Do The Democrats Have A Death Wish?

The Democratic Party not only lost the fight over who would fill Antonin Scalia’s Supreme Court seat, but they might also be conceding defeat for the future. Talking Points Memo quotes Senator Ed Markey:

“When the Democrats return to the majority and capture the presidency, which we will, that day is going to arrive, we will restore the 60-vote margin,” Markey told MSNBC’s Katy Tur. “We will ensure that, for the Supreme Court, there is that special margin that any candidate has to reach because that is essential to ensuring that our country has a confidence in those people that are nominated, rather than just someone who just passes a litmus test.”

Do Democrats secretly wish to lose?

Assuming that he isn’t saying this for political posturing without any intent to do so, and that his views are representative of the party, this makes no sense. Why allow the Republicans to confirm Justices with only 51 votes, but then go back to requiring 60 votes to confirm liberal Justices to undo the harm caused by the Republicans?

Maybe Markey wants to stand up for principle, but if so there are far more fundamental liberal principles which the Democratic Party has repeatedly compromised on than the view that a Supreme Court Justice should require sixty votes for confirmation. Maybe this could be reconsidered at some future point should the Republican Party return to sanity, but this is not the time to make such a decision. In the meantime, perhaps the Democrats should stick to principles on matters such as defending civil liberties and reversing the surveillance state. Perhaps they should fight to avoid repeating the mistakes of the Bush years in intervening in the middle east. Instead we have Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer supporting Trump’s airstrikes in Syria, and other Democratic leaders including Howard Dean attacking Tulsi Gabbard who has been promoting peace.

Of course we should not be surprised, considering how the Democratic establishment rigged the 2016 nomination for Hillary Clinton, who both was to the right of Antonin Scalia on civil liberties, and favored far more extensive, and dangerous, intervention in Syria than the attack by Donald Trump. Of course that was also another example of the Democrats showing an inability to win, in nominating the worst possible candidate to run against Donald Trump. If you are going to rig a party’s nomination, at least do so for a candidate who can win–unless you have a death wish.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who and The Two Masters; Legends of Tomorrow Breaks Time; Surprises On The Magicians; A Wedding On Orphan Black?; Hugo Award Finalists; Netflix Marvel Shows; Renewals and Returning Shows

Thanks to time travel, there have been many episodes of Doctor Who which featured two or more Doctors from different regeneratons. In the upcoming season, not only will there be the return of Missy, but John Sims will be returning as The Master. The BBC reports:

John Simm will return as the Master to battle the Doctor (Peter Capaldi), new companion Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie) and Nardole (Matt Lucas) in the forthcoming series of Doctor Who.

John Simm says: “I can confirm that it’s true, thanks to the power of time travel I’m back. It’s always a pleasure to work with this great team of people and I can’t wait for you all to see what the Master gets up to in the next series. “

Steven Moffat, writer and executive producer, says: “Nothing stays secret for long on Doctor Who but you’ll have to wait a little bit longer to see exactly what the Master is up to and how he makes his return to face the Doctor. It’s been a huge pleasure to have fan favourites John Simm and Michelle Gomez face to face in the same role! It’s not often you get to see a solo personality clash.”

John Simm was last seen as the Master on New Year’s Day 2010. Viewers will have to wait to see exactly when and how the Master will return to the new series, which starts on Saturday 15 April at 7:20pm on BBC One.

As previously announced, Doctor Who series 10 will also star Michelle Gomez as Missy – a later regeneration of the Master. Other returning foes include the Daleks, the Ice Warriors and – returning for the first time in over 50 years – the Mondasian Cybermen. An exciting line up of new faces and adversaries will debut across the series, including adorable-but-deadly Emojibots and David Suchet as the Landlord.

Steven Moffat has also been teasing a huge spoiler, to be revealed in a trailer to one of the episodes:

“This is just a public warning,” said a playful Moffat. “Some people hate spoilers and some people love spoilers – and everybody hates me whatever way they think about it. So this is my last attempt in this role to avoid hatred.

“At the end of the episode there will be yet another awesome trailer for Doctor Who… at the very end of the trailer there is, frankly, an enormous spoiler, a spoiler that may actually melt your brains. But I promise you, you’d be better off not knowing because awesome though it will be here, it will be even more awesome in a few weeks’ time. So we’re gonna give you the option, in our frankly camp and ridiculous way…

“There will come up a warning and then there will be a countdown to the spoiler, and then there will be a warning to ‘blink now’. If at that point you close your eyes and wait until you hear the cliffhanger noise, you will have a better experience in a few weeks’ time.”

Den of Geek has a spoiler-free review of the season premier.

Series ten will finally reveal the location of the TARDIS toilet. (“It’s down there. First right, second left, past the macaroon dispenser.”) It remains unseen.

Doctor Who TV has links to series ten interviews with Steven Moffat and the cast. In an interview elsewhere,  Peter Davison discussed how the regeneration scenes were hard for both himself and David Tennant.

There have already been shows such as Broadchurch and Victoria which include at least two actors who had previously appeared in the Doctor Who universe. Another example is coming. Look at the cast in this show discussed at Deadline:

Netflix has come on board BBC Two’s contemporary thriller Collateral as co-producer and will release globally outside the UK. As Deadline revealed last month, Carey Mulligan is starring in the David Hare created drama that explores the spiraling repercussions surrounding the fatal shooting of a pizza delivery man. New cast includes John Simm (Life on Mars), Nicola Walker (Spooks) and Billie Piper (Doctor Who, Penny Dreadful).

Rose and The Master, plus staring Carey Mulligan, who played Sally Sparrow in Blink.

Legends of Tomorrow was considerably improved in the second season. After an apparently happy ending, the Legends wound up in a Los Angeles with a changed skyline with futuristic buildings and buildings from Victorian England, and dinosaurs. I wonder if they are intentionally using things which the Legends have encountered previously.  Screener discussed the aftermath of breaking time with showrunner Phil Klemmer:

It’s no secret that the Legends revisiting an event they’d already changed is bad news — and now in the Season 2 finale, that’s exactly what’s happening. What can you tell us about the episode?

I guess I’ll say this: We have to follow through on our promise. I think people would hate us if the Legends were able to perform this feat without any consequence… If this were a typical “Legends” episode, and ended with, “Alright, we didn’t get a lot of style points but we succeeded.” This really has to be different than a random episode throughout the season.

As a show, it’s always been designed to reinvent itself at the end of every season, whether that’s with the mythology or the characters or the stakes. The blocks that we build with are not designed to last from one season to the next. We’ve loved Season 2 and could continue writing this forever, but I don’t think that would be true to the spirit of the show, which is supposed to be wildly unpredictable and zany.

We had to have a seismic shift for our story, and one that will leave people scratching their heads for the next five months or whatever. I think the show is at its best when you watch an episode and honestly don’t know how the hell you got there. We never could have predicted that we would do an episode about George Lucas, or “Land of the Lost” dinosaurs. You can get a little too comfortable and we got good at doing the Season 2 thing. That’s precisely the moment where you have to blow the canon up again, you know? Crash this beautiful ship of ours and see where you land.

