Monday, January 21, 2013

Barack Obama Take Two! & Zero Dark Thirty Review

"We possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands... my fellow Americans, we are made for this moment and we will seize it so well as we seize it together!" - U.S. President Barack Obama

American President Barack Obama on his public inauguration day - January 21, 2013

Today President Barack Obama began his second term a day after he was officially inaugurated at a private ceremony in the White House's Blue Room. CBC's Neil Macdonald said he is now, "assuming a wide martial stance, extending his arm toward the GOP, turning his palm up, and beckoning with all four fingers: Let's do this thing."

In his second, and final, inauguration speech Obama made repeated calls for cooperation and unity, though I doubt he has many illusions about working 'with' Republicans in Congress and the Senate to accomplish his goals. Toward the end of Obama's speech the President said, "decisions are upon us, and we must act without delay." The emphasis in these words is clear, and that Obama had political foes in mind when he spoke them is of little doubt to me. 

With the U.S. soon to reach its' debt ceiling limit, the President and Republicans will again play out their dance of antagonism before video cameras and recording devices. After spending four years being blocked by the GOP and belittled by conservative media commentators, Obama is coming out punching. And I hope he stays that way.

Many media observers have noted that for all his tough talk on the economy (just the other day saying Republicans are seeking, "a ransom" for not bankrupting America) the President also needs to look at cutting government spending. Obama got his way in the 'fiscal cliff' affair partly because he didn't blink in the game of chicken with Republicans. He knew the public would lay most of the blame for failing to reach an agreement on the GOP.

That Obama was able to make Republicans cave and raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans was a small victory. What he needs to do now is show he can make tough choices that will upset many Democrats and those who voted for him. Making a real effort to curb America's spending will not make Obama a popular President. But it will mean he's doing what needs to be done to ensure his country remains prosperous into the future, particularly given that China is not slowing down, just the opposite.

Other U.S. politicians will need to realize they cannot spend their terms in office attacking one another while constantly eying reelection. In China the dragon is not sleeping, it is governing and getting shit done. America's Congress and Senate would be wise to take note and follow China's example.

Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty

Since I'm on the topic of America I want to review director Kathryn Bigelow's newest film Zero Dark Thirty. From start to finish the movie is a suspenseful procedural detective thriller that takes the viewer into the hunt for the man many believe was behind the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon.

Regardless of your views on how Osama bin Laden died, there is a version that runs counter to America's official narrative which says bin Laden died years before the American raid on the Abbotabad compound, this movie is one to watch.

CIA Agent Maya (Jessica Chastain) holds her own in every scene she's in (which is all of them) Zero Dark Thirty is also a film about the personal toll running a manhunt has on the movie's protagonist. She sees friends die, works like a fiend from hell, and even goes without sex (it's implied). All with the aim to locate and kill one old man. You can make your own judgment about whether such a quest is worthy when you see the movie. 

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