Sunday, 8 February 2015
House of Cards Chapter 21 Recap: Vice President Frank Underwood meets with Chief Whitehall and key members of the Ugaya tribe in an attempt to gain their favor. He instructs Doug Stamper to help the Ugaya tribe receive recognition in order for them to begin construction of the casino that will compete with Lanagin’s business. He meets with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and offers them $13 million of appropriation from Congress in exchange for an expeditious approval of an 8-year old application from Chief Whitehall. The Ugaya tribe lost their right to BIA benefits after Daniel Lanagin unregistered the tribe. The Bureau of Indian Affairs remains reluctant to expedite the Ugaya tribe’s application, but agrees to do so after Stamper threatened the bureau’s loss of funding. News of the Ugaya tribe’s recognition reaches Lanagin and he requests a meeting with Frank in Missouri.
Frank Underwood works on seeking President Garret Walker’s approval to allow Xander Feng to finance the Port Jefferson Bridge. Presidential Chief of Staff Linda Vasquez disapproves of doing business with the Chinese given the current trade war between the U.S. and China. Moreover, she becomes suspicious of Frank’s motive knowing his previous strong opposition to China. She rejects Frank’s appeal for help in persuading the President to accept Feng’s financing. Vice President Frank Underwood ignores Linda’s suggestion to forego the Port Jefferson Bridge and pursues convincing President Walker to approve its construction. Regrettably, Linda had warned the President of Frank’s suspicious determination to push for its construction. The distrust in his motive leads Frank to confess his unsanctioned negotiations with China. He apprises the President of the reason behind his insistence without divulging details. All the President needs to know is that the solution to combating the Republicans in the midterms lies in the construction of the Port Jefferson Bridge.
Vice President Francis Underwood uses the fundraiser in Kansas City for House Representative Terry Womack as a cover for his meeting with Daniel Lanagin. Ayla Sayyad, however, suspects that Frank Underwood has another agenda in Missouri, Raymond Tusk’s home state. Frank haughtily arrives at Lanagin’s mansion not expecting Tusk’s attendance. He has come certain that Lanagin has called to make a deal following his support of the Ugaya tribe, one that could prove a threat to his casino. Instead, he learns that Chief Whitehall had accepted Lanagin’s offer of re-enrollment to his tribe soon after meeting with the BIA. Tusk proposes Frank’s agreement to help mend his relationship with the President of the United States in exchange for the redirection of campaign funds back to the Democrats. Frank refuses to accept Tusk’s proposal and threatens to have the BIA investigate Tusk and Lanagin. The entrepreneurs are unfazed, well aware that the investigation will only implicate him and the leadership in the corruption given that they had been funneling money to the Democrats for almost a decade. Frank leaves enraged with his failure. He instructs Stamper to schedule a meeting with the President with strict orders to bypass Linda that he may persuade him to approve the Port Jefferson Bridge project.
Chief of Staff Linda Vasquez learns of the meeting and takes it off the schedule enraging Frank even more. A livid, Frank Underwood, derides Linda Vasquez with claims of having made her, but the feisty Chief of Staff counters with claims of already having repaid her debt of gratitude. Linda senses the futility of their argument and decides to end it unresolved, but Frank continues with his derision forcing Linda to assert the importance of her role as Chief of Staff. She makes the mistake of professing the President’s dependence on her leading Frank to challenge her to make the President choose between his Chief of Staff and his Vice President. The President would choose the Vice President without a doubt for the Chief of Staff is easier to replace. Linda speaks to President Garrett privately in the hope of convincing him to maintain his decision to forego the Port Jefferson Bridge project. The President appreciates her input. Regrettably, he is disinclined to agree.
President Garrett Walker meets with Frank to discuss the Port Jefferson Bridge project mainly to ensure irreproachability from failure. Frank claims the suppression of information from the President protects him from blame and insists on accepting responsibility for its ruin should it fail. President Walker agrees to approve the Port Jefferson Bridge project and calls the Committee for Foreign Investments to inform them of his decision. Stamper informs Feng of the good news and receives word of the Chinese businessman’s agreement to end his patronage of Lanagin’s casino. Stamper, however, forces him to end his co-venture with Tusk as well. President Garrett later speaks to Frank about Linda’s resignation and confides his infuriation towards her attempt at manipulation. President Garrett seeks Frank’s advice regarding her resignation. Frank advises him to accept it with an argument that his refusal only shows his ease of being leveraged. Linda later speaks with Frank to inform him of the President’s acceptance of her resignation as Chief of Staff unaware that he had advised President Garrett to accept it. Despite their differences and intense argument the previous night, Linda saw it fit to give him the courtesy of an amiable farewell. Moreover, she thoughtfully gives him the first Medal of Honor awarded to a Hispanic-American after learning of Frank’s civil war model. Linda leaves imparting words of hope for Frank to look after the best interests of the President and earns Frank’s respect for having tried her best to win the battle against him.
Megan Hennessey eagerly agrees to become the poster girl of the fight against sexual assault in the armed forces. Imparting the abuse done to her has helped her cope with the terrible ordeal. House Representative Elaine Brooks, however, warns her of the Herculean job that lies ahead. The numerous media engagements will require serious commitment from her. Megan confirms her determination to help the cause with the assurance of support from Claire Underwood and First Lady Tricia Walker. Claire speaks to the First Lady about needing the support of the White House and learns that the President relinquishes involvement with the controversial issue. She urges Tricia to persuade her husband to show his support, but discovers the worsening marital problems of the Walkers. Claire suggests marital counsel for the Walkers and recommends the minister she and Frank used before. The First Lady urges the President to deliver a speech in support of the bill, but he continues to reject her pleas. Tricia felt marginalized after the President unceremoniously dismissed her. She confides to Claire of the incident and expresses her interest in seeking marital counsel from Dr. Thomas Larkin, the minister Claire recommended. Tricia informs her husband of wanting to seek counsel arguing that his Presidency also depends on the security of their marriage. Garrett accedes to his wife’s request and agrees to receive counsel from Dr. Larkin.
The time to speak to the Armed Services arrives. Claire Underwood finds Megan Hennessey on the verge of a breakdown due to the paralyzing fear of having to testify against General McGinnis. Claire tries to pacify the terrified young woman in an attempt to motivate her to give testimony to the most senior House Representatives, but instead receives distrust from Megan. The young Private begins to realize Claire’s motive of obtaining political gain from the success of her cause, one that heavily depends on her testimony. The insinuation upsets Claire, who confesses to gaining from her support, but she later feels sympathy to the evidently petrified young woman after learning the psychological damage her attack caused. Claire agrees not to let Megan testify and ends up consoling her.
Meanwhile, Rachel Posner receives an unexpected visitor, Lisa Williams. Lisa, a former drug addict, is having trouble with her meth addict roommate. Rachel offers her a place to stay without first seeking Stamper’s approval. She, however, did leave him a voicemail message informing him of her decision. Later, Rachel finds Lisa worthy of trust and divulges her former life as a call girl to her. Rachel and Lisa begin a sexual relationship.
House Representative Jackie Sharp summons Remy Danton in her office way after office hours to ask him the source of the GOP donations. The $25 million dollar funding the Democrats received proved damaging to Jackie’s campaign and the Democrats over all. The party is on the verge of losing control of the House along with Jackie’s position as The Whip. Remy claims to be sympathetic to her troubles, but remains cagey about his knowledge of the GOP donor. Jackie tries another approach and abandons her reticence regarding her relationship with men. The woman intimates an issue with commitment and confesses not having had a serious romantic relationship. Remy had broken off their relationship after expressing his aversion to flings. Jackie would like to resume their affair despite Remy’s requirement. She, however, asks to keep their private lives separate from their professional relationship.
Remy meets with the disgruntled former CWI office manager, Evelyn Baxter, and learns of a rumored affair between Claire Underwood and Adam Galloway. He meets with the young photographer freelancing with Adam and purchases all of her photographs. He then meets with Seth to notify him of having found dirt on the Underwoods in a very short span of time, one Seth was unable to unearth in months of investigation. Remy suspects of the man’s change of allegiance. He is correct for Seth informs Frank immediately after learning of it. Remy flies to Missouri to meet with the Tusks after learning of Seth and Feng’s betrayal. He brings with him a proposal to expose the dirt he found on the Underwoods. Both Raymond and Jean Tusk sanction the revelation of the scandalous information Remy unearthed. The Underwoods hear news of Claire’s affair with Adam Galloway appearing on the NY Examiner.
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Sunday, 1 February 2015
House of Cards Chapter 20 Recap: Friends of a Better America releases issue-based attack ads against President Garret Walker’s administration discouraging voters from supporting his candidates in the midterms with a long-term goal of enacting a Republican takeover. The attack ads with an estimated worth of $25 million dollars came from Super PACs whose source remains unknown. Vice President Frank Underwood believes that identifying the source is the only solution to combating the damaging attacks against President Walker’s administration. President Walker, however, assigns blame on his Vice President and himself as well for not following Raymond Tusk’s advice to keep Frank in Congress.