It’s scary — but it’s a challenge that I know, when we all sit down in the writers’ room for the first day of work, everybody’s going to be on the edge of their seat and eager to start talking, because nobody knows where we’re headed. And that’s exciting and terrifying.

While ‘Legends’ is telling a unique story, it still exists in a shared universe — your actions can be felt on other shows. Is that a line you have to walk — debating how much to blow up so it doesn’t impact ‘Arrow’ or ‘The Flash’?

It is funny. Kevin Smith said at Paleyfest how Barry has suffered endlessly for making one mistake, and we’ve sort of made a habit out of it. Usually when we’re in the Waverider and we’re traveling through time, we’re thinking the crossover is really the only time we have to make our worlds harmonious.

But you’re right, we have maybe made a really difficult challenge for ourselves. You’ll see in the last 45 seconds a different kind of mistake than we’ve ever made before — and the challenge of Season 3 is going to be coming up with a new mission-of-the-week… Because it’s not as easy as going back in time and keeping George Lucas in film school. That’s going to seem like a very two-dimensional surgical strike, compared to the historical messes that we have to clean up as a result of what we do in this finale. It’s exponentially more complicated.

Despite the changes on Legends of Tomorrow, Marc Guggenheim says we will not see dinosaurs in Central City on The Flash next season.

Last week’s episode of The Magicians had a dragon, a visit to the underworld (with bowling), and a lot of surprises. Eliot was surprised to find he was not going to get laid because a bunch of Fillorians and Lorians were turned into rats on Eliot and King Idri’s wedding day. Margo surprised Eliot when the truth serum forced her to confess, but then, surprisingly did something risky to try to fix everything. Eliot was also surprised to return to Brakebills. Senator John Gaines was surprised to learn why some people did what he wanted, and further surprised when he gave another Senator a heart attack. Julia was surprised to learn that Elysium is run by Miss Persephone. The biggest surprise was the sacrifice Julia made for Quenton, presumably now opening the door to bringing Alice back.

The Dragon got the best lines of the episode:  “You have 24 hours to return to the portal.” “Or…” “I sit patiently, waiting for you to come back. No, I eat you, I’m a fucking dragon, what do you expect?”

Deadline had a panel with cast and crew, and had some teasers for the final two episodes of the season:

With just two episodes to go, the team promised to go out with a bang (“They’re insane,” said Maeve. “Quite insane”). Added McNamara: “There’s been something for the entire season, and there’s a perpetrator behind these things that are going on, and you don’t know who it is… It’s kind of a giant whodunit.” Ralph confirmed that the April 19 finale will pull the rug out from under its characters, saying, “Just as these people think that they have real control over their lives and have made real decisions and have forward momentum and feel like they’re taking responsibility for things for the first time, we draw back the curtain and reveal that they’ve had no control – they’ve been pawns.” Gamble smiled. “Don’t you love a cliffhanger?”

Orphan Black returns for its fifth and final season on June 10. Several pictures and clips have been released, including this one which suggests that Cosima and Dephine are getting married:


The 2017 Hugo Award finalists are out. The awards will be presented on August 11, 2017. Here are the nominees for the two categories which include television shows and movies:

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

  • Arrival, screenplay by Eric Heisserer based on a short story by Ted Chiang, directed by Denis Villeneuve (21 Laps Entertainment/FilmNation Entertainment/Lava Bear Films)
  • Deadpool, screenplay by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick, directed by Tim Miller (Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation/Marvel Entertainment/Kinberg Genre/The Donners’ Company/TSG Entertainment)
  • Ghostbusters, screenplay by Katie Dippold & Paul Feig, directed by Paul Feig (Columbia Pictures/LStar Capital/Village Roadshow Pictures/Pascal Pictures/Feigco Entertainment/Ghostcorps/The Montecito Picture Company)
  • Hidden Figures, screenplay by Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, directed by Theodore Melfi (Fox 2000 Pictures/Chernin Entertainment/Levantine Films/TSG Entertainment)
  • Rogue One, screenplay by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy, directed by Gareth Edwards (Lucasfilm/Allison Shearmur Productions/Black Hangar Studios/Stereo D/Walt Disney Pictures)
  • Stranger Things, Season One, created by the Duffer Brothers (21 Laps Entertainment/Monkey Massacre)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

  • Black Mirror: “San Junipero”, written by Charlie Brooker, directed by Owen Harris (House of Tomorrow)
  • Doctor Who: “The Return of Doctor Mysterio”, written by Steven Moffat, directed by Ed Bazalgette (BBC Cymru Wales)
  • The Expanse: “Leviathan Wakes”, written by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, directed by Terry McDonough (SyFy)
  • Game of Thrones: “Battle of the Bastards”, written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, directed by Miguel Sapochnik (HBO)
  • Game of Thrones: “The Door”, written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, directed by Jack Bender (HBO)
  • Splendor & Misery [album], by Clipping (Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, Jonathan Snipes)

Screenrant has looked at how the television version of Legion differed from the comics.

On a somewhat similar topic, Vulture compared how the ending of Big Little Lies compared to the book.

Netflix has revealed that The Defenders will be released on August 18, 2017.

Daredevil will start filming season three later this year, to be released in 2018.

Iron Fist has received a number of poor reviews, but I doubt I will go entirely without seeing it before watching The Defenders. Nerdophiles has a possible solution–listing the must see episodes and recommendations for those to skip. They even have a synopsis of the episodes they recommend skipping. It won’t save all that much time, only recommending skipping three episodes (the second, third, and twelfth). The first also also gets a poor review, but I assume the author recommends watching as it is the first episode and presumably does set up the show. In other words, it appears that the series doesn’t really become all that watchable until the fourth episode.

In this era of peak TV, there are many shows I have not had a chance to see which others say are worthwhile. I’ve heard a few people say great things about Wynonna Earp. Screen Rant gives fifteen reasons to watch. The first season recently became available on Netflix, and the second season begins on Syfy on Friday June 9. Syfy has announced that Dark Matter will also return on June 9 with two episodes. Killjoys will return on  June 30. I finally manged to binge watch Dark Matter in December, when other shows were on hiatus, and really enjoyed it. I didn’t get into Killjoys, but I only watched one episode and will give it another chance if there is another slow period.

Hulu has released the first three episodes of an anthology series entitled Dimension 404, which appears to be influenced by The Twilight Zone and Black Mirror. I09 says these episodes are bingeworthy.

Netflix has renewed A Series of Unfortunate Events for both a second and third season. USA has renewed Colony for a third season.

