Posts Tagged ‘HBO’

About a week-and-a-half after finishing Hillary Clinton’s What Happened  I was

1) not ready to re-read it quite yet and

2) not ready to start reading anything else. I wanted it to sit with me awhile like a nice Thanksgiving dinner.

I looked for a good movie on TV and nothing appealed to me, so I checked out *On Demand and found Recount available.

I hadn’t watched it in years – double digit years. There was much that I had either forgotten, or never noticed, or had not realized the significance of the first time around.

Ron Klain is the central character in the film. Hillary gives him a shout out in her book as a member of her debate prep team. We see him often as a commentator on MSNBC as we do Jeremy Bash who is a major supporting character in the film. The first time I saw this movie, I really had no idea who they were besides dedicated campaign staffers.

I had forgotten that each campaign had called in a former secretary of state to manage the chaos that originated around the infamous ‘butterfly ballot’ in Palm Beach County, FL.  The Democrats brought Warren Christopher aboard, and the Republicans called on James Baker.

If you are unfamiliar with that ballot, here it is.

Image result for image butterfly ballot

The butterfly ballot necessitated the correct insertion of the ballot (the yellow part underneath) into the machine and the use of that blue-handled stick-pin to punch a hole in the appropriate place on the ballot beside the ticket you chose. The complaint among many seniors in Palm Beach County was that they thought they might have punched hole #4 for Buchanan when they meant to vote for Gore (#5).

The confusion that ensued comprised the possibilities that people may well have simply punched the wrong circle, those circles are pretty small and many older people are vision-impaired, or that they may have inserted their ballots incorrectly, or that they had not punched the ballot firmly enough resulting in CHAD (Card Hole Aggregate Debris ) not completely detached from the ballot or even a “dimpled” ballot, i.e. no hole at all – only a dimple or indentation. A machine recount, as we learned, could push the partially detached “debris” back into the ballot nullifying the vote. A manual recount would raise the issue of voter intent in the cases of dimpled ballots. Florida does have a law regarding voter intent.

This is pretty nitty-gritty stuff for former global diplomats to be dealing with … unless it is your vote. Bringing in Christopher and Baker was also necessitated by the fact that the entire election would pivot around Florida, and once Palm Beach County was in question, folks in other counties began to question whether their votes were counted. In other words, the election in Florida, where one candidate’s brother was governor, was in question and was a mess … a world-class mess.

Here are a few things I had forgotten.

Al Gore had the popular vote even before Florida was counted.

Al Gore did concede on election night. He called George W. Bush. Then he called back and retracted when he was told the Florida numbers were going haywire. He was stopped just short of delivering his concession speech on election night.

Here is one thing I had never paid attention to. One line might well have gone forgotten or fallen to the cutting room floor since the actual character never made an appearance in the film. In an organizational meeting, James Baker is told that Jesse Jackson has Black and Jewish senior citizens marching in the streets demanding that their votes be counted and, as he said, “Who can argue with that?”

He then told Ben Ginsberg, a campaign attorney, to call in Roger Stone and bring crowds to Tallahassee, Palm Beach, and Miami.

Yes. That Roger Stone. Yes, this James Baker, and that James Baker! He called in that Roger Stone!

We all know how this ended when it finally did on December 12, 2000. SCOTUS halted the recount, Gore decided not to pursue any other pathways still open (to Ron Klain’s agony) and delivered a televised concession speech in the most upbeat of his usual upbeat manners. Many of us cried.

Looking back on this after reading Hillary’s excruciating chapter on election night and the day after, I see a difference in myself. I was a Gore supporter. No question about that. I would even say an enthusiastic one. But I was not impassioned. I kicked in my contributions. I had a demanding job that did not permit me much free time, and I was certain that this country would not elect George W. Bush. He was a joke to me and ended up a joke on me.

For Hillary, I was impassioned. Hillary was a cause for me. Despite my job, I worked hard for her in 2008 and much, much harder in 2015-16. One reason was the lesson I had learned about how U.S. voters will elect a joke. Much more of it was a long history of Hillary appreciation. She had the best experience, was the hardest worker, had the best mind and the best plans, as usual.  I knew all about them and promoted them. I gave every way I could.

