New Book Claims To Reveal “What Really Happened”

This looks like something to check out. An anonymous author has written a book debunking Hillary Clinton’s lies in What Happened. We know Clinton lied through her teeth, as the author says. What we don’t know is if this book is accurate, or if it also resorts to the unsupported criticism of Clinton which is typical of conservative attacks. Its reference to Edward Klein does not help its credibility.

Here is what is claimed about the book (available here):

From beginning to end, What Happened is pure propaganda. And like a seasoned propagandist she repeats her themes over and over for 512 pages! She starts by quoting an unimpeachable historical giant; Harriet Tubman. The intention is to set the stage for her reader. We’re supposed to see her as Tubman’s student, if not her peer. Why Harriet Tubman and not Eleanor Roosevelt who said, “You must do that thing you think you cannot do!” or Fredrick Douglas, “Without a struggle, there can be no progress,” or Abraham Lincoln, “With malice toward none…” What does quoting Harriet Tubman give Hillary that these other great leaders don’t?

According to sources, Bill Clinton begged her not to publish her book. Edward Klein wrote in his book All Out War: The Plot to Destroy Trump, [Bill] told her the book made her look bewildered, angry and confused, and that those were poor qualities in a person who aspired to be a world leader. He hated the title because calling it What Happened would only make people say, “You lost.” And that’s precisely what I’ve done. Her title is such a great set-up for a roast I felt it was my duty to oblige her. I mean the woman asked and answered her own question on the cover! What happened? Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Ironically, Mrs. Clinton was my unwitting accomplice in this. She’s made a career of lying through her teeth, aware that being caught in one lie at a time wouldn’t cost much politically. But I have to thank her for putting her lies in a nice little blue and white bundle with a thin gold ribbon. I doubt she thought anyone would take the time to create an opposing bundle of truth. But here it is Dear Reader, one-stop shopping. You don’t have to wonder if the noise coming out of the Clintons’ mansion Whitehaven is true — I didn’t make that name up. With this handy (unauthorized) companion to What Happened, you can see for yourself What Really Happened.

This is like living in the Darkest Timeline. On the one hand we have Clinton who continues to spread her lies after losing the election, and Donald Trump in the White House using lies as political strategy. The problem with the opposition party accepting the lies of Hillary Clinton is that it prevents them from being a resistance which can be trusted.

SciFi Weekend: Legion Season Finale; 12 Monkeys Returns; Lucifer Saved; Fate of Timeless Remains Unknown; Star Trek Discovery; Spock In The Mirror Universe; Casting News On The CW Superhero Shows

I found Legion’s second season to be a disappointment compared to the first. Extending from eight to eleven episodes was probably a mistake. I wasn’t even certain if I would continue with the show beyond this year, but then the season finale did what producers hope, making me interested in seeing more. With Legion it is sometimes difficult to be certain if what we are seeing is true, leaving potential ambiguity, but it does seem that they really did establish that David both has super powers, and is crazy (along with becoming the villain).

I wasn’t entirely certain what to make about these revelations with the Minority Report style trial based upon future crimes which David has not yet committed. If this was all there was, there could be questions as to whether the others were being misled, whether David’s fate is definite, or if there were even honest misinterpretations (such as the claims on Agents of SHIELD that Daisy was responsible for destroying the earth). The problem came when Sydney said later in the episode, “You drugged me and had sex with me.” These days, this is not something they can come back from easily.

Noah Hawley discussed the finale, and David being the villain, with Entertainment Weekly:

The season finale ends with David emerging as this villain. Has that always been the plan with this character?
Yeah. For me, I always had this question in my mind, what would happen if Walter White was a supervillain? That Breaking Bad superhero show. This idea, especially in the X-Men universe, that the moral line between good and evil is often fudge-able. Magneto, who sometimes is their villain and sometimes is on their side, and the idea of what the right thing to do is can shift depending on the circumstances. So I wanted to evolve the show so that you realize over time that maybe David’s not the hero of your show, but maybe Syd is the hero of your show.

Once you see that, it becomes a different show on some level. You’ll watch it with different eyes at that point — which doesn’t mean that David can’t come back or that in the end he doesn’t find his way back. But on some level, the whole show is a mental-illness parable, the idea that [David] tried to kill himself and he went into the hospital, and they straightened him out and they gave him his meds, and they let him out and he took his meds for a while, and then he decided he didn’t need them and then he went off them, and now he’s in this psychotic break, except he replaced the word “meds” with the word “love.” He realized he had this love story and the love was making him a better person — a saner, more stable person — and then he started lying to the woman that he loved and not being consistent. When he turned his back on the love story, everything started to fall apart for him.

You mentioned that maybe Syd is the real hero of Legion. Do you see this next phase of the story focusing more on Syd?
Yeah. On the level that it’s their story, I think she should always be front and center, and I think we went a long way this year towards expanding your understanding of her. We had that fourth hour where we saw her childhood from many different angles, and how she became the person that she is and the fact that she’s not a pushover by any means, and she’s someone who’s learned to embrace the ugliest parts of herself as her strength and not her weakness. To the degree that all of the X-Men franchise is a metaphor about being an outsider, you’re a mutant, but we’ve seen it as a metaphor for many different kinds of exclusion. A lot of the time with those characters, the powers that they have are directly connected to the way they don’t fit into society and it’s a way to redefine their weakness as their strength, and I think that’s what makes it exciting and relatable to the audience…

The David we see at the very end is much closer to the Legion we know in the comics with all the split personalities. Since you’re now two full seasons into this story, has your relationship to the comic books changed at all, in terms of what you do and do not include from the page?
Yeah. The character in the comics, there was a complexity to his origin story and the powers and the way that they work that seemed a hard ask of the audience to say, well, you have these multiple personalities and each one has its own powers. We’re seeing the birth of this character that we may know from the comics, and so the idea that organically we got to a place [where] we had a moment last year where a rational British version of David popped out to help him out in a scenario, and this year we end up with three Davids all arguing different points of view. That may increase in season 3, and of course, if so, creating different versions with different voices. So I want to see if I can put him through phases, I suppose.

