“Senator Ted Cruz has officially announced that he is running for president. But if you see a T-shirt that says ‘Ted Cruz 2016,’ those aren’t election shirts. That’s just how old he thinks the Earth is.” –Seth Meyers
“People are questioning if Ted Cruz can legally run for president because he was born in Canada. And the last thing we want to do is pave the way for a President Bieber.” –Conan O’Brien
“Texas Senator Ted Cruz announced he is running for president. Ted Cruz was born in Canada, his father fled to the United States from Cuba, and yet Ted Cruz is against immigration. Isn’t that odd?” –David Letterman
“Texas senator and tea party favorite Ted Cruz announced he’s running for president. He pledged to lead America boldly forward into the 1950s.” –Conan O’Brien
“Republican Ted Cruz announced that he will run for president in 2016. So finally, Carnival is no longer the most dangerous cruise in America.” –Jimmy Fallon
Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan is taking legislative action to prevent a repeat of the type of letter sent by Senator Tom Cotton, attempting to sabotage diplomatic talks regarding nuclear energy in Iran. She introduced an amendment (pdf here) which would defund “the purchase of stationary [sic] or electronic devices for the purpose of members of Congress or congressional staff communicating with foreign governments and undermining the role of the President as Head of State in international nuclear negotiations on behalf of the United States.”
The letter signed by 47 Republican Senators was highly irresponsible, and it is understandable why Senator Stabenow would like to defund any future such letters. The letter not only interferes with efforts to attempt to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, it undermines the ability of the current and every future president to negotiate on behalf of the United States.
Of course Democrats might also like to keep this issue alive considering how unpopular the letter was with voters. It never hurts to remind the voters of how utterly irresponsible and bat-shit crazy the Republican Party has become.
Hillary Clinton spoke at the Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting Monday night, and I do give her points for both humor and self-awareness:
“I am well aware that some of you may be a little surprised to see me here tonight,” she said. “My relationship with the press has been at times, shall we say, complicated.”
“I am all about new beginnings: a new grandchild, another new hairstyle, a new email account,” she quipped, “Why not a new relationship with the press? So here goes. No more secrecy. No more zone of privacy.”
So far not bad. I heard more of her speech last night and had to go through several media accounts until I found one which included a reference one of the best lines: “Before I go any further, if you look under your chairs, you’ll find a simple non-disclosure agreement. My attorneys drew it up.” As I said, she showed self-awareness.
As is typical for Clinton, she also refused to take questions, but Dan Baltz, who won this year’s award, did offer to yield some of his time if Clinton would take some questions. She did not accept the offer.
This was a far better appearance for Clinton than her book tour or her press conference after the email scandal broke. It is questionable whether this will really repair her problems with the press. Joking around with the press hardly makes up for using her private server to block Freedom of Information Act requests for information from the media.
Clinton at least showed a better connection to reality than Breitbart which covered her speech in this manner:
“We need more than ever smart, fair-minded journalists to challenge our assumptions, push us towards new solutions, and hold all of us accountable,” she reportedly told mainstream media reporters who notoriously protect Democrats like Clinton.
I don’t think Clinton believed she was receiving any protection from the mainstream media when she received well-deserved criticism in the past month because of the email scandal from mainstream media sources such as The New York Times, NPR, AP, NBC News, MSNBC, and The Guardian. Plus there was the Boston Globe pushing for Elizabeth Warren to run against her, and far more scathing criticism from many liberal publications.
Donald Trump spoke of running for president before but many did not take him seriously, seeing it as a publicity stunt or ego boost. Earlier this year he claimed he was serious but few believed him, with most assuming he would continue with The Apprentice. The New Hampshire Union Leader now reports that Trump is dropping The Apprentice and is setting up an exploratory committee:
Donald Trump will launch a presidential exploratory committee Wednesday, the eve of the business mogul’s return to New Hampshire.
A senior adviser tells the New Hampshire Union Leader that Trump will not be renewing his contract with NBC for the reality television “Apprentice” series.
