Wednesday, November 30, 2011
As I was doing some more research for my paper I came across this interesting article.
According to the author Obama dwarfs republican candidate when using twitter.
As for the Newt Gingrich Campaign, which trails many other rivals in fundraising and is more than $1 million in debt, is the most active on twitter!
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Monday, November 28, 2011
Republicans have been unenthusiastic about Obama's payroll tax break?
In the wake of the recent supercommittee failure, lawmakers from both parties moved quickly to frame the looming budget debates that will dominate the rest of the year and reverberate through next year's elections.
Neither side, however, is straying far from its well-worn policy priorities — the same entrenchment that sunk the deficit super-panel — setting the stage for what could easily be another long December of high-stakes battles over federal spending and tax policy against a backdrop of voter unrest and the threat of a government shutdown.
The article is old, but the basic theory is still cycling through the media—like Ezra Klein, Charles Krauthammer now believes the Eurozone crisis will determine our 2012 elections.
The future looks bleak for the region. France’s AAA credit rating is under pressure, the German economy is showing signs of fatigue, and Greece’s condition may have spread to Portugal, Spain, and Italy. To make matters worse, OECD predicts a double-dip recession for the UK economy and negative economic growth for the Eurozone, shrinking the economy by 3.7% in 2013.
While some experts maintain that a sudden crisis is not likely, others believe this past week has taken the Eurozone towards a new phase of the crisis—total collapse. What experts do agree on is this: if the Eurozone crisis goes unresolved, it will stall U.S. economic growth and keep unemployment rates high. As Geithner puts it, Europe’s financial crisis could pose a “central challenge to global growth.”
Assuming the economy is a major factor in the 2012 elections, it may well be that the Eurozone economy, something President Obama can’t hope to change, will determine the results come November.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Interesting article on Politico about Schumer's optimism regarding a deficit deal. I found the part describing the likelihood of a deficit deal being more likely once the Republican candidate has been picked to be quite intriguing. Though I typically don't agree with Senator Schumer, I think that he brings an interesting perspective to the table in this analysis. I am curious to see if after the choice of a Republican candidate, we will see more cross-the-aisle deal making. What are your thoughts on this analysis?
The idea behind Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar was great: chronicling the nearly 40 controversial years of J. Edgar Hoover as Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. However, the film's execution lacked in comparison. The biggest problem I had with the film was that it was too choppy and all over the place, discontinuously moving between events in Hoover's life. Having read Richard Hack's Puppetmaster, it wasn't too difficult to follow the story line, though I think I would have quickly lost interest if hadn't done so.
In terms of choosing which events in Hoover's life to depict, Eastwood did an excellent job. Since Hoover ran the FBI for 37 years, we all are aware of the numerous scandals, controversies, and affairs that transpired during this time. Eastwood managed to skillfully depict Hoover's development from young man working at the Bureau of Investigation during the Palmer Raids into the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Ultimately, the film did not leave me feeling like there were aspects of Hoover's that I needed to know more about.
Another testimony to Eastwood's directing is his handling of aspects of Hoover's life that I had never learned of before This includes the scene in which Hoover dresses in his mother's clothes and jewelery just before bursting out in mournful cries for his matriarch. I found scenes such as these to be consistent with Hoover's life even though we may not necessarily know they happened, unless we were in Hoover's immediate company at the time.
As for the acting, I thought Leonardo DiCaprio was an excellent Hoover. He was able to capture the strict, dominant, and determined elements that Hoover displayed in his public life, as well as the emotional, lonely, and dark aspects that defined his private life. As for rest of the supporting cast (Judi Dench, Naomi Watts, and Armie Hammer), their performances surprisingly equaled how I had imagined they would be, while reading PuppetMaster.
Overall, it was a good movie (if you ignore its irregular flow) and I am glad that I read Hack's book prior to seeing it. B/B+
Saturday, November 26, 2011
HOWEVER, i think it is important to note that real-life Hoover in himself was a confusing character. Perhaps it was not the film falling short but rather the insurmountable task of providing an all encompassing portrayal of Hoover that led to the more confusing parts of the film.
Everyones a critic though, so here are my suggestions if they plan to put out a director's cut of the movie.
1. As mentioned, the flashbacks combined with the present day plot may have been a good idea on paper, but on screen it was not helpful in organizing the film. I think this is largely due to a lack of consensus as to where the film's plot was centered. At first, I thought Hoover writing his biography in the present was serving as a frame for the past events but that slowly unraveled as his flashbacks took on lives of their own, and the present day became less and less about the biography.
