Republicans Are The Lannisters Of American Politics

The HBO series “Game Of Thrones” dominated television until it ended with mixed feelings in 2019. Despite the sword and sorcery elements, the series managed to engage a wide audience through its political intrigue as the ruling houses schemed to win everything.

One of those houses, the Lannisters, was rich, incestuous and ruthless — similar to the Republican Party except Republicans have few if any of the Lannisters’ positive traits.

The Lannisters, Unlike The Republicans, “Always Pay Their Debts”

The Lannisters’ unofficial motto of “A Lannister always pay his debts” is a fine financial position but also a warning to enemies that they will always settle the score. While Republicans certainly settle their political scores, keeping a promise for repayment is more tenuous, which Republican Rep. Byron Donalds from Florida demonstrated on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”

Donalds decried the Biden Administration and the Democratic Party for not just blankly giving in to the Republicans’ every demand as they hold the world’s financial stability hostage. But all the talking points collapsed after Chuck Todd played a clip of then-President Trump discussing the debt ceiling.

Donalds comes from the same political cesspool as Matt Gaetz and Ron DeSantis, so he gave the game away with zero shame.

DONALDS: Well, first of all, he also said the other day on a rival network that he said that when he was president, and when they asked why he wasn’t saying it now, he said because he’s not president. Listen, Donald Trump is always negotiating —

TODD: Do you realize how absurd that sounds?

DONALDS: That is not absurd. He’s always negotiating, Chuck.

TODD: How is that not absurd? It’s absurd.

DONALDS: Chuck, he’s always negotiating. That’s what he does. And it’s actually one of the reasons why so many deals for our country worked out to our benefit, as compared to his predecessors, both Republican and Democrat, because he’s always negotiating.

TODD: But do you realize how partisan that sounds?

DONALDS: That is not a partisan statement.

TODD: “What is – what is good for me is not for thee.” He’s basically saying, “When I’m president, –


You know how stupid and nakedly partisan you have to be for anyone in mainstream political media to call it out, much less Chuck “Both Sides” Todd?!

Donalds then tried a little whataboutism that was so provenly false that Chuck Fucking Todd corrected him (again).

TODD: – there’s no negotiating on this. But, hey, when somebody else is president, screw them.”
DONALDS: Well, no, here’s the thing. Let’s be – let’s be realistic now. When Donald Trump was negotiating debt ceiling with Nancy Pelosi, mind you, they negotiated that.
TODD: No, they didn’t.
DONALDS: When they were –
TODD: They raised it without any restrictions.

Losing an argument to Chuck Todd should be an everlasting political wound, like Jamie Lannister’s right hand.

The Republicans’ Lannister-Like Cruelty And Greed

Republicans, like the fictional Lannisters, think they can somehow “shit gold” by just doing cuts that hurt everyone but the rich. Republicans said as much when a reporter asked about raising revenue to “solve” their manufactured debt crisis last week.

When Republicans claim small businesses and family finances are like the federal government’s budget (they aren’t), they conveniently ignore that real world small businesses and families would have to also bring in more revenue to get out of debt. You either raise prices (businesses) or get a raise/second job (families).

The House Budget Committee Chair, Rep Jodey Arrington of Texas, was happy to show his unseriousness on ABC’s “This Week.”

RADDATZ: Well, the President said he’s willing to cut spending by more than a trillion dollars. […] But he also wants Republicans to consider raising revenue. That has been a non-starter for Republicans. But will you reconsider?

ARRINGTON: No, because you couldn’t get tax policies and tax revenues in the Senate bill. We certainly weren’t going to put it in the House bill. So […] it’s not on the table for discussion.

Then there’s full-time podcaster/part-time Republican Sen. Ted Cruz on “Fox News Sunday” spitting out all kinds of bullshit, unchallenged by host Shannon Bream.

It’s not a surprise that this lie was long debunked. But Cruz continued trying to scaremonger to protect the wealthy with some stats on revenue and spending.

CRUZ: In 2017, total government spending was about $4 trillion dollars, tax revenues were about $3.3 trillion dollars. So, we had about a $700 billion dollar deficit. Fast forward to today, total government spending has gone from $4 trillion dollars all the way up to nearly $7 trillion dollars. We nearly doubled government spending since 2017. What has tax revenue done? They’ve gone from $3.3 trillion dollars to right about $5 trillion dollars.

Lyin’ Ted Cruz “conveniently” skipped the $4.9 trillion Trump added, $1.9 of it being tax cuts for the rich by fast-forwarding from 2017 to today, as if the Trump administration never existed.

