SciFi Weekend: CW Superhero Crossovers; Celebrities on The Election; Luke Cage; American Gods; Doctor Who; Class

Digital Spy reports on the threat which brings together the heroes of the four Berlantiverse DC shows on CW. Trailer above.

There’s only one army in the DC Comics universe terrifying enough to unite Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.

Turns out that the threat of meta-humans running wild has raised the ire of planets across the galaxy, causing an alien race to form its own coalition in order to conquer and subjugate earth’s superheroes.

“This year, for our mega Arrowverse crossover, we’re taking inspiration from a DC crossover from the late 1980s known as Invasion!, which featured an alien race called the Dominators, who’d previously vexed the Legion of Superheroes,” Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow producer Marc Guggenheim revealed in a statement.

“We’re using cutting edge prosthetics and computer effects to achieve a feature film-quality look which is faithful to Invasion! artist Todd McFarlane’s interpretation of the characters.”

The Dominators made their first appearance in the pages of DC Comics all the way back in 1967, and have continued to cause trouble for the Legion of Super-Heroes and others within the DC Universe ever since.

This autumn’s four-night event will be the first of two major DC crossovers. Supergirl and The Flash will also be meeting up for a musical episode that’s sure to be interesting.

Supergirl also teams up with her cousin in the above trailer.

The Mary Sue reports that Lynda Carter Used Hillary Clinton As Inspiration For Her Upcoming Role on Supergirl. Hopefully this doesn’t mean that the president on Supergirl will engage in regime change in other countries based upon dubious arguments and sell influence from the White House.

Related story at Paste: Whitewashing Hillary: When Lena Dunham and Her Celebrity Ilk Become Dangerous. Obviously celebrities are hardly the people who we should trust with political analysis, but of course they are going to give their opinion. J.J. Abrams and many a long list of people involved in Star Trek have taken a stand against Donald Trump in a long open letter on Facebook. Unfortunately they also have fallen for the whitewashing of Hillary, and fail to recognize the importance of third party options. Trump is a celebrity in his own right, including The Apprentice and the recent revelation of his appearance in a softcore porn Playboy video.

Netflix has released Luke Cage. There is some background information in the Marvel 101 video above. I haven’t had time to watch it yet and hope to start next weekend. Speakeasy has some information on the series:

Showrunner and writer Cheo Hodari Coker (“Ray Donovan,” “Southland”) talked to Speakeasy about the show and shared some key details that will make “Luke Cage” different than “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones,” its Marvel predecessors on Netflix.

It takes place after “Jessica Jones,” but it’s all about Luke’s perspective.

The super-strong, nearly indestructible Luke Cage showed up as a butt-kicker and love interest during the first season of “Jessica Jones,” alongside series star Krysten Ritter. Yet, while “Luke Cage” will build on that foundation, it will be told through his perspective. “It doesn’t take away from the Luke you meet in Jessica Jones, but we’re telling a different story,” Coker says. “At the same time, I’m hoping people who see the show that like Luke from ‘Jessica Jones’ like what we’ve done in expanding the character.”

It aims to be the Tribe Called Quest of superhero shows.

The show’s cast is mostly made up of black actors, but Coker, who is also black, wanted to make sure it’s also representative of black culture, while keeping it relatable to all audiences. “I wanted to show it was possible that it had a deeply African-American context but do it in such a way that people who weren’t necessarily from hip-hop culture, or from black culture, and watch the show feel as though they’re part of the conversation,” he says. Coker points to A Tribe Called Quest’s albums as examples of art that both maintained its integrity within the context of black culture and still registered crossover success.

It draws on all sorts of Marvel Comics traditions.

Coker says Brian Michael Bendis‘s “Alias” comics have inspired the look of this Luke Cage, while much of the character’s origin story on the show comes directly from the 1972 comic “Luke Cage, Hero for Hire” No. 1. The showrunner, though, says a variety of Marvel Comics — from Chris Claremont and Frank Miller‘s Wolverine to X-Men comics in general — helped him develop his skills as a writer and dramatist in the televsion world. He says the issue-by-issue run in a comic book story line works well for TV. “That’s kind of the way you structure the season,” Coker says.

More information at TV Guide for before viewing. This article at TV Guide looks like it will be of interest after viewing.

the-tick

Amazon recently began showing a pilot for The Tick, which started as a comic and was also briefly on television in the past. It has been picked up for to start as a series in 2017.  CBR,com interviewed creator Ben Edlund:

CBR News: Ben, the new “Tick” pilot is something of an outlier as it’s rare for creator-owned comics to get a second big media adaptation let alone a third one. And I know this particular project took a long time to come together and had many twists and turns along the way. What was it like for you to go through that process of bringing the character to TV over a decade since the last go round?

Ben Edlund: It was, I would say, some of the scarier work I’ve done recently. [Laughs] This is a very specific character for me. I have a lifelong relationship with this creature, and so to engage with another expression of it and take the chances of messing it up or what have you, it makes you feel like it’d be pretty nice to just let it sit there. This is something I take very seriously, and I didn’t want to do this if it didn’t have a new reason for being and if it wasn’t something that wasn’t its own new thing on top of being another respectful chapter in the existence of this blue creature.

So that put the stakes up pretty high for me. And working with Amazon, we kind of started in a place that was quite distant from where we ended up. There was a lot of growth over the drafts we did, and I had to take time to figure out how to engineer a superhero live-action comedy in a way that would not be immediately ephemeral. It had to be something you could care about. So it was a very daunting bit of work for me.

I was very much the beneficiary of the 13 years I’ve spent working in live-action television. When I first did this, I had no experience other than some film school experience and cartoon experience. Now I’ve been doing this for a long time and working almost exclusively in this hybrid between drama and comedy. That started with “Firefly” and “Angel,” but with “Supernatural” and even “Gotham” and “Powers” – all of them incorporate elements of other things. That’s been a craft I’ve been drawing from and trying to learn about because I did actually feel like eventually it would be appropriate to look at Tick again and try to do something new with it.

And I didn’t know where that would be or when it would take shape. I didn’t even initiate the first ripple that led to this series. That was actually Patrick Warburton and Barry Josephson and others. It just kind of encompassed me, and it was time. It was ready to happen again. So when they came to me and asked if how I could conceive of it being doable in live-action, it took a long time to get my head around it.

Aside from your place as the creator coming back to his creation, the really interesting thing about the new Tick is that the superhero media landscape is vastly different than it was 15 years ago. For a long time, comics was the landscape where you could do anything and get deeper and weirder, while TV was much more restrictive. Now mass superhero media is bigger and weirder than it’s ever been. How has that changed your approach?

I think #1 right now is we’re at a point of superhero saturation. No one could have predicted how comprehensive it would be and how pervasive it would be. And so the level of education per capita [that the audience has] on the minutia of a superhero universe offers a lot more latitude in terms of joke material – because there’s just more to reference. That’s one part of it. The other part is that we’re the beneficiaries of technology. Big effects are a lot more achievable now, and so our vision is wider. That’s a great tool to have.

But I think the thing that’s most intriguing and interesting is that the whole complexion of television has changed. It’s gone from where we sort of anti-serialized stories and promoted the stand-alone ones to where things are completely engaged with the experience of serialization. People want that from these “binge vehicles.” What they want is a novel in televised form which is shaped and conceived as novels are. Those are not things that are free jazz improvisations as a general rule. They’re stories. It’s a demand that’s increasing with our appetite, and I’m happy about that because that’s the thing I want to do. I don’t want it to just be jokes. And nobody else wants that either, which is weird. The conventional wisdom of almost any other era of television was that we’d reduce things to just jokes. But this is a very different organism, and I’m intrigued by the experiment.

american-gods

Nerdist has a video report providing information on the television adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel American Gods. Screenrant summarized some of the key points,  including:

Nerdist News went deep with the cast and crew of American Gods and discovered that the series will follow a path somewhat different from the novel that inspired it. Far from being a true diverging, however, Nerdist reports that the series will not only cull from the near 600-page edition of Gaiman’s text, but also from the author’s character and plot notes, many of which either didn’t make it in, or were merely alluded, to in the novel.

