Asawin Suebsaeng

Asawin Suebsaeng


Asawin Suebsaeng is a reporter at the Washington, DC, bureau of Mother Jones. He has also written for The American Prospect, the Bangkok Post, and

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A graduate of Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Penn., Asawin came back to DC with hopes of putting his flimsy Creative Writing major, student newspaper tenure, and interest in human rights and political chicanery to some use. He started cutting his teeth at F&M's student-run weekly, The College Reporter, serving as editor in chief. He has interned at The American Prospect, been a reporter for the Bangkok Post, and scribbled for His favorite movie is either Apocalypse Now or Pirahna 3D, depending on the day or mood.

"Revolution" on NBC Introduces The Obama-Morpheus Tyrant

| Mon Sep. 17, 2012 5:06 PM EDT

In the first ten minutes of NBC's new sci-fi drama Revolution (premiering Monday, September 17 at 10 p.m. EDT), we meet the villain: Captain Tom Neville, played by Giancarlo Esposito. He is a 6-feet-tall, light-skinned, half-black militiaman of the Monroe Republic. He rides into town imposingly atop a large horse, accompanied by a pack of angry bodyguards brandishing rifles. Neville wears a trenchcoat, dark sunglasses, and a pistol at his hip—he calls to mind a slimmer Morpheus from the Matrix franchise. He is charismatic and composed, and speaks in a rich baritone. The village folk (dozens of good-looking white people) look on in trepidation.

At first glance, you may feel inclined—as I was—to think, "say, that Captain Neville looks and sounds an awful lot like Barack Obama, now, doesn't he?" only to have your nagging liberal guilt kick in, thus batting away such a mildly racist assumption.

Phew! You've dodged a mildly racist bullet, so it seems!

NBCNBCBut then Neville starts talking to the white townsfolk about taxesburdensome taxes—that are owed to the Monroe dictatorship. He reinforms them that for civilians "owning a firearm is a federal offense." He threatens to "reeducate" their children if his demands aren't met. And then, faster than you can say "Hussein," Neville and his crew begin terrorizing and decimating the assembly of benevolent, over-regulated white folk!

By now this should really be reminding you of someone—or at least the acute right-wing spin on the administration of a certain someone.

And so it was that on September 17, 2012, NBC introduced the Obama-Morpheus Tyrant.

(Alyssa Rosenberg, critic at ThinkProgress (and my podcast buddy), has more on the despotic Morpheus-Barack here.)

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Damn, It Feels Good To Be a Gangster—Season 3

| Fri Sep. 14, 2012 6:41 PM EDT

This review contains spoilers for the previous season of Boardwalk Empire.

At its core, Boardwalk Empire has always been a typical boy-meets-girl story. Boy (Nucky Thompson) meets girl (Margaret Schroeder) in season 1, episode 1. Boy saves girl, and girl's two children, from girl's abusive alcoholic husband. Boy goes through advanced moral degeneration involving murder, cheating, and Prohibition-era corruption, thus upsetting girl. Girl marries boy, anyway, by end of season 2. Boy ends up killing his ex-protégé in a fit of cool time-to-go-full-gangsta rage at end of season 2, lies about it to girl.

And with the first five episodes of season 3, Boardwalk Empire maintains its status as one of the most compulsively watchable shows on TV.

As with all great cable dramas, its flaws are few and far between, but glaring nonetheless. Thus far, the season's pacing can drag, and there are some truly rich subplots that go criminally neglected (particularly that of black gangster/Nucky ally Albert "Chalky" White, and his family). Still, there's more than enough here to make you amnestic to the weak spots.

The third season of Boardwalk Empire premieres Sunday, September 16 at 9 p.m. EDT on HBO. Here are my top-5 reasons for why you should tune in:

1) James Darmody is definitely dead and never coming back. It was a risky, admirable move for the second season finale—on par with the startling conclusion of Game of Thrones' first season. But creator Terence Winter's decision to kill off main character James "Jimmy" Darmody (played by Michael Pitt) is already starting to pay off. The death concluded a formative chapter in Nucky's career and personal life, and allowed a fitting exit for the emotionally rotting Jimmy. (Also, am I the only one who can barely stand Pitt's monotone acting, whether it's this, or Funny Games, or The Dreamers, or whatever?)

