Hillary Clinton Offers Continuity With Change (Plus More War & Flipping on TPP)

Continuity With Change

The second night of the Republican-Lite Convention featured fictitious story hour from the aspiring First Lady’s Man (to use Stephen Colbert’s title for him). It was good to see Rachel Maddow being critical of Bill Clinton’s speech, but the real problem was not talking about his courtship of Hillary, but his whitewashing of their political record and bogus claims that Hillary is a Change Maker.  Trying to hide the fact that Clinton is the candidate of the status quo in a year voters want change reminds me of Selena Meyer’s slogan of Continuity with Change on Veep. I imagine this is better than the two unofficial slogans of Clinton’s primary campaign: “It’s My Turn” and “No We Can’t.”

There was no mention of mass incarceration, welfare “reform,” and the consequence of his trade deals. A more honest assessment of the Clinton years from a liberal perspective can be found from Thomas Frank and Howard Zinn, who I have previously quoted here.

Despite having been debunked many times by the fact checkers, last night we again heard the exaggerations of Clinton’s role in the passing of CHIP. I imagine this comes from desperation in promoting a candidate who has accomplished so little during her career–unless you consider the devastation of Libya and increasing instability in the middle east to be an accomplishment.

Fact checkers have shown many other falsehoods during the speeches last  night, both on Clinton’s record and in distorting some of Donald Trump’s views. There is really no need to distort Trump’s views when his actual views are crazy enough. While it is no excuse, this was not out of the ordinary for political conventions, and there were far fewer falsehoods than in Donald Trump’s speech at the Republican Convention.

Not everybody in the convention hall went along with the falsehoods of the convention. Some Sanders supporter walked out, with the media generally ignoring this. Reportedly actors are being hired on craigslist to fill the empty seats. There was also an unexpected moment of honesty when Terry McAuliffe told reporters that Hillary Clinton will flip on TPP.

Hillary Clinton had a video appearance to mention little girls who might be inspired to become president some day. I wonder how many little girls have been injured or killed by Hillary Clinton’s bombs? The manner in which her supporters have turned revelations of corruption into the DNC into anti-Russian hysteria makes me wonder if this is the start of a new front in Hillary Clinton’s wars. After all, Clinton does have a long history of belligerence towards Russia, including attempting to interfere in their politics against Putin, and it has been a neocon goal to bring about regime change in Russia. Haven’t we learned anything from how the government lied us into wars in Vietnam and Iraq?

Stephen Colbert continued to air The Late Show live to mock the conventions. The first clip contains his monologue and the second features an interview with cartoon Hillary Clinton:

SciFi Weekend: The Americans Season 4 Finale; New Director At SHIELD; The Flash; Supergirl; Gotham; You’re The Worst; Peter Capaldi Teases Reunion With Clara Oswald;

The Americans Season 4 Finale

The Americans concluded its fourth season  (spoilers ahead) with the death of another charter, and presumably the end of the biological weapons story line. Technically William had not died by the end of the episode, but if he should survive into the next season it will only be briefly. This was a season which included the deaths of some characters, and the possible loss of others to the show. Notable deaths include Nina and Gantt, dying in quite different manners. Plus the finale introduced another character which was mentioned previously–Philip’s long lost son from before he began working with Elizabeth.

With The Americans renewed for two more seasons, we can safely predict that Elizabeth and Philip will not be discovered in the near future, but this has been a major theme since Paige revealed their secret to Pastor Tim. Over the course of the season, Paige has developed into a reluctant but effective junior spy. The risk from Pastor Tim and his wife now seems much lower, but it will always hang in the background.

While William didn’t seek to betray Elizabeth and Philip, he did provide Stan with a small amount of information: “couple of kids…American dream. You’d never suspect them. She’s pretty. He’s lucky.” This fits far too many people for Stan to suddenly think of his neighbors across the street, but if he is ever given stronger reason to suspect them, he is bound to remember this.