According to Nerdist, much of the expanded story will follow the tales of how the Old Gods came to dwell on American soil. While the novel does tell the stories of how gods like Kristin Chenowith’s Easter and Orlando Jones’ Mr. Nancy left their original homes for our shores, the series is expected to dive even deeper into these character backstories to create a richer, more full universe.

Considering how well Bryan Fuller re-imagined the Hannibal books and movies, I am optimistic he will do a good job with American Gods, especially he will be working with ideas also created by Neil Gaiman.

NBC has picked up This is US for a full eighteen-episode season.

FX reports that The Strain will conclude with season four. FXX has renewed You’re The Worst for a fourth season.

There reportedly will be a  a superhero character appearing in this year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special.

DigitalSpy held a contest in which David Tennant’s 10th Doctor was voted the best TV character of the 21st century

ScreenRant has some videos to introduce the Doctor Who spinoff Class.

 

Save

Save

Save

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, Hugo and Emmy Awards; Tony Soprano’s Fate; Next Season on Arrow and Fargo; Finales of Falling Skies, True Blood, Defiance, and The Last Ship; Karen Gillan’s Hair; Rebooting Fox Genre Shows; Libby Masters vs. Betty Draper; American Gods; Jennifer Lawrence, and much more

Doctor-Who--Into-the-Dalek

Peter Capaldi’s second episode of Doctor Who was much better than the first. Into the Dalek was literally about going into a Dalek, Fantastic Voyage style. Once the reference was made, and we saw antibodies within the Dalek (for an unclear reason), I was surprised that Steven Moffat didn’t take the opportunity to recreate the attack of antibodies on Rachel Welch’s body with Jenna Coleman. Despite the Doctor’s strange criticism of Clara’s body at one  point in the episode, Clara did serve an important role as the Doctor’s moral compass, which was disrupted by the shock of seeing a good Dalek. The episode also served as the introduction of the next companion, and romantic interest for Clara, Danny Pink. There is no doubt that Clara and Danny will overcome the Doctor’s newfound objection to having a soldier join him, which certainly contradicts all the time he spent with UNIT.

While I knew the phrase was coming from advanced review, I was surprised by the context in which Resistance is Futile was used by the Dalek. There are certainly many comparisons to be made to the Borg, and I think Doctor Who did a better job than Star Trek The Next Generation with an episode about a good Dalek or Borg. Into the Dalek was a strong stand-alone episode, and now there is no doubt that Missy and “Heaven” will be a recurring storyline for the season. This time, instead of the person who the Doctor was fighting (and possibly pushed to his death), it was someone fighting with the Doctor who was seen in “Heaven.” My suspicion is that this will turn out to be something such as Missy saving people just before imminent death who are in the vicinity of the Doctor as opposed to actual “Heaven,” but even if I am right on this a lot of questions remain.

Doctor Who Extra (video above) gives behind the scenes information on the filming of Into The Dalek.

There have been two major sets of awards in the past couple of weeks, the Hugo Awards and the Emmy Awards. Doctor Who had five nominees for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) but an episode of Game of Thrones won the award:

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

  • Game of Thrones: “The Rains of Castamere”, written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, directed by David Nutter (HBO Entertainment in association with Bighead, Littlehead; Television 360; Startling Television and Generator Productions)
  • Doctor Who: “The Day of the Doctor”, written by Steven Moffat, directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Television)
  • Orphan Black: “Variations under Domestication” written by Will Pascoe, directed by John Fawcett (Temple Street Productions; Space/BBC America)
  • An Adventure in Space and Time, written by Mark Gatiss, directed by Terry McDonough (BBC Television)
  • The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, written & directed by Peter Davison (BBC Television)
  • Doctor Who: “The Name of the Doctor”, written by Steven Moffat, directed by Saul Metzstein (BBC Televison)

Gravity won for long form among these nominees:

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

  • Gravity, written by Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón, directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Esperanto Filmoj; Heyday Films; Warner Bros.)
  • Frozen,screenplay by Jennifer Lee, directed by Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee (Walt Disney Studios)
  • Pacific Rim, screenplay by Travis Beacham & Guillermo del Toro, directed by Guillermo del Toro (Legendary Pictures, Warner Bros., Disney Double Dare You)
  • Iron Man 3, screenplay by Drew Pearce & Shane Black, directed by Shane Black (Marvel Studios; DMG Entertainment; Paramount Pictures)
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, screenplay by Simon Beaufoy & Michael Arndt, directed by Francis Lawrence (Color Force; Lionsgate)

The full list of nominees can be found here, with the winners listed here.

While the Emmy Awards generally goes with the safe bet, such as repeatedly giving the award for best comedy to Modern Family, there is at least some realization that genre is ignored. While Tatiana Maslany was snubbed for a second year for her work on Orphan Black, the snub was at least acknowledged in a skit. They finally discovered Sherlock, even if it meant awarding Emmys for the weakest of its three seasons. It was a pleasant surprise to see Steven Moffat up on stage, and he also provided some vague hints about season four in post-award interviews:

Sherlock was a big winner at the 66th Primetime Emmys, taking home three awards (to go with the four the show earned at last week’s Creative Arts ceremony), including trophies for stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.

In celebrating his win for writing for a miniseries/movie or dramatic special, executive producer Steven Moffat dropped some hints backstage about the British drama’s anticipated fourth season, which begins production in January 2015 — the same time Doctor Who will also start filming.

Moffat was confident that the new season would be even more gasp-inducing than the previous year, which ended with an unexpected resurrection of a character presumed dead.

“We have a plan to top it — and actually I do think our plan is devastating,” he teased. “We practically reduced our cast to tears by telling them the plan. Honestly, Mark [Gatiss] and myself are so excited with what we’ve got coming up, probably more excited than we’ve ever been about Sherlock. … Honestly I think we can [top the last season].”

Moffat spoke of the surge of Emmy recognition the show has received in its third year.

“We’ve won outside of America, which is a place,” Moffat deadpanned. “We were just starting to think that that phase of our lives was dying down because as shows get older they don’t win as often — just like people. We’re delighted that we’ve made it here and hopefully this gets more people watching. That’d be great.”

He remained mum on when the new episodes would be premiering. “When they go out is up to the BBC,” he said. “And I am their loyal servant. I simply do what they ask me.”

Moffat reassured that the creative team behind the show will continue returning to Sherlock, no matter how busy they may be with other projects. “What’s happening with Sherlock is unusual,” he admitted. “We will keep coming back to it.”

sopranos2

I am thankful to Vox for finally settling in my mind how The Sopranos ended, even if they totally botched the story. When the finale first aired, after I realized that my cable hadn’t gone out, I interpreted it as an intentionally ambiguous ending. Sure, going to black could be what happens to Tony if shot, but I didn’t accept this interpretation as the scene was not from Tony’s perspective. The scene concentrated on many things Tony did not see, from the actions of others in in the coffee shop to Meadow attempting to park the car outside. If I wanted to think that they finished the meal and then Tony showed Meadow how to parallel park, this interpretation was as valid as any other. I saw the real meaning as that Tony would always face threats to his life. One of the people in the coffee shop might have shot him, or he could have been suddenly killed at some other time in the future. There was even a chance he could remain alive despite all the threats.

