Howdy everyone, Virgil here. I hope you've had a prosperous week. I know everyone wants us to address the elephant in the room, so let's just get this out of the way right now: happy 90th birthday to the Brookings Institute. Here's to another 90 years of developing modern solutions for a changing world!
In minor news, Patreon has unilaterally decided to increase everyone's subscription fee by 10%, a decision we unanimously, categorically condemn. It will be catastrophic for all creators and subscribers, and we pledge to fight this decision. Follow this space for updates.
THE MERCHANDISE IS STILL AVAILABLE
We are selling a t-shirt and hoodie until December 10, after which point you will no longer be able to purchase these items. The black hoodie is no longer available because Represent originally sourced the material from a wretched scumbag's printing company without our knowledge. We demanded a change and received it; as a result, we can no longer guarantee holiday (CHRISTMAS) shipping for that item, but if you had already purchased it, it will be shipped from the new supplier. In any event, I can guarantee these items are still for sale.
Menaker Movie Corner Will Menaker
It's that time of year again, you know what I'm talking about movie fans: December. It's when film critics like yours truly get to rank the best of the year and start putting their markers down on which flicks have the inside track for a date to the big dance with Mr. Oscar. So let's get to it here are the best films I've seen over the last few weeks that I can remember.
GOOD TIME: More like GREAT TIME! Probably my favorite of the year. These Safdie Brothers could be the next great brother director duo. Look out Joel and Ethan!
WIND RIVER: I liked it. Written and directed by the guy who wrote HELL OR HIGH WATER which was my favorite movie of last year. Not as good as HOHW but still enjoyable. There is a really dope shoot out at the end.
THE BODY SNATCHER and BEDLAM these were two RKO horror gems from Val Lewton/Boris Karloff that I caught on Film Struck. The first is based on a Robert Louis Stevenson short story about a renowned and heroic surgeon in Edinburgh who is tormented by the sadistic cab driver and lower class bloke he uses to dig up and desecrate graves for his medical college. The second is about attempts to reform the treatment of the mentally ill and the barns they were kept in during the reign of King George III
KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE: fans of the original KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE will definitely enjoy the sequel in this gonzo-James Bond franchise. Gadgets, girls, and guns galore!
SPIDER: Not the man! The boy! In this case a deeply disturbed lad who haunts the waking hours of a recently released mental patient played by Ralph Fiennes who begins to relive the Freudian psychodrama of his childhood in this slept on gem from David Cronenberg. Check this one out if you want to see Cronenberg turn his oozing body horror on the most vile subject of all: British people.
RONIN: I rewatched this one the other week and man are those car chases good. Probably the last good De Niro movie? Great cast too: Jean Reno, Sean Bean, Jonathan Pryce, Natasha McElhone, and Moonraker/Gorka himself Michael Lonsdale!
ANY GIVEN SUNDAY: Another gem featuring late stage Al Pacino turning up. I watched this because David Roth embedded Pacino's locker room speech in his Deadspin article about Pacino. David said that Pacino in HEAT is "Bad Pacino" and not "The best Pacino", which made me very angry but David is pretty much a good person otherwise so I'm willing to forgive him. Very few movies made about professional football and this and NORTH DALLAS FORTY are the best and only ones I can think of.
Other than GOOD TIME the other two best movies I saw this year were BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99 and THE LOST CITY OF Z. The former for its patient construction of plot and character in service of bone crunching violence and brutality, the latter because in director James Gray, leading man Charlie Human finally has a talent worthy of him. Also because he's in GOOD TIME and LOST CITY OF Z I'm giving Robert Pattison my Menaker Movie Mindset golden ticket for this week. Keep up the good work Robert!
And keep watching movies everyone!
HEY THAT LAST EPISODE WAS PRETTY GOOD
The tax bill goes to conference, where it's theoretically possible a version of it emerges that is objectionable to one Republican Senator (Susan Collins, most likely, if the local and state tax deduction is removed) who joins with Alabama Senator Doug Jones (see below) to vote down the conference report. In this event Paul Ryan will probably attempt to pass the Senate bill with no alterations. As vile as the House bill is, the Senate bill contains its fair share of iniquity: in addition to the basic class warfare stuff, it will send private insurance markets into a death spiral resulting in at least 13 million more uninsured and massacre public schools through Ted Cruz' tax cut for private school tuition. Democratic Senators bravely argued against the bill by pointing out it will increase the deficit.
A week ago Ryan and Mitch McConnell also promised Collins that their gigantic tax cut for the rich would not result in automatic cuts in Medicare (which are legally mandated when Congress overspends). Ryan now says they plan to eviscerate entitlement programs in 2018 in order to reduce the deficit they created.
Why I Will Not Be Touching The Poop Virgil Texas
Go to Hell, I'm not touching the poop.
The Alabama Senate race is absolutely tied. Nobody knows how to poll Alabama because there hasn't been a competitive statewide race of national interest in Alabama in decades. Moreover, pollsters have absolutely no idea who will turn up for an off-off-year special election in this state, so their likely voter screens are all over the place. Two recent polls (including one that meets Nate Silver's "gold standard") show Democrat Doug Jones with a lead, three (including one that smells like bullshit) have Republican Roy Moore with a lead. By all means pick whichever one meets your preconception of the race, sheeple.
Jones is outspending Moore 10-1 and is running an actual professional campaign geared at turning out voters for him. Moore is solely reliant on people coming out for him because he's a Republican and a dominionist. Of course Alabama is the best state for him to employ this lack of a strategy, which is why I say the race is tied up. It's obviously a close race because the RNC wouldn't debase themselves by entering if they thought it was going to be a blowout one way or another.
But no, send me the poop emoji and the hand touching emoji, philistines. Send me the inept Doug Jones mailers and the specious poll data saying likely Republican voters don't believe the Moore accusations (no shit, that's why they're likely Republican voters; the ones who believe the accusations aren't fucking voting). Come Tuesday Mr. Christman is touching that turd, and you can bank on it.
AN EVENT WITH AMBER FROST
Brought to you by Verso Books and Jacobin Magazine, the first installment of Labor Now, our three-part monthly winter panel series, where moderator Amber A’Lee Frost will be bringing together trade unionists, labor journalists and labor historians to talk about worker power.
Since the decline of American unions over the last forty years, the broad left has been doing little more than sputtering on the mat. Class politics have been all but supplanted by neoliberal ideology, and the left wing of capital known as the Democratic Party has never been so committed to defending free markets, relying on vague liberal platitudes for their progressive bona fides. It has never been more clear that unions are the true political apparatus of workers and the essential players in any socialist project. But in an increasingly anti-union country, how can unions build and grow?
Bhairavi Desai (founding member of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance)
Micah Uetricht (Author of Strike for America: Chicago Teachers Against Austerity, Associate Editor at Jacobin, Contributing Editor at In These Times)
Julian Gonzalez (labor lawyer, has worked for Teamsters for a Democratic Union, UNITE HERE Local 100, and Make the Road New York)
Samantha Winslow ( Co-Director of Labor Notes)
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