Libertarian Party Picks Ticket

Johnson Weld Libertarian Ticket

With the prospect that the two major party candidates will nominate candidates as awful as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, there is increased interest in third party options this year. The election of either Trump or Clinton will lead to the growth of the warfare and surveillance state, with both having a similar hostile viewpoint towards civil liberties. Many Sanders supporters are thinking of voting for Jill Stein if Sanders is denied the nomination, assuming Stein will win the nomination of the Green Party. The Libertarian Party held their convention over the past weekend, choosing former New Mexico Governor to once again be their nominee. Former Massachusets governor William Weld will be his running mate.

The Libertarian Party might siphon votes away from Trump, but overall Clinton loses more support than Trump to third parties in recent head to head polls which include third party candidates. While Sanders supporters will disagree with Johnson on several issues, there are issues where we will agree. His brand of libertarianism is generally preferable to that of Rand Paul. He is similar to Paul in defending civil liberties. While far less of a supporter of military interventionism than Clinton, he might be somewhat more for military interventionism than Paul.  Johnson primarily from differs from Paul in being a social liberal. This includes support for abortion rights.

Just as many Democrats oppose the nomination of Hillary Clinton and many Republicans oppose Donald Trump, many Libertarians are also unhappy with their ticket this year. Both Johnson, and to a greater degree Welds, are criticized by hard-core right-libertarians for differing from their positions, but some of these discrepancies from right-libertarian dogma actually make Johnson more acceptable to Sanders supporters, including left-libertarians.

For some examples of why they are disliked by some libertarians, I will cite portions of a post at Red State in which Johnson and Weld are both called fake libertarians. The author is more socially conservative than orthodox libertarian thought, but such conservative views are also held by many libertarians. It should be easy to see through some of the spin here, such as calling legalization of same-sex marriage “government sponsored-gay marriage,” and see where Johnsons and Weld hold more reasonable views.

Johnson’s fiscal policies also apparently include government-funded prizes for science and paying U.N. dues, two things he brought up during the recent debate hosted by TheBlaze and moderated by Penn Jillette.

The more objectionable view of Johnson is that social liberalism is essential to libertarianism. In fact, it is distinct, if not in opposition to the philosophy…

Johnson’s embrace of social liberalism has gotten him into trouble with the base of the party. It reveals him to be not a libertarian, but a libertine and an authoritarian, which are qualities today well-represented by the Democratic Party.

Like Democrats, Johnson is in favor of legalizing only marijuana. Libertarians are in favor of all drugs being legal. Like Democrats, he is in favor of government-sponsored gay marriage. Libertarians oppose government involvement in marriage. Like Democrats, he believes that businesses must cater (literally-he believes Jews should have to bake Nazi cakes) to anyone and everyone. Libertarians believe in freedom of association and freedom of conscience/religion. Like Democrats, he supports funding for Planned Parenthood. Libertarians oppose government subsidization of private organizations. Like Democrats, Johnson is in favor of some gun control. Libertarians oppose restrictions on gun ownership.

The more I read about Johnson, the less libertarian I realize he is. Others are coming to the same conclusion.

Recently, Johnson affirmed his true beliefs when he selected former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld as his running mate, another self-described libertarian who also erroneously believes the philosophy means “fiscally conservative and socially liberal.” In particular, Weld is proud to be pro-LGBT and pro-abortion, two hallmark positions of social liberalism.

Jesse Walker of Reason listed some anti-libertarian positions held by Weld, including support for an assault weapons ban, eminent domain, and foreign intervention, and summed up Weld as “more of a moderate “socially liberal, fiscally conservative” type, with “fiscally conservative” defined by Massachusetts standards and with “socially liberal” defined in terms a Michael Bloomberg could embrace.”

Conservative Review also notes Weld’s support of EPA regulations and affirmative action. In addition, Weld endorsed Obama in 2008, Romney in 2012, and Kasich in 2016 before linking up with Johnson.

Much of this are plusses, even if inconsistent with libertarian views, including support for marriage equality, social liberalism, funding of science and Planned Parenthood, some gun control, and EPA reglations. Similarly I can accept a candidate who supports legalization of marijuana but not all drugs, especially if he seeks to end the drug war and treat addiction as an illness rather than a crime.

Another description of his views in the recent debate from Hit & Run chastizes him for his support of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. I do have some concerns over how they describe his foreign policy views, but virtually anyone is preferable to the ultra-militaistic Clinton, who has rarely seen a war she didn’t like, or Trump, who I fear would bumble us into a war despite being less openly interventionistic compared to Clinton.

I have not gone into the areas where Johnson’s views are closer to traditional right-libertarianism. Gary Johnson is hardly the ideal candidate, and it is far more likely I will wind up voting for Jill Stein, but his views do provide an important contrast to the major party candidates. Unfortunatelyboth the Libertarian and Green Party candidates will probably receive minimal media coverage and be denied participation in the debates.

Utah Declares Porn To Be A Public Health Crisis

Pornography Utah

The authoritarian right loves to legislate what others may or may not do, especially when it comes to sex. Utah is passing a resolution declaring porn to be a public health crisis. USA Today reports:

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert will sign a resolution declaring pornography a “public health crisis” at the Utah state capitol today.

The resolution was introduced by Republican state Senator Todd Weiler in January 2015, to battle the “pornography epidemic harming” the state and the country.

The resolution, which was passed last month, calls for increased “education, prevention, research, and policy change at the community and societal level,” to combat pornography.  Anti-pornography group, the Utah Coalition Against Pornography posted on Facebook that the resolution signing marks a “time to celebrate and recognize this historic moment.”

Weiler maintains that the resolution is not a ban on porn or an attack on masturbation, but the first steps toward creating a plan to protect children and families from it.

“Due to advances in technology and the universal availability of the Internet, young children are exposed to what used to be referred to as hard core, but is now considered mainstream, pornography at an alarming rate,” according to the bill. 

Ian Kerner, a psychotherapist and sex expert, says the anti-pornography movement is rooted in a long history of stigmatizing sex and masturbation.

“So much of the anti-porn movement is based on a sense of alarmism,” Kerner said, adding that the anti-pornography movement has blurred the line between child and adult access to pornography. “In this country, we really bundle together children and teens with consenting adults, and the issues are not the same for children and teens as they are for consenting adults.”

In contrast, the American College of Physicians recently called on doctors to do more regarding a real public health crisis which is ignored by many conservatives–climate change.

Larry Flynt is responding by sending a free issue of Hustler to every member of the Utah state legislature, although I’m not sure why he would want to reward those people (other than for the free publicity).  He also issued this statement:

“[T]he Utah Legislature is obviously confused about what constitutes a public health crisis, so I’ll send them our latest issue and they can see for themselves that we’re no danger to the public, only to the repressed,” Mr. Flynt said in a statement.

“In 1969 President Lyndon Johnson and the President’s Commission on Obscenity and Pornography found that no evidence exists that exposure to explicit sexual materials cause any kind of criminal behavior,” the 73-year-old self-declared smut peddler said. “This report has been gathering dust for over 40 years, and Utah is only dragging out this issue now to satisfy religious zealots.”

The porn website XHamster.com responded in the opposite manner compared to Flynt in protest over the passage of the recent “religious liberties” law in North Carolina. They protested by blocking access to the site from computers located in North Carolina. That probably hurt even more than Bruce Springsteen canceling a concert in North Carolina.

SciFi Weekend: Arrow; The Americans; Sleepy Hollow; 11/23/63; Orphan Black; The 100; Sherlock; Bruce Springsteen

Arrow Cemetary

It looks like many shows think that they can duplicate the  success of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead by killing off characters. There are more major spoilers this week. Recent posts have already dealt with character deaths, and there were more to look at this week. Some were handled better than others.

We knew for quite a while that there would be a death on Arrow this season, but none of the discussion I’ve seen predicted that it would be such a major death, even though major characters have been killed on this show since the beginning. It does make sense to kill Laurel as they never really knew what to do with her beyond the first season when the ex-girlfriend role made sense. They have varied so much from the comics that it is not necessary to keep her, especially as it appears, despite their current troubles, that Oliver is fated to wind up with Felicity and not Laurel.

Marc Guggenheim and Wendy Mericle, and Paul Blackthorne (Detective Lance) discussed the episode with Entertainment Weekly. Here are some of the questions:

But seriously, why Laurel?

“Obviously Arrow is always a show that’s evolving,” Guggenheim says. “It’s always a show where every character, arguably except for the Arrow, is fair game. We started off this year with the promise of a death and when we worked our way through our various different creative choices, we realized that the thing that will give us the most pop going into the end of the season and into next season unfortunately would be Laurel.”

Was she killed because some of the fanbase doesn’t like Laurel?

“When I say it gives us a lot of pop I don’t mean on the Internet or publicity, I mean creatively for the show,” Guggenheim says. “Every time we’ve killed off a character on the show, it’s really been for the effect it has on all the characters left behind. I don’t want to spoil the end of season 4 or what we have planned for season 5, which we’re already in the room working on, but the way we always describe it is the creative math. How divisive Laurel is as a character on Twitter is not a factor. Truth be told, Twitter is a very specific sub-segment. The number of people who don’t like Laurel is probably an infinitesimally small group, so it’s not, as they say, statistically relevant.”

