Sunday, June 30, 2019

TV: Emerging truths

Telling the truth can be hard.  We were fearful of watching GRAND HOTEL, ABC's new summer series from Eva Longoria.  Yes, we'd like to see Eva succeed as a producer and MOTHER UP! and TELENOVA haven't brought success yet.  But more to the point, in a landscape where Latinos are near invisible on TV, we need her to succeed.


The ONE DAY AT A TIME reboot, for example, wins a loyal audience and wins critical applause but NETFLIX axes it.  Not only do they take an axe to the program, they also refuse to allow any other streaming service to pick it up.  Last week, fortunately, came news that the CBS' POP TV was picking up the show for another season.  That takes some of the pressure off.

Last week saw two Democratic Party presidential debates and the pressure relaxed for some of the 20 participants but it increased for others.  On Wednesday, US House Rep and Iraq War veteran Tulsi Gabbard, former US House Rep Beto O'Rourke, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Cory Booker, US House Rep Tim Ryan, former US House Rep John Delaney, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, Governor Jay Inslee and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro took the stage.  On Thursday, the participants were former US Senator and Vice President Joe Biden,  Senator Bernie Sanders, Marianne Williamson, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator Kamala Harris, US House Rep Eric Swalwell, Andrew Yang, Senator Michael Bennet, John Hickenlooper and South Ben Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

And how did it go?

On Wednesday night, the clear winner was Tulsi Gabbard.  She did so well that GOOGLE reported she was the second most searched candidate of the night.

She did so well, in fact, that the media worked really hard to ignore her and to tear apart her support.  Those GOOGLE search results?

The media insisted that this was the result of, indication of, Russian trolls.

The same media, of the same search results, insisted that they proved Julian Castro was Wednesday night's big winner -- after all, he was the number one most searched candidate on GOOGLE.

No smears of "Russian trolls" were offered of Julian because he's a centrists, a corporatist and an all round disappointing person and candidate.  That's why the media loves him -- they love seeing their own corruption and whoring reflected back at them in a candidate.

Julian was awful onstage -- he was bitchy, he was incoherent and he was one of the shortest candidates on stage, standing there with his glassy eyes, receding hairline and baby teeth.

The media pimped him as a winner for nearly 24 hours before they finally had to give it up because no one was buying the hype and, more to the point, every post-debate appearance in that news cycle found Julian coming off even more disappointing.

Julian was quickly forgotten -- which was fine with the media.  He had served his purpose, he had denied Tulsi credit for her actual victory.

Tulsi they attacked.  She was an "isolationist," for example.  She is no such thing but to a war hungry media, calling for sensible wars only turned Tulsi into John Lennon and Yoko Ono staging multiple bed-ins.

The biggest loser Wednesday night wasn't Julian -- though he came close.  The biggest loser was US House Rep Tim Ryan who insisted that the Taliban had attacked the United States on 9/11.  The moderators (Rachel Maddow and Chuck Todd) were no help there so it was left to Tulsi to explain that al Qaeda attacked the US on September 11th.  Tulsi had to do remedial for Ryan who apparently has been living in an alternative universe.

MADDOW: I’m going to pick up — I want to pick up this point, and I want to put this to Congressman Ryan. Today the Taliban claimed responsibility for killing two American servicemembers in Afghanistan. Leaders as disparate as President Obama and President Trump have both said that they want to end U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, but it isn’t over for America. Why isn’t it over? Why can’t presidents of very different parties and very different temperaments get us out of there? And how could you?

RYAN: I appreciate that question. So I’ve been in Congress 17 years. And 12 of those years I’ve sat on the Armed Services Committee, the Defense Appropriations Committee or the Armed Services Committee.
And the lesson that I’ve learned over the years is that you have to stay engaged in these situations. Nobody likes it. It’s long. It’s tedious. But right now, we have — so I would say we must be engaged in this. We must have our State Department engaged. We must have our military engaged to the extent they need to be.
But the reality of it is, this president doesn’t even have people appointed in the State Department to deal with these things, whether we’re talking about Central America, whether we’re talking about Iran, whether we’re talking about Afghanistan. We’ve got to be completely engaged.
And here’s why, because these flare-ups distract us from the real problems in the country. If we’re getting drones shot down for $130 million, because the president is distracted, that’s $130 million that we could be spending in places like Youngstown, Ohio, or Flint, Michigan, or rebuilding — or rebuilding…

MADDOW: Congresswoman Gabbard, I’m going to give you 30 seconds, actually, to jump off what he said. He described engagement as the problem.

