Veep and political reality

I have been enjoying the comedy series Veep starring Julia Louis-Dreyfuss that I reviewed earlier. It is one of the many TV shows and films that purport to show what life is like in the executive branch of government, like The West Wing or House of Cards. This naturally raises the question of which program most accurately captures what life is like in that world.
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Film review: Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (2015)

Last night I watched the above documentary written and directed by Alex Gibney and largely based on the book Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief (2013) by Lawrence Wright that I favorably reviewed here. That review provides a lot of the information that is in the film so I will not repeat it here.
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The CIA and Zero Dark Thirty

I did not see the film Zero Dark Thirty (2012) about the mission that resulted in the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011, an action that many of president Obama’s supporters hailed as the finest moment of his presidency, showing his toughness in the face of Republican charges that Democrats are wimps. In fact, in the 2012 election, vice president Joe Biden adopted the slogan that thanks to president Obama, “General Motors is alive and Osama bin Laden is dead.”
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Review: Merchants of Doubt

This review will deal with both the book and the documentary based on it. The book was written by two historians of science Naomi Oreskes of Harvard University and Erik M. Conway and was published in 2010, while the documentary was directed by Robert Kenner and released in 2014 and has just been released on DVD. I can strongly recommend both. The book is very clearly written and makes a compelling case for the authors’ thesis. Although the documentary is based on the book, its emphasis is different (dealing mostly with the climate change debate) and provides new information that is not in the book. Here’s the trailer.
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Review: Waiting for Godot

This is a famous 1953 play by Samuel Beckett that is in the absurdist tradition. It features two older men who have been together for a long time and have clearly seen better days, as can be discerned by their current shabby clothing coupled with their highly sophisticated use of language and their recollections of good times in the past in various parts of Europe. A man named Godot has told the two of them to wait for him by a tree on a desolate road. The two dutifully wait, clearly expecting their fortunes to improve once he arrives.
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