Combined with staff hires, Trump’s announcement that he will form an exploratory committee for the first time is a sign the billionaire is seriously considering running for the Republican nomination.
Trump as released this announcement:
I have a great love for our country, but it is a country that is in serious trouble. We have lost the respect of the entire world. Americans deserve better than what they get from their politicians – who are all talk and no action! I have built a great company, created thousands of jobs and built a tremendous net worth with some of the finest and most prestigious assets in the world – and very little debt! All Americans deserve the same opportunity. Our real unemployment rate is staggering while our manufacturing base is eroding on a daily basis. We must rebuild our infrastructure, control our borders, support local control of education, greatly strengthen our military, care for our veterans and put Americans back to work! We must stop other countries from totally taking advantage of our representatives who are being out-negotiated at every turn. I am the only one who can make America truly great again!
This reminds me of what Andy Borowitz once said: “If Trump can do the same magic that he did for NBC, the USA will be the #4 country in the world.”
To his credit, Trump was often critical of George Bush, but during the Obama presidency his political views aligned with the extreme right. He has provided far more material for comedians than serious political comment. He was a strong Birther, claiming Obama was not born in the United States. Jimmy Fallon was among the late night comedians who mocked Trump on this: “Hey, Congratulations to Donald Trump, who just welcomed his fourth grandchild! You could tell it was Trump?s grandchild because as soon as it came out, it demanded to see its own birth certificate.” Jimmy Kimmel quipped, “President Obama celebrated Passover with a Seder at the White House. This morning, Donald Trump demanded to see Obama’s Bar Mitzvah certificate.” Conan O’Brien added, “On Fox News, Donald Trump said Obama’s birth certificate could indicate that he’s a Muslim. Trump said he doesn’t trust anyone with a foreign-sounding name, and neither does his daughter Ivanka.”
“Donald Trump is here tonight,” the comedian in chief said, grinning. “Now, I know that he’s taken some flak lately, but no one is prouder to put this birth certificate to rest than The Donald. Now he can get to focusing on the issues that matter. Like, did we fake the moon landing? What really happened at Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?”
Seth Meyers also joked about Trump at the dinner, including one joke which also mocked John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as running mate. He noted that Trump owns the Miss USA Pageant, “which is great for Republicans because it will streamline the search for a vice president.”
David Letterman mocked the idea of a Republican race with both Donald Trump and Sarah Palin in it in 2010:
Sarah Palin says she’s going to run for President in 2012. 2012. Donald Trump said he’s going to run for President in 2012 against Sarah Palin. Nice to know there will somebody equally unqualified…Now that would be some presidential race. You’ve got Donald Trump and Sarah Palin and the debates. Get there early and get some seats down front for those debates. ‘You’re fired, you becha.’
The Orphan Black Season 3 trailer is above. Following is the official season synopsis for the third season, which starts April 18:
No sooner has Sarah caught her breath after a stealthy escape from DYAD and the ruthless clone Rachel (Maslany), she is called upon to face the crazed, captive Castor clone, Rudy (Millen). But it is the discovery of Helena’s disappearance that spurs Sarah into action, rallying her sisters in the quest to reunite their clone family, and find peace once and for all.
Their greatest threat is a band of highly trained soldiers – identical brothers dubbed Project Castor. Unlike the sisterhood, Mark, Rudy, Seth, Miller and others (Millen) grew up together, fully aware of who and what they are. Developed by the military, this wolf pack was raised as regimented clones – singular in thought, movement and allegiance. Hell-bent on kicking up dirt, they’re dispatched to tackle their mission from all sides. But differences in approach betray cracks in their armor, and may be the very thing the sisters need to escape their clutches.
