SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Star Trek Shorts; Timeless Movie; Handmaid’s Tale; Veronica Mars

Doctor Who returns on October 7, and another trailer (video above) has been released. We will have a new Doctor and new companions. However, the new showrunner, Chris Chibnall, says we will not see other familiar faces:

In an interview with the Times Magazine, Chibnall revealed that the likes of Alex Kingston’s River Song, Michelle Gomez’s Missy (aka the female regeneration of longtime villain the Master) and the Paternoster Gang (including Neve McIntosh’s Madame Vastra and Dan Starkey’s Strax) won’t be included this time around, and while it’s not a massive shock – we might have heard by now if any of those figures were making a reappearance, and both Missy and River are technically dead at this point – it’s a definite sign of the vision Chibnall has for the show.

“I want this to be a recruiting year for Doctor Who to bring in that next generation of audiences,” he explained.

Chibnall also confirmed that other recurring monsters like the Daleks, the Cybermen and the Weeping Angels had been banished for the time being, with series 11 instead focusing on new baddies and threats to be enjoyed by new and old fans alike.

While it is hard to believe that we will not eventually see the return of classics like the Daleks, the Cybermen, and some version of the Master, I have wondered if Chibnall would use many of the characters which were creations of Steven Moffat. Perhaps there will be one similarity to the Moffat years. It was a common claim that Moffat lies–in order to attempt to have some surprises in this internet age when surprises are difficult. Syfy Wire has a good point that this could be similar misdirection from Chibnall:

The thing is, for those fans who have been around the block with the TARDIS once or twice, there’s every reason to believe this boast from Chibnall is actually a fib designed to protect spoilers and curb expectations. And that’s because the tools of misdirection, concealment, and outright lying are all time-honored traditions right before a new season of Doctor Who.

Way back in 2011, before Season 6 of the current run of Doctor Who, then-showrunner Steven Moffat made a similar claim, saying the Daleks would not appear in that season. “They aren’t going to make an appearance for a while… We thought it was about time to give them a rest,” Moffat said. And, then, in the finale of that season, “The Wedding Of River Song,” the Doctor fights a Dalek. True, the appearance of that Dalek was brief, but a big deal was made of the scene, complete with the Doctor calling his most dreaded enemy by name while looking right at the camera.

And then, there’s the supposed final appearance of River Song in the 2013 Season 7 episode “The Name of the Doctor.” Most fans considered her long-gone, and Moffat deflected the idea she would ever appear by saying that the former showrunner Russel T. Davies was going to write a raunchy episode called “Sex Storm” if she ever came back. Basically, the idea of a River Song return was laughed off by Moffat, publically. But then, in the 2015 Christmas Special, “The Husbands of River Song,” River Song returned, perhaps in her most poignant episode ever.

Steven Moffat also concealed the identity of Michelle Gomez’s character Missy back in 2014, insisting she was a new character to the show, when she was, in fact, not, and left it for the big Season 8 reveal that she was really the Master.

Jodie Whittaker discussed the controversy over being the first woman Doctor, and that she is confident that she is being paid the same as a male lead, in an interview with Variety:

When the new Doctor’s hood slowly dropped and Whittaker was revealed as the Time Lord on July 16, 2017, the world of sci-fi stood still for a moment, and fandom went a bit berserk. Not that Whittaker noticed, telling the BBC at the time that she’s not on social media. But “Avengers” and “Sherlock” star Benedict Cumberbatch struck a note for common sense. “It’s an alien,” Cumberbatch says. “Why can’t it be a woman? Why can’t it be any gender?”

Whittaker reports that the furor has since died down. “It’s not as [scary] as everyone maybe imagined when they took the hood down and it was a girl,” she tells Variety from Roath Lock, the studio in the Welsh capital of Cardiff where the series is shot.

The change, she says, is a long time coming: “It’s 2018. Women are not a genre. We are just the other half of the population, so to see us doing things should not be such a surprise.”

The gender debate strikes a personal chord. The leads Whittaker saw in series growing up were “white guys running about, saving the day doing really cool stuff,” while women were relegated to applauding their heroics.

When Whittaker started drama school at age 20, women were told their paths would be harder than for men because there were fewer roles. She hopes her Doctor can help remedy the problem. “It is a moment and I’m part of it and I’m proud of it,” she says. “But I can’t wait for it not to be a moment as well, so that when someone is going to drama school at 18 they don’t need to think, ‘There aren’t any jobs for me.’”

And with the gender pay gap also in the spotlight, Whittaker is confident a “Crown” moment isn’t coming. “I absolutely know I am not being paid less than any other Doctor,” she says. “This show is not the show that’s going to do that and have that revelation be the sidebar

The Wrap quotes Whittaker talking about role models:

“It’s someone’s opinion that boys can’t look up to women,” she said. “Role models and heroes come in all different shapes and sizes, and I’ve never needed to look like mine for me to be able to relate to them.”

Whittaker added that “Doctor Who” has always been “an inclusive” show, and that it’s “about embracing change.” “It’s not making the show to exclude, it’s making the show to include,” she said. “And the fact that a woman is playing an alien over a man playing an alien kind of is irrelevant to the qualifications. It’s playing an alien, and so the gender is irrelevant.”

We have also seen controversy when others were first cast to play the Doctor. When Matt Smith first started to play the Doctor, some complained that he was too young. Radio Times reports that it is possible Smith might have played a different role instead as Merlin. However, Smith ultimately lost the role to Colin Morgan as Smith was felt to be too old:

“Casting Merlin was really really hard because you needed to find an actor who had a really big, broad playing range, but also could handle the fact that it’s not naturalistic drama,” Johnny Capps, the co-creator and executive producer of the BBC fantasy series, tells RadioTimes.com in our in-depth feature on the making of Merlin, which will be available to read this weekend.

“So you couldn’t have an actor who was just going to play it in an incredibly earnest, real way. You wanted somebody that could find the truth, but also find the truth as it exists in that kind of fantasy world.”

And on the final shortlist for that part alongside Colin Morgan? Matt Smith, who apparently got down to the last two actors to play the boy wizard.

“Interestingly, in the early days Matt Smith was in the frame for Merlin,” recalls Julian Murphy, another co-creator and executive producer on the magical series.

“I think there’s a certain kind of actor who has the lightness and skill to play that sort of family drama, and I think both Colin Morgan and Matt Smith are that kind of actor. It’s a mercurial quality. And they’re light on their feet. That’s the skill they had.”

However, in the end Colin Morgan clinched it for one simple reason – the casting team felt like the younger Morgan would be better suited to play the adolescent wizard than Smith.

“We just felt that he was too old – not that he wasn’t great,” Murphy said. “And he was too old, really.”

Further information has been released about the Short Treks on CBS All Access this fall. From Deadline:

Runaway – Thursday, Oct. 4

Onboard the U.S.S. Discovery, Ensign Tilly (Mary Wiseman) encounters an unexpected visitor in need of help. However, this unlikely pair may have more in common than meets the eye.

Written by Jenny Lumet & Alex Kurtzman. Directed by Maja Vrvilo.

Calypso – Thursday, Nov. 8

After waking up in an unfamiliar sickbay, Craft (Aldis Hodge) finds himself on board a deserted ship, and his only companion and hope for survival is an A.I. computer interface.

Teleplay by Michael Chabon. Story by Sean Cochran and Michael Chabon. Directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi.

The Brightest Star – Thursday, Dec. 6

Before he was the first Kelpien to join Starfleet, Saru (Doug Jones) lived a simple life on his home planet of Kaminar with his father and sister. Young Saru, full of ingenuity and a level of curiosity uncommon among his people, yearns to find out what lies beyond his village, leading him on an unexpected path.

Written by Bo Yeon Kim & Erika Lippoldt. Directed by Douglas Aarniokoski.

The Escape Artist – Thursday, Jan. 3

Harry Mudd (Rainn Wilson), back to his old tricks of stealing and double-dealing, finds himself in a precarious position aboard a hostile ship – just in time to try out his latest con.

Written by Michael McMahan. Directed by Rainn Wilson.

Rainn Wilson discussed the shorts, along with his previous appearances on Star Trek: DiscoveryChoose Your Pain and Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad.