Yet, on election night, I was not among the sobbers. I was not one of those crying. First, I was in severe shock. I could not comprehend what happened. It was as if I had been kicked in the head or struck by lightning.  I heard that she had called Trump. Then, I was deflated. Completely. I could not move, think, type, or speak. I was a zombie. Walking Dead. (Mind you. I have lived in Haiti and seen and met true zombies. That is how I was. Exactly.)

Neither was I tearful the following morning. This was a formality. A speech she felt she had to give. I appreciated the thought and feeling she had put into her words and the courage of her delivery. But it all was unreal to me. I was still in warrior mode – zombie warrior. Much as she did in June 2008, she graciously conceded. I was angry in 2008, and I was confused in 2016 because I did not see how this had happened. Something was very wrong here, but crying was too simple, and it was not going to satisfy my soul.

Having read Hillary’s reaction I think hers was pretty close to mine (hers, obviously, must have been mine times 66 million). Just drained, traumatized. Something had gone terribly wrong. But what?

What went into her decisions, to call Trump, to delay the speech since she had not written one, to give the speech the next day, what she did in those crucial hours, she explains all of that in that chapter. We didn’t have a lot of solid answers then.

Since then, we have gradually learned a lot, but we don’t know everything. For that we need to hear from Robert Mueller’s team.

We know that Obama encouraged Hillary to concede quickly and that she agreed with that. When I said on social media that she did not want to put the nation through another 2000, I was reminded that this is not 2000.  That is true, but the effect would have been similar, and even now we do not have the answers and there was no provision or mechanism to hold things off until we did have the information.

It was not Hillary but Terry Gross who brought up the issue of questioning the legitimacy of the election  earlier this month. Hillary responded that she did not think we had a mechanism for that.

That is another issue that looms large in Recount. Mechanisms. Apparently, the way election law was written in Florida at the time (and I have zero reason to think this has changed), if you want a total recount in that state, you must ask for that recount first before you request recounts in specific counties. That may be bass-ackwards, but that is their law. Having first requested recounts by county, Gore’s team was, by law, unable to request a full recount of the state. This was temporarily overturned by the Florida Supremes who called for a full state recount which proceeded until SCOTUS reversed that decision and stopped it. Likely they halted it because there are always those annoying dates! You must have a state winner by the time the Electoral College meets. You must have a president by January 20 even if Congress has to choose.

Another point brought up in the course of the machinations was that SCOTUS really should have no voice at all in an election and only Congress should, but both sides had already filed suits that had reached the Florida Supreme Court. By default, appeals went to SCOTUS.

In an election, much of what happens in 50 states with 3,142 counties is a function of local laws. If you did not like what happened in 2000, specifically that came down to Florida and its 67 counties. At best it would mean changing state election laws, which I do not think they have. At worst that would involve making micro-changes at the county level.

As for 2016, it would likely require some Constitutional change – an amendment. The least complicated path would be to abolish the Electoral College which twice in this young century has handed us the unpopular president. The College misrepresents the population. Who knows how likely such an amendment would be given gerrymandering and dark money in elections? It would not be easy. But worth a try.

At the end of Recount a codicil is read providing that the SCOTUS decision applied exclusively to Bush v. Gore. In other words, it can never be seen or used as a precedent for any future case.

There is much to be learned from the past, but there are not necessarily permanent fixes to past obstacles.
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When President Obama first asked Hillary Clinton to be secretary of state, she not only declined, she immediately suggested that Richard Holbrooke would be a much better choice.  Like Bill Clinton, who had to propose three times before she would accept marriage, Barack Obama had to ask several times before she accepted the cabinet position.  But she had conditions.  One was that at-risk regions required special attention and needed special advisers.  Holbrooke was brought into the administration as special adviser on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Holbrooke died during Hillary’s tenure at DOS, and his son, David, has made a documentary about his father’s remarkable life and career called The Diplomat.  It premiered tonight on HBO and is excellent.  Both Bill and Hillary Clinton were interviewed extensively along with many who worked with Holbrooke.  I give it five stars. Don’t miss it!  It is a must see!

