Sicario

[3.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Kind of a downer. Emily Blunt is pretty easy to look at, though, even when she's generally miserable and putting up with various sorts of abuse. Throughout the entire movie.

She plays an FBI agent who does field work in a kidnap rescue team. In the aftermath of a particularly grisly mission in Arizona, a CIA spook (played by Josh Brolin) recruits her into a special operation, one where (he promises) they will be going after the drug kingpins who perpetrated this Arizona atrocity. Also involved is a gloomy Hispanic played by Benicio Del Toro.

If you noticed the "CIA" reference above, you will have accurately guessed that things are not as they initially appear. Ms. Blunt is perplexed, as her law-enforcement instincts are thwarted at every turn. She finds herself in mortal danger, and not just from the bad guys.

Arty (Oscar-nominated) cinematography. Ms. Blunt also handles an American accent well. Without going into spoilers, the plot's assumptions about the moral depravity of Our Side strains credulity. At one point, when confronted with his barbaric ways, one of the Bad Guys disclaims something much like one of the anti-drug commercials from the good old days: "I learned it by watching you!"

The Phony Campaign

2016-01-24 Update

Well, that's exciting! Sort of. Well not at all: PredictWise has raised the probability of Michael Bloomberg becoming President to our 2% threshold. Welcome to the Phony Campaign, Mike!

He enters at the bottom, however. In other news, as seems to happen every week: Jeb and Marco have switched fifth and sixth place, no changes to the standings otherwise.

Query String Hit Count Change Since
2016-01-17
"Donald Trump" phony 197,000 +95,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony 96,500 +4,000
"Ted Cruz" phony 77,100 +6,500
"Bernie Sanders" phony 66,800 +17,700
"Marco Rubio" phony 36,100 +6,000
"Jeb Bush" phony 31,500 -100
"Michael Bloomberg" phony 8,830 ---

  • At Reason, Jesse Walker reminds us that Bloomberg made the magazine's 45 Enemies of Freedom list back in 2013. In fact, he was enemy number one, with Reason pointing out that he was "a figure who embodies so much that is wrong with public policy and the political conversation in these United States." There's no reason to assume he's undergone a libertarian conversion since then.

    More than anyone else in public life today, Bloomberg embodies the idea of managerial control. He will endorse the pettiest restrictions on human behavior as long as he can convince himself that they're for everyone's own good, and he isn't shy about enforcing his intrusive rules with intrusive policing. On the plus side, I doubt there's more than 50 people in the world who'd actually want him to be president. Then again, that's what I thought about Trump.

    Yes. In a year where the mass of voters seem to be uninterested in limited government and personal liberty, who's to say Bloomberg wouldn't have a shot?

    On the plus side, Bernie Sanders' head would probably explode on live TV.

  • At Breitbart, Michael Patrick Leahy complains:

    Trump campaign spokesperson Katrina Pierson says the Sen. Ted Cruz campaign makes a claim, in a 30 second television ad now playing in Iowa, that Donald Trump “colluded with Atlantic City insiders to bulldoze the home of an elderly widow for a limousine parking lot at his casino,” which is an outright lie.

    Outright lie? Well… Here's the ad:

    About the only thing slightly shady is that it might imply that the Atlantic City widow's home was actually bulldozed. It wasn't: she successfully fought off its condemnation.

    Trump has long been a bête noire of the Club for Growth. Here's their video on the topic:

    Aside: I've pretty much given up on Breitbart.

  • If you've ever wondered whether Rubio comes off as phony in matters of faith like Trump does, you can find your answer in this Red State article headlined "Rubio Does Not Come Off as Phony in Matters of Faith Like Trump Does".

    Included is a pointer to a CNN Report where Trump was asked if he had ever asked God for forgiveness for his actions.

    "I am not sure I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don't think so," he said. "I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don't bring God into that picture. I don't."

    But!

    "People are so shocked when they find ... out I am Protestant. I am Presbyterian. And I go to church and I love God and I love my church," he said.

    Um. Possible explanations:

    1. Presbyterians don't say the Lord's Prayer. You know, the one that contains "Forgive us our trespasses."
    2. Trump doesn't pay attention when saying the Lord's Prayer.
    3. Trump is a yuuuge liar about going to church.

    I know which way I'm leaning.

  • Note to AI researchers: efforts to appear authentically human via forced laughter and exaggerated body language can backfire.