Do Not Reward Trump For Looking Presidential In Unilaterally Going To War

Our history of military intervention in the middle east has consistently failed to provide the desired results, and has repeatedly added to further destabilize the region and produce results contrary to our national security interests, including fueling terrorism. Intervention in Syria is even harder to justify when there is no favorable goal even being proposed, or sides worthy of supporting. Despite this, far too many people who should know better, both in the media and on the left, have been applauding Trump’s bombing in Syria, which appears far more impulsive than based on any coherent strategy to reduce deaths.

There are some who we would expect to be cheering Trump on. As Jack Shafer notes, “Nobody projects network war delight better than CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.”  He showed that MSNBC is no better:

If cable news is just a fancy talk show about the news, then the hoarse hollering of MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews is an hour-long news monologue. Almost gleeful about the war, which has temporarily lifted him from the slog of the Trump-Russia and Gorsuch stories, Matthews battled Blitzer Friday night for the title for Cable News’ Most Unbearable.

Unfortunately, far more journalists have fallen for the appeal of war. Margaret Sullivan has chastised those in the media who have become excited over the attack, giving a few examples:

“I think Donald Trump became president of the United States last night,” declared Fareed Zakaria on CNN, after the firing of 59 missiles at a Syrian military airfield late Thursday night. (His words sounded familiar, since CNN’s Van Jones made a nearly identical pronouncement after Trump’s first address to Congress.)

“On Syria attack, Trump’s heart came first,” read a New York Times headline.

“President Trump has done the right thing and I salute him for it,” wrote the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens — a frequent Trump critic and Pulitzer Prize-winning conservative columnist. He added: “Now destroy the Assad regime for good.”

Brian Williams, on MSNBC, seemed mesmerized by the images of the strikes provided by the Pentagon. He used the word “beautiful” three times and alluded to a Leonard Cohen lyric — “I am guided by the beauty of our weapons” — without apparent irony.

She further discussed the media coverage in general:

Why do so many in the news media love a show of force?

“There is no faster way to bring public support than to pursue military action,” said Ken Paulson, head of the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center.

“It’s a pattern not only in American history, but in world history. We rally around the commander in chief — and that’s understandable.”

Paulson noted that the news media also “seem to get bored with their own narrative” about Trump’s failings, and they welcome a chance to switch it up.

But that’s not good enough, he said: “The watchdog has to have clear vision and not just a sporadic bark.”
Clara Jeffery, editor in chief of Mother Jones, offered a simple explanation: “It’s dramatic. It’s good for TV, reporters get caught up in the moment, or, worse, jingoism.”
She added: “Military action is viewed as inherently nonpartisan, opposition or skepticism as partisan. News organizations that are fearful of looking partisan can fall into the trap of failing to provide context.”

Dan Rather once again put matters in perspective, and showed what we have lost in journalism over the last few decades:

The President of the United States is the Commander in Chief. It is an awesome responsibility. Committing the use of force and American men and women in uniform is about as serious as it gets. But the truly great presidents understand that knowing when NOT to act is as important as knowing when to act.

It is a whole lot easier starting wars than finishing them. And there are many historical examples of where a promise of limited engagement quickly metastasized into something much bigger.

There is a tendency to rally around the flag, and a President who takes on a war footing can see a boost of support. It is often transitory. There are arguments to be made that President Assad in Syria has crossed a line that demands U.S. military interference. Whether this should have been a unilateral action is something we all must consider. Whether President Trump has a plan for what comes next must be debated. Whether there is a coherence to this missile strike fitting into a larger foreign policy strategy is a question that should give us all pause.

The role of the press is to ask hard questions. There is ample evidence that this Administration needs to face deep scrutiny. The lies we have heard, the chaos in governance, and the looming questions about ties with Russia – itself a major player in Syria – demand that the press treat this latest action with healthy skepticism. Perhaps it was the right thing to do. Perhaps a strong and wise policy will emerge. But that judgement is still definitely hanging in the balance.

The number of members of the press who have lauded the actions last night as “presidential” is concerning. War must never be considered a public relations operation. It is not a way for an Administration to gain a narrative. It is a step into a dangerous unknown and its full impact is impossible to predict, especially in the immediate wake of the first strike.

Alex Pareene warned about the consequences of pundits praising Trump for the bombing:

You think Donald Trump noticed how the first thing he did that actually got the TV guys to like him was kill a troop?

Here are some things Donald Trump is famous for:

1) Noticing which things he does that elicit positive attention and then doing those things over and over and over again.

2) Craving the validation of the press, generally the sort of press a 70-year-old upper class New Yorker pays attention to, especially cable news.
If one dead American service member won him this much praise, just imagine how much they’ll respect him when he kills a couple hundred—or a couple thousand!

Now that Trump has learned that there is a direct relationship between a president’s body count and how “presidential” the mainstream political press considers him to be, the whole world is fucked.

Eric Levitz gave four reasons why it is “profoundly irresponsible to commend last night’s events without equivocation.”

(1) While eyewitness accounts strongly suggest that the Assad government was behind Tuesday’s attacks, Trump’s retaliation came before any thorough investigation confirmed that evidence. The speed of Trump’s reaction betrays a lack of caution that should be unnerving even to those who support confrontation with Assad.

(2) The strike reportedly killed 16 people, including four children. In the opinion of the White House’s national security adviser H.R. McMaster the strike did not eliminate Assad’s ability to deploy chemical weapons, but merely degraded it. What’s more, there are already signs that the attack might enrage Assad more than it deters him.

If our concern is minimizing the deaths of Syria’s beautiful babies, it is by no means certain that last night’s action will not, ultimately, prove counterproductive.

(3) Congress never gave Donald Trump the authority to commit an act of war against the Syrian government, and to claim otherwise is to give the executive unilateral authority to kill people anywhere in the world, in the name of our republic. It is astounding that more people aren’t perturbed by that prospect, given that:

(4) We know that our president is an ill-informed, obscenely incurious conspiracy theorist who routinely retreats into self-delusion when reality frustrates his ambitions. He is a demagogue who has attacked the judiciary as a threat to national security, and repeatedly insinuated that in times of war constitutional laws become mere suggestions. These sentences may sound polemical, but they aren’t. They merely describe a basic fact that much of the media is eager to forget: Donald Trump’s presidency is an ongoing national crisis.

Plus, if Trump truly has any concern for “Syria’s beautiful babies,” he should reverse his policies to both keep Syrian refugees from entering the country, and his reductions in spending in diplomacy.

Staying out of Syria was one of the few things which candidate Trump had right. Instead he has impulsively followed the lead of Hillary Clinton, who has been calling for far more extensive, and dangerous, intervention, along with the Republican hawks who previously opposed him on foreign policy.

Stephen Colbert Shows That John McCain, Like Donald Trump, Is A Stupid Idiot

With all the bad things which happened this week, we should be relieved that the term nuclear option did not pertain to this week’s military action, in which Donald Trump showed his compassion for the Syrian children he has banning from entering the country by bombing Syria. Stephen Colbert explained the nuclear option, which culminated in the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, in the video above. He also managed to show that John McCain is a stupid idiot.