After hunting Shadow King all season long, he pops in at David’s trial nonchalantly and nobody seems to be freaked out by him anymore. Do you see him as being an ally now in the sense that Division 3, even though they were enemies, now are sort of allies?
I think it’s really interesting what I’m attempting here, which is this idea that a lot of the time in these comic book stories, you have a takeaway where you feel like might makes right and the only solution to a problem is war. And I think what I’m playing around with is the idea that there’s really no such thing, that in real life you can fight your enemies but ultimately you have to make peace with them. And it may be an uneasy peace, and it may not be a lasting peace. At a certain moment, if you’re Division 3 and you’re realizing your biggest problem is David, then you do need Farouk as a weapon in that battle so you have to make peace with him. Now, that may play exactly into Farouk’s hands, but it was an element that seemed like it would generate more of an interesting story line than just a fight sequence leading to a larger fight sequence leading to a larger ultimate fight sequence.

12 Monkeys returned for its final season. While they are still giving us a lot at once, they did limit it to three episodes instead of a weekend long binge of the entire season like last year. The episode used a trope often seen in time travel shows–having characters return to an earlier point in the series. Apparently showrunner Terry Matalas has know they would come to this point since the beginning. He was interviewed by Syfy Wire:

Because you and I have talked about this briefly, how much of a plan do you have for the whole show? How much of that did you start with? How do you keep track of all the different storylines and permutations?

I just like to.

When I watch a show I kind of am always hoping I’m in the hands of somebody who has a whole plan. You can have a plan and little things can change along the way, but as long as I know where I’m going [and] I’m not making it up as I go along, that’s an important thing to me.

So in Season 1, there was a plan for the first season. We knew that the show, by the back half, would actually kick off the series in the respect that the first few [episodes] start with the notions of the movie. We dove into time travel a lot more than the movie did.

But we knew ultimately Ramse was gonna find out he had a son and wouldn’t be on board with the project and that all these characters would all have different motivations. We knew the journey we wanted to take. By the end of Season 1, we wanted to make [Cassie] much more like Cole started, and make Cole much more like her. It’s almost like Season 1 is the pilot of the series.

Season 2, same thing. We knew it would be the search for Titan. We knew it would be the reveal of the Witness. I always knew what I wanted the last scene to be, in the series. So [we were] just kind of leading up to there. After Season 2, I came in with a plan for Seasons 3 and 4. I said, “Here’s where we’re going.” We had a room that was wall-to-wall giant white erase boards. We know we’ve gotta get here, we know we want to do this, that, and the other thing, so let’s plan for this. Let’s do this right.

So really Seasons 3 and 4 are one giant movie, in the respect that you can watch Season 3 and be like, “Wow, they really were telling us giant things about Season 4 along the way.” There are scenes you have forgotten. Even our season opener — Jones and Project Charon — that started in Episode 6 of Season 3.

We will see scenes of future Cole again from the other perspective, so we needed to know exactly where Cole was in his life and what he was saying. When you go back and see it from this perspective you’re like, wow, they knew it all along. So that was the goal. That’s what we wanted to do. It’s up to the audience if we were successful or not. I think we were.

Is Season 4 the kind of thing where, if you go back to Season 1 and start over, you’ll see it from a completely different perspective?

Yes. You could go back to the beginning knowing what you know and be even more satisfied by the end. That was the deal with our writing staff. We wanted to make sure this was as tight as possible.

What’s kind of great about that is, even if you go into some of these Facebook pages like Addicts of the 12 Monkeys, they will ask really intricate tough questions about the plot. We’ll have that answer for them. We can say, “Here’s what happened, here’s why.” We had to go through every aspect of the loops and tangles of time travel and make sure it all added up. We didn’t want to whiff it…

As far as how this whole timeline works, at some point Cassie has to end up dead at the CDC for Cole to get the watch. But I have a question. Is there anything besides the watch that identifies that body as Cassie?

That body is Cassie. I’ve heard theories about bodies being switched. It’s Cassie. Without question. That’s Cassie’s body. I’m sorry to say to many people who had a lot of hope.

We don’t know how old she was, either.

You essentially saw her demise. But yeah, there’s no wiggle room there. She will die at the CDC.

Netflix has saved Lucifer shortly after it was cancelled by Fox. Deadline reports:

Buoyed by strong fan support, Lucifer producer Warner Bros. TV started shopping the series to steaming services and premium cable networks immediately after its cancellation more than a month ago.

There were multiple interested buyers, including Netflix and rival Amazon. It took time for a deal to be ironed out because the US  SVOD rights to the first three seasons of Lucifer are owned by Hulu. Further complicating the situation is the fact that Lucifer is carried by different networks/platforms in different international markets. For instance, Amazon has it in the UK and Germany, which drove the company’s interest in the series. I hear Lucifer now is expected to be on Netflix in the UK as the streaming company tries to clear the show in a as many territories as it can.

One other cancelled Fox series, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, was saved by NBC. In addition, there was one other major save of a genre series with Amazon picking up The Expanse after it was cancelled at Syfy.

Having both Netflix and Amazon show such interest provides hope that other genre series could be saved. There is still no word on Timeless. Hypable reports on efforts being made to keep it alive:

Everyone from Eric Kripke to the Timeless writers’ room to the cast is communicating with the fans as best as they can and all of them have stayed upbeat and positive. Whatever’s happening behind the scenes, no one’s letting the uncertainty or long wait rattle them. Instead, they’ve turned the whole thing into a month-long celebration of Clockblockers all over the world as they encourage fans and fans encourage them.