You’ll be acting in and directing one of the Short Treks installments…

There’s going to be that 10, 15% of fans that go, “Oh, no way. I’m not going to watch a short film about Star Trek. This isn’t how it works.” But I love that they’re breaking molds and breaking new ground, and it’s a terrific mini Harry Mudd adventure. It goes to a lot of different places, from different aliens to a  lot of fun situations, with some great twists and turns, and I get to direct it and star in it. It’s like a dream come true. It’s like, “Write me a dream job.”

Is this a stepping stone to directing more?

Possibly, yeah. This is a great way to cut my teeth as a director. I directed three episodes of The Office, and I directed some short films and digital shorts, but this is special effects and visual effects. I’ve got my work cut out for me

In other Star Trek news, TrekMovie.com has the plot outline of a proposed story for Star Trek: The Next Generation which would have had Spock meet a younger version of himself:

They were going to go back to what was now the most forbidden place in the galaxy, which was that time portal, and they were going to have to actually violate the rules about non-interference, and it was going to create a Pandora’s box with a whole terrible, unforeseen thing which only the Spocks from the two different time periods coming together could actually fix.

Collider spoke with Eric Kripke about the upcoming Timeless movie to wrap up the series:

“It’s basically the equivalent of two episodes. As a matter of fact, we tried, at one point, to do one long historical period to last over two hours, and then eventually, Arika wisely said, ‘Why are we doing this? Why don’t we just do what we always do, which is spend an hour in two different time periods?’ And so, though they’re connected and though it’s one long mythology story that plays over both, they really are, in effect, two time periods of Timeless that they visit, and we’ll shoot each one. We shot 8-day episodes, and this will be a 16-day shoot. It will be exactly like two more episodes of the show.”

Kripke did leave open the possibility of continuing the story (in the unlikely event that someone picks up the show):

The short answer is that I don’t know if there’s anything we can do that will make them finally say, ‘Oh, that’s great! I’m gonna close that chapter of my life.’ There’s a certain amount of shocking turns, and we tried to let it build to something and provide a certain amount of closure, and give you a sense of where these characters go. We tried to put a period at the end of the sentence, but not so much that the door isn’t open for further adventures, down the road.”

This “sexy” Handmaid’s costume really misses the point of The Handmaid’s Tale. Yandy wound up pulling the costume from their site in response to the inevitable complaints from everyone who has any idea what the show is about.

The Handmaid’s Tale received multiple Emmy nominations. TV Guide interviewed the producer and asked about the third season:

TV Guide caught up with executive producer Bruce Miller on the red carpet of the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards, and what he had to say about June’s (Elisabeth Moss) upcoming storyline has us hungry for a closer look at the underground resistance within Gilead. “I think overall Season 3 is a lot more rebellious, outwardly rebellious than Seasons 1 and 2. I think June’s taken a lot, and I think it’s time for her to give back some,” Miller said.

Last we saw June, she was handing her newborn baby off to Emily (Alexis Bledel) so they could escape to Canada, while she stayed behind to try to find her other daughter, Hannah (Jordana Blake). It was a bold move, but does that mean June’s officially joining the resistance? Miller didn’t confirm how active a part June will take in the fight against Gilead (though we hope she gives them everything she’s got and more), but he did hint that her mindset will have changed drastically when we return to her story in Season 3.

“I think I’m most excited by what happens to June now that she’s chosen to go back to Gilead, that she isn’t forced,” Miller said. “That’s a huge, powerful choice. What changes in your psychology when you’ve chosen to be in a place like that and you’ve chosen to stay on the inside and fight as opposed to go to the outside? I think that’s a very different psychology so that’s been very interesting.”

 Sc

The Veronica Mars revival is now official on Hulu with the show premiering in 2019. Deadline has this plot synopsis:

In the revival, spring breakers are getting murdered in Neptune, thereby decimating the seaside town’s lifeblood tourist industry. After Mars Investigations is hired by the parents of one of the victims to find their son’s killer, Veronica is drawn into an epic eight-episode mystery that pits the enclave’s wealthy elites, who would rather put an end to the month-long bacchanalia, against a working class that relies on the cash influx that comes with being the West Coast’s answer to Daytona Beach.

SciFi Weekend: Homecoming; Star Trek Wins Governors’ Award & Other News; The Arrowverse; Professor Proton; Tatiana Masslany, Bryan Cranston, and Aaron Paul

Homecoming looks like it should be one of the more interesting genre television shows of the fall season, premiering on Amazon Prime on November 2, with the first four episodes shown recently at the Toronto Film Festival. The series is based on the podcast of the same name, and to give the feel of a podcast will be shown in twenty minute episodes. The TV Addict summarized the plot:

HOMECOMING, the new Amazon Prime Video psychological drama, is based on the podcast of the same name. Julia Roberts stars as Heidi Bergman, a caseworker at the Homecoming Transitional Support Center — a facility that is helping soldiers transition back to civilian life. Enter Walter Cruz (played by Stephan James), a soldier who is eager to move on to the next phase of his life. There’s also Colin Belfast (played by Bobby Cannavale), Heidi’s supervisor who seems to have questional motives.

Fast forward four years, when Heidi has left the center and is working as a small-town waitress while living with her mother (played by Sissy Spacek). A Department of Defense auditor visits her one day to ask questions about the work she did at the Homecoming facility and why she left. As she relays her story, Heidi realizes there’s more to the story than she told even herself.

Besides the strong cast as listed above, the series will be directed by Sam Esmail of Mr. Robot. Deadline spoke with Esmail about both Homecoming and season four of Mr. Robot.

While the network broadcast of the Emmy Awards won’t be on until tomorrow, Star Trek received the Governor’s Award at this year’s Creative Arts Emmy Awards. Above is the video of the tribute to Star Trek. Bill Nye praised Star Trek saying, “It may have started off as an entertainment series but it changed the world — and I feel that it changed the world for the better.”

Deadline discussed the show with several cast members:

Backstage, Koening, Burton, Ryan, Shatner, Martin-Green and Kurtzman talked about how the Star Trek franchise still resonates after all these decades.

“It resonates because we were talking about topical issues and socio-political content,” said Koening, who played the memorable Chekov. He said that it still resonates today.

Burton chimes in, “It’s all about good storytelling.”

“We still worry about living together and having a fruitful and joyful experience,” continues Koening. We are beset with problems that we had in the ’60s.”

As the newest member of the fleet, Martin-Green points out that she hopes Discovery gives justice to the franchise and furthers it. “It was very important to us anew, but be our own at the same time,” she adds.

Kurtzman adds that Star Trek “has been a beacon of hope for so many people for so long.”

The USS Callister episode of Black Mirror, which was a warped homage to Star Trek, also won three awards.

In other Star Trek news, Michael Chabon, who is working on the new Picard series, revealed that the show will take place in 2399. This brings us into uncharted territory, finally showing what happens beyond the 24th century when TNG, DS9, and Voyager took place.

William Shatner has discussed why Captain Kirk was killed.

Episodes on the CBS All Access app will be available for download for offline viewing, including Star Trek: Discovery. There are a few catches. Downloading will only be available for subscribers to the commercial free tier, downloads expire after 30 days, and after watching a show it will only remain available for another forty-eight hours.

Rainn Wilson teased returning to Star Trek: Discovery to reprise his role as Harry Mudd.

Sonequa Martin-Green was recently asked about season two of Star Trek: Discovery:

It’s way too soon to talk in any detail about season two of Discovery, but give us some sort of sense of what fans can expect in terms of the show’s direction, Michael’s path…

Well, I think people expect the fallout from everything that happened last year. There’s so many things that happened. So many decisions were made. So many changes happened. There was evolution in season one, but we weren’t able to dig into it because we were at war. So, you will see all of that. You will see people dealing with what’s left. Dealing with the residual, dealing with, “OK, what do I have now? What have I done? What does that mean? Who am I? Who are we?” You’ll see people asking those questions and seeking to answer them in season two. And there is a lot more…. there’s a little more joy just because we aren’t at war. We’re able to smile a little bit more. There’s a sense of levity that’s there simply because we’re not fighting for our lives.

And Michael will be part of that? Be a bit lighter?

Oh yeah, for sure. There’s certainly a heaviness that is present with me as Burnham, just because of everything that is driving me and because there are deep-seated problems there. So, those are still at play, for sure. But yes, you see the smile, and you see the chuckles that we allow ourselves to have, including Burnham, because we’re not fighting.