The sisters will need all the help they can get. With Cosima’s fluctuating health and no known cure for the mystery illness that ails her, she is holding onto life by a thread while nursing a broken heart left by her scientist lover Delphine (Evelyne Brochu). Can she find a cure in time to save herself and her sisters? As the turbulent world of Alison turns, she faces fresh suburban woes and new marital challenges with lovable oaf of a husband Donnie (Kristian Bruun). How far will Alison go to keep up the façade of her cookie cutter life? Sarah’s torn between her desire for a life with daughter Kira (Skyler Wexler) and Kira’s father Cal (Michiel Huisman) and the urge to protect her foster family – loyal and feisty brother Felix (Jordan Gavaris) and mother Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy). But Mrs. S’s betrayal may cause her to turn her back on the only mother she’s known.
The hits keep coming for the girls but their commitment to this new family is as important as ever. No clone can do it alone, and Sarah must align with unlikely bedfellows in order to take on what is yet to come… and hopefully, discover the truth – her truth – along the way. How far are they willing to go to save each other and protect their families?
There are a lot of superhero movies planned making some wonder if viewers will have sufficient interest. Warner CEO Kevin Tsujihara says that the DC movies will be edgier and more steeped in realism compared to Marvel’s movies:
“The key thing is that the movies and the television shows and the games, everything looks very different …you have to be able to take advantage of the diversity of these characters,” said Tsujihara.
Not everyone seems to agree. The comic book movie pile-up was the subject of numerous jokes at this year’s Oscar ceremony, and the eventual best picture winner, “Birdman,” is a satire of the craze for superhero films.
However, Warner Bros. is making a big bet that the comic book phenomenon won’t fizzle out just as the craze for disaster movies, biblical epics and other once-hot genres cooled off. The studio is using sister company DC Comics’ stable of masked vigilantes and villains to make roughly two superhero movies a year beginning in 2016 with the release of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Suicide Squad.” Other films include bigscreen adaptations of “The Flash,” “Aquaman” and “Shazam.”
The idea is to create a connected cinematic universe in which characters from one film interact with those from another, partnering, warring and creating super-teams such as the Justice League, DC’s answer to Marvel’s “The Avengers.” It’s a strategy that owes a lot to Marvel, but Warner Bros. chief Tsujihara stressed that characters like Batman and Deadshot are very different from that company’s signature Iron Man, Spider-Man and Captain America brands.
“The worlds of DC are very different,” he said. “They’re steeped in realism, and they’re a little bit edgier than Marvel’s movies.”
The major DC comics programs were on hiatus last week and Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD returned. While Agent Carter was well-received, and people thought it was a good idea to use it to fill a hiatus in SHIELD if there is a hiatus, there have also been a lot of complaints that the hiatus destroyed the momentum of the show. It was also a bit confusing for those who were forgetting the events of two months ago, and haven’t been reading up on the significance of adding the Inhumans. Bleeding Cool has a good summary of six key events from the return of SHIELD, which might be especially helpful if anyone is a bit lost.
Saturday Night Live has coverage in the video above of the Avengers beating Ultron.
Chris Evans spoke with Collider about Captain America in Avengers: Age of Ultron. ComicBookMovie.com has more on the movie from Joss Whedon.
The Americans continues to have excellent episodes week after week. Many critics agree that it is the best scripted drama which continues with the same cast from season to season, but very few people are actually watching. Many reviewers have pointed out that more should watch. Uproxx presents a good argument for watching which might get more attention than favorable critical reviews abut its smart story telling:
It’s a show about sexy spies doing sexy things, with wigs and intrigue and great music and a teenage daughter who isn’t Dana Brody and violence and 69’ing. Maybe that’s the problem. The Americans is too vague a title. For the rest of Season 3, and hopefully into Season 4, FX should start promoting the series as The Show Where Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys 69.
There really was such a scene–see picture above. Plus their daughter walked in on it. Maybe that is what drove her to going to church. Paige is still a much better television daughter than Dana Brody.
I have mocked NBC for trying to copy The Americans with Allegiance. It has been canceled after only five episodes.
The Big Bang Theory ended with a tribute to Leonard Nimoy last week. I couldn’t read the text as my DVR popped up the window asking if I wanted to save or delete at the end of the show. In case anyone missed it, I have obtained and posted a screen grab above.