I was satisfied with this interpretation until I heard a report that David Chase had said that there was a definitive meaning to the finale. Perhaps, as happened again this week, the person reporting put too much meaning into what he said during an interview. However, if there was an answer to the question as to whether Tony Soprano lived in the ending, then I could only see this as meaning I was wrong. If limited to Tony living or dying, I thought it would be easier to making an argument that the ending meant that Tony had died.

Then Vox had an interview with David Chase last week in which it reported that Chase said that Tony had lived. I actually found this to be very unsatisfying as it lacked any further explanation. Soon afterwards, David Chase issued a statement that what he said in the interview was misconstrued:

A statement issued by Mr. Chase’s publicist, Leslee Dart, said that the Vox.com writer “misconstrued what David Chase said in their interview.”

“To simply quote David as saying, ‘Tony Soprano is not dead,’ is inaccurate,” the statement continued. “There is a much larger context for that statement and as such, it is not true.”

The statement added that Mr. Chase had said “numerous times on the record” that answering the question of whether “Tony Soprano is alive or dead is not the point.”

“To continue to search for this answer is fruitless,” the statement said. “The final scene of ‘The Sopranos’ raises a spiritual question that has no right or wrong answer.”

This leaves me comfortable in returning to my original interpretation, more confident than in the past that I’m just not in denial over a scene intended to show Tony Soprano as getting killed.

The new promo for season three of Arrow above will make Oliver/Felicity fans happy. A digital comic will fill the gap between the second and third seasons.

Fargo season two will concentrate on strong women characters.

Falling Skies showrunner David Eick answered questions on the season four finale.

The series finale of True Blood really isn’t worth talking about. It is a shame that they couldn’t put together something more meaningful to end the series with.

The writers on Defiance did try harder. They used a formula which often works in combining elements of a season-long story in each individual stand-alone stories. Unfortunately it didn’t work very well. It just didn’t work for me to have an alien girl being used by a supercomputer intelligence to destroy New York City and the rest of the planet, and then end the crisis by having her kiss a boy who was a minor character during the season. When the show runners previously talked about expanding the show to New York and space I expected something more sensible, and more than a quick scene at the end of the season.

I was more impressed with The Last Ship. While not an A-list, must-see show, they did a good job of keeping the show entertaining. When I heard that they had renewed the show for a second season, my immediate impression was that this would mean they would not find a cure no matter how many episodes gave them a lead. I am glad I was wrong on that. If the first few episodes reminded me of Battlestar Galactica at sea, the return home to a country destroyed by plague now makes me see the show more like Revolution or Jericho (hopefully doing a better job than Revolution). So far there is nothing ground breaking. Who didn’t see the remnants of the Unites States government as being the enemy and realize they were walking into a trap? Still the show does provide solid entertainment.

Last week’s episode made my happy I stuck with The Leftovers. The episode was a flashback which explained key points, such as why a family which did not appear to have lost anyone was affected so much by the rapture-like event.

Karen Gillan filmed the shaving of her hair for Guardians of the Galaxy (video above)

Joe and Anthony Russo will be directing the sixth season premiere of Community. The Russo brothers are also working on Captain America and say the third movie will be more like Winter Soldier than the first installment (which is a good thing).

What Culture gives five reasons Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill For was a huge flop.

The video above provides a synopsis of last season of Person of Interest.

I’m not sure why, but Fox plans to reboot The Greatest American Hero. Amazon plans to return Patrick Warburton as The Tick. Fox provides plenty of material for anyone who desires to bring back a genre show canceled on the network. How about Firefly? I also wouldn’t mind seeing what happened after the cliff hanger on the final episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

Scribbler includes several genre actresses including Katie Cassidy of Arrow. Trailer above (NSFW–contains nudity)

…it’s a comic book adaptation that stars Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg, Eliza Dushku, Gina Gershon, Sasha Grey, Garret Dillahunt, Michael Imperioli and Billy Campbell, which is to say director John Suits has compiled an ensemble filled of “been there, done that” names, but they are recognizable names at least.

The film follows Suki (Cassidy), a young woman confronting her destructive mental illness using “The Siamese Burn,” an experimental machine designed to eliminate multiple personalities. The closer Suki comes to being “cured,” she’s haunted by a thought… what if the last unwanted identity turns out to be her?

Speaking of nudity by genre actresses, there has been more interest this week in the nude picture I posted of Jennifer Lawrence last year. That was a picture of her in her role as Mystique which was used as a publicity photo, and distribution of that is far different from hacking her phone or iCloud account, among with pictures of several other actresses, to obtain nude pictures which were privately stored with expectations that they remain private. As Jennifer Lawrence’s spokesperson said, “This is a flagrant violation of privacy.”

Bryan Fuller has ambitious plans for his adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

Syfy has not renewed the Wil Wheaton Project. No big loss.

Assignment X has an interview with Caitlin FitzGerald, who plays Libby Masters on Masters of Sex. I’ve always been impressed with FitzGerald, who has done a lot of work in indy films. In her role as a late 50’s housewife she faces many of the same problems as Betty Draper on Mad Men. I wonder how much better Betty Draper’s role could have been if cast with someone with FitzGerald’s talent as opposed to January Jones. On the other hand, perhaps a less talented but more beautiful model is exactly who Don Draper would have married.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand provides a model for how the world should be for many libertarians. Wendy McElroy, who has strong libertarian credentials, found that the real world attempt at making Galt’s Gulch hasn’t worked out very well.

SciFi Weekend: Orphan Black; Continuum; Fargo; The Flash; Agent Carter; Constantine and Other New Shows Based On Comics; Neurotic Robots

"Orphan Black" Ep 208 Day 6 Photo: Jan Thijs 2013

Orphan Black introduced yet another clone on Variable And Full Of Perturbation, a transsexual clone named Tony. Besides providing for some interesting interaction with Felix, Tony introduction could be a way to get into the back stories of two other characters raised, Beth and Paul (who seems to be missing). We only saw Beth briefly in the first episode before she jumped in front of a train so it would be interesting to learn more about her.

The aftermath of the death of Dr. Leekie are important both back at Dyad and for the improved relationship between Alison and Donnie. Alison has not learned a lesson about being quiet about her role in the death of Aynsley, but Donnie now has a murder of his own to confess. Alison can theoretically be implicated due to the evidence in the car and the use of her gun, but fortunately for her Dyad will probably cover up Leekie’s murder with the claim of a heart attack. Dyad would also keep quiet about the relationship between Donnie and Leekie.

One long standing question has been answered and Rachel was not happy about the answer. Only the twins Sarah and Helena can get pregnant due to an error as all the clones were designed to be infertile. Although she is in a dominant position at Dyad, Rachel suffers as all the other clones do, making me wonder if in this show of changing alliances, if at some point Rachel will consider her shared interests with the other clones and alter her behavior towards them.

Cosima did a great job in playing the nerd girl, beating all the other nerds at Runewars when she came back to the lab at night and caught them playing. There is no way the ending scene means she will really die.

I wonder how much Kira will learn from reading The Island of Dr. Moreau , and all the scientific notes in the margins.

Orphan Black Cosima Runewars

Entertainment Weekly spoke with spoke with Orphan Black creators Graeme Manson and John Fawcett about introducing Tony:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Obviously the big shock this episode is we meet a new clone, and it’s not just a clone, but a transclone named Tony. Tell me about when and how you developed this idea.

