Asawin Suebsaeng

Asawin Suebsaeng

Reporter

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 Shoecomics.com.

Full Bio | Get my RSS |

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 ShoeComics.com. His favorite movie is either Apocalypse Now or Pirahna 3D, depending on the day or mood.

My One-Sentence Review of "The Expendables 2"

| Fri Aug. 17, 2012 12:11 PM EDT

If Leonardo da Vinci had been more awesome.

The Expendables 2
Lionsgate
102 minutes

Things go boom, bad guys go ouch, Stallone grunts, and Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren are in the movie; see it in theaters if you find an extra $10 in your laundered blue jeans, and if you don't need the money for beer or food.

The Expendables 2 Lovable Freight Train From Hell gets a wide release on Friday, August 17. The film is rated R for shit exploding. Click here for local showtimes and tickets.

 

Click here for more movie and TV features from Mother Jones.

To read more of Asawin's reviews, click here.

To listen to the weekly movie and pop-culture podcast that Asawin co-hosts with ThinkProgress critic Alyssa Rosenberg, click here.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Paul Ryan: Frattiest Veep Candidate Ever

| Thu Aug. 16, 2012 6:01 AM EDT

Since 1900, nearly two-thirds of all US presidential cabinet members have been certified frat boys. (And since 1825, all but three presidents have been bros.) So it was always more likely than not that Mitt Romney would tap an ex-frat house dweller as his running mate.

But someone this FaF?

If you're looking to out-bro Republican vice presidential candidates of the past, you're looking at steep competition. For instance, George H. W. Bush was an active member of Delta Kappa Epsilon at Yale, a Bonesman, head of the CIA, a torpedo bomber pilot in the Navy, and then went on to vomit on a foreign head of government and blast Van Halen at a Vatican embassy in order to flush out Noriega. Dan Quayle is also a Deke, and his wealthy family has something of a rowdy streak. And Dick Cheney institutionalized hazing as Bush administration policy.

Still, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) gives them all a run for their money. Here's a look at the ways in which Paul Ryan is the single frattiest VP candidate in modern American history:

1. He pledged at Ohio's Miami University, freshman year, 1989: Let's start with obvious: Ryan is a brother at the 96-year-old Gamma Upsilon chapter of Delta Tau Delta—which makes him brothers with actor Will Ferrell, Dan Abrams, and Matthew McConaughey.

Brothers. US CongressBrothers. Courtesy of DreamWorks Pictures (Old School) ; US CongressVia an old fraternity composite, here's a photo of a young (upperclassman) Paul Ryan looking like a young Dave Weigel:

Via Andrew KaVia Andrew Kaczynski

Ryan was a "Delt who [had a fondness for] turtlenecks," as CNN described his college years. "Pretty damn cool to say that a VP candidate was raging in the same fraternity house as me 20 years ago," tweeted one Miami undergrad.

In 2004, Ryan won Delta Tau Delta's coveted Alumni Achievement Award.

2. The congressman raked in the campaign cash from Fraternity and Sorority PAC: Between 2006 and 2010, FSPAC contributed nearly $25,000 to the Ryan campaign. In return, Ryan backed three pieces of legislation that would have created tax loopholes for the development and expansion of Greek housing at college campuses. For all that effort and cash, none of the three bills were signed into law. (FSPAC did not respond to requests for comment.)

You didn't build that. Digital Collections/FlickrYou didn't build that, bro. Digital Collections/Flickr3. Paul Ryan is in the pocket of Big Keg Stand: The Wisconsin Republican swims in beer money. Since 1998, Ryan has taken in $75,000 from the National Beer Wholesalers Association, a trade group that reps over 3,000 American beer distributors (and has the licensed beverage industry's largest PAC). In that decade and a half, Ryan co-sponsored five pieces of (again, unsuccessful) legislation to slash taxes for brewers, distilleries, and consumers (national health epidemic and car crash/pedestrian injury/fist-fight/assault rate-spike be damned).

Something for which we must reduce the regulatory burden. WikipediaSomething on which the regulatory burden of government has weighed for far too long. Wikimedia Commons

4. This photo (which we've modified somewhat):

YEESSSS. Photo illustration by Dave Gilson ;  /FlickrYEESSSS. Photo illustration by Dave Gilson. Sources: Rep. Paul Ryan's office ; Laura Bittner/Flickr

Gen. Wesley Clark, Todd Palin, and Nick Lachey Blow Things Up For America

| Mon Aug. 13, 2012 7:15 PM EDT
Blue Steel.

Remember that night you drank too much Drambuie and then had a dream in which Wesley Clark, Picabo Street, Todd Palin, Superman, a WWE Diva Champion, and Nick Lachey were all shooting bazookas and other loud weaponry at inanimate objects in the desert?

Well, mega-producers Dick Wolf and Mark Burnett read your mind, stole your idea, and made a summer reality show out of it for NBC.

Stars Earn Stripes (premiering Monday at 8 p.m. EDT—with a two hour season opener) pairs each C-list celeb with a military or law enforcement tough guy. Together, they simulate wartime scenarios, all of which look like deleted scenes from Joel Schumacher movies. Every time Dean Cain or Todd Palin make something go boom, they raise money for their partner's charity.

All of this is conducted under the watchful eyes of hosts Samantha Harris and ex-Army general/ex-presidential candidate/ex-non-reality-show-personality Wesley Clark (just for a frame of reference, the guy used to save the lives of Kosovars).