How will the presence of Captain Pike affect Michael?

In that big way that a captain affects a ship and a crew. A crew is almost defined by the essence of the captain. We went through the ringer with Lorca, and so there’s a little bit of PTSD there. There’s a little bit of distrust there because of what we’ve gone through and because we had someone who manipulated us and sought to kill us for his own gain. And so, Pike being the deeply rooted good guy he is, he is going to have an effect on us. He’s soothing in that way. He’s comforting in that way. And hopefully you will see us sort of galvanize because of that.

Elizabeth Tulloch of Grimm has been cast to play Lois Lane in the upcoming season’s Arrowverse crossover episode. This adds her to along list of actresses who have played the role, including Margot Kidder, Teri Hatcher, Amy Adams, Kate Bosworth, Noel Neill, Phyllis Coates, Erica Durance, Megan Fox, Uma Thurman, Dana Delany, Mandy Moore, Stana Katic and Pauley Perrette. As previously announced, Tyler Hoechlin will reprise his role as Superman. Cassandra Jean Amell, wife of Stephen Amell, will play Nora Fries, the wife of Mr. Freeze.

Grant Gustin has teased the upcoming season of The Flash in an interview with Entertainment Weekly:

“I don’t want people’s expectations to be through the roof, but I really think this could be very similar to season 1 in [terms of] the heart and humor it had and the scope,” Grant Gustin tells EW.

One thing contributing to the season’s lighthearted tone is the arrival of Barry and Iris’ (Candice) daughter from the future Nora (Jessica Parker Kennedy), which essentially thrusts parenthood onto the couple. “They’re learning all of the lessons new parents learn when their kids grow up, but since she’s an adult it sort of adds this heightened scenario to all those decisions,” says EP Todd Helbing.

The CW Network has released the above teaser for Supergirl.

Netflix has released the above trailer for season three of Daredevil.

Bob Newhart will be making a final appearance as the ghost of Professor Proton on The Big Bang Theory.

Tatiana Maslany of Orphan Black will be appearing with Bryan Cranston on a Broadway version of Network.

Aaron Paul, who starred with Bryan Cranston on Breaking Bad, will be appearing as a regular on season three of Westworld.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who Return Date; William Shatner Interview; Blakes 7 Actress Dies; Evangeline Lilly on the Lost Finale; A Historian on Why Science Fiction Is Important

We finally have an announcement of a return date for Doctor Who, Sunday, October 7. I don’t know about viewing habits in the UK, but the change to Sunday could help ratings here in the United States. For years I have been downloading Doctor Who shortly after it airs in the UK instead of waiting to watch late on Saturday evening. BBC American plans to air the first episode of Doctor Who this season at the same time it airs in the UK, followed by a repeat showing in the evening. Subsequent weeks I guess I’ll be back to downloading.

With the change to Sunday I might have to reconsider how SciFi Weekend is posted. The post was initially called SciFi Friday, with the subsequent move to the weekends (generally Sunday) helpful for covering Friday night shows. I have been reviewing new episodes of Doctor Who on Sundays, the day following their release. Sunday releases create a problem with this schedule, as I ran into last year with my weekly reviews of the first season of Star Trek: Discovery not being posted until a week after the show aired.

Jodie Whittaker literally breaks the glass ceiling in the trailer:

Despite the point made in this promo, Chris Chibnall says that the gender change is barely mentioned in the opening episode, with the Doctor more concerned with surviving. The title of the episode will be The Woman Who Fell to Earth, sounding like it picks up where the last season ended. Chris Chibnall recommends:

New Doctor, new home. Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor is about to burst into Sunday nights – and make the end of the weekend so much more exciting. Get everybody’s homework done, sort out your Monday clothes, then grab some special Sunday night popcorn, and settle down with all of the family for Sunday night adventures across space and time. (Also, move the sofa away from the wall so parents can hide behind it during the scary bits). The Thirteenth Doctor is falling from the sky and it’s going to be a blast.”

According to Syfy Wire, Doctor Who director Jamie Childs said  that ’80s-era Spielberg served as an inspiration for the upcoming episodes in an interview with Empire Magazine.Executive producer Dan Strevens said the new season will be like Forrest Gump. “It’s a box of chocolates of a series. There’s something different in every episode.”

BBC America will be rebroadcasting every episode of Doctor Who since the reboot. This will take place over thirteen days, beginning on September 25 at 6 am.

TrekMovie.com interviewed William Shatner, who has a new memoir out entitled, Live Long and… What I Might Have Learned Along The Way. Some excerpts from the interview:

In the book, you talk about regret, although mostly framed as how you regret the things you haven’t done. I’m curious about something you did do that may have cut off future opportunities. Do you regret agreeing to do Star Trek: Generations, and allow them to kill off Kirk?

Well, I didn’t think I had any choice in the matter. Paramount had decided that the ceiling that they could reach in our box office had been reached and they thought that by putting in the Next Generation cast, that they would reach a higher box office. That decision had been made. It was either I was going to appear and die, or they were going to say he died. So, I chose the more practical of the two.

So, they were killing you no matter what?

That was their theory. It didn’t work out that way, but that is the way it was.

Recently you gave an interview where you said you were happy for Patrick Stewart and his new Star Trek series, but doing something like that wasn’t for you. Some in the media took that to mean you were done with Star Trek entirely. Last year you told me you were open to returning to the character. You may not want to do a new TV series, but if they can find a way to make it work, you would still return to the role, right?

That is exactly right. If they can find a way of writing a 50 years older captain and it was meaningful and had something to do with the plot, I would jump at the chance.

Evangeline Lilly was recently asked about the Lost finale at a convention. Here is her response:

“Well, I’m going to have to go straight to the finale. Vote of confidence, who liked the finale? [The room broke out into cheers] Who did not like the finale? [about the same amount of cheers] About 50/50. So, for those of who you didn’t like it; you loved our show, because at the end of every week, we would leave you with an impossible and pressing mystery. It would force you to the water cooler, or the dinner table, asking each other the most difficult questions. Usually philosophical questions. Sometimes questions that touched on God or religion and reality, and what it means to be human.

And then, on the finale, you sat waiting with baited breath, thinking ‘they’re gonna give us the answer.’ Well, that’s what religions do. So if you want the answer to the great big question of life, go to church, go to God, find the answer, but art…art is supposed to, every time without fail, turn the question back on you, and asks you to look at what you’re seeing, listen to what you’re hearing, experience it, and then look at it in the mirror of your soul, and figure out what it means to you.

And so there is no one interpretation of the finale of LOST. For as many people that are in this room, there are that many true, real, endings for LOST.

Because it’s just a reflection of who you are, and it’s the ultimate question being posed to you, not the ultimate answer being handed to you.”

Jacqueline Pearce, who played Servalan on Blakes 7 has died at 74.

I highly recommend reading Sapiens by historian Yuval Noah Harari. Wired reports that Harari is a big fan of science fiction and that he “includes an entire chapter about it in his new book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century.”

“Today science fiction is the most important artistic genre,” Harari says in Episode 325 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy  podcast. “It shapes the understanding of the public on things like artificial intelligence and biotechnology, which are likely to change our lives and society more than anything else in the coming decades.”

New York Times Reports, “Democrats Embrace Liberal Insurgents, Demanding New Face for Party”

The Democratic Party establishment has desired to nominate more moderate candidates, even in safe Democratic areas where they could not use their questionable arguments that more moderate candidates are more electable. Earlier in the year we saw examples of how the party establishment has attempted to suppress insurgent candidates. The New York Times notes how the Democratic Party establishment is having problems this year:

…Democratic voters and activists have increasingly succeeded at transforming their party into a more ambitious liberal force. In key races, they have also replaced elected leaders with newcomers who look and sound like the diverse, youthful base that the party relies on in presidential elections but that asserts itself sparingly in midterm elections and down-ballot primaries.

Should that mood of insurgency prevail on Election Day, it could set the stage for an even more tumultuous phase of redefinition next year: A liberal base that feels validated after November may be unlikely to heed calls from party leaders to pick their battles in the new Congress, or to approach the 2020 race with sensitivity to more conservative sections of the country. The next presidential primaries could become a climactic test for the awakened Democratic base, with women and candidates of color holding an appeal others might struggle to match.