But shouldn’t Oliver and Laurel be endgame?

“One of the things we knew people would think was, ‘Oh, well, in the season where Oliver and Felicity get engaged and Laurel dies, that’s clearly making a choice about who’s going to end up with who,” Guggenheim says. “Truth be told, we told the Laurel-Oliver romance story in season 1. We told that story. We never really thought about going back to it. The ‘shipping thing was not an element, it was not a factor to us. We recognize that that upsets a lot of fans, particularly the comic book fans.”

Yeah! Oliver and Laurel end up together in the comics! What gives?

“In the comics, Dinah Lance and Oliver Queen, depending on which version of the character you like, are in a romance together in various iterations,” Guggenheim says. “That, to some people, is considered canonical and iconic, and we respect that, but at the same time we’ve always made no bones about the fact that we are telling our own version of the Green Arrow mythos. The Green Arrow has had so many different interpretations, and Black Canary has had so many different interpretations over the years, that we never felt beholden to one particular interpretation. This is our interpretation, like it or not, and I recognize there are plenty of people up and down my Twitter feed who do not like it. I totally respect that. But it made the most creative sense for us going forward despite the fact that we love Katie, absolutely love Katie.”

So could Laurel come back to life?

“Not getting a chance to work with Katie day in and day out is tempered by the fact that we now live in a universe where there’s resurrection, parallel earths, time travel, flashbacks — we have all these different ways of keeping Katie in the Arrow-verse family,” Guggenheim says. “In fact, you will see her on an episode of Flash playing the Earth-2 version of Laurel Lance. Katie is reprising her role as Laurel of Earth-1 to be in Vixen season 2. Death does not mean goodbye on any of these shows, but we made a creative choice and we’re sticking to it. We’re recognizing that Black Canary and Laurel have an incredibly loyal fanbase, and Katie has an incredibly loyal fanbase, but the show has never been just about the comic book history, it’s never been just about one or two different particular fanbases. We make the creative choices we feel benefit the show as a whole and the story that we’re telling overall.”

But by bringing her back on other shows, doesn’t that cheapen Laurel’s death?

“We definitely recognize across all three shows that when we kill off a character, it means something different now,” Guggenheim says. “I’m not going to put a qualitative judgment on whether it’s more or less impactful. I’ll leave that to the audience, but certainly we acknowledge there’s a difference. Arrow, much more so than Flash or Legends, it traffics in death. We started off the series of the apparent death of Sara Lance and the actual death of Robert Queen and a hero who murdered people. For better or for worse, death is part of the show. What we’re finding is that death now, as it should by the way, when you start to get where we are pushing into season 5, the show has to evolve, it has to change. The concept of death on this show is evolving and changing as we’ve already seen with Sara Lance, and with seeing Laurel in a parallel universe. There’s a world where we do an episode where Oliver Queen meets the Laurel Lance of Earth-2. That’s now on the table. Time travel is now on the table. As the show has evolved, so has death.”

The interview also dealt with reactions from the other characters, and revealed that we will not find out what Laurel said to Oliver before she died until next season, showing that the death of Laurel will be impacting the show for some time. As noted in the interview, Katie Cassidy will appear as an Earth-2 version of Laurel on The Flash. Her sister will also get a chance to react to her death on Legends of Tomorrow. Additional interviews from cast and crew can be seen here.

In other Arrow news, Echo Kellum (Curtis) has been promoted to a series regular for season 5, and presumably will be an active part of Team Arrow. I also would not be surprised to see Felicity getting back with the team, whether or not it takes time for her to get back with Oliver.

THE AMERICANS -- "Dimebag" Episode 304 (Airs Wednesday, February 18, 10:00 PM e/p) Pictured: Annet Mahendru Nina Sergeevna. CR: Ali Goldstein/FX

The Americans had the death of a major character at a strange time. (More spoilers here). It would have made more sense to end Nina’s story at the end of last season rather than continuing it so briefly this year, but many of the plot thread from last season were left to continue this year. It also provided an interesting look at how such executions were handled, with Nina being shot only three seconds after being told her appeal was denied and her death sentence would be carried out shortly.

TV Line discussed the episode with Joe Fields:

TVLINE | When was she originally supposed to die?
JOEL FIELDS | We went back and forth a little bit. There was a point at which we thought she might go at the end of Season 3. Then we fussed around with different episodes in Season 4. So yeah, there was a little bit of elasticity to it.

TVLINE | Why, ultimately, the decision to kill off Nina now?
FIELDS | It was really all about how the story laid out and how it fit in with other stories. … You do get very attached to these characters. As writers, you get very attached to them, and as actors, you fuse with them in a certain way. So it feels like a real loss.

TVLINE | So poor Nina was always doomed?
FIELDS | Well, not from the very beginning. And frankly, you’ve got to define “doomed.” The truth is, this character transformed in a way that has great meaning, and she could have maybe found a way to continue on as somebody who would do anything to survive. But instead, she grew. And she grew into a character who was willing to take a risk to do the right thing for someone else. Although she paid the ultimate price for it, she grew into a much fuller person. Yes, she made her choices, and in all seriousness, we have a lot of respect for her choices.

TVLINE | The method of her death was so brutal and quick. How did you land on that?
WEISBERG | That’s how they actually executed traitors. We learned about it from a book written by our consultant, Sergei Kostin. His book came out after the end of the Cold War, and we tried to follow it beat by beat in our script. Our director followed it beat by beat [and] beautifully shot it. As soon as we read it, we thought, “This is the way to do it.” It was so dramatic and so powerful and, interestingly enough, so humane. Because the reason they came up with that system was to spare the person being shot any foreknowledge about what was going to happen so they wouldn’t suffer and be afraid.

TVLINE | Nina has been separated from much of the main cast for a while now. Will her death reverberate for the rest of the characters somehow?
WEISBERG | I think it’s safe to say that Oleg’s father is very highly placed in the Soviet government, so he could easily find out what happened. I don’t think we ever saw that story as separated as maybe some people did. Even though the role was not as interconnected in the way that things are interconnected today with the internet and communications, it was still an interconnected role at the heart.

TVLINE | Did Oleg’s dad try to reach out to help her?
WEISBERG | He did try, but he just wasn’t successful.

The Americans Nina Execution

Spoiler TV has an interview with Annet Mahendru who played Nina, and also appeared in The X-Files revival this year:

Could you talk a bit about Nina’s motivations for helping Anton [Baklanov], what her mindset is and how you dealt with the change in her this season?

Annet Mahendru: I think last season we see it goes on for a while, she’s figuring him out, she’s always about the other – she’s kind of a reactor to things – and she doesn’t quite know what to do with Anton and she sees a human being for the first time and it brings that out of her. And she’s exhausted, she’s been in this hamster wheel over and over buying her life out, walking this thin line and you know, every decision, every step, it’s life or death for her and she’s exhausted and she’s falling and she can’t do this anymore. And he moves something in her. For the first time it’s something very direct: he has a son, and she’s given all that up when she entered this profession and she finds joy in his world and his letters and love and for the first time I think we see her happy and she literally gives up everything for that moment of happiness and that’s her freedom from that tragic life that she has chosen and has been dealing with [since we met] her. So I think for joy and for just she lives for the first time and that’s what she needs to do to live and sometimes you need to change in order to survive and that’s what she does.

Nina seemed quite resigned when reading the statement from Baklanov. Do you think she’s at peace with her fate now?

Annet Mahendru: I think she’s content, she is, she’s very much settled and she’s ok now because she did something for the first time that allowed her to be who she is and something that she saw, you know she has done everything to secure the future of the Soviet Union, this cause, this great cause that is so far-fetched and to hear something so direct – there’s a boy that needs to know that his dad loves him and she did that and that’s the greatest thing she’s ever done.

What was your reaction like when you got the script for this episode? Did [creators] Joel [Fields] and Joe [Weisberg] give you some heads up or did you find out as you were reading?

Annet Mahendru: (Laughs) Goodness no, I got the first script and then I got a phone call and you kind of wait for that phone call from the get-go – everytime they call you, that might be the phone call. It finally came and I played it really cool because you’d think you’d be prepared for it but you absolutely are not. I was angry at them, I loved them, I felt every single thing you could possibly feel and I remember my mom was like “it’s not you dying, it’s Nina, it’s Nina” because it just felt like a part of me that I was so lucky to be able to tap into and that I had to also say goodbye to. And the weird thing is I felt like in the 2nd episode I’m getting to know Nina, she’s meeting her husband, she finally has her own mission, her transformation that she desperately needed and I felt like I had just gotten a taste of her and that’s it and then like an episode later she’s dead. So that little bit of joy, that little bit of her that I finally got, it was so fleeting and it was over before I could really embrace it and it was really sad. We’ve all been, since the beginning, treasuring her and fighting for her – it’s really been a fight – and it just made me realise that it’s just such a tragic life and that it’s real, you know, this happens out there and it made me really angry.

Could you compare working on a show like this to working on a show like The X-Files?