Frank Underwood enlists the services of Walter Doyle to uncover the source of the Super PAC that funded the attack ads against the current administration. Walter identifies Democrat supporter turned traitor, Dan Lanagin, as the culprit. An Ernst & Young report showed Lanagin allotting at least $18 million in donations, not a cent of which went to the Democrats. Lanagin’s betrayal surprised Frank Underwood. He comes to a realization that Raymond Tusk must be behind it, because Lanagin’s casinos are located in Missouri, Tusks’s home state. Tusk, known for not making political contributions, must be funneling money to Lanagin. Frank sends Doug Stamper to Kansas City to find proof that will support his speculation. Stamper spends two hours at the OTB section of the casino catching the attention of the security team who informs their owner, Dan Lanagin. Lanagin identifies him as the Vice President’s Chief of Staff. He instructs his men to keep an eye on the man without raising alarms. Doug Stamper leaves the casino with the cocktail waitress and spends a night with her in the hope of assuaging his sexual urge for Rachel Posner. He later reports to Frank of his observations in the casino, particularly the wealthy Chinese clientele it accommodates. As Stamper had guessed, Frank finds the evidence thin, which is why he had instructed Doyle to investigate further the Chinese clientele.
The morning’s reproof from the President caused Frank to work on winning his approval. He surprises the President with a punching bag placed at the Oval office, making light of the argument they had where Frank expressed his distaste of the President’s propensity to use him as a punching bag. The gesture charmed the President enough for him to apologize to the Vice President for his imputation. A dinner invitation from Claire Underwood furthers the plan to beguile the Walkers. First Lady Tricia Walker speaks about Christina Gallagher on their way to the Underwoods. Claire’s insinuations have made the First Lady suspicious of Christina causing her to compete with the young staff member. Moreover, she expresses her perception about the young woman’s ingratiating attitude towards her, suspecting it as a façade to hide her attraction to the President. President Walker finds her concern and request to have Christina relocated ludicrous. He rejects his wife’s plea to distance himself from the young aide.
A reporter from The Sun learns of Vice President Francis Underwood’s secret hideaway, Freddy’s BBQ Joint, and decides to write a personal interest story about the BBQ joint’s owner. Freddy got the recipe that satiated Frank Underwood’s appetite for about twenty years now from his deadbeat father. The ribs that have become popular due to The Sun article is about to impress the President of the United States soon. Claire Underwood has tapped him to cater the dinner with the Walkers. The dinner ends and the President personally praises Freddy’s succulent ribs. Moreover, President Walker mentions having read the article that mentioned Frank’s allegiance to Freddy’s BBQ Joint. The article attracted business to the shabby rib joint serving scrumptious ribs and caught the attention of a company offering to turn Freddy’s BBQ Joint into a restaurant chain. The company is offering Freddy a lucrative deal and a considerable amount of money for the use of his brand. By dessert, the tension between the Walkers becomes apparent causing the Underwoods to kindle it with their seemingly perfect relationship. The First Lady’s envy of the Underwoods relationship fills the room suffocating the President into becoming curt towards his wife. The palpable hostility between the Walkers secretly delights the Underwoods. Tricia falls into the trap and confides her marital problems to Claire.
Frank Underwood attends the meeting about the sexual assault bill Claire Underwood instigated with the shocking revelation of her rape. She shares of the First Lady’s approval of the early draft of the bill House Representative Elaine Brooks is sponsoring. Frank instructs House Representative Jackie Sharp to find formidable co-sponsors of the bill. The congresswoman willingly accepts the task, but later instructs her right-hand, Lorrie Tate, not to disseminate the draft of the Countering Sexual Assault in the Armed Forces Act of 2014 (CSAAFA). She plans to break the promise she made to Frank Underwood of providing him a list of co-sponsors ultimately stalling the bill. Meanwhile, Connor Ellis and Seth Grayson fight for the Underwoods approval with their conflicting media strategies. Connor recommends the media blitz approach that uses a blanket strategy to obtain a large number of supporters. Seth argues against the media blitz and suggests enlisting Matt Bai of The New York Times Magazine to become the bill’s single, long lead who will gain them the supporters in the key demographic. Seth’s suggestion gains the Underwood’s approval.
Ostensibly, Seth is working for Remy Denton. He was hired to investigate further Claire’s abortion with the ultimate goal of uncovering dirt on the Underwoods. He reports that Claire was truthful in her claim. Remy becomes upset at the length of time Seth is taking to uncover the secrets the Underwoods have buried, but Seth is confident in his abilities. Even though the man works for Raymond Tusk, Remy’s ire does not rattle Seth. In fact, he manages to have Remy procure an agreeable job offer for Connor Ellis in order to allow him to further his investigation without interference. Soon, Connor Ellis tenders his resignation unaware that the magnanimous job offer from SpaceX was Seth’s doing. Seth then divulges his association with Remy Danton to Frank Underwood revealing the purpose of his insistence to join the Underwood’s staff. Remy hired him to uncover damaging information about the Underwoods. Despite his blunt honesty, Frank remains suspicious of Seth Grayson’s intentions and change of allegiance. Seth claims that power entices him more than money. He has come to believe that Frank possesses that power after seeing his work on the entitlement reform. This pleases Frank Underwood. He orders Seth to retain his association with Remy that they may remain a step ahead of Tusk.
Chief of Staff Linda Vasquez shows Frank the proposal that will counter the attack ads against the administration. Frank is disinclined to support Linda’s pitch that asks the leadership for considerable funding for the strategy that will neutralize the damage done to the administration’s reputation. News of Doyle’s discovery distracts him from Linda’s proposal causing him to agree to support her at the meeting where she is to make the pitch. With Linda out of the way, Frank deals with the illuminating proof of Tusk and Lanagin’s betrayal. Doyle managed to uncover Xander Feng as the owner of the planes that transported the wealthy Chinese businessmen to Lanagin’s casino. Feng has been sending clients to Lanagin’s casino since 2005. The revelation prompts Frank to call Raymond Tusk.
Tusk, who is with Dan Lanagin, receives Frank’s call. He denies funneling money to the GOP Super PACs, but insinuates his hand in stacking Congress. The revelation of Tusk having controlled the House of Representatives stuns Frank Underwood. Frank threatens him with the exposure of his political contributions, but Tusk is not concerned, because the reports will reveal everyone’s guilt. Moreover, Tusk alludes to his plan of dethroning the Democrats in Congress. Meanwhile, Doug Stamper is on his way to China to meet with Xander Feng with the ultimate goal of stopping the flow of money to the Republicans. Speaking in behalf of Frank, Doug offers Feng favors in exchange for his cooperation. Feng treats him as his guest at his mansion where Stamper is to stay until he gets an answer as per Frank’s instructions. Moreover, he is to summon Dan Lanagin to Washington D.C. for an in-person meeting with Frank Underwood. Dan agrees to meet with Frank at his house to hear what the Vice President has to offer. Frank offers him a direct line to the White House giving him influence over federal gambling legislation. Dan Lanagin’s exorbitant contributions made possible with Tusk’s financial support have already bought him influence. Frank’s offer is ambiguous and pales in comparison to the support he receives from Tusk. Frank fails to entice Dan into accepting his offer and instead creates hostility between them. He takes his anger on the diorama he painstakingly assembled.
Ayla Sayyad of the Wall Street Telegraph uncovers the rare earth elements refinery in China co-venture of Raymond Tusk and Xander Feng. She is working on a story that reveals the undue influence in the White House of one of the wealthiest men in America, Raymond Tusk. The revelation of a wealthy entrepreneur with strong ties to the White House working with a notoriously corrupt Chinese diplomat raises ethical questions. President Walker’s administration pushing for rare earth subsidies during the height of the energy crisis adds to her suspicion. Ayla reaches out to Seth for an interview with Vice President Francis Underwood to obtain verification of her suspicions unaware that the Vice President’s Chief of Staff is in China to negotiate with Feng. Two young Chinese women wake Doug Stamper to provide him carnal pleasure. He rejects their advances and orders them to leave his room. Their sexual advances, however, ignites his longing for Rachel enough for him to give in to the impulse of calling her. He meets with Feng the following day to negotiate a deal. Feng, who had previously withdrawn the financing of the Port Jefferson Bridge, now asks for its reinstatement. Ostensibly, his allies were displeased with his refusal to finance the bridge. They have become a threat to his business and his life. Stamper returns to the U.S. with the alternative solution to the Tusk problem.
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Sunday, 25 January 2015
House of Cards Chapter 19 Recap: The United States is on the verge of a crippling energy crisis due to the high prices of samarium dictated by China. President Garrett Walker calls the cabinet members to discuss strategies to combat the crisis and suggests the use of attrition against China.