Martin T. Meehan, a former member of Congress from Massachusetts, a state rocked on Tuesday by primary upsets, said Mr. Trump had helped fuse once-fractious Democratic constituencies into a powerful alliance for primary season. Mr. Meehan, now the president of the University of Massachusetts, likened it to earlier moments of political realignment, when ethnic groups like Italian-, Irish- and Greek-American voters learned to work together in the middle of last century…

The most dramatic upsets have come in New York, where Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old activist and former bartender, defeated Representative Joseph Crowley, a Democratic boss in Queens and Washington, in a June primary; and Massachusetts, where Ayanna Pressley, a 44-year-old member of the Boston City Council, on Tuesday wrested the nomination away from Representative Michael Capuano, a 10-term progressive she branded as passive and conventional. Both women channeled liberal alarm at Mr. Trump and at social inequality in their own communities, and promised an unyielding fight for change…

In some revealing open-seat races, Democratic voters have also flouted the directives of party leaders and embraced inspiring activists. They nominated Jahana Hayes, an African-American educator, for Congress in Connecticut over a candidate approved by the state Democratic Party, and picked Andrew Gillum, the African-American mayor of Tallahassee, for governor of Florida over a field of better-funded candidates that included the scion of an imposing dynasty.

…Democratic insurgents predict that the party’s shifting attitude toward primary elections is more likely to intensify than recede. As Republican power brokers have found in recent years, once-potent instruments for enforcing partisan hierarchy have diminished in value: Political newcomers have deftly used online fund-raising and social media-based campaign tactics to replace the access to big donors and television airwaves that party leaders can more easily control.

And in Washington, as the number of Democratic upstarts elected to Congress grows, party leaders may face new pressures in navigating primary elections..

In keeping with Massachusetts political convention, Mr. Capuano mobilized a set of muscular institutions behind him, drawing endorsements from labor unions and influential Democrats including Boston’s mayor, Martin J. Walsh; Deval Patrick, the state’s first African-American governor; and black congressional leaders like John Lewis and Maxine Waters.

All that support was not decisive, and Ms. Pressley won by 17 points.

Sam Yoon, a former member of the Boston City Council, said Ms. Pressley’s victory had exposed a momentous cultural transition in the party. Mr. Yoon, 48, mounted a campaign nearly a decade ago against the legendarily iron-fisted former mayor, Thomas M. Menino, attempting unsuccessfully to energize young progressives and minority communities in a movement for change.

“I think the dynamic is just wide-open now,” Mr. Yoon said. “The establishment doesn’t have the hold that it used to.”

While we are undoubtedly seeing a reaction against Donald Trump, the changes in the Democratic Party are likely to be more a reaction to how the party leaders forced a candidate as conservative as Hillary Clinton on the party in 2016–and the excitement created by the campaign run by Bernie Sanders. The winners this year also make a mockery of the bogus “Bernie Bros” smears used by Clinton supporters against the left. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Jahana Hayes, and Andrew Gillum are certainly not the stereotypical white male Bernie Bros which Clinton supporters falsely claimed made up their opposition.

Among those now excited by the successes of the left are Barack Obama, who has returned to public life this week in a speech praising Medicare for all: “Democrats aren’t just running on good, old ideas like a higher minimum wage. They’re running on good, new ideas like Medicare for all,” Obama said. Perhaps Obama should have backed Sanders in 2016 over the Clinton, who campaigned against the plan. At very least, someone who had become president with promises of hope and change should have realized that a candidate as conservative and corrupt as Hillary Clinton was a poor choice in a year when voters demanded change.

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek News; Doctor Who; Sharp Objects Finale; The Arrowverse; Iron Fist; Mr Robot; X-Files Barbie Dolls

Deadline reports that Star Trek will be awarded a Governor’s Award on September 8 during the Creative Arts Emmy Awards in recognition of,  “the visionary science-fiction television franchise and its legacy of boldly propelling science, society and culture where no one has gone before.” Also from the Academy:

What began as a television show grew into an entertainment franchise that has consistently depicted humanity’s greatest hopes for a better tomorrow. Throughout the Gene Roddenberry-created Star Trek’s multiple series, viewers were exposed to a world where technology and science helped improve the human condition. Futuristic technological advancements featured in the show bear striking resemblances to the cell phones and virtual reality systems in use today.

David Stapf, President of CBS Television Studios, added:  “The impact of Star Trek is far-reaching, and has inspired not only countless individuals, but great advancements in technology, science, health care, space exploration and more. We are so grateful to the brilliant minds and talented individuals, both in front of and behind the camera, who boldly tell stories that stand the test of time.”

TrekMovie.com has some quotes from the cast of  Star Trek: Discovery on the upcoming season speaking at Fan Expo Canada in Toronto.

William Shatner told the Toronto Star that he is not interested in doing a new Star Trek series like Patrick Stewart.

Karl Urban (McCoy) spoke about the Quentin Tarantino Star Trek movie at  Trekonderoga, including how it would be R-rated, but not because of the use of obscenities:

You shouldn’t worry that it is going to be full of obscenity and stuff. He wants an R-rating to really make those beats of consequence land. If it’s not PG, if someone gets sucked out into space, which we have all seen before, we might see them get disemboweled first…It allows some some breadth…gives him some leeway to do that. To me, that was always one of the things I loved about what DeForest Kelley did. He would actually capture the horror of space. That look in his eyes of sheer terror always struck me when I was a kid.

TrekMovie.com has an excerpt from,  So Say We All, an oral history of the Battlestar Galactica series, discussing how Deep Space 9 paved the way for BSG, and the long road towards a more serialized format on Star Trek series.

Variety reports that Matt Smith will be joining the cast of Star Wars: Episode IX.

Sources tell Variety that “The Crown” star Matt Smith is joining “Star Wars: Episode IX,” which is currently in production in the U.K. It’s unknown at this time whether the “Doctor Who” alum will be on the side of the rebels or the evil empire.

As for the new Doctor, Matt Smith has this to say about Jodie Whittaker: “She’ll be brilliant. I think she’s got great humor but a real depth and sort of pathos and humanity that I think will lend itself to the character. I’m really excited as a fan, actually. Game on!”

While we still don’t have much information on the upcoming episodes of Doctor Who, Radio Times reports on hints of  “dark,” “epic” and “squelchy” episodes coming. Metro has a story on the CGI effects.

Others recently revealed to be included in Star Wars: Episode IX include Keri Russel of The Americans.

There continues to be few new genre shows currently on, but there was one major finale to look at. Sharp Objects ended essentially the same way as the novel, but (major spoilers) did end with the revelation that, while Adora killed Marian, Amma killed the girls with help from her roller-skating friends. The show used this as the surprise ending, leaving out the aftermath described in the novel. The television series ended with Camille seeing the teeth in the doll house and Amma (an anagram for Mama), telling her, “Don’t tell Mama.” Then there are a couple of  scenes in the credits which quickly fill in the details of the killings, and revealing that Amma was the woman in white.

Joanna Robinson looked at many of the questions from the series at Vanity Fair. She included information from the book, such as why Amma did the killings:

Why did Amma do it? In the book, there’s a lot more explanation: Amma tells Camille that she had fun at first with the violent little Ann and Natalie. They killed a cat together! But at a certain point, the two girls started hanging around her house too much, asking too many questions about Amma’s mysterious illness—and worst of all, getting too much attention from Adora. Amma murdered the girls partially because she’s been warped by being poisoned by her mother her whole life. Often, children who have been subjected to Munchausen by Proxy have a hard time distinguishing what constitutes real violence and separating the idea of pain and affection. “A child weaned on poison considers harm a comfort,” Flynn writes.

Robinson summarized what happened to Amma in the novel:

In the book, Amma gets arrested and goes to prison. She’s only 13 in the novel, and is definitely tried as a minor. She’ll be in there until she’s 18, at least; Camille suspects even longer. Amma has shorn off all her hair—an act of defiance that mirrors young Camille’s cropped cut. (All the good girls of Wind Gap have long flowing hair, but Amma isn’t in Wind Gap anymore.) Camille visits Amma, who is having a hard time adjusting to life behind bars. Amma hasn’t recruited any new disciples . . . yet.

And Camille:

In the book, after Amma is arrested, everything unravels for Camille. She takes a knife to the one uncut part of her body—her back—and is only prevented from going after her own face because her editor, Curry, breaks in and stops her. She goes to live in the Curry house, and is slowly rebuilding. She’s also given up drinking.