GRAEME MANSON: It really came about near the end of the first season. And I believe John and I and the writers had been mulling this idea of a transclone as, “Okay, that’s a really crazy and complex idea.” And then strangely, almost parallel at the same time, out in the hair and make-up trailer camp with Tat and Steven and Sandy and her team — who really work together on discovering character through looks — I think that they were coming up with the idea at the same time. So eventually when we brought it up with Tatiana it was like we had been thinking the same thing.

JOHN FAWCETT: We went out to dinner with Tatiana in March or April 2013 after season 1 had wrapped to just talk about some of Graeme and my ideas for season 2, and the transclone idea came up and Tat went, “Oh my God, you wouldn’t believe it but that’s what we’ve been thinking as well!” So she was very excited about the idea of doing it already, so it really was not a hard sell to say, “We want to try to tackle this.”

MANSON: And then through the early days of shooting season 2, John and I would be sitting at lunch or something, and then Sandy or Steven would come by and say, “Hey, we’ve got something to show you, can you come out back?” And we’d come out back and there would be Tat in the early guises of Tony —  like, the smoke hanging from her mouth, leaning up against the truck. And they did that to us about three times before finding the look, and each time we’d go and we’d hang out with Tony for a little while and try to get a feel for the character.

FAWCETT: And Tat was doing those make-up things with Steven and Sandy, doing it on weekends and her days off because it was very, very top secret. The crew didn’t know; we didn’t want anyone to see her dressed like that. Nobody on the crew knew. We tried to keep that absolutely under wraps, and it’s still one of our biggest secrets of the season. We want this to be a massive surprise for the audience. And it really was a character close to Tatiana that she poured her heart and soul into. It’s really something that she wanted to do.

EW: And how nervous were you guys because this is the type of thing that if it doesn’t work, it’s can be a total disaster. So there’s a risk involved.

FAWCETT: It was interesting shooting that episode, because day 1 of shooting Tony, everyone knew what we were doing now because everyone had seen the script, and I remember waiting on set for her to arrive and it was very, very quiet. I’ve never seen the crew that quiet. And when she showed up there was excitement, but very quiet excitement. It was dead silent on set that day. Because there’s a lot of respect from the crew towards Tatiana, towards what she has to do, and this just commanded that much more respect.

MANSON: I don’t think we ever looked at it as risk. We looked at it as, okay, if we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it from exactly the right place creatively and story-telling wise and we’re going to commit 100%. And as long as we move forward with our hearts in the right place, hopefully the sexual politics rise above it. That’s sort of how we approached the storytelling, too. Throw the character in and treat the character exactly like you’d treat anyone else, and give them their dignity and respect.

EW: It’s funny because the scene that totally screwed with my mind was the Tony and Felix kissing scene. That threw me just for the fact that it would be creepy to make out with someone who looks like your sister, which you kind of referenced later with Tony calling Felix a “sister kisser.”

FAWCETT: That was one of those parts of the story that really solidified this concept for me. As we were trying to figure out how to use the character, that to me was the pinnacle of what made this so cool — to put Tony and Felix together in a very strange romantic way that left Felix very conflicted. And then the other aspect of these two kisses is that you have to go, “Wait a minute! That’s Tat and Jordan!” [Laughs] The reality of it is it’s not Tony and Felix, it’s Tat and Jordan. And when you go and think that, that’s even a bigger mindf—.

They also discussed Cosima:

EW: And then you have to go and screw with Cosima again at the end and have her coughing up blood and convulsing after she meets Ethan. She’s getting this treatment from Kira yet seems to be getting worse. What’s up with that?

FAWCETT: The treatment that she’s getting from Kira is a band-aid at best. As we’ll see, there may be more treatment options coming, but what she is getting at this point is not enough to counter the effects of what she’s been inflicted with.

MANSON: And the bottom line is, her situation is getting more dire and is advancing fairly rapidly. And this is the ticking bomb that we talked about way back when. But there is very much a ticking bomb, a ticking clock, on Cosima’s life. This is just a more aggressive, visceral display of what it might be to come if they don’t solve that problem.

EW: Okay, John, you huge board game nerd. How excited were you to work Runewars into this episode?

FAWCETT: Well I certainly helped kick that ball down the road. We loved the idea that Scott was going to come back and was going to join us at Dyad because it was character that we just loved and then it was like, “How can we have fun with Scott?” And we all cracked up at the idea that Cosima would come back into the lab late at night, she’s working late, and find Scott with all these super nerdy buddies playing some kind of geek ass board game. I’m a massive board game fan. I probably have a closet that has a good 80 or 90 really idiotically geeky board games and Runewars is one of my favorite games and was created by a company called Fantasy Flight games. And they’ve been so good to us that they allowed us to use this game. So we went all out and I had one of my geeky friends help as the consultant to make sure all the gameplay was accurate, all the dialogue between the characters in regard to the gameplay was accurate.

Continuum - Season 3

Continuum is now only airing five days ahead of Syfy on Showcase, making it easier to discuss the current episode without any risk of spoilers. Revolutions Per Minute showed a further deterioration in the relationship between Alec and Kiera now that Kiera knows that Alec drilled into her dead doppleganger’s head to remove her CMR. Ever since the beginning of the show back in the first season there were questions as to whether we were developing a circular paradox in which Alec would come up with his inventions due to Kiera bringing technology back from the future. This was most overt in this episode. I wonder if Kiera now wonders if she chose the wrong Alec, and if perhaps she will free the other one.

The path from here to the future has always been convoluted because of not knowing if having Kiera and Liber8 go back in time would lead to changing the future, or their actions were part of creating that future. The question is even more confusing this season with the introduction of alternate time lines. In some ways we are seeing actions leading towards creating the future we have seen. Alec was called before a secret group which just might be the first step in forming the Corporate Congress. Julian now looks more like someone headed to becoming a leader of Liber8, or is he becoming closer to Alec?.  Liber8’s actions in the past seem far more likely to be changing things than to be causing the future Kiera came from to come about.

Before this season it looked like Alec was on track to head SadTech. In this alternate time line, instead he leads Piron. Kellogg’s law suit seems to be aimed at returning Alec to SadTech, with Kellogg even pointing out that this is what Alec was destined to do. On the other hand, the guy from the future had memories of Kellogg as someone important without recognizing Alec Sadler’s name. Presumably he comes from a time line in which Kellogg had taken on Alec’s role, probably messing things up even more than Alec. Is this the future of the time line we are now viewing, did he come from a different time line, or maybe Kiera’s actions will determine which time line gets played out. It looks like he possibly had killed the other Kiera because her actions were responsible for creating a time line in which his family was killed but his story isn’t entirely clear.

The idea of multiple time lines also raises questions as to whether anything we see is really permanent. Will we wind up seeing a different time line next season in which Betty is still alive, along with other differences?

The episode also seems to have brought about an abrupt end to a plot point set up earlier in the season when Dillon arranged for his daughter to be briefly placed in prison so she could later infiltrate Liber8. She was recruited by them, but quickly extracted so that there would be no more Bettys.

With only three episodes remaining in this season we should soon have a better idea where this is all leading. It will also be easier to judge the season, which has been of mixed quality, when we can see the story as a whole.

Fargo The Heap

Fargo is also coming near the end of the season, and just as things were starting to drag they jumped ahead a year. Molly and Gus are married and Lester is looking more successful. Presumably things will change for him and Molly will finally get a chance to prove what happened. Lester was doomed from the start, but it seems more satisfying to see him get caught the more he is shown as not being such a good guy. With the success of this series it comes as no surprise that another season is being considered. Presumably it would be a completely different story in the same universe, in the same manner in which the television show is related to the movie. Martin Freeman has already indicated he only planned to be in the show for one year, and it would be best if Lester is not the main character next season. I could see the series working with some of the secondary characters still being involved.

