The November Man

[3.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Pierce Brosnan as a retired spy. But (in case you were wondering) not particularly Bond-like.

His character is Peter Devereaux, living the quiet life in Switzerland, retired from the CIA after a botched security operation led to the death of an innocent bystander. We don't get to see much of that quiet life, though, because he's called back into action to extract Natalia, a CIA spy, planted in the inner circle of the slimy Russian pol, Arkady Federov.

The plot immediately gets very twisty. There are more than two sides, and they are all trying to kill each other. It's not bad guys vs. good guys, either: it's pretty much bad guys vs. even worse guys. The Macguffin is the elusive "Mira", a Chechen refugee who has damning information about Federov. And there's also a subplot involving Devereaux's ex-protégé, Mason, learning how to be as deadly as Devereaux was. Will he be Devereaux's undoing?

Also un-Bondlike is the R rating for "strong violence including a sexual assault, language, sexuality/nudity and brief drug use." Very gritty unpleasant stuff.

The Phony Campaign

2016-01-17 Update

And then there were six: PredictWise judges that Chris Christie has dipped under our arbitrary 2% threshold for inclusion, so we (again) bid him farewell. The ordering of our top four remains unchanged from last week, but Jeb and Marco have swapped fifth and sixth places.

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Donald Trump" phony 102,000 +15,500
"Hillary Clinton" phony 92,500 +14,500
"Ted Cruz" phony 70,600 +27,400
"Bernie Sanders" phony 49,100 +16,600
"Jeb Bush" phony 31,600 +5,200
"Marco Rubio" phony 30,100 +3,000

  • The big phony controversy this week was over Ted Cruz's accusation that Donald Trump had "New York values".

    This was a stupid statement, not least because of "news" stories such as ABC's: "9/11 Widower Invites Ted Cruz to Learn About 'New York Values'". (No surprises if you click through: the story's every bit as bad as the headline.) Ted, my friend, you shoulda seen that coming.

    But there's been a backlash, too. The Daily View's Ben Shapiro offers: "Here's The Video Proof Trump's a Cynical Phony on 'New York Values'".

    And Cruz also issued a phony—I think we can all agree that it's phony, right?—apology. A sample:

    I apologize to all the pro-life and pro-marriage and pro-second amendment New Yorkers who were told by Governor Cuomo that they have no place in New York because that’s not who New Yorkers are.

    (Text and video from the Cruz campaign here.)

  • Jonah Goldberg's Friday G-File touched on the "New York values" controversy, but also hit the other Cruz-Trump imbroglio, the issue of whether Cruz is Constitutionally qualified for the Presidency due to his geographically-Canadian birth.

    Even less plausible than Cruz’s not being a natural-born citizen: that Donald Trump actually cares about this or any of the other attendant constitutional niceties. Personally, I think it is hilarious the way Trump pretends he’s only raising the issue out of “concern” for “Ted” and the GOP.

    I’m honestly curious if anyone, anywhere, actually believes Trump is being sincere. This is a different question from whether there are people who think he’s right. I know those people exist. But does anyone actually think Trump’s explanation for how he’s bringing up Ted’s “problem” to help Ted is genuine?

    Not me. Anyone?

  • NYT columnist Maureen Dowd draws a strained, but funny, parallel between Hillary Clinton and Leonardo DiCaprio's character, Hugh Glass, victim of a near-fatal bear mauling in the Oscar-nominated movie The Revenant.

    And finally, of course, there’s the politician most like Glass in her willingness to crawl through glass, flip her positions and persona, and even bear up under a mauling by a merciless, manic bear to reach that goal most yearned for. In Hillary Clinton’s grimly relentless trudge toward the White House, the part of the bear is played by Donald Trump. (The bear in the movie is also a counterpuncher; when Leo tries to shoot the animal in the face, the grizzly races back to molest him again.)

    I haven't seen the movie yet, but I'm pretty sure I won't be able to shake Dowd's analogy when I do.

    But wait, I haven't got to the funny part yet. Which is: Media Matters for America's analysis of Dowd's column: "Maureen Dowd Starts 2016 With Return To Anti-Clinton Crusade". With the tsk-tsk subtitle: "Dowd's Last 17 Clinton Columns Have Been Negative".

    The crack MMFA team scoured 212 columns where Ms. Dowd "made significant mention of Hillary Clinton". And counted "47 columns (22%) [that] characterized Clinton as a phony".

    The writer offers the "variables" MMFA looks for in their Dowdy analysis.

    Plotting For Power
    • Hillary is inflexible/uncompromising
    • Hillary has a bunker mentality, will not listen to detractors
    • Hillary acts tough
    • Hillary is always scheming for more power
    Betrayed Feminism And Played The Victim
    • Hillary is bad for feminism
    • Hillary traded on slights from men to get ahead
    • Hillary fakes her feminism
    People Don't Like Her, She's Not A Nice Person
    • Hillary is mean
    • Hillary is not likeable
    • Hillary is cold and unemotional
    She's A Phony
    • Hillary doesn't know who she is
    • Hillary has no 'real' identity
    • Hillary doesn't believe what she says
    • Hillary is scripted and prepackaged and poll-driven
    Targeting The Clintons As A Couple
    • The Clintons won't go away, even though everyone wants them to
    • Their marriage is a sham, a trade of power for more power

    Remember, MMFA is a pro-Clinton website.

    I'm a little bemused that (at least according to the MMFA "variables") Dowd has nowhere mentioned either Hillary's serial dishonesty, corruption, or greed. Still, Dowd writes for the NYT, and complaining about that would be unseemly in those pages.