To keep Timeless fans fired up, the Timeless writers started sharing deleted scenes once a tweet met a certain number of retweets. The responses were so positive that they ended up sharing one (sometimes two) scenes a day. They actually ran out!

There are more examples in the full post. If NBC is not persuaded by this, perhaps Netflix or Amazon will come to the rescue.

The behind the camera turmoil drama on Star Trek: Discovery. Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts became showrunners after Bryan Fuller left the series in 2016. Now Berg and Harberts are being replaced by Alex Kurtzman. The Hollywood Reporter has the story:

Out are Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts, who originally took over the role at the helm of the drama from Bryan Fuller. Executive producer Alex Kurtzman, who has guided the franchise (and a few of its feature films), will take over as showrunner on season two. As part of the change, Kurtzman will now also oversee the Discovery writers room for season two.

“We’ve made some producer changes at Star Trek: Discovery. The series continues under the creative vision and leadership of executive producer and co-creator Alex Kurtzman. Discovery remains on course for season two in 2019 with new and continuing stories that build on its successful premiere season,” producers CBS Television Studios said Thursday in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.

Sources say the decision to oust Berg and Harberts was based not on the creative but instead for leadership and operational issues. Production on Discovery‘s first five episodes of season two are near completion, with Kurtzman likely taking over for episode six and beyond. Berg and Harberts, who were longtime collaborators with original showrunner Fuller, will likely still be credited on the episodes they oversaw. Sources say the budget for the season two premiere ballooned, with the overages expected to come out of subsequent episodes from Discovery‘s sophomore run. Insiders also stress that Berg and Harberts became increasingly abusive to the Discovery writing staff, with Harberts said to have leaned across the writers room table while shouting an expletive at a member of the show’s staff. Multiple writers are said to have been uncomfortable working on the series and had threatened to file a complaint with human resources or quit the series altogether before informing Kurtzman of the issues surrounding Berg and Harberts. After hearing rumors of HR complaints, Harberts is said to have made imposing remarks to the staff to keep concerns with the production an internal matter.

Sources tell THR that Discovery is nearing what has been characterized as a planned production hiatus after episode five, which will allow Kurtzman time to regroup the show’s writing staff. Production is not expected to be impacted by the showrunner change.

The first season of Discovery kept interest going regarding the always popular Mirror universe stories. While I don’t follow the comics, I found it interesting to read that the comics have revealed what happened to Spock after the events of Mirror, Mirror. Comicbook.com summarizes events of the comic book miniseries:

What we know from Star Trek canon, based on the mirror universe episodes from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, is that Spock rose in the ranks of the Terran Empire to become Commander-in-Chief. He instituted numerous reforms, but those reforms were said to have failed and left the Empire too weak to defend itself again the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance. The Alliance attacked and, still angry over their races’ previous treatment by the Terran Empire, enslaved Vulcans and humans alike.

“Ripe for Plunder” reveals that’s only partially the truth. Captain Jean-Luc Picard, who stole the Empire’s new ship Enterprise, discovers that historical files on Spock, who eventually rose to become Terran Emperor, had been altered and sends Data to investigate.

It turns out the Spock is not dead, but in hiding after being deposed. Data discovers him being guarded on a mostly uninhabited planet by a small force of Tellarite guards, but Data proves too strong for them to handle. Spock tells his side of his story, saying that – despite what the recorded histories may imply – his reforms were actually proving quite successful and should have brought a new era of prosperity for the Terrans.

The Terran Republic was strong, but even the Empire would not have been strong enough to face the combined forces of the Klingons and the Cardassians. That the Alliance’s assault came during this time of reform made Spock and his political movement into an easy scapegoat to take the blame for the Terran’s defeat.

However, Data is less interested in Imperial history and more interested in where he can find supplies and tech to keep the ISS Enterprise in the fight against the Alliance. Data is specifically after information on the alternate universe that Spock’s Enterprise made contact with during the events of “Mirror, Mirror,” which Star Trek fans have known as the Prime Timeline. Spock resists, but Data doesn’t take no for an answer. There’s a fight, and Data leaves with blood on his uniform and having gained the information he sought on the other universe. Whether or not he left Spock alive is unknown.

The CW superhero shows have completed their seasons, other than for Supergirl which concludes on Monday. Some casting news has been announced. On Supergirl, Braniac 5 has been promoted to a series regular, which also raises the question as to whether other members of the Legion of Superheroes might be returning. Jeremy Jordan (Winn) has been reduced from regular to recurring cast.

Ralph Dibney, the Elongated Man (Hartley Sawyer) and Cecile (Danielle Nicolet) have been promoted to series regular on The Flash. As has been previously reported, Matt Ryan (Constantine) and Jes Macallan (Ava) will be regulars on Legends of Tomorrow while Keiynan Lonsdale (Wally West aka Kid Flash) will not be returning as a regular.

Democrats Consider Reforms Over Objections Of Party Establishment

The Democratic National Committee is talking about reforms, but it is not clear how real these reforms will be, and whether the party establishment will really allow them. In response to loss of support after the Democratic Party rigged its 2016 nomination for Hillary Clinton, a candidate so terrible that she could not even beat Donald Trump, a unity commission made recommendations for reform. Their recommendations were far too little, such as reducing but not eliminating the role of superdelegates. During a meeting last week, Democrats made some mixed recommendations, with no final decisions made.

The biggest problem with superdelegates in recent years has not been their actual votes but the manner in which they influence the overall race. Inevitability was a major component of Hillary Clinton’s strategy in 2016, which was strongly promoted by news media delegate counts which showed her with a huge lead from the start of the primaries by including the superdelegates.