The news started out good with the Democrats denying Gorsuch the sixty votes needed. As Colbert put it,  “Whoo, they did it, hell yeah! The Democrats won, for about an hour.”

The Republicans responded with the nuclear option:  “It’s like the saying goes. If at first you don’t succeed, change the rules and now you win.”

Initially not all Republicans supported this. Colbert quoted John McCain: “I would like to meet that idiot, I would like to meet that numbskull that would say that. That after 200 years of this tradition where the Senate has functioned pretty well. They think it would be a good idea to blow it up…Whoever says that is a stupid idiot.”

Colbert pointed out, “You have to be pretty dumb for John McCain to call you a stupid idiot, because he thought Sarah Palin could be president.” He then reported that McCain voted for the nuclear option and concluded,  “Senator McCain, In the words of an American hero, ‘You’re a stupid idiot.’”

Colbert then transitioned, “Speaking of stupid idiots, Donald Trump…”  See the video above for the rest.

As for McCain, if we need more evidence that he is a stupid idiot, today he praised Trump’s airstrikes against Syria.

Trump Administration Trying To Find Identity Of Anonymous Anti-Trump Account

Earlier in the week I had a post about the Authoritarianism of Donald Trump. We are seeing another example of the Trump administration’s lack of respect for First Amendment rights in an attempt to seek the identity of an anonymous Twitter account which has been critical of Trump’s immigration policy. As Gizmodo notes, “Obviously, an attempt by the Trump administration to obtain information associated with an anonymous Twitter account critical of the government is a frightening and startling precedent.”

Twitter has filed suit, with the support of the ACLU. The Intercept reports on Twitter’s suit.

Twitter is now asking the court to declare that “the CBP Summons is unlawful and unenforceable because it violates the First Amendment rights of both Twitter and its users by seeking to unmask the identity of one or more anonymous Twitter users voicing criticism of the government on matters of public concern.” Esha Bhandari of the ACLU told The Intercept that the group is personally defending the Twitter account owner, and will be filing “in court shortly to defend the user’s rights, focusing on the user’s First Amendment right to speak anonymously.” Although Bhandari would not comment on whether the account is actually run by a federal employee or employees, she noted that “on the face of the summons the government has offered no reason for seeking this information.”

My earlier post on The Authoritarianism of Donald Trump was based upon a series of editorials in The Los Angeles Times this week on Donald Trump. This was followed yesterday with a post on Donald Trump’s War on Journalism. Today The Los Angeles Times wrote about The Conspiracy Theorist In Chief.

Donald Trump’s War on Journalism And The Price Republicans Will Face For His Presidency

The Los Angeles Times is continuing its series of posts on Donald Trump, today addressing Trump’s War on Journalism. Here are some portions:

In Donald Trump’s America, the mere act of reporting news unflattering to the president is held up as evidence of bias. Journalists are slandered as “enemies of the people.”

Facts that contradict Trump’s version of reality are dismissed as “fake news.” Reporters and their news organizations are “pathetic,” “very dishonest,” “failing,” and even, in one memorable turn of phrase, “a pile of garbage.”

…By branding reporters as liars, he apparently hopes to discredit, disrupt or bully into silence anyone who challenges his version of reality. By undermining trust in news organizations and delegitimizing journalism and muddling the facts so that Americans no longer know who to believe, he can deny and distract and help push his administration’s far-fetched storyline.

It’s a cynical strategy, with some creepy overtones. For instance, when he calls journalists “enemies of the people,” Trump (whether he knows it or not) echoes Josef Stalin and other despots.

But it’s an effective strategy. Such attacks are politically expedient at a moment when trust in the news media is as low as it’s ever been, according to Gallup. And they’re especially resonant with Trump’s supporters, many of whom see journalists as part of the swamp that needs to be drained.

Trump has been criticized many times before for his attacks on the news media. I included some examples here, including criticism from Fox for the benefit of those who prefer that source, here, and here.

Earlier in the week, The Los Angeles Times criticized the dishonesty of Donald Trump and his authoritarian tendencies.

Even many on the right see how terrible a president Donald Trump is. For example, Jonah Goldberg writes, “the problem is Trump’s personality. His presidency doesn’t suffer from a failure of ideas, but a failure of character.”

Republicans are likely to pay a political price for the presidency of Donald Trump. Jonathan Chait has written about how Donald Trump will do far more harm to the Republican Party than if Hillary Clinton would have won.

Imagine what the political world would look like for Republicans had Hillary Clinton won the election. Clinton had dragged her dispirited base to the polls by promising a far more liberal domestic agenda than Barack Obama had delivered, but she would have had no means to enact it. As the first president in 28 years to take office without the benefit of a Congress in her own party’s hands, she’d have been staring at a dead-on-arrival legislative agenda, all the low-hanging executive orders having already been picked by her predecessor, and years of scandalmongering hearings already teed up. The morale of the Democratic base, which had barely tolerated the compromises of the Obama era and already fallen into mutual recriminations by 2016, would have disintegrated altogether. The 2018 midterms would be a Republican bloodbath, with a Senate map promising enormous gains to the Republican Party, which would go into the 2020 elections having learned the lessons of Trump’s defeat and staring at full control of government with, potentially, a filibuster-proof Senate majority.

Instead, Republicans under Trump are on the verge of catastrophe. Yes, they are about to gain a Supreme Court justice, no small thing, a host of federal judges, and a wide array of deregulation. Yet they are saddled with not only the most unpopular president at this point in time in the history of polling, but the potential for a partywide collapse, the contours of which they have not yet imagined. The failure of the Republican health-care initiative was a sobering moment, when their early, giddy visions of the possibilities of full party control of government gave way to an ugly reality of dysfunction, splayed against the not-so-distant backdrop of a roiled Democratic voting base. They have ratcheted back their expectations. But they have not ratcheted them far enough. By the time President Trump has left the scene, what now looks like a shambolic beginning, a stumbling out of the gate, will probably feel like the good old days.

The converse is also true. Democrats are in a position to be far more successful than they would be if faced with having to defend a triangulating Hillary Clinton in the White House, who very likely would have been more successful than Donald Trump in moving the country to the right. Rather than facing inevitable loses in Congress and in the states, Democrats now have a shot at retaking the House, especially if they present a clear alternative to the Republicans, as opposed to running again as a Republican-lite party.

The Authoritarianism Of Donald Trump

The Los Angeles Times has posted the third in a four part series criticizing Donald Trump. (Update: It now appears to be a six part series.) Yesterday I pointed out the first two parts on Our Dishonest President and Why Trump Lies. Part three is on Trump’s Authoritarian Vision. They started with the authoritarian mindset behind Trump’s campaign promises to unilaterally fix everything:

To Trump’s faithful, those words were a rallying cry. But his critics heard something far more menacing in them: a dangerously authoritarian vision of the presidency — one that would crop up time and again as he talked about overruling generals, disregarding international law, ordering soldiers to commit war crimes, jailing his opponent.

