1 percent, just Donald Trump.”

“Trump is not giving up. When it was announced that President Obama easily won the Electoral College, Trump demanded to see Obama’s Electoral College records.”

“Donald Trump is starting to lose it. At one point last night on Twitter, he called for revolution since Obama won. The man’s a billionaire who owns golf courses, okay. You don’t call for revolution. Billionaires are the first ones beheaded during a revolution.”

“This morning the stock met plunged over 300 points. You know why? Romney pulled his money out.”

Conan O’Brien:

“In his victory speech last night, President Obama told his daughters that they would not be getting another dog. When asked why, the president said, ‘Because I just made Mitt Romney my bitch.”

After 18 months, the election is over. You know what made a big difference last night? The Hispanic vote. The president got 70 percent of the Hispanic vote in Colorado and Nevada. And in New Hampshire, Obama got the support of both Latino guys.”

“Mitt Romney did well with certain voters. It was close. He had the support of men, people over 45, and married women. In other words, Mitt Romney had the support of Mitt and Ann Romney.”

Jimmy Kimmel:

“A lot of people said over the last few weeks that if Obama wins, they’re going to move to Canada. How come nobody threatens to move to Mexico? That must be depressing for them.”

“The presidential election is that special time every four years when Americans gather around their TVs to be reminded where the states are on a map.”

“Colorado and Washington have become the first states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. That’s a big deal because here in California, you can use marijuana legally only if you receive it for a fake medical condition.”

Jimmy Fallon:

“Today everyone was busy looking at all the different numbers, trying to figure out who voted for which candidate. President Obama beat Mitt Romney by 38 points among single women. They say it’s because of Obama’s final campaign slogan, ‘Hope and Pinot Grigio.’”

“There’s talk that ABC news anchor Diane Sawyer seemed drunk on the air last night. Sawyer was like, ‘Breaking news — we are now calling . . . my ex-boyfriend Nick to see what HE’S up to these days.’”

Jon Stewart:

For those who can’t watch video, Mediaite provides this description:

Stewart joked that Obama’s victory speech appeared to show that he was given “fresh batteries” for his second term, marveling at how all it took to get the president back in his “groove” was the mere thought of never having to run in another election ever again. Stewart brought up victories for gay marriage and marijuana proponents in a number of states, and said the undisputed “best news” of the night was that even though Florida is still too close to call, “the election was decided without them.”

“Florida’s clusterfuckery is irrelevant!” Stewart happily shouted.

He then turned to Fox News, which was “caught flat-footed” after months of brushing aside the polls and predicting that Mitt Romney would win. And that’s when Stewart got around to the amazing, insane moment of panic on the network that Stewart said, unlike all of humanity, “will… live forever.”

Stewart was amazed that Rove’s insistent denials that Ohio was really a lock for Obama got Megyn Kelly to suggest that Rove was either lying to himself or to the audience in doing his own math. And Stewart actually managed to come up with an alternate slogan to Fox’s “Fair and Balanced”: “Math you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better.”

But of course, Stewart then tracked Kelly’s “voyage” through the halls of Fox News to find out the truth of what really happened in Ohio, going so far as to confront the people at Fox News’ very own election desk. As Stewart phrased it, “there was an avalanche on Bullshit Mountain.”

Stewart ended by tearing into the Fox News personalities who were amazed at how many Americans voted for Obama because they want more entitlements. He mocked them for thinking that they would have won if not for minorities taking the country away from older white people (a.k.a. Fox’s audience).

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No Surprise: Ron Paul Super PAC Run By Truther

Least surprising news I’ve heard today: Super PAC supporting conspiracy theorist Ron Paul is operated by a Truther. (I’m even more concerned about the amount of support Paul gets from neo-Nazis and white supremacists who understand the most likely result of  implementing Paul’s views.)

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Joe Biden: Osama bin Laden Is Dead and General Motors Is Alive

When I first heard Joe Biden use his quick pitch for the Democrats last week I was impressed that he could be so succinct: “Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.” Steve Benen linked to a video of Biden saying this above. He also pointed out the significance of the use of this brief elevator pitch:

Democrats have traditionally struggled to craft compelling “elevator pitches” when it comes to their policies, records, and visions. But Biden’s 10-word pitch, a blunt instrument as political rhetoric goes, at least has the benefit of summarizing the points Obama for America hopes to stress: the president and his administration turned the economy around at home, and has scored high-profile national security successes abroad.

It’s seems likely the Democratic campaign will face considerable pushback if officials keep using this pitch out loud — the politicization of the bin Laden strike may prove tricky — but the fact that the likely Republican nominee opposed the policy that got the al Qaeda leader, and was inclined to “let Detroit go bankrupt,” the health of GM and demise of bin Laden at a minimum sets up the contrast the White House wants to see.