Showtime has renewed Penny Dreadful for a second season.

Comics are providing material for multiple television shows. Arrow has been the best example, and a spin off, The Flash, has been picked up by CW (extended trailer above). ABC is adding Agent Carter as a limited episode series to run for ten episodes in the same time slot as Agents of SHIELD when it is on hiatus. As Agents of SHIELD will deal with the rebuilding of SHIELD and Agent Carter with its founding, the two stories will tie in to some degree. Marvel is also working on several projects to appear on Netflix including Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage. Fox has picked up Gotham, which will deal with the city prior to Batman, concentrating on Jim Gordon. Trailer below:

I’ve heard some of the most encouraging predictions about Constantine, which was picked up by NBC for next season: “A new adaptation of DC’s Hellblazer comics, Constantine stars Matt Ryan (Assassin’s Creed IV) as the title character, John Constantine, a demon hunter and master of the occult. Starring alongside Ryan is Lucy Griffiths (True Blood) as Liv, the daughter of an old friend of Constantine, who has her own abilities that prove crucial when it comes to thwarting evil.” The trailer is above. IGN interviewed the stars:

IGN: It looks like the show has a fun mixture of different elements.

Matt Ryan: Yeah, definitely. I think as with the source material, there’s so much to draw from in terms of the character and the balance of humor and wit and dark and gritty. It’s great, because John has this kind of real sarcastic, ironic British wit. It’s funny, but at the same time it’s serious and dark and gritty. It’s got it all, I think.

IGN: Can you talk about the dynamic between your characters? What does Liv make of John?

Lucy Griffiths: Like how all women like to feel about men, she loves him and she hates him. She thinks he’s an absolute idiot, and she just finds him annoying. At the same time, she can’t deny that he’s a genius, and she’s thrilled by what he has to offer her in terms of excitement. He’s irresistible to her from that point of view.

Ryan: But dangerous to her as well.

Griffiths: Yeah, and she helps him. She’s his psychic sidekick.

IGN: As you just referenced, your character has some abilities too…

Griffiths: Yeah, I actually have more magic than him. [Laughs]

Ryan: Not so much “magic.” Let’s be firm on this! But no, she actually has an ability, and John seeks her out because he’s got a message from beyond the grave, from an old friend of his, whose daughter is in trouble. That’s Lucy’s character Liv. Then John goes about saving her and at the same time discovers that she has this ability. So then he kind of uses that ability and slightly manipulates her, but they need each other, and they set about trying to rid the world of all the evil.

The trailer follows:

Discovery reports on the latest trend in robotics–building neurotic robots. This puts us closer to making Marvin the Paranoid Robot from Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy a reality.

Romney-Ryan Fairy Tales On The Economy and Medicare

While we’ve heard a lot about Paul Ryan’s economic views over the past few days, the fundamental take away message is that his plan is a con. Ryan’s proposals are just another variation on what we get from every Republican these days: cut taxes on the ultra-wealthy while increasing taxes on the middle class and increasing the deficit to pay for this. David Stockton calls this Paul Ryans Fairy-Tale Budget:

The Ryan Plan boils down to a fetish for cutting the top marginal income-tax rate for “job creators” — i.e. the superwealthy — to 25 percent and paying for it with an as-yet-undisclosed plan to broaden the tax base. Of the $1 trillion in so-called tax expenditures that the plan would attack, the vast majority would come from slashing popular tax breaks for employer-provided health insurance, mortgage interest, 401(k) accounts, state and local taxes, charitable giving and the like, not to mention low rates on capital gains and dividends. The crony capitalists of K Street already own more than enough Republican votes to stop that train before it leaves the station.

In short, Mr. Ryan’s plan is devoid of credible math or hard policy choices. And it couldn’t pass even if Republicans were to take the presidency and both houses of Congress. Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan have no plan to take on Wall Street, the Fed, the military-industrial complex, social insurance or the nation’s fiscal calamity and no plan to revive capitalist prosperity — just empty sermons.

I previously noted how James Fallows  has explained that Ryan’s economic proposals are not serious. The manner in which Ryan sought stimulus funds while attaching the program does not help Ryan’s credibility. It does provide another example of the typical conservative hypocrisy of attacking government programs for political benefit regardless of their value.

The biggest government program which Ryan is attacking is Medicare, proposing changes which would end the program as we know it. Some who have not paid close attention to his plan are under the misconception that Ryan is being brave by fighting such a huge entitlement program. As Ezra Klein points out, Ryan’s plan does not save any more money than Obama’s plans. Ryan even supports the same alleged cuts to Medicare which Obama has made–such as cuts to subsidies to insurance companies as opposed to cuts in services. Other Medicare cuts come from decreased payment to hospitals to compensate for caring for the uninsured as there will be far fewer people without insurance under the Affordable Care Act.  Obama has actually increased services to Medicare beneficiaries by having Medicare provide many preventative services at no charge and by phasing out the donut hole on prescription drugs.

Republicans have two basic ideas to save money on Medicare–privatize the system and increase out-of-pocket costs among beneficiaries. Privatization does not work. We found with Medicare Advantage plans that it costs between 12 and 20 percent more to care for patients in private plans compared to the government plan. That really shouldn’t be all that surprising. Private plans have added expenses for things such as marketing, and they must make a profit.

Making Medicare patients pay more out of pocket is not a good idea either. The result is that patients avoid preventative studies and avoid routine treatment for chronic diseases, leading to higher costs in the long run. However, even if this was a good idea. there is no reason to privatize the system. The current Medicare system is more cost effective than private insurance companies Changes in payment policies could be made for the government Medicare program. While not a good idea, Medicare payments could be restructured to have higher copays and deductibles and Republicans want without giving up the greater efficiency of Medicare compared to private insurance companies. There is just no reason fiscal reason to dismantle Medicare as the Republicans would like to do.

While Republican ideologues are thrilled by the choice of Ryan, often preferring ideological purity over electability, Republican pros are terrified, as described in this story from Politico. Normally I’d shy away from a story entirely based upon politicians speaking off the record, but it does make sense that Republican pros who see the choice of Ryan as a disaster for the party would give the ticket their support in public. Along the same lines Howard Kurtz asks, Is Paul Ryan a Ticking Time Bomb as Mitt Romney’s Running Mate? 

Ryan may have energized the right—Rush Limbaugh and Rupert Murdoch appear ecstatic about his elevation—but the congressman has a long paper trail that could alienate moderate swing voters. If Newt Gingrich could assail Ryan’s Medicare plan as “right-wing social engineering,” little wonder that the Obama team is salivating over the prospect of hanging the Ryan record around Romney’s neck.

Ryan’s plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program, adopted by the House, could wind up costing future retirees $6,000 a year as medical costs outpace the fixed benefits, according to independent studies. Conservatives are pushing back against this assessment, with National Review publishing several pieces Monday on the Democrats’ “Mediscare” tactics.

But the details—that Ryan has changed his original plan, that seniors would have a choice of plans and some would be subsidized by the government—are complicated. Kind of like the way that Obamacare is difficult to explain. And if the voucher plan didn’t cost elderly recipients a dime, how much money would it save?

Ryan’s response is that his plan is preferable to the Democratic approach of doing nothing (though how does that square with the charge he and Romney make that the president wants to cut $700 billion from Medicare?).

Romney insists the duo is running on his proposals, not his VP nominee’s. On Monday, he declined to discuss the differences between his Medicare plan and Ryan’s, saying, “We haven’t gone through piece by piece.” But that won’t wash. Even Fred Barnes, while praising the choice in The Weekly Standard, says: “Now Romney must actively promote and defend the Ryan plan. As of today, it’s the Romney plan.”