The retaliation from China as the consequence of such action concerns the members of his cabinet. China could purposely fail to attend the refunding auction, which would lead to a spike on long-term interest spikes. Vice President Frank Underwood, instead, recommends going on the offensive. Members of the committee offer suggestions that will force China’s hand. One recommended increasing the inspection rates by 20% on foodstuffs and holding the perishable goods in ports to rot. Another suggests burying the move with increased spot checks further delaying the process. One of the members, however, asserts that attrition only delays the inevitable, but does not solve the problem. Frank then advises the President to purchase samarium through a third party by executive order. This will allow the U.S. to force the Chinese to either raise prices worldwide or lower them in order to maintain a direct trade with the U.S. With enough supply of samarium for defense, the U.S. can then sell the surplus at a discount to nuclear power companies. The only consequence is the public outrage at offering the richest of the wealthy government subsidy. Frank Underwood believes that such outrage is tolerable than allowing the country to go into an energy crisis. President Walker accepts his Vice President’s recommendation and instructs his team to begin the process of acquiring samarium for defense purposes through India.
Remy Denton meets with Frank Underwood to discuss a better solution than the samarium subsidy he proposed. Remy’s client, Raymond Tusk, is not interested in the subsidy, but rather on the U.S. ending the conflict with China. The trade war has put a halt on his refinery project. Tusk claims that his rare earth refinery in China will solve the energy crisis, but Frank argues that it will take years for his refinery to benefit the American people. Remy is certain that Frank has another agenda than solving the energy crisis and insists that Frank make the demand, but the Vice President of the United States remains unforthcoming of his requirement. Frank later speaks with the President about Tusk’s collusion with other nuclear companies and their rejection of the Administration’s solution to the energy crisis. Frank wants to ban vertical integration in order to end Tusk’s manipulation of the energy market. He believes that adding an antitrust agreement to the Emergency Energy Bill will consequently break up the regional supply and distribution monopolies of energy companies. The bill need not pass, but will serve as a threat to Tusk. The President considers Frank’s proposal and asks of pursuing it in secret. He does not want to get the ire of the world’s wealthiest. Frank asks current Whip, House Representative Jackie Sharp, to relay the proposed Emergency Energy Bill to Remy Denton. They meet over drinks and end up in bed. Jackie gives an appearance of resentment for having slept with the lobbyist and insists on not receiving special treatment for it. Remy accepts her request and later sends her a text message relaying Tusk’s refusal to give in to the threat of an antitrust agreement added to the Emergency Energy Bill. Jackie calls Frank to inform him of Tusk’s response.
Frank speaks with the President and insists on holding their ground. He suggests further threatening Tusk with the involvement of FERC. FERC is to conduct a price-fixing review of Tusk’s energy company, which will force him to divulge his company’s accounting. Frank believes that Tusk will submit to the Administration’s demand just to avoid the disclosure of his books. President Walker, however, believes that the matter has gotten out of hand. He decides to resume talks with Raymond Tusk. Frank argues that doing so implies surrender, but the President has made his decision. He turns to Tusk. Frank claims that the President is about to betray him with a FERC investigation. Nevertheless, Tusk is not intimidated with the threat of an investigation for the energy crisis will continue and worsen before a hearing ensues. Frank then accuses Tusk of overcharging for electricity, but Tusk can justify the prices to the designs of the free market. Tusk is perplexed about Frank’s motive for wreaking havoc on the relationship of the U.S. and China. He begins to wonder if Frank is intentionally trying to ruin the President, but Frank claims to have been working on protecting the President from Tusk. Tusk begins to believe that Frank is taking revenge for the betrayal done to him on the Secretary of State nomination. Frank denies the accusation and supports it with the fact that he has made himself the Vice President of the United States. He demands Tusk to accept the subsidies or suffer the consequences of a FERC investigation.
Elizabeth Ward, a prosecutor from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, has come to offer a deal with incarcerated Lucas Goodwin in exchange for a plea, but the journalist refuses to accept the deal. Notwithstanding his defense lawyer’s advice, Lucas rejects and deal and insists on going to court where he can expose the crimes of Frank Underwood. The U.S. Attorney, however, presents the lewd photographs of Zoe Barnes found in his apartment as evidence of his obsession on the deceased journalist. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will present that his obsession led him to concoct a conspiracy theory that explains her unexpected death. The U.S. Attorney offers a twenty-year sentence for breaking into a data center and for fraud with eligibility for parole in seven. Although Lucas is not in the position to make demands, he insists on rejecting the deal unless he is allowed to speak to Tom Hammerschmidt. Lucas gets his request and relays to Tom the same story he already told him before. He wants Tom to write the article exposing Frank Underwood, going against the advice of his lawyer. Tom suggests taking the plea and foregoing the article, but Lucas remains determined to expose the crimes of Frank Underwood. He agrees to write the article, but warns his friend of tackling it professionally and without bias.
Tom Hammerschmidt begins his research. His persistence concerns Doug Stamper. He asks Agent Nathan Green to handle it, but the First Amendment hinders the FBI Agent from burying the story. Moreover, U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Ward is looking to indict Gavin Orsay, a criminal that had been on the FBI Most Wanted list for six years, instead of Lucas Goodwin. Stamper decides to deal with Hammerschmidt himself, but orders Agent Green to coerce Lucas into taking the plea. Stamper is at his wit’s end causing him to apprise Frank of the situation. Frank decides to speak to Hammerschmidt in person at the White House to deny all of the claims without alienating the journalist. The status of Frank Underwood does not intimidate the seasoned journalist who asks him forthrightly about the murder of Peter Russo. Frank vehemently denies his involvement. More importantly, he insists that the late congressman committed suicide. Hammerschmidt, however, divulges the identities of the people who could corroborate the theory and provide evidence of Frank’s guilt. He intimidates the Vice President with the facts that Rachel Posner and Roy Kapeniak do exist despite their unknown whereabouts. Frank asks Stamper to take charge of putting the article to bed after sensing the futility of convincing the journalist to see the preposterousness of the claims.
FBI Agent Green and his partner pay a visit to Janine Skorsky to speak to her about Lucas Goodwin. She informs them of his visit and of the numerous calls he placed. Janine did not return any of his calls. The FBI continues to question her and begins to ask about Gavin Orsay. The line of questioning prompts Janine to end the interrogation and to ask for a lawyer. Agent Green, however, informs her that she is not currently suspected of aiding Lucas in cyber terrorism, but they might if she insists on speaking to them in the presence of her lawyer. Janine agrees to sit through the inquiry without legal counsel, but becomes agitated after the FBI Agent intimidates her into testifying against Lucas. She is to sign a testimony that proves her friend’s guilt. Janine asks the FBI agents to leave and makes them aware of her rights. Agent Green, however, threatens her with the charge of abetting a criminal in cyber terrorism. Fighting the charge will take years and will keep her from taking care of her ill mother. Janine agrees to sign the testimony that proves Lucas’ guilt in front of the U.S. Attorney. She and Tom visit Lucas in prison. Tom shows him the article he wrote that provided no evidence to the claims inadvertently making the incarcerated journalist appear insane. Lucas reproaches Janine for her dishonesty. Janine admits guilt, but justifies her actions with self-preservation. She begs him to take the plea and to forget about putting Frank Underwood to justice.
Claire Underwood and First Lady Tricia Walker discuss the event they are to attend as part of the campaign for the awareness of the endemic nationwide problem of sexual assault. The President is supposed to attend the event if his schedule allows him. Claire agrees to avoid mentioning the sexual assault problem in the military in the presence of the President. Christina Gallagher’s arrival upon the First Lady’s request interrupts their meeting. Seeing Christina allowed Claire to bring up her affair with her now deceased boss, Peter Russo. The insinuation did not go amiss with the First Lady. Meanwhile, Claire intimates to Christina of having perceived the First Lady’s lack of confidence. She advises that Christina reach out to the First Lady to express her gratitude for the opportunity to work with the President and to offer her services to the First Lady as well. Christina finds the move brash, but follows Claire’s advice against her better judgment. True enough, her approach did unnerve the First Lady.
Francis practices throwing a baseball with his bodyguard Ed Meechum and seeing him do so remind Claire of the first pitch he threw in Greenville. Francis would rather forget the event. It was the Greenville Drive, Single-A team for the Red Sox home game. Francis had the honor of throwing the first pitch. Wanting to throw a real pitch, he decides to throw from the mound. The ball slipped out of his hand just before he released it. It went straight up in the air and hit the top of his head on its return. The episode caused an uproarious laughter from the crowd of spectators. The time of the first pitch for the Orioles baseball game at the Camden Yards arrives. Frank could not contain his anxiety of bringing shame upon himself with another failed pitch. He takes issue with the Kevlar bulletproof vest and assigns blame on Meechum if he fails. Frank addresses the crowd with a brief speech and walks to the mound. He prepares to throw the ball when all of the stadium lights go off. Secret Service men run towards the Vice President to whisk him to safety. Later, they learn that the city has experienced a massive power outage.
