Posts Tagged 'george w. bush'

The Cost of the Bail Out

I ran across this sobering bit of research today:

Jim Bianco of Bianco Research crunched the inflation adjusted numbers. The bailout has cost more than all of these big budget government expenditures – combined:

• Marshall Plan: Cost: $12.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $115.3 billion
• Louisiana Purchase: Cost: $15 million, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $217 billion
• Race to the Moon: Cost: $36.4 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $237 billion
• S&L Crisis: Cost: $153 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $256 billion
• Korean War: Cost: $54 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $454 billion
• The New Deal: Cost: $32 billion (Est), Inflation Adjusted Cost: $500 billion (Est)
• Invasion of Iraq: Cost: $551b, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $597 billion
• Vietnam War: Cost: $111 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $698 billion
• NASA: Cost: $416.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $851.2 billion

TOTAL: $3.92 trillion

The bailout including the most recent Citibank is $4.6165 trillion dollars.

Links (11/14/08)

muppetFrom my regular trolling of the interwebs:

An immensely geeky site based on the scientific suppositions from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Really cool color pics from WWI.

Cracked details the worst places to get caught having sex.

How to turn you iPhone into a pan flute. [h/t Joan]

Spielberg and Will Smith are going to totally fuck up remake Korean cult classic Old Boy.

A member of the 20% of the population who likes Bush. [h/t Ted]

A disturbing video from ’50s hygiene films. You’ll never hear the phrase “blood comes out of my body through a hole between my legs” in quite the same way again.

50 top pop songs reduced to one sentence.

An interesting article from Salon about how America may be entering it’s “Fourth Republic.”

As I see it, to date there have been three American republics, each lasting 72 years (give or take a few years). The First Republic of the United States, assembled following the American Revolution, lasted from 1788 to 1860. The Second Republic, assembled following the Civil War and Reconstruction (that is, the Second American Revolution) lasted from 1860 to 1932. And the Third American Republic, assembled during the New Deal and the civil rights eras (the Third American Revolution), lasted from 1932 until 2004.

I don’t trust with this kind of history because a) it’s a bit glib, b) we don’t know what kind of president Obama is going to be (though I’d guess he’s going to be a pretty good one) and c) it’s really seductive.

Some really, really cool graffiti animation.


The Iraq War is Over

yes3

No, sadly not really. This fake Extra edition of the New York Times was passed out free on the streets of New York City. It’s a brilliant prank from the Yes Men. More on the prank here. And you can read a PDF of the paper here. And they are already up on EBAY.

Speak it, sister!

This is a fiery speech by Toledo representative Marcy Kaptur. She nails it with this Wall Street crisis.

Links 9/12/08

A collection of links found while trolling the interweb, trying to not freak out about the polls:

I’m getting mighty sick of Sarah Palin. Look at the news, look at the blogs, looks at the freakin’ tabloids and it’s Palin, Palin, Palin. No discussion of the economy, various wars, healthcare etc etc. Yesterday Palin faceplanted with she struggled to explain what the Bush doctrine is. Here’s another clip.

A 22 year-old woman auctions off her virginity to pay for her Master’s Degree. She graduated with a BA in Women’s Studies, which is kinda funny.

A 27-year old writer takes one for the team and personally tests different brands of adult diapers.

A cool collection of jam comics from Flickr. [h/t Ted]

An interesting article about the psychology of creative folks.

And here’s a nice bit of animation about Japanese artist Hokusai.

Ugly Americans and the Wire

Hollywood cranks out products like Sex and the City, Hitch, and Gossip Girls that show the characters living fantastic lives that are completely divorced from economic reality. There’s no way Carrie Bradshaw, to name one example, could live in a lavish Manhattan apartment on the salary of a single weekly column. And while it’s easy to dismiss such criticism as “it’s only a movie,” the lifestyle portrayed in these films – filled with amazing real estate and perfect fashion – buttressed by fiendishly clever product placement — is completely aspirational. Viewers are implicitly told that not only they should strive to buy into this lifestyle, but that they deserve this lifestyle. Is it any wonder why the middle class have bankrupted itself to buy a plasma screen TVs, McMansions, and gargantuan SUVs? The road to middle-class respectability is now found through buying things that are beyond the means of most in the middle class.

More unsettling is the action spectacular where this same sense of entitlement pervades. Instead of getting a thrill of vicariously consuming, movies like Wanted, Déjà Vu, and Bad Boys 2 are all about the vicarious thrill of wasting things (and people). Because Will Smith is chasing the baddies, he is entitled to trash city centers, torture people, and destroy impoverished third-world shantytowns with a Hummer (if you can think of a better metaphor for the Bush administration, tell me). Both trends represent the worst stereotypes of Americans – thoughtlessly wasteful, thoughtlessly violent, shallow, and spoiled.

There is a counter-current roiling against this trend. Movies like Children of Men*, Idiocracy, Wall-E and books like The Road and Parable of the Sower detail the aftermath of pursuing this American dream. The environment is wrecked beyond repair. The underpinnings of civilization are atrophying away. And in some cases, the fate of humanity itself is in question. The delirious party of waste and consumption is long gone and those remaining have clean up the mess.