Annet Mahendru: You know, it was really ironic, it was like a double death for my characters this year. It was a lot of death but Sveta died for the reopening of the X-Files and Nina died for starting something very important for an individual. It was a really difficult season and also the greatest season at the same time. The X-Files was a real treat and it was another special story that I got to tell.

Sleepy Hollow

From a mass audience perspective the death on the season (and perhaps series) finale of Sleepy Hollow was the biggest, but as I was also giving up on the show it mattered the least to me. (More spoilers ahead). The she had already lost its way after the first season, when it centered around the relationship between Ichabod and Abbie. There is no news yet as to whether the series will be renewed. While this was also not a very satisfactory way to end the series, it would probably be best to end it now, unless someone can go back in time and end it after the first season.

TV Line discussed the episode with showrunner Clifton Campbell:

TVLINE | I’m going to jump in with the big question first: Is Abbie really dead? Is this the last we’ll see of her?
The character of Abbie Mills makes the supreme sacrifice to save the world, and her character dies in the season finale, yes. To answer the second part of that question, she will not return to the show as Abbie Mills. There’s certainly the possibility, given our really good relationship with Nicole and how much she’s help build us these past three seasons, that reflections of her will be around and that the idea of her will be around is certainly something we’ve all talked about, but not as the character of Abbie Mills.

TVLINE | So is Nicole Beharie no longer with the show?
Nicole Beharie as Abbie Mills is no longer with the show. The character is dead. But we’ve had a terrific run with her. She’s been an absolute delight. She helped build out the mythology of the show, and we’ve had a tremendous run with her. The character is gone and, like I said, in Sleepy Hollow it’s always surprising to see how the reflections of one character or another can influence the show moving forward.

TVLINE | Ichabod’s grief over what happens is palpable, but I was struck by how Tom Mison played it contained. Did you think about Ichabod having a big emotional moment after he realizes she’s gone? Did you shoot any takes like that?
Listen, Tom has really created this character from the bottom up. His instincts are without parallel. His fearless creation of this character in all of these moments, particularly as they pertain to his relationship with Abbie Mills, is not something any of us would second guess. You picked up on that contained emotion — I think this is such a big moment, and a huge loss in his life and his world that he needs to process. At a point where we have that opportunity in the finale, he hasn’t quite reached that point yet.

TVLINE | Having Abbie sacrifice herself twice in the same season — fans might think, “Well, you brought her back last time…” What’s the fundamental difference between her going into the tree and her willingly entering Pandora’s box?
Well, she knew she wasn’t coming out of the box in the finale. She knew, because of what they learned in the catacombs, that the box was missing its hope, which is at the center of darkness and gave it context, gave it form. She knew she was giving herself to the box… that that meant she would not be coming back.

At the midseason break this year, it was more immediate. The Shard of Anubis was going to blow; her sister and Crane and everybody in close proximity could suffer catastrophic loss. Abbie knows she’s giving her life up at the end of Season 3 to save the world. The difference is, from the audience’s perspective, is [at the midseason break] she had fallen into a realm that we didn’t know about. She didn’t die.

112263 Finale

Hulu completed 11.23.63 last week with the series clearly being about whether one person, John Kennedy, would die. While I noted some negative reviews when the show first started, with some suggesting that viewers skip ahead to the final episode, I did find it enjoyable throughout the entire season. The finale did flow well from what was shown before.  (More spoilers ahead).

The series began by including a cosmic reset switch when introducing its rules for time travel. Whenever anyone went back in time, everything they did in a previous visit was reset and they could start all over again. Knowing about this reset switch from the start, the most obvious outcome was that Jake would be successful in preventing the assassination of John F. Kennedy, but things would be worse because of him doing so and he would have to go back in time to reset this.

The show was not very clear as to why things were so awful when Jake returned to the present, leading me to quickly skim the ending of the book. In the book the issue comes down to matters of destruction because of making changes in time itself, as opposed to a result of Kennedy’s actions after remaining alive.

It was clear several episodes before the end that the real story was about what would happen between Jake and Sadie, a woman Jake fell in love with after going back in time. When he spoke about bringing her back to the present with him, my first thought was that we have seen people go back in time, but never forward in time from their timeline. Whether or not it was possible for Sadie to go forward in time, Jake had to sacrifice the relationship in order for her to live to have a  happy life. Over the course of the finale, John Kennedy and Sadie were both killed and not killed on different trips back in time.

Orphan Black returns on April 14 on BBC America. The first four minutes are above. Here is the synopsis, which does not even mention the events of the flashback with Beth Childs.

After two months of respite, Sarah’s hard-won refuge in Iceland is shattered by a Neolution attack. Once again forced to flee, she realizes no matter how far her family runs it will never be far enough.

Ricky Whittle is isn’t happy with how his character was handled on The 100 last week. This follows the controversy over the death of Lexa earlier in the season.

For those interested in still more television deaths, Geeks of Doom reviews the season finale of The Walking Dead.

Filming has begun on Season 4 of Sherlock, with Steven Moffat being vague in his comments on where the season goes.

Last week I noted how economic considerations, including pressure from Disney and other studios, led to a veto of a “religious liberties” law in Georgia. North Carolina has passed a similar discriminatory law, and now they have seen the first economic consequences of this:

Bruce Springsteen canceled Sunday’s concert at the Greensboro Coliseum because of House Bill 2, saying in a statement that he and his band would show solidarity for North Carolinians working to oppose the law.

“Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry — which is happening as I write — is one of them,” the singer wrote on his website. “It is the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards.”

…HB 2, passed quickly by the General Assembly in a one-day special session last month, prevents cities and counties from passing anti-discrimination ordinances to protect lesbian, gay and transgender residents. Legislators passed the bill in response to an ordinance adopted in Charlotte that would have allowed transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with, a provision overturned by the new law.

Dozens of businesses, including American Airlines, Dow Chemical, BioGen and Labcorp, have spoken out against the law. PayPal canceled a planned $3.6 million expansion in Charlotte that would have created 400 jobs, and dozens of people have canceled attendance at the semiannual furniture market in High Point that starts next weekend.

Cancellation of the Springsteen concert is the first major economic blow to Greensboro as a result of the law.

John Kasich said that he would not have signed the law:

“I believe that religious institutions ought to be protected and be able to be in a position of where they can live out their deeply held religious purposes,” Kasich, who’s running for the Republican presidential nomination, told host John Dickerson in an interview for Sunday’s “Face the Nation.” “But when you get beyond that it gets to be a tricky issue. And tricky is not the right word, but it can become a contentious issue.”

SciFi Weekend: World’s Finest, Supergirl and The Flash; Another Death on The 100; Gilmore Girls; Studios vs. Religious Liberty Law; Gilmore Girls; Bernie Sanders on Colbert; Donald Trump Heroin

Superman-Flash-Supergirl-Flash-comic-book-cover-Worlds-Finest_edited-2

When I was younger and reading comics in the 1960’s, World’s Finest featured a team up between Superman and Batman in every issue, and at other times in its history it included other DC superheroes. While Superman and Batman are together in the same movie this month, television teamed up Supergirl and The Flash instead. Lacking the rights to Superman, ideas from the comics are often adapted to Supergirl (as Batman story lines have been adapted for Arrow).

I also clearly recalled the classic Superman cover with Superman racing The Flash. Supergirl used a similar poster to promote the show, and TV Addict has put the two together in the graphic above.

Melissa Benoist and Grant Gustin had terrific chemistry together in this Glee reunion. I don’t know if them having worked together in the past helped, and it certainly helped that both characters are similarly light. I doubt we would have seen the same chemistry with an Arrow/Supergirl crossover, unless Supergirl became a Felicity-substitute for Oliver.

Their awkward meeting can be seen in the video above.

The premise was actually explained further on Tuesday’s episode of The Flash in which Barry traveled back in time to seek ways to become faster to fight Zoom. Fortunately the show kept technobabble to a minimum and concentrated on the chemistry between the characters–although I do wonder how Barry would be able to get back to his original earth. I can envision this as a Barry from yet another earth who is spending years traveling from one earth to another in search of home. While there was a brief discussion of parallel earths, it was pretty much limited to Winn’s “That’s cool.”

The show had many other great lines. Supergirl was still trying to regain the support of the people of National City after the episode in which she was exposed to red kryptonite and briefly became a menace. She expressed her frustration and the drastic measures she was utilizing: “I saw that winning the people back wasn’t going so well. I have tried everything I can think of. Last night, I helped a family assemble their IKEA table!” The Flash demonstrated his super speed to Supergirl by quickly running out for ice cream. Supergirl’s response was perfect: “That’s cool.”

Cat might have been fooled by Supergirl’s secret identity (although now that she knows there is a shape shifter around, I’d would expect her to figure out how she was tricked). She had no difficulty figuring out that Barry was the new speedster in town, but she did not like the name of The Flash: “The Flash sounds like someone whose only super-power is jumping out of an alley in a trench coat.”

There was a reference to  CW, which The Flash is on: “All four of you, standing there, doing nothing. You look like the attractive yet non-threatening, racially diverse cast of a CW show.”