The most interesting proposal, supported by Tom Perez, would prohibit superdelegates from voting until a second ballot. As the nomination has been settled on the first ballot in recent years, this could be a back-door method of eliminating superdelegates. Many Democratic leaders are upset about this proposal, seeing it as a loss of power. Of course, if they could get beyond their sense of entitlement, they could show more respect for democracy and run to be regular delegates as others do.

Opponents of reform have made a number of irrational arguments, including a claim from DNC member Bob Mulholland that this is a Russian plot, as reported by Huffington Post:

Mulholland, a DNC member and longtime key player in California Democratic politics, sent an email Friday to other DNC members from the Golden State that implied Russian President Vladimir Putin might be behind the reform effort.

The basis for his claim? An activist from West Virginia promoting the changes, who he had seen at two national party gatherings, admitted to him that she was a Green Party member and had voted for its nominee, Jill Stein, in the 2016 election.

“I concluded someone is picking up her expenses but there she and others are, demanding we change our Rules,” Mulholland wrote. “The Putin operation is still active.”

Contacted by HuffPost on Sunday, Mulholland conceded he had no evidence the woman, who he did not name, was bankrolled by Putin.

/blockquote>
As we have seen far too often since the 2016 election, too many establishment Democrats, anything which limits their own power to subvert democracy is a Russian plot.

For those who claim that superdelegates are needed in order to prevent a fiasco such as the nomination of another Donald Trump,  keep in mind that in 2016 the Democratic  superdelegates overwhelmingly supported a candidate who was both unelectable and as bad as Donald Trump.

There are potential problems with this proposal. Superdelegates would still be able to vote on matters other than the nomination on the first ballot. This could give them a disproportional influence on matters such as convention rules, including seating of delegates, which could influence the winner. The party establishment might be tempted to circumvent this with rules which would increase the chances of a vote going to the second ballot, such as returning to requiring a super-majority to win the nomination. They might also be dissuaded from doing so due to the tendency in the past for candidates who received the nomination following contested conventions to be less likely to win the general election.

Eliminating superdelegates would not solve all of the problems. Superdelegates are just one of many ways in which the Democratic Party rigs who can win the nomination. I would also like to see an end to front loading Southern states to help more conservative candidates. We would also need an end to many of the other actions seen in 2015-6 including restricting debates, giving one candidate effective control of the Party as they did with Clinton, games like Harry Reid played in Nevada, changing fund raising rules to help Clinton, and restricting who can vote or making it hard to register to help the establishment candidate.

Another proposal of concern is one that requires that candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination must be registered Democrats and must “run and serve” as Democrats. Bernie Sanders reportedly would still be allowed to run due to rules in Vermont which treat him as a Democrat on the state and federal level.  Even if this rule does not interfere with Bernie Sanders running, it does narrow the range of potential candidates. While the election of Donald Trump might have soured any desire for a candidate outside of politics, the limited support for true liberal and progressive ideas in the current Democratic Party shows a need to allow new blood.

The Rules and Bylaws Committee has until June 30 to decide upon these recommendations, and a decision is to be made at the next DNC meeting in August.

SciFi Weekend: Patrick Stewart on Star Trek Discovery?; Kid Flash Leaves Legends of Tomorrow; Gotham; Game of Thrones Prequel; Sense8

Will Patrick Stewart have a cameo on Star Trek: Discovery, or perhaps return to directing for an episode? Stewart has made a comment which has led to rumors that this might occur. TrekMovie.com reports:

A new brief video interview was posted today that will cause some speculation about Sir Patrick Stewart and Star Trek: Discovery. At a theater event in London last month, Stewart was asked he had seen Discovery yet, and the actor gave an intriguing answer, saying:

You mean the series and not the movie, because there is a new movie due out very soon. No, I haven’t, but I may have good cause to look at it very soon.

The  Star Trek: The Next Generation vet also ended that statement with a sly smile, only adding to the intrigue.

CBS All Access plans on continuing with an after show for Discovery but is considering revising the format for the show.

Keiynan Lonsdale (Wally West aka Kid Flash) suddenly announced he will not return as a regular on Legends of Tomorrow or The Flash but left open the possibility of future appearances.  It was previously announced that Matt Ryan (as Constantine) and Jes Macallan (Ava) have been promoted to series regulars on Legends. Lonsdale gave this reason according to TV Line:

“I’ve changed a lot in the past year (as you’ve probably noticed lol),” Lonsdale shared in a statement posted to Twitter, presumably alluding in part to his coming out as bisexual last May, “and for infinite reasons my perspective on life and what I want from it now is just completely different. Because of that, my heart told me it was the right time to continue my journey on an unknown path.”

Lonsdale goes on to assert that he is “damn grateful” for his Arrowverse experience to date, and echoes that which was reported on Tuesday: in addition to popping up in The Flash‘s Season 5 premiere this fall, Wally West will remain alive and well and could resurface wherever and whenever needed.

“It’s definitely not a total goodbye or ‘see ya never’ situation,” he wrote. “Wally West will still be around when you need him most.”

The family has already grown on The Flash, with the mystery girl revealed to be Nora West in the season finale. There was also a hint last week of further cross overs on other CW shows.

While Kid Flash will not be a regular, we also received some comments on what might be seen next season on Legends of Tomorrow:

I think I have one last bit left from my most recent interview with EP Phil Klemmer. Having previously discussed Constantine’s living arrangements as well as the threat of team infighting, he also said that this is on the Season 4 wish list: “We’ve never actually figured out the world of the Time Bureau, so I want to actually take another swing at that.”

The fifth and final season of Gotham might be only ten episodes, according to Camren Bicondova, who plays Selena. The final season is expected to begin in January and lead up to (spoilers?) Bruce Wayne becoming Batman.