Cruz’s hate for IRS agents is also to shield his rich sugar daddies, as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen made clear on “Meet The Press.”

YELLEN: We have an enormous gap between the taxes we’re collecting and what we should be collecting, if everyone paid the taxes that they really owe. And that’s really a reflection of tax fraud. It amounts to an estimated $7 trillion over the next decade. […] equipping the IRS with the funding they need to audit high-income individuals and corporations, that’s something that doesn’t cost money. It nets money substantially […]

For Republicans, protecting tax fraud by the rich and corporations is better when you can also be cruel to poor people and marginalized groups.

And there’s no sign that a single Tyrion Lannister resides within the Republican Party.

Have a week.

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All You Need to Know About The Last of Us Season 2

The Last of Us series finale might have raised questions about Joel’s choice and his morality, but it also takes away our weekly fix of the emotionally-traumatised Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey’s misadventures. Luckily for us, there’s more to their story; HBO has aleady greenlit a second season, with co-creator Neil Druckmann confirming that it would chart the events from 2020’s The Last of Us: Part II game. Craig Mazin, who directed a few episodes of The Last of Us series, previously hinted that an adaptation of the sequel was likely if enough people tuned in to watch the first season. Now with all nine episodes out, it has broken records and is a critical and commercial success.

As per HBO, The Last of Us finale drew a series high of 8.2 million viewers, despite competing against the 2023 Oscars ceremony, airing at around the same time. Episode 9 ‘Look for the Light’ slightly beat out last week’s record of 8.1 million viewers and marks a 75 percent increase in traffic when compared to the series premiere, which amassed 4.7 million viewers. The figures were tallied based on Nielson and first-party data across HBO Max and linear telecasts, and is now averaging 30.4 million viewers across its first six episodes. Notably, this does not include Disney+ Hotstar viewership.

HBO Content Such As The Last of Us Will Be Unavailable on Disney+ Hotstar From March 31

With the second season confirmed and the co-creators revealing new information on the same in a GQ interview, here’s everything you need to know about The Last of Us season 2:

The Last of Us season 2 expected release window

A second season of The Last of Us was greenlit merely two episodes into the first one, which is emblematic of the trust HBO has in this video game adaptation. In an interview, lead Pascal said that filming for season 2 might begin this year, and seeing HBO’s track record with their prestige shows, we could expect to see season 2 drop sometime in 2024.

Speaking to The Washington Post earlier this year, co-creator Craig Mazin claimed that filming on The Last of Us season 1 took 200 days and that it followed a ‘feature-film-like production schedule’, which is something he was used to with his 2019 drama series Chernobyl. The crew spent 18–19 days working on and perfecting each episode unlike network television, which according to Mazin demands you shoot 7–8 pages of script a day. “We shot more like 18-19 days per episode — two and a half pages a day, maybe three,” he said in the interview. Months of additional work followed in order to get the special effects right. Filming began in July 2021, in Alberta, Canada.

The Last of Us Season 1 Review

Co-creator Craig Mazin was adamant about telling The Last of Us’ story in just nine episodes
Photo Credit: HBO

The Last of Us season 2 tone and approach

Despite the size and scope of the original 2013 video game, Mazin was adamant about telling that story to the TV audience in exactly nine episodes. The slow process involved a lot of ideas being thrown towards the original writer Druckmann, as to what lore should be preserved and any deviations from the original.

However, The Last of Us: Part II is a lot longer with brutal action sequences driving the story forward, exploring the tragedy of revenge and the human ability to forgive. All of this is directly tied to specific conflicts in the game, so unlike the first season, it might be difficult to offer sporadic action. Speaking to GQ, the creators confirmed that depicting the events of Part II will take longer than one season. While Mazin stopped short of discussing whether the arc will be completed with season 3 — suggesting the possibility beyond — he noted that some of the events in the show might get entirely flipped when compared to the game.

“There are going to be things that are going to be different, and there are things that are going to be identical. There are things that are going to be added and enriched. There are some things that are going to be flipped,” he said in the interview. “Our goal remains exactly what it was for the first season, which is to deliver a show that makes fans happy.”

One of the complaints stemming from The Last of Us season 1 was the lack of infected clickers (zombies), versus the game. Mazin claims that he has observed the audience’s reaction to the sparse appearance of the zombies, and “noted how much they liked those encounters.” Without spoiling much, he promises some “interesting things” coming in The Last of Us season 2.