Suggestion: Minimize the present day moments, focus on the flashbacks. End the film with one longer present day scene of him dying. Or better yet, structure the movie like the book and start with Hoover's death and then go back through his life.
2. Hoover's emotional scenes were too isolated. The scenes of romantic tension with Tolsen or the now infamous mother's dress scene were powerful moments, but they were largely inconsequential for the rest of the film. The result: Hoover's emotional state seemed to have little impact or influence on the important events. Perhaps this was reflecting the man in real-life but as a filmmaker, these events came across as disjointed episodes with no real bearing on the rest of Hoover's life or the rest of the film.
Suggestion: Do a better job of showing how Hoover's emotions affected his life and career. Or, if this is not the case, do a better job of conveying how isolated Hoover kept himself from everyone else and how that affected his life.
These two suggestion taken into account, I think J Edger could have been a much better film. Still enjoyable though. I would recommend the film but with a prior requirement of reading up on the man in order to avoid being completely lost.
Friday, November 25, 2011
While watching J Edgar, I could not help but be reminded of The Godfather Part II. In the latter film we watch as Michael leads the family business, interjected with past vignettes of his father's rise to power. I think Clint Eastwood was going for a similar effect in J Edgar; trying to build up the character and personality that was J Edgar Hoover through flashbacks and narrative.
Unfortunately it did not work. It was hard to find a cohesive plot between the back-and-forth from the 1970s to the 50s to the 60s to the 20s and back to the 30s. While there was certainly a point to be made about Hoover's lying and exaggerations, without a steadily rising plot the climax fell flat. As did some of the character development, such as Gandy's flurried introduction and the not-so-subtle allusions to Tolson's sexuality ("His record shows... he shows no interest in women.")
But the acting was great. Where Leonardo wearing women's clothing could have been quite laughable, it came off as serious and sad. Overall DiCaprio's Hoover came off as more socially awkward and insecure than power hungry, which diminished how awestruck we should have been thinking how someone like Hoover could have served in the government. And there was a nice selection of events from the book in the film, though some events such as Dillinger's murder went unexplained despite constant references. Overall, C+.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Personally, I thought the movie was pretty good. I was impressed by the way Leonardo DiCAprio was able to portray the rough and tough side of Hoover while also showing how paranoid he really was.
However, there were a couple of things I thought the movie could have done better.
Personally, I feel that the movie could have been better if it avoided the constant flashbacks. I am glad we read the book before hand, since it helped me organize the events in my head. I can see why some viewers might have given this movie a bad rating.
Another issue I had with this movie was the way it focused more on Hoover’s heroic side than his dark side. Throughout the whole movie I was waiting to see the part where Hoover betrays the German spies, the ones who helped him prevent national disasters.
One thing that surprised me was learning that Hoover had some strong feelings for Ms. Gandy at the start of his career.
I was also struck by the way the Hoover’s house looked. It’s exactly what I envisioned it to be when I read the book.
Lastly, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Tolson. I feel the movie did a great job showing how much affection he had for Hoover.
Overall, I would give this movie a B+
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Monday, November 21, 2011
First off let me say that the movie was not as bad as critics would have lead me to believe it would be. Rottentomates gave J. Edgar a rating of 40% but I would have easily given the movie anywhere between a 75% to 80%. I was thoroughly impressed with Leonardo DiCAprio's portrayal of Hoover, despite what many critics have described as a lackluster performance with too much makeup. I thought Clint Eastwood and the screenwriters did an excellent job of showing Hoover as a paranoid, egotistical, showboat. The final scene with Tolson and Hoover where Tolson confronts Edgar about his distortion of the truth in the lead up to Hoover's first "arrest" highlighted a lot about the Hoover character and was done in a compelling manner. I think the film did a good job of showing Hoover's continual obsession with the FBI's image and his own personal reputation. As far as character development goes this movie was done very well and did justice to a very confused, bewildering character.
I had a lot of problems with the basic story-telling structure of the movie plot. I think telling the story through anecdotal flashbacks was overdone and the plot became too convoluted because of the continuous transition between "present" day and Hoover's past. The story was somewhat difficult to follow as a result. But apart from general plot intricacies that were confusing, I was thoroughly impressed with the whole supporting cast (with the possible exception of Helen Gandy) and the general setting/choreography of the film. All in all a very fun excursion and an entertaining enough movie.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
An Idaho man who federal investigators say considered President Barack Obama to be the “Antichrist” was charged Thursday with attempting to assassinate Obama last week by firing shots at the White House.