Gabriel did strongly advise Elizabeth and Philip to leave the country, but left the ultimate decision up to them. If they are at risk, I think the greater risk would be that Philip might reach the point where he cannot go on. EST might help him, or it might lead him to question  what he is doing even more. Of course he couldn’t fully explain his difficulties in leaving his job when he had to go with the travel agent cover. Plus the world will change for him with the Soviet Union heading closer to its collapse and the introduction of his son.

Instead of Elizabeth and Philip deciding to leave, Oleg made that decision to help his mother. Arkady appears to be leaving involuntarily. Martha has been in the Soviet Union for months. We may or may not see these characters again.

The Americans William Palm

Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields were interviewed at Speakeasy:

The finale seemed to set a lot up for the fifth season, but at the same time, a lot of stories were left in a cliffhanger-y spot. So did you know when you wrote and shot the finale that the show had been renewed?

Joel Fields: Yes. FX is very generous and communicative about that stuff. They really helped us as we were turning a corner from the end of this season toward the last couple of seasons by putting the creative choice of how to end the show in our hands. And I think in a lot of ways we were able to be thinking through that as we were finishing up Season 4.

Was any of what happened to William in the finale based on a true story, the way he infected himself with the lethal Lassa virus to get out of the mission (and to get out of spending the rest of his life in jail)? There’s got to be tons of stories about spies like William getting disgruntled after all those years.

JF: We did a lot of research into disgruntled spies, into biological weapons. We never saw a story of someone intentionally infecting himself, but, there are stories of people who actually worked on these biological-weapons programs getting accidentally infected, and the horrible, horrible way that they died. So I think that that would be the closest thing to it being based on something real.

How long had you been planning to introduce the Philip’s son plotline?  

Joe Weisberg: It’s funny, because we were reminiscing about season 1, when, in fact, [you didn’t know] whether or not Philip actually had a son. It was ambiguous. Was Irina making that up? Or was it true? And we didn’t have an answer to that, ourselves. We liked that ambiguity. We thought that was really interesting. So, introducing that plotline meant making a final decision that that was a real person and a real character, which is probably more satisfying.

JF: Yeah, and that’s that case where much of the time you really plan these things out years in advance, seasons in advance. But this part of the story unfolded organically, as the story was told, like in that first episode with Irina when she mentioned the son? That was something that blossomed out of the script, and these other pieces fell into place over the course of the seasons.

The Americans Finale

More at Vulture:

The most surprising development in the entire season for me was the relationship between the family and Pastor Tim. I’m surprised that he made it out of the season alive. But I’m even more surprised that he seems to actually be their friend now!
JF: I don’t think we ever considered killing him off. As much as everybody was speculating that he was about to go, we were really exploring the question of how these characters would deal with being in this box, and how would that [situation] unfold?

Also, Tim is a character with whom we had a lot of sympathy. He really does, on some level, want to do the right thing — that’s been his whole problem all along. And the Pastor Tim thing also was an opportunity to explore a lot in terms of these character dynamics.

JW: It was pretty apparent to us early on that [the Soviets] couldn’t kill Tim because of the effect it would have on Paige. It would destroy her parents’ relationship with her. And that was it. The question then became, with that constraint of not being able to kill him off, what else could we do? The fact that he ends up being actual friends with them did take us a little bit by surprise, but [once we figured that out], that changed our sense of who this guy was, and how we would always see him from the moment we got to know him. And so we followed that through the season, and throughout the story, he just could not open his heart up to them.

JF: But it also led to one of my favorite lines in the season, which was in episode ten, when Paige was convinced that her parents had something to do with his disappearance, and Elizabeth says, “God, why would we do something as stupid as leave Allison, and, God, she thinks we would do that? If she only knew everything we did to not kill him!”

Are we ever going to see Martha again?
JW: We’re not going to answer that!

JF: What kind of a spoiler-y question is that, Matt?

I’m sorry I disappointed you with that question, guys! I have no idea why I asked that.
JW: Come on! Why don’t you just go ahead and ask us what the last scene of the show is going to be?  [Laughs.]