While I could have easily spent the hour just watching Supergirl and The Flash hanging out together, there was even a plot to the story. If there were two superheroes, there had to be too super villains working together, Siobhan (Italia Ricci) and Livewire (Brit Morgan):

Siobhan: “You want to kill Cat Grant and Supergirl, and I want to kill Cat’s assistant, who’s protected by them both. Figured we could team up.”

Livewire: “Like an evil Taylor Swift squad?”

Worlds-Finest-crop-740x431

Nerdist has information from Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg on the repercussions of the cross over episode:

“We always wanted to do it,” says Berlanti of the crossover. “From the day we cast Melissa [Benoist], the notion of her in scenes with Grant [Gustin] or someday maybe, in the best of all worlds, with Stephen [Amell] as well…it’s exciting to think of them on screen together. And there was a similar tonality to the shows. But a few things had to go right. We were introducing this notion of Earth-2 and the Multiverse on Flash, and that had to work for us. We always said very openly that Flash and Arrow exist in a universe where there’s no Superman, or you would have heard about him. They would have had at least one conversation about him, and certainly Supergirl as well. And he exists on this show.”

But the multiverse would prove the easier hurdle of the two shows converging—even though they live on different networks (CW for The Flash and CBS for Supergirl. “It was more challenging in that way because it’s not so convenient. It’s two separate cites that they shoot in. You wanted the show to work and stand on its own, and CBS has its own audience. We thought we might wait until the second season,” explained Berlanti. “But after Christmas we came back and we were planning out the final third of the year and we saw a way that we thought we could do it; and it felt like the right time for him to enter her world and help her out. So it all came together. We went to all the powers that be and said, ‘I think we had indicated maybe we’d wait a little longer. But we’d really like to do this now.’”

…But will there ever come a day where Kara returns the favor and visit Barry on The Flash”

“We would love that,” said Berlanti. “Just like we love this and are excited about this. I think we want to wait and see the audience reaction to something like this. But just as storytellers and fans of the actors, obviously. We love it when we can figure out a way to do it creatively and hopefully everybody enjoys it.”

Of course, the Multiverse does add a tiny wrinkle to this: wouldn’t that mean a Kara already exists on Barry’s Earth? And if so, what might a version of her look like there?

“I would think that any Kara that exists on Earth-1 would also have to have been an alien,” explained Kreisberg. “There can’t just be Kara Danvers from Poughkeepsie. That’s the fun of the Multiverse. We have a really exciting, fun doppelgänger coming up on the penultimate episode of The Flash that we haven’t announced yet. That’s just another one of those ‘Oh, that would be really cool…’ It’s surprisingly easy to justify any of these decisions. Usually when we’re in the writers room, and arguing the merits of doing something or not doing something, it really comes down to ‘Is it cool? Is it fun?’ The logic of how we get to it we find we can make work, especially if you don’t dwell too much on it. Because at the end of the day the audience wants to see the fun thing, they want to see the Flash and Supergirl together. So getting them across—he ran a little too fast with his tachyon drive—it wasn’t a lot of shoe leather to make it happen. Then you get forty-two minutes of the fun stuff.”

As a lifelong fan of the DCU, we posited the idea of Melissa Benoist appearing on The Flash as the Power Girl of Earth-2 to Kreisberg. His thoughts? “Sure,” he laughs. “[It’s] a different costume, but sure!”

As for why the two iconic heroes are first meeting on Supergirl as opposed to The Flash, Berlanti explained that it was “because it was his capacity to come this way,” adding that they “never really considered it the other way” and that “it’s maybe a little bit more fun at first to bring the veteran from that show to the chemistry of a new show.”

As for whether or not the time-traveling heroes of the Flash spinoff Legends of Tomorrow could appear on Supergirl via their ship the Waverider, Kreisberg got our hopes way up, saying that, “The Waverider can go anywhere.”

That last line also explains how Rip Hunter once said, “I’ve seen Men of Steel die and Dark Knights fall. Your entire 21st century world will suffer.” Superman and Batman apparently do not exist in the Arrow/Flash world but did exist in Rip’s past. Does this mean that the characters picked up by Rip are actually working to save a different earth?

"Worlds Finest" -- Kara gains a new ally when the lightning-fast superhero The Flash suddenly appears from an alternate universe and helps Kara battle Siobhan, aka Silver Banshee, and Livewire in exchange for her help in finding a way to return him home, on SUPERGIRL, Monday, March 28 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured left to right: Jeremy Jordan, Grant Gustin, Mehcad Brooks and Melissa Benoist Photo: Robert Voets/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. © 2016 WBEI. All rights reserved.

More at TV Line, including some comments related to what I wrote above about Supergirl’s secret identity:

In discussing this crossover’s genesis, Berlanti also hints at the idea of Supergirl and Green Arrow interacting, saying, “From the day we cast Melissa [Benoist], the notion of her in scenes with Grant [Gustin] – or someday maybe in the best of all worlds with [Arrow star] Stephen [Amell], as well – it’s exciting to think of them on screen together.”

…If Cat was so easily able to decipher that Barry is The Flash, then how can she still be in the dark about her assistant’s secret identity? “There’s a number of people that assume that she does know and just doesn’t say anything,” Berlanti notes. “Both are safe bets. We haven’t firmed up if and when we [will] clarify that point. I think it’s kind of enjoyable to appreciate the show both ways.”

The 100 Steaiing Fire

When watching most television shows and a character’s life is in danger, the assumption is that they will survive. (Spoilers ahead). The opposite is true on The 100–especially when the character is played by an actor who has a role lined up on another television show, such as with Ricky Whittle. This is the second major death in a short time. Lincoln’s death has not been met with as much controversy as Lexa’s, but there has been some protests over how he died.

gilmore-girls-reunion

Amy Sherman-Palladino never got the chance to use the four final word she planned for The Gilmore Girls as she left the show in its final season due to a contract dispute.  She kept them secret in case she ever had a chance to use them, and it has been verified they will be used in the Netflix revival. There are many possibilities from, “Luke, I love you” to “Mother, you are insane” to “Rory, you were adopted.”

I recently posted on how Marvel Studios and others protested the “religious liberties” bill in Georgia. The loss of potential income to the state appears to have been more important than appeasing the religious right as Governor Deal has vetoed the measure.

Dave Schilling gave his ideas on who different television characters would vote for at The Guardian. For example:

Mulder & Scully

Mulder’s naturally rebellious, so he’d have to be for Bernie Sanders. All the revolutionary rhetoric would appeal to his lack of trust in government. Scully, on the other hand, is highly religious and less prone to seditious behavior. Still, I don’t think she’d ever vote for any of the Republicans because of their denial of climate change science and anti-choice policies. I’m going to guess Hillary on this one.

Bernie Sanders played Wheel of News on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Friday. The segment ended with Sanders shooting the T-shirt cannon. Video above.

After the Michigan and Missouri primaries, Donald Trump put on an infomercial and talked about all the products with his name on them, even if not very truthfully. Now there is a new product to add to the Donald Trump line, Donald Trump Heroin. Mediaite reports:

A New Hampshire woman was arrested a few days ago for selling heroin with the name of none other than Donald Trump branded on the bags.

According to the Union Leader Correspondent, Darcie Hall was busted after a confidential informant managed to organize two heroin buys––one at a McDonald’s, another at a mini-mart. She had been under investigation by the police and the state attorney general’s drug task force.

And the detective who saw the heroin bundles wrote in his affidavit, “I also observed that each wax bag was stamped with a ‘Donald Trump’ logo.” (Make Heroin Great Again was probably too on-the-nose.)

Plus The New York Post reports on women who not only support Donald Trump, but are stripping down or him. Pictures included.

SciFi Weekend: Controversy Over Death Of Lesbian Character On The 100; Orphan Black; Daredevil; 12 Monkeys; The Americans; Put A Bird On It

The 100 Clarke Lexa Kiss

Jason Rothenberg’s decision to kill a prominent LGBT character on The 100, and the manner in which she died, has made many fans of the show upset. At the time I first watched and reviewed the show, while I expected some disappointment and protest, I had no idea how serious a matter this would be to the LGBT community. Reviewing the discussion from those who did take it very personally, along with the views of television critics such as Maureen Ryan who is quoted below, help to understand the importance of this issue. After missing the significance of this in my original review, I hope to make up for it by providing this overview today.

I will start by allowing Rothenberg to explain his viewpoint. He was interviewed by TV Insider. Here are the first few questions, with much more in the full interview:

OK, so you had to be aware of the uproar that would come from killing Lexa, right? This was something that you guys had to realize you’d be walking into.
Yes and no. First of all, I think I should start by saying that for the last two weeks, I’ve pretty much thought about nothing else except for this. It’s taken me some time to process everything, and I’ve been listening, reading everything I could. I took my voice out of it on Twitter because I didn’t want to inflame the situation, and I felt like I didn’t want to shape the conversation. I just wanted to listen and try to understand. I mean, we were a little surprised by it—obviously not that people were upset; you’re right in the sense that we kind of knew that that would happen. The story that we’re telling is a tragedy. Lexa was a meaningful character to our fans, especially LGBTQ fans, and so I knew it would be emotional, of course. What was unexpected was the level of outrage that it’s generated from some people, but I do think I have come to understand that.

