Democrats far too often move to the center and avoid matters of principle, possibly out of fear of losing votes. I’ve often thought that their compromising has been counterproductive. With the failure of Democrats to stand up for liberal principles, Republicans are allowed to promote their views without challenge. Democrats might increase their support if they made a stronger case for what they believe. It appears that Obama’s statement of support for gay marriage has changed some opinions according to a Washington0Post-ABC News poll:
Overall, 53 percent of Americans say gay marriage should be legal, hitting a high mark in support while showing a dramatic turnaround from just six years ago, when just 36 percent thought it should be legal. Thirty-nine percent, a new low, say gay marriage should be illegal…
The poll comes two weeks after Obama unexpectedly endorsed same-sex marriage after a year and a half of “evolving” on the subject. Gay rights groups predicted the president’s announcement would have a far-reaching impact on public opinion, in part because Obama described how he came to his own decision, referring to his gay friends and the influence of his young daughters, Sasha and Malia.
While greater public support for same-sex marriage is good news, there is also potentially bad news on social issues in today’s polls. Gallup found that the number of Americans who call themselves pro-choice is at a record low at 41 percent, with 50 percent calling themselves pro-life. Looking at the full poll, the meaning of this is questionable. It might partially be a matter of labels. A majority still believe that abortion should be legal under some circumstances and only 20 percent agree with the Republican line that it should never be legal. I also question how much support there would be for laws which subject either women seeking an abortion or doctors providing abortions to criminal charges.
Back in 2004 Republicans used opposition to same sex marriage to increase turn out among conservatives. A Pew Research Center survey shows that attitudes have changed over the last eight years:
47% favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally, while 43% are opposed. In 2008, 39% favored and 51% opposed gay marriage, based on an average of polls conducted that year. In 2004, just 31% supported gay marriage, while nearly twice as many (60%) were opposed.
There is also majority support for keeping abortion legal: “53% of Americans say that abortion should be legal in all (23%) or most cases (31%); 39% say that abortion should be illegal in all (16%) or most cases (23%).”
Needless to say, it is Republicans who take the big-government position here, believing that it is the proper role of government to tell people who they can marry and to deny women control over their own bodies. The survey found that 68 percent of Republicans still oppose same-sex marriage and 40 percent do so strongly. One good sign is that fewer Republicans oppose it than in 2004.
The survey also looked at guns:
Currently, 49% of Americans say it is more important to protect the rights of Americans to own guns, while 45% say it is more important to control gun ownership. Opinion has been divided since early 2009, shortly after Barack Obama’s election. From 1993 through 2008, majorities had said it was more important to control gun ownership than to protect gun rights.
While Republicans have tried to scare people by claiming that Democrats would take away their guns and Bibles, there are very few Democrats who are pushing for controlling gun ownership these days, with the 2004 Democratic platform including a statement of support for the Second Amendment.
The Republicans are down to the final four, but it is possible none of them can win. After losing in South Carolina, Romney is now trailing in Florida in severalpolls. Romney is helped by the fact early voters made up thirty percent of the vote before the South Carolina primary. As many of these votes were cast during the week leading up to the South Carolina primary when Gingrich was surging, Romney did not necessarily do all that well even in that vote.
After the South Carolina primary I heard a number of predictions that Romney would still win, citing past primary battles where conservatives opposed a front runner who ultimately prevailed. This year might be different. Between the liberal social issues he supported in the past, his promotion of a health care plan similar to Obama’s, and his rejection of Reagan when he was in office, there is plenty for Republicans to never forgive. Romney’s religion further reduces his ability to win in a party where bigotry is common.
On top of these problems, Romney has now lost his two major selling points–inevitability and electability. Losing in Florida would put an end to any claims of inevitability. The attacks on his years at Bain Capital and his mishandling of the calls to release his income tax returns cast serious doubts as to whether Romney is competitive in a national election. His offers to release a single return from 2010 only raises further questions as to what he has to hide. His tax shelters in the Cayman Islands and speculation that many years he paid far closer to zero percent than the fifteen percent he claims, make him a weak candidate in a year in which many voters from both parties are fed up with Wall Street. It also doesn’t make it easy for Romney to run against Obama after his repeated admissions that the economy is getting better under Obama, even if he tries to deny Obama the credit.
