Thursday, September 29, 2016

"Days of our Lives" seems to near an end as crime group mounts an ISIS-like terror attack on Salem

Days of our Lives” has indeed taken to killing off characters.

True, Hope killed Stefano (after he called her a “coward” – he resigns his life by falling on a chessboard and knocking over a king), but good guys (like Will Horton) went, too.  And now a criminal syndicate have surrounded Salem as if it were a terror group.  It attacks the power plant, shutting down the grid (like an attack in California in 2013), kidnaps young adults, hacks the police station’s public broadcast and plants a hit man to take out the police chief.  In the mean time, looting ravages Salem.

Maybe this is nearing the end.  There is nothing honorable about having your life bargained for, or playing victim.  I have to say, whatever the silliness of his antics, Donald Trump understands this.

  The new domestic terror attack seems to say that people who “don’t play ball” but just watch will just disappear and be forgotten.  It’s a disturbing, offensive message.

Sonny has come back, and again he can’t keep his chest hair on.  The interesting thing is that the show has become quite p.c. on LGBT issues, as if now they are on the background, while eliminating so many of its characters.  The saga seems near an end.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

"The Choice 2016": PBS Frontline intersperses Clinton, Trump

On Tuesday, September 27, 2016, PBS Frontline aired “The Choice 2016”, a documentary exploring the “past lives” of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.  Here’s the basic link..

The young Hillary looks like a hippie or geek, almost, working on Watergate, learning how to defend secrets (which makes the email scandal seem more perplexing.)  The documentary relates how Hillary failed the DC Bar, but passed the Arkansas bar, so she went back home to her boyfriend Bill, who looks surprisingly youthful compared to what we’ve gotten used to.

But eventually it covers the 1992 election, and her Health Care Bus in 1993, with the energetic demonstrations in the hinterlands by those who believe in taking care of only their own.

The documentary intersperses this narrative with Donald Trump’s (in comparison to CNN, which presented them separately), and focuses especially on Trump’s upbringing in luxury in Queens by real estate mogul Fred.  Trump wound up in military school because he was a discipline problem at home, and seemed to thrive.  For most of his career, winning was his own virtue.


On Jan. 3, 2017, PBS reran the Trump portion, slightly updated for the election win, narrated by Jim Gilmore, directed by Michael Kirk. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Clinton blows out Trump in debate, as Trump desperately keeps interrupting her; what will polls find now?

OK, Hillary Clinton won the 95-minute debate last night at Hofstra University, New York. NBC anchor Lester Holt, who, remember had replaced Brian Williams on Nightly News after “exaggeration-gate”, did a steady job as the lecture hall professor asking the oral exam questions.  NBC’s summary is here.   I actually watched in in a bar on CNN (“You love your own reality”, like a witch – story and videos ).

Trump kept on interrupting Clinton, and spoke for about five minutes later.  Jack Andraka (Stanford University “undergraduate” cancer researcher) wrote “reminds me of a painful holiday dinner with distant relatives  -- yelling over me doesn’t make you right.”

The climatic moment came at the end when Trump said “I have a winning temperament”, hesitating before saying the word the way he chokes on the “Q” of “LGBTQ”.  It's as if temperament is as permanent as leg hair.

Clinton did have full stamina during the debate.

Trump also kept on saying the word “bad”.   It’s as if he’s seen the famous viral tweet of popular NYC musician Timo Andres about one’s whole life output being a “process piece that gets progressively less bad”.  Yes, I think Trump saw that tweet and it sticks in his mind.  But Hillary Clinton, besides talking about the “basket of deplorables” in the past (not last night), I think one time inadvertently quoted a key line of the movie “Judas Kiss”:  “Most people walk in the direction they’re headed.”

As for that movie, Shane Lyons really is no “gay Donald Trump.”  True, he gets what he wants (Danny).  Shane is not exactly the conquistador that Trump imagines himself to be. It’s Trump who is the real bad boy.

Trump did make some valid points about currency manipulation and the loss of jobs to China and Mexico.  (Is he going where Porter Stansberry wants to take us with talk about losing status as reserve currency). Hillary didn’t completely answer him.  And there is a significant electorate in swing states that just wants that old way of life with manufacturing jobs back.  But the new jobs should be in making cars, tech components, and especially in new power grid components (which I wish the candidates would talk about explicitly).  We need to make more of our transformers at home for national security reasons.