We’ve seen this with shows with strong social media bases: The louder the outrage, the more disturbing it can get.
Yeah. Lexa’s death triggered real emotional trauma for some people, you know? It tapped into the real world, it tapped into their lives, and as a straight white male, I obviously didn’t anticipate how deeply it would affect certain people. I look at it now and I realize that if somebody had that kind of a reaction and then were to look back at the way I behaved on Twitter leading up to it, which was celebrating this relationship that then crushed them, I can understand why they would find that reprehensible. I hope that people understand that.

Since there is no winning on Twitter, what do you want to say to the fans now?
I would say, first of all, that it’s taken me a while to get perspective on it myself and to put myself in the position of somebody who was hurt like that. And I hope that eventually they can start to put themselves in our position and understand that we would never want to hurt anybody like that. We would never want to hurt our fans. We love them, we owe them everything, we owe them the fact that we just got a Season 4 to them. We want to take them for a ride, we don’t want to hurt them. And because we didn’t anticipate this sort of level of pain over this fictional death, we were doing what we always do on Twitter, which was celebrating work that we’re proud of. In hindsight, knowing what I know now and sort of realizing the things that I’ve realized, we should have done less of that. We should have done less buildup knowing where this was going to end up and knowing how this was going to affect people.

But it wouldn’t have changed the story you’re telling.
No, absolutely not. We would have told the same story. I stand behind the story; I just don’t think I would have gone out of my way to say ‘This is the best episode we’ve ever done!’ Nobody really anticipated that this would happen so now that we’ve seen it, the idea for me as the showrunner going forward is to learn lessons from it, you know? This is a show where characters die. That’s another reason we were so surprised..it’s a post-apocalyptic world set 100 years later in which anyone can die.

The 100 Lexa Clark

Rothenberg also posted a statement on line a few days ago. Here are some excerpts, but those interested in the controversy should read his full statement:

For many fans of The 100, the relationship between Clarke and Lexa was a positive step of inclusion. I take enormous pride in that, as I do in the fact that our show is heading into its 4th season with a bisexual lead and a very diverse cast. The honesty, integrity and vulnerability Eliza Taylor and Alycia Debnam-Carey brought to their characters served as an inspiration for many of our fans. Their relationship held greater importance than even I realized. And that very important representation was taken away by one stray bullet…

In the show-world, no one is safe, and anyone, even a beloved character, can die, at any time. My favorite shows in this genre embrace a similar sense of heightened urgency. There are several reasons why this particular episode played out the way it did: practical (an actress was leaving the show), creative (it’s a story about reincarnation) and thematic (it’s a show about survival). Despite my reasons, I still write and produce television for the real world where negative and hurtful tropes exist. And I am very sorry for not recognizing this as fully as I should have. Knowing everything I know now, Lexa’s death would have played out differently.

The 100 is a post-apocalyptic tragedy set 130 years in the future. It’s a constant life and death struggle. In our show, all relationships start with one question: ‘Can you help me survive today?’ It doesn’t matter what color you are, what gender identity you are, or whether you’re gay, bi or straight. The things that divide us as global citizens today don’t matter in this show. And that’s the beauty of science-fiction. We can make a point without preaching. We can say that race, sexuality, gender and disability should not divide us. We can elevate our thinking and take you on a helluva ride at the same time.

But I’ve been powerfully reminded that the audience takes that ride in the real world — where LGBTQ teens face repeated discrimination, often suffer from depression and commit suicide at a rate far higher than their straight peers. Where people still face discrimination because of the color of their skin. Where, in too many places, women are not given the same opportunities as men, especially LGBTQ women who face even tougher odds. And where television characters are still not fully representative of the diverse lives of our audience. Not even close.

The 100 Clarke Lexa Thirteen

Maureen Ryan wrote about What TV Can Learn From The ‘100 Mess’ at Variety and helps explain why many fans are upset. Again, these are just excerpts and the full article is worth reading.

The response of the showrunner has, outside of a few unenlightening interviews, has been disappointing. Rothenberg live-tweeted the March 10 episode of the show as if thinkpieces and damning critiques were not still being churned out. In the limited array of interviews he did in conjunction with the March 3 episode, he has given little indication that he understands the depth of the sense of betrayal or the multitude of reasonable objections to the death story line. Since March 3, it has fallen to co-executive producer Javier Grillo-Marxuach, who wrote the episode, to engage with fans in any significant and meaningful way, but his compassionate and committed response has only highlighted Rothenberg’s abdication of responsibility...

So here’s the nitty-gritty: The character who died, Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey), happened to be one of the few well-developed and complex lesbians on TV, and it’s an unfortunate but enduring TV cliche that lesbians rarely, if ever, live happily ever after. In the March 3 episode, “The 100,” which had touted its commitment to quality LGBTQ storytelling, invoked one of TV’s oldest gay cliches by killing her off mere seconds after she consummated her relationship with another woman, Clarke (Eliza Taylor).

Many fans, regardless of sexual orientation, were left shaking their heads in disbelief.

On a story and thematic level, Lexa’s death (despite being well-performed by the actors) had little resonance and almost no meaning. But all things considered, the blithe manipulation LGBTQ fans and the show’s willingness to deploy harmful cliches about gay characters remain the things that rankle most…

Adding to the sense of betrayal was the manner of Lexa’s death. She was felled by a stray bullet from an angry male servant, mere seconds after she and Clarke had sex for the first time. The servant, Titus, disapproved of Lexa’s relationship with Clarke, whom he tried to kill, but Lexa caught the bullet. This woman — the most fearsome warrior in the show’s history — didn’t die defending Clarke; she just happened to be in the bullet’s path. And by following her only moment of bliss with her lover, the Grounder queen’s death followed a time-worn and disturbing TV pattern.

Autostraddle came up with a list of more than 130 lesbian and bisexual women who have been killed off on TV shows, and it’s a damning roster. Whatever progress you think TV has made on the front of LGBTQ representation, the sheer number of dead women on the list is profoundly troubling, to say the least. If nothing else, it shows that the Bury Your Gays trope is alive and well on TV, and fictional lesbian and bisexual women in particular have a very small chance of leading long and productive lives.

Critic Nicola Choi wrote that when they spot a lesbian or bisexual woman on TV, many LGBTQ fans simply resign themselves to the fact that the character will die.

The 100 Thirteen Lexa

Dany Roth tried to explain the matter to a conservative-leaning readership at blastr:

If you’re not part of the queer community, an ally of said same, or if you were never a fan of The 100, why should you care? If we’re boiling this down to the most selfish of reasons, it is because next time it might be you. And maybe it already has been you. Forget social justice for a second (as I know many of you often try to, anyway) — think about this as simply acting in the interest of fairness…

The reason Lexa’s death was so upsetting isn’t just because her face was a recognizable one for so many queer people, it’s also because she made the LGBT community feel more visible, more relatable. And it made them feel like they were being listened to. Every time someone tweets about why Lexa matters, each time someone challenges the “Bury Your Gays” trope and demands that writers and showrunners do better, someone who hasn’t thought about any of this hears why representation in stories matters for the first time. Even in death, Lexa is making LGBT people more visible.

Orphan Black Train

There is often much to think about and discuss after an episode of Orphan Black. This was especially true in the early episodes, when we had very little understanding of what was going on. Entertainment Weekly has good news on both of these points. BBC America will be starting a show, After the Black, to discuss each episode. Plus it sounds like next season might recreate some of the mystery of the first season, including going back to when Sarah first saw Beth jump in front of the train.

Taking a tip from AMC, BBC America has announced After the Black, a companion show that will air weekly following Orphan Black.

Hosted by Innerspace’s Ajay Fry, Morgan Hoffman, and Teddy Wilson, After the Black is a 30-minute after show that will feature various cast, crew, and special guest stars chatting about the plot, twists, and theories on future episodes. Other segments will include behind-the-scene footage from the set and an exclusive first look at the following episode.

The format is very similar to AMC’s Talking Dead, which airs weekly following The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead.

The first post-game, which will air Thursday, April 14 at 11 p.m. ET following the season 4 premiere of Orphan Black, will include stars Tatiana Maslany and Kevin Hanchard.

As for the fourth season, executive producers John Fawcett and Graeme Manson revealed at WonderCon on Saturday that they’ll be going back to basics in a lot of ways by delving into a particular mystery from the pilot. “We really wanted to look at the first season this year,” Manson said. “We wanted to go back to that moment on the tracks with Beth and Sarah and go, ‘What did Sarah miss?’ There’s more story there.”

“We wanted to get that feel back, that feel of season 1 where you don’t know who the bad guy is, you don’t know who you’re speaking to,” Fawcett added. “That was the goal of season 4.”

Above is a trailer for season 4 of Orphan Black. There will also be new characters introduced:

Also this season, viewers are introduced to brand new characters that prove to be pivotal to the clones’ saga. Season 4 introduces Joel Thomas Hynes (REPUBLIC OF DOYLE) in the role of “Dizzy”, an edgy, self-reliant hacker who doesn’t conform to group mentality; Jessalyn Wanlim (Alex Cross) as Evie Cho, a powerful, seductively articulate bioengineer who believes great discoveries require casualties; Lauren Hammersley (MR. D) as Adele, a shameless, brazen, and wickedly intelligent lawyer who outwits opponents even when heavily intoxicated; and Gord Rand (Maps To The Stars) as Detective Duko, who on the surface appears to be unassuming and slightly nebbish, but has used his underlying angst to nastily claw his way to the top.

