August 7 2013 Politics Round-Up


The Nation referred to the bombing of Hiroshima as the greatest act of terrorism in human history. Greg Polowitz of the National Review is not amused.

William Saletan considers the sex scandals of Jewish politicians Anthony Weiner, Eliot Spitzer and Bob Filner. Filner has gotten even shadier recently, harassing military sex assault survivors.

An interesting statistic: One out of every 25 Americans was arrested last year.

Wendy Davis is considering a bid for Governor of Texas. As Nate Cohn—who seems to be the New Republic’s crusher of liberal electoral dreams—notes, she probably won’t win. The American Prospects Abby Rabaport’s notes the ways in which a loss would hurt Davis’s career. The Post argues that it would be better for Davis to run for another term in the State Senate. This represents a failing of the parties to offer incentives for their rising stars to do the stuff that would help in the long term. It doesn’t help the Democrats if their top talent decides not to seek higher office, which means they’ll be less able to take advantage of sudden fortune. There was a similar problem in New Jersey’s gubernatorial election in which the top candidate decided not to run against Chris Christie, partly because a loss would hurt his reputation. In these cases, party leaders should find ways to offer incentives, clearing in the way in later primaries for the top-tier candidates who fought the tough battles, and maybe finding high profile perches for figures who lost their seats while aiming high. Officials shouldn’t be rewarded for playing it safe.

Speaking of the top Democrat in New Jersey, Cory Booker’s ties to a web start-up have suddenly become a source of scrutiny.

The New York Times’ front-page report on Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s involvement in a fledgling web-video start-up called Waywire contains some troubling and surprising revelations. The article details that the majority of Booker’s wealth—and up to $5 million—involves shares in the company, for which he tapped both celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and campaign donors for seed money. Unusually for someone who does not work on it day-to-day, Booker received the largest stake of its three co-founders. In both federal and municipal forms, Booker was late to formally disclose his ownership. Waywire employs a couple associates of Booker’s, and, as the Timesdrolly notes, it “has put Andrew Zucker, 14, the son of Jeff Zucker, president of CNN, on its advisory board and given him stock options.” Booker’s buckraking was brazen enough that it is likely he never could have gotten away with it had he been a senator—as he soon shall be, assuming he wins next Tuesday’s Democratic primary, which he is nearly certain to do, and a subsequent special election in October.

In fact, though, if you know Booker, this sort of thing is not all that shocking. It is not only that Booker is rabidly friendly to the investor class even by the standards of Tristate Area elected officials. Nor is it that this news makes him roughly the 800,000th less-than-upstanding mayor in New Jersey history. It is that the same reasoning he uses to justify his involvement in Waywire explains his philosophy of governing. Silicon Valley-inflected, do-gooder back-scratching is his credo.

Alyssa Rosenberg of Think Progress thinks the television industry should stop using the terms “the best actor for the role,” “political correctness” and “equal opportunity offenders.”


In a counterpoint to the argument that Elysium is the future of political film, Colin Berry thinks the movie sucks.

If all this sounds interesting, it’s not. From the first minute to the last, Blomkamp’s film is entirely predictable, lining up cinematic tropes — The childhood love interest! The charged object! The super-evil villains! The doomed best friend! — like dominoes to topple one by one.

The writing is dreadful. Characters are either completely good or completely evil; nuance in Blomkamp’s world is as rare as an ex-con on Elysium. The dialogue is pure torture: the scenes with Foster, one of her generation’s finest actors, are in particular the stuff of comic-book cliché. Got a favorite phrase from any major thriller or action flick? It’s in there. Hoping a likable character might do something mean, or one of the villains might reveal a little humanity? Think again, fellow movie-goer!

The responsibility for this lies directly with Blomkamp, who wrote the film and should know better. District 9, as I recall, had one or two pieces of moving dialogue, a storyline I couldn’t always predict, and an emotional spectrum beyond merely black or white.

What District 9 and Elysium do share, however, is carnage, and although I’m not in the film’s target demographic, I will say this (because someone has to, repeatedly): movie violence is a spreading disease on culture. Elysium, for all its purported good intentions — Blomkamp claims that (besides blowing things up) he’s interested in “serious topics” like universal health care and wealth discrepancy — the film is so thickly mired in gunfire, torture, and bloodshed that social issues are forgotten, scattered like spent shells on a dusty dystopian floor.

These kinds of films aren’t entertaining anymore; they’re offensive.

Sean Sullivan thinks Reince Priebus’s against MSNBC and CNN is rather savvy.

About Thomas Mets

I’m a comic book fan, wannabe writer, politics buff and New Yorker. I don’t actually follow baseball. In the Estonian language, “Mets” simply means forest, or lousy sports team. You can email me at
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