President Walker calls Raymond Tusk after learning that one of his companies caused the outage. He suspects Tusk of intentionally causing the blackout and candidly asks the mogul about it. Tusk denies the accusation and insists that the heat wave pushed the power grid to its limits. The President continues to doubt Tusk after the man informs him of taking two of his power plants in Georgia and Tennessee offline for an unscheduled maintenance on the southeast grid. Tusk claims that the blackout in Washington D.C. strained the two power plants in the southeast. The maintenance is a precaution against a dangerous breakdown. The President tries to convince himself to accept Tusk’s explanations, but Frank contends that the outages were done deliberately to pressure the President into accepting Tusk’s terms. President Garrett ponders the stimulus for Tusk’s drastic action and learns that Frank had spoken to him about the possible FERC investigation arguing that Tusk claimed to have accepted the subsidy deal. Frank feigns having been deceived and suggests of Tusk’s playing him and the President. He supposes that Tusk is trying to ascertain the Administration’s next move. Frank continues to assert the notion of the superfluity of shutting down the southeast power plants, but the President needs assurance that the power plants are indeed safe from distress. Frank states that the power outage that left essential institutions without power constitute an emergency and suggests the creation of an executive order that permits the government to take over the power plants allowing them to assess the risk. He later secretly meets with Raymond Tusk at Freddy’s BBQ to coerce complicity. Tusk is to accept the subsidies or face a government takeover of his power plants. Frank dissolves the deal they agreed on before. They are no longer bound to work together, because Tusk had numerous times worked against Frank to realize his self-interests.
Rachel Posner is enjoying her volunteer work at the Christian fellowship. She has become friends with the young woman who introduced her to the fellowship, Lisa Williams. Unfortunately, Doug Stamper has come to learn of her new affiliation. He waits for Rachel in the parking lot and makes his presence known with a blast of the headlights as Rachel and Lisa were walking to Lisa’s car. Rachel makes an excuse and manages to evade questions from Lisa with whom she was to have dinner. Stamper drives her home and reproaches the young woman for attending the fellowship arguing that Rachel risks exposure with every person she meets. He informs her that Lucas Goodwin took the plea, but insists that she must remain in hiding despite of it. Rachel wonders if Stamper keeps her hidden for his pleasure. She senses the man’s desire to be with her in spite of Stamper’s struggle to suppress having carnal relations with her.
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Sunday, 18 January 2015
House of Cards Chapter 18 Recap: Vice President Frank Underwood honors the 150th anniversary of the Overland Campaign with his presence beginning in the reenactment of the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House where General Grant met General Lee for the first time. Frank, a native of the South, takes no pride in the Confederacy, but his honoring one of the last battles leading to its fall is filled with irony. He takes no pleasure in attending the event and addresses the crowd with a short and banal speech.
Frank Underwood begins his research of Xander Feng, Raymond Tusk’s business partner on the Rare Earth Refinery whose net worth exceeds that of Tusk. Feng’s deep family connections to the Party built through his grandfather’s service and friendship with Mao Tse-tung gave way for his success in the telecom industry that secured his wealth. He meets with Feng in his hotel room to discuss business proposals that will truly mend the conflict between China and the US following the failed Joint Commission talks. Their negotiations occur in parallel with the trade summit in Washington where State Secretary Cathy Durant creates an appearance of reconciliation with China. Feng begins the back channel dialogue with China’s grant to Clayton West of a 40-year lease on the Mei Mei Rare Earth Elements Refinery. Frank hints of the indefinite awarding of the lease to Clayton West, Tusk’s nuclear energy company, with an argument that the lease must go to the highest bidder for appearances sake. Feng is certain that Tusk will outbid any competitors. They move on to President Garret Walker’s priority-one item, the construction of a bridge over the Long Island Sound from Port Jefferson to Milford sanctioned by the Committee on Foreign Investment in exchange for a 25-year toll-taking contract. Frank believed Feng funding the bridge to be a done deal, but Feng brings up the issue of the currency manipulation suit the US filed against China in the World Trade Organization. Contrary to the expected demand, Feng and his associates would like the US to pursue the lawsuit. Feng’s alliance managed to convince their conservative counterparts to accept a free-floating currency for China that requires the exchange rate to be determined by the market without central bank intervention. The change to an open currency could free up interest rates and reduce inflation in China to the benefit of entrepreneurs such as Feng and Tusk. China, however, prefers to receive the WTO ruling to conceal their conformity with a US sanctioned mandate.
Frank, however, decides to go against Feng’s demand and instructs Doug Stamper to inform Durant that China requires the abandonment of the WTO suit before discussing the bridge. He suspects the unusual demand to pursue the lawsuit as an agenda serving Feng and Tusk, but not Beijing. Frank worries that Feng and Tusk is using Washington to force Beijing into agreement, which may jeopardize trade summit negotiations. He supposes that the Standing Committee remains divided despite Feng garnering support for his cause. They are to leak the Administration’s decision to drop the lawsuit as soon as Durant presents it in the summit.
Claire Underwood would like to let the interest surrounding her rape die down without action from her part, but Connor Ellis worries that the press will uncover her dishonesty given that the rape that supposedly led to her abortion happened five years before the abortion. Claire is not concerned and assures Connor that she and her husband ensured that no medical records on her abortion exist. Only the doctor who performed the abortion was present and he already passed away. Nevertheless, Connor believes that silence after a serious accusation, one that has become the center of attention, is a mistake in public relations. Claire remains adamant with her decision leaving Connor to acquiesce and leave for Spotsylvania. Connor becomes the person chosen to leak news of the Administration’s decision to drop the WTO suit. Doug was to disclose the information, but decided to relegate the task to Claire’s Communications Director in order to distance Frank from the leak. He speaks to Ayla Sayyad about information he claims to have received from a Chinese businessman with ties to the Standing Committee who is doing back-channel negotiations with the US. The Wall Street Telegraph reports the news of the U.S. dropping the WTO suit without naming Feng as the source, but the articles in Hong Kong do. Ayla confronts Connor after learning of the identity of his supposed source as Xander Feng. She questions him about China’s decision to use the wealthy, corrupt businessman as their back-channel emissary noting that the man is one offense away from obtaining a death sentence in China. Connor, however, intimates of only having assumed the role of messenger. Meanwhile, Feng learns of Frank’s betrayal, but patiently waits for him to reach out to him.
Doug Stamper arrives in Feng’s house to discuss the dropping of the WTO lawsuit. He notes of China’s declaration of victory over the decision and reveals the Administration’s suspicion of the legitimacy of his request. Feng is already displeased of the Vice President sending his Chief of Staff to represent him in his meeting. He vilifies Stamper and taunts the alcoholic with an Old Fashioned he made using a rare and fine 1926 Macallan that cost forty-thousand dollars a bottle. Stamper ends the teasing by smashing the glass to the floor. He gains Feng’s acknowledgement and obtains his message to the Vice President. Feng refuses funding the construction of the Port Jefferson Bridge unless the lawsuit is reintroduced. He gives assurance in managing the members of the Standing Committee protesting the WTO suit adding that the majority wants reform. Feng, however, sends his warning of bypassing the Vice President altogether if he refuses to cooperate. Stamper delivers Feng’s message to Frank and offers to inform the President, but Frank forbids him from doing so. Frank intends to fuel the wrath of the President. He instructs Stamper to have the State Secretary resurface the bridge project in order to ascertain Feng’s bluff.
Frank resumes his obligation as Vice President of the United States and attends a tour of the battleground including the Bloody Angle where 15,000 Union-Confederate soldiers lost their lives on the half a mile wide battlefield. The organizers of the event surprise him with an introduction to his ancestor, Corporal Augustus Elijah Underwood of the 12th Regiment of McGowan Brigade. A fact Frank Underwood is unaware. Corporal Underwood was only twenty-four years of age and a father of a two-year old son he never met when he died in the Battle of Spotsylvania. The story of his great-great-great-grandfather as told by the actor captivates Frank Underwood causing him to delay the rest of the tour for a more detailed chronicle of his ancestor’s death. Corporal Underwood tells of the attack that occurred in the middle of the night. The scarcity of weapons left him unarmed, but his courage did not falter despite the enemy’s advantage. He attacks a Yankee with his bare hands and bites him fiercely to the bone. Regrettably, the enemy overpowers him and bashes his head with a rock. He was buried in a mass grave without a headstone.
Claire Underwood and the head of the Women’s Caucus, House Representative Elaine Brooks, have lunch with First Lady Tricia Walker in the hope of gaining the support of the First Lady in their fight against sexual assault. This after the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff refused to meet with Claire. He, however, agreed to send the Director to speak in his behalf. Congresswoman Brooks claims of the Joint Chiefs’ uncooperative attitude towards her appeals regarding sexual assault, but the Joint Chiefs refute her accusations. The Director belies their uncooperativeness with assertions of established measures and procedures created to bring offenders to justice. He, however, belligerently makes it clear that civilian jurisdiction on crimes committed by the military will never materialize. The arrival of the First Lady disrupts his contention. Claire Underwood deliberately scheduled a different time for the First Lady in order to startle the Joint Chiefs with her arrival and presence. Having accepted the impossibility of civilian jurisdiction over military offenses, Claire proposes allowing civilian oversight on military courts. This too incenses the Director of the Joint Chiefs and indignantly dismisses the suggestion. The First Lady senses the uniformed officer’s averseness to accept recommendations from civilians and interjects of her husband’s role as Commander-in-Chief despite his civilian status. She urges the Director to consider the recommendations from Claire and Congresswoman Brooks allowing Claire to bring up the atrociousness of the military’s sexual assault prevention literature that advises submission to an assault.