Alan Sepinwal discussed the ending with Gillian Flynn in an interview in Rolling Stone:

We have to start with that ending and how abruptly we cut from the revelation that Amma killed the girls, to the Led Zeppelin song, to the credits. How did you and Marti and everyone decide that was how you wanted to wrap up the season?
That was mostly a Jean-Marc choice. It was his idea to have, right at the moment people are looking at each other to start theorizing about what happened, those quick shots of what exactly happened, and then that last final shot of Amma as the Woman in White. If you stay long enough; I don’t know if you saw that part.

I did, but that’s still a relatively new thing for television. The Marvel movies have trained audiences to watch through the credits, but outside of Westworld, TV doesn’t do much of this. Was there any concern that the audience might turn it off before getting to that?
Now that everyone watches TV differently, the idea is that you can go back. If it becomes a viral thing, like the different words [on Camille’s body] that people were looking for, you have an opportunity to go back and look for it a second time. You can hold the episodes on your DVR or on your devices and go back easily.

The book spends more time letting Camille and the reader absorb and contemplate Amma’s role in things. As the author, how did you feel about Jean-Marc’s choice to end things so abruptly after that’s revealed?
That was all of our choice. The only Jean-Marc part was the trippy Led Zeppelin cut. Books are just very different from film, and I had to respect how that was going to feel. There was a lot of discussion in the writers’ room about how much time we were going to have after Amma comes home with her, that there was going to be that extra twist. We wanted to preserve that moment but give enough time so that it does feel like the rug is being pulled out from under you. You want to give enough time where Amma and Camille are being like sisters so that it is that moment of incredible shock. We went around a lot about what was the correct amount of time to have the proper amount of gut-punching! Which I say with an evil laugh…

For the benefit of people who didn’t read the book and have only that ending montage to go on: Adora was responsible for killing Marian with Munchausen by proxy, and was doing the same to the Natalie and Ann, but it’s Amma who went and killed them on her own?
She wasn’t necessarily doing Munchausen by proxy — she was tending to [Natalie and Ann], and that made Amma very angry. Amma is the one who feels like she’s made that sacrifice. She has allowed herself to be sickened by Adora, and therefore she feels like her treating any other girls is a deep violation of that contract. And I don’t blame her in her child mind logic. That made her angry, so she sociopathically chooses to kill the girls.

The CW Network has released the above trailer for their super hero series. According to Syfy Wire, “Supergirl‘s fourth season premieres on Sunday, Oct. 14, at 8 p.m. EST; Arrow‘s seventh season follows on Monday, Oct. 15, at 8 p.m. EST; Legends‘ fourth season airs right after at 9 p.m. EST, although it won’t premiere until the 22nd; The Flash‘s fifth season arrives Tuesday, Oct. 9, at 8 p.m. EST; Black Lightning‘s second season follows at 9 p.m. EST.”

Syfy.com has excerpts from a recent interview with Stephen Amell on playing the Arrow. They also have some information on the upcoming season of The Flash.

Iron Fist returns for season two next week. Hopefully they have fixed some of the problems from the first season. Bleeding Cool has some behind the scenes videos and pictures.

I recently noted that Christian Slater was saying that Mr. Robot will end with season 4. Variety confirms that the show will end after the fourth season.

A federal judge has ruled that only San Diego Comic Con can use the term comic con, and that other comic conventions using the term are infringing on their trademark.

The original X-Files Barbie dolls, seen in the picture above, did not look all that much like Mulder and Scully. New versions are being released for the shows’s twenty-fifth anniversary, which can be seen here. They look much better, and can be pre-ordered for $40 each.

Donna Brazile Shows How The Democratic Party Establishment Has No Respect For Democracy

Much has been written accurately demonstrating the authoritarian tendencies of Donald Trump, but a consequence of our two-party system is that far too many people ignore a similar lack of respect for democracy by leaders of the Democratic Party. Donna Brazile showed how the Democratic Party rigged the nomination for Hillary Clinton in a book last fall. In recent statements she inadvertently adds additional evidence of the lack of respect for democracy among the Democratic leadership.

The Democratic Party recently voted to reduce the power of superdelegates by not allowing them to vote on the first ballot as long as the nomination was contested. The real benefit of this is that it it will probably eliminate the tendency of the news media to include superdelegates in their counts early in the nomination process. In 2016 this helped Clinton tremendously, when added to the other mechanisms used by the party to essentially rig the nomination for her, by having counts showing her substantially ahead of Sanders. This played into her strategy of making her nomination appear to be inevitable. Superdelegates will still be able to vote on other matters, such as convention rules, enabling them to play a major role should there be a contested convention even prior to a hypothetical second ballot.

Donna Brazile reminded us that the Democratic Party leadership has many other ways of getting the results they want when she tweeted: “Democrats voted to removed automatic delegates from the first round of voting. But we still have seats at the table. We are still in the room and very much capable of setting the menu.” It is rather shocking that she had no reluctance to admit this, countering the desires of Tom Perez to at least give the illusion that the Democratic Party’s nomination process is fair and honest.

Of course Brazile is correct, with the party using methods as such front-loading southern states, along with superdelegates, to increase the chances that a more moderate, ideally southern, candidate would be chosen. The party greatly increased their actions to hand Clinton the nomination in 2016 with tactics including limiting debates, the deal described in Brazile’s book to essentially give Clinton control of the party, changing fund raising rules during the campaign to help Clinton, making it harder for Sanders supporters to vote in some states, and Harry Reid’s games in Nevada. The party establishment will continue to be able to limit democracy by limiting our choices.

Brazile went further in showing contempt for democracy in an op-ed today in USA Today. I do not believe it is a stretch to assume that this represents the attitudes of others in the party establishment. Brazile complained about the loss of her power, writing as if she and other superdelegates are entitled to decide the nominees and override the decisions of the voters:

According to the new rules, we superdelegates won’t be able to vote on the first ballot at the convention. Or on any ballot, unless there’s a tie or some other sort of deadlock in the process.

So, we superdelegates are now what? Merely the mechanism you default to in case of a tie? Great. I’ve fought for the Democratic Party my entire life, and now I’m one notch above a coin toss.

She argued that the “party faithful” deserve their power to override the decisions of elected delegates for the work they have put into the party, failing to understand that in a democracy power should go to those who receive the votes. She claimed that, “the superdelegates aren’t the infamous ‘smoke-filled room’ full of ‘old white men’ deciding the fate of everybody else.” Having greater racial and gender diversity does not change the fact that having decisions made by the superdelegates are just as undemocratic as the smoke-filled rooms. She argues that “I earned my place at this table,” but in a democracy the table should be made up of those who have been elected to be there.

It would be different if we had a multi-party democracy, or if we were talking about a minor party. I would not mind if those who have built the Libertarian Party limited their nominees to those who have a roughly libertarian philosophy as that would not limit our overall choices. However, in the current duopoly, the system is rigged so that the either the Democratic or Republican Party nominee will win virtually all elections. Supporters of the major parties certainly make that point clear when they insist that this is the case and try to guilt us into voting for their candidates.

They don’t even allow other parties to participate in debates, with participation controlled by the Commission on Presidential Debates, controlled by the Democratic and Republican Parties. As a result, the two-party duopoly limits views which are considered. The parties essentially differ on reproductive rights, some differences in taxation rates, and on how much is spent on social programs. The elections rarely offer a choice on matters such as continuing our state of perpetual warfare, mass surveillance, or the drug war and mass incarceration.

The Democratic Party remains stuck in the past, seeing current elections as filtered by the 1972 loss by George McGovern. For Democrats to say that they should not nominate a candidate of the left because McGovern lost badly back in 1972 would be like Republicans saying they should not nominate a conservative because Barry Goldwater lost badly in 1964.

A better parallel for Democrats to think about would be fifty years ago when the party leadership rigged the nomination for Hubert Humphrey, instead of allowing an anti-war candidate supported by the party’s base to be the nominee. This resulted in the Democrats losing to Richard Nixon, comparable to how the Democratic Party lost to Donald Trump after the party leadership rigged the nomination for pro-war candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Our most realistic chance of having a real choice in elections is to have the ability for candidates outside of the system to have a fair shot at the major party nominations. It is not fair for Democrats to both support a system which only allows those they consider to be true Democrats to run, and to simultaneously support a system which intentionally makes it extraordinarily difficult for outsider candidates to win outside of the two-party system.