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The Last of Us season 1 was lacking in clickers and more action sequences
Photo Credit: HBO

The Last of Us season 2 cast

The two central leads Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey will reprise their roles as Joel and Ellie, respectively, in The Last of Us season 2. Speaking to Elle magazine earlier this year, Ramsey claimed that if allowed to, she would love to play Ellie ‘forever’. Co-creator Druckmann holds similar views on the subject and would only recast Ramsey if she didn’t want to continue playing the role anymore. “We are extremely lucky to have Bella… and the only way we would ever consider recasting Bella is if she said, ‘I don’t want to work with you guys anymore’,” he told TheWrap, earlier this week. “And even then we’re not sure we would grant her that. We might force her to come back this season.”

While Ramsey’s casting as Ellie was initially met with criticism from fans — because her face didn’t match the character in-game — the general consensus has grown to love her portrayal. The only concern — albeit tiny — is that Ramsey might appear too young for Ellie’s arc in The Last of Us Part II, despite being the same age in real life — 19. Meanwhile, Joel will probably appear a bit skinnier with more grey hair and wrinkles.

While not explicitly mentioned, Gabriel Luna is expected to return as Joel’s brother Tommy in the sequel, alongside Rutina Wesley as his wife Maria, both of whom had key roles to play in the 2020 game. Currently, there is no word on new characters in The Last of Us Season 2.

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Bella Ramsey’s casting as Ellie was initially met with criticism
Photo Credit: HBO

The Last of Us season 2 plot

The critically-acclaimed yet polarising sequel The Last of Us Part II is set four years after the first game, which indicates that the second season also kicks off with a time jump. Ellie is now 19, continuing to live life in Jackson, Wyoming with Joel, Tommy, and her girlfriend Dina, who was briefly teased in episode 8 ‘When We Are in Need,’ shyly observing her from behind a pillar before getting yelled at. Her relationship with Joel, however, has gotten a little strained, owing to the events at the end of the first game/ season, where Ellie continues to suspect whether Joel was telling the truth about the events that transpired at the Fireflies’ base.

Spoilers for The Last of Us season 1 finale ahead: The Last of Us season 1 finale saw Joel (Pascal) and Ellie (Ramsey) finally making their way to the Firefly base, after which the latter got put into surgery, so the Cordyceps chemical messenger that makes her immune can be removed, multiplied, and be used to make a cure. Unfortunately, Cordyceps grows inside the brain, which would mean that Ellie would die in surgery. Joel, who has now formed a father-like bond with her, retaliates against the Firefly soldiers, slaughtering them all before heading inside the pediatric operation theatre to save her. Inside, there are three individuals — a male doctor and two female nurses. The former grabs a knife in self-defence, and Joel, numbed by pain and determination pops a cap in the doctor’s head and manages to pick up and leave with a heavily-sedated Ellie. Little does he know, that final, unneeded murder opened up a whole can of worms it shouldn’t have.

Spoilers for The Last of Us Part II: If Druckmann and Mazin intend to follow The Last of Part II closely, let me warn you that Joel will have much less screen time in season 2 — because he dies. As it turns out, the aforementioned doctor had a child named Abby Anderson, who seeks revenge against Joel for her father’s death — brutally beating him to death with a golf club as a grieving Ellie is forced to witness it all. This kickstarts a revenge story that cuts back and forth, having the player intermittently take control of both Ellie and Abby, oftentimes going through the same paths and offering differing perspectives on each character. It is unclear how the creators intend on tackling the character switches in the show — a feature that’s easy to pull off in a video game — but Mazin claims he’s got it all planned.

the last of us part 2 abby the last of us part 2 abby

The vengeful Abby in The Last of Us Part II
Photo Credit: Naughty Dog

Personally, I feel like Oscar-winning director Alejandro González Iñárritu would be a great candidate to helm at least some of the episodes, given his expertise in telling interconnected stories that converge in time — akin to Babel and 21 Grams.

“I think we know what we’re doing on this one. I’m not saying that in a snarky way, I’m saying that in a hopeful way,” he said in the GQ interview. “We’ve got an incredible returning cast. It’s a daunting task. But Jesus, so was the first season. You can’t make everyone happy.” The way Joel’s death was handled in The Last of Us Part II and its message about revenge and forgiveness drew ire from fans, making it one of the most polarising titles in video game history. The game was the subject of review bombing on aggregator websites, with some complaining about its take on politics and LGBTQ+ characters.

“I don’t care. How they react is how they react, that is completely outside of our control. So how do we make the best TV show version of that story? That’s the problem that we wrestle with every day,” Druckmann said in regard to the negative reaction to the game, and how it translates to his work in The Last of Us season 2.

