Sunday, May 8, 2022

Last Call For You Know Who

The BBC has announced the 14th Doctor Who this weekend, Netflix's Sex Education star Ncuti Gatwa will carry on the role from the departing Jodie Whittaker.

Actor Ncuti Gatwa will take over from Jodie Whittaker as the star of Doctor Who, the BBC has announced.

The 29-year-old will become the 14th Time Lord on the popular science fiction show, and the first non-white performer to play the lead role.

Scottish actor Gatwa, who was born in Rwanda, is best known for starring in Netflix's sitcom Sex Education.

He told BBC News: "It feels really amazing. It's a true honour. This role is an institution and it's so iconic."

Speaking on the red carpet before Sunday's Bafta TV Awards, where he is nominated for Sex Education, Gatwa said the role of the Doctor "means a lot to so many people, including myself".

He added: "I feel very grateful to have had the baton handed over and I'm going to try to do my best."

Gatwa will make his debut as the Time Lord in 2023.

Showrunner Russell T Davies said Gatwa had impressed him in a "blazing" audition.

"It was our last audition. It was our very last one," the writer and producer said. "We thought we had someone, and then in he came and stole it.

"I'm properly, properly thrilled. It's going to be a blazing future."
First, if you haven't seen Gatwa and the excellent Gillian Anderson in Sex Education on Netflix, do it. It's hysterical, even Ender's Game star Asa Butterfield has serious comedic chops as a British private school chap whose mother (Anderson) is a famous sex therapist. Three seasons with a fourth on the way means there's a nice bit to binge.
Second, I liked Jodie Whittaker at the 13th Doctor a lot, and while the writers were about to make some excellent use of Doctors 11 (Matt Smith) and 12 (Peter Capaldi) with Stephen Moffat as showrunner and head writer, Whittaker as the 13th Doctor really had some stinker episodes over the last three seasons and the show suffered dramatically as a result under showrunner and writer Chris Chibnall.

The return of Davies will hopefully be a course correction, even though he left the show in 2009 because he was basically done after four seasons (and I'd rather have Moffat back, dammit.)

We'll see next year.

An Infrastructure Of Losing

Old Conventional Wisdom: President Joe Biden needs to be making a far bigger deal about Democratic party successes in order to convince voters to show up in November and he needs to visit red states to win back white working-class voters NOW!

Biden: I'll go on tour and make a big deal about our successes leading up to November midterms to sell our historic infrastructure bill in red states and I'll do it now!

New Conventional wisdom: Why is Joe Biden wasting everyone's time touting Democratic successes when nobody cares?

As President Joe Biden ramps up his efforts to help Democrats in the midterm elections, he’s focused on a selling point that, so far, voters aren’t: his plan to rebuild the county’s infrastructure.

Standing in an industrial building near the Port of New Hampshire last month, flanked by construction and boating equipment, Biden talked dredging, bridges and lead pipes.

“Folks, this matters. It matters to our safety, our security, our health," Biden told the crowd there as he promoted the $550 billion infrastructure package he shepherded through Congress last year.

The president's second trip in six months to New Hampshire, where Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan is expected to face a tough re-election fight, was just the latest in a steady string of stops designed to highlight the legislation.

But yet again that day, by most objective measures, much of the country’s focus lay elsewhere — on a court order lifting the mask requirement on airplanes, on the impact of surging inflation, and on Russia’s renewed assault on Ukraine.

The infrastructure bill has been Biden's biggest policy accomplishment so far, and is generally seen by voters as a positive. But while they may like the idea of new roads and bridges, it isn’t to be found on the list of top issues they say they care about most.

Instead, inflation, the war in Ukraine, and, as of last week, abortion are top of mind for voters — and, say political strategists and candidates, those areas are where candidates in tough re-election battles are focusing their energy. While Biden and the White House have not avoided the topics, and acknowledge they stand to be major issues this fall, the president has so far continued to devote the bulk of his public message to infrastructure.

“Infrastructure is so far down the list of concerns that if I were the president, I wouldn’t be selling infrastructure,” said Andy Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, of the message to voters. “Yeah, it’s great there’s going to be a bridge, but we’re not going to see that bridge built for five years. They’re not gonna see anything in the short term that is going to impact their lives because of the passage of infrastructure.”

Last month, Biden made stops in New Hampshire, Washington, Oregon, North Carolina, and Iowa where his primary message was the way those states stood to benefit from the infrastructure law. The White House also sent Cabinet members and other top officials on trips to 25 states last month to talk infrastructure.

"We’re talking about billions of dollars modernizing roads, bridges, airports, delivering clean water, high speed internet," Biden said Friday in Ohio, where he also pushed for legislation to bolster the U.S. semiconductor industry.

But Democrats in competitive races this cycle say they are focusing more on bread-and-butter issues — efforts to lower housing, child care and insulin costs — when they talk to voters back in their districts.

“People are understanding of the issues around infrastructure, but until we see shovels in the ground, I’m not sure people are going to fully see what that investment means,” said Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., who called roads, bridges and tunnels the “lifeblood” of his state.

Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., one of the most vulnerable Democrats this cycle, has been touting the infrastructure package in constituent meetings and local media interviews, pointing to how it stands to help repair rural roads and upgrade water systems.