Lucas Goodwin continues his education in hacking and practices stealthily plugging the thumb drive into a server. Gavin Orsay also known as HEROnymous Bot attempts to dissuade Lucas from enacting a federal crime, but Lucas is determined to push through with it. Lucas finds his experience as a crime beat writer sufficient for the undertaking. He equates it to his expose of the DC drug ring that involved corrupt police officers. Gavin warns him about the severity of taking on the FBI, but receives insult for the crimes he did anonymously. The unstable hacker goes into a tirade of the punishment his friends received at the hands of the FBI for their attempt to expose government surveillance, corruption, and other conspiracies. Gavin sees himself as a soldier. He tries one last time to deter Lucas from committing the crime. Regrettably, Lucas believes the unlawful retrieval of Zoe Barnes’ phone records is his last option. Agent Nathan Green barges in Gavin’s apartment after Lucas had left. The FBI agent chastises the hacker for attempting to dissuade the journalist from committing the crime. The ruthless agent envious of the luxury afforded his prisoner takes his aggression on Gavin’s pet guinea pig, Cashew. He establishes his authority as Gavin’s master and treats him like a dog.
Lucas meets with the uncharacteristically nervous and seemingly reluctant Gavin. He convinces the hacker to hand him the thumb drive confident of their plan’s success. Lucas later attends the tour of the data center that includes a tour of the highly secure area that houses the servers. Aware of Lucas’ desire to see the servers in close proximity, the guide enthusiastically permits him access inside the caged servers allowing Lucas to plug in the thumb drive. The FBI working undercover as the tour guide and his colleagues arrest Lucas Goodwin.
Mrs. Susan Marbury receives Mr. White of Planned Parenthood in her house to discuss the naming of a fund after her deceased husband in honor of his work. Mr. White claims that the delicate matter he would like to ascertain warrants an in-person meeting. He asks Mrs. Marbury if her husband performed any illegal abortions and aggressively pursues this line of questioning with inquiries about the identities of the patients. Mr. White mentions Claire Underwood by name. Mrs. Marbury denies her husband ever performing an abortion on Claire Underwood, but Mr. White claims to know that he did. The livid Mrs. Marbury ends their meeting, but Mr. White is undeterred and reveals his real name, Seth Grayson. Seth apprises Mrs. Marbury of his deception and claims to have been working for Claire Underwood to ensure that her secret remains buried and Dr. Marbury’s reputation untarnished. He convinces Mrs. Marbury of his good intentions and manages to sway her into giving him her husband’s journal. The journal contains an entry of the abortion he performed on Claire Underwood twenty-five years ago.
Claire Underwood meets with Seth Grayson after claiming to have unearthed records of her abortion in August 1986, years after her sexual assault. Seth has come to demand a job, arguing that her current Communications Director failed to destroy evidence of her transgression. He asserts having shown loyalty by presenting her the damning evidence instead of selling it for considerable profit to the newspapers. Moreover, he recommends keeping Connor to avoid consequences of his abrupt termination. He is quite certain that Connor will eventually resent working with him and will decide to accept the job he had secretly arranged for him. Claire worries that Connor will go to the press with the truth she revealed to him and remains reluctant in acceding to Seth’s demand. She distrusts Seth Grayson, a man whose qualifications exceed the job he desires, but Francis advises to accede to his demand. Francis believes that Connor will remain silent about Claire’s secrets with an amicable departure. He argues of wanting to work with a distrustful but effective staff than a reckless one.
An irate President Walker orders a conference call with him, Frank, Tusk, and Durant after Feng rejected financing the bridge due to Frank’s deceitfulness. Tusk insists that Feng had complained of Frank’s relaying the opposite of his demands, but Frank vehemently refutes the accusation. He presents his suspicion of Feng working for his personal gain and not China’s. Moreover, he insinuates of Tusk’s collusion. The President, however, wants nothing but to ensure the success of his infrastructure program through the construction of the Port Jefferson Bridge using only foreign investment to guarantee deficit reduction. He forbids both Frank and Tusk from contacting Feng until the revival of the bridge deal. He, instead, instructs Durant to take over.
Frank continues his duty as Vice President of the United States and visits the encampment of the Overland Campaign reenactment. He finds the actor playing his grandfather playing the fiddle and asks him to show him the exact spot where his grandfather died. Claiming to pay respects to his ancestors, the Vice President manages to evade his entourage allowing him to meet with Feng, willfully disobeying the President’s order. Frank wants Feng to inform Tusk that he and the President are not his puppets. Feng threatens him with the finality of his withdrawal from financing the bridge, but Frank could not care less. Tusk complains to the President of Frank’s disobedience forgetting that his knowledge of Frank’s conversation with Feng implied his own insubordination. Frank advises the President to walk out of the summit and to refuse to negotiate with China, an advice Tusk warns the President against taking. Sensing the futility of the conference call, the President steps in and admits his two errors. He recognizes now that he erred in accepting Tusk’s recommended Chinese emissary and making Frank his envoy. President Garrett Walker pulls out of the negotiations with China due to Frank’s failure as the back-channel emissary. Frank had successfully steered the President to take the action he desired him to make. Later, he resumes his duty and attends the groundbreaking of the Overland Campaign Visitor Center where he gives his grandfather the honor to break the earth. Frank then asks for a moment of silence in remembrance of the dead. He buries his ring in the broken earth.
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Sunday, 11 January 2015
House of Cards Chapter 17 Recap: Raymond Tusk sends Remy Denton at the last minute to help gather votes for the entitlement reform not wanting its failure to derail President Garrett Walker from mending the conflict with China. Vice President Francis Underwood persuades Majority Whip Jackie Sharp to accept the help of Remy arguing that people are more likely to accede with both of them making the request. Frank, on the other hand, will induce House Representative Donald Blythe and consequently his supporters to vote for the entitlement reform. He only has two hours and seventeen minutes to do so.
Donald grudgingly meets with Frank and immediately declares the futility of Frank’s lobbying for he has no desire of agreeing to his request. Donald has lost confidence in Frank after he deceptively took over and revamped the Education Bill. The version that was passed in Congress is diametric to the one Donald drafted. The betrayal remains fresh in his mind. Donald vows never to make the same mistake twice. He formed a twenty-eight man coalition working to keep the integrity of the Democratic Party. The coalition will not consent to the entitlement reform that goes against the principles of the party. Frank could see that Donald’s resolve could not be broken. He informs his wife over the phone of the lost cause and the quarantine of the Capitol due to the white powder present in one of the mails sent to the Office of the Majority Whip. Meanwhile, Jackie and Remy both struggle to convince the Democrats to support the entitlement reform approved by the Administration. The backlash from AARP remains one of their concerns, but Remy assures them of having bought the AARP President’s accord with a $45 million endowment. This, however, will still not appease the senior voters whose eligibility to receive entitlements will be delayed a few years. Jackie elucidates the alternative, which is the immediate discontinuation of services. Nevertheless, the Democrats remain adamant with their disinclination to support the bill Frank Underwood crafted due to their distrust of him following the failure of the Education Bill whose political goal was to buy traction with the Republicans. Jackie plans to intimidate her colleagues into submission, but Remy advises against it. She follows his advice and inveigles her colleagues with complacence if they choose to withhold their support. She, however, entices them with the promise of defeating the Republicans and winning the support of the American people through a display of progress and solidarity. With only eight votes away, Jackie loses her gentility with two Congressmen who remain adamantly against the entitlement reform. Remy is aware of the needs and requirements of the two house representatives and advises her to bribe them for their votes. Unlike earlier that day, Jackie dismisses Remy’s advice and instead insults the two Congressmen. She makes it plain their scheme of withholding their votes for ransom and becomes confident of having won their votes with her reproach. Jackie declares of only giving rewards to those with good behavior. The two Congressmen will not gain favors from her if they vote against the entitlement reform.
Donald calls his wife, Marjory, on the phone to inform her of the quarantine. Frank senses trouble at home and learns that Marjory’s Alzheimer’s disease has worsened enough for Donald’s daughter, Molly, to take a semester off to care for her mother. Frank seeks to use the man’s vulnerability to win his support. Regrettably, Donald shrewdly perceives the deception. He, however, remains trapped with Frank Underwood for a few more hours as one of the tests from the powder-like substance comes up inconclusive. The quarantine and the evacuation of the Capitol proved propitious to Frank for it postponed the vote for a few more hours. Moreover, it allowed him to do Donald a favor. As Vice President of the United States, he was able to demand a means for Donald to speak to his mentally ill wife despite a block of all communication as part of the procedure to combat a security threat. In addition, it gives him a valid excuse to miss the joint interview with his wife. The HazMat crew manages to obtain secure two-way radios for Frank and Donald to use. Frank urges Claire not to wait for him and to do the interview alone. Later, he painfully listens to Donald speak to his demented wife who fails to recognize or remember him. The pitiful incident allowed Frank to exploit Donald’s vulnerability with insincere concern. He eases into the attack with an inquiry about the funding of research on Alzheimer’s, which he learns is grossly inadequate compared to the cost of care for the patients stricken with the disease. He also discovers that Donald tried to pass a bill that will help fund the research, but was opposed by their mutual enemy, Chairman of Appropriations Howard Webb. Marjory might have lost her lucidity, but Donald remains perceptive. He sees past Frank’s false concern and right through his scheme of buying his vote in exchange for the funding of Alzheimer’s research. The use of Marjory’s illness to coax his support disgusts Donald.