I will hold off on saying much about season 2 of Daredevil different  people are at different points with the Netflix model. Entertainment Weekly has the above interview with Charlie Cox which helps set up the season after the arrest of Wilson Fisk at the end of the first season:

“What we’ve done this year with the show is we don’t really have so much a Big Bad, but we have characters that enter Matt’s life,” Cox tells EW in a recent interview, viewable above. “They force him to look at himself and look at his actions in a way that no one else has done in the past.”

Those characters are, naturally, The Punisher (Jon Bernthal) and Elektra (Elodie Yung). The first, as trailers have hinted, comes to Hell’s Kitchen with almost a similar purpose as Daredevil but with a much different modus operandi. And his methodology involves a lot more killing, which puts the entire city on edge shortly after coming to appreciate Daredevil’s work.

“It’s through Daredevil’s actions that someone like Frank Castle has been able to show up and do what he does,” Cox explains.

Yet putting a stop to The Punisher’s bloodlust isn’t the only obstacle thrown at Matt this season. Elektra, the “Greek girl” from college that Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) mentioned last season returns to New York. As portrayed by Yung, Elektra complicates Matt’s life both while he’s in and out of his crime-fighting costume, particularly when it comes to his burgeoning romance with Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll).

“… Matt is completely authentic with both characters, but that authenticity is different with each character,” Cox said, calling this love triangle “one of the most enjoyable things for me to do as an actor this season.”

12 Monkeys returns on April 18. If we didn’t have the “problem” of so much good television, including genre television, now available thanks to cable and streaming, it might be tempting to rewatch the first season to review all the twists which occurred. While some hardcore fans are doing so, many of us just do not have the time. Syfy has posted the above seven minute recap to help the rest of us to catch up. It is certainly not enough for new viewers to start watching the show, but it is helpful for those of us who watched the first season.

americans-season-4

The Americans, which very well might be the best ongoing drama now on television (separating it from shows such as Fargo which have a different story each year) is off to an excellent start for its fourth season. There is so much which can be said about the quality of the story, but I figure those who are watching understand this and those who are not will not be interested in a play by play.

Besides all the big things, the show gets the little things better than most television shows. While many shows do a terrible job of working in children and home life (such as with Brody’s daughter on previous seasons of Homeland), Paige’s teenage angst, exacerbated by learning that her parents are Russian spies, has been a huge plus in driving the plot this season. Television story lines are often driven by misunderstandings, such as Stan thinking that Philip was sleeping with his wife. While that is a standard television trope, I really appreciated it when Phillip immediately explained the situation to Elizabeth and told her about going to the EST meetings, as opposed to dragging this out and creating further misunderstandings with her–as so many television shows would have done.

Plus so many interesting characters have been developed beyond the main characters. When The Americans inevitably ends, I’m looking forward to one spinoff based upon Nina Krilova in Russia, and another (or perhaps work in into a single show) in which Stan Beeman and Oleg Burov find some reason to team up after the Cold War ends. If Napoleon Solo can team up with Russian Illya Kuryakin on The Man From UNCLE, why not Stan and Oleg?

With all the talk the last few days about the bird at the Bernie Sanders rally in Oregon, prior to his big three-state sweep yesterday, above is a clip from the episode of Portlandia which started the slogan, “Put A Bird On It.”

To conclude by tying this in with the previous story on Daredevil, above is Rosario Dawson (Daredevil, Jessica Jones) speaking in support of Bernie Sanders.

Why Millennials, And Older Liberals, Support Sanders Over Clinton

Clinton Progressive

The endorsement of Hillary Clinton by Rolling Stone was a surprise considering how this conflicts with the views of millennials, whom I assume make up a substantial portion of its readership. Matt Taibbi responded by writing, Why Young People Are Right About Hillary Clinton. Taibbi made many good points but only provided a broad outline. While this is not the article to give to try to convince them not to vote for Clinton, the points made are worth repeating, and expanding upon.

Taibbi correctly traces the problem with the Democratic Party, and disconnect with the views of millennials to living in the past, not getting past the defeat of George McGovern back in 1972. Never mind how much the country has changed or the unique specifics of 1972, with McGovern running against an incumbent president when there was a reaction against the 1960’s counterculture in this country. (Besides, Richard Nixon had the best campaign slogan ever: Don’t Change Dicks In The Middle Of A Screw, Reelect Nixon in ’72.) The Democratic establishment saw southern politicians like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton win and McGovern lose and they built the nomination process around that. As Taibbi put it, “it would be a shame if we disqualified every honest politician, or forever disavowed the judgment of young people, just because George McGovern lost an election four decades ago.”

Even besides the manner in which the DNC has rigged the nomination process for Hillary Clinton this year, preexisting rules favor a moderate southern candidate, or at least one who can win in southern Democratic primaries. We have a political process, from the nomination process through the general election, makes it difficult to achieve change.

The Democratic nomination system both super delegates, who are in place to keep insurgent candidates like McGovern or Sanders from winning, and front loading the primary process with southern primaries. The party has not taken into account the fact that a current Democratic candidate, no matter how moderate, will not win in the south, but they do risk depressing Democratic turnout in the battleground states with their current choices of candidates. They risk a repeat of 2014 when Democratic voters stayed home with a candidate such as Clinton who performs poorly among independents and in the battleground states.

The results this year could easily be quite different with fairer rules. Imagine if Iowa announced the popular vote, as they did eight years ago, which Bernie Sanders probably won. If he started out with wins in Iowa and New Hampshire, and then we had a mix of other states besides multiple southern states, Sanders and not Clinton would probably be the front runner now.

Taibbi described the transformation of the Democratic Party at the hands of the DLC and the Clintons:

That ’72 loss hovered like a raincloud over the Democrats until Bill Clinton came along. He took the White House using a formula engineered by a think tank, the Democratic Leadership Council, that was created in response to losses by McGovern and Walter Mondale.

The new strategy was a party that was socially liberal but fiscally conservative. It counterattacked Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy, a racially themed appeal to disaffected whites Nixon tabbed the “Silent Majority,” by subtly taking positions against the Democrats’ own left flank.

In 1992 and in 1996, Clinton recaptured some of Nixon’s territory through a mix of populist positions (like a middle-class tax cut) and the “triangulating” technique of pushing back against the Democrats’ own liberal legacy on issues like welfare, crime and trade.

And that was the point. No more McGoverns. The chief moral argument of the Clinton revolution was not about striving for an end to the war or poverty or racism or inequality, but keeping the far worse Republicans out of power.

Taibbi was relatively mild in his criticism of the DLC Democrats. Two weeks ago I cited two more detailed accounts of the era from Thomas Frank and Howard Zinn.

Taibbi tied this into the present with a look at Hillary Clinton and other recent Democratic policies:

For young voters, the foundational issues of our age have been the Iraq invasion, the financial crisis, free trade, mass incarceration, domestic surveillance, police brutality, debt and income inequality, among others.

And to one degree or another, the modern Democratic Party, often including Hillary Clinton personally, has been on the wrong side of virtually all of these issues.

Hillary not only voted for the Iraq War, but offered a succession of ridiculous excuses for her vote. Remember, this was one of the easiest calls ever. A child could see that the Bush administration’s fairy tales about WMDs and Iraqi drones spraying poison over the capital (where were they going to launch from, Martha’s Vineyard?) were just that, fairy tales.

Yet Hillary voted for the invasion for the same reason many other mainstream Democrats did: They didn’t want to be tagged as McGovernite peaceniks. The new Democratic Party refused to be seen as being too antiwar, even at the cost of supporting a wrong one.

It was a classic “we can’t be too pure” moment. Hillary gambled that Democrats would understand that she’d outraged conscience and common sense for the sake of the Democrats’ electoral viability going forward. As a mock-Hillary in a 2007 Saturday Night Live episode put it, “Democrats know me…. They know my support for the Iraq War has always been insincere.”

This pattern, of modern Democrats bending so far back to preserve what they believe is their claim on the middle that they end up plainly in the wrong, has continually repeated itself.

Take the mass incarceration phenomenon. This was pioneered in Mario Cuomo’s New York and furthered under Bill Clinton’s presidency, which authorized more than $16 billion for new prisons and more police in a crime bill.

As The New Jim Crow author Michelle Alexander noted, America when Bill Clinton left office had the world’s highest incarceration rate, with a prison admission rate for black drug inmates that was 23 times 1983 levels. Hillary stumped for that crime bill, adding the Reaganesque observation that inner-city criminals were “super-predators” who needed to be “brought to heel.”

You can go on down the line of all these issues. Trade? From NAFTA to the TPP, Hillary and her party cohorts have consistently supported these anti-union free trade agreements, until it became politically inexpedient. Debt? Hillary infamously voted for regressive bankruptcy reform just a few years after privately meeting with Elizabeth Warren and agreeing that such industry-driven efforts to choke off debt relief needed to be stopped.