Okay: So you have two more seasons to go after this one. Is two a number that FX gave you, a number that you asked for? And are you happy with it?
JF: We’re thrilled with it. They came to us some time ago and said, “As you start thinking about the end of season four, we’re all thinking about how the show’s going to wrap up. What do you need? How do you want to tell the story?” That was something they really put on our end, which was generous and allowed us creatively to figure out what we thought would be best.

The Americans William

At TV Line:

TVLINE | We’ve seen Elizabeth have some hesitation this season about the things she has to do, specifically with regards to Young-Hee. Is she starting to understand Philip’s point of view about the job?
JOEL FIELDS | Philip has gone through a major personal transformation over the course of the show, [which] on a deep level is about marriage. When you’re in a marriage with somebody, you can’t help but be affected if your partner changes. She’s started to go through her own changes, although much smaller and at a much different pace than Philip. We’ll see how all of that plays out for them as a couple, her as a mother and her as an individual.

TVLINE | We’ve said goodbye to a lot of characters recently —Nina, Martha, Gaad, Arkady and possibly Oleg now. All the departures almost made it feel like you were reaching the end of the series. But then there was a two-season renewal.
WEISBERG | We did not have any particular intention or idea [like], “Oh, let’s gets rid of a lot of characters. Oh, it’s supposed to end. Oh, let’s start over.” There was no thinking like that at all. Every bit of this is just following stories where they were going. The two major storylines of Nina and Martha were coming to their end, and they happened to be coming to their end at the same time, which is fundamentally coincidental. There is no reason one of them might not have come to an end in a different season, [but] they happened to come to an end in the same season. It is probably less coincidental, in terms of storytelling, that the Gaad storyline ended soon after the Martha storyline, but there’s certainly a world where we could have kept Gaad or not killed Gaad. But ultimately, after what happened with Martha, he just wasn’t going to survive any longer in that job. The choice to have him die and how that was going to impact other people and other elements in the story seemed like a better choice to us.

TVLINE | Martha wasn’t killed off, and you’ve had scenes in Russia with Nina and various other characters. Will we see her in that setting at some point?
FIELDS | She’s not dead. So on The Americans, that’s something to hold on to.

TVLINE | What about Oleg? What can you say about his status?
FIELDS | Also not dead.

TVLINE | But he’s leaving America? He hasn’t changed his mind?
FIELDS | We’ll see. He was pretty clear on that

agents-of-shield-tv-show-teaser
Clark Gregg has discussed his thoughts on the next Director of SHIELD, but does not seem to know very much about this and how it will play into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. From Entertainment Weekly:

“Since it’s clear that Coulson is Team Cap, Jed [Whedon] and Maurissa [Tancharoen] have fiendishly put Coulson on the spot, because Hive [Brett Dalton] turned out to be the living embodiment of all the reasons why you would be afraid of Inhumans,” Gregg says. “He was the greatest argument that the people who support the Sokovia Accords could ever have for locking them all up. Coulson had to ride the line where he was trying to respect these new iterations of humanity as friends and allies, and at the same time stop Hive at all costs.” Fortunately, S.H.I.E.L.D. was able to stop Hive, but it certainly came at a steep price with Lincoln’s death, Daisy’s disappearance and Coulson’s demotion.

So, who is the new director of S.H.I.E.L.D.? The executive producers played coy ahead of the finale, which means Gregg is in the dark, too. “I was not given a clear answer,” he says. “I don’t know that it’s been determined. I thought I was going to find out when I saw Civil War, but it’s not at all clear. It all depends when the glorious Nick Fury [Samuel L. Jackson] returns from the cold and the shadows. I suspect, in the wake of the Sokovia Accords and the end of Civil War, the people involved in choosing who the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be are other than in-house S.H.I.E.L.D. people. If I know my government bureaucracies, I have a feeling it will be someone somewhat less qualified than Coulson to run S.H.I.E.L.D.”

Screen Rant has information on a new character being added on The Flash. Supergirl has had a casting call for five new characters including Lex Luthor’s sister, plus they are finally going to show Superman. Vicki Vale is being added on Gotham. As for the comics, Bleeding Cool looks at the relationship between Batwoman and Rachel Madow (who once discussed the character on Seth Meyers’ show).