It was inevitable that HBO would come up with a show to replace Game of Thrones after it comes to an end. The Hollywood Reporter has this information on a prequel series taking place 1000 years before Game of Thrones:

HBO is officially moving forward with a pilot order for a still-untitled Game of Thrones prequel, created by Jane Goldman (Kick-AssKingsman: The Secret Service) and George R. R. Martin — the author of the A Song of Ice and Fire novel series on which Thrones is based.

Set thousands of years before the events of Thrones, the project chronicles the world’s descent from the golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour. A logline from the network teased the plot without divulging any specifics. “Only one thing is for sure: from the horrifying secrets of Westeros’ history to the true origin of the White Walkers, the mysteries of the East to the Starks of legend — it’s not the story we think we know.”

…Goldman and Martin’s Game of Thrones prequel is the first of several potential series set in the world of Westeros to move forward at HBO beyond the script phase. In May 2017, a multitude of writers were revealed by HBO to be working on what Martin himself has described as “successor shows.” Those writers include Goldman, Max Borenstein (Kong: Skull Island), Brian Helgeland (Legend), Carly Wray (Westworld), and Thrones veteran Bryan Cogman. Game of Thrones creators and showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss are uninvolved in the successor show effort, focusing instead on the forthcoming final season of Thrones after more than a decade spent wandering the world of the Seven Kingdoms.

The series finale of Sense8 is now available for streaming on Netflix. I doubt anyone who has not been watching Sense8 will be interested, but it was a good idea for Netflix to provide this two and a half-hours to conclude the series after they decided not to proceed with future seasons and provide an ending.

Former Ambassador To Soviet Union Warns Of The Dangers Of Russiagate Hysteria

Jack F. Matlock Jr., ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987 to 1991, writes in The Nation that, “We must end this Russophobic insanity.” Many Democrats continue to spread hysteria about Russia as opposed to accepting the reality that they lost the 2016 election by running a terrible candidate who should never have been a major party candidate for president. Matlock countered the false narrative we are often hearing by reviewing the facts. Matlock had the following seven points:

  1. It is a fact that some Russians paid people to act as online trolls and bought advertisements on Facebook during and after the 2016 presidential campaign. Most of these were taken from elsewhere, and they comprised a tiny fraction of all the advertisements purchased on Facebook during this period. This continued after the election and included organizing a demonstration against President-elect Trump.
  2. It is a fact that e-mails in the memory of the Democratic National Committee’s computer were furnished to Wikileaks. The US intelligence agencies that issued the January 2017 report were confident that Russians hacked the e-mails and supplied them to Wikileaks, but offered no evidence to substantiate their claim. Even if one accepts that Russians were the perpetrators, however, the e-mails were genuine, as the US intelligence report certified. I have always thought that the truth was supposed to make us free, not degrade our democracy.
  3. It is a fact that the Russian government established a sophisticated television service (RT) that purveyed entertainment, news, and—yes—propaganda to foreign audiences, including those in the United States. Its audience is several magnitudes smaller than that of Fox News. Basically, its task is to picture Russia in a more favorable light than has been available in Western media. There has been no analysis of its effect, if any, on voting in the United States. The January 2017 US intelligence report states at the outset, “We did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election.” Nevertheless, that report has been cited repeatedly by politicians and the media as having done so.
  4. It is a fact that many senior Russian officials (though not all, by any means) expressed a preference for Trump’s candidacy. After all, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had compared President Putin to Hitler and had urged more active US military intervention abroad, while Trump had said it would be better to cooperate with Russia than to treat it as an enemy. It should not require the judgment of professional analysts to understand why many Russians would find Trump’s statements more congenial than Clinton’s. On a personal level, most of my Russian friends and contacts were dubious of Trump, but all resented Clinton’s Russophobic tone, as well as statements made by Obama from 2014 onward. They considered Obama’s public comment that “Russia doesn’t make anything” a gratuitous insult (which it was), and were alarmed by Clinton’s expressed desire to provide additional military support to the “moderates” in Syria. But the average Russian, and certainly the typical Putin administration official, understood Trump’s comments as favoring improved relations, which they definitely favored.
  5. There is no evidence that Russian leaders thought Trump would win or that they could have a direct influence on the outcome. This is an allegation that has not been substantiated. The January 2017 report from the intelligence community actually states that Russian leaders, like most others, thought Clinton would be elected.
  6. There is no evidence that Russian activities had any tangible impact on the outcome of the election. Nobody seems to have done even a superficial study of the effect Russian actions actually had on the vote. The intelligence-community report, however, states explicitly that “the types of systems we observed Russian actors targeting or compromising are not involved in vote tallying.” Also both former FBI director James Comey and NSA director Mike Rogers have testified that there is no proof Russian activities had an effect on the vote count.
  7. There is also no evidence that there was direct coordination between the Trump campaign (hardly a well-organized effort) and Russian officials. The indictments brought by the special prosecutor so far are either for lying to the FBI or for offenses unrelated to the campaign such as money laundering or not registering as a foreign agent.

Matlock agrees that the election of Trump was a disaster, but also criticizes the false narrative as to why he was elected. He discussed both the problems with blaming Russia, and noted that the Democrats most likely would have won if they had nominated anyone other than Hillary Clinton:

I did not personally vote for Trump, but I consider the charges that Russian actions interfered in the election, or—for that matter—damaged the quality of our democracy ludicrous, pathetic, and shameful.

“Ludicrous” because there is no logical reason to think that anything that the Russians did affected how people voted. In the past, when Soviet leaders tried to influence American elections, it backfired—as foreign interference usually does everywhere. In 1984, Yuri Andropov, the Soviet leader then, made preventing Ronald Reagan’s reelection the second-most-important task of the KGB. (The first was to detect US plans for a nuclear strike on the Soviet Union.) Everything the Soviets did—in painting Reagan out to be a warmonger while Andropov refused to negotiate on nuclear weapons—helped Reagan win 49 out of 50 states.