In a paid ad, Kelly touted it as a success story for Arizona that would improve commuting, trade and border security, a message other vulnerable Democrats in swing states are highlighting.

But asked Tuesday what voters care about most, Kelly said they’re “focused on costs of things which are really expensive: gasoline, prescription drugs, food.” And with the Supreme Court’s leaked majority opinion this week, he added that voters also will be focused on abortion rights.


Why, it's almost like the media wants Republicans back in charge so they can cover the chaos and get better ratings like they did in the Trump era. Nothing Biden does can work, you see. The Midterms are already over and there's nothing Democrats can do about it. 

You and I know that's hogwash, but don't expect Democrats to even be able to tout what they did right when the media shits all over it on a daily basis.

Sunday Long Read: A Premature Autopsy

Roe v. Wade is effectively a walking corpse who will soon be put down, which is fitting because thousands and thousands of women every year will join Roe in the Great Beyond. Our Sunday Long Read this week is the apropos tale of the nearly 50-year crusade to kill Roe by forced-birth revenants documented by the Washington Post.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell still remembers the shock he felt when Donald Trump won the 2016 election. He also recalls what happened next.

“The first thing that came to my mind was the Supreme Court,” McConnell said in an interview this past week, remembering his reaction that night as he watched results from a basement office at the National Republican Senatorial Committee. He soon called Donald McGahn, campaign counsel to the president-elect, who was slated to become the top White House lawyer.

A week later, Leonard Leo, the head of the conservative Federalist Society and a McConnell ally, was sitting with the president-elect and his advisers in Trump Tower in New York with a list of six potential conservative nominees alphabetically typed onto a piece of personalized stationery, according to people familiar with the meeting, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal internal discussions.

As incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus and Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, came in and out of the room, Leo laid out a road map for Trump on the federal court system, potentially transforming the foundational understanding of rights in America.

It was a moment antiabortion activists had been working toward for decades: The highest reaches of Republican power finally focused, in unison, on achieving the once implausible goal of revisiting the jurisprudence of the 1960s and 1970s, including Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.

The leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion on abortion this past week showed that a majority of the court is now poised to do just that, with three of the five potential votes for overturning Roe coming from justices recommended by Leo, appointed by Trump and confirmed under the leadership of McConnell.

For the activists who have fought against enormous odds to elevate the issues of abortion and judicial selection, the sudden turnabout is nearly as shocking as Trump’s election was for McConnell. Interviews with more than two dozen movement leaders, Republican officials and operatives describe a half-century journey that began to settle only over the last decade, as the politics of abortion finally polarized itself as a partisan issue and emerged as a top-tier Republican priority.

“I think even until earlier this week most pro-life leaders were holding their breath,” said Charles Donovan, a former Reagan White House aide, who began working as legislative director for National Right to Life in the late 1970s. “I do think it’s pretty stunning.”

Abortion rights advocates have also been stunned by the transformation, accusing Republicans of hijacking the courts for partisan and unpopular ends.

“This is exactly what we feared was coming,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, chief executive of Whole Woman’s Health, a network of abortion clinics. “Republicans just do this and all the gloves are off.”

With almost no change in national public opinion over the past five decades, and as a majority of Americans remain opposed to overturning Roe, the movement succeeded by mobilizing a determined minority of Americans and adopting the protest tactics and sometimes the language of the left. They transformed religious interpretations of prenatal life, embraced medical advancements that gave new understanding of the fetus and helped to build an academic legal movement in the Ivy League universities that railed against the evolution of American jurisprudence.

Most importantly, they nurtured a generation of political and legal leaders who saw in the setbacks of the 1970s to 1990s a defining cause. As a young man in the 1970s, McConnell, 80, had worked with the late Justice Antonin Scalia, an avowed opponent of Roe, in the Justice Department. A photograph of the two men from that time still hangs in McConnell’s office.

“If I was looking at ways to have an impact on the country that I thought would be good and positive, this would be the way to do it,” McConnell said in the interview this past week at his office on Capitol Hill.

“Majorities change. Taxes go up. Taxes go down,” he continued. “If you prefer America right of center, which I do, and you’re looking around at what you can do to have the longest possible impact on the kind of America you want, it seems to me you look at the courts.”
The loss was sealed by the 2016 election, and for those of you reading who didn't vote for Hillary or worse, voted for Trump, behold the consequences of your actions.
Now the first is to preserve what rights we have left before those are stripped as well.  History tells us that's going to be a grueling, ugly fight. When I said time and time over the last five years that we will be dealing with the aftermath of the Trump regime for the rest of my lifetime, this is only the beginning of what I warned was coming.

Should Trump or someone like him win and get control of Congress in 2024, it will take the rest of your children's lifetimes, maybe your grandchildren's lifetimes that we'll have to try to wrest back women's bodily autonomy from these assholes. If a Republican is able to trade in Alito and Thomas for younger models like Barrett and Gorsuch, it will take generations to fix this mess. The damage will be incalculable, and that's just on the civil rights side.

Imagine what these monsters will do in the years ahead on climate change, worker safety, clean air and water, and everything else. We've got to give Biden 53 or more senators and keep the House just to have a shot at this. We can do it. 

We have to.
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