Here’s a fun fact to close out: One of the nurses in The Last of Us finale was played by Laura Bailey, who originally provided voice and motion capture for Abby in The Last of Us Part II. It’s hard to tell in the show because she was wearing a surgical mask, but the secret was unveiled in some behind-the-scenes photos after the episode aired.

All nine episodes of The Last of Us season 1 are available to stream on Disney+ Hotstar in India, and HBO Max wherever available.

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The Best Movies on HBO Max | Wealth of Geeks

HBO Max may be one of the newest platforms to enter the streaming world, but already it’s one of the best. Not only does the service offer a ton of exclusive content related to its hit properties — like Game of Thrones, The Wire, and The Sopranos — it also has a ton of fantastic films strengthening its online catalog.

Thanks to HBO’s partnerships with standout companies and networks like TCM, Studio Ghibli, and DC, the service has an absolutely stacked selection of films you’re able to choose from.

Whether you’re in the mood for a classic black and white monster movie from the ‘30s, a beloved anime film from Hayao Miyazaki, or a recent blockbuster from this past summer, there’s no end to the number of great films you’re able to choose from.

From universally praised films like Donnie Darko and Chinatown to celebrated modern films like Drive My Car and Spotlight, here are some of the best films you can find currently streaming on HBO Max.

Updated: January 24.

Drama: Drive My Car

Drive My Car was quite possibly the most celebrated film that came out in 2021. Adapted from a short story by the award-winning Haruki Murakami, it’s a tense and expertly-made meditation on grief and the healing process, built around a narrative that’s both complex and thought-provoking.

Upon receiving an offer to direct a theatrical production of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, a brilliant actor and director (Hidetoshi Nishijima) experiences intense remorse over his wife’s recent death.

At nearly three hours, Drive My Car is obviously on the longer side. But like all the best movies, the movie’s runtime coasts by, fully absorbing you in its main storyline and holding you in rapt attention. Lulling you with its calming imagery, its heaviest scenes are enough to knock the breath out of your lungs. Nishijima and Tōko Miura display everything going through their characters’ minds without ever having to utter a word.

Horror: Donnie Darko

One of the most frustratingly open-ended movies ever made, Donnie Darko is nevertheless considered a cult masterpiece among hardcore horror buffs. Its ambiguous narrative, dreamlike tone, and surreal imagery make it either a film you either emphatically love or intensely hate (but no matter what, you’re bound to have some sort of emotional reaction after the fact).

Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) is an emotionally despondent young man who lives in a world mixed between fact and fantasy. As his parents try to help him receive psychiatric support, Donnie starts experiencing vivid hallucinations of a mysterious man in a bunny suit (James Duval) who warns Donnie of a coming apocalyptic event.

It’s helpful to think of Donnie Darko as the film equivalent of Twin Peaks or Silent Hill. Despite its allusive, hard-to-penetrate narrative, it serves as a clever combination between science fiction, horror, surrealism, and subtle characteristics of a teen movie.

Comedy: 9 to 5

If you’ve ever worked a nine-to-five job (or really any job at all), it’s likely you’ve imagined some elaborate fantasy where you finally told off your boss. Channeling every working person’s adult daydream is 9 to 5, the ultimate escapist movie for anyone who has to deal with a domineering employer.

Tired of being abused by their sexist, ill-tempered, arrogant boss (Dabney Coleman), three underappreciated women (Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton) at a large company decide to overthrow him, secretly installing themselves as surrogate managers of the workplace.

If you’ve never seen 9 to 5, it’s almost a given you’ve heard Parton’s Academy Award-winning theme song of the same name. As catchy as Parton’s song is, we recommend tuning into this underrated 1980 gem — a satisfying and succinct comedy ensemble if ever there was one.

Romance: Chungking Express

Commonly named one of the most heartfelt romance movies there is, Chungking Express offers not one, but two love stories in its breezy hour-and-a-half-long runtime, each of which are as tender and emotionally gripping as Casablanca or Annie Hall.

Split into two sections, each part of Chungking Express follows separate policemen (Takeshi Kaneshiro and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai) as they search for love in their lives, finding it in the arms of an elusive woman smuggling drugs (Brigitte Lin) and a peculiar convenience store worker (Faye Wong).

It’s not often you see a movie succeed in telling two stories at once. But like most successful anthology movies, Chungking Express alternates between its two central narratives with ease and precision, allowing you to easily bond with every character and relate to the storylines presented in each section of the movie.

Biopic: Spotlight

In the early 2000s, the staff of The Boston Globe uncover a lengthy history of cover-ups by the Catholic Church related to allegations of priests sexually assaulting children in the city.