Clinton not only voted for the war, she went beyond most supporters in making false claims of ties between Saddam and al Qaeda. While she later claimed this was a mistake, she showed no signs of learning from her  mistakes with her hawkish views on Libya and Syria.

Taibbi only managed to mention a portion of the issues where Clinton is out of touch with millennial voters, along with older liberal voters such as myself. While millennial voters tend to be more libertarian on social and civil liberties issues, Clinton is conservative on both. She spent her time in the Senate working with the religious right as a member of The Fellowship, and her social conservatism can be seen in many of her views. She is far right win in her views on civil liberties, falling to the right of Antonin Scalia and not far from Donald Trump in her view of freedom of speech.

Taibbi concluded with matters of corruption, but again was very limited in this discussion of a very large topic. He did write:

Then of course there is the matter of the great gobs of money Hillary has taken to give speeches to Goldman Sachs and God knows whom else. Her answer about that — “That’s what they offered” — gets right to the heart of what young people find so repugnant about this brand of politics.

One can talk about having the strength to get things done, given the political reality of the times. But one also can become too easily convinced of certain political realities, particularly when they’re paying you hundreds of thousands of dollars an hour.

Is Hillary really doing the most good that she can do, fighting for the best deal that’s there to get for ordinary people?

Or is she just doing something that satisfies her own definition of that, while taking tens of millions of dollars from some of the world’s biggest jerks?

Plus he pointed out, “her shifting explanations and flippant attitude about the email scandal” along with the “faulty thinking” of her defenders: “My worry is that Democrats like Hillary have been saying, ‘The Republicans are worse!’ for so long that they’ve begun to believe it excuses everything.”

Her defenders ignore how Clinton’s actions included serious breaches of rules to promote government transparency, including new rules instituted under Obama in 2009 in response to the abuses under George W. Bush. Her claims, such as that what she did was allowed, have been repeatedly debunked by the fact checkers. She acted highly unethically in making decisions regarding parties who were either donating to the Foundation or paying unprecedented speaking fees to Bill. She also failed to abide by an agreement to divulge all donors while she was Secretary of State.

While his article was limited in specifics, he hit the key argument against her:

Young people don’t see the Sanders-Clinton race as a choice between idealism and incremental progress. The choice they see is between an honest politician, and one who is so profoundly a part of the problem that she can’t even see it anymore.

A platform of “the Republicans are worse” might work if the problem was simply that (as her defenders often frame it) Clinton was not progressive enough for her critics on the left. However, that is not the case at all. The problem is that Clinton is not progressive at all. If anything, throughout her career she has been a “progressive” who gets conservative results. She has been on the wrong side of most issues, and not all that terribly far from the Republican viewpoint.

What’s Wrong With Hillary? One Big Problem Is All Her Lying

Bush and Hillary Clinton

Jeff Greenfield has an article at Politico which asks the question, What’s Wrong With Hillary? It is subtitled, The GOP is fretting about Trump, but the Democrats’ likely standard-bearer could do just as much damage to her own party.

Problems include her conservative viewpoints on many issues, her changing of positions based upon political expediency, and her lying.

Greenfield discussed how Clinton is not trusted by the voters, including many Democrats. There is also a unique pattern to her shifts in position:

A look at Clinton’s political career provides a tougher explanation. Those younger voters who doubt her trustworthiness likely have no memory, or even casual acquaintance with, a 25-year history that includes cattle-futures trading, law firm billing records, muddled sniper fire recollections and the countless other charges of widely varying credibility aimed at her. They may even have suspended judgment about whether her e-mail use was a matter of bad judgment or worse.

But when you look at the positions she has taken on some of the most significant public policy questions of her time, you cannot escape noticing one key pattern: She has always embraced the politically popular stand—indeed, she has gone out of her way to reinforce that stand—and she has shifted her ground in a way that perfectly correlates with the shifts in public opinion.

For instance: Many Democrats, including all of the major 2008 presidential candidates save for Barack Obama, stood with President George W. Bush and voted for the authorization to use force against Saddam Hussein. What was different about Clinton, however, was that in her October 2002 speech she said this about Saddam: “He has also given aid, comfort and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of Sept. 11, 2001.”

This assertion, in the words of reporters Don Van Natta Jr. and Jeff Gerth, was unsupported by the conclusions of the National Intelligence Estimate “and other secret intelligence reports that were available to senators before the vote.” It made for a more muscular talking point; it just happened not to be true.

Or consider her “evolution” on gay marriage. Back in June 2014, Clinton got very testy with “Fresh Air” host Terry Gross, who kept pushing Clinton to explain why this shift was not a matter of political calculation. She repeatedly asked the former secretary of state whether her opinion on gay marriage had changed, or whether the political dynamics had shifted enough that she could express her opinion.

“I’m just trying to clarify so I can understand …” Gross began.

“No, I don’t think you are trying to clarify,” Clinton snapped back. “I think you’re trying to say I used to be opposed and now I’m in favor and I did it for political reasons, and that’s just flat wrong. So let me just state what I feel like you are implying and repudiate it. I have a strong record, I have a great commitment to this issue.”

Well, here’s what Clinton said on the Senate floor, speaking in opposition to a constitutional amendment that would have forbidden gay marriage, while making very clear where she stood on the issue.

“I believe marriage is not just a bond but a sacred bond between a man and a woman. … So I take umbrage at anyone who might suggest that those of us who worry about amending the Constitution are less committed to the sanctity of marriage, or to the fundamental bedrock principle that it exists between a man and a woman, going back into the mists of history as one of the founding, foundational institutions of history and humanity and civilization.”

Again, plenty of Democrats were on record as opposing gay marriage in 2004—the year that voters in 11 states voted to ban the practice by significant margins. What’s striking about Clinton’s speech is the intensity of the language, the assertion that it is a “bedrock principle.” You might think that a conviction so strongly held would not be subject to “evolution,” much less shifting political winds. Not so, apparently—any more than a trade deal can be the “gold standard” one year and an unacceptable threat to American workers the next; or that a generation of potential “super predators” requires draconian crime laws one decade, while the next demands an end to such laws.

Clinton’s dishonesty on matters of public policy, especially questions of war or peace, is most troubling, but as we are in the midst of a political campaign, her dishonest attacks on Sanders are the ones which currently stand out. James Hohmann described many of her lies during the debate in Miami, when she tried to make it sound like Sanders simultaneously was aligned with both Castro and the Koch Brothers. He summed up her strategy:

There is a tactic in high school debate called “the spread.” It’s when you throw out so many arguments that your opponent cannot possibly respond to all of them, especially with the limited time they have to speak. It’s especially effective when your arguments are just off the wall enough that the other side has not prepared responses ahead of time. Then, when you get a chance to respond to their refutation, you zero in on whatever they “dropped” and hammer them for it, spinning the judges on why it is crucially important to the broader topic being debated. It felt like Clinton was trying to do just that last night. Alas, this is not a high school debate tournament and the winner is not determined by points or on what competitive debaters refer to as “the flow.”

Clinton was also exposed for what appears to be violating debate rules, as Donald Trump has also done, by meeting with staff during a break in the debates.

It doesn’t even appear to be working for Clinton to lie at the debates. Her false claims about Sanders’ record on the auto bailout backfired, possibly helping him win Michigan. The New York Times, which has endorsed Clinton for the Democratic nomination, chastised her for her dishonesty:

Even with a double-digit lead before the primary, she failed to avoid the type of negative tactics that could damage her in the long haul. A new Washington Post-ABC poll says that nationally, Mrs. Clinton’s margin over Bernie Sanders has shrunk: she polls at 49 percent compared with 42 percent for Mr. Sanders; in January her lead was more than double that. If she hopes to unify Democrats as the nominee, trying to tarnish Mr. Sanders as she did in Michigan this week is not the way to go.

Mrs. Clinton’s falsely parsing Mr. Sanders’s Senate vote on a 2008 recession-related bailout bill as abandoning the auto industry rescue hurt her credibility. As soon as she uttered it in Sunday’s debate, the Democratic strategist David Axelrod registered his dismay, tweeting that the Senate vote wasn’t explicitly a vote about saving the auto industry. Even as reporters challenged her claim, she doubled down in ads across the state. As The Washington Post noted, “it seems like she’s willing to take the gamble that fact-checkers may call her out for her tactic Sunday — but that voters won’t.”

…The Clinton machine should stop trying to tie Mr. Sanders to the National Rifle Association. Though Mr. Sanders has a D-minus from the N.R.A., in Michigan Mrs. Clinton’s operatives took to Twitter touting the N.R.A.’s tweets supporting Mr. Sanders’s statement that making manufacturers liable for gun violence would destroy gun manufacturing in America. On Tuesday, her campaign issued a news release saying that the mothers of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, two African-American shooting victims, “are speaking out about Senator Bernie Sanders’ comments on guns and African-Americans in Sunday’s Democratic primary debate.” Mr. Sanders, like Mrs. Clinton, has spent decades working against racial discrimination, poverty and gun violence. To suggest otherwise is wrong.