Newt Gingrich did well in South Carolina, but his victory speech showed what a weak candidate he would make once his claims are challenged. His attacks on the elites raise the question as to who is an elite if Newt Gingrich isn’t. I would love to see some reporters challenge Gingrich to name exactly what Obama has done which is so radical. At least Gingrich has now added Saul Alinsky’s name to the list of items to use in Republican drinking games. Never mind that Obama was eleven when Alinsky died.
At the moment it looks like we have a two way race between Gingrich and Romney, but it is possible that Santorum might win over more of the conservative vote outside of the south. He might start receiving large contributions from the shirt-hanger manufacturers. There is a danger for Santorum that Gingrich will get so much momentum out of wins in South Carolina and Florida that Santorum will be forgotten. Still, if I was Santorum, I would stay in the race as it is possible that Gingrich could self-destruct at any time. Delegates might also be split four ways with Ron Paul also having a shot of picking up a handful, possibly preventing anyone from winning enough delegates to win before the convection. In such a case, I can easily see Santorum throwing his delegates (if he accumulates enough) to whichever candidate would add him to their ticket. It would be interesting to see if the Republicans could still maintain the myth that they are a party of small government with a Gingrich-Santorum ticket.
The Independent interviewed several stars of Torchwood: Miracle Day at the London MCM Expo. The interview included Eve Myles (Gwen Cooper), Kai Owen (Rhys Williams), Alexa Havins (Esther Drummond) and Arlene Tur (Dr. Vera Juarez). Here are some highlights:
Eve, do you miss doing the single episode stories?
EM: No, I don’t. We were fortunate from the second series to get, I think, 6,7,8 which was Burn Gorman’s story which was him being dead and broken and trying to live a real life. I found it fascinating that we were able to stretch a story over three episodes instead of it being a beginning, middle and end in 40 minutes. As an actor it gives you more and you can just invest more in it more and enjoy it more. I feel it’s more of an adult theme and that’s more where we want to be with ‘Torchwood’. Russell wanted ‘Miracle Day’ to be made from day one but never had the facilities and the amenities to make it.
KO: He always had that story in mind.
Which episodes stood out for you?
AT: I loved the first one, I watched it four times and my heart was always racing – and I knew what was going to happen.
KO: I thoroughly enjoyed this series more than most of the others ones in the past, really. I like the one where it went back in time.
AH: I did too.
KO: I really did like that episode an awful lot. And I thought 10, the climax was amazing. But episode 7, where Jack went back and met Angelo, I thought they really nailed it.
AH: They did a really great job with the period and everything.
Considering how ‘Torchwood’ kills off characters, have you ever felt safe?
KO: Me? Rhys is the most killable character of the whole lot! They don’t kill me because it works so well. Rhys is a very killable character. I’m constantly on edge going: ‘this is the end’.
EM: He was supposed to die in episode 6 of the first series and I knew that and I had a word with him and I said ‘you’re going to die, we’ve got to do something really special here and make this relationship work and make Gwen and Rhys real. Not for me. We need to make them real, we need to make them laugh and we need people to enjoy seeing them together and just enjoy their relationship and watch it.’
KO: And no one’s safe and I feel myself very, very blessed.
EM: I’m waiting for the chop.
AH: You know that when coming on, you know. But we’re in good company.
EM: That’s what happens in ‘Torchwood’, it’s a deadly organisation.
KO: I think the audience got the shock of its life when both Arlene and Alexa died. They just did phenomenal work on the whole series. My mates were stunned at what happened. The way Dr. Juarez went was just oh my god!
AT: That was just so fun to shoot though!
In 2013 ‘Doctor Who’ will be celebrating its 50th anniversary, will ‘Torchwood’ be playing a part in it?
EM: I wouldn’t have thought so. We have lots of adult themes running in ‘Torchwood’ and I think it would be inappropriate for us to have anything to do with ‘Doctor Who’ because it’s predominantly a family programme. I think that where ‘Torchwood’ is, it deals with darker subjects and I think inter-mixing them, if they want to do that, then fine but I can tell you that I’m not involved in it – they won’t give me guns or a bazooka.