FXX has announced that You’re The Worst will return on Wednesday, August 31.

The CMT has picked up Nashville following its cancellation by ABC. It sounds like a good fit. Cable and streaming services have provided multiple ways for canceled shows to return. I still haven’t given up hope that The Food Network will revive Hannibal.

doctor-who-clara-dead-1.jpeg

Screen Rant reports that Peter Capaldi has teased the possibility of the Doctor and Clara meeting again:

Speaking at a Doctor Who panel at Awesome Con in Washington, D.C., Capaldi hinted that there might be more to the Clara situation than what we saw at the end of season 9. While Clara won’t be returning as the Doctor’s companion, she may not be completely forgotten either. Capaldi stopped himself before he revealed too much, however:

“I think that the thing about the Doctor is that he’s quite mysterious – hence the name, Doctor Who – um, and I’m not sure how successfully Clara was able to wipe his mind. And in fact, I just did a… I was about to tell you something I can’t tell you yet.”

While Amy Sherman-Paladino is finishing up work on the Netflix revival of Gilmore Girls, Amazon has picked up a new pilot from her:

Sherman-Palladino’s dramedy The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which she wrote and executive produces, is about a 1950s housewife who decides to be one of the first female standup comics. Sherman-Palladino is currently in post-production on the four Gilmore Girls movies for Netflix, which serve as a sequel to her signature dramedy series.

Related genre post from earlier in the week: A Lanister Always Pays His Debts–But Not Donald Trump. Plus chart of which Game of Thrones character is most like 2016 candidates.

The Right Wing Cocoon

After the election I wrote a lot about how the Republicans will have considerable difficulty winning a national election due to becoming out of touch with reality. The right has become anti-fact, anti-science, anti-reason, anti-history, and anti-economics.  Politico and The Washington Post looked at this problem on Monday. Politico concentrated on the right wing’s media cocoon:

Now, many young Republicans worry, they are the ones in the hermetically sealed bubble — except it’s not confined to geography but rather a self-selected media universe in which only their own views are reinforced and an alternate reality is reflected.

Hence the initial denial and subsequent shock on the right that the country would not only reelect President Barack Obama — but do so with 332 electoral votes.

“What Republicans did so successfully, starting with critiquing the media and then creating our own outlets, became a bubble onto itself,” said Ross Douthat, the 32-year-old New York Times columnist.

The right wing’s cocoon has been more counterproductive due to the publicity surrounding their most outlandish spokesmen:

…for nearly six years, since President Bush’s second term went south, Republicans have been effectively without a leader. And into that vacuum has stepped a series of conservative figures whose incentives in most cases are not to win votes but to make money and score ratings by being provocative and even outlandish.

“Their bottom line is their main goal, but that doesn’t mean they’re serving the population that buys their books,” said Domenech.

And this, say next-generation Republicans, is where cocoonism has been detrimental to the cause.

The tension between the profit- and ratings-driven right — call them entertainment-based conservatives — and conservatives focused on ideas (the thinkers) and winning (the operatives) has never been more evident.

The latter group worries that too many on the right are credulous about the former.

“Dick Morris is a joke to every smart conservative in Washington and most every smart conservative under the age of 40 in America,” said Douthat. “The problem is that most of the people watching Dick Morris don’t know that.”

The egghead-hack coalition believes that the entertainment-based conservatives create an atmosphere that enables flawed down-ballot candidates, creates a cartoonish presidential primary and blocks needed policy reforms, and generally leave an odor on the party that turns off swing voters.

It even fosters an atmosphere in which there’s a disconnect with the ostensible party leaders.

Consider: In the fall of the past two presidential campaigns, those in the conservative cocoon were talking about, respectively, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Obama as a black radical, and the seemingly impeachment-worthy scandal surrounding the deaths of U.S. officials in Libya. Meanwhile, on the actual campaign trail, John McCain and Mitt Romney showed little interest in even mentioning either topic.