Then there is Ryan’s support for a “personhood” bill that would declare life begins at conception. Not a great help to a presidential candidate who wants to get rid of Planned Parenthood.

Ryan also has pushed to privatize Social Security, which George W. Bush, despite the congressman’s help, couldn’t even get to a vote. Think that will play well in Florida?

And as the Times noted, Ryan has voted against requiring more stringent background checks for buyers at gun shows, and against federal funding for NPR.

The best case scenario is that the Romney/Ryan Ticket To Destroy Medicare winds up nationalizing the race, taking many Republicans in Congress down with them as people really think about how much harm Republicans would do to the country. With Congress tying an all time low approval rating of 10 percent, it might not take much to get voters to throw out the Republican House majority they voted in two years ago.

Paul Ryan Ensures Mitt Romney Remains Tied To The Far Right

It is now official. Choosing Ryan solidifies the Republican ticket among rich, healthy, male voters who don’t give a damn about anyone else, including their children and future generations–not that Romney has any problem with that demographic. Falling in the polls, Romney found that he cannot win by doing nothing but telling lies about Obama and twisting quotations. Initially Romney wanted the election to be purely a referendum on Obama, trying to avoid saying anything specific and hoping that anyone unhappy with the state of the economy would vote for Romney by default. Apparently too many people realize that the problem is Republican policies, not Barack Obama. Besides, despite the best efforts of Republicans to prevent this, there are signs the economy may be recovering. Choosing Ryan now means that Obama gets what he wanted–an election based upon a choice between two competing policies

Romney had hoped to keep his taxes and business experience off the table, but making such demands only makes him look like a cry baby. This might be a fair deal provided that Romney  stop making stuff up and stop trying to place the blame for the Bush Recession and Bush Deficit (which Ryan voted for) on Obama. Announcing the choice of Ryan (even if calling him the next president in error) will change the topic of discussion briefly. Unfortunately for Romney it might change the conversation in ways which do not help him. With the announcement of Romney/Ryan, Goldwater/Miller is no longer the most far right ticket in Republican history–and may they suffer the same fate. This ticket is also unique in not having a candidate with military or foreign policy experience, and in not having a Protestant.

As is usual for Romney, he has both backed the Ryan budget on several dates and has tried to distance himself from it. Now there will be no more successful shaking of the Etch-A-Sketch. Romney is attached to the Ryan budget and plans to destroy Medicare as we know it, regardless of his campaign talking points.  Ryan’s earlier attempts to privatize Social Security, which went beyond those of George W. Bush, may further harm the ticket. Florida, which has only been leaning slightly to Obama n recent polls, might wind up to be out of reach for the anti-Medicare boys.

Choosing Ryan calls into question any claims of having a running mate who is qualified to take over from day one. It also makes it difficult for Romney to continue to attack Obama for a lack of experience in the private sector. Ryan’s private sector experience is limited to summer jobs such as driving the Weinermobile as an Oscar Mayer salesman. He does have experience working as a Congressional aide, including for Sam Brownback. He also shares many of Brownback’s reactionary views.

Choosing Ryan might help Romney keep the election about the economy as opposed to other issues. There are even some on the left who, while disagreeing with Ryan, do say he is serious. James Fallows explained just how unserious Ryan’s economic proposals really are.  While Romney would prefer to keep the election centered on the economy, Ryan’s far right views will further alienate the ticket from women, as well as with reasonable individuals regardless of gender. For example, Ryan co-sponsored the Sanctity of Human Life Act, which declares that a fertilized egg “shall have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood,” effectively banning abortion and some forms of contraception. While in theory this should shore up the vote from the religious right, the ticket could also have problems with them. Ryan is a strong follower of  Ayn Rand, an ashiest who has written many things which would greatly offend the religious right.

Ryan’s major strength is that he does have the ability to make very bad ideas sound palatable. Democrats will be forced to respond with ideas of their own, defending what is necessary from government without the out-of-control spending which Republicans accuse them of. This could be an exercise which is good for the Democratic Party.

Romney/Ryan Versus Obama/Biden and Medicare/Social Security

Mitt Romney is going to announce his running mate on Saturday and his choice is widely believed to be Paul Ryan. Of course, being a Mormon, Romney reserves the right to pick additional running mates in the future. In choosing Ryan, Romney did not feel it was necessary to add a buffoon to the ticket as many former Republicans have including John McCain, George H. W. Bush, and Richard Nixon. After his recent trip abroad, Romney has demonstrated that he will fill that role  himself.

The choice of Ryan provides potential benefits for the Democrats. Having Ryan on the ticket will highlight the Republican budget which would destroy Medicare as we know it. Presumably Mitt Romney feels that too can be shaken away like a Etch-A-Sketch. Running on the same ideas which were proposed months earlier is a concept which is entirely foreign to Mitt Romney. Democrats would  benefit from this choice if this means Ryan will not be running for reelection to the House. This also provides further evidence of how Romney is afraid to buck the far right wing of the Republican Party, which is presumably why Romney is using the late Friday news dump to leak his choice.

For Romney, this offers the possibility of diverting attention from his income tax returns for a few days. No word as to whether Ryan will be releasing his tax returns. Ryan’s business experience will also offer a more reputable option compared to Romney’s years at Bain. Ryan previously worked as an Oscar Mayer salesman and drove the Weinermobile (not to be confused with what Anthony Weiner texted). All in all, this seems to be a true desperation move after falling behind Obama in the polls.

Updates: Checking Wisconsin law, I found that Ryan’s name will remain on the ballot and he will keep his house seat if he becomes Vice President. Should he win there will be a special election to fill his seat, provided the country survives that long. More on the choice of Paul Ryan in this post.

Meghan McCain on Porn and Big Boobs In Playboy

Meghan McCain on porn in a red state: ” Not to bring any particular politician into this discussion, but I always find it fascinating that the number one state per capita for downloading porn is Utah. All those pious Mormons and they’re drooling at their laptops all day.”

There’s more from McCain as she answered twenty questions for Playboy:

Q1

PLAYBOY: You’re a blogger and political columnist, as well as a conservative pundit in the liberal wilds on MSNBC. But aside from being John McCain’s daughter, why should we listen to you?

MCCAIN: Hey, I get it. People love me or hate me and there’s nothing in between. But I’ve been in politics literally my entire life. My mom was pregnant with me at the 1984 Republican convention. I was on my father’s campaign when I was 13. I’ve earned the right to be here and talk about it, and I’m not scared to get down and dirty. If people are mean, so be it.

Q2

PLAYBOY: Conservatives are as hard on you as liberals. Right-wing blogger Dan Riehl sniped that “this self-indulgent set of mega-breasts doesn’t belong anywhere near a TV studio commenting on anything.”

MCCAIN: Who says stuff like that? Some guys out there just can’t handle a woman with a strong opinion. And the quickest way to cut down a woman is to talk about her appearance. Do I care? No. Every guy I’ve ever dated and every boyfriend I’ve ever had—nobody ever complained about my body. And there are way more important things for me to do than obsess about my weight. We have an election going on, people!

Q3

PLAYBOY: You’ve dubbed the 2012 election cycle “the shitty sequel” to 2008.

MCCAIN: Can you argue with that? It’s just been so lame—so many debates, so much blather, so much oversaturation. Granted, my father is not running, so I’m biased, and we have an incumbent president, which changes things. But where’s the electricity? You’d think someone would rise up and tap the frustration and energy of the Occupy movement or the Tea Party, but it just hasn’t happened yet.

