As an inveterate fan of the original 1989 BBC series “House of Cards” I was highly skeptical that it could be successfully adapted into an American context. It had some pretty big shoes to fill, after all – most notably, the outstanding performance of Ian Richardson as the cunningly ambitious protagonist Francis Urquhart… a small taste of which can be seen here:
Happily, Netflix and the production team assembled behind this groundbreaking project have managed to develop a streaming series that is not only a worthwhile successor to its namesake, but an intense political drama that is, quite arguably, even more fascinating and deeply engrossing than the original. Kevin Spacey is brilliant as the ruthless, scheming House Majority Whip out for revenge and grander things, so too is the rest of the excellent cast. After a few episodes you may well be expecting to see them on “Meet the Press” or other cable news shows, such is the verity of the series.
Not a subscriber to Netflix? No problem. You can still enjoy all 13 episodes free online by clicking here. Each link will provide you with a number of different sources (Note: you may have to play a bit of whack-a-mole to kill off the pesky pop-up windows that appear, some of which be warned promote NSFW offerings. Putlocker/Sockshare are usually quite reliable, as are Videxden and 180Upload.).
Keynote speeches from this year’s White House Correspondents’ dinner by Jimmy Kimmel and President Obama:
Thom Hartmann just couldn’t resist drawing some obvious conclusions the first World Happiness Report released earlier this week showing that the world’s happiest countries are all in northern Europe with Denmark, Finland, Norway and the Netherlands taking the top four spots. Canada came in a respectable fifth and the United States a distant eleventh place.
According to the report: “Happier countries tend to be richer countries. But more important for happiness than income are social factors like the strength of social support, the absence of corruption and the degree of personal freedom.
Over time as living standards have risen, happiness has increased in some countries, but not in others (like for example, the United States). On average, the world has become a little happier in the last 30 years (by 0.14 times the standard deviation of happiness around the world).”
I wonder if someone will remind Stephen Harper of his now infamous quote from 14 years ago when he was vice president of the National Citizens Coalition speaking to a Montreal meeting of the right-wing U.S. Council for National Policy where he lamented the fact that “Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it.”
Indeed we are – and maybe it seems, that’s not such a bad thing after all.
As a counterpoint to Alexandra Pelosi’s somewhat controversial piece the previous week interviewing “typical” Republican voters in Mississippi, on last Friday’s Real Time, Bill Maher aired “the thing that would make liberals go insane”…
In the video, multiple welfare recipients proclaim they were at the welfare office (or “Job Center”) to get their “Obama bucks” and that they supported Obama because he “gives me stuff” and “because he’s black.”
Comedian Rush Limbaugh – who is, it seems these days, the virtual leader of the increasingly deranged Republican Party – did the Democrats a huge favour the other day with his offensive remarks directed at “college co-ed” (i.e., third-year law student) Susan Fluke.
Whether deliberate or not, Limbaugh’s deeply misogynistic tirade analogizing the issue as being akin to prostitution, calling Ms. Fluke a “slut” and then derisively suggesting that taxpayers be recompensed with pornographic videos of her sexual activities, effectively steered the surreal “debate” about state-mandated provision of contraceptive medications by private employers directly off a cliff.
It’s supposed the Republicans had initially wanted the discussion (if one can call it that) to be about “religious freedom” – an arguably legitimate issue of perpetual controversy near and dear to the heart of the party’s social conservative base – but then a number of truly bizarre proposals by various Republican-controlled state legislatures (demanding the insertion of invasive trans-vaginal ultrasound probes prior to abortion, for example), together with perplexing comments on the subject made by various sex-obsessed, theocratic right-wingnuts quickly revealed the true nature of their objection to the rulemaking healthcare proposals of the Obama administration…
Some liberal pundits and politicians have deemed the Republicans’ efforts in this regard as a “War on Women” – an expression that is certainly overstated, but perhaps not by much. If one looks at the legislative priorities of the Republicans since their resurgence in 2010, when not blindly demanding that taxes and regulations be cut as a magic elixir for economic growth, their primary focus appears to be almost madly fixated on controlling, limiting, and repealing the hard-fought reproductive rights of women. Why is that?
As an outside observer on the American political scene, it’s truly amazing that these kind of irrelevant (some might even say, completely bogus) distractions are the stuff and substance of current political debate given there are so many other imperative things that need to be addressed which are all vastly more meaningful and significant to the lives of ordinary people.
Bill Maher’s first live stand-up special that was netcast via Yahoo! the other day…
Not sure how long it will survive on YouTube, but if you missed the netcast, enjoy it while it’s available.
Rachel Maddow (with the help of Doug Wead, a senior advisor to the Ron Paul campaign) describes how the wily old coot is attempting to exploit flaws in the present Republican caucus system to gather delegates to the GOP convention irrespective of how votes were actually cast in the caucus by people less than fanatical in support of their candidate.
As quirky, barely legal, and wholly anti-democratic as it may seem, I guess one can hardly fault the Ron Paul campaign from taking advantage of loopholes in the system that inadvertently enable crazed diehards to ultimately prevail as delegates.
Mindlessly chanting “USA, USA, USA!” the audience at CPAC shouts down a handful of “Occupy” protesters that were attempting to disrupt a speech by former political celebrity Sarah Palin with inane chants of their own.
Evidently, the CPAC attendees “won” the contest.
Update: Another example of lofty debate from the CPAC event… In this instance, conservative provocateur Andrew Brietbart repeatedly commands a noisy group of “Occupy” protesters to “behave” themselves, then goes on to call them “filthy freaks and animals” before angrily demanding they stop raping and murdering people.
Wearing a matching sweater vest, Foster Friess, the billionaire investor backing Rick “Man on Dog” Santorum’s frothy campaign to be Theocrat-in-Chief of the Free World, introduces his pet candidate at CPAC 2012:
After opening with a mildly amusing (albeit implausible) joke at the expense of Mitt Romney, Friess goes on to observe that rather than supporting hackneyed old political warhorses as the Republicans have too-often done in the recent past, Democrats have won presidential elections by bringing “fresh faces” like Carter and Clinton “from out nowhere”… A fair enough comment perhaps, but then he goes on to add, “they bring Oback Obama from beyond nowhere.”
So where exactly is “beyond nowhere”… Chicago, Hawaii – Kenya, perhaps? And how utterly puerile is it that this high-rolling billionaire doesn’t see fit to call the President of the United States by his proper name, but instead deliberately mangles it for comic effect?
Only in America could there be such an event as the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) – an annual gathering in Washington where nearly 10,000 angry white men and fiercely intolerant women come to hear a bizarre assortment of raving mad lunatics speak to their deepest prejudices, phobias and collective fears.
Update: CPAC closed out their first day with a “conservative comedian” (almost by definition an oxymoron) stalking the stage, angrily railing on about the evils of car safety measures like seat belts and airbags.