Meanwhile, HEROnymous Bot apprises Lucas Goodwin of the plan he envisioned will gain them access to the highly secure data center that holds the much-coveted phone records that connects Frank Underwood to the deaths of Zoe Barnes and Peter Russo. Lucas is to use his press credentials and ersatz motive of writing an article about cyberterrorism to obtain a tour of the data center where he will then plug a thumb drive into one of the servers. HEROnymous Bot convinces Lucas to perform the deed instead of him, arguing that his attendance of the tour before the breach will immediately make him the prime suspect. The breaking news of the quarantine calls Lucas back to the office, but the eccentric hacker prevents him from doing so. HEROnymous Bot induces Lucas to forego his duty as a journalist that he may walk him through every line of code he will write in order to retrieve the phone records. This ensures guilt on both men when they get caught. Unbeknownst to Lucas, HEROnymous Bot, otherwise known as Gavin Orsay, is working for the FBI. Gavin struck a deal with the FBI by helping them catch cyber criminals in exchange for his freedom. He now reports to Doug Stamper’s friend, FBI Agent Nathan Green, who maintains that his absolute freedom can only be attained with his help in the capture of AV Unit or his friends in DecSec. Gavin is incredulous of the whole cyberterrorism operation established to catch Lucas Goodwin, a journalist inept in coding whom he does not believe to be a real threat.
Connor Ellis struggles to convince the producer to pursue the interview regardless of the absence of the Vice President. The producer had been patient with the delay believing the reward for an exclusive interview regarding the quarantine worth the wait. Claire steps in after sensing the disinclination of the producer to agree to the request to have the interview without the Vice President and the desire to use it as an exclusive recount of the quarantine. Connor cancels the interview after the producer insists on making the entire interview about the quarantine causing the producer to confer with the journalist, Ashleigh Banfield, who is to conduct the interview. Claire gets her demand and sits for a live interview with Ashleigh on CNN. As agreed upon, Ashleigh only spends the first few minutes of the interview on the quarantine of Capitol, the reason for Frank Underwood’s absence. The interview quickly moves on to Claire Underwood, the daughter of wealthy parents, privileged and influential. Sensing that her background does not appeal with the masses, Claire chooses the memory of her visit to Dealey Plaza with her father. It is the place where beloved former President John F. Kennedy was shot. She appeals to the masses with the words of her father about Kennedy, the man who lost his life for making the world a better place. Ashleigh, however, once again challenges her appeal with an insinuation of having agreed to a marriage of convenience citing her father’s generous contribution to Frank Underwood’s campaign. Claire gradually loses control of the interview when Ashleigh catches her with a canned response to the question about their decision not to raise children. The journalist notes having heard the exact answer in previous interviews, catching Claire off-guard. Claire is even more unprepared with the succeeding question, one that insinuated her having committed abortion. Frank, still quarantined at the Capitol, watch closely at how his wife handles the question, while Connor indignantly demands the producer to go on commercial. His petition was rejected. Claire affirms that she had been pregnant and confesses to have had an abortion. The shocking revelation startled everyone and rattled Claire who requested for a break during the interview.
Claire deliberates with Connor on how to handle the questions that will follow her shocking revelation. She reveals to the Communications Director of terminating her pregnancy thrice. Both agree that she should only confirm one especially since the first two were a result of her promiscuity. The third one was no better for she and Francis decided to terminate the unplanned pregnancy they saw as a hindrance to his campaign. Connor advises against continuing the interview, but Claire ignores his advice. Claire resumes the interview with Ashleigh and discusses the circumstances that led to her abortion. She claims to have terminated the pregnancy that resulted in the sexual assault she received from a classmate in college. She did not report the rape out of shame. Claire continues with the enthralling revelation with the disclosure of the rapist’s identity. She declares to have seen her rapist recently after thirty years of not seeing him at a commissioning ceremony. Francis pinned the stars on the man who sexually violated her. She reveals her rapist as General Dalton McGinnis. Claire avows that Francis had always known of the assault, but was unaware of the identity of her assailant. The staggering revelations left Ashleigh Banfield nearly speechless.
At last, the quarantine is lifted. Frank before rushing to his wife vows to give Donald the funding for Alzheimer’s research despite his averseness to vote for the entitlement reform. He bumps into Jackie, who informs him of needing four more votes in order to pass the bill. Seeing the futility of obtaining support for the entitlement reform, Frank moves on to more pressing matters that is his wife’s scandalously revealing interview. He leaves Jackie Sharp to deal with Donald Blythe and his coalition. Jackie instructs her secretary to give her every ream of paper in the office and hauls them to Donald’s office. She claims that the boxes of paper contain the names of every person in America who will lose their benefits due to the government freeze that will follow due to the failure of Congress to vote for the package that include entitlement reform. Donald remains obdurate with his vote, but Jackie convinces him to get four of his people to vote for the package in order to avert a government shutdown. They then will work together on the issues of concern citing that she is unlike Frank Underwood.
Claire ponders the half lie she made. Her rape was true, but it did not impregnate her. Connor is very well aware of the lie, but supports her of the revelation of her rapist. She worries about General Dalton McGinnis’ denial, but a private claiming to have been the victim of the General reduces the doubt surrounding her claim. Claire needs to talk the young woman into agreeing to divulge her identity in order to allow her to make the claim during the interview. Claire promises protection from the Vice President of the United States ultimately convincing Private Megan Hennessey to come forward. Private Hennessey joins the interview and reports of at least three sexual assaults by General McGinnis in her class. Later, husband and wife celebrate their success with a cigarette. Upon Claire’s urging, Francis sings her “Pretty Polly”, a ballad describing the murder of a young woman after she becomes pregnant and the haunting of her killer that led to his insanity and eventual death.
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Sunday, 4 January 2015
House of Cards Chapter 16 Recap: President Garrett Walker prepares for the State of the Union address that focuses on domestic issues. Raymond Tusk becomes worried that the President has decidedly ignored the conflict with China. Vice President Francis Underwood, however, believes that the President is correct to favor domestic over foreign affairs. He argues that a government shutdown immediately after the speech will be detrimental to all concerned. Tusk is unconvinced for he does not see a solution to the much contended entitlement reform, but Frank has a plan. He vows to have the Democrats in the Senate agree to the Republicans’ demand of raising the retirement age. Although the Republicans will get their demand, the White House will be credited as having averted a government shutdown for reaching across the aisle. Tusk remains incredulous of the Vice President’s risky plan despite Frank’s insistence of taking the blame for its failure should it fail. Nonetheless, Tusk offers to persuade the President into agreement.
Vice President Frank Underwood offers Senate Majority Leader Hector Mendoza the Democrats’ agreement to raise the age of eligibility for entitlement to 67 years old. The White House expects the prevention of a government shutdown in return. Mendoza is in agreement with Frank’s plan, but worries about Curtis Haas. The Republican senator’s aversion to Democrats causes him to refuse any offer from them. Regrettably, Curtis controls a third of the Republican caucus. Nonetheless, Frank speaks to the Democratic Senate leaders and convinces them to allow the entitlement reform to pass in order to avert the government shutdown. The Democratic Leadership agrees given his assurance that Mendoza will ensure the Republicans’ concurrence. However, just as Mendoza predicted, Curtis Haas rejects the Democrats’ proposal of raising the retirement age to 67 despite their argument of making entitlements solvent until 2055 and the added savings of a trillion dollars that removes the burden from the taxpayers. Curtis suggests raising the retirement age to 68 and the elimination of early retirement. His radical demands enrage the Democrats who accuse him of working in the behest of the Tea Party that poured 10 million dollars of their PACs into his campaign. Mendoza attempts to persuade Curtis into agreeing to the Democrats’ proposal, but he continues to reject them. Having reached an impasse, Frank suggests both parties to speak to their colleagues before reconvening the next day. He then asks Mendoza for a way to prevent Curtis from enacting a filibuster when they get the amendment passed. Mendoza believes they can stave off a filibuster if they can ensure that the passage of the amendment constitutes the passage of the bill by previous agreement.