Clinton mentioned paid family leave, without saying how to pay for it except with higher taxes on the rich.

She also discounted claims that "stop and frisk" is necessary to reduce crime in large cities.  In New York City, it was stopped by Di Blasio, but crime did not go back up when it was stopped.  And the policy never recovered many guns (Tom Foreman, CNN).  Clinton wants to prohibit people on no-fly lists from buying guns.
Trump said he would release his tax returns, against legal advice, when Hillary releases her deleted emails, which have nothing to do with taxes.

The debate on national security did not get as specific as it might have.  Clinton noted that NATO members have one another’s backs and had ours after 9/11.  (Germany helped fly patrols over the US.) There was not the detail on cybersecurity or Internet recruiting of terrorists that there might have been.

Trump has also drawn flak today for his treatment of a former Miss Universe who then gained a lot of weight.  His behavior has existential implications for the stability of all adult intimate relationships, and says a lot about resilience. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Hosts on "The View" get blunt about race

The women on ABC’s View today was rather blunt on race.

I think it was Sunny Hostin who said, “Listen to my experience as a black woman in America, and don’t just say, stop talking about It:”.

But Whoopi Goldberg said, that isn’t enough. “Admit that there is a problem.”

Clay Aiken (white and gay) tried to mediate.  But Joy Behar said, “If you’re white, you have an advantage.”  It’s like home-field advantage in baseball.  Or is it like making the first move in a chess game.

They skirted across the surface then.  Some realtors just don’t show some houses or apartments to black applicants.  Job applicants with “black names” don’t get as many callbacks.  Blacks are hired for less money (and sometimes so are single or childless people).

And yet Obama is president.

I do remember a black coworker in the 1990s saying he was training his son how to deal with discrimination and with the police.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

ABC's "Designated Survivor" supposes a decapitation of the entire US government

Wednesday night, ABC launched the pilot of a controversial political and disaster thriller, “Designated Survivor”, created by David Guggenheim, directed by Paul McGuigan.    ABC’s link is here.

Kiefer Sutherland plays the HUD secretary Tom Kirkman in the Cabinet, who has just been “fired” at the beginning of a president’s second term and offered an ambassadorship. Right before the State of the Union speech, Kirkman is hustled into a bunker and told he is the “designated survivor” in case of attack.

As he watches the speech, the Capitol is bombed and all of Congress and the rest of the administration is killed.   A mild-mannered Kirkman takes over (after taking the oath of office and almost immediately vomiting) and then decides he wants to challenge the hawkish generals and stay “in power”.

There is a mushroom cloud, but there's no mention so far of nuclear weapons or radiation fallout.  A second bomb is found and it is said to be an elaborate device used in Afghanistan.

There’s not much attention yet to what the nation faces. Maybe something like martial law.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

"Flashpoint: Refugees in America" on ABC Nightline: David Muir covers a Syrian family in California facing backlash out of fear

ABC Nightline aired a 19-minute report “Flashpoint: Refugees in America” late Tuesday, Sept. 20, with a preview (with investigative reporter David Muir) on World News Tonight.  The link to watch (requires cable provider login) is here.

The documentary film showed a Syrian family settling in southern California, in an apartment, getting some assistance from volunteers and social services, and then focused on a girl going to kindergarten or first grade class.  Since I have worked as a substitute teacher, I’m familiar with the way kids often sit on rugs in class in lower grades.  The female teacher was very sympathetic and talked in “baby talk” explaining the country of the new pupil.  (She did not need to say to Gary Johnson, “Aleppo is in Syria.”)

The documentary moves ahead three months to the Paris attacks on 2015/11/13.  The townspeople start to become suspicious of refugees, while right-wing political candidates, especially Donald Trump talk about sending everyone back.  Obviously, the Syrian family would get very frightened. Muir interviews people who pose existential questions as to how much risk individual Americans should take to help others overseas.  There is definitely a sentiment, if you want to help people, take care of your own first.