The reality is that the rules changes by the Democratic Party were far too limited. Superdelegates should be entirely abolished. Our entire electoral system also needs to be overhauled, included rank-choice voting and proportional representation. These are necessary so that people like Donna Brazile can no longer set the entire menu of which people we can vote for and which issues are considered during elections.

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek News; The Arrowverse; Jessica Jones Showrunner Leaving for Warner; Man In The High Castle Trailer; Veronica Mars; The Affair; Big Bang Theory; Timeless; Foundation Trilogy; Hugo Award Winners

It is another slow week with only one new science fiction show airing which I’m watching (Killjoys). While fun to watch, I don’t find that a show worth reviewing episode by episode as I do with some genre shows. There was one season finale with The Affair, but I don’t see much point in writing about that here except for one brief comment. I was surprised that such a major character was killed off, but many have speculated that it came down to Ruth Wilson complaining about not receiving equal pay with its male lead. Tonight is the season finale of Sharp Objects, but I will wait until after I see the finale to comment on the show. While no shows to review this week, there have been some items of interest.

With limited new news, I’ll start by going back to something interesting we learned about Deep Space Nine. I never did like the ending of the series, and I believe that this is the consensus of Star Trek fans, even if this story claims that the ending was well-received. Regardless, we learned at the Las Vegas Star Trek convention that the ending could have been far worse. From ComicBook.com:

Speaking during a panel at Star Trek Las Vegas, Behr revealed that he really wanted the series finale to call back to the popular season six episode “Far Beyond the Stars,” revealing that the entire story of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was actually the dream of science fiction writer Benny Russell.

“I did pitch to [executive producer] Rick Berman that the final episode would end up with Benny Russell on Stage 17 at Paramount, wandering around the soundstages, realizing that this whole construct, this whole series, that we had done for seven years, was just in Benny’s head,” Behr said (via Trek Movie).

But Deep Space Nine is just one television series in the Star Trek franchise, and Behr’s dream ending could have had major implications for the rest of the franchise as well.

“That is how I wanted to end the series. And Rick said ‘Does this mean The Original Series was in Benny’s head? Does this mean Voyager was in Benny’s head?’ I said ‘Hey man, I don’t care who is dreaming those shows, I only care about Deep Space Nine and yes, Benny Russell is dreaming Deep Space Nine.’ He didn’t go for it,” Behr said.

In “Far Beyond the Stars,” series lead Sisko finds himself experiencing the life of Benny Russell, a black science fiction writer in 1950s America. Russell imagines Deep Space Nine as a story he’s trying to sell, but struggles with the racism of the era. In the end, this is revealed as a vision sent to Sisko from the prophets in the wormhole near Deep Space Nine. In reality, it’s a powerful episode about what science fiction is for, what it is capable of, and why who writes it matters.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. There’s a documentary planned for release later this year titled What We Left Behind that will feature the cast and creative team that worked on the show looking back on the time they spent, the stories they created, and the legacy of the series.

I totally agree with Rick Berman on this one. It was fine to have an isolated episode in which things were possibly a dream, or for some series like St. Elsewhere to be a dream, but do not end the series in this manner when Star Trek extends far beyond this series.

TrekMovie.com has some quotes from Gates McFadden, including answering questions regarding the news of a new Star Trek series staring Patrick Stewart:

No, we haven’t [heard anything], and I am sure Patrick will fill us in sometime. I have no idea if we are in it, or if it is just Patrick or what. We will all find out, but it is just so cool, though. It is very exciting. Again, I am always blown away by the fans, who have loved the show and Roddenberry’s vision for so long and through so many different series, and they have all been so wonderful. I am as excited as everybody else.

Tyler Hoechlin will be reprising his role as Superman in the upcoming seasons Arrowverse crossover, and Lois Lane will be introduced (along with Catwoman, as previously announced). From Deadline:

The three-night crossover event kicks off with The Flash on at 8 PM Sunday, December 9, followed by Arrow at 8 PM December 10 and capping off with Supergirl on December 11. For this year’s crossover, The Flash and Supergirl will swap time slots. The Flash normally airs on Tuesdays and Supergirl on Sunday. Arrow airs in its regular Monday night slot.

Hoechlin’s Superman will appear in all three episodes. This year’s crossover will also include the first appearance of Batwoman (Ruby Rose).

The Flash will return with new episodes on Tuesday, October 9 at 8 PM ET/PT on The CW, followed by Black Lightning (which is not technically part of the Arrowverse) at 9 PM. Supergirl premieres the next week on Sunday, October 14 at 8 PM, followed by Arrow on Monday, October 15 at 8 PM. DC’s Legends of Tomorrow will return on Monday, October 22 at 9 PM. The as-yet-untitled crossover event will from Sunday, December 9 through Tuesday, December 11.>

I09 has a story on the rise of the Dark Night on the upcoming season of Gotham.

We might see a big improvement in the DC based television shows while there has been a huge loss for the Marvel shows. Melissa Rosenberg, creator and showrunner for Jessica Jones, is leaving Netflix and moving to Warner Bro Television. From The Hollywood Reporter:

In a competitive situation, the Jessica Jones creator and showrunner will depart the Netflix Marvel drama after season three and move to Warner Bros. Television with an overall deal. Sources say the indie studio outbid Netflix for Rosenberg’s services in a deal that ultimately is worth in the eight-figure range. Ultimately, Rosenberg was ready to do something different and was ready to move on to new projects though Netflix is said to have courted her to stay.

Under the multiple-year pact, Rosenberg will create and develop new projects for Warner Bros. TV. She is currently focused finishing up the previously announced third season of Netflix’s Marvel drama Jessica Jones. A return date for the Krysten Ritter-led Marvel Television drama from ABC Studios has not yet been determined. A new showrunner would take over for Rosenberg should Netflix renew Jessica Jones for a fourth season. Rosenberg will remain credited as the show’s creator and executive producer.

Amazon Prime has released the season three trailer for The Man In The High Castle (video above). The synopsis:

Season three of the Emmy award-winning The Man in the High Castle finds Juliana Crain (Alexa Davalos) grappling with her destiny after seeking safety in the Neutral Zone. Realizing that their fates are intertwined, she works with Trade Minister Tagomi (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) to interpret the mystery of the last remaining films. Meanwhile, as tensions between the Reich and the Empire continue to rise, Joe Blake (Luke Kleintank) returns from Berlin and is sent on a diplomatic mission to San Francisco, where he and Juliana reunite and come to a turning point in their relationship. Also in the new season, Obergruppenfuhrer John Smith (Rufus Sewell) finds himself celebrated by Nazi high society, but political forces are closing in as North American Reischsmarschall Lincoln Rockwell and J. Edgar Hoover plot against him. Helen (Chelah Horsdal) takes drastic action to protect her family while they struggle with the aftermath of Thomas’ death, and Smith learns of a shocking and ambitious new Nazi program that has personal and global ramifications

Hulu is planning a reboot of Veronica Mars, with Kristen Bell reprising the title role.

Apple has picked up a ten-episode series based upon Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy.

We have more news on the Timeless movie planned to wrap up the series. The two-part episode will air in December, with production starting in October. The full cast will be returning. TVLine has more on the planned writers and director.

The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin has won the Hugo Award for best novel. Wonder Woman has won for Best Dramatic Presentation–Long Form and The Good Place: “The Trolley Problem” has won for Best Dramatic Presentation–Short Form. The Verge has a full list of nominees and winners.

ABC is planning a biracial reboot of Bewitched.

I’m sure everyone who cares knows by now, but I feel I should include the news that The Big Bang Theory will be ending after this season. Fifty million dollars was not enough to entice Jim Parsons to stick around for another two years.

DNC Votes To Reform Party And Apologizes For Past Sins (A Fake News Fantasy)

The Democratic National Committee met in Chicago, with the most controversial matter being a vote to reduce the power of superdelegates. Rather than approving a weak compromise measure which would prevent superdelegates from voting on the first ballot, Democrats decided that a party which calls themselves Democrats must embrace democracy, and voted to totally eliminate superdelegates.