The question is whether both the negative impression of Clinton, and the support Sanders has received, will carry through to this week’s primaries. The latest polls show that Sanders can pull additional upsets like in Michigan. If Clinton winds up with a string of losses outside of the red states, even the super delegates from the party establishment might start to question the wisdom of nominating her.

Implications Of The Death Of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

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Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead at a Texas ranch where he was staying while on a hunting trip at age 79. He was appointed to the Court by Ronald Reagan in 1986. His conservative rulings have had a profound, and negative, effect on the country during that time.

The legal and political ramifications are likely to be enormous. The next several months could be dominated by a fight over confirmation of Obama’s appointment, likely expanding the range of issues which the presidential candidates must discuss over the next several months. Voters might think more about issues such as reproductive rights and voting rights, which could be greatly influenced by the balance of the court, during the election year.

Republicans might try to prevent any Obama appointee from being confirmed hoping that a Republican could be elected an make the next choice. Such obstructionism might also backfire against the Republicans, along with demonstrating how many of their views are not accepted by a majority of Americans. It is also possible that Democratic Senators will block right wing choices should there be a Republican president in 2017.

For the current year (and possibly beyond) this means one less conservative vote on matters the Supreme Court is now considering, including  abortion rights,  affirmative action, and another challenge to Obamacare. I also wonder to what degree Scalia was able to influence any swing justices to side with the conservatives. There is also the possibility of some matters coming down to a four to four tie.

The Washington Post had an article in December suggesting that  tie votes on the court, due to a vacancy, will favor liberals, even if the author doesn’t seem happy with that prospect:

Thanks to a wealth of recent Democratic appointments on the lower courts, letting the Supreme Court go down to eight justices would favor liberals. Conservatives wouldn’t like the regime of liberal rulings that would govern in most of the nation without Supreme Court oversight. And the prospect of liberal dominance may actually stiffen the spine of the historically more accommodating Senate Democrats…

A Supreme Court vacancy would favor liberals, because an eight-member court would often divide 4 to 4, affirming the decisions of the predominantly liberal lower courts.

Ties would be most common if the vacant seat belonged to swing voter Kennedy. If Scalia were the one to leave, Kennedy’s conservative tilt would sometimes generate the ties, barring the occasional walkabout from Chief Justice John Roberts. And if Ginsburg or Breyer left, Kennedy would side with the three remaining liberals often enough to sometimes tie the court in important cases. In addition to his much-touted vote for same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges, Kennedy has voted with the liberals in civil rights and environmental cases, to rein in partisan redistricting and to grant Guantanamo prisoners the right to challenge their detention.

A tied Supreme Court traditionally issues a per curiam, or unsigned, decision affirming the ruling of the lower court. So under an eight-member court that regularly produced split decisions, each circuit would be like a little Supreme Court of its own. Obama has overseen a significant transformation of the federal courts, with nine circuits now dominated by Democratic appointments and only four by Republicans. On really important cases, the circuit courts are likely to meet en banc, with most or all of the judges sitting, meaning raw numerical dominance will always matter.

The 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th circuits, where conservative decisions would stand in the case of Supreme Court ties, mostly cover red states in the South and Midwest. Only some of the Great Lakes states are caught offsides. Meanwhile, the blue states on the coasts, along with purple Western states such as Colorado, are in liberal circuits. But here’s the kicker: Since most of the circuits are controlled by liberals, much of the conservative heartland is marooned in blue circuits. Arizona, Idaho and Montana are in the much-reversed liberal 9th Circuit. The entire Southeast, from Virginia to Florida, is covered by two circuits liberalized by Obama appointees. One liberal circuit, the 10th, has just one reliably blue state, New Mexico.

Update: Mitch McConnel says that a new justice should not be chosen until after the election.  SCOTUSbLog has more on cases currently under consideration. President Obama is about to speak as I am typing this, and is expected to say he will be nominating someone despite GOP objections.

The Vast Ideological Gap Between Hillary Clinton and Supporters of Bernie Sanders

Political Compass 2016 Candidates

Politico looks at Hillary Clinton’s 43 percent problem:

Mitt Romney had a 47 percent problem. Hillary Clinton’s problem is 43 percent.

That’s the share of Democratic caucus goers in Iowa who identify themselves as “socialists,” according to a recent Des Moines Register poll. It’s a percentage that has turned a once-easy line of attack – painting Bernie Sanders as too far left to be electable — into a trickier endeavor for Clinton in the last days before the Iowa caucuses.

This gives one explanation of why the polls in Iowa are now so close, but it over-simplifies the situation. It is not really about socialists versus capitalists. Sanders’ views are far closer to those of European Social Democrats. He is not a socialist, and I certainly am not.  The ideological divide, and the reasons I support Sanders over Clinton, are more complex.

Using the flawed left/right ideological spectrum also creates more serious misunderstandings and feeds the Clinton camp’s false claims that she is more electable than Sanders. The left/right spectrum misses the fact that independents and voters in battle ground states are often hostile towards Clinton and that Sanders has a much better chance with such voters. Part of this is because of voters looking at character as opposed to ideology. Another factor is that Sanders is closer to the ideological center where voters who would consider voting Democratic fall.

Political Compass is one of many sites which measure political views along two or more axes. While no system is perfect, they do a good job of capturing the approximate relative positions of the primary candidates. This shows, as I have often argued during this primary battle, that Hillary Clinton is far closer to the Republican candidates than she is to Bernie Sanders (or to my position). Their graphing of the primary candidates is above and the following is from their description of the candidates:

Style more than substance separates Trump from Hillary Clinton. After all, Trump was a generous donor to Clinton’s senate campaigns, and also to the Clinton Foundation. Hillary is nevertheless disingenuously promoting herself as the centrist between an extreme right-winger (Trump) and an ‘extreme left-winger’ (Sanders). Abortion and gay marriage place her on a more liberal position on the social scale than all of the Republicans but, when it comes to economics, Clinton’s unswerving attachment to neoliberalism and big money is a mutual love affair.

Quite why Sanders is describing himself to the American electorate — of all electorates — as a ‘socialist’ or ‘democratic socialist’ isn’t clear. His economics are Keynesian or Galbraithian, in common with mainstream parties of the left in the rest of the west — the Labour or Social Democrat parties. Surely ‘Social Democrat’ would be a more accurate and appealing label for the Sanders campaign to adopt.

I don’t totally agree with the placement of the candidates. I think they rank Clinton a little more liberal on social issues than she falls, ignoring her past position on gay marriage until politically expedient to change, and her association with members of the religious right in The Fellowship while in the Senate. I would also put a greater distance between them on foreign policy than described in the full post linked above.

Despite these disagreements, the overall pattern is right. Clinton is a bit more moderate than the Republican candidates, but ideologically in the same authoritarian right area. Sanders falls closer to the libertarian than the authoritarian end where the other candidates fall, but not all that much left of center economically.

Personally I fall much further in the left-libertarian section, falling much more towards the libertarian end than Sanders (although I also question if he shouldn’t fall somewhat further along the libertarian axis than shown here). It is no surprise that left-libertarians have been heavily in support of Sanders this year.

This is the divide the Democrats now face. It isn’t that many Democratic voters are socialists, but we do differ considerably from Hillary Clinton in ideology, and do not see much of a difference between her and the Republicans.  Obviously this will not apply to all Sanders supporters, and some could even manage to vote for Hillary Clinton in a general election without having to hold their noses, but it does apply to many of us.

Many young voters share socially libertarian and secular views which put them closer to the left-libertarian portion of the political spectrum. Many of us older voters got more active in politics in response to the abuses of the Bush years. As I wrote earlier in the week, we are not going to be excited by a Democrat who advocates the same neoconservative foreign policy, has supported the same types of restrictions on civil liberties and expanded power for the Executive Branch, and who as actively worked to increase the role of religion on public policy. She has also been a hawk on the drug war. While better than the Republicans in agreeing with the scientific consensus on climate change, she is so indebted to the petroleum industry that her environmental policies have not been much better.

Hillary Clinton is just a slightly more moderate version of George Bush. Yes, the Republicans have moved even further towards the authoritarian right corner of the spectrum, but that still does not leave Clinton as a desirable choice.

Head Of Organization Spreading False Claims About Planned Parenthood Indicted By Texas Grand Jury

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There was an unexpected turn of events in a grand jury investigation in Texas regarding the bogus charges against Planned Parenthood. The grand jury not only declared there was no wrong doing on the part of Planned Parenthood, but indicted the director of the group which spread the debunked claims that Planned Parenthood was selling fetal tissue.  The Washington Post reports:

Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson said David Daleiden, the director of the Center for Medical Progress, faces a felony charge of tampering with a governmental record and a misdemeanor count related to buying human tissue.

Sandra Merritt, one of Daleiden’s employees, was also indicted on a charge of tampering with a governmental record.

The grand jury cleared Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast of any wrongdoing.

“We were called upon to investigate allegations of criminal conduct by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast,” Anderson said in a statement. “As I stated at the outset of this investigation, we must go where the evidence leads us. All the evidence uncovered in the course of this investigation was presented to the grand jury. I respect their decision on this difficult case.”

Republican candidates were not happy. Think Progress quotes some of them.