Q4

PLAYBOY: How can the GOP win in November?

MCCAIN: The Republicans need someone to excite younger people, independents, Hispanic voters and the disenfranchised. I think if Chris Christie is the vice presidential nominee we can change the weather and have a very good chance of beating Obama. I love that he’s no bullshit.

Q5

PLAYBOY: Visualize for a moment how America would be different had your dad won.

MCCAIN: Oh, Lord. You would have the craziest first daughter ever, who’d be making ridiculous headlines and hurting the administration every step of the way. That aside, I think Dad would have made an incredible president. The recession wouldn’t have been as bad as it is now. We wouldn’t be pulling troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq. I think morale in the military and in the country at large would be higher and we’d be much further on the road to recovery.

Q6

PLAYBOY: Do you have any tips for the offspring of campaigners on the election trail?

MCCAIN: Get sleep, be nice and shut up. I wasn’t always a peach to be around. I could have been nicer to the Secret Service and some staffers, and I voiced my opinion way too much. It’s really stressful, though. The day before Election Day, I almost overdosed on Xanax. I had gained a lot of weight. I went up four sizes thanks to Starbucks and Snickers. Obamamania was at its height. I ended up going to Sedona with my girlfriends. All we did was play Rock Band for days and days and eat and sleep and hang out in bed watching TV. I was done.

Q7

PLAYBOY: Say a little more about the hanging-out-in-bed-with-girlfriends part.

MCCAIN: Watch it, mister. My friends from home came over to support me, and we got in my parents’ big bed. They have this huge California king and we just stayed up eating ice cream. I’m not a lesbian, if that’s what you’re asking. I’d be the first person to tell the world I was gay. I’m not private about anything. I think you should live how you should live. But I’m strictly dickly. I can’t help it. I love sex and I love men.

Q8

PLAYBOY: So we shouldn’t read anything into your vocal support of same-sex marriage and the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” or how much you love Rachel Maddow and hang out with Tila Tequila?

MCCAIN: Honey, you’re nobody unless you have a gay rumor about you. I’ve been hit on by women from time to time, and it might simplify my life if I were gay, but no. Rachel and Tila are just great people. For me, it’s an issue of civil rights. Who people want to sleep with and who they want to love should not have anything to do with government politics at all. And if you see me in a gay bar, it’s only because they play the best music and my gay friends like to dance. Gay guys love me. It’s the big boobs and blonde hair.

Q9

PLAYBOY: Do you ever think twice about partying in public for fear it will show up on Gawker the next morning?

MCCAIN: Oh, I can’t live like that. I do get paranoid when I’m wearing low-cut dresses that somebody’s going to take a picture and put it on the internet and be like, “Meghan was showing off her breasts again.” But you know, showing a little cleavage can make a girl feel sexy too. Like Jessica Simpson says, if you got it, you should flaunt it once in a while. I’ve been pretty open about the fact that I like to go out and have a good time with friends. I’ve never done drugs, and I never would. So there’s that. But what am I supposed to do, stay in and read a book? I come from a family of whiskey drinkers. My brothers like to drink and have a good time. It’s America, man. There’s nothing wrong with going out and listening to music and having a little Jack and Coke.

Q10

PLAYBOY: Your mom’s family controls one of the largest beer distributors in the country. You must have had some blowout keg parties in high school.

MCCAIN: I didn’t, actually. I was very uncool in high school. When I interviewed Michele Bachmann, we bonded over the fact that we didn’t go to our senior proms. I went to this all-girls Catholic school. It was very strict. I was always challenging authority. I didn’t play sports in a world where sports meant everything. But the second I hit college, I started dating up a storm.

Q11

PLAYBOY: You once wrote, “Nothing kills my libido quite like discussing politics.”

MCCAIN: Oh my gosh. It’s so true. I went on a date, like, a week ago, and the guy just wanted to talk policy and strategy the entire time. Talk about a mood killer. I’m obsessed with this stuff, but it doesn’t put me in the mood. When I’m dating, I want to hear what music a guy likes, what he does for fun, and I want him to make me laugh. If he can make me laugh, I don’t care if he looks like Zach Galifianakis; it’s an instant turn-on.

Q12

PLAYBOY: Why do so many politicians get caught up in sex scandals?

MCCAIN: I always say repression breeds obsession. Politicians have to be goody-goodies. They put on this face of perfection and pretend they’re completely above indiscretion. But the more you deny your sexual side, the more it builds up and comes out in inappropriate ways. Not to bring any particular politician into this discussion, but I always find it fascinating that the number one state per capita for downloading porn is Utah. All those pious Mormons and they’re drooling at their laptops all day.

Q13

PLAYBOY: What’s the standout memory from your stint as an intern on Saturday Night Live?

MCCAIN: Ashlee Simpson kicking her dressing room door after getting caught lip-synching. That was interesting to watch. Mostly I remember being a sort of office slave, which was fine. I was an assistant to Lorne Michaels’s assistant, so I spent most of the day getting coffee and filling up the popcorn bucket. I think everybody should have a crappy internship so they realize what a bitch it is getting other people’s shit work done.

Q14

PLAYBOY: What’s cool about being famous?

MCCAIN: People don’t recognize me that much unless I’m with my dad. I look different without makeup on, and usually I wear beanies and big sweaters and look like I’m drunk all the time. I got good seats at the Republican convention last time and got to meet all the Palins.

Q15

PLAYBOY: Bristol Palin took shots at you and your mom in her memoir, saying, “I’ve never seen people with so much Louis Vuitton luggage, so many cell phones, and so many constant helpers to do hair and makeup.” What would you say if you bumped into her?

MCCAIN: I did bump into her at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, actually. I saw her across the room. That girl biffed it fast, totally took off. All that stuff she wrote was a total lie. I have, like, one Louis Vuitton purse. She’s just young and confused and was thrust into all this. The media aren’t kind to her. But once someone signs up for Dancing With the Stars, it’s hard to sympathize.

Q16

PLAYBOY: When can we expect Keeping Up With the McCains to air?

MCCAIN: Never! Hell would freeze over before I would do a reality show. I’ve been offered everything you could possibly imagine, and it just doesn’t interest me. You certainly won’t see me dancing on TV. I’m the worst. I have, like, two moves—the hair flip and the shoulder move and that’s it, baby.

Q17

PLAYBOY: And you’re still single?

MCCAIN: Oh my God, I love being single. I can do whatever the hell I want all the time. I have no one to check in with. When you’re in a serious relationship, you kind of have to check in before you go out with your friends or do whatever. I think I’m a bit of a commitment-phobe. Or maybe it’s just that I haven’t met the right guy. Dating’s okay, but guys can be weird. They think if they Google you and talk about stuff you’ve said, they get to make out with you at the end of the first date.

Q18

PLAYBOY: What’s up with your Hunter S. Thompson obsession? Wouldn’t he have hated your conservative views?

MCCAIN: I love, love, love Hunter. I read Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail in high school and loved his take on politics. I love the way he wrote with such disregard for authority and the status quo. I’ve been considering getting his quote “Buy the ticket, take the ride” tattooed on my body, but I haven’t decided. I told my friend, and she said it sounds really sexual, so we’ll see. But trust me, Hunter and I would have been fast friends. He was on Late Night With Conan O’Brien once and he was drinking whiskey and shooting guns. I appreciate both those things. We would have understood each other.

Q19

PLAYBOY: What’s your firearm of choice?

MCCAIN: I’m a big fan of Remington shotguns. They’re accurate and powerful and great for skeet shooting, which I love. My brother’s trying to convince me to get a revolver. A single girl can never be too careful, he says.