In an election year it is more important to contrast Obama’s achievements with his likely opponent, but I also cannot help but contrast this with George Bush’s record. While GM’s problems went beyond those of the economy as a whole, it was Bush who brought us to the brink of a depression. Obama’s policies prevented a depression, while Republicans would return to the same policies which got us into this economic mess. Obama is destroying al Qaeda, while Bush’s policies acted to strengthen it and placed the United States in greater danger. It was also the failure of George Bush to follow the recommendations passed on by the Clinton administration, and his failure to respond to CIA warnings of an imminent threat, which allowed the 9/11 attack to be a success.

There are a number of things which I wish Obama would do differently, but on the major issues of the day there is a clear difference between what Obama has accomplished and what the Republicans would do. There is no problem with Obama which would be improved upon by having a Republican in the White House.

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SciFi Weekend: Matt Smith and Karen Gillan win National Television Awards; Fifty Years of Doctor Who in Ten Minutes; Eve Myles On The Future of Torchwood; Captain Jack and Captain Kirk; J.J. Abrams–Star Trek, Person of Interest, and Alcatraz; Big Bang Theory and Doctor Who

It was a good night for Doctor Who at the National Television Awards, despite losing to Downton Abbey as best drama. Matt Smith won the award for best actor and Karen Gillan won for best actress.  Merlin was also a contender for Best Drama.

David Tennant has also won as best actor at the inaugural BBC Audio Drama Awards. He won for his role as Kafka in Kafka: The Musical.

Does reading about awards for the last two Doctors make you nostalgic for their episodes, as well as all the episodes before them? The above video shows almost fifty years of Doctor Who in less than ten minutes.

Matt Smith and Karen Gillan beat nominees from Torchwood, John Barrowman and Eve Myles, in their respective categories in the National Television Awards. Cultbox interviewed Eve Myles about the future of Torchwood and the upcoming 50th anniversary of Doctor Who:

What’s the latest you’ve heard on the future of Torchwood?

“As far as I know at the moment, everything’s still very much on hold. Russell [T Davies] has things happening in his personal life.

“John [Barrowman] is very much on the same page as me, in that if and when they need us, they can just pick the phone up and we will be there before they’ve even put the phone down, because it’s something we love doing.

“Nothing’s going to happen in 2012, I know that much for sure. But who knows what will happen in 2013. Maybe a movie, to kinda draw a line under it.

“That’s the thing about Torchwood, every series we’ve changed our format. We’ve always had a gap in between, so fingers crossed, because we’ve got such an outstanding loyal fan base. They deserve Torchwood to go ahead with something else to draw a line under it, for the fans to have a bit of closure.

With the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who coming up next year, would you be up for returning as Gwen for that?

“Um, I said something at one of these conventions and the press kinda jumped on it: “EVE MYLES THINKS BEING INVOLVED IN THE 50TH ANNINVERSARY OF DOCTOR WHO IS INAPPROPRIATE.”

“Now, this has come across wrong and I want to get this out that I didn’t mean it like that! What I meant was that the direction we were taking with Torchwood was very violent kind of storylines. The characters were going through certain narratives that are pretty hefty and adult. What I meant was that it’s difficult for a character to do those kind of scenes then do Doctor Who, which my niece and my nephews watch. And I would never let them watch Torchwood!

“It’s a difficult crossover. It works with Captain Jack because John does it beautifully. If I was asked it would be an absolute honour to be involved with something as huge as Doctor Who again.

“We were born from Doctor Who and we will be eternally grateful to the mothership. And I always say that and that never gets printed! If I was involved, I’m sure it’d be a wonderful thing but there’s been no phone call or no talk about it so I doubt very much that I will be involved, but I’d be honoured.”

Topless Robot helped me transition from Torchwood to Star Trek by digging up the above video of John Barrowman interviewing William Shatner (Captain Jack and Captain Kirk) from 1994 about Star Trek: Generations.

Zoe Saldana has provided a hint as to what happens with her character in J.J. Abram’s second Star Trek movie in an interview with New York Magazine:

Might we see some more “close encounters” between you and Zachary Quinto in this movie?
If I’m elusive, will that spoil it for you?
You mean you can’t say anything, and that in itself might be indicating something?
I just don’t want to spoil it for you. All I’m going to say is, if you put all the time and energy and wit into setting these two characters together in the first movie and didn’t follow through, it would be a shame.

Got it.
I hope I didn’t say too much!

I don’t think you did.
I feel like J.J. is going to pop up out of the corner and say, “Come with me, Zoe.”