And the void left by Jimmy's absence is filled by...

"Movie & An Argument" Podcast: 'Revolution' Politics, New Sitcoms & 'Boardwalk Empire'

| Fri Sep. 14, 2012 5:09 PM EDT

On this week's episode of A Movie & An Argument, With Alyssa and Swin, we discuss (scroll down for the audio player):

  • Revolution, a dystopian drama that premieres Monday, September 17 at 10 p.m. EDT on NBC. We chat about the series' (quite possibly inadvertent) tea party-style politics, i.e. a powerful black man oppressing the masses, taking away their guns, taxing them, and threatening to "reeducate" their children.
  • Some of these new network sitcoms premiering this fall.
  • Sons of Anarchy, the gritty biker drama, which entered its fifth season last Tuesday on FX.
  • Boardwalk Empire, the gangster series set in the Prohibition era, which opens its third season on Sunday, September 16 at 9 p.m. on HBO.
  • Oscar-bait movies we're looking forward to this fall and winter, like Cloud Atlas and Les Misérables.
  • And, naturally, Roger Ebert (and his autobiography from last year, which we named our very first "Movie and an Argument Book Of The Week.")

Each week, I'll be sitting down to chat with ThinkProgress critic Alyssa Rosenberg (who also does killer work at The Atlantic and Slate's "Double X"). We'll talk, argue, and laugh about the latest movies, television shows, and pop-cultural nonsense—with some politics thrown in just for the hell of it.

Alyssa describes herself as being "equally devoted to the Star Wars expanded universe and Barbara Stanwyck, to Better Off Ted and Deadwood." I (everyone calls me Swin) am a devoted lover of low-brow dark humor, Yuengling, and movies with high body counts. I hope you enjoyed this episode, and tune in during the weeks to come.

We'll be featuring guests on the program, and also taking listeners' questions, so feel free to Tweet them at me here, and we'll see if we can get to them during a show.

Thank you for listening!

Click here for more movie and TV features from Mother Jones. To read more of Asawin's reviews, click here.

To find more episodes of this podcast in the iTunes store, click here.

To check out Alyssa's Bloggingheads show, click here.

Poll: Barack Obama Would Decisively Dominate Mitt Romney in a Fistfight

| Fri Sep. 14, 2012 3:45 PM EDT

Yahoo! News and Esquire recently joined forces with pollster Gary Langer in order to survey hundreds of Americans. The questions mostly focused on voter preference, race, religion, class, personality, and values.

You know, boring things.

And then came this:The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points. (According to the crosstabs, only slightly more Democrats were surveyed.) Yahoo! NewsThe poll has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points. (According to the crosstabs, only slightly more Democrats were surveyed.) Yahoo! NewsBy a similarly wide margin, Americans surveyed in a National Geographic Channel poll in June believed that Obama would be better than Romney at repelling a large-scale alien invasion.

This is probably also a good time to revisit this James Fallows cover story:

and The Atlantic The Atlantic Tumblr

Christopher Walken Endorses Barack Obama

| Thu Sep. 13, 2012 4:04 PM EDT

Back in 2009, America had an economy-tanking fever, and the only prescription was more Barack Obama.

Or so says this guy:

Actor Christopher Walken thinks that President Obama deserves another term in the White House. 

"I think what [Bill] Clinton said the other night is absolutely true: Nobody could fix this in four years," he recently told Moviefone. "Obama's really done remarkably. The Dow Jones -- look at how things have come along. The auto companies are back. It's interesting that nobody gives him credit."

"How could he [fix it] when you think about what it was?" Walken went on. "I remember very clearly because I was worried about it myself. People were scared. Now they're concerned, but they're not scared. It could have really been bad. I do believe that everything is getting better now."

Game. Changer.

The man famous for serenading John Travolta, shooting Dennis Hopper in the face, and delivering a stunning rendition of "Poker Face" has officially endorsed the president.

Walken's endorsement echoes Snoop Dogg's recent, similarly Clinton-esque endorsement of Obama, albeit with significantly less swearing.

In related news, the actor who plays The Most Interesting Man In The World in Dos Equis beer ads is hosting an Obama fundraiser next Tuesday.

These are indeed things that are happening in real life.

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