Read more about this award-winning documentary here at the website >>>>

One of the diplomatic tragedies of Bill Clinton’s administration depicted in this documentary occurred when Holbrooke was attempting to broker peace in the in the Balkans.  A vehicle carrying three members  of our negotiation team rolled off a very dangerous road on the way to Sarajevo.  It tumbled down a mountain, hit a land mine, caught fire, and killed the occupants.

Hillary was asked a question this week in Iowa about our ordinance left over in Laos.

A candidate who knows exactly what’s going on in Laos.

At a campaign stop in Iowa, Hillary got asked an unexpected foreign policy question about unexploded bombs in Laos—leftovers from the Vietnam War.

Hillary’s answer shows exactly what it would mean to have a former secretary of state in the Oval Office.

See the video and hear her response >>>>

The documentary emphasizes Holbrooke’s belief in the lessons of history.  We should remember these going forward.  There is much unfinished business from our engagement in Southeast Asia.  We may call it the Viet Nam War, but it was larger.  Incursions into Cambodia, which Richard Nixon announced saying it was “not an invasion,”and carpet-bombing in Laos are witness to the breadth of the conflict and damage left behind.  Hillary Clinton knows and respects the lessons of Viet Nam.

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I am reblogging this because somehow the campaign failed to get back to Last Week Tonight with John Oliver when they sent out a one-question yes/no request for a position. The answer, of course, is yes. Hillary not only supports the Equality Act, she led the pack in getting signatures in support.  Hillary originally posted this at Twitter on July 23.

Note to campaign: Last Week Tonight is a pretty influential show. Not a good idea to ignore their requests. Hillary ended up in the wrong column on their screen last night – wrongly and unfairly – not because they did not do their homework, but because the campaign blew off their request for a response.


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Hillary is calling for full equality.  Sign here to support the Equality Act.



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The new HBO miniseries has not made it clear that the disappearances in a single moment of millions of people worldwide was actually ‘The Rapture,’ but it was clear in the premiere last night that the event three years in the past occurred on Hillary Clinton’s watch as secretary of state.

While the mystified characters who were left behind followed reportage of the event on a TV in a pub, photos of celebrities taken flashed across the screen.  They included Hillary’s predecessor, Condi Rice, the pope at the time Benedict XVI, and,  to everyone’s bewilderment, Gary Busey.

Then, in the familiar surroundings of the Thomas Jefferson Room, we saw Hillary Clinton briefing the press.  No, she was not smiling as in this, one of my favorite pictures of her in that setting, since obviously presiding over talking points to the media about an event of such global proportions had grave implications.


‘The Leftovers’: Why were these eight celebrities raptured?

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While many of us hit by Superstorm Sandy were still struggling to recover, Saturday Night Live opened with a dueling press conference by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, each accompanied by his personal ASL translator. You can also check out translator in Brisbane for more info.  At one point, Fred Armesen, broke into some very Bloombergesque español and asked New York’s Hispanic population to please be patient with white people who, with no electricity, internet, or cable have been missing Homeland, and missing Homeland is the worst thing that ever happened to them.

Some people are simply so impatient for the new season of Homeland that they have launched a spin-off.  A huge hit during season one beginning last fall,  Benghazi returned to the Fox News Channel in prime time last week, and its fans cannot get enough.

During season one, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the Carrie Mathison figure, returning from an extensive trip to the South Pacific and Asia immediately had to respond to an attack on a US installation in northern Libya.

Her State Department had lost four good men.  Hillary took full responsibility for everything and assigned two top people, Ambassador Thomas Pickering and Admiral Mike Mullen to assemble an Accountability Review Board to investigate what had happened and what had gone wrong.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee clamored for her to appear before them.  She assured them that she would cooperate after the ARB had completed its investigation and submitted its report, but meanwhile assured them that she would gladly send State Department personnel to testify as requested and well as provide documents as requested, which she did.  In the course of the live telecast of the testimony, Rep. Jason Chaffetz,  ever petulant and dramatic, exposed the Benghazi installation not really to be a State Department operation at all but rather a CIA site under DOS cover, but never mind!

Meanwhile, Hillary attended to her myriad other duties as Secretary of State as well as President Obama’s duties at the U.N. General Assembly through the end of September.