J.J. Abrams also has two new genre television shows this season, Person of Interest and Alcatraz. Individual episodes of each give the impression of being essentially police procedural shows with a twist, and the question in my mind is whether there will be enough back story of interest to make them worth watching. I almost gave up on Fringe during its first season, seeing it as largely a monster of the week version of X-Files, but by the second season there was a tremendous pay off for sticking with the show. Therefore I paln to keep watching these two new Abrams shows.

There are hints that a story is developing beyond the weekly procedurals on Person of Interest. We have already seen a major change in Detective Carter. I am curious to see what develops now that  Reese is having Finch followed.  Meanwhile, Jonathan Nolan warns, “None of these characters are safe. You always have to be willing to [kill off characters]. Nothing is given.” I doubt that they would kill off Reese or Finch, but Carter and Fusco are definitely expendable.

Alcatraz combines a weekly police procedural with hunting down escaped prisoners from Alcatraz along with a continuing story about how they managed to be transported to the present. So far we’ve seen three stories (with two separate episodes being aired the first week). I got hooked with the second episode, which showed Lucy both in the past and present. It was not only the prisoners who disappeared from Alcatraz.

Perhaps because of being produced by Warner Brothers, The Big Bang Theory tends to concentrate heavily on DC comic characters. One rare past reference to Doctor Who which I can recall was from last year’s New Year’s Eve party when Stuart wore a Tom Baker costume at a party at his comic book store. Meanwhile, most of the characters came not as X-Men or Avengers but members of the Justice League of America:

Two years ago, Sheldon did combine watching Doctor Who with his fixation on his place on the couch:

On the other hand, last year Craig Ferguson teased Jim Parsons for being nothing like his character due to not watching Doctor Who.

This week’s episode of Big Bang Theory shows that Sheldon is no longer alone in watching Doctor Who every week:

The Big Bang Theory still remains far beyond Community in references to Doctor Who with their ongoing invention of episodes of Inspector Spacetime.

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Interview with Karen Gillan; Torchwood: Once Upon A Time; Fringe

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3s4Czla6tXc&feature=player_embedded

The above video was recently posted featuring the cast and crew of Doctor Who from a video played at the wrap party at the end of the David Tennant era.

Above is the audio of an interview with Karen Gillan from Graham Norton’s Radio 2 show. Here’s some highlights:

Karen Gillan has said she will welcome the next Doctor Who companion “with open arms” when her time is up on the show.

Speaking on Graham Norton’s Radio 2 show yesterday, she said: “I know the time is going to come when Rory and Amy have to leave. It’s inevitable and that will make me really, really sad. But that’s the nature of the show and what’s so good about it. What keeps it exciting is the fact that it’s reinvented all the time with new people. I think that’s a really great part of the show, so I will welcome the new companion with open arms.

“I don’t know what type of companion [the Doctor] would have next.”

Gillan also said her future was still “up in the air,” adding “I know that I’m going to be coming back, but I’m not sure when.”

Mark Sheppard hints that Canton Delaware might return to Doctor Who:

Speaking in an interview with Stuff, Sheppard reflected on his involvement on Series 6 and teased “To emerge that Canton is in fact one of the friends that the Doctor deemed should be present at his death eludes to perhaps some further involvement…”

An interview with the cast of Torchwood: Miracle Day from London Comic Con/Memorabilia MCM Expo in the video above.

Kristen Bauer, who plays Pam on True Blood, will be playing Malificent on Once Upon A Time. A couple questions from a recent interview:

What can you tell us about Maleficent’s relationship with Lana Parrilla’s Evil Queen?
The most interesting thing about their relationship is that the writers decided to make them frenemies. It’s just a minefield of evil goodness. It was me, Lana Parrilla and a green screen and we just had so much fun. Two chicks who are loving playing bitches, who liked each other and went, let’s just play chess. The great thing about playing with another person who is a good player is that you don’t always have to play the obvious and hopefully, what we did is put in different colors that show a history. These two chicks have known each other a long time and they’ve been coveting each other, helping each other and probably backstabbing each other quite often. We tried to get all that in there and we’ll see on Sunday if we succeeded.

How would you compare Maleficent to your other current role, that of Pam on TRUE BLOOD?
I’m not exactly sure yet. But so far there are a couple of difference in how I played it. Pam is very sarcastic and what you see is what you get. Pam to me is one of the only people who always tells the truth at this point, doesn’t suffer fools and doesn’t worry about being liked at all. When we get into the fairytale world with Maleficent it feels like we could have a bit more game playing and a bit more things are not as they appear.

More on the back story and sneak peaks about Once Upon A Time can be found here.

Fringe was preempted by some baseball game on Friday. They commented on this in the video above.

And, finally, here is a Happy Halloween card for our readers:

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