Q20

PLAYBOY: How often do you talk to your parents?

MCCAIN: Oh, every day. My mom calls me in the morning and wants to gossip about something. My dad watches every single thing I do on TV and will call either to talk about why some supercommittee failed or to say, “Oh, Meghan, why’d you say that?”

I’ll just attribute her comment on the recession not lasting as long as being a result of having an unrealistic view of the abilities of her father. I do have a question regarding her answer to question 8.  “Gay guys love me. It’s the big boobs and blonde hair.” Is that really what attracts gays? That sounds no different from straight guys.

Debbie Stabenow And Other Democratic Senators Looking More Likely To Be Reelected

One result of the fall in popularity among Republicans in the midwest since the 2010 elections is that Democratic Senators who had previously appeared vulnerable in 2012 now have a far greater chance of winning. Michigan has been listed as a toss-up state in the fight for control of the Senate in 2012, but Debbie Stabenow’s chances for reelection now appear much stronger. Public Policy Polling reports:

The biggest beneficiaries of the Midwestern backlash toward newly elected Republican Governors might be the Democratic Senators up for reelection in those states next year. Earlier this month we found Herb Kohl and Sherrod Brown in pretty solid shape for reelection in Wisconsin and Ohio respectively, and now Debbie Stabenow’s standing is looking much improved from when PPP last polled Michigan in early December.

Stabenow’s net approval rating has improved six points to +7 (46/39) from its +1 standing (41/40) in early December. More importantly she now leads all of the Republicans we tested against her by double digits. She’s up 10 on former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land at 48-38, 12 on former Congressman Pete Hoekstra at 50-38, 17 on former state GOP chair Saul Anuzis at 52-35, and 19 on announced candidate Randy Hekman at 52-33. The numbers against Land and Hoekstra are most telling because we also tested them against Stabenow in December. Stabenow is now doing 6 points better against Land, having led by only 4 at 45-41 on the previous poll. And she’s doing 11 points better against Hoekstra, having led by just a single point at 45-44 on the original survey.

Democrats shouuld do much better in 2012 than in 2010 as the electorate will more closely resemble that of 2008 with more young voters and minorities turning out to vote. Another advantage will be having Barack Obama on the top of the ticket. While a lot can still change, today’s polls show Obama easily beating any generic Republican. Considering the weakness which the Republican candidates have, any actual Republican candidate is likely to do even worse than the generic candidate.

Will The Pundits Be Wrong Tomorrow?

With so many pundits predicting the Republicans will pick up something in the neighborhood of 55 House seats we might have the pleasure of seeing those who follow the pack turn out to be wrong. Of course it is possible that, even if all the pundits are way off, it could be in either direction.

The polls show a pretty close split between support for each party but Republicans are expected to have much better turn out. If the polls are wrong about this their predictions can be way off. The polls also show that many of the people who say they will vote Republican are closer to the Democrats on the issues and even have a lower opinion of the Republicans than the Democrats. Perhaps these will be the ones who stay home, or maybe even change their minds in the privacy of the voting booth.

Democrats might do better than Republicans if their get out the vote effort is significantly better than that of the Republicans–as it generally is. Some polls underestimate Democratic support if they leave out younger voters who only have cell phones, but enough polls which included cell phones still suggest Republican gains to count on this effect.

High turn out might mean that the Democrats will do better than expected, especially if younger voters who are not expected to vote actually do turn out. On the other hand, a large turn out might mean that more people are turning out to vote against the party in power, oblivious to which party actually created the problems.

The Democrats might turn out to lose thirty seats less than predicted and hold the House. It is also possible in a wave election for all the close races (along with some considered safe for Democrats) to go Republican leading to the GOP picking up 80 or more seats, and possibly the Senate.

Jeb Bush has an analysis which is partially right:

“The looming victories for Republican candidates next Tuesday is not a validation of the Republican Party at all,” former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida said in an interview. Instead, he argued, they would reflect “a repudiation of the massive overreach” by Mr. Obama and Democrats and “disgust with the political class” for its failure to cooperate and deliver results.

He is right that victories would not be a validation for the GOP considering the low opinion that most polled show of the party, along with more people supporting Democratic than Republican positions. People are disgusted with the political class, again oblivious to the degree to which the Republicans have intentionally blocked progress in for political gain. Voters are repudiating what they perceive as a massive overreach, but this is more a sign of the success of Republican spin. Republicans were successful in preventing voters from realizing the degree to which the stimulus was a success. Republicans were also successful in distorting health care reform, fooling many into believing it was a massive government takeover of health care as opposed to a relatively moderate attempt to reduce the power of the insurance companies.

Regardless of what happens tomorrow, voters have short memories. This year the Democrats are vulnerable as they are the ones who must defend the swing districts where they won in the last two cycles. Big Republican gains this year might just create more seats for the Democrats to pick up in two years when they have Barack Obama leading the ticket, and hopefully an improved economy.

Protests Over Profiteering At Tea Party Convention

The Tea Party movement is a scam–both intellectually and financially. Intellectually the tea baggers spread the talking points of the far right with simplistic views on the issues based upon a lack of understanding of the facts. Besides taking advantage of the ignorance of the tea baggers to promote their political agenda, some leaders of the movement are also using this for financial gain as I recently discussed. Even some in the Tea Party movement are catching on:

A Tea Party convention billed as the coming together of the grass-roots groups that began sprouting up around the country a year ago is unraveling as sponsors and participants pull out to protest its expense and express concerns about “profiteering.”

The convention’s difficulties highlight the fractiousness of the Tea Party groups, and the considerable suspicions among their members of anything that suggests the establishment.

The convention, to be held in Nashville in early February, made a splash by attracting big-name politicians. (Former Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska is scheduled to deliver the keynote speech.) But some groups have criticized the cost — $549 per ticket and a $9.95 fee, plus hotel and airfare — as out of reach for the average tea partier. And they have balked at Ms. Palin’s speaking fee, which news reports have put at $100,000, a figure that organizers will not confirm or deny…

Philip Glass, the national director of the National Precinct Alliance, announced late Sunday that “amid growing controversy” around the convention, his organization would no longer participate. His group seeks to take over the Republican Party from the bottom by filling the ranks of local and state parties with grass-roots conservatives, and Mr. Glass had been scheduled to lead workshops on its strategy.

“We are very concerned about the appearance of T.P.N. profiteering and exploitation of the grass-roots movement,” he said in a statement. “We were under the impression that T.P.N. was a nonprofit organization like N.P.A., interested only in uniting and educating Tea Party activists on how to make a real difference in the political arena.”

Mr. Glass said he was also concerned about the role in the convention of groups like Tea Party Express, which has held rallies across the country through two bus tours, and FreedomWorks, a Tea Party umbrella. He called them “Republican National Committee-related groups,” and added, “At best, it creates the appearance of an R.N.C. hijacking; at worst, it is one.”

Erick Erickson, the editor of the influential conservative blog RedState.com, wrote this month that something seemed “scammy” about the convention. And the American Liberty Alliance withdrew as a sponsor after its members expressed concerns about the convention’s finances being channeled through private bank accounts and its organizer being “for profit.”

“When we look at the $500 price tag for the event and the fact that many of the original leaders in the group left over similar issues, it’s hard for us not to assume the worst,” Eric Odom, the executive director of the American Liberty Alliance and an organizer of the tax day rallies last April, wrote on the group’s Web site.

More commentary via MemeorandumThe Atlantic Politics Channel, Washington Monthly, Top of the Ticket, Mother Jones, Wonkette, The Politico, Politics Daily and The Monkey Cage