She traveled extensively in October and November Peru, Algeria, the Balkans, Australia, and one last swing through Asia with a sudden assignment to the Middle East.  In December,  finishing her last trip to the Czech Republic, NATO in Belgium, Ireland, and Northern Ireland she fell ill with a serious virus, fainted, and sustained a concussion.  Later a blood clot was found.

All of this time the HFAC clamored for her appearance, however, the ARB report had not as yet been completed, and Hillary was not going to testify until she had that report to read and submit.  Hillary as villainess in the Fox News series Benghazi was now being accused of faking her illness and injuries to avoid testifying.

Recovering at home, she received the completed report and sent it to Congress with a cover letter (see the sidebar for the links), but she was still under doctors’ orders to remain at home, rest, and heal. December and Christmas passed, the New Year came in, and Hillary’s people were all very worried about her condition while the Benghazi show on Fox insisted she was faking.

Season one of Behghazi ended when Hillary spent January 23 on Capitol Hill and testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee (videos of full testimony have been added to these links).    Like her confirmation hearing,  these testimonies together amounted to the equivalent of multiple dissertation defenses.

In the interim, the Republican Conference launched an investigation of the ARB investigation and issued a report in late April.  Missing from the committee assigned to the investigation was the House Appropriations Committee which, for the two years in a row since the election of Tea Party candidates to the Republican majority Congress,  had cut Hillary’s budget for Embassy security by hundreds of millions of dollars. But never mind!

We have a basis for a new season of … Benghazi!  Let’s do it!

Season two opened last week to much fanfare regarding State Department “whistleblowers” testifying – now to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.   Covered exclusively by Fox, since they own Benghazi,  the season debut featured questions from Republican members, often delivered with great melodramatic flair (Jason Chaffetz, Trey Gowdy).   In this episode a great fuss was made regarding the ARB, the depth,  breadth, and nature of the investigation as well as personnel interviewed.

In a review of  season two/episode one last week, ARB co-chair Ambassador Thomas Pickering told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell that both he and his co-chair Admiral Mullen had offered their testimony to HOGR chair, Darryl Issa, prior to last week’s hearing but they were declined.

Drama built as Pickering sat beside Issa on Meet the Press on Sunday. I will let you read the deliciousness here.

Darrell Issa (R-CA) made a fool of himself on “Meet the Press” Sunday as he tried to defend his Benghazi conspiracy. David Gregory (R-TV) pushed back hard, even bringing up the GOP’s defunding of security.

Issa even accused General David Petraeus of lying for the administration. As soon as Gregory would call Issa on one thing, he’d say he was investigating something else. Issa accused Tom Pickering of refusing to testify when in fact, Issa had not invited him to speak and Pickering was told that the Republican majority did not want him there. Issa ended up backtracking on that one, too, and it was super awkward when it came out that Issa never asked for him to appear.

Read more >>>>

It was even better than any of the Fox coverage.  So in this week’s episode, the previews show this coming.

Benghazi Depositions To Examine Hillary Clinton’s Role In Response To Attacks

By DONNA CASSATA 05/13/13 05:02 PM ET EDT AP

WASHINGTON — House Republicans pushed ahead Monday with their investigation of the deadly assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, last year as President Barack Obama asserted that GOP charges of a cover-up are baseless.

The latest Republican focus is the independent review that slammed the State Department for inadequate security at the installation before the twin nighttime attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans on Sept. 11, 2012.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, asked the two authors of the investigation – veteran diplomat Thomas Pickering and retired Adm. Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – to meet privately with committee staff to answer questions about their review. Democrats countered that if Congress wants to talk to them, Issa should hold a full open hearing.

Read more >>>>

I have a feeling this season will not go well for Benghazi,  Issa or for Fox.

I can understand being frustrated between seasons of Homeland.  I am a fan myself.  Going to this extent seems an exaggeration, however.  There are alternatives.  While it is entirely based in fantasy, Game of Thrones, for example, could be very instructive viewing for Issa and his army.

They should become acquainted with Daenerys Targaryen .  I believe her character is based on Hillary Clinton.  Like Hillary, she is blonde, beautiful, smart, kind, and a gifted leader.  Princess of the Targaryen dynasty and widow of  Dothraki warlord,  Khal Drogo, she is the Khaleesi of the Dothraki people.   When faced with enemies, she buys their slaves to be her army and buys their female slaves,  befriends them and makes them her close staff and guards.  She is very powerful. Everyone adores her, and she has dragons.   Fierce dragons. Protective ones.