NBC has announced that Hannibal will return on June 4. Zachary Quinto will be guest staring on an episode. I hope someone Slaps him.
There was a reason for all those rumors that Jenna Coleman was going to leave Doctor Who after last season, along with all those hints in various episodes. Steven Moffat has confirmed that Coleman did plan to leave after last season but was persuaded to stay.
It feels like the number of quality sit-coms had dropped tremendously by last season. Then last summer we got You’re The Worst, one of the best ever. Three new sit-coms worth watching have premiered recently. I discussed The Last Man on Earth in a separate post here. Also worthwhile are Fresh Off The Boat on ABC and Netflix released the first season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Friday. The last was developed by Tina Fey, originally to air on NBC. It would have fit well on Thursday night on NBC with shows such as Community, 30 Rock, and Parks and Recreation. Now that all of the shows of this type are gone from NBC’s lineup, it is far more likely to survive on Netflix. Netflix also plans a second season, which will be produced without concern for the standards of network television. Tina Fey has claimed it primarily consist of shower sex.
Some have criticized The Last Man on Earth for being totally unrealistic, but the same can be said about many events in other shows such as House of Cards (as I’ll discuss in the future). If all the unrealistic aspects of Last Man On Earth bother you, pretend it is just a bizarre dream. Who knows, maybe that will be the explanation in the end. Regardless, it is funny enough to get away with an unrealistic view of how things would be after most people die of a plague.
As people are watching at different rates, I’ll wait a little longer to discuss Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt along with the third season of House of Cards. While avoiding any spoilers, I will mention that watching House of Cards did have me wondering who would make the worse Democratic president–Frank Underwood or Hillary Clinton. Saturday Night Live also tied Hillary Clinton to House of Cards in this skit, following her Nixonian email problems.
“Yesterday during a speech on national security, Jeb Bush mispronounced Boko Haram and got confused between Iran and Iraq. When reached for comment, his brother George W. said, ‘He sure sounds presidentiary to me.'” –Conan O’Brien
The Last Man on Earth is something rare, a single cam sitcom which feels entirely original. Nothing is entirely unique on television. You’re The Worst was in many ways unique, but did so by showing a romantic comedy in a new way. There are plenty of post-apocalyptic television science fiction shows, but none done as comedy as Will Forte has. This post has spoilers regarding the events of the first two episodes.
Being a comedy, it can get away with a preposterous set up. In the first episode we learn that a virus has seemingly killed everyone on earth but one man. Three are no rotting bodies, and no signs of civilization collapsing. Forte’s character, Phil Miller (whose name comes from the writer and director pair of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller), went to all fifty states in an RV, searching for other living people, with no difficulty getting gas. He raided the Smithsonian and other museums for decorations for his ultimate home and shouted in every state asking if anyone was around. Of course the show is not entirely implausible. Phil realized that he could have missed some living people in his ride through each state so he spray painted the message “ALIVE IN TUCSON” around the country.
Phil ultimately moved into a neighborhood in Tuscon which is much like my neighborhood (other than for the different climate). After traveling around the country, an area where air conditioning would be preferable, and there is limited precipitation, hardly seems like the best idea. If not staying in his own home for the sake of familiarity, a less affluent house which has practical measures such as an out house would seem preferable to cutting a hole in a diving board to make the world’s biggest toilet. Perhaps he could find the home of a survivalist who had everything he needed. If I didn’t stay in my home, I might also consider a facility such as a hospital. I could tolerate sleeping in an on-call room or former patient room in return for an emergency generator system (assuming I had any idea as to how to run it).
The Last Man on Earth has a simple solution for its implausible situation–keep the viewers laughing continually. Phil does everything you’d expect a single guy with nobody to judge him to do, and more. He started with simple outdoor bowling with pins, progressing to knocking down aquariums full of water and making cars explode. He spent time in a kiddie pool filled with the ingredients for a giant Margarita, even with salt all along the rim.