What’s next for ‘Torchwood’?
KO: Who knows? It would be different. It might come back as a special.
EM: I think the next step would be a movie. We change every year. We have to change every year to keep it fresh and different and keep people interested because by the third, fourth, fifth series of ‘Lost’, ‘Sopranos’ however good they are, they’re extraordinary, but you know what you’re going to get. With ‘Torchwood’ we can live up to the name that you never know what you’re going to get.
KO: They can do whatever they want with the show.
As Captain Jack has already appeared on several episodes of Doctor Who I see no reason to have him, and possible Gwen, appear on the anniversary show. They could appear without bringing in the darker, or sexier, aspects of Torchwood which are inappropriate for Doctor Who. John Barrowman has already indicated his willingness to return to Doctor Who in the future.
BBC Worldwide has announced the first official Doctor Who convention since the return of the series in 2005:
BBC Worldwide have announced the first official Doctor Who convention to be staged since the series return in 2005. Billed as the “Ultimate Doctor Who Fan Event”, it will feature guests Matt Smith and Steven Moffat, plus many others from the cast and crew including Danny Hargreaves (special effects supervisor), Michael Pickwoad (production designer), Marcus Wilson (producer) and the team behind Millennium FX.
The convention will held twice, taking place at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff; 1500 tickets are to be made available for each of the days on the 24th and 25th March 2011:
The unique interactive programme will include theatre sessions and Q&As with cast and crew; behind the scenes sessions show-casing the script to screen process; discussions with episode directors and writers and demonstrations from Special FX and prosthetics experts that will illustrate the challenges and scale of their work on the world’s longest running sci-fi show. Autograph and photo opportunities will also be available with attending cast members and there will be official Doctor Who merchandise and collectables on sale.
Matt Smith commented on the announcement:
It’s brilliant that the first official convention is being held in Cardiff, the home of Doctor Who. I’m really looking forward to seeing the fans there, and remember – bow ties are cool!
Steven Moffat said:
A whole weekend dedicated to all things Doctor Who, brilliant! We’re going to be celebrating the whole team behind the show, people who bring to life the Doctor’s craziest adventures and letting fans into some of our trade secrets. If you want to get under the skin of Doctor Who this is an unmissable event!”
Terra Nova remains somewhere between serious science fiction and a family drama held in an exotic location. The special effects have been excellent. Here’s a brief video highlighting some of the effects from the first season:
Robert Hewitt Wolfe is developing a new show for SyFy. The premise: “After decades of war, the newly formed Unity Democracy orders a volatile mix of humans and trans-humans to lead the Starship Defender on an expedition in search of lost worlds requiring law and order.” It sounds a lot like Andromeda, which Wolfe had worked on. Hopefully in terms of quality the show is closer to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which Wolfe had also worked on.
Emilie de Ravin, who played Claire on Lost, will become Belle on Once Upon A Time. Reportedly she has some connection to Rumplestiltskin, who does seem to be at the center of things in both worlds. I wonder if both worlds will also have a version of the Beast.
The Fringe Division remains puzzled about Peter Bishop, but at least he has been moved from a cell to Walter’s house which had been sitting empty as the Walter in this timeline is afraid to leave his lab. There is still a guard stationed outside the door. Olivia has caught on that there was something going on between Peter and the Olivia of his timeline. So far Olivia’s desire is for Peter to be able to get back to her. Perhaps that will change over time as some of the interviews I’ve seen suggest that the show will continue in the current timeline for a long time. Above is an interview with Anna Torv.
Voters across the country rejected Republican views, hopefully foreshadowing the 2012 election results. This includes the defeat of an amendment on the Mississippi ballot to place the state in control of every woman’s uterus. If this measure couldn’t pass in Mississippi it is unlikely to pass anywhere, but I would love to see the Republicans try to nationalize this issue next year. The anti-union law in Ohio and the attempt to restrict voting in Maine were also defeated. A recall effort against a Republican state representative in Michigan was also successful, giving hope that Michigan will once again go blue. If only voters had paid more attention to what the Republicans stood for before voting for them in 2010.