Don't know if many of you remember but way back in September we had a debate about a Wisconsin law that banned public sector unions in the state (with the exception of law enforcement and firefighter unions). In only 48 hours, 50,000 citizens in Wisconsin have signed a petition demanding the recall of Governor Walker. I do not know what else could clearly be a repudiation of Governor Walker's reign in office. If successful the recall election would be held sometime early next year and Wisconsin may elect a new Governor.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Here's an article that quotes much of the legal language of the court's decision to rule the IM as unconstitutional.
The constitutionality of that portion of Obamacare is the focus of tomorrow night's debate.
1. All "big men" have soft spots.
Normally, we see our leaders (or people with authority) act with grotesque bravery. This sometimes leaves us wondering whether these people ever have moments of deep introspection, and behave like 'cry babies' when things are not going well. Even if they do, is there that one person who they don't show that brave face to? Yes there is. Hoover with all the intrepid things that he did (coming up with 'false' lists of communists, persecuting criminals, etc) had a mother he 'cried' to when things didn't go his way. There is a story in the book where Hoover appears at a Senate hearing before its Committee on Appropriations. At this hearing, a Senator (who wasn't really a fan of Hoover's methods) 'exposed' the fact that Hoover never made a personal arrest. My thinking was that the 'brave' Hoover would have taken the comments as 'one of those things.' But guess what?...he was so distraught by the Senator's comments that he complained bitterly to his mother just like a 5-year old would do when a kid from his school says something uncomplimentary about or to him. Key quote from book: "Hoover's mother was his best friend, his confidante, his disciplinarian, and his rock."
2. There is nothing really like a "rags-to-riches" story.
I've been reading Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers. A very good book, I must say. I'll encourage all to read it. That said, one of the main themes of the book is that there is typically nothing like "rags-to-riches stories." In other words, stories of successful people, painting the picture that they rose from nothing to something. These stories, more often than not, describe successful people as having attained that feat only by sheer dint of hard work, and/or talent. To quote Gladwell: "the idea of a lone hero battling overwhelming odds." According to Gladwell, in as much as those people worked hard (or were very talented), there were some hidden opportunities they had that facilitated their success. The story is not different from Hoover––the renowned FBI director who outlived 8 US Presidents. Hoover's success at the FBI could, in large measure, be attributed to the opportunities he had when growing up. For instance, he worked at the Library of Congress while pursuing a masters degree in law at the George Washington University. According to the book: "it was Hoover's first direct exposure to the inner workings and a primer on politics from a superb administrator." Coupled with this, he was in the cadet corps, rising to become the Captain of Company A of his high school cadet. This opportunity inculcated traits of discipline and 'professionalism' in him, which he arguably used to run the Bureau. So yes, Hoover was very talented (reciting alphabets at an early age, printing words by the age of three, etc.), worked hard, and used various tactics to succeed. However, there is no denying the fact that his affiliation with the cadet corps, and his job at the Library of Congress greatly inured to his success.
3. America has come a long way.
Duh!!!...everyone knows this. I wouldn't really say this is a new thing I learned/realized per se. Rather, after reading the book, this has been largely reinforced. Just reading the book, and realizing that about a century ago, as a result of Washington, DC being a segregated society, I could not have been able to rub shoulders with most of my friends today makes me acknowledge the how far America has come. Also, the unconventional methods of surveillance (illegal wire tapping, etc) used by the Bureau are now things of the past. Well that is kinda arguable now...but you get the general drift. (At least if at all, it's not done with the same impunity as Hoover did). Furthermore, legislation, such as the Sedition Act–which served as a perfect cover for Hoover to persecute innocent people he believed to be communists–have long been repealed, and may never ever be reconsidered ever! Finally, I don't think anyone would have a dog's chance becoming an FBI director today if s/he's known to be a "White Supremacist."
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
In June 2008 at a town hall event, Obama had a "Rick Perry moment" when discussing health care, but that didn't seem to garner critics.
Personally the one thing I've admired most about Cain is that he's always been honest if he's not an expert on a subject matter.
Obama is so confident of the constitutionality of his health care law that he does not appear worried of its SCOTUS fast tracking, resulting in a ruling in the middle of his 2012 campaign. However, this is no small gamble. If the Affordable Care Act is struck down it invalidates his titanic health care struggle, it could hurt his presidential campaign. His lawyers could have filed motions that would have delayed the ruling until after 2012. Will this gamble be worth it?
Unlike 2008, Obama's 2012 campaign will probably be without strong student support. Former Obama enthusiasts find it difficult to be apart his new campaign. Fear has crushed their spirits. Now that many students who were apart of the campaign have graduated, and are struggling with the job market, it is hard to imagine they will be apart of his reelection as they were before. Read some of the student's stories.