If it was me, I would stock up on batteries for notebook computers, tablets, and/or smart phones and use them to view DVD’s plus media in digital form. I’m sure that with a bit of searching of abandoned homes, Phil could have found plenty of portable hard drives which were well stocked with porn and other movies. He did use a generator one day to view Castaway, and mocked Tom Hanks for talking to a Wilson volleyball. Months later he had an entire group of imaginary friends and drinking buddies made out of balls.
The first half hour was fine with only Phil. He periodically spoke with God, in addition to all the balls, to make up for the lack of others. While the first episode was quite funny, it was hard to see how they could make an entire television series out of this. Before viewers got bored, Phil got bored with his life. Fortunately, just before killing himself, Phil saw a fire. Not only had someone seen his signs, it was someone who had a bra hanging up to dry. Unfortunately, after a rather funny scene in which they met which included fantasies and wetting of pants, Phil found that it was someone he wouldn’t sleep with if she was the last woman on earth (as she appeared to be).
Carol, played by Kristen Schaal, is the opposite of Phil. While Phil would leave even more destruction beyond him than was necessary to get supplies, Carol followed all the old rules as if there were still others around. She even objected when Phil ran though stop signs.
At least Carol is more practical than Phil. She is not content to live on canned goods and Twinkies, and realized they should come up with a way to grow fresh fruits and vegetables. She also thought the two were meant to repopulate the earth, and eventually Phil became horny enough to go along. This relationship was not consummated by the end of the second episode which aired as Carol insisted upon getting married before having sex.
Schaal had to keep her role secret so that viewers wouldn’t know that a last man on earth didn’t preclude a last woman. In addition, January Jones, Mary Steenburgen, Mel Rodriguez, and Cleopatra Coleman have been cast for undisclosed roles. Forte is vague as to what their roles will be:
“There are twists and turns,” Forte recently told E! News. “Other people show up, and we do have flashbacks and dreams, so we do have some exciting people involved. Kristen Schaal, who’s one of the funniest people around, January Jones, Mary Steenburgen just signed on. I don’t want to give away what roles they play, but it’s an amazing group of people.”
Carol was added to the show before Phil’s solo antics lost their humor, and the banter between the two added a new element to the show. Another woman could shake things up. Carol probably wouldn’t accept having Phil also sleep with someone such as January Jones after they are married. However, if she is serious about repopulating the earth, this would be the obvious thing to do, along as an irresistible act on Phil’s part.
There is no way to know if this show will still be as funny after running for weeks, but at the moment it is one of the funniest and most original comedies on television. It won’t be the only sitcom with a post-apocalypse idea in its premise. I’m now rushing through the third season of House of Cards, which became available on Netflix last Friday, to save time for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which premiers on Netflix this week. It is the latest comedy from Tina Fey, originally planned for NBC before NBC essentially ended its run as the network home for quality programing. The premise is that the Kimmy Schmidt, played by Ellie Kemper, has been held captive by a doomsday cult for fifteen years. She escapes into the world, but instead of the expected post-apocalyptic world she is a person who has become out of place in our world.
In what PoltiFact calls ” a significant accomplishment for Obama” and a “Promise Kept,” the FCC has voted for major changes to help guarantee a free and open Internet. Net neutrality is important for freedom of expression, including helping small blogs such as this to continue, important for small business, and important to maintain the lifestyle we are becoming accustomed to, such as streaming video as an alternative to often exorbitant cable rates.
Net neutrality is a tremendous victory for freedom of expression and free enterprise. Not surprisingly, conservatives have been spreading the untrue talking points of the large telecommunications companies which fear seeing their power diminished. Whenever the goals of the powerful conflict with the best interests of the nation, we know which side conservatives will invariably side with.