And the entertainers’ power isn’t just with gullible grass-roots activists who are likely to believe whatever nefarious rumor about Obama is forwarded to them in an e-mail chain — it’s with donors, too.

Outside of Washington, New York and state capitals, the big conservative givers are as likely to have read Ed Klein’s Obama book and seen Dinesh D’Souza’s documentary “2016,” and generally parrot whatever they just heard on Fox News as the old lady stuffing envelopes at county GOP headquarters.

The Washington Post argues that Red America must rethink what it knows about America, describing the thought of one Republican (who appears to have lived in the right wing cocoon):

She had devoted her life to causes she believed were at the heart of her faith and at the core of her Republican Party. She counseled young married families at church, spoke about right to life in area schools and became a stay-at-home mom with two daughters.

Now, in a single election night, parts of her country had legalized marijuana, approved gay marriage and resoundingly reelected a president who she worried would “accelerate our decline.”

While she took apart the office, a dozen friends and neighbors stopped by to share the same concerns.

“I just don’t get it,” the county sheriff said.

“I’m worried we won’t see another Republican president in our lifetime the way it’s going,” a GOP volunteer said.

“What country would want more years of this?” asked the newly elected alderman.

Cox shrugged back at them. “I don’t know anymore,” she said. “What the heck happened to the country? Who are we becoming?”

On Monday The New York Times had an article on the increased success of MSNBC as it developed an identity as the liberal counter-part to Fox. It would be misleading to compare them as mirror images of each other. MSNBC has filled prime time with liberal opinion shows. The major objection to Fox isn’t that they spend some of their day with conservative opinion shows but that the shows billed as news are also conservative opinion shows aired in a news format, distorting the news to perpetuate the conservative alternative reality. The prime time liberal opinion shows, while clearly biased in their presentation, are far more honest in presenting the facts. While Fox will distort the facts to support the conservative agenda, MSNBC anchors such as  Rachel Maddow will use the facts to debunk conservative arguments.

Many liberals would prefer that Fox be countered not by a network presenting liberal viewpoints but by objective, high quality news (a niche which CNN does a mediocre job of satisfying). NPR would be a better model. This attitude has helped to reduce the number of liberals who are in a liberal cocoon analogous to the far more prevalent conservative cocoon.

There is an advantage to the success of MSNBC as a liberal network. Getting people to think in terms of a liberal and a conservative network helps place Fox where it belongs. Identification of Fox as the conservative network weakens the idea that Fox is a real news outlet. Plus, if we are forced to have  left and right wing “news” networks, we might as well have a true liberal network. In the past I have often heard people speak of listening to both sides on television, but if they watched Fox there would be no balance from the left. Watching Fox and CNN just gives a far-right and center-right outlook. MSNBC is not my preferred model for countering Fox, but as this is what has developed I am happy to see that it is becoming more successful.

MSNBC Renews Contract With Rachel Maddow

MSNBC didn’t want to keep Keith Olbermann around, but they have a far better opinion of Rachel Maddow. MSNBC has extended her contract in a multi-year deal.

Keith Olbermann was responsible for Maddow getting her show at MSNBC. His talk of desiring to hire her to join him at Current might have led to her getting a better deal to remain at MSNBC.

Stephen Colbert Interviewed Out of Character

Steven Colbert assisted Reddit in a fund raiser for DonorsChoose by agreeing to do an interview out of his television character if $500,000 was raised. I’ve reprinted some of the questions here beginning  with his comments on the White House Correspondents’ Dinner (text of his legendary talk here).

To this day I’m convinced that your appearance at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner was because the Bush Administration didn’t understand your show.

Did they? What happened behind the scenes there? Was it more “non-alcoholic beer in the Roosevelt Room” or “Dick Cheney peppering your limo with bird-shot as you beat a hasty retreat?”

I was as surprised as the next guy that I was invited to roast the President and the press corps that spring.

Here’s how it works. The White House Press Association (or some name close to that) actually does the inviting, not the President or White House. The president of the press association that year was a man named, I believe, Mark Smith, I think from the AP. He invited me. When all was said and done, I wrote to thank him and said I hoped I hadn’t made trouble for him. He said there was zero fallout.