“Pathetic” because it is clear that the Democratic Party lost the election. Yes, it won the popular vote, but presidents are not elected by popular vote. To blame someone else for one’s own mistakes is a pathetic case of self-deception.

“Shameful” because it is an evasion of responsibility. It prevents the Democrats, and those Republicans who want responsible, fact-based government in Washington, from concentrating on practical ways to reduce the threat the Trump presidency poses to our political values and even to our future existence. After all, Trump would not be president if the Republican Party had not nominated him. He also is most unlikely to have won the Electoral College if the Democrats had nominated someone—almost anyone—other than the candidate they chose, or if that candidate had run a more competent campaign. I don’t argue that any of this was fair, or rational, but then who is so naive as to assume that American politics are either fair or rational?

Matlock added that falsely blaming the election on Russia is also dangerous:

I should add “dangerous” to those three adjectives. “Dangerous” because making an enemy of Russia, the other nuclear superpower—yes, there are still two—comes as close to political insanity as anything I can think of. Denying global warming may rank up there too in the long run, but only nuclear weapons pose, by their very existence in the quantities that are on station in Russia and the United States, an immediate threat to mankind—not just to the United States and Russia and not just to “civilization.” The sad, frequently forgotten fact is that, since the creation of nuclear weapons, mankind has the capacity to destroy itself and join other extinct species…

We must desist from our current Russophobic insanity and encourage Presidents Trump and Putin to restore cooperation in issues of nuclear safety, non-proliferation, control of nuclear materials, and nuclear-arms reduction. This is in the vital interest of both the United States and Russia. That is the central issue on which sane governments, and sane publics, would focus their attention.

Related:

The Nation Debunks Russiagate Conspiracy “Fantasyland” And Irresponsible Media Coverage

SciFi Weekend: The Americans Series Finale; Jessica Jones; Star Trek Discovery News; Humans Returns For Season 3; Better Call Saul

For the last six years, The Americans was among the best continuing dramas on television. Now the series has concluded with a perfect finale which compares favorable with the top finales in television history. The finale managed to both provide a conclusive ending while also leaving viewers with plenty to wonder about.

Much of the final minutes of the show managed to provide a tenseness comparable to the final moments of The Sopranos in the diner. There were many moments when it was possible that Elizabeth and Philip might have been apprehended, just as there was a constant feeling of danger in the final scene of The Sopranos. Unlike The Sopranos, there is no ambiguity with regards to the events. Elizabeth and Philip made it safely home to Russia. Breaking Bad, another show where we followed an anti-hero, had to conclude with the death of Walter White. For reasons which were suggested in the final scene with Stan in the garage, it was possible for Elizabeth and Philip to be allowed to survive, even if they did have to pay a heavy price.

While a lot of other things beyond what I will discuss here happened in the extended episode, the key scene was the conversation between Stan and Philip in the garage. It is a sign of what this show does so well that the scene truly was a conversation with little action, even if viewers were wondering if Elizabeth would suddenly find her opportunity to kill or incapacitate Stan. From the moment the pilot set up the situation of the FBI agent living across the street from the Russian spies, the only conceivable ending was that Stan would ultimately figure out their identity and there would be a confrontation of this nature.

While the confrontation could have ended in violence, the ending was far stronger in having Philip convince Stan to let them go. The strength of the finale is in how the writers actually did make this plausible. This included Philip confessing, stressing the reality of their friendship, and declaring that it was  his life, not Stan’s which was the joke. It was necessary for Philip to deny that they were responsible for the killings, for the benefit of both Stan and Paige. Perhaps both bought this temporarily, but I suspect that being confronted again with the discrepancy between reality and what her parents say was one of the reasons for Paige’s later decision to leave them. Finally, the prospects of the START talks proceeding, and preserving Gorbachev as opposed having the hard liners return, provided arguments for Stan that allowing them to go would actually be in the best interests of his country.

Just as Stan might have been responsible for the damage to the Jennings family by increasing suspicions on Paige’s part, Philip similarly might have destroyed Stan’s chances of happiness with Renee by throwing in the possibility that she might have been one of them. Two remaining questions are whether Phillip said this to help or to harm Stan, and whether Renee really was a Russian spy. It was necessary to at least raise this question in the finale but, unless there was another subplot thrown in showing Renee, it would have been difficult to provide an answer. None of the characters in the discussion really knew. Renee’s look back at the Jenning house later in the episode could be taken as providing an answer, but this is one aspect of the finale left to the opinions of the viewer.

Paige had a long time to contemplate her decision on the drive into New Hampshire and then the train ride. While we were never given her reasons for getting off the train and remaining behind, we know enough about Paige to understand what she must have been thinking. She heard about the killings in the garage, along with a denial which she probably figured out was yet another lie on the part of her parents, perhaps further alienating her from them. She also probably thought about remaining behind for Henry, and might have questioned whether she really wanted to spend the rest of her life in the Soviet Union (not knowing, as the viewer does, that in reality the Soviet Union would fall soon).

The imminent fall of the Soviet Union might make it possible for Elizabeth and Philip to see their children again in the future, but also raises the question of whether Elizabeth would be happy with what her country became. Regardless, there is little doubt that things will be difficult for Elizabeth and Philip.

Paige’s ultimate fate is left unknown, but there is hope that she can avoid arrest. Only Stan knows that Paige was aware of what her parents did, and there is no indication he knew of Paige’s own involvement in the family business. Plus both Paige and Stan have a mutual interest in both keeping quiet about the conversation in the garage. Of course to avoid being exposed, she will need to stay away from Claudia’s apartment.