Yes, the show means well. Nick Lachey and co. gush endlessly about how lionhearted our men and women in uniform are. The episodes are set to music that somehow manages to sound even more glowingly patriotic than the score to Air Force One. Things detonate violently.

It's also one of the most patronizing things to which you could ever subject yourself. But if watching the one-time 98 Degrees frontman fall out of a helicopter in the name of charity and freedom sounds appealing to you, then I suppose it sounds appealing to you.

Here's a TV spot, in case you need any more convincing one way or the other:

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

This Will Ferrell Movie Pisses Off the Koch Brothers

| Fri Aug. 10, 2012 6:09 PM EDT
"The Campaign" (2012).

The Campaign
Warner Bros.
85 minutes

It's sophomoric in its satire and cheap in its sight gags, but at its core, the new Will Ferrell comedy is an earnest endorsement of campaign finance reform.

The Campaign stars Will Ferrell as North Carolina congressman Cam Brady, a Southern-fried Democratic lecher with "strong hair" who panders unceasingly to the "America, Jesus, freedom" crowd. (Ferrell's character was inspired by John Edwards, minus the snuggly class warfare and the...you know.) Brady is locked in a brutal reelection fight against Republican challenger Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), an affable, Twinkie-slurping political novice. Huggins' campaign and super-PAC are funded by Wade and Glen Motch (Dan Aykroyd and John Lithgow, respectively), environment-hating, human-rights-screwing billionaires working to buy the 2012 elections and turn Brady's district into a Chinese sweatshop. ("The Motch Brothers"... subtle, ain't it?)

"[In American elections], when you have the money, nothing is unpredictable," Glen Motch boasts to a Chinese coconspirator.

The Top Six Classes at "Newt University"

| Fri Aug. 10, 2012 6:02 AM EDT

This is how the Romney campaign plans to unleash the Gingrich at the upcoming Republican National Convention:

Newt Gingrich hoped to get a coveted speaking slot at the Republican National Convention. Instead the Romney campaign will have him teach a series of workshops they have nicknamed Newt University…

"Newt University"(Tulane: Newt's actual university.)…Still, Mr. Gingrich insisted that he planned to play nice in Tampa. He is focused on preparing his lesson plans for Newt University, he said, not on sowing any further party discord. "The truth is the hardest-core conservatives didn't win the nomination. So to turn to Romney and say, 'You now have to dance to our tune' doesn't make much sense to me."

The former House speaker's background as a historian and professor will likely come in handy when formulating syllabi for his guerilla college. Based on his past academic and intellectual work, here's a good estimation of the lectures you'd hear in a Gingrich U freshman-year seminar: 

1) Prof. Newt on European colonialism: "Within the beliefs of 20th century American liberalism, European colonialism is an unacceptable political policy, but what did it mean to the natives? Did the colonial powers perform a painful but positive function in disrupting traditional society and so paving the way for modernization?"

"Within the beliefs of twentieth century American liberalism, European colonialism is an unacceptable political policy, but what did it mean to the natives? Did the colonial powers perform a painful but positive function in disrupting traditional society" Gage Skidmore/FlickrGage Skidmore/Flickr

2) Prof. Newt on the French Revolution: "What we have now [in American society] is an outgrowth of the French Revolution...a rejection of the larger world in favor of secularism."

"What we have now [in American society] is an outgrowth of the French Revolution," which the former House Speaker defines as the wholesale "rejection of the larger world in favor of secularism." Gage Skidmore/Flickr Gage Skidmore/Flickr

3. Prof. Newt on the history of the American entertainment industry: "There's a new book coming out on Reagan and Hollywood in the late '40s, and it's appalling the number of hardcore communists that were working in the movie industry."

"There's a new book coming out on Reagan and Hollywood in the late '40s, and it's appalling the number of hardcore communist that were working in the movie industry." IowaPolitics.com/Flickr IowaPolitics.com/Flickr

4. Prof. Newt on the dinosaurs: "Why not aspire to build a real Jurassic Park? (It may not be at all impossible, you know.) Wouldn't that be one of the most spectacular accomplishments of human history?"

"Why not aspire to build a real Jurassic Park? (It may not be at all impossible, you know.) Wouldn't that be one of the most spectacular accomplishments of human history?" Mike Licht/Flickr Mike Licht/Flickr

5. Prof. Newt on zoological study: "I would really love to spend six months to a year in the Amazon basin, just being able to spend the day watching tree sloths."

"I would really love to spend six months to a year in the Amazon basin, just being able to spend the day watching tree sloths." publiceye.org/Wikimedia Commons publiceye.org/Wikimedia Commons

6. Prof. Newt on the discovery of America: "Romney was the kind of guy who would have fired Christopher Columbus."

"Romney was the kind of guy who would have fired Christopher Columbus." Gage Skidmore/Flickr Gage Skidmore/Flickr

I'll leave it to you to imagine the rest of the curriculum.

(h/t Maggie Haberman)

Thu Jun. 12, 2014 5:51 PM EDT
Mon Apr. 28, 2014 12:48 PM EDT
Fri Apr. 25, 2014 6:05 AM EDT
Sun Apr. 20, 2014 11:00 PM EDT
Thu Apr. 17, 2014 6:00 AM EDT