Trump has no experience in politics; he’s never previously run for office or held a government position. So perhaps he was unaware that one of the hallmarks of the American system of government is that the president’s power to “fix” things unilaterally is constrained by an array of strong institutions — including the courts, the media, the permanent federal bureaucracy and Congress. Combined, they provide an essential defense against an imperial presidency.

Yet in his first weeks at the White House, President Trump has already sought to undermine many of those institutions. Those that have displayed the temerity to throw some hurdle in the way of a Trump objective have quickly felt the heat.

Consider Trump’s feud with the courts.

He has repeatedly questioned the impartiality and the motives of judges. For example, he attacked the jurists who ruled against his order excluding travelers from seven majority Muslim nations, calling one a “so-called judge” and later tweeting: “Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!”

It’s nothing new for presidents to disagree with court decisions. But Trump’s direct, personal attacks on judges’ integrity and on the legitimacy of the judicial system itself — and his irresponsible suggestion that the judiciary should be blamed for future terrorist attacks — go farther. They aim to undermine public faith in the third branch of government.

The courts are the last line of defense for the Constitution and the rule of law; that’s what makes them such a powerful buffer against an authoritarian leader. The president of the United States should understand that and respect it.

The article went on to discuss other institutions under attack by Trump:

  • The electoral process
  • The intelligence community
  • The media
  • Federal agencies

They concluded with a look at the checks on presidential power, wondering if they will be enough:

Trump betrays no sense for the president’s place among the myriad of institutions in the continuum of governance. He seems willing to violate long-established political norms without a second thought, and he cavalierly rejects the civility and deference that allow the system to run smoothly. He sees himself as not merely a force for change, but as a wrecking ball.

Will Congress act as a check on Trump’s worst impulses as he moves forward? One test is the House and Senate intelligence committees’ investigation into Russia’s meddling in the presidential election; lawmakers need to muster the courage to follow the trail wherever it leads. Can the courts stand up to Trump? Already, several federal judges have issued rulings against the president’s travel ban. And although Trump has railed against the decisions, he has obeyed them.

None of these institutions are eager to cede authority to the White House and they won’t do so without a fight. It would be unrealistic to suggest that America’s most basic democratic institutions are in imminent jeopardy.

But we should not view them as invulnerable either. Remember that Trump’s verbal assaults are directed at the public, and are designed to chip away at people’s confidence in these institutions and deprive them of their validity. When a dispute arises, whose actions are you going to consider legitimate? Whom are you going to trust? That’s why the public has to be wary of Trump’s attacks on the courts, the “deep state,” the “swamp.” We can’t afford to be talked into losing our faith in the forces that protect us from an imperial presidency.

These criticisms of Donald Trump are very similar to those I quoted a few weeks ago from Brian Klaas, a fellow in comparative politics at the London School of Economics, and author of The Despot’s Accomplice: How the West is Aiding and Abetting the Decline of Democracy. I have also discussed the increased interest in dystopian novels about falling into authoritarianism, including warnings from Philip Roth.

While Trump is not the only threat to liberty on the political scene, at least Trump is blatant in his attacks, and there is wide-spread understanding of the threat he presents. This has helped to mobilize opposition to him very early in his term.

Matt Taibbi Stands Up To Putin-Based Smears Against Sanders Supporters And The Left

Supporters of Hillary Clinton not only disagree with the left on the issues, but also try to deny the legitimacy of disagreement. They have tried to dismiss opposition to her views and conduct as sexist or right wing (even when they are supporting the more conservative candidate). More recently we have seen a form of McCarthyism from Clinton supporters and the Democratic establishment, as they have tried to make a case that opposition to Clinton, and support for Bernie Sanders, is based upon Russian propaganda. As seen above, this includes Peter Daou, a long-time practitioner of dirty politics for Team Clinton, who previously found ways to blame everything on sexism.

There many areas of disagreement between the left and Clinton, as I discussed in the previous post. As I noted, Clinton’s record on corporate influence on public policy received the most publicity during the campaign, as this is what Sanders concentrated on, but those who opposed Clinton also disagreed with her on many other issues, including foreign policy and interventionism, civil liberties, many social/cultural issues, the drug war, and health care (especially with Clinton attacking Medicare for All with bogus claims). These issues have nothing to do with support for Putin or any fake news from Russia. Clintonistas are even less tolerant of opposition to their neoconservative views than Bush supporters were.

Matt Taibbi looked at the dangers of the Putin Derangement Syndrome which the Democratic establishment is suffering from:

These stories insist that, among other things, these evil bots pushed on the unwitting “bros” juicy “fake news” stories about Hillary being “involved with various murders and money laundering schemes.”

Some 13.2 million people voted for Sanders during the primary season last year. What percentage does any rational person really believe voted that way because of “fake news”?

I would guess the number is infinitesimal at best. The Sanders campaign was driven by a lot of factors, but mainly by long-developing discontent within the Democratic Party and enthusiasm for Sanders himself.

To describe Sanders followers as unwitting dupes who departed the true DNC faith because of evil Russian propaganda is both insulting and ridiculous. It’s also a testimony to the remarkable capacity for self-deception within the leadership of the Democratic Party.

If the party’s leaders really believe that Russian intervention is anywhere in the top 100 list of reasons why some 155 million eligible voters (out of 231 million) chose not to pull a lever for Hillary Clinton last year, they’re farther along down the Purity of Essence nut-hole than Mark Warner.

Moreover, even those who detest Trump with every fiber of their being must see the dangerous endgame implicit in this entire line of thinking. If the Democrats succeed in spreading the idea that straying from the DNC-approved candidate – in either the past or the future – is/was an act of “unwitting” cooperation with the evil Putin regime, then the entire idea of legitimate dissent is going to be in trouble.

Imagine it’s four years from now (if indeed that’s when we have our next election). A Democratic candidate stands before the stump, and announces that a consortium of intelligence experts has concluded that Putin is backing the hippie/anti-war/anti-corporate opposition candidate.

Or, even better: that same candidate reminds us “what happened last time” when people decided to vote their consciences during primary season. It will be argued, in seriousness, that true Americans will owe their votes to the non-Putin candidate. It would be a shock if some version of this didn’t become an effective political trope going forward.

A (Valid) Media Attack On Trump And A (Nonsensical) Defense Of Clinton

Apparently the 2016 election will never end. The week began with major pieces on both of the awful major party candidates. The Los Angeles Times started a four part series on Donald Trump yesterday, starting with Our Dishonest President. The major points were:

  • Trump’s shocking lack of respect for those fundamental rules and institutions on which our government is based.
  • His utter lack of regard for truth.
  • His scary willingness to repeat alt-right conspiracy theories, racist memes and crackpot, out-of-the-mainstream ideas.

Part II, Why Trump Lies, was posted today:

Even American leaders who lie generally know the difference between their statements and the truth. Richard Nixon said “I am not a crook” but by that point must have seen that he was. Bill Clinton said “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” but knew that he did.