Democrats went to enact rules to prevent the abuses of 2016, including giving Hillary Clinton effective control of the party  before the primaries began, limitations on debates, and front loading of southern states in an attempt to get a more conservative presidential candidate. Delegates realized that their failure to recognize that it is no longer 1972 has led to serious losses by Democrats over the past decade. One imaginary rational Democratic leader explained, “Saying Democrats shouldn’t nominate someone on the left because McGovern lost badly in 1972 is like saying Republicans shouldn’t nominate conservatives because Goldwater lost badly in 1964.”

Democrats also showed remorse for how Bill Clinton moved the country to the right, and for nominating a corrupt warmonger in 2016. Democrats voted to vacate both of the victories by Bill Clinton and the nomination of Hillary Clinton in 2016. The record books now showed that the United States had a Republican president from 1993 to 2001 and that there was no Democratic candidate for president in 2016. The party also enacted new ethics rules to chastise politicians who use elected office for personal financial gain to the degree practiced by the Clintons, and recommended the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate their crimes.

Besides altering their position on government corruption, Democrats issued statements supporting an end of big money influence over politics, ending our state of perpetual warfare, ending mass surveillance, and ending the drug war.

It was at this point that I awoke from this dream.

Gallup Poll Shows 78% Of Democrats Mistakenly Believe Russia Changed Election Results

Democrats have often claimed to be the reality based community, citing many false beliefs held by Republicans. For example, a poll as recent as 2015 showed that half of Republicans still believed that WMD had been found in Iraq. Gallup shows that Democrats are doing even worse regarding false claims being used to promote neocon goals. A Gallup poll released August 20 shows 78% of Democrats believe not only that Russia interfered in 2016 election but that it changed the result, despite a lack of evidence for this view.

As with false views about WMD in Iraq, false views by Democrats about the 2016 election have negative consequences. Democrats are using the belief that Clinton lost because of Russian actions to avoid necessary reform in the party. Democrats must face reality, accept responsibility for their losses, and reform their party, as opposed to dwelling on conspiracy theories blaming others. Rigging the nomination for a candidate as terrible as Clinton cost the Democrats about 10% of the vote and is the main reason they lost in 2016–not any foreign interference.

Even worse, this has led to a more hostile view on foreign relations by Democrats. The same poll found that, “Americans believe it is more important to try to continue efforts to improve relations between the countries (58%), rather than taking strong diplomatic and economic steps against Russia (36%).” In contrast a majority of Democrats (51%) favor taking steps against Russia while 45% believe it is more important to continue efforts to improve relations. Hysteria over Russian bots and “fake news” has also led to an increase in censorship of Americans on social media, as I most recently discussed yesterday.

A majority agree that Russia did interfere in the election. This is hardly surprising considering that Russia has meddled in our politics for decades, just as the United States has meddled in elections in Russia and around the world. I find that many Democrats have difficulty separating the different aspects of this. They see legitimate criticism of Trump’s policies as somehow being proof that Russia changed the result of the election, or fail to distinguish between low level meddling and actually altering the result.

Some of this comes from misinformation deliberately spread by Clinton and the DNC to distract from the reasons for her loss.  As was revealed in Shattered, Hillary Clinton decided upon the strategy of blaming others such as Russia for her loss within twenty-four hours of losing. The Washington Post exposed the fact that the Clinton campaign and DNC had paid for the Steele dossier, after they had denied their involvement for months.

We also have often seen false information being repeated, even after retracted. Today we saw one of many false claims being retracted, this time a claim from Democrats about a hacking attempt turning out to be a false alarm. I’ve repeatedly found that Democrats will continue to cite the original incorrect stories without realizing they have been retracted. This includes the repeated incorrect claims about seventeen intelligence agencies, and incorrect reporting regarding hacking of voter databases. I listed additional examples here, and The Nation has also debunked the irresponsible media coverage of claims about Russia.

Just as many Democrats are quick to accept any excuse for Clinton’s loss, many reporters who had predicted Clinton would win easily prefer to blame her loss on Russia, rather than admitting they had totally misread the election. In reality, signs of Clinton’s weakness in the battleground states, among independents, among liberals, and among young voters was apparent even before she was nominated, as I had warned in multiple posts.

Evidence from the Congressional investigations showed that the Trump Tower meeting, while possibly a violation of election laws, was of little consequence. No evidence came up showing any evidence that any votes were changed during the Congressional investigations. The hearings revealed that Russian ads and propaganda accounted for a minuscule portion of overall Facebook content, representing  “less than 0.004 percent of all content — or about 1 in 23,000 news feed items” on Facebook. Over half of the ads were not seen until after the election, most had nothing to do with promoting Trump over Clinton, and the ads were more concentrated in safe blue or red states as opposed to the battleground states.

The various guilty pleas and indictments from Robert Mueller have dealt far more with crimes such as money laundering and tax evasion as opposed to anything which involved the election. Some indictments were for violations of campaign law, and others were for allegedly hacking the DNC, with neither claimed to have altered the election results.

With the DNC having refused to allow the FBI to investigate their computers, there remains question as to whether the release of email was really a hack or a leak. Even if a hack, there has been no question as to the validity of the email released by Wikileaks. Blaming the loss of the election based upon the release of factual information which exposed dishonesty by Clinton and the DNC is hardly a meaningful excuse, and the blame for the loss still falls on Clinton and the DNC.

Democrats must face reality as to why they lost the 2016 election and make necessary reforms in the party–including reforming the nomination process at their meeting this week where super delegates are under consideration. Rigging the nomination for a candidate who could not win the nomination fairly on her own both alienated many potential voters, and left the Democrats with a candidate too unpopular to beat even a candidate as dreadful as Donald Trump.

ACLU Joins Other Civil Libertarians In Warning About Dangers Of Censorship On Social Media

Censorship on social media has been an ongoing problem involving people on both the left and the right, but the recent banning of Alex Jones has increased attention to the issue. While many civil libertarians have seen the dangers, others have allowed their views of Alex Jones to distract from the urgent civil liberties issues at stake. Attacks on civil liberties have often started with unpopular targets, and then extending to others. The American Civil Liberties Union has warned about the worrisome implications:

Several companies, including Facebook and YouTube, have removed Jones and his radio show for violating their hate speech policies. But doing so may set a dangerous precedent, according to Ben Wizner, director of ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project.

As private institutions, these sites have the constitutional right to decide whether to host Jones. But a hate speech policy defining when an individual warrants being banned could be “misused and abused,” Wizner told HuffPost on Monday.

“If [Attorney General] Jeff Sessions, for example, were deciding what’s hate speech, he would be less likely to think KKK and more likely to think [Black Lives Matter],” Wizner said. “It turns out to be an extremely subjective term.”

“I have some of the same concerns about platforms making those decisions,” he added. “Governments at least purport to be acting solely in the public interest, but platforms are making these decisions based on what’s in their financial interest. So their interest might be in avoiding controversy, but do we want the most important speech platforms in the world to avoid controversy?”

“Who should decide what’s fake? … It’s not so easy to do in a way that is objective,” he said. “If these platforms get in the business of trying to be the arbiters of truth or falsity, pretty soon everyone is going to have something to complain about.”

“Do we really want corporations that are answerable to their shareholders and their bottom lines being the ones who decide which political speech Americans should see or not see?” he added. “Because that’s what we’re asking for here.”

Some have questioned whether this is a civil liberties issue as on the surface it involves private companies as opposed to the government. The point is not that whether this is a First Amendment issue, but that our concept of censorship and the First Amendment must be updated due to how social media is being used by government to restrict speech. Social media has become the equivalent of the old fashioned town square. When we have a near monopoly controlling social media on the internet (which happened to be developed with taxpayer’s money), and government then instructs these companies to restrict the speech of people, it can be more dangerous than our conventional concept of censorship. Making matters worse, there is no due process when done with supposedly private companies in this manner.

The purpose of the First Amendment was to protect free speech–not to give excuses to support censorship when it does not strictly fall under the wording of the First Amendment. Wired had  warnings about allowing Facebook to censor free speech, and responded to the argument that this is not a First Amendment issue:

The lamest of counterarguments to Zuckerberg’s absolutist position is the drearily predictable one of “the First Amendment doesn’t apply to companies.” It’s the nitpicky point of the eighth-grade know-it-all. How about I quarter troops from my private army in your house, and when you cite the Third Amendment, I’ll reply with “well, they’re not government troops,” and see how you feel about it?