As for the backstage aspects of the night, the President has a nice, small gathering in a room near the banquet hall. The presidential seal is etched into the granite on the floor. A few news anchors, football greats, cabinet members and advisors (I remember Rove and Chertoff, there were others I think), Rich Dahm, Allison Silverman, my brothers and sisters and mom, my wife Evie, and the President and Mrs. Bush. Let me say that the President could not have been nicer, especially to my mother. I have some lovely pictures of her with him. The President and I had a brief conversation before we went on stage. There were in total maybe 60 people at the party, many of whom I should remember more about, but I was pretty focused on my job that night. There was no backstage event after the dinner, but several parties around town.

I had my family up to our room for a drink then hit a party, don’t remember which one. We all had a great time. but I had no sense of public reaction until Monday at work.

On the complications of doing all interviews in character:

Do you sometimes wish you could not be in character for some interviews? Being in character, do you feel that it prevents some people from coming on the show?

Well these questions are really related. I’ll say that from my end of the interview, I often have a guest whose subject I happen to know a thing or two about, and I want to engage them intelligently, but I am an aggressively ignorant character. That is frustrating. Of course knowing their subject lets me make the dumbest possible characterizations of their position or idea. If you ever see me truly being vigorously dense with a guest, I probably know something of his or her subject. And as I said, yes, the character aspect may give some people pause.

In response to another question, Colbert also stated that, “No one doesn’t know I’m in character. I tell everyone first.” Of course it could also be said that the anchors on Fox and MSNBC’s opinion shows are also playing a character:

Jon Stewart’s interview on Rachel Maddow highlighted Jon’s philosophy on the difference between his role and the role of news people like Rachel Maddow.

What, in your mind, is the difference between your responsibility or job and the responsibility or job of a news anchor or 24 hour news host / personality? Do you feel you’re fulfilling your role? Do you feel they’re fulfilling theirs?

Thanks for doing what you do. You’re a funny, funny man.

I think Jon’s appearance on Rachel highlighted his ability to be pretty sharp after vomiting for eight hours.

As for the 24 cable hosts / personalities fulfilling their roles, you bet they do — as those roles are defined by their companies. If not, they are fired. The fact that the roles they fulfill are hard to recognize anymore, and have little to do with informing us, but are instead used to emotionally “engage” us with their brand personas, means I have a steady stream of material.

I too would be fired if I wasn’t fulfilling my role as defined by my company. Happily they define that as comedy, and I agree. I have no real responsibility beyond working hard on jokes.

Name Change Possible at MSNBC

Media Decoder reports that NBC is thinking of separating the MSNBC web site from NBC News. In the long run this might be a good idea. The liberal bias of the evening shows on MSNBC have been a source of irritation to the news division at NBC, fearing that it taints their objectivity. MSNBC would also like to be able to use the web site to promote their own shows as opposed to being a straight news site.

It think it makes sense to have an MSNBC.com web site to promote MSNBC personalities such as Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann and a separate NBCNews.com to take over the news. The one downside to this from a business perspective is that the network might not want to give away the already established web site to their smaller division. Perhaps a better solution would be to continue MSNBC as the network news web site and come up with an entirely new name for the MSNBC cable network. This would allow them to establish a new web site to accompany the cable channel.

Fox does have it much easier, not caring if they have an objective news site at all as they don’t have a legitimate news division. Fox’s ability to distort the news comes from the manner in which their fake news shows reinforce the same ideas promoted by their openly labeled opinion shows. If Rachel Maddow devotes time to a story, such as C Street, only a portion of the MSNBC audience which is watching her show will see it. However Fox will coordinate their shows so that many of the “news” as well as opinion shows are talking about the same topics day after day. That way even trivial stories such as Obama’s birthplace or the new Black Panther Party are discussed endlessly until they move from Fox to the legitimate news media. Fox, unlike NBC, certainly has no need for separate web sites to differentiate their opinion shows from their news division.