GABBARD: Is that what you will tell — is that what you will tell the parents of those two soldiers who were just killed in Afghanistan? Well, we just have to be engaged? As a soldier, I will tell you, that answer is unacceptable.
We have to bring our troops home from Afghanistan. We are in a place in Afghanistan where we have lost so many lives. We’ve spent so much money. Money that’s coming out of every one of our pockets, money that should be going into communities here at home, meeting the needs of the people here at home.
We are no better off in Afghanistan today than we were when this war began. This is why it’s so important to have a president and commander-in-chief who knows the cost of war and who’s ready to do the job on day one. I am ready to do that job when I walk into the Oval Office.

TODD: Listen, I’m going to go down the line — I’m going to go down — I’m going to go down — I’m going to go down the line here. You know what, you felt — you felt like she was rebutting you. Get 30 seconds, go.

RYAN: Thank you. You’re a very good man. I appreciate that.

TODD: Fair enough. I hear what you’re saying. She invoked your name.

RYAN: I would just say, I don’t want to be engaged. I wish we were spending this money in places that I’ve represented that have been completely forgotten and we were rebuilding. But the reality of it is, if the United States isn’t engaged, the Taliban will grow. And they will have bigger, bolder terrorist acts. We have got to have some presence there…

GABBARD: The Taliban was there long before we came in. They’re going to be there long before we leave.

RYAN: And they were — yeah, exactly. Well, we were.

GABBARD: We cannot keep U.S. troops deployed to Afghanistan thinking that we’re going to somehow squash this Taliban that’s been there, that every other country that’s tried has failed.

RYAN: I didn’t say — I didn’t say squash them. I didn’t say squash them. When we weren’t in there, they started flying planes into our buildings. So I’m just saying right now … we have an obligation…

GABBARD: The Taliban didn’t attack us on 9/11. Al Qaida did.

RYAN: Well, I — I understand…

GABBARD: Al Qaida attacked us on 9/11. That’s why I and so many other people joined the military, to go after Al Qaida, not the Taliban.

RYAN: I understand that. The Taliban…

TODD: Go ahead, Congressman. Finish up, 10 seconds.

RYAN: The Taliban was protecting those people who were plotting against us. All I’m saying is, if we want to go into elections, and we want to say that we’ve got to withdraw from the world, that’s what President Trump is saying. We can’t. I would love for us to.

GABBARD: You know who’s protecting Al Qaida right now? It’s Saudi Arabia.

Of the Wednesday night debate, Patrick Martin (WSWS) observed, "On the first night, Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, asked to name the greatest global security threat, replied, T'he greatest threat that we face is the fact we are at a greater risk of nuclear war today than ever before in history.' This remarkable declaration was passed over in silence by the moderators and the other candidates, and the subject was not raised on the second night at all, including by Bernie Sanders."

Tulsi was declared the winner in the instant poll at THE DRUDGE REPORT.

Thursday night, the clear winner was Marianne Williamson.  This confused and upset the corporate media so they tried backing a few others as winners before finally settling on Kamala Harris who schooled Joe Biden on both immigration and how some of his own actions and statements came off racist.

The clear loser?

Joe Biden.  How bad was the media darling?

Friday, Julie Bosman and Katie Glueck offered "A Day After Bruising Debate, Biden Pushes Back Against Criticism on Civil Rights" at THE NEW YORK TIMES.

Marianne?  Even while attacking and ridiculing her, THE NEW YORKER's THE CUT had to admit:

Much transpired at the second night of the Democratic debates: Former vice-president Joe Biden repeatedly showed everyone every tooth in his mouth while refusing to apologize for anything he’s ever done; California senator Kamala Harris impressed everyone; the spiritual adviser and author Marianne Williamson stood silently, presumably meditating and growing ever more powerful, until around the 45-minute mark, at which point she began sporadically pontificating about the nature of love, peace, and healing in a dulcet, husky tone.

Marianne, when she had the floor, was centered and using her time well.  In what passed for a debate/discussion on immigration, it was all platitudes and nonsense until she spoke -- at which point she raised the issue of the reason for the waves of immigration from Central America -- US policies and actions.

Despite being the one to raise it, as Marcia pointed out, Bernie Sanders gave credit to Joe Biden -- of all people -- for raising the issue.

It was not Bernie's night.

He seemed off his game, he seemed angry and short tempered.