All of these works are in the sci-fi genre, but there’s one work more that I’d include that shares these elements. The Wire, hailed as the best show ever on TV, is sprawling narrative about a city, Baltimore, struggling under the weight of failing schools, funding cuts from the government, and rising crime. The show very vividly and very accurately details a dystopic world where the underpinnings of civilization have atrophied away and where every day citizens are forced to live in a world of random violence, police brutality and utter hopelessness. A less exaggerated version of the world found in Parable of the Sower, The Road, and Children of Men. It’s a far cry from the luxury of a world like Sex and the City, yet it exists right along side of it. The underclass neighbors are its shadow. This isn’t necessarily a cheap Marxist screed against class, either. We as Americans chose to create this world. By picking leaders who favored tax cuts for the rich, cutting benefits on the poor, the corporatization of government, and an outsourcing of blue-collar jobs, we, like the characters of Idiocracy and the humans of Wall-E have through our short-term greed and idiocy fashioned a world like the nightmares of our movies.

*I know that Children of Men is a movie set in Britain. But it’s themes perfectly fit within an American context. It’s also a really freakin’ good movie.

My Brush with Low-Level Religious Terrorism

Ok. For someone who has lived in Los Angeles for the better part of a decade, I have an odd confession. I hate driving. I’m not scared of cars, but I loathe being dependent on them. And the grinding tedium of stop and go traffic often leaves me more aggravated than a full eight hours on the job. So I take the bus a couple times a week.

The thing I like about the bus, aside from not lining Dick Cheney’s pocket with more of my hard-earned money, is that I get a half-hour or so of reading in before and after work. It’s a nice buffer between the bustle of the office and relative quiet of home. And this morning I was eager I dive into my new book, Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart. I’ve been wanting to read this puppy since I read an excerpt in the New Yorker some two or three years ago. Yet the moment I get a seat and open my book, some guy next to me who looked like a thinner version of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and who was sporting an outfit that looked like a silken Mao suit opened his book, the Bible, and started spouting off a sermon. Using the bendy part of the bus as his pulpit, he delivered Biblical commandments in a booming, sonorous voice that was almost impossible to block out. Almost immediately, I pipe up saying, “Please don’t. This is a crowded bus…” but that didn’t even register. Between Western and Westwood, I don’t think the guy paused for more than five seconds. I realized with greater and greater frustration that there was no way I was going to be reading my book this morning. Nothing short of a kick to the teeth is going to shut him up.

He continued, “You work five days a week, six days a week. But then you send all of your money at clubs, the bars. You hook up with prostitutes. Go to crack houses?” Jesus, how does this guy spend a weekend? Once we rolled into Westwood, he shambled off and the whole bus said a collective, “Hallelujah.” Yes, I thought. This was my brush with low-level religious terrorism.

Adventures In Hollywood: Dirty Harry

So, the other day, I get an invitation at work to go to a screening of Dirty Harry at the Director’s Guild in honor of its DVD re-release. It promised that oodles of famous people would be there, including Clint himself. Of course, I signed up.

The day of the event was an immensely annoying one. Weird tech failures. Pigeons paid tribute to my newly washed car with little white bird bombs. Work associates had hissy fits about things that have already been resolved. And to top it off, traffic from Santa Monica to Directors Guild in West Hollywood, even by low expections of rush hour traffic in Los Angeles, was unbelievably awful. Old women in walkers literally hobbling past my car. Every attempt at finding a better route merely got me even worse traffic. By the time I got there, I needed a beer. So after checking in, I made a bee-line to the wet bar. I didn’t realize til a full half-hour later that not only had I blown right into the VIP lounge, but that I didn’t have the requisite black paper wrist band to enter. I dressed reasonably nice and I suppose my single-minded determination for alcohol must have convinced everyone that I was a producer or agent.

So I knocked back a few beers. Free beer always tastes better when it’s ill-gotten. I saw Chris MacDonald who was holding court. I knew him from a ill-fated TV show I worked on that got yanked after five episodes. I tried to get his eye, but he seemed to be ignoring me, no doubt assuming that I was an agent or producer. I ate as many of the DGA hors d’oeuvres as I could. The mozzarella and sun-dried tomato on a stick was quite tasty. I talked to one guy who just finished work on G.I. Joe, who told me about Harrison Ford getting a hair cut on set; I introduced my self to Paul Haggis and somehow didn’t tell him that I thought Crash was the cinematic equivalent of George W. Bush — racist, cynical, and utterly undeserving of its laurels, and I inadvertently insulted Steve Guttenberg by mentioning his discotastic starring role in Can’t Stop the Music. If you’re out there Steve, sorry.

Having downed three beers and three dozen satays, I saw Clint make his regal entrance. Soon after, we all headed for the theater. There I found my co-worker who was apparently denied access to the VIP lounge. I told him about Steve Guttenberg. The lights dimmed, Clint, looking exceptionally well preserved for his 78 years, said some self-deprecating things about his hair to the audience.

And then the movie started. If Crash is the cinematic equivalent of the Bush admin, then Dirty Harry is the equivalent of Richard Nixon — seemed fascist at the time but now seems almost moderate. Sure, Harry Callahan is a shoot first, read Miranda Rights second kind of cop, but he’s grudgingly tolerant of gays in the early 70s, is concerned about the common good, and is unsparingly honest (unlike Nixon). Indeed, his one big mistake in the movie was that he is unable to lie on his police report. If he, like pretty much every other cop in the world, fudged the report to not include the whole police torture scene, a criminal wouldn’t have walked and you wouldn’t have had a second half of the film.

When the film was over, as custom, the studio handed out schwag. Usually its a T-shirt, or a picture book, or a back pack. Occasionally there’s something really cool like an iPod but not this time. I don’t get invited to parties that cool. No, instead I got a model of Dirty Harry’s trademark 44 Magnum pistol, done in chocolate. The perfect gift not to take through airport security.


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