Like you, I laughed often and hard. The kid running home every day to avoid the bully, the Korean father and son, and the silver-tongued soothsaying of Sy Ableman (played to perfection by Fred Melamed) all made me giddy in the best sense. Much of what I enjoyed in this film concerned the tid-bits of bizarre minutia, like the kids' obsession with "F-Troop," and the brother's deliriously detailed "Menticulous" (or whatever it was called), and the inspired use of Jimi Hendrix' "Machine Gun." I truly believe this is the Coens' best film since "Fargo," and I contend this is one of the great film-endings in all of cinema (right up there with Dr. Strangelove, Breaking the Waves, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre). I also found much of the film heartbreaking, especially concerning Gopnik's brother (of Curb Your Enthusiasm fame). The scene where he breaks down because he never got anything in life was gut-wrenching; as was the dream-scene at the lake. But the crowning glory of this film, for me, is the simple mystery of it. Profound and unsettling, yet humane and personal all at the same time.
The Coen Brother's profoundly unsettling "A Serious Man" is not just a literate film, not just a film which challenges and agitates, not just a study in mortality, it is above all an immortal riddle. The opening sequence sets the tone, focusing on the human prism between faith and evil. From there, the film only becomes more dramatically circular and intellectually unknowable. "Kafkaesque" is an adjective that will undoubtedly swirl through many minds, but I also found the experience not unlike the discomforting universe of Michael Haneke's films. I can't say much more without unveiling too much; but it's a deeply personal movie rooted in the notion that every-man is also no-man, depending on the certainty of our uncertain position in the universe.
Although many minds are racing to draw a straight line from Obama's "radical" politics to last night's Republican wins in Virginia and New Jersey, I would focus on New York's 23rd district. Democrat Bill Owens' defeat of far-right Conservative Doug Hoffman portends trouble for the elephantine Republicans. Why? Because Hoffman was the favorite, the darling, of the way-off-the-chart-right-wing-nuts Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, and probably Joseph Goebbles (from the grave). Hoffman's extremism forced the more moderate Republican, Dierdre Scozzafava, to withdraw from the race, which caused the far-right to trumpet the great awakening of America to traditional conservative values. Republicans need to be MORE conservative, not more moderate, they cried. Well, today they're crying in a different way, as the extremist Hoffman went down in flames. Will this temper the far Right? Will they tone down their vitriol? Don't bet on it. Rather, they will continue to force moderates to abandon the party, and prop up way-to-the-right-proto-fascists who will only (further) marginalize the party. The result? A permanent minority party, happily married to their 19th century platform.
If we knew what kind of music you liked; then suggestions would be easier to compile. Personally, I think the state of American Music is dismal at the moment. Relentlessly whiny and undauntingly pitiful, it caters to the inner-child of disaffected dilettantes in every suburban strip-mall.
While you lay out two plausible scenarios, I think you draw conclusions too easily. You state the first option (the so-called half-measure) “would likely lead to a return of the Taliban and their ally Bin Laden to Kabul.” I think this is a misplaced argument at best, since Bin Laden is likely dead, or near-dead, and the Taliban aren't the reason we're in Afghanistan in the first place. We're there for Al-Qaeda, who are presently in Pakistan. In your second option, the go-for-the-win scenario, you state: “The people of Afghanistan would be given a measure of security.” Again, this in not provable by you or anyone else. Right now Afghanistan has no stable government, and even after the upcoming runoff election, there's little evidence our political position there will be any more secure (particularly if Karzai loses). In a story that broke earlier this week, it was revealed that Karzai's brother, a poppy-dealer who trades with the Taliban, is on the payroll of the C.I.A., making our efforts there even more suspect (since these payoffs inadvertantly fund the Taliban). Lastly, the one option you didn't lay out needs to be considered: Phased Withdrawl. Yes, it will be messy, yes we will lose some stature as a super-power; but if we forge a strong alliance with Pakistan, and work with them to weed out Al-Qaeda, and if we utilize Special Forces teams in concert with solid intelligence and precision drones, I would argue that we'd do no worse than blindly sending 40,000 troops (and more later) for another nine, fifteen, twenty, or thirty years, at a cost of 3.6 billion per month, to referee a civil war that we can't possibly end.
In 2001, a small group of Americans with large suitcases stuffed with cash, won the hearts and minds of Afghan warlords. Money, in this case, bought enough loyalty to rout the Taliban and drive Al-Qaeda into the tribal lands of Pakistan. The Bush team did not capably exploit this stunner but many an American family was gratified that their sons and daughters were spared because of it. Please recall that the British regulars' main complaint about the American irregulars 235 years ago was that we didn't fight fair; we didn't fight like gentlemen.
Right, and during the Afghan war against Russia, the United States financed Afghani tribal insurgents (Osama Bin Laden among them) to repel the Soviets; a painfully short-sighted strategy at best. It buys us short-term advantage but always seems to portend long-term disaster. As you point out, in 2001 we paid off Afghani warlords (to our benefit); but guess what? We're still in Afghanistan, fighting a war without end, to the tune of 3.6 billion dollars per month. Money, I might add, that we don't have. So tell me, richsteckler, how does this end?
No, I wouldn't say Prentice-Mott is a twit, but I would argue he's not acknowledging some American media efforts to spotlight these kinds of counter-insurgency tactics by our officials. The Nation magazine, and similar Progressive journals (online and off) have indeed reported on the regular practice of American payoffs to local Iraqi and Afghani tribes to "encourage" their cooperation. The real debate seems to be the use of the term "bribe." Are these tactics "bribes?" I'd have to know more about exactly what the Italians were hoping to secure with this money, but quite frankly if our best strategy in the region is to give cash payouts for muted retaliation, I'd argue we have no real strategy to begin with.
You better get on that 1138.
PROS-TI-TEACH-ER: n. Any designated agent of a learning institution whose objective is to get, like, way horizontal with their pupils. May include (but not limited to) women whose resumes include part-time work at Hooters, or men whose extra-curicular activities include hidden-camera technique and refurbishing windowless rape-vans from the 70's. Also see Counselwhore.
Prostiteacher...Should and needs to be a new entry in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. These little lewd role-playing mishaps are becoming quite commonplace.
Stay tuned for my next post. It concerns an altar-boy who suffers from a priest-infection.
Clearly the teacher isn't to blame, nor the student. It's that mealy-mouthed Jimmy Carter. If he hadn't been such a wee-wee on foreign policy, and if he'd just donned a power-tie every once in a while (instead of those lefty-queer sweaters) then that poor penetrated kid might've grown up to be a good strong American like the kind that come out of the Ronald Reagan Boot Camp Prep-School. When will people learn that latte liberal PUBLIC schools breed panty-waist vegan-boys who can't even defend themselves against predatory prostiteachers?