In fairness to Bernie, he's never been a soundbyte politician and the debate format was one minute answers and, if a follow up was allowed, thirty seconds for any follow up.

Marianne used her time to talk about where the US could be.  Joe Biden spent his time promising to take America back to 2009.  It was a glorious time for Joe, he had just become the Vice President of the United States and he was only 66 and appeared to have a future in front of him.

Now he's no longer a vice president, he's 76 and his best years are behind him.  He studies the rear view mirror so much because there's nothing on the road ahead for him.

The US needs to move forward and Joe came off out of touch.

Though his campaign schedule has been filled with wooing Big Money, he's had very few of-the-people events.  The campaign thought keeping him out of site could help lower the chances of gaffes.  The hope was that, with media backing, he could coast to the nomination.

Thursday night made clear that was not a possibility.

In fact, one of the best moments may have gone to Eric Swalwell:

And I’ve seen the anxiety across America where the manufacturing floors go from 1,000 to 100 to one. So, we have to modernize our schools, value the teachers who prepare our kids, wipe the student debt from any teacher that goes into a community that needs it. Invest in America’s communities, especially where places where the best exports are people who move away to get skills. But, Jose, I was six years old when a presidential candidate came to the California Democratic Convention and said, it’s time to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans. That candidate was then Senator Joe Biden. Joe Biden was right when he said it was time to the pass the torch to a new generation of Americans 32 years ago.
He’s still right today. If we’re going to solve the issues of automation (PH), pass the torch. If we’re going to solve the issues of climate chaos, pass the torch. If we’re going to solve the issue of student loan debt, pass the torch. If we’re going to end gun violence for families who are fearful of sending their kids to school, pass the torch.

Pass the torch, Joe, pass the torch.

Sadly, Eric was one of the few men that really impressed.

Over two nights, 14 men stood on the stage.  Only six women were present.

But every one of those women -- Tulsi, Marianne, Elizabeth, Kirsten, Amy and Kamala -- used their limited time wisely and came off presidential.

Andrew Yang?  Why the hell was he even on the stage?  He'd later whine that his mike was muted by NBC but even when he did speak, he said nothing of real value.  John Hickenlooper came off like a crazed psycho -- sweaty face and all.  His remarks came off like he was threatening to take the Democratic Party hostage if it didn't move back to the center-right ASAP.

To get on that stage, everyone had to work.  But it was fairly clear that the women had to work harder to make it onto that stage and maybe that's why they came off prepared and ready.

Eva Longoria's been working to offer quality programming with a Latino emphasis for some time.  With GRAND HOTEL, she may have found the hit that ABC and the country needs.  It's a soap opera set in Miami, revolving around a family owned hotel.

Eva plays the dead matriarch in flashbacks and we'd honestly be thrilled if it turned out that her character, Beatriz Mendoza, wasn't really dead; though, as it is, the family may be too big.  Demian Bichir plays the patriarch Santiago Mendoza, Roselyn Sanchez plays his second wife Gigi Mendoza, Denyse Tontz is especially effective as Santiago and Beatriz' daughter Alicia, Feliz Ramirez as Santiago and Gigi's daughter Carolina, Justina Adorno as Carolina's twin Yoli and Bryan Craig as Santiago and and Beatriz' son Javi.  That's a big family to have on every episode.  And, honestly, of the four children, only Javi and Alicia are interesting enough.

There are also characters who are not part of the family.  Wendy Raquel Robinson is Mrs. P and in charge of the hotel staff and Chris Warren plays her son Jason who works as a waiter.  Also working as a waiter is Danny, played by Lincoln Younes, who is at the hotel to try to find out what happened to his sister Sky.  There's housekeeper Ingrid (Anne Winters) who is pregnant by hotel manager Mateo (Shalim Ortiz) who doesn't want the child so she's now passing it off as Javi's child.  There's also El Rey, a big time rapper who becomes the hotel's artist in resident.  He's played by Jencarlos Canela and thank goodness for him.

Puffed pec after puffed pec on this show is smooth -- naturally or waxed, we don't know.  The only one with any significant hair on his chest would be Jencarlos' El Rey.  Javi might seem like less of a man-boy if, for example, Bryan Craig stopped trimming his chest hair.

While we wait for the boys to grow up, the women do the heavy lifting on the show.  Just like the women did the heavy lifting on the debates.  The hard truth is, women do the heavy lifting on TV and off.  Maybe they could start to receive some of the well deserved recognition they are owed.

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