The events of the last six years also made it questionable if Stan’s career could survive having lived across the street from Russian agents without suspecting anything. As events played out, he brought his suspicions to the FBI before their identities were conclusively discovered. This made Stan appear like the smarter one, while Aderholt felt like he was the one at fault for not taking Stan’s suspicions more seriously.

We also received some clues as to the fates of other characters. We don’t know how badly Henry took the news, but he is not suspected of any involvement, and there is reason to hope he will do okay. Oleg is in prison, with no hopes for being exchanged as a spy, but perhaps the changing political situation will enable him to be released in the future. The mail robot was not in action, but was seen at rest in one scene at the FBI offices.

 

Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields, along with the cast, granted multiple interviews but did not provide further answers. They left the matters which viewers were left to wonder about while watching for the viewers to continue to question. Here are excerpts from an interview at TV Line:

TVLINE | You’ve said that you’ve had the ending for the series in mind since Season 2. So how closely did this ending match what you had back then?
JOE WEISBERG | Joel and I were just having a conversation about this earlier: I think that Joel thinks it’s identical, and I think it’s almost identical…

TVLINE | The biggest surprise of the finale for me: No one died! I was tense right up until that final car ride with Philip and Elizabeth, thinking they might get whacked. Is it almost more sad, though, to force everyone to live with the consequences of their actions?
FIELDS
 | Well… it depends on your belief about the afterlife, I suppose. [Laughs] But for us, it was always going to be about the character drama. That’s what we’ve been following all along, and it felt totally right that that’s what we’d follow through the final frames of the show.

TVLINE | The scene with Stan in the garage: It felt like six seasons had been building up to that moment. Was that a scene that you had in mind for the finale way back in Season 2?
WEISBERG
 | No, that was not planned. That was not part of the ending that we figured from the beginning. I think we always assumed that there would be a confrontation, that Stan would either figure out, or that, one way or another, they would have to face off. There’s too much to be confronted in those relationships, so that seemed to want to come to a head. But we didn’t know that it would happen like that.

TVLINE | So why did Stan decide to step aside and let the Jennings family go, when he had them cornered?
FIELDS
 | You know, that falls into the category of questions we want to let the audience come up with their own answers to, rather than impose our own on it. We can certainly give you an answer. We have answers. But we want to sort of let the story speak for itself on that one. People will come up with different answers, and their own interpretations of where Stan’s at, and what happened during that scene to bring him to that point…

TVLINE | What kind of consequences is Paige facing now, after having stepped off that train? 
WEISBERG | Well, first of all, the consequences she’s going to face for everything that’s happened, on an emotional and personal level, are obviously extreme. But the question of whether or not she’s going to face legal consequences, I think, is a little bit muddy. I don’t think we know the answer to that. It’s possible that the FBI may not have evidence about anything she’s done that’s clearly a crime. So she may not be in any kind of extreme legal jeopardy, as long as she doesn’t walk herself into a corner. We don’t think that it’s clear she’s headed to jail…

TVLINE | You left the question of whether or not Renee is a spy unanswered. Was that to leave Stan wondering about who he’s sharing his bed with?   
WEISBERG | Well, that’s certainly something that’s going to hang over his marriage a bit, one would think. To us, in a way, we thought that [revelation from Philip] was a powerful thing to give [Stan], in terms of his own struggle, but also in terms of who Philip had become, and where their relationship was at. Philip wasn’t going to walk out of that garage without telling his friend what he thought might be possible there, even if he wasn’t sure.

Interviews with the cast provided different opinions as to whether Renee was a spy. From interviews with Collider,” Keri Russell thinks there was something to that lingering shot of Renee looking at the house, but Matthew Rhys said clearly ‘No, I don’t [think she’s a spy].’ In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Holly Taylor (Paige) said,  “I think she is. I was hoping they were going to answer that question, but of course they didn’t. I think she is. I mean, there’s just too many coincidences. You really have to make your own decision, but I think most people are on board and think she’s a spy.” Noah Emmerich (Stan) was asked about the filming of scenes with Laurie Holden (Renee) by Entertainment Weekly without any answers given about Renee.

Production will be starting soon on season three of Jessica Jones. Krysten Ritter has discussed her hopes for the character at Comicpalooza in Houston, Texas:

“What I love so much about season 1 or season 2 were how deeply personal both storylines were, but different. So I got to explore different things within her and in my performance, show new colors,” Ritter answered.

“I think season 1 and 2, we really looked back at Jessica’s past. We looked at what made her as hardcore she is and how isolated [she is], and she’s learned a lot — I think especially in season 2 she’s learned a lot about herself. She has a lot to live up to, and I’m curious to see what she does next.”

The first two seasons of Jessica Jones put the alcoholic and super-powered detective through the ringer both emotionally and physically, and while season 3 isn’t likely to make Jessica’s life cheery, her actress hopes to see the Defender take more strides towards reaching her full potential.

“Maybe we’ll get to see her be a bit of a hero, maybe we get to see her move forward in a more positive way. Maybe we see her hating herself less,” Ritter added.

“I don’t think it’s gonna be like sunshine and rainbows for Jessica Jones anytime soon. But I’d love to see her — even if it’s a small step — step into her potential.”

Ritter added she hopes for Jessica to be only “a little bit less” of a “train wreck” next time around, saying “it’s still fun to play that.”

Ritter has also expressed interest in a revival of Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23. I would have far more interest in that as opposed to some of the other revivals in the works.

The original plans for Saru would have had him look quite a bit different, as seen in the above picture.

The producers of Star Trek: Discovery have also been revealing other information about the show in promotional tours. Some can be seen here. This includes repeating previous promises of making the show consistent with what we have seen in other Star Trek series.