The insult that Donald Trump brings to the equation is an apparent disregard for fact so profound as to suggest that he may not see much practical distinction between lies, if he believes they serve him, and the truth.

His approach succeeds because of his preternaturally deft grasp of his audience. Though he is neither terribly articulate nor a seasoned politician, he has a remarkable instinct for discerning which conspiracy theories in which quasi-news source, or which of his own inner musings, will turn into ratings gold. He targets the darkness, anger and insecurity that hide in each of us and harnesses them for his own purposes. If one of his lies doesn’t work — well, then he lies about that.

There is no doubt that Donald Trump is as terrible as the Times says, but we must not make the mistake of falling into the trap of binary thinking and ignore the fact that Hillary Clinton is not much better–and likely could have done more harm than Trump because she could act with the support of the establishment.

The Guardian has a pathetic attempt to white wash Hillary Clinton by Susan Bordo. It repeats pretty much every bogus argument which we have heard from Clinton apologists, and which I have already debunked in great detail in previous posts, so I will only touch on the highlights here. Bordo learned nothing from the 2016 election, blaming James Comey, sexism, and especially Bernie Sanders for Clinton losing, while showing zero understanding why Clinton was ethically and ideologically unfit for the presidency.

The absurdities of her argument begin the header which says her book “asks how the most qualified candidate ever to run for president lost the seemingly unloseable election.” She botched health care reform as First Lady. She promoted right wing goals in the Senate, including working with The Fellowship to increase the role of religion in public policy, pushed for war in Iraq based upon false claims of ties between Saddam and al Qaedda (despite failing to even read the intelligence prepared for Senators), and has consistently supported restricting civil liberties to supposedly fight terrorism (and flag burners). She was a failed Secretary of State who continued to promote interventionism, learning nothing from her mistake in Iraq, failed to abide by the ethics agreements she entered into, and used the position to make money from influence peddling. She was a terrible candidate in two presidential elections. She was wrong on virtually every major decision in her career. How does that translate to most qualified or make any honest observers all that surprised that she lost?

The excerpt from her book repeats the usual claims of sexism, ignoring the fact that the left has opposed DLC, Third Way Democrats like both Bill and Hillary Clinton since the 1990’s. We did not want to see any more Bushes or Clintons in office. Both Clintons and the Bushes all represent essentially the same thing, and the opposition was not limited to Hillary. Many of those who voted for Sanders in the primaries initially supported Elizabeth Warren, and some went on to vote for Jill Stein, with gender not being a factor.

Bordo complains that Sanders branded Clinton as “establishment,” even though Hillary Clinton was the strongest proponent of the Bush/Clinton establishment, and biggest opponent of change, around. She complains about Bernie running against her, ignoring the fact that this is a part of living in a democracy. She complained about how Bernie campaigned against Clinton, while failing to provide any real examples of improper conduct on his part. She ignored how dishonest Clinton’s campaign against Sanders was, from her repeated lies about his record in debates, to her lies about the email scandal and FBI investigation.

Bordo tried to claim Clinton is a progressive and minimize the difference in ideology between Clinton and Sanders supporters, despite rather vast differences of opinion on many issues.  Clinton’s record on corporate influence on public policy received the most publicity during the campaign, as this is what Sanders concentrated on, but those who opposed Clinton also disagreed with her on many other issues, including foreign policy and interventionism, civil liberties, many social/cultural issues, the drug war, and health care (especially with Clinton attacking Medicare for All with bogus claims).

Clinton’s negatives eliminated any advantage other candidates would have had against Donald Trump. Her dishonesty and influence peddling destroyed any advantage in running against the dishonesty and corruption of Trump. Clinton was out-flanked on the left by Trump during the election on foreign policy and economics, despite how incoherent his policies were. Her views on civil liberties were not all that different from what was expressed by Trump. The Clinton record on mass incarceration and immigration further negated Trump’s negatives.

Clinton lost because she was a terrible candidate and ran a terrible campaign, failing to give any reasons to vote for her beyond gender and claims that it was her turn. It is a mistake for Bordo to blame Sanders. Even if Sanders had not run, those of us who opposed Clinton would have still opposed her candidacy. I opposed Clinton in 2015/6 for the same reasons I opposed her eight years previously, and frequently for the same reasons I opposed George Bush. This was because of her dishonesty, her corruption, and how she has spent her career undermining liberal viewpoints. My opposition to Clinton had nothing to do with her gender and did not come from Bernie Sanders.

Update: Some Clinton apologists (including Peter Daou) have moved on from the bogus claims of sexism to adopting McCarthyist tactics in claiming that opposition to Clinton’s policies and support for Bernie Sanders were plot of a Russian plot.

SciFi Weekend: Legion and Sleepy Hollow Season Finales; The Magicians; Legends of Tomorrow; Doctor Who; Batgirl; Renewals & Cancellations; Tina Fey Unintentionally Shows Why Democrats Keep Losing

Just when we seemed to be suffering from super-hero fatigue, Noah Hawley showed that there is more which can be done in the genre. This was helped by excellent performances from the cast, especially Dan Stevens and Aubrey Plaza. The first season concluded an eight episode story last week and then, Marvel movie-style, used a scene during the credits to introduce a new problem for the second season.

Deadline interviewed Noah Hawley about the finale:

DEADLINE: Let’s start at the end and that orb that captured David. Where is that taking him and us going into Season 2?

HAWLEY: Well, it means that Season 2 is beginning. It means that we’ve completed this story and we’re starting a new one. You know, my goal is always that the first season would be about fighting the enemy within and, you know, learning about this entity that was inside of David and about getting it out of David, and Season 2 will be about then the enemy without and this entity now we know is a person.

But for us it’s never a simple straight line between point A and point B, so you know I wanted to complicate it some by having David disappear just at the moment where he’s about to go off in pursuit of the Shadow King. As for who’s behind the orb and who sent it, I think that’s one of the mysteries we want to explore in Season 2.

DEADLINE: Very deliberately vague of you on a show that specializes in anxiety and the surreal…

HAWLEY: I try to let the show speak for itself. It’s about everyone’s individual experience of it, and you know, so I don’t want to say too much.

DEADLINE: One thing you have spoken of, so to speak, in the last few episodes is the parentage of David Haller, and reaffirming the series’ connection to the Marvel Universe and the comic legacy with the divulging of that wheelchair from The X-Men: Apocalypse movie that Charles Xavier is Haller’s father. You started out so far from the canon of the comics, why did you come in so close to it near the end of this season?

HAWLEY: I certainly played very loosely with a lot of the canon as it relates to this character of David Haller, but one of the things I always felt was off-limits was his origin story. I didn’t really feel like there was any way that I could change who his father was, I mean that seemed like a sacrilegious thing to do.

