Sunday, January 4, 2015

Chapter 16 Season 2 – House of Cards Episode Summary 2.3

Vice President Frank Underwood behind President Garrett Walker at State of the Union
House of Cards Chapter 16 Episode Summary: Vice President Frank Underwood convinces President Garrett Walker to approve of the entitlement reform amendment that accedes to the demands of the Republicans.  Frank reaches out to Republican Senate Majority Leader Hector Mendoza for help in ensuring the passage of the amendment knowing that Republican Senator Curtis Haas will be a hindrance to its success.  Meanwhile, Lucas Goodwin continues his pursuit of exposing Frank Underwood as a murderer.  He enters the Deep Web in search of a hacker who can obtain the phone records that will uncover the crimes Frank Underwood committed and buried.

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.Continue reading...

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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