While Mitt Romney, fighting for a Republican nomination whose winner will be chosen by some of the most reactionary and authoritarian voters in the country, has been trying hard to convince the religious right that he is with them on issues such as abortion. Romney wasn’t always this way. The Washington Post describes the Mitt Romney who was Governor of Massachusetts:
Mitt Romney was firm and direct with the abortion rights advocates sitting in his office nine years ago, assuring the group that if elected Massachusetts governor, he would protect the state’s abortion laws.Then, as the meeting drew to a close, the businessman offered an intriguing suggestion — that he would rise to national prominence in the Republican Party as a victor in a liberal state and could use his influence to soften the GOP’s hard-line opposition to abortion.
He would be a “good voice in the party” for their cause, and his moderation on the issue would be “widely written about,” he said, according to detailed notes taken by an officer of the group, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts.
“You need someone like me in Washington,” several participants recalled Romney saying that day in September 2002, an apparent reference to his future ambitions.
Romney made similar assurances to activists for gay rights and the environment, according to people familiar with the discussions, both as a candidate for governor and then in the early days of his term.
The encounters with liberal advocates offer some revealing insights into the ever-evolving ideology of Romney, who as a presidential candidate now espouses the hard-line opposition to abortion that he seemed to disparage less than a decade ago…
The abortion rights supporters came away from the meeting pleasantly surprised. Romney declined to label himself “pro-choice” but said he eschewed all labels, including “pro-life.” He told the group that he would “protect and preserve a woman’s right to choose under Massachusetts law” and that he thought any move to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision would be a “serious mistake for our country.”
I have summarized many of Romney’s flip-flops in the past and I don’t think it is necessary to repeat that now. Unlike the flip-flop charges against John Kerry, which were based upon distortions of Kerry’s views by his political opponents, Mitt Romney is on record for frequently sounding very sincere about polar opposite views on social, health care, and environmental, issues. There are very few things which liberals and the far right Republican base agree on, but one is that Romney is a flip-flopper and neither liberals or conservatives can count on him supporting their goals.
If Romney does win the Republican nomination this will raise issues of character which very well could not only make him unelectable but also suppress Republican turn out and cause them to lose Congressional and various state races. Romney is well aware of the danger he faces, but his response today will not convince anybody:
Mitt Romney, under fire from all sides on the strength of his political convictions, said Thursday he has been as consistent as a person can be during his political career.
“I’ve been as consistent as human beings can be,” Romney said in a meeting with the editorial board of New Hampshire’s Seacoast Media Group. “I cannot state every single issue in exactly the same words every single time, and so there are some folks who, obviously, for various political and campaign purposes will try and find some change and try to draw great attention to something which looks like a change which in fact is entirely consistent.”
The Republican claim of supporting limited government is often contradicted by the reality of their proposals which seek to impose further restrictions upon the rights of Americans. Opposition to reproductive rights, and the simple concept that each individual has the right to control their own body, is seen in two Republican proposals today.
SANTORUM: [Sex] is supposed to be within marriage. It’s supposed to be for purposes that are yes, conjugal…but also procreative. That’s the perfect way that a sexual union should happen…This is special and it needs to be seen as special.
Jim DeMint not only wants to restrict a woman’s right to abortion (which happens to be a legal procedure in this country) but is introducing legislation in the Senate to prohibit discussion of abortion by video conferencing over the internet. Think Progress reports:
Instead of focusing on job creation, congressional Republicans have spent their time passing socially conservative legislation like the “Let Women Die” bill that would allow hospitals that receive federal funds to deny women life-saving abortion procedures.
Now Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), one of the most die-hard anti-choice lawmakers, has jumped on the bandwagon by sneaking a radical anti-abortion amendment onto a completely unrelated piece of legislation. DeMint’s amendment would ban women and their doctors from discussing abortion over the Internet:
Anti-choice Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) just filed an anti-choice amendment to a bill related to agriculture, transportation, housing, and other programs. The DeMint amendment could bar discussion of abortion over the Internet and through videoconferencing, even if a woman’s health is at risk and if this kind of communication with her doctor is her best option to receive care.
Under this amendment, women would need a separate, segregated Internet just for talking about abortion care with their doctors.