Muir then travels to Jordan, where he reports on how the US State Department vets the refugees who may be let in.

The last section of the documentary shows the girl getting an award (“Spartan”) for proficiency in ESL form the school.

Wikipedia attribution link for picture from Azraq Refugee Camp, Jordan, by Ewan Stoves, under CCSA 2.0

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

CNN's "Almost President: The Agony of Defeat"

Tonight, CNN presented the one hour documentary “Almost President: The Agony of Defeat”, link  Is it really that agonizing if you even won the nomination?

The film covered Mitt Romney’s loss in 2012 (after he derided the “47%” as welfare moochers in a private but recorded conversation), as well as John McCain’s 2008 loss (with Sarah Palin).  But the most remarkable loss may have been Michael DuKakas in 1988, in an election that was supposed to be about competence. Dukakis was seen as not human enough when he reacted to a hypothetical question about his wife, after he let out a former murdered.

The documentary briefly covered Gore’s loss to Bush n 2000, but Gore went on to make “An Inconvenient Truth” and win a Pulitzer Prize.
Bill Clinton would , however, not taste defeat, as he would defeat George H W. Bush just two years after the Persian Gulf War, when a recession ensued.  Bush’s problems started in January 1992 when he vomited into the lap of the president of Japan at a state dinner, before the meat course.  I remember hearing about that right as I got up and got ready for work.  It was so embarrassing.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

The Hexagonal Satellite from the 1970s depicted on CNN Declassified

A episode of CNN's "Declassified" on Sept. 4 maintains "This Spy Satellite May Have Prevented WWIII" and maintains that the 1970s Hexagonal satellite was better than Google Earth.

Much of this work was done while I was working for NAVCOSSACT in Washington in 1971-1972.  Intelligence definitely affected the SALT talks toward the end of the Nixon years.

The engineering work was incredibly detailed, and most professionals had few projects on their resumes, as the satellites had to work perfectly the first time in space.

Monday, September 05, 2016

CNN: "Unfinished Business: The Essential Hillary Clinton" and "ALL Business: The Essential Donald Trump"

“CNN Presents” and CNN Films presented two documentary biographies of the two major presidential candidates Labor Day night.

Unfinished Business: The Essential Hillary Clinton”, aired on CNN Labor Day evening 8-10 PM as a biography of candidate for president Hillary Clinton.

Her upbringing in a white suburb of Chicago was covered, including the wide street intersection where kids played “back yard baseball” the way we did in the 1950s in real back yards.  Manhole covers served as bases and there was no outfield fence (we had one).  The field must have been much smaller than old Comiskey Park.

Her meeting with young Bill is covered, as was her internship and employment in the days of Watergate and hunting down Richard Nixon. Bill is shown with a big beard in one scene, a bizarre contrast to his completely hairless body.

The documentary covers her running for president in the primaries of 2008. In 2016. It covers he surprise at the rise of Bernie Sanders.

Hillary Clinton is the first female nominee of a major party for president of the United States.
The coverage of the email server scandal is rather superficial.

The broadcast was followed at 10 PM with “All Business: The Essential Donald Trump” which would surely cover “The Apprentice” and Omarosa (and maybe Troy McClain?)  CNN’s press release link for the two presentations is here.

The documentary starts with Fred Trump. Donald’s father, who changed the skyscape of Brooklyn and Queens. Fred was a workaholic who did not take kids to Yankees’ games. Donald learned to play soccer.  He also got in trouble in school and spent time in detention, and wound up in military school.

“Life is a competition, to the death.  There is only winning.”

Fred’s racial discrimination in renting apartments is covered.

Trump says he doesn’t drink or smoke.

The report covered the way Trump handled the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, which involved incredible risk taking.  Trump would be threatened with bankruptcy in 1990, but would be allowed to remain his own salesman.

Trump found he could make back tremendous profits by merely licensing his brand name to other properties and products.

But his run for president may have effectively started in 2004 with his breakthrough on reality TV with "The Apprentice."  At first, he wasn't going to be the only CEO.  On about the fourth episode in 2004, about negotiation, candidate Troy McClain allowed his legs to be waxed at a beauty salon, a fact mentioned by Trump in his book "How to Get Rich".