The investigation on the decades-long sexual misconduct by Catholic priests was one of the most shocking exposés ever conducted by a media organization. Facing continuous pressure to silence their story, the intrepid team at The Boston Globe continued with their probing, unearthing a legacy of startling allegations against official members of the Church.

Providing a snapshot of this investigative team is the film Spotlight. Relying on an ensemble cast of veteran actors (Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, and Stanley Tucci), the movie portrays the earliest forays of The Globe’s reporters as they unknowingly stumble into the biggest story of the time.

Musical: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

It’s strange to think that a director as famously off-beat as Tim Burton is so effective at handling musicals. Taking Stephen Sondheim’s hit Broadway play to the big screen, Burton’s aesthetic made for an ideal fit with the gothic world of Sweeney Todd — a sharply tuned musical tragedy with elements of a slasher blended in.

In Victorian London, the formerly exiled barber Sweeney Todd (Johnny Depp) returns home, seeking revenge against the power-mad judge (Alan Rickman) who banished him from England in order to steal his wife.

Perhaps the darkest movie Burton has ever worked on, Burton uses his explicit R-rating to its fullest extent in this film. While some sections of the movie might be hard to stomach, the main narrative of the film and the cast’s performances make it an effective adaptation of Sondheim’s musical.

Mystery: Chinatown

On the surface, Chinatown may seem to have all the glamor and glitz of a classic ‘40s noir film, yet it’s anything but. Far darker, more biting, and incredibly shocking even by today’s standards, it’s a gritty and cynical movie that makes classic Bogart films seem upbeat by comparison.

Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson) is a suave private detective working in 1930s Los Angeles. Hired to follow a man accused of cheating on his wife, Gittes enters a labyrinth of corruption, putting him at the mercy of the city’s most elite officials who want to keep their secrets buried.

Largely considered to have the greatest script ever written, Chinatown comes across as a postmodern takedown of the hard-boiled noir genre. Tackling subjects seen as taboo then and now, it’s a wildly inventive if frequently disturbing mystery film.

Classic: The 400 Blows

The crown jewel of the French New Wave, The 400 Blows is one of the most important international films born out of the 1950s. Prior to its release, no film had ever broken quite so many rules, reexamining what a movie can be and what subjects it can explore within its limited runtime.

Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud) is a young teenage boy in Paris who loves trouble. Ignored by his bickering parents and misunderstood by his teachers, he spends his days escaping into adolescent adventures in the city.

The French equivalent of Rebel Without a Cause, The 400 Blows was responsible for ushering in a new movement not just in French film, but in the entire world of cinema. Lacking any semblance of a plot, it’s a slow, dramatic film that touches upon the more sobering aspects of childhood, from fear and loneliness to parental fighting and authoritative adults who emphasize conformity.

Family: Kung Fu Panda

There aren’t many DreamWorks movies able to match the popularity of the Shrek franchise, Kung Fu Panda being a rare exception. While each film in the franchise thus far boasts its own individual sets of strengths, the original Kung Fu Panda is more than enough to please viewers, regardless of your age.

In a version of ancient China populated by anthropomorphic animals, Po (Jack Black) — a panda bear noodle chef and an avid fan of kung fu — is unexpectedly named the Dragon Warrior by the wizened master, Oogway (Randall Duk Kim). With a limited time to complete his training, Po is mentored by Oogway’s pupil (Dustin Hoffman), building up to a climactic battle between Po and the fugitive kung fu master, Tai Lung (Ian McShane).

A rare children’s film with a heart, Kung Fu Panda effortlessly vaults between an abundance of laughs, some first-rate action, and plenty of grounded emotion. For audiences young and old, it’s a creative and original martial arts parody with some surprisingly strong undertones and themes permeating throughout.

Underrated: De Palma

Brian De Palma is rarely singled out as the greatest director of his generation. Coming of age during the influential New Hollywood movement, De Palma was a filmmaker who gained prominence the same time his close friends George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Martin Scorsese were redefining the American landscape of film.

Unfortunately, De Palma’s later career undermined the success of his earliest projects (Carrie, Blow Out, Dressed to Kill, Phantom of the Paradise), leading to his relative lack of success compared to colleagues like Spielberg. Thankfully, Noah Baumbach’s touching documentary, De Palma, sheds light on the director’s career and influence in Hollywood.

Comprised almost exclusively of De Palma discussing his start as a director and each of his many films over the years, De Palma is just as much an examination of the filmmaker’s rise and fall as it is a portrait of the oppressive and incredibly demanding Hollywood system.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Richard Chachowski is a freelance writer based in New Jersey. He loves reading, his dog Tootsie, and pretty much every movie to ever exist (especially Star Wars).

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