So, it was always my intention to acknowledge who his father was. The question was when we would do it and how, obviously, we would do it. So you know I think in this case we’ve nodded to it and obviously as to any child who was adopted, he’s going to want to figure out who his father and mother were and there will be that journey.

DEADLINE: Does that mean we are going to see Professor X showing up in Season 2?

HAWLEY: I don’t know about Season 2 but I know that there’s that story will need to be addressed at some point in the future. It’s not something that I want to shy away from, but I also want to make sure that when it’s time to tell that story, we can really tell it and not dance around it.

DEADLINE: So, would you bring in a Patrick Stewart or a James McAvoy?

HAWLEY: Well, some of that is a little more logistically complicated just in terms of would we try to use either Patrick Stewart or James McAvoy. Would they be interested in doing the show? Would 20th Century Fox?

I have to consult with them about the X-Men characters and which characters they want to protect for the future franchise and which ones are available to me. So, there’s a lot of conversations I haven’t had yet but we’re willing to be had. I’m not stressed out about it. I think we all get along quite well and it’s just going to be a question of how and when…

DEADLINE: In real time, Season 1 was eight episodes on FX, and Season 2 looks to be 10 episodes. So will that change your storytelling approach?

HAWLEY: I was the one who asked for eight in the first year and I did it because I wanted to tell a single story. I wanted to tell a story of David Haller who was institutionalized and then was rescued and is told that his powers are powers and not a mental illness. Then we discover that what’s going in his mind is much more complicated, and then we rediscover what is inside his mind. Then we get it out and that’s the first season and that works the eight hours.

But I wanted to do that because I felt like the show’s very complicated and it’s very different. But I wanted the audience to feel like they got it through the coherent story.

Going forward I think that the audience now knows the show and they understand our style, our original language. It’s obviously a large ensemble and so we can expand our story in Season 2. In order to understand David, we can understand Syd more or the other characters. We can expand that universe so that we’re still telling a single story, but we’re taking our time a little bit more and with a little less singular-minded focus.

DEADLINE: Noah, it sounds like you are thinking far beyond a Season 2 like a Season 4 or 5. Is that how long you’ve planned out Legion going on?

HAWLEY: Certainly I have a sort of beginning, middle and end to this David Haller story in mind. What I don’t know is how many hours of television that is, whether it’s 20 hours or 30 or 40, so that’s part of the exploration of it over time — one that I’m very excited to keep going on.

I gave up on Sleepy Hollow before the third season ended. I began watching again this season, but around mid-season was questioning whether I would continue. I’m glad I stuck it out as the season did end well. The series has always suffered from the problem that it can create supernatural problems, and then solve them by just writing in a supernatural solution, and is most watchable due to the interaction between characters. The addition of Seychelle Gabriel as Lara gave the show what it needed to keep the last few episodes interesting. (Spoilers ahead).

I initially reacted negatively when the show brought back the Four Horsemen (who are most powerful when all four are together, like The Beatles), but this did work out well to conclude the season’s story  line. I was happy to see that Ichabod did not remain War very long as there was never any doubt they would invent a supernatural way to save him. Ichabod wound up in a bigger jam as he had to sell his soul to the devil in order to defeat Malcolm Dreyfus (with a little help from Henry agreeing to a truce in the name of freedom). There is no doubt that they will find a way out, but hopefully it does not come across as too much of an easy cheat, as so much does on this series.

The season ended with Ichabod Crane getting set up for faster internet as well as becoming an American citizen. Agency 355 has increased in importance, and size, and now reports directly to the president. If the series is renewed for a fifth season, the concluding scenes give the impression that the show might deal more Agency 355 with handling monsters and supernatural threats, along with efforts by Ichabod to get out of his contract with the Devil.

Entertainment Weekly spoke with executive producer Raven Metzner about the finale:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Crane literally sold his soul to the devil! How’s he going to get out of this one?
RAVEN METZNER: You know, we all were looking for a way to have this character who we know and love come to solid ground. He’s long been searching for a place in the modern world. He’s a man out of time. The question of the Washington letter and what that meant, the fact that he’s had his life rocked in losing the person he cared about more than anyone in the world, the fact that he sort of had lost his family along the way — these were all things that were challenges, and we wanted to find a way to solve some of those things for him, or at least start to solve them. To place him into a family that he felt comfortable with and into a role that he felt comfortable with. And give him his citizenship as an American citizen, which we thought would be really powerful for him and something he never had and always wanted.

But we also wanted to give him a challenge that, if we were to get subsequent seasons, would present an interesting problem. Because we had the Dreyfuss character all the way through, we thought it would be interesting to mirror them and give Crane a similar conundrum. He’s seen the worst version of what it can do to someone; now he’s got to figure his way out. That last bit of dialogue was something we talked about a lot, and actually [executive producer] Albert Kim pitched that little run there, which I really love, which is the idea that, you know, “Sold my soul? It’s Tuesday.” Like, “I can deal with it.” If this is the final episode, I think Crane’s attitude about it is enough that I think fans would trust that he would find his way out of it. If it’s not, and we get more seasons to tell this story, then I think it’s a great problem to be played out.

With Henry, Crane makes this grand speech about how freedom is the most important thing, but now Crane is, in a way, not free. Can you talk about that contrast between sacrificing your freedom out of hatred and sacrificing it out of love?
Oh, that’s actually a really nice way to put it. Yeah, the theme of freedom running through [the episode] came from a lot of different sides. First and foremost, there’s Malcolm Dreyfuss’ desire to rule through tyranny and his belief that as a corporate head, he knows what’s best and he can decide people’s fates. Crane has always been a voice for democracy and for the idea of personal freedom and a country that is built on the ideals of freedom, so their battle of wills through the season has been about that. And Crane’s triumph, and the team’s triumph, in defeating Dreyfuss is a triumph for freedom over tyranny.

At the same time, we have this personal drama between Crane and Henry that’s introduced at the top of the episode in their duel… They’ve failed to connect on so many other levels. For Crane to realize that the one thing they do connect about is that ideal — if you think about Henry in season 2, Henry killed Moloch because he didn’t want anyone lording over him, and he didn’t want to be part of having Moloch push him around. Also in season 2, he tried to create a free nation of witches because he believed they needed to be free. So I think Crane recognizes that that’s their commonality.

The larger piece that’s interesting that you just brought up, about how Crane has just taken on this deal in which his soul is owed to someone — he sort of has a lien placed on him, so the devil, or the devil we’ve met, hasn’t taken his soul yet. It’s a soul that is due on the day that he dies, so he still has his soul, he still has his freedom. It’s more that he knows he’ll have to find a way to defeat this bargain he’s made before the day he dies…

In happier news, the Vault saved the president. Will she play a big role if the show continues?
The idea is that as the show goes forward, there’s a new paradigm, which is: Crane has now officially realized the hope that both Washington and Benjamin Banneker had for him that he would one day be a part of the Vault. And you know Jenny and Diana would absolutely now be officially a part of it, and Jake [Jerry MacKinnon] and Alex [Rachel Melvin] would continue on. So it sets up a paradigm of a more official use of our team in going after [the supernatural] with the help of the U.S. government. We would definitely find ways to twist that and turn that. I thought the actress who played the president did a great job, so we would love to have her come back, but I think it’s more about giving them a new, more official role.