So far we have seen that Discovery took advantage of being a streaming, as opposed to a network show, with the use of an f-bomb.  Co-showrunner Aaron Harberts further discussed how Discovery would not be the same on network television:

One of the big buzzwords on network TV is likability of a character. And our character Michael Burnham commits a mutiny in the first episode. I don’t think that a lot of networks would have been game for that, but it really did allow us to tell a pretty exciting chapter for that character and a journey. And they were absolutely willing and on board to things like that.

Humans season 3 will premiere in the United States on AMC on June 5, but I couldn’t resist downloading the first three episodes which have already aired in the U.K. on Channel 4. While I will avoid spoilers, it becomes clear early in the first episode that the world has changed with Synths having become sentient. They are feared and distrusted by most humans, with the Synths we know from the first two seasons, along with others, being divided up with different ideas as to how to attempt to change this. Katherine Parkinson returns as attorney Laura Hawkins, defending the rights of Synths. Following is the official synopsis:

One year after the dawn of consciousness, a decimated and oppressed Synth population fights to survive in a world that hates and fears them. In a divided Britain, Synths and Humans struggle to broker an uneasy peace, but when fractures within the Synth community itself start to appear, all hope of stability is threatened.

Set against the maelstrom of political chaos, the ethical complexities of the dawn of a new species play out across a thrilling multi-stranded narrative. As the synth family… continue to battle for their right to survival, Joe (Tom Goodman-Hill) Laura (Katherine Parkinson) and their children Mattie, Toby and Sophie struggle to come to terms with the cataclysmic events of the last series and their deeply polarised views on the implications of the singularity.

AMC has also announced that the fourth season of Better Call Saul will premiere on Monday, August 6th. The network’s announcement has confirmed the death of Chuck in the fire in last season’s finale.

In Better Call Saul‘s fourth season, Chuck’s death catalyzes Jimmy McGill’s transformation into Saul Goodman. In the wake of his loss, Jimmy takes steps into the criminal world that will put his future as a lawyer — and his relationship with Kim — in jeopardy. Chuck’s death deeply affects former colleagues Howard (Patrick Fabian) and Kim as well, putting the two of them once again on opposite sides of a battle sparked by the Brothers McGill. While Mike takes a more active role as Madrigal Electromotive’s newest (and most thorough) security consultant. It’s a volatile time to be in Gus Fring’s employ, as Hector’s collapse sends shock waves throughout the Albuquerque underworld and throws the cartel into chaos — tearing apart both Gus and Nacho’s well-laid plans. While Gus changes course, Nacho finds himself in the crosshairs of deadly forces.

FX has announced the renewal of Legion  for third season. I would discuss recent episodes of Legion, but I’m waiting for Future Syd to explain to me what they mean first.

Sundance has started showing the BBC One series, The Split. The show concluded on BBC One last week leaving matters wide open for a second season. BBC One has now announced that The Split has been renewed for a second season. While not at all genre, it does have one thing in common with Humans, which I discussed above. Both include a former cast member from Merlin, with Anthony Head appearing on The Split.

Democrats Need The Right Policies, Not Just A New Slogan

Despite a decade of losing while standing for little other than being slightly more moderate than Republicans, Democrats have concentrated on cosmetic changes such as seeking the right slogan. Their latest, rather unoriginal, idea for a slogan is to “drain the swamp.” In contrast to relying on slogans, Samuel Moyn  professor of law and history at Yale, has written that Democrats need to look at the right policies.

Writing in The Guardian, Moyn noted an op-ed in The New York Times saying liberals “come off as judgmental scolds” and alienating potential voters. Remedying this is only part of the solution:

…policy matters much more than politeness. The trouble with American liberalism is not the rhetoric, the selling or the advertising; it is not even the product to sell, as if politics were marketing. Rather, liberals need to forge policies that allow Americans to identify or imagine common interests. The problem is not the bait chosen to lure voters but the whole idea of politics as fishing – as if voters across the country are suckers to be lured into one camp or another. Perhaps liberals, searching for a path forward into the hearts and minds of voters, need to pay heed to Missouri’s state motto: not “rule me more nicely”, but “show me”.

In looking for the “right policies,” Moyn mentions income inequality, as well as another which I have often noted has been receiving far too little attention, “ending the endless war on terror.”

The last two presidents of the United States have each been elected as antiwar candidates, even though each went on to govern militaristically. An antiwar coalition in the making – starting with proposals to drastically reduce America’s counterproductive use of force abroad – is likely to be powerful in future elections too. But liberals will have to give up their concessions to the national security state and their fears of coming off as unpatriotic in order to exploit this opportunity.

Rather than nominating an anti-war candidate, the Democrats nominated one of the most hawkish politicians in recent history in 2016, with one analysis showing that this did hurt Clinton in the general election. While well below the vote of the major party candidates, Jill Stein (Green Party) and Gary Johnson (Libertarian Party) received around twice as many votes as their parties received four years previously. Others do not vote as they do not see either major political party as being worht voting for. A major party which took up an anti-war platform could likely pull in many voters who are reluctant to vote for either party at present.

I am pleased to see Moyn recommend ending the war on terror, but I also have one other wish. Liberals need to concentrate more on fundamental liberal principles of individual liberty, and keeping the government out of the private lives of individuals. We currently have a huge contradiction in our politics with the Republicans claiming to be the party of freedom and limited government, while frequently advocating policies of greater government intrusion in the private lives of individuals. This is largely because of an inconsistency on the part of Democrats. Republican voters might be more willing to accept support for reproductive rights if described as part of an overall platform of supporting individual liberty. Of course this only works if Democrats are consistent and avoid nanny state policies, or a health care plan dependent upon an individual mandate, which was one reason for Democratic losses in recent years.