Concepts like “trespassing” and “privacy” are not mentioned in the Constitution and did not then exist in the form we know today. We have extended the animating spirit of the Third and Fourth Amendments—respecting a person’s property and privacy—more broadly, because it’s a foundational value we want to see respected everywhere. Ditto the First Amendment: We want companies to embrace it too.

Internet censorship greatly increased as a result of pressure from Democrats who blame Russian ads and “fake news” for the defeat of Hillary Clinton, as opposed to being willing to acknowledge the serious problems in nominating Clinton, and the terrible campaign she ran, which caused her defeat. Clinton herself called on Congress to regulate what she considered to be fake news after her defeat–a rather serious attack on First Amendment rights.

It is easy to look the other way when someone as vile as Alex Jones is the target, but internet censorship has extended to many others on both the left and the right. If censorship is justified based upon expressing hatred, promoting violence, and spreading false information, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are far more dangerous. If kooky right wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones should be banned, the same could just as easily be said about kooky left wing conspiracy theorist Rachel Maddow, whose conspiracy theories risk starting a war with a nuclear power.

Before the government pushed internet companies to act as their censors, they preferred to be regarded as common carriers who are not responsible for regulating content. Either we go with that concept, or we have a handful of executives in Silicon Valley deciding what any of us can say. There is no middle ground. As Matt Taibbi pointed out, “as was obvious during the Senate hearing with Mark Zuckerberg earlier this year, politicians are more interested in using than curtailing the power of these companies. The platforms, for their part, will cave rather than be regulated. The endgame here couldn’t be clearer. This is how authoritarian marriages begin, and people should be very worried.”

After Alex Jones was removed by multiple social media companies, Senator Chris Murphy tweeted: “Infowars is the tip of a giant iceberg of hate and lies that uses sites like Facebook and YouTube to tear our nation apart. These companies must do more than take down one website. The survival of our democracy depends on it.”

Instead of falling into the trap of saying this is not a First Amendment issue as it is not the government doing the censorship (at least directly), we should be exerting pressure on both members of Congress and the social media companies to consider social media companies as common carriers rather than taking on the job of censoring speech. The alternative would be as if AT&T, when they had a monopoly, was also entrusted with determining what types of speech could be allowed over its telephone lines.

In a follow up article to the one I quoted from above, Taibbi wrote on this topic in greater detail:

Two weeks ago, we learned about a new campaign against “inauthentic” content, conducted by Facebook in consultation with Congress and the secretive think tank Atlantic Council — whose board includes an array of ex-CIA and Homeland Security officials — in the name of cracking down on alleged Russian disinformation efforts.­ As part of the bizarre alliance of Internet news distributors and quasi-government censors, the social network zapped 32 accounts and pages, including an ad for a real “No Unite the Right 2” anti-racist counter-rally in D.C. this past weekend.

Last week, we saw another flurry of censorship news. Facebook apparently suspended VenezuelaAnalysis.com, a site critical of U.S. policy toward Venezuela. (It was reinstated Thursday.) Twitter suspended a pair of libertarians, including @DanielLMcAdams of the Ron Paul Institute and @ScottHortonShow of Antiwar.com, for using the word “bitch” (directed toward a man) in a silly political argument. They, too, were later re-instated.

More significantly: Google’s former head of free expression issues in Asia, Lokman Tsui, blasted the tech giant’s plan to develop a search engine that would help the Chinese government censor content…

Both the Jones situation and the Facebook-Atlantic Council deletions seem an effort to fulfill a request made last year by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Last October, Facebook, Google and Twitter were asked by Hawaii Senator Mazie Hizono to draw up a “mission statement” to “prevent the foment of discord.”

Companies like Facebook might have balked before. They have long taken a position that’s very Star Trek, very Prime-Directive: We do not interfere. Mark Zuckerberg, as late as 2016, was saying, “editing content… that’s not us.”

…After Trump’s shocking win in 2016, everyone turned to Facebook and Google to fix “fake news.” But nobody had a coherent definition of what constitutes it.

Many on the left lamented the Wikileaks releases of Democratic Party emails, but those documents were real news, and the complaint there was more about the motives of sources, and editorial emphasis, rather than accuracy…

Within a year, Google bragged that it had deleted 8 million videos from YouTube. A full 6.7 million videos were caught by machines, 1.1 million by YouTube’s own “trusted flaggers” (we’re pre-writing the lexicon of the next dystopian novels), and 400,000 by “normal users.”

Subsequently, we heard that Facebook was partnering with the Atlantic Council — which, incidentally, accepts donations from at least 25 different foreign countries, including United Arab Emirates and the king of Bahrain, in addition to firms like weapons manufacturer Raytheon and my old pals at HSBC — to identify “potential abuse.”

…For more than half a century, we had an effective, if slow, litigation-based remedy for speech violations. The standards laid out in cases like New York Times v. Sullivan were designed to protect legitimate reporting while directly remunerating people harmed by bad speech. Sooner or later, people like Alex Jones would always crash under crippling settlements. Meanwhile, young reporters learned to steer clear of libel and defamation. Knowing exactly what we could and could not get away with empowered us to do our jobs, confident that the law had our backs.

If the line of defense had not been a judge and jury but a giant transnational corporation working with the state, journalists taking on banks or tech companies or the wrong politicians would have been playing intellectual Russian roulette. In my own career, I’d have thought twice before taking on a company like Goldman Sachs. Any reporter would.

Now the line is gone. Depending on the platform, one can be banned for “glorifying violence,” “sowing division,” “hateful conduct” or even “low quality,” with those terms defined by nameless, unaccountable executives, working with God Knows Whom…

Google and Facebook have long wrestled with the question of how to operate in politically repressive markets — Google launched a censored Chinese search engine in 2006, before changing its mind in 2010 — but it seems we’re seeing a kind of mass surrender on that front.

The apparent efforts to comply with government requests to help “prevent the foment of discord” suggest the platforms are moving toward a similar surrender even in the United States. The duopolistic firms seem anxious to stay out of headlines, protect share prices and placate people like Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, who just said deleting Jones was only a “good first step.”

Americans are not freaking out about this because most of us have lost the ability to distinguish between general principles and political outcomes. So long as the “right” people are being zapped, no one cares.

But we should care. Censorship is one of modern man’s great temptations. Giving in to it hasn’t provided many happy stories.

Slate warned that, “placing the distribution of information in the hands of a few tech companies will remain a very big problem.”

Did anyone vote to make Google and Facebook monopolies. Did anyone vote to say we are going to make private actors make these decisions? There hasn’t been such a vote. People are just waking up to the fact that these guys are monopolies. People are just waking up to the fact that these guys have built these machines and amplified these kinds of voices. We only had our first major hearing in Congress last summer. This is pretty fresh, pretty new. I think if you put it to a vote, you sure as hell wouldn’t have anybody say, “We will choose these people to be our censors, we will choose these people to be our regulators.” And remember that this is a two-edged story. Any time you say that you are going to allow for this type of private action or private censorship, it is something that can be used against your friends next year, tomorrow.

Caitlin Johnstone, who herself was the target of internet censorship this month, further discussed how In A Corporatist System Of Government, Corporate Censorship Is State Censorship:

In a corporatist system of government, wherein there is no meaningful separation between corporate power and state power, corporate censorship isstate censorship. Because legalized bribery in the form of corporate lobbying and campaign donations has given wealthy Americans the ability to control the US government’s policy and behavior while ordinary Americans have no effective influence whatsoever, the US unquestionably has a corporatist system of government. Large, influential corporations are inseparable from the state, so their use of censorship is inseparable from state censorship.

This is especially true of the vast megacorporations of Silicon Valley, whose extensive ties to US intelligence agencies are well-documented. Once you’re assisting with the construction of the US military’s drone program, receiving grants from the CIA and NSA for mass surveillance, or having your site’s content regulated by NATO’s propaganda arm, you don’t get to pretend you’re a private, independent corporation that is separate from government power. It is possible in the current system to have a normal business worth a few million dollars, but if you want to get to billions of dollars in wealth control in a system where money translates directly to political power, you need to work with existing power structures like the CIA and the Pentagon, or else they’ll work with your competitors instead of you.

For more on this topic, I would also recommend the following video discussion with Glenn Greenwald (who has written extensively on civil liberties and social media), Sam Biddle, and Briahna Joy: