Trump’s Unprecedented Abuse of Power

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Trump Shows That There Is No Emergency

Abuse of Presidential Powers

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Independents Prefer Sanders, Gabbard, And Trump Over Establishment Democrats

Trump’s Incoherence On Foreign Policy

The Lesser Evil

Blogging In The Age Of Social Media

The blog has been far less active the last several months. This has largely been due to the effects of social media on the blogosphere. Social media has made blogs near obsolete, and has cut tremendously into traffic.  The days are long gone with a small blog like this can regularly draw in traffic exceeding 10,000 viewers, and will probably never return.

For a while social media and blogs could be used together, using Facebook to drive blog traffic to make up for some of the lost viewers. However, thanks to Russiagate-inspired censorship of social media, a Facebook post with a link to a blog post will receive far less viewership on Facebook, leading to a situation where I now get more readers by posting brief items on Facebook as opposed to longer material on the blog. Therefore, as a combination of these realities, and being busy on other matters, I have been using Facebook far more for politics the last several months.

The nature of many of the political disputes of the last few months have also had an impact. Blog posts opposing Trump receive very little attention simply because there is an abundance of anti-Trump material in the mainstream as well as other blogs. Blogs are of greatest value in discussing topics which receive too little attention from the mainstream media.

As we enter the primary battles, this could change. The mainstream media concentrates on the horse race as opposed to the issues, and there will be far more to discuss in comparing the candidates. Blog posts also provide greater ability to utilize longer posts and include multiple links.

I recently thought to try doing matters backwards–instead of posting blog posts on Facebook, primarily posting the links and short comments from Facebook here on the blog, using Facebook’s embed feature. This also enables readers to click through to see the discussions on Facebook. I tried this in the previous post, starting to use a quick blurb as a post, and then proceeded to add some brief additional material.

I am going proceed to add some links back to some other recent Facebook items which remain relevant, and in the future probably continue with a combination of such links as well as posts which are preferable originating on a blog.

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Discovery Returns; The Orville; AOC Quotes Watchmen; Donald Trump and Batman; Possible West Wing Revival

Star Trek: Discovery returned last week, following a final Short Trek staring Rainn Wilson reprising his role as Harry Mudd. Brother was more in line with traditional Star Trek compared to the last season, with Christopher Pike making it clear he was not Captain Lorca. Spock was central to the episode, but we only saw young Spock, living in a home inspired by Marie Kondo. Young Spock definitely displayed human emotion in showing jealousy towards a new adopted sibling.

The episode will please some who felt season one strayed from what they see as true Star Trek, but not everyone will be happy. The technology continued to look like it was far beyond what we saw in The Original Series, and possibly Next Generation, which is inevitable for a show produced in the twenty-first century as opposed the nineteen sixties. Another huge break from canon was that the officer in the blue shirt was killed as opposed to the one in the red shirt, but Connelly’s death was clearly foreshadowed.

It took until the second season, but we finally found out that members of the Discovery bridge crew actually do have names. Elsewhere on the ship it is suggested that  Stamets is leaving, but I suspect that we might never see his transfer to teach at  the Vulcan Science Academy actually take place. Whether or not he leaves, a new engineer, Jett Reno (played by Tig Notaro), was introduced, who fits more into the mode of ship engineer who can do miracles.

We have not seen adult Spock yet, but I suspect that this might not come for a while, as the season searches for both Spock and the Red Angel. Nor have we seen Rebecca Romjin as Number One. In an interview with Romjin at TrekMovie.com, she said she is not allowed to say when she will first appear. While it might not be her first appearance, I noted that the picture above was labeled as DSC 204. She also had this to say about the character:

What characteristics did you bring to Number One as a person?

Romijn: Well you know, she was only in that one episode. So as an actor, you want a certain amount of liberty to help a character unfold, obviously. She’s got a vast skill set, she’s obviously Captain Pike’s number one, second in command, he feels comfortable leaving her in charge of the Enterprise when he’s not there. I don’t even think we know how vast her skill set is, I think there’s a lot of exploration to do. She knows her shit. I want her to be a little bit of a fast-talking dame, in a way. It was fun. It was really fun to play her.

Do you have scenes with characters other than Pike?

Romijn: Yes. Yes I do.

Can you tell us which ones?

Romijn: No! I feel so scared to reveal anything, like … the number of letters we’ve gotten and emails, I was scared to post anything on Instagram. I can’t say anything.

More on the relationship between Pike and Number one at TV Guide:  “I think that Captain Pike relies on Number One in a very deep way. I think they’re very close. I think she’s got the skill set that he depends on,” she says. “I think that he would feel confident leaving the ship in her hand if he had to and there’s room to explore it further.”

Alex Kurtzman discussed the episode with The Hollywood Reporter:

Discovery season one seemed like a declarative end of a chapter with the Federation-Klingon war coming to its conclusion. Why did you choose to start the second chapter by bringing in the Enterprise, considering its notoriety?

We discover in season one that Michael has a relationship with Spock. The mystery of why Spock, who we’ve known for over 50 years, has never mentioned his sister, is huge. It felt like there was no way we were going to be able to answer that question in one or two episodes. It was easily going to be the substance of a whole season. This season is a deep-dive into that relationship and what went wrong, their history and where they’re headed. That excited me. It’s the unwritten chapter of how Spock became the character that we meet in the original series. We’ll come to understand that were it not for his relationship with Michael, many of the things we know and love about Spock may not have flowered in the way that they did.

What prompted your characterization of Pike, considering what the audience has seen of him in other depictions?

He’s established as a pretty specific figure in [the original series episodes] “The Menagerie” and “The Cage.” And obviously, I have Bruce Greenwood in my mind from my work on the J.J. Abrams movies. Everybody thinks of Pike as a noble, just and kind captain. It felt right that in the wake of a captain like Lorca who was so manipulative and wreaked havoc on the ship, we needed a captain who was 180 degrees in the other direction. It felt like an interesting and different take, a new flavor for the show.

The episode primarily focuses on Pike attempting to solidify his dynamic with the characters aboard Discovery. How did you find the beats of seeking out that trust from both ends of the relationship?

Pike sat out the war. We’re going to learn a lot more about that over the course of the season. He sat out the war because he was ordered to, and that created a big problem for him. He had to sit there and watch many of his friends and colleagues die, and feel entirely helpless in the process. He’s a captain who wants to make up for lost time, who wants to correct an error. It was hard for him to watch all these people die, and that’s a huge part of what drives him. If a character were to caution him to slow down, that would be very difficult for him. I think that’s where we will see him find tension with this crew. It’s not because he’s manipulating him; it’s because there may be a difference in procedure. As a captain, you have to make difficult decisions that may require allowing certain members of your crew to be at risk to save others. “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”

Let’s talk about the introduction of this mystery of the seven signals, as well as the “Red Angel.” These were both featured prominently in the trailers leading up to the premiere and served as a crucial part of the episode as well. How did you come up with these mystical enigmas?

Initially, it started as a conversation about the way in which Trek has dealt with the issue of space vs. science. Gene Roddenberry had a very specific take on religion as it relates to Star Trek. In the original series, religion doesn’t exist. Yet, faith is something that has always been a major topic in different ways. The idea of this mystery that has no answer immediately suggests a presence or force greater than anything anyone has ever known. It was intriguing to us. The other reason for the Red Angel was that it sheds specific light on Spock’s dilemma at that point in his life. Spock has, as we all know, a unique relationship to logic. And logic fails him in dealing with the Red Angel. He doesn’t know whether to turn to logic or emotions to solve the mystery. The only way he can work through it is with his sister, to whom he has a very complicated relationship. It felt like a really wonderful way to get them to have to wrestle with each other over a larger mystery.

CBS All Access confirmed yet another spin-off series earlier this month with Michelle Yeoh to star, concentrating on Captain Georgiou’s role in Section 31. This will also be seen during the second season of Discovery. From the announcement:

CBS All Access today announced plans to further expand the “Star Trek” universe with a newlive-action series in development starring Michelle Yeoh. The series will expand on Yeoh’s current role as a member of Starfleet’s Section 31 division, a shadow organization within the Federation, on STAR TREK: DISCOVERY, which debuts its second season Thursday, Jan. 17 exclusively on CBS All Access in the U.S., and is distributed concurrently by CBS Studios International on Netflix in 188 countries and in Canada on Bell Media’s Space channel and OTT service CraveTV.

The series will be produced by CBS Television Studios, Secret Hideout and Roddenberry Entertainment. Alex Kurtzman, Heather Kadin, Rod Roddenberry and Trevor Roth will serve as executive producers. Aaron Baiers will serve as co-executive producer along with Bo Yeon Kim, and Erika Lippoldt will also write the series.