Frank updates Tusk of the progress with the entitlement reform including the obstacle that is Curtis Haas. However, the objective of his call is to ask Tusk to ensure that the new retirement ages are included in the President’s speech. Tusk had been successful in convincing the President to agree to the entitlement reform. Frank relies on Tusk’s power of persuasion to sway the President into including specifics of the Senate version of the reform in the State of the Union address. Frank and Mendoza speak privately with Curtis in the hope of uncovering the true reason behind his resistance. Curtis fears that another win from the Democrats will result in the next Congress dismantling the agreement invalidating the sought after entitlement reform. Mendoza offers assurance to his fellow Republican Senator with a proposal to include a super majority point of order against revisiting the issue for ten years. An official long-term commitment from both parties will prevent the dismantling of the agreed entitlement reform. In addition, the Democrats have agreed to keep VA services and FEMA at current levels and settled on the spending cuts the Republicans proposed. Curtis remains adamant in rejecting the Democrats’ compromise thinking that the country might benefit from experiencing a disastrous mismanagement of government. Frank, however, appeals to the man’s ego and inveigles him into accepting the proposal. Curtis desires to be known as the man who realized the passing of the entitlement reform. He agrees to the proposal with the condition of allowing fifteen years to pass before revisiting the reform and the Democrats taking full responsibility for the gridlock if the House fails to pass the bill. Senator Curtis Haas and Vice President Frank Underwood shake hands on the deal.
Speaker of the House Bob Birch learns of the Senate version of the entitlement reform that bears no resemblance to the bill the House passed. He confronts Jackie Sharp, the recently installed Whip, livid with the bill’s current incarnation. He guarantees her that Senate will not pass the bill. Bob’s threat materializes after Curtis Haas withdrew on the deal he made with the Democrats. President Walker reproofs Frank for the failure in Senate, but also blames himself for allowing to be persuaded into agreeing to the entitlement reform. Tusk had informed the President that Frank bullied him into convincing the President to agree to the compromise. President Walker’s conversation with Frank is filled with derision towards the Vice President he hoped could manage Congress. Frank assures the President of his ability to ensure the passing of the bill in the Senate in time for the State of the Union address.
Frank Underwood sets on his goal of proving his competence to the President and chastises Mendoza for failing to control Curtis. Mendoza, however, is powerless against Curtis and the fifteen Senators under his influence. It is up to Frank to get the bill passed through Senate. He manages to get a few Republicans to support or at least abstain from voting against the bill in exchange for favors. The Republicans learn of having lost the majority vote through Frank’s poaching. They engage a quorum call in order to forestall the voting while they determine a course of action. Vice President Frank Underwood takes the chair and instructs the expeditious handling of the roll call as members of the Senate voting for the entitlement reform enter the chamber. Learning that the Democrats have reached a quorum, Senate Majority Leader Hector Mendoza instructs the Republicans to leave leading to an absence of a quorum. Frank and his team anticipated this move. Senate Minority Leader Willard Erikson moves to direct the Sergeant-at-Arms to compel the attendance of absent Senators. Senators who are not ill or excused from attendance will be arrested as approved by the presiding officer, the Vice President. With only three Republicans present, the Democrats vote for the motion presented.
The Sergeant-at-Arms along with the Capitol Police wastes no time in arresting the absent Republican Senators. Some have barricaded themselves in their offices in a futile attempt to avoid arrest. Mendoza speaks to Frank of the senselessness of his scheme, but Frank sees his presence as an act of surrender. True enough, Mendoza asks him for his demands. Frank will end the so-called tyranny if the Republicans vote for the agreed version of the entitlement reform. Mendoza along with six Republicans of his choice surrenders to the police and allow them to be hauled in the chamber under protest much to Senator Curtis Haas’ dismay. A quorum is finally reached. Curtis threatens to filibuster the main bill, but learns that Mendoza made a deal with Frank. The passage of the substitute amendment constitutes passage of the main bill preventing anyone from enacting a filibuster. The roll call for the adoption of the substitute amendment to HR 934 begins and Curtis in a futile attempt to prevent its passing interrupts the roll call with a proposal, which the presiding officer, Frank Underwood, denied. The entitlement reform passes Senate. Raymond Tusk praises Frank for accomplishing such a feat, but Frank makes known to Tusk of uncovering his duplicity after hearing from the President of Tusk’s disapproval of him and his counsels. That evening, the President addresses the nation and proudly announces the passing of HR 934 in the Senate, which raises eligibility to 68 and 64 for normal and early retirement to ensure entitlement for future generations. The passing of the bill also indicates the prevention of a government shutdown. The President acknowledges Vice President Frank Underwood for its success.
Doug Stamper speaks about the post in the Deep Web concerning the Vice President with his friend at the FBI serving as the executive liaison to the White House. He gives the FBI agent strict orders to find and arrest the person responsible for the post despite the agent’s recommendation to ignore it given that a crime has not been committed. Doug suggests that the FBI help the person with the crime he plans to commit to give them reason to arrest him. Given the extent of the operation, Doug asks of him, the FBI agent wants a promotion in return for his services. Meanwhile, Lucas Goodwin approaches Christina Gallagher in person after the woman ignored the numerous correspondences he sent her about Frank Underwood’s role in the deaths of Peter Russo and Zoe Barnes. Lucas believes her to be the only person who would understand his conspiracy theory given her relationship with the late Peter Russo. Unfortunately, Christina already moved on and put Peter behind her. In fact, she has threatened to contact the police and to speak to the Vice President about his theory if Lucas continues to stalk her.
Later, Lucas’ laptop begins to malfunction and embarrassingly starts to show a slideshow of pornographic pictures of women ending with a photo of Zoe Barnes. Soon, he receives instant messages from HEROnymous Bot, a hacker wanted by the FBI, who claims to be able to accomplish his request. Lucas waits for the hacker at Waffle Nation, but receives a package from a messenger instead. The package contains an iPad and a pair of earphones. The hacker conceals his identity through animation and voice alteration. Moreover, the hacker requests Lucas to sign with his thumbprint a document that denies membership of the law enforcement. Lucas’ desperation causes him to agree despite his better judgment. The hacker then sends him an e-mail with instructions for getting the two-step verification code for the Herald’s internal servers. Lucas is to destroy the iPad and the e-mail he had sent him unaware that he had just given his identity to the very people he wants to expose.
Believing to have made progress, Lucas updates Janine Skorsky of recent developments in his investigation hoping to convince her to return and help him with the exposé. Janine, out of fear, had left her job as a political correspondent with Slugline for a teaching job in Ithaca following the death of Zoe Barnes. Lucas returns to The Herald without the support of Janine. Nevertheless, he pursues his plan and follows the instructions from HEROnymous Bot starting with pocketing the IT person’s mobile phone that receives the servers’ password through a text message. Lucas passes the password to HEROnymous Bot allowing the hacker access to The Herald’s servers. He later learns that the task was only a test to determine Lucas’ resolve. Lucas meets HEROnymous Bot in the hacker’s luxury apartment where he is once again asked questions regarding his affiliation with law enforcement. The hacker intimates the possibility of the FBI monitoring Lucas’ posts, but denies the FBI’s knowledge of his identity.
Rachel Posner now works as a call center agent for the National Firearm Education Center after Doug Stamper forced her into hiding. She uses the resources available to her and calls her mother, Cheryl Posner, a nurse working in the Pediatric division of the Lynchburg Children’s Hospital. Inopportunely, her manager sees her idle causing her to hang up. Later, a young woman on the bus ride home befriends her. She learns that the young woman works at a Christian bookstore and daycare center after she hands her a pamphlet that causes Rachel to cringe. Later, she receives a visit from Doug informing her of Lucas Goodwin’s determination to uncover the truth about Peter Russo. Doug orders her not to speak to anyone or go to any place she does not have to be. Rachel insists that she has not been in contact with anyone, but Doug finds the pamphlet causing him to suspect her of withholding the truth. His mandate caused Rachel to rebel. Rachel attends the Christian fellowship introduced to her by Lisa, the young woman she met on the bus.
Claire Underwood interviews Connor Ellis for the Communications Director position. The young man from Lubbock, Texas impresses her with his strategy to give the Underwoods media attention appropriate for their status. Connor’s resourcefulness and determination enthralled her. Connor confessed to have gotten rid of his thick accent much like his fellow Texan, Claire. The woman who now has no trace of the Southern accent learns that the young man managed to get access to her first joint interview with Frank Underwood during his run for state assembly in 1986. Claire still spoke with a Southern accent back then. Connor was determined to get the job and flew to the local affiliate in Greenville, South Carolina in order to watch the tape as part of his research. He returns for another interview with Claire and proposes a media plan. His arrival is propitious given the recent fiasco in Congress where the Vice President was accused of tyranny. Connor recommends a joint interview reminiscent of the first one the Underwoods had in South Carolina. He brought with him a copy of the interview and pointed out the moment of intimacy Claire displayed that he believed would have captivated the audience. Connor believes that the interview will provide enough distraction from the chaos in Congress that Frank instigated.