More at TV Line.

One thing I like about The Magicians is that they don’t solve every problem by bringing up new magical solutions at the time. At very least they will foreshadow what can be done. We learned about the multiple timelines earlier, with Jane giving them thirty-nine timelines so they could have a do-over every time The Beast killed them. These timeloops were raised again in last week’s episode. We saw a different version of Alice, in which she survived but Quenton was killed in the battle against The Beast. We also saw what  happened in the other timelines in which Julia was admitted to Breakbills. However, the idea of a deal costing the protagonist their child has been done so many times before.

With so much happening in Fillory this season, at times it no longer seems like we are dealing with a group of students. Blastr checked this out Rick Worthy. Worthy has a strong genre background: “A Cylon on Battlestar Galactica; a Klingon, crewman or Xindi-Aroboreal on Star Trek‘s Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise; mayor of Mystic Falls on The Vampire Diaries; the Alpha Vampire on Supernatural; or, currently, both the leader of the Resistance on The Man in the High Castle and Dean Fogg on The Magicians.”

Brakebills has a liberal attendance policy since these students don’t even go to class. Are they still his students?

They have gone off to a different experience the dean has only heard about. He has not experienced Fillory. But there is a lot of the dean that is yet to be revealed. I know how Season 2 ends, and they will need him again. Trust me. In terms of being the walking epitome of Brakebills, they’ll need the dean even though they’ve seen and done things he hasn’t.

What were the dynamics of that scene in this week’s episode between pre-time loop Fogg and Julia?

I have been dying to talk about that scene because it shows two timelines. We see one version from the earlier time loop where she’s admitted to Brakebills. I was reading the script, and it was what everyone needed to see: What was it like when Julia was admitted? Then we juxtapose that version with now.

This earlier scene with a lovely, bright-eyed, promising young student. And we see another version of the dean, who seems younger. He seems cheerful, more optimistic, sort of happy-go-lucky. He connects with her because they are so much alike, and have the same discipline. In her, he sees himself. Then, we go to the next scene, the timeline we now know, and she’s locked in the dungeon. He becomes an older, more serious person. And so did Stella. The scenes are really powerful and make you think about life and maybe the choices you make in your own life. What if I had taken this road instead of that road? I particularly love that episode.

Part of the fun of The Magicians is how it shows interrelations between the real world and the world of the show. Marlee Matlin played a character who ran the web site FuzzBeat, using clickbait such as internet lists to contain magic spells. Marlee Maitlin discussed her role with Syfy Wire.

Syfy released the above teaser for the final three episodes of The Magicians at Wondercon. It looks like we really have a giant talking dragon (who does not think much of millennials). Like the Sleepy Hollow finale, there is even a visit to the underworld.

Legends of Tomorrow has become the best show in the Berlantiverse this season, although part of that is because of a fall in quality on the other three shows. Like on recent episodes of Sleepy Hollow and The Magicians, we saw a different time line, with the Legions of Doom having created a new reality. This included the death of Felicity Smoak, who was wearing the superhero outfit I showed last week.

The CW Network has released the above trailer for the season finale and appears to reveal how this season’s story will conclude. Of course the devil is in the details, and the consequences. Here is the synopsis:

As the Legends are about to take off for their next destination, a massive timequake rocks the ship. In order to try and fix what has happened, they are forced to break the one cardinal rule of time travel. But if they are able to destroy the spear, they will face the ultimate consequence. Victor Garber, Brandon Routh, Arthur Darvill, Caity Lotz, Dominic Purcell, Franz Drameh, Nick Zano and Maisie Richardson-Sellers. Rob Seidenglanz directed the episode written by Phil Klemmer & Marc Guggenheim (#217).

While Doctor Who has had gay characters in the past, we learned last week that Bill Potts, played by Pearl Mackie, will be the first openly gay companion. From The Guardian:

Doctor Who’s next companion will be the first to be openly gay.

Pearl Mackie, who plays Bill Potts in the upcoming series, told the BBC her character’s openness about her sexuality was important to represent onscreen, but not her defining characteristic.

“It shouldn’t be a big deal in the 21st century. It’s about time, isn’t it?” she said.

“I remember watching TV as a young, mixed-race girl, not seeing many people who looked like me, so I think being able to visually recognise yourself on screen is important.

“[Being gay] is not the main thing that defines her character – it’s something that’s part of her and something that she’s very happy and very comfortable with.”

The official synopsis has been released for the opening episode of the upcoming season of Doctor Who:

Two worlds collide when the Doctor meets Bill. A chance encounter with a girl with a star in her eye leads to a terrifying chase across time and space. Bill’s mind is opened to a Universe that is bigger and more exciting than she could possibly have imagined – but who is the Doctor, and what is his secret mission with Nardole on Earth?

I suspect that we will continue to see a long list of front runners to replace Peter Capaldi. This week the bookies like Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the star of Fleabag. Adding to her chances, she has a connection to incoming show runner Chris Chibnall, having appeared in season two of Broadchurch. (Incidentally, I do not want to say too much about Broadchurch as it is not showing in the United States yet, but season three has been excellent, reviving the quality of the first season. There are now many suspects for the crime of the season, with last Monday’s episode causing me to elevate someone I had not suspected to a major suspect.)

The DC superhero movies have been much less fun than those from Marvel. That just might change with Joss Whedon writing and directing Batgirl. Besides the news in the previous link, there are also rumors that Lindsay Morgan, who plays Raven on The 100, might star.

Netflix has renewed Santa Clarita Diet for a second season. For light genre, the first season was enjoyable to watch.

While not genre, Netflix released season three of Grace and Frankie, last week, which is another Netflix series well worth watching.

ABC has cancelled Time After Time after only five of seven completed episodes aired. There are not currently plans to air the final two episodes, but perhaps they will make them available on line or by streaming in case anyone cares. I have no idea if it was worth watching. In this era of peak television, I wasn’t going to try to  squeeze in a two hour premiere of a network series without seeing good reviews.

Tina Fey has criticized those who voted for Donald Trump saying, “‘A lot of this election was turned by white, college-educated women who now would maybe like to forget about this election and go back to watching HGTV.” While her objection to those who voted for Trump is understandable, I fear that Democrats will continue to have problems at the polls as long as their response to those who did not vote for them is to attack them, as opposed to try to understand why so many voters did not vote for Democrats in 2016 when led by Hillary Clinton, as well as in 2014 and 2010 when they ran as a Republican-lite party. Fey has done an outstanding job in mocking Sarah Palin, but attacking the opponent is not enough when Democrats have repeatedly failed to stand up for liberal principles or give people a positive reason to vote for them.