Speaking of dragons, Hillary also has fierce dragons.  We are legion.  We are everywhere, and even if they try to keep this Benghazi series going,  our Khaleesi will win in the end.

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Mme. Secretary will be off to a running start this September,  always a busy month for her with the U.N. General Assembly coinciding with the Clinton Global Initiative where she always makes an appearance.  You may already have seen some advertisements on TV about this documentary,  but you might not have known that our girl is participating in it.  Here are some details.

New York Governor George Pataki (L), New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (C) and US Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (R), D-NY, tour the site of the World Trade Center

Conversation with TIME’s Richard Stengel to Mark “Beyond 9/11: Portraits of Resilience”

Media Note

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
August 31, 2011


On September 8, Secretary Clinton will participate in a conversation with TIME Magazine’s Managing Editor Richard Stengel, marking “Beyond 9/11: Portraits of Resilience,” a special screening and portrait exhibition hosted by TimeWarner in New York City. The conversation will begin at approximately 8:15pm.

Beyond 9/11: Portraits of Resilience” will mark the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York City and their aftermath. The portrait exhibition and TIME/HBO documentary features untold stories – captured in words and images – from 40 women and men who led America, moved the nation, and sacrificed for it, in the hours, days and months that followed September 11, 2001.

The evening events will include: a reception marking the opening of Marco Grob’s TIME Portrait Series exhibition “Portraits of Resilience,” a special screening of the TIME/HBO documentary “Beyond 9/11,” and a conversation with Secretary Clinton and Richard Stengel.

Working with the editors of TIME, award-winning photographer Marco Grob produced the set of portraits which are coupled with oral histories from people including George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rusmfeld, Rudolph Giuliani, Adm. William McRaven (who led the mission that killed Osama bin Laden) and, for the very first time, the only four survivors of the attack on Tower Two of the World Trade Center who were above the point of impact.

TIME Magazine is leading the collaboration of Time Warner outlets, including CNN and HBO, with the special package

The HBO documentary is in association with TIME and is a 60-minute film that will premiere on the network and HBO GO at 8.46 a.m. EST on 9/11.

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It might grow on me with time, and I shudder whenever the Clintons are the subject of portrayals, but in a nutshell I think this movie was more a Blair movie than a Clinton movie. I may change my mind after watching it again, but in the end I thought the Blairs were more colorfully written, more filled-out characters than the Clintons. I find it hard to believe that Hillary was written rather blandly since no matter what your attitude might be about her, bland is not an adjective you would choose to describe her.

Perhaps this focus on the Blairs is to be expected since the writer, Peter Morgan,  has written about them before, and used the same actors, Michael Sheen and Helen McCrory, but the facts of the lives somehow do not calculate that Cherie Blair comes off a more interesting character than our former First Lady who went on to serve in the Senate and is now the most entertaining Secretary of State ever- packing public appearances into her travels, flirting her way around the world in pantsuits of every color.

I have every sympathy for Hope Davis who did her best with a character that was written rather low-key. Perhaps the most dramatic of her scenes was cut. She was glad that it was, and so am I since I have no desire to see a portrayal that is imagined, fictional, on the topic of one of the most hurtful experiences in Hillary Clinton’s life. It is not Davis’s fault that Morgan completely missed one of the most endearing qualities about Hillary Clinton, her sense of humor. None of that is in there. He keeps her deadly serious, maybe a little sarcastic and sharp, must mostly a victim painted narrowly and in beige. Hillary has a lot more steel in her than what Morgan put in this script, and a lot more fun. The way she enjoys being SOS I find it hard to believe that she would not be out for fun visiting London.

As for the former POTUS, I found that character rather humorless and rough around the edges. I thought Dennis Quaid was miscast. It is interesting to me that he decided to take the part because of the writing, according to Lynn Elber’s article. Perhaps the most wrongheaded turn one can take is to try to write about true events between real people when you were not in the room, or worse, when you do not really know the people. Morgan may be familiar with the Blairs, but I think he missed on the Clintons.

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