There are all sorts of false claims being spread by conservatives about net neutrality, such as that it will lead to $15 billion in new taxes and will lead to either Barack Obama or the United Nations (depending upon the source) controlling the Internet. In other words, this sounds like lots of right wing conspiracy theories we have already heard.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler disputed conservative claims that the new regulations are intended to regulate communication on the Internet:
This is no more a plan to regulate the Internet than the First Amendment is a plan to regulate free speech. They both stand for the same concept: openness, expression and an absence of gatekeepers telling them what they can do, where they can go and what they can think.
The Fact Checker at The Washington Post called the claims of higher taxes false. Ron Wyden, who wrote the Internet Tax Freedom Act, debunked conservative claims that the FCC’s action would invalidate the law and result in higher taxes. This ban on taxes in will expire in October, but there is nothing stopping Congress from renewing it.
THE CLAIM: “President Obama’s plan marks a monumental shift toward government control of the Internet.” — Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai.
THE FACTS: It’s a shift for sure, but the FCC hasn’t proposed regulating Internet content or controlling access to websites. The question is how to regulate Internet service so providers don’t block or slow web traffic for financial gain.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says the only way to do that is to subject retail Internet service to Title II of the 1934 Communications Act. That would expand FCC power significantly by allowing regulators to step in if there were allegations of harm to consumers. But it’s a reach to suggest that these new powers equate to a government takeover.
Also worth noting is that the FCC is independent from the administration. While Obama has put pressure on the FCC to enact tougher regulations, and he appointed Wheeler to head the agency, this is not the president’s call.
After debunking additional claims, the article explained why this change is now needed, and not necessarily a break from previous administrations:
THE CLAIM: The FCC plan “represents a stunning reversal of the policies of the Clinton and Bush administrations.” It will backtrack on “decades of bipartisan agreement to limit Internet regulation.” — Former FCC commissioner Robert McDowell in an opinion article in The Wall Street Journal.
THE FACTS: The question of Internet “fast lanes” is far more pressing for Obama than it ever was for Clinton or Bush. In 2000, only 3 percent of American households had broadband access, compared with 70 percent by 2013, according to the Pew Research Center.
It wasn’t until President George W. Bush’s second term, in 2005, that YouTube became available and video services like Netflix became more popular. By the time the FCC voted in 2008 against Comcast for throttling Web traffic, Bush was nearing the end of his presidency.
For those who might find this all boring, here is a more entertaining explanation of net neutrality from John Oliver:
It is never good for a politician to become a frequent punchline of the late night comedians. Seth Meyers had the above response to Rudy Giuliani’s false claim that Obama does not love America, along with Scott Walker’s difficulty in responding to a question as to whether he agreed. (Media and graphic below via Mediaite).
Walker is complaining of being hit with gotcha questions but he has made two major errors which a serious candidate for the presidency should not have made. At this stage in what used to be called the invisible primary, but now is very open, questions serve the purpose of dividing out the serious and not serious candidates. On the one hand a candidate does have to be able to handle difficult questions, including questions which might not be fair. On the other hand, in an era of 24/7 news and Twitter, it is hard for anyone to go for a couple of years without giving a poor response and seeing it spread instantly.
Walker’s problem is that he has recently given two bad answers which shouldn’t have been that difficult. He will face far more difficulty, and potentially unfair, questions if he runs for president. The worst response from Walker, to me, was on evolution. On the other hand, questioning evolution is a common view among Republican primary votes so it might not hurt him. The Democrats are not effective enough politically to capitalize on that in a general election.
The question of whether Obama loves America was also not difficult. Other Republicans have given answers along the lines that Obama loves America but his policies are bad for America. Obviously I disagree, but I see that as a good answer politically for a Republican. Most of the base will not object as they are still critical of Obama, and sane people will not see them as kooks for saying this.
It is still early and I doubt that this will be enough to derail Walker’s campaign. Plenty of other candidates will have bad moments before the first primary. This will only hurt if it is a trend which continues, in which case many Republicans will question whether he is ready for a national presidential campaign. If he continues to make such unforced errors, this will start to become how Walker is known by the general public and the campaign sign made by Seth Meyers will then stick: