“TSA Chief John Pistole announced that he is stepping down. So whoever takes his place is going to have some pretty big shoes to take off.” –Jimmy Fallon
“President Obama just appointed someone named Ron Klain as the new ‘Ebola czar’ to oversee the government’s response to the crisis. You know that’ll be a tough job, but not as tough as introducing yourself as the Ebola czar and extending your hand.” –Jimmy Fallon
“The Christian Science Monitor is claiming ‘Hillary Clinton will be a tad less interested in running for president now that she’s about to be a grandmother.’ And if you put a grain of sand in your pocket there’s a tad less sand on the beach.” –Seth Meyers
Bonus Quotes: More on Chelsea’s Pregnancy
“Hillary Clinton is going to be a grandmother. She’s very excited about it. She’s home right now knitting a tiny pantsuit.” –David Letterman
“Congrats to Chelsea Clinton. Last week, she announced that she is expecting her first child. If it’s a girl, it’ll get some of Chelsea’s old hand-me-downs; and if it’s a boy, it’ll get some of Hillary’s.” –Jimmy Fallon
“Chelsea Clinton has announced that she is pregnant with her first child. The baby is expected to crawl after nine months and run in 2055.” –Seth Meyers
“Chelsea Clinton is pregnant. There is another one coming. A little baby Clinton. People are already wondering, is the baby a girl? Is it a boy? Is it going to run for president in 2016?” –Craig Ferguson
“A new poll found that two-thirds of Americans are following the situation in Ukraine, which is impressive. Usually, you can’t find two-thirds of Americans who are following the situation in America.” –Jimmy Fallon
“Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg apparently called President Obama directly to complain about NSA and how it spies on ordinary Americans. That’s right, the guy who runs Facebook got mad at the NSA for spying on people. Talk about the pot unfriending the kettle!” –Jimmy Fallon
“Zuckerberg criticized the NSA and called the government a threat to the Internet. Then he went back to running a website where you list everyone you’ve ever met, every place you’ve been, every place you’re going, what you had eat, your ex-girlfriends and your ex-boyfriends, which bands you like…” –Jimmy Fallon
While the media is increasingly talking about the 2016 presidential election, we have a major election coming up for control of Congress later this year. At present it appears that it is unlikely for the Democrats to take control of the House, and they are now fighting to retain control of the Senate. Predictions that the Republicans will hold the House and possibly take the Senate are based upon historical trends and which Senate seats are up for reelection this year. Of course it is possible to see a break from past trends.
Among the trends causing people to predict this to be a good year for Republicans: minorities and young voters don’t vote as often in off-year elections, a president’s party generally does poorly in the sixth year of the president’s term, a president’s party does poorly when the president has low approval ratings, and a president’s party does poorly when the economy is having difficulties.
The Republican Party has been working in other ways to pick up votes. They have made voter suppression a major part of their electoral strategy, along with continuing the Southern Strategy based upon racism and now xenophobia. On the other hand, their history of racism may backfire with the increase in minority voters, possibly turning some southern states blue in the near future. We saw this first in Virginia and to a lesser degree in North Carolina. In the future this could extend to Georgia, Texas, and additional states.
Republicans have an advantage in keeping control of the House as so many House districts are gerrymandered to protect the incumbent. In addition, Democrats tend to be more concentrated in urban areas, meaning that even if more people vote for Democrats than Republicans, the Republicans will win more seats by small margins while Democrats will win a smaller number with bigger majorities. More people voted for Democrats than Republicans in Congressional races in 2012 but the Republicans retained control of the House. It would probably take at least a seven percent margin of victory for Democrats to take control of the House. Republican representation in the Senate is also exaggerated compared to their level of support due to lesser populated Republican states having the same number of Senators as more populated Democratic states.
There are some things which could throw off the fundamentals this year, but we cannot count on voters suddenly no longer being fooled by the GOP line. At present the Republicans receive far too many votes from low-information white voters. Over time the number of younger voters who receive their fake news from Jon Stewart will overtake the older voters who receive their fake news from Fox.
While Obama’s approval rating is low, Congress has an even lower approval rating. Typically in such situations people like their own Congressman even if they disapprove of Congress. This year polls show that many people also think their own Congressman should be thrown out. Based upon this, I wouldn’t be surprised if more incumbents than usual get upset, but that might not necessarily help the Democrats over Republicans. In addition, more people see the Republicans as being more responsible for gridlock, in contrast to a common false media narrative of treating each party as being equally responsible. Maybe they will surprise the pundits and throw the Republicans out.
Despite early IT problems, which the Obama administration does deserve criticism for, the Affordable Care Act has turned into a tremendous success on a policy level, both in terms of health care reform and its benefits for the economy. Both the Medicare Advantage plans under George Bush and the original Medicare program had early implementation problems which took a couple of years to solve. Of course Republicans will continue to spread unsubstantiated scare stories and it is possible Obama might never received the credit he deserves. Health care premiums will be remain high on the individual market as they were high before Obamacare. Insurance companies will continue to use restricted panels of physicians and hospitals as they did before Obamacare, leaving room for Republicans to blame the Affordable Care Act for problems unrelated to the law.
Other factors could come into play. The Tea Party might oust electable Republicans and replace them with extremist candidates which the Democrats can more easily beat. While doubtful, the Tea Party might force Congressional Republicans into a situation analogous to the government shut-down before the election which reduces public support for Republicans. While it is doubtful it will really alter that many votes, even the changes in the late night comedians could help the Democrats over the Republicans.
The easy prediction is now that the Republicans will keep control of the House and control of the Senate is up for grabs. Depending upon whether the factors discussed above alter the usual fundamentals, we still might wind up seeing the pundits talking about all the reasons they knew we would have a different outcome after the results are known.
“A new survey found that 25 percent of Americans will spend less on Halloween this year because of the government shutdown’s effect on the economy. Which explains that new party game – ‘Bobbing for Ramen Noodles.'” –Jimmy Fallon
“The government shutdown – no one knows when the government will be back up and running. So if you’ve ever wanted to cut the tag off your mattress, do it now.” –Jimmy Fallon
“The government shutdown is going to slash the budget for food inspection. That is bad news for health advocates, but great news for the new Japanese restaurant – Leap of Faith Sushi.” –Conan O’Brien
“Senator Ted Cruz announced he’s donating his paycheck during the shutdown to charity. Well, the charity is called Ted Cruz for President.” –Conan O’Brien
“People have events in the national parks and they’re canceled because of the shutdown. There was a KKK rally scheduled to be held in a national park that was canceled. This was bad news for the KKK but good news for the park’s black bears.” –Conan O’Brien
“Even the NSA is out of business. And while they’re closed, while the government is shut down, they are asking citizens to please spy on each other.” –David Letterman
“Well, last night we got to see how ‘Breaking Bad’ ended, and tonight we get to see how the federal government ends.” –Jay Leno
“So far the ones hit hardest by the government shutdown are tourists because all the national parks are closed. Where will people go for anonymous sex? We still have the airport bathrooms, but that’s only for Senators, and we can’t all use that.” –Craig Ferguson
“In one final burst, ‘Breaking Bad’ character Walter White broke into the House of Representatives and demanded that Obamacare be repealed or he would blow up the country. Wait a minute, I might have been watching CNN.” –Jimmy Kimmel
The BBC has released the above poster for the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who, to be named The Day of The Doctor. It will be the second from last episode staring Matt Smith, also staring David Tennant and John Hurt.
Steven Moffat discussed filming the final episode with Matt Smith at the TV Choice Awards, where Doctor Who won for Best Drama Series. David Tennant won the Best Actor award for his role on Broadchurch. Miranda Hart of Call the Midwife won for Best Actress. (Jessica Raine,who plays Jennie Lee on Call the Midwife, played Emma Grayling in the Doctor Who episode Hide and has a role in the upcoming movie on the development of the series, An Adventure In Space And Time.)
Peter Davison will be appearing in the 50th Anniversary episode of Doctor Who. While he has confirmed the appearance, he states he is unable to give any specifics. My suspicion is that he has a cameo role in the special but does not reprise his role as the Doctor unless the story can give a plausible explanation for showing a former version of the Doctor who has also aged. Pictures appeared on line of Tom Baker in his scarf starting rumors that he would also appear but it turns out it was to film a skit for another show.
In follow-up of the controversy I mentioned last week, TrekMovie.com has posted another opinion arguing that Star Trek is Not Broken. Those who are not happy with how J.J. Abrams is handling Star Trek might be happy to hear that he will not be directing the next Star Trek movie now that he will be busy with Star Wars. I fear that this won’t change many of the problems cited by fans but at least it might mean less lens flare.
There has been even more controversy over the choice of Ben Afflect to play Batman in the Man of Steel sequel. The CEO of Warner Brothers defended the choice, describing this Batman as “kind of tired and weary and seasoned and been doing it for a while.”
Besides the upcoming Star Wars trilogy, Disney is going to take advantage of buying the rights by putting out additional movies. Variety reports that they will be origin movies. There will be a lot of Star Wars as “one ‘Star Wars’ trilogy film or ‘origin story film’ would also appear on the release schedule each year, starting with the seventh installment in the ‘Star Wars’ saga that J.J. Abrams will direct and Disney releases in 2015.”
Warner Brothers is returning to a recent major source of income for the studio. J.K. Rowling is going to write a new movie series taking place in the Harry Potter universe. After recently reading The Cuckoo’s Calling, I think she does have a better future in writing such movies then detective novels, although the two aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s not that I didn’t like the book, but I read several far more entertaining novels over the summer, and there are plenty of similar mystery series already out there.
Grant Gustin of Glee will play The Flash on Arrow, and potentially on a spinoff show.
Cult Box has a spoiler-free review of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Gawker reports that some of the scripts were not very good and Joss Whedon had to rewrite them. The web site for the series is now on line.
ABC is working on an alternate reality series which sounds interesting. The show, entitled The Thirteen, takes place in an alternative present day in which the colonies did not win independence from England and are still fighting the English for independence.
Utopia writer Dennis Kelly has discussed conspiracy theories, over population, and the second season of the series:
There’s going to be a second series of Utopia isn’t there?
There is. It’s currently being written. It’s being filmed in two months [speaking on the 22nd of August]. I’ve got two months before the first block. You film it in two blocks so episodes one, two and three, and then four, five and six. Marc Munden who directed one, two and three, and really set up the look for Utopia – and that’s what people talk about a lot when they talk about Utopia – he’s a brilliant director, more like a filmmaker than a TV director really, and he’s fantastic to work with. He’s come back and he’s going to do the first block again. He has a much more involved role in the whole series, which is great.
Can you give us any ideas about what series two might contain?
We’ve got a very odd first episode, which people are either going to really like or really say ‘what the fuck did you do that for?’ and I’ve got no idea what the reaction’s going to be. Some of the characters are coming back, you’ll definitely see Arby again, and Jessica. There’s a lot of people dead unfortunately and a lot of people will die [laughs].
Do you have a finite end for Utopia in mind?
I think I do, I think so, yeah. Not necessarily a good one. [Laughs].
Luc Besson is interested in doing another movie in the world of The Fifth Element.
Joking Bad, Jimmy Fallon’s parody of Breaking Bad, can be viewed above. The series ends this month. A spinoff is being considered based upon Saul Goodman before he became Walt’s lawyer. The Hollywood Reporterlists Saul’s top moments.