Besides infringing upon the rights of women, this is yet another case of Republicans trying to use government to make health care decisions which should be left between a woman and her doctor. There is a huge gap between the rhetoric of the right wing and their actual policies.
A federal judge struck down requirements in a new Texas law requiring doctors to perform a sonogram before an abortion, ruling that the measure violates the free speech rights of both doctors and patients. That’s one victory for both reproductive rights and preventing a government take-over of health care, Republican-style.
The Guardian reports on a new trend in unjust prosecutions of women who have lost their babies as the right wing becomes increasingly aggressive in their desire to impose their views upon others. The Guardian reports:
Rennie Gibbs is accused of murder, but the crime she is alleged to have committed does not sound like an ordinary killing. Yet she faces life in prison in Mississippi over the death of her unborn child.
Gibbs became pregnant aged 15, but lost the baby in December 2006 in a stillbirth when she was 36 weeks into the pregnancy. When prosecutors discovered that she had a cocaine habit – though there is no evidence that drug abuse had anything to do with the baby’s death – they charged her with the “depraved-heart murder” of her child, which carries a mandatory life sentence.
Gibbs is the first woman in Mississippi to be charged with murder relating to the loss of her unborn baby. But her case is by no means isolated. Across the US more and more prosecutions are being brought that seek to turn pregnant women into criminals.
“Women are being stripped of their constitutional personhood and subjected to truly cruel laws,” said Lynn Paltrow of the campaign National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW). “It’s turning pregnant women into a different class of person and removing them of their rights.”
The report notes forty similar cases in Alabama as conservatives seek to increasingly use this tactic to provide far more protection for the unborn than they are willing to provide for Americans after birth.
Women’s rights campaigners see the creeping criminalisation of pregnant women as a new front in the culture wars over abortion, in which conservative prosecutors are chipping away at hard-won freedoms by stretching protection laws to include foetuses, in some cases from the day of conception. In Gibbs’ case defence lawyers have argued before Mississippi’s highest court that her prosecution makes no sense. Under Mississippi law it is a crime for any person except the mother to try to cause an abortion.
“If it’s not a crime for a mother to intentionally end her pregnancy, how can it be a crime for her to do it unintentionally, whether by taking drugs or smoking or whatever it is,” Robert McDuff, a civil rights lawyer asked the state supreme court.
McDuff told the Guardian that he hoped the Gibbs prosecution was an isolated example. “I hope it’s not a trend that’s going to catch on. To charge a woman with murder because of something she did during pregnancy is really unprecedented and quite extreme.”
He pointed out that anti-abortion groups were trying to amend the Mississippi constitution by setting up a state referendum, or ballot initiative, that would widen the definition of a person under the state’s bill of rights to include a foetus from the day of conception.
Once again there is an attempt at a government take-over of health care. Those Republicans just cannot resist trying to get the government involved in areas where it does not belong, such as in trying to restrict reproductive rights and the ability of a woman to control her own body. The House is expected to vote a a bill to prevent the use of federal funds for training in performing abortions. The Hill reports:
House members on Tuesday night are expected to hold a controversial vote on language that would prevent federal funds for medical resident training from being used to train residents on abortion procedures.
The language in question comes from Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), who is seeking to amend a bill that would scale back the federal funding and make it subject to annual appropriations. The program, established in last year’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), was automatically funded by Democrats last year.
“This amendment ensures that the grants being provided to teaching health centers are not being used to perform elective abortion, makes it crystal clear that taxpayer money is not being used to train healthcare providers to perform abortion procedures,” Foxx said. “When the liberal Democrats rammed through their government takeover of healthcare, in an unprecedented fashion, they refused to include longstanding pro-life provisions.”
Foxx’s amendment drew an immediate backlash from Democrats, who argued that preventing training on abortion would prevent training on a legal procedure. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) argued that while even Republicans have OKed federal funding for abortion in the case of rape, incest and when the life of the mother is at risk, these procedures could be hindered by conditioning federal training funds.
“What it would mean is that across the country, residents would be barred from learning how to perform even a basic medical procedure required for women’s health,” DeGette said. “This amendment would jeopardize both education and women’s healthcare by obliterating funding for a necessary full range of medical training by healthcare professionals.”