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Sunday, 28 December 2014
House of Cards Chapter 15 Recap: House Representative Francis Underwood is sworn in as the Vice President of the United States without a single vote cast in his name. His first order of business is to bring order to the race for the position he left vacant. The Whip’s race has become reprehensible enough for the President to consider it as his current biggest disappointment. Frank Underwood along with Speaker of the House Bob Birch speaks with the two frontrunners, Howard Webb and Wes Buchwalter, about the virulent backbiting between them.
In exchange for her loyalty, Christina Gallagher manages to secure a position in President Garrett Walker’s staff with the help of Frank Underwood. She shows gratitude to Frank by feeding him information about the President beginning with his meeting with Raymond Tusk to discuss the Joint Commission talks. Frank entrenches the meeting with Tusk and brings along Secretary of State Cathy Durant. He knew that Cathy would recommend using the Joint Commission talks to present the issue of corporate cyberattacks by the Chinese. Tusk would rather avoid the issue given the damage it will cause to his business relationship with China and the setback it will cost his co-venture refinery project in Fujian. Much to Cathy’s surprise, Frank agrees with Tusk arguing that antagonizing the Chinese could undo years of progress. Nonetheless, President Walker acquiesces to Cathy’s plea and allows her to lay out an agenda surrounding the cyberattacks without making demands so as not to alienate the Chinese. With his meeting with Tusk encroached, President Walker decides to speak to Tusk over lunch. Cathy and Frank, on the other hand, discuss the relationship of the President with Tusk. She learns that the President sees Tusk as a mentor and advisor. Frank taking his side was part of his strategy believing that opposing him will only prompt Tusk to repel further the cyber warfare issue. Nonetheless, he believes that Tusk will continue to convince the President to exclude the cyber warfare issue from the agenda of the Joint Commission talks. He recommends Cathy to force the Chinese to confront the issue immediately despite her promise not to make demands. The usually uneventful Joint Commission talks made the news after the Chinese walked out to express their resentment for the US delegation’s demand to include the Chinese government-sanctioned cyberattacks on the agenda. To make matters worse, the Secretary of State made a statement to the press that will further ire the Chinese government.
Lucas Goodwin speaks to the police about the involvement of the newly installed Vice President of the United States in the death of Zoe Barnes. He persuades them to obtain the data history from Zoe’s phone carrier that will prove that the two were in contact with each other. Exasperated with Goodwin’s incessant claim, the detective who handled the case shows him the security video from the subway platform that caught Zoe tripping or jumping into the train tracks. The video did not show evidence of another person pushing her into the tracks. However, Lucas has not given up on the conspiracy theory and it has affected his work so much so that it caught the attention of his superior. Concerned about his friend and former subordinate Lucas, Tom Hammerschmidt agrees to meet him at The Washington Herald, the newspaper he once run before Zoe Barnes caused a scandal that led to his termination. Lucas confides his conspiracy theory to Tom, who patiently listens. Tom does not find Lucas insane, but he does find the theory implausible. He supposes that Lucas is grieving for the unexpected loss of his lover. His grief prompts him to demand an explanation for Zoe’s sudden death and accepts one no matter how incredible it may seem. Lucas preoccupied with troubles of his own sends a writer from the tech beat to cover the Joint Commission talk’s fiasco believing that the man’s knowledge of technology will be useful in understanding the much-contended Chinese cyber warfare. The section about the phone companies catches the interest of Lucas Goodwin. He learns from the tech beat writer that phone carriers keep the data history of their customers including the names of the people they contacted and the contents of their correspondence. The writer then introduces him to The Deep Web, the 96% of the Internet that is inaccessible to search engines. It is a place of illegal activity and a part of the Internet where one can hire hackers. Lucas enters The Deep Web and seeks help in hacking the phone records of the Vice President of the United States.
House Representative Jackie Sharp has lunch with House Representative Ted Havemeyer believing that the man wanted to speak about his illegitimate child suffering from cerebral palsy. Jackie is one of a few people who know his secret. She soon learns that Ted wanted to have lunch with her, because he heard about her interest in the position of Whip. Jackie informs him that her interest in the position is benign given her lack of experience and funding. Ted offers to funnel his PAC money to gain her supporters. Jackie refuses the largesse Ted is offering, but Ted makes it clear that he too will benefit from her rise as Whip. He finds it advantageous to be the benefactor and friend of the Whip. The man is unaware that Jackie Sharp’s modesty was an act. She had asked her friend, Lorrie Tate, to inform him of her interest in the Whip race certain that Ted will offer to help her with the campaign. In exchange, Jackie is to make Lorrie Chief Deputy. Rumors of Jackie Sharp entering the Whip race begin to fly around Congress prompting Wes Buchwalter to reach out to Frank Underwood for help unaware that he had enticed Jackie to campaign for his position. Wes, however, senses an inkling of Frank’s hand in Jackie’s campaign for Whip. He conspires with the enemy, Howard Webb, in the hope of eliminating the third candidate. Webb’s solution, however, is for Wes to drop out. In exchange, Webb will give Wes the Chairmanship on Appropriations. Jackie learns of the trade and speaks to Ted, who offers his Chairmanship on Ways and Means to get Wes on their side. Ted finds it an appropriate sacrifice, one he is willing to make, because the benefit of having the Whip as an ally outweighs any Chairmanship. Regrettably, Wes Buchwalter’s deep-seated loathing for Ted Havemeyer causes him to refuse the offer unless it comes with the death of Ted’s political career. Ted ensured Wes’ loss in the Senate race twelve years ago after he financed his primary opponent. Wes considers his political death at his demand retribution. Jackie, disinclined to betray the friend who treated her as his own daughter, reaches out to Frank for help, but he can only offer her one solution, betrayal. Frank offers dirt that will destroy the political career of Ted Havemeyer, but it is information Jackie knows very well. In fact, Jackie has been checking on Ted’s illegitimate daughter with the nanny of her children on his behalf. She is reluctant to betray the man who supported her for many years and in some ways gave her career. Frank becomes disappointed with Jackie after uncovering her weakness, because he chose her to be his replacement for her ruthlessness. His instincts, however, were right. Jackie Sharp speaks to Ted Havemeyer of having bought the support of Wes Buchwalter with the death of his political career. The story of the illegitimate daughter he supports, but never visits will soon make the news marking the end of his career as a politician.
Claire Underwood assumes the role of the wife of the Vice President of the United States and begins the search for her Chief of Staff. Her other duties include appearances in events and one of them is attending the pinning of stars to two newly commissioned Marine generals, Alicia Hampton and Dalton McGinnis. Claire would rather not attend the event, but she acquiesces because it is the first event her husband will attend as Vice President. General McGinnis introduces himself to Frank and informs him of having dated Claire in Harvard. The encounter disturbed Claire enough for Frank to notice it. He finds her in the women's room in tears. Soon he learns that McGinnis was the man who raped Claire during her freshman year in Harvard. Frank becomes livid and refuses to pin stars on the General, but Claire begs him not to make a scene. Vice President Frank Underwood does his duty and pins the stars on General Dalton McGinnis with immense displeasure. Husband and wife return home somber with the remembrance of the violation done to Claire. Frank tries to dispel the hatred coursing through his blood at the shame of honoring the man who raped his wife. Claire lies in bed reliving the horrifying ordeal she received from McGinnis. She confides to Frank her struggle to destroy the person who had been the victim of a heinous violation. She informs him that the hatred will persist, but he must harness it and use it on someone else.
President Walker returns to the White House enraged at the news of the failed Joint Commission talks with China. He reproofs the Secretary of State for the direct ultimatum the US delegation demanded of the Chinese and her decision not to recant it. Secretary Durant chose to exhibit strength instead of losing face. The President dismisses Durant then immediately calls Tusk on the phone and includes Frank in the call. Tusk advises the President to apologize to the Chinese, which Frank supports arguing that the goal is to resume the talks without further delay. President Walker, however, worries that opposing his Secretary of State will be perceived as a miscommunication between him and his Cabinet. Following the advice of Frank and Tusk, the President agrees to apologize personally to the Chinese government. However, Frank speaks of the concern the President raised earlier and the insight from the Secretary of State about the Chinese. Frank imparts his belief that intransigence might earn the respect of the Chinese as it displays his strength and resolve as the President of the United States. President Walker follows the advice of his Vice President and takes full responsibility for the direct ultimatum the State Department imposed on the Chinese delegation of the Joint Commission. Moreover, he shows his resolve to deal with the issue of Chinese cyber warfare in a press conference where he expresses his intolerance for China’s theft of the intellectual property of American corporations and the threat to the government’s online infrastructure. His press statement caused indignation from the Chinese prompting its Ministry of Foreign Affairs to speak of the injustice of the false accusation and defamation of the People’s Republic of China. The issue caused China to refuse bilateral trade talks with the United States. Tusk calls Frank to speak to him of the President’s unexpected statement that wreaked havoc on the trade talks with China. More troubling to Tusk is the President’s unprecedented decision to oppose his advice without fair warning. He sees Frank’s handiwork in the President’s press statement. Frank argues that opposing China benefits the President’s approval rating, which will prove advantageous to all concerned. They must support the President in the decision he made publicly and instead work on mending the relationship with China through backchannels.
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