“Michelle has shattered ceilings, broken boundaries, and astonished us with her grace and gravitas for decades. As a human, I adore her. As an actor, I revere her,” said Alex Kurtzman. “Erika and Boey are remarkable, exciting writers who bring a fresh perspective to the world of ‘Star Trek,’ and we’re all thrilled to explore the next wild chapter in the life of Captain Philippa Georgiou.”

“I’m so excited to continue telling these rich ‘Star Trek’ stories,” said Michelle Yeoh. “Being a part of this universe and this character specifically has been such a joy for me to play. I can’t wait to see where it all goes – certainly I believe it will go ‘where no WOMAN has ever gone before!’”

Michelle Yeoh is recognized as one of the greatest and the most successful actresses from the east. She can most recently be seen starring in John M. Chu’s romantic comedy “Crazy Rich Asians,” and in CBS’ STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. The former Bond girl is best known for her roles in Ang Lee’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and its sequel, Rob Marshall’s “Memoirs of a Geisha,” Roger Spottiswoode’s “Tomorrow Never Dies”and Danny Boyle’s “Sunshine.” Michelle also starred in Luc Besson’s critically acclaimed “The Lady” and voiced a role in the DreamWorks animated hit “Kung Fu Panda 2.”

The development of this new untitled series is the latest expansion of the “Star Trek” franchise. In addition to the hit original series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY, returning with season two on Thursday, Jan. 17, and STAR TREK: SHORT TREKS, a series of short stories tied to STAR TREK: DISCOVERY and the overall “Star Trek” universe, CBS has announced a new untitled “Star Trek” series featuring Sir Patrick Stewart, reprising his iconic role as Jean-Luc Picard, as well as its first animated series, STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS, developed by Emmy Award winner Mike McMahan (“Rick and Morty”).

The Orville has also returned for its second season, last week returning to tie up a loose end from a first season episode. We are left to wonder if Billy Joel music will help promote peace. Earlier there was an episode centered around Alara, which ended with Halston Sage leaving the show. They did leave room for a future return. Jessica Szohr has been announced to be joining the cast. There is no word if Seth MacFarlane will be dating her, but there was an announcement last week that Scott Grimes and Adrianne Palicki are engaged.

In other genre and media news, following an attack from Joe Lieberman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez quoted Rorschach from Watchmen.

On the other hand, last month we learned from Christian Bale that Donald Trump seemed to really think he was Bruce Wayne:

While filming a Batman scene in Trump Tower, Christian Bale got the chance to meet Donald Trump. “We were filming on Batman in Trump Tower and he said, ‘Come on up to the office,’” Bale told Variety at the premiere of the Dick Cheney biopic Vice. “I think he thought I was Bruce Wayne because I was dressed as Bruce Wayne,” he joked.

Bale said he tried to go along with it, but found it odd. “He talked to me like I was Bruce Wayne and I just went along with it, really. It was quite entertaining. I had no idea at the time that he would think about running for president.”

That isn’t the most dangerous delusion which Trump has.

Richard Schiff has spoken about a possible reboot of The West Wing.

Trump Threatens Press

If the White House Press Corps had any balls, they’d all stop showing up for the orchestrated press briefings in response to a threat like this and resort to real reporting to cover Trump in the disrespectful manner he deserves.

Trump Threatens to Retaliate Against Reporters Who Don’t Show ‘Respect’

President Trump said on Friday that he might revoke the credentials of additional White House reporters if they did not “treat the White House with respect,” lobbing another threat at the news media two days after his administration effectively blacklisted the CNN correspondent Jim Acosta.

Asked how long Mr. Acosta’s pass would be suspended, Mr. Trump replied: “As far as I’m concerned, I haven’t made that decision. But it could be others also.”

The president made his comments while speaking with reporters on the South Lawn before boarding Marine One.

“When you’re in the White House, this is a very sacred place for me, a very special place,” Mr. Trump said as he left Washington for a brief jaunt to Paris. “You have to treat the White House with respect. You have to treat the presidency with respect.”

The removal of Mr. Acosta’s credential, after a tense news conference on Wednesday when the CNN correspondent aggressively questioned Mr. Trump, has raised alarms among press freedom groups that say the president is encroaching on journalists’ basic right to cover the government…

Democrats Slap Donald Trump On the Wrist In the Midterms

The midterms were a mixed success for the Democrats in 2018. Most notably the Democrats took control of the House, but unfortunately this probably means Nancy Peolsi returns as Speaker. They also regained about three hundred of the near one thousand seats in state legislatures they lost over the past decade, have a majority of state attorney generals in the nation, and won some key governorship battles, especially in the midwest. On the other hand, despite a Republican president as terrible as Donald Trump, their midterm gains in the House were historically not terribly impressive for the party out of power, and they did poorly in the high profile battles in the Senate. (I’m waiting to hear Rachel Maddow explain why the Russians meddled in the Senate races but not the House races this year.)

This was far more a slap on the wrist than a shallacking for Donald Trump.

The Senate map was undoubtedly very unfavorable for Democrats, but it will be so virtually every year as long as Democrats are unable to come up with a message to win in the smaller states beyond the east coast. The system of giving two Senators to each state regardless of size makes the Senate extraordinarily unrepresentative. Still, don’t be tempted to repeat the memes showing up since the election regarding winning the popular vote. They are misleading as the entire nation did not vote for Senate, and this can be tilted by which states do vote. This was especially true in 2018 as California had two Democrats running for Senate due to a system where the two leaders in the primary get on the November ballot regardless of party. This leads to a tremendous number of Democratic votes if the mythical Senate popular vote is counted, but only one Democratic Senator.

Democrats are always far quicker to list off the problems which make it more difficult to win than to change their strategy. They showed once again that moving to the right in the hopes of attracting Republican votes does not work. Nor did recruiting veterans help them do any better than expected. I would prefer to see Democrats be more consistent in supporting a reduction in  the role of government in the private lives of individuals–an attitude which might make defense of reproductive rights part of a consistent philosophy that might be accepted in the more libertarian minded portions of the country. Taking a rational anti-war line, as opposed to acting as if they are apologizing for appearing weak on national security, might also help in those areas which are hurt by perpetual warfare–and rejected Hillary Clinton in 2016.

This does note mean that the Democrats don’t have many valid complaints, including regarding voter suppression and gerrymandering. Some of the election results will help, including increasing their strength in several state governments before the next redistricting. While the high profile races in Florida did not turn out as hoped (how badly did campaigning with Hillary Clinton hurt Andrew Gillum?), but there was a victory in passing a ballot initiative to restore voting rights to convicted felons who have served their time.

While Democrats continued to struggle in Florida and Ohio, their hopes for Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin being more blue in 2018 look favorable after Tuesday’s results, including the defeat of Scott Walker in Wisconsin. Besides possibly giving the Democrats their electoral votes again in 2020, there might be an increased number of representatives as the heavily gerrymandered system of drawing Congressional districts will be replaced by an independent redistricting commission in Michigan.

Other ballot proposals passing in Michigan will make it easier to vote and legalized marijuana for recreational use. Newly elected Governor Gretchen Whitmer is looking at legislation or issuing executive orders to free prisoners convicted for marijuana related charges which will no longer be crimes after the ballot proposal passed. I did hold my nose and vote for Whitmer, despite her reliance on dark money and financing by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Action such as this will make me happier that I did so. A judge has already put some new marijuana cases on hold.

Medicaid expansion passed in Idaho, Nebraska, and Utah, and is also expected in Kansas due to the victory for a Democratic governor. While there is no chance of it becoming law imminently, there are also more Democratic supporters of Medicare for All in the House.

There were victories for various groups. The media has covered extensively how there are more women and people of color in the House. In addition, seven more scientists were elected to the House–all Democrats as the Republican war on science continues.

It remains to be seen how some issues will play out now that the midterms are over. Are we still supposed to be terrified by the caravan? Donald Trump quickly took advantage of having control of the Senate by firing Jeff Sessions.  I never would have guessed that I would see this as a bad thing when Sessions first became Attorney General. On the one hand, Sessions might have been the worst Attorney General in history. On the other hand, Sessions was absolutely right in his dispute with Trump in recusing himself from Mueller’s investigation, and his firing could be a sign that Trump plans to take action against Mueller. I suspect that Mueller has prepared for this by being ready to turn over evidence of financial crimes committed by Trump and his cronies to state prosecutors. Congressional Democrats will also be able to take over the investigation if needed. Hopefully they concentrate on Trump’s financial crimes and obstruction of justice, as opposed to the dubious conspiracy theories popular among many Democrats blaming Russia for Hillary Clinton’s loss.