Posts Tagged ‘bush’

W.

October 18, 2008

Oliver Stone’s new movie might have made a better mini-series – it was really long, but felt like it could have been much longer; it didn’t really have much of a plot; and except for Josh Brolin, who was excellent, and Cromwell & Burstyn, who were realistic as people but don’t really bother with the details in their portrayal of the senior Bushes, most of the cast feel a bit like caricatures (especially thandie newton as Rice, who is just awful – I don’t know if that’s the fault of the script, which didn’t leave much room for a character to develop, or if they cut the part down because her portrayal belonged on SNL). It seems like in order to try to make it fit into a movie, it focuses around Iraq and the father-son relation – Junior goes in to finish what Daddy never did, in order to get approval/ one up his stand-offish but never far away father.

It’s an interesting and I think well balanced story – it’s not told harshly, but reminds you of the amount of psychology and insider string-pulling and so forth that actually ends up running our government – how so much of what happens is built on just as emotional or shakespearian ‘reasoning’ as the statesmen of the past… we imagine it’s rational democracy now, but it’s not nearly that different… sure, we have more safeguards, but the impulses, the underlying motivations of the people in charge, haven’t changed much. We just have slightly better ways to keep them in check.

Overall, Bush comes across as a nice enough guy who doesn’t quite know what he’s doing, but has a motivation to show his dad he can do it. He isn’t malicious; he’d just rather be a center fielder. But as the continual sports day dreams show, he is never very good there either… he can’t box his father, and he can’t keep his eye on the ball in the stadium. The movie ends before the ball drops for sure, with just the dazed and confused GWB looking around him, which does seem appropriate. You almost feel sorry for him. But… not really.

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modern living

October 10, 2008

The market is falling and Bush is doing his best to be the calm guide, as are most leaders. I remember 1987, but as a young teenager not for global traumas but just personal / family problems that seemed global at the time… But the radio says it was just as bad then, and we seem to have recovered pretty completely from that, so perhaps this isn’t the 1930s all over again.

Still, what it makes me think of is reflections on consumer capitalism as a way of life, and the question of whether our very method of living is sustainable. This is a cartoon presentation that gives an overview of the issue. It’s a little oversimplified sometimes – the idea of “toxins in, toxins out,” for instance, doesn’t really explain how toxins get out there to begin with, though it does give one example of how it’s often to do with making products flame retardant (and it would make the video even longer to explain the entire history). Likewise it doesn’t get into the story of why a system like this would become entrenched to start with if it has so many negatives, or about the positive aspects this culture might provide. But that’s because we see that constantly, so this is an alternative view, which I think is important to think about.

As a rebuttal to the whole “consumer cog in the machine” idea, I was sent this story of a pencil, which attempts to claim that the fact that no one individual can make a pencil, but instead it’s the product of dozens of bored workers who don’t understand or care how it works, is a beautiful thing – we’re working together! whee! I don’t find it inspiring. It highlights the meaninglessness and wastefulness of the consumer culture – who even needs pencils anymore? The only reason I can think to have them is for those auto-graded tests… In a craft economy, a person’s identity is wrapped up with their profession, but when you work on an assembly line pulling a lever to insert graphite or whatever, you don’t give enough of a shit about it to even know the rest of the process: your identity is wrapped up with getting the paycheck and spending it to prove your worth… to become part of that consumer culture again.

I don’t know if there is a better way, or if that last section is sort of overly hopeful and naive, but I certainly like the idea that we can collectively try to back away from the rat race and try to regain some humanity. Money isn’t everything. We can pursue technology smartly, not dangerously or greedily… at least, I’d like to think we could. Maybe it’s too much to ask of us at this stage of history, but at least the poets and the comedians can drop to the sidelines and watch: Andrei Codrescu offers a nice little tale in that vein.

John McCain

October 6, 2008

Having spent a leeetle too much time of late getting stuck on that Ms. Palin there, dontcha know, I have not been thinking much about the top of the ticket, and as someone in the comments noted recently, perhaps he’s really the most worrying part… Rolling Stone on John McCain sure makes it seem that way, anyway. Sure, biased liberal media, blah blah, but if this is even partly accurate, this is not someone we can afford to have in office.

Although, it is quite depressing to think how beloved he is by so many members of the senate, including Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, and by most of the media, at least until recently… though that reminds me a bit of that article a while back by a liberal journalist who had a blast hanging out with G W Bush, and the importance of keeping in mind that in many situations, for many people, someone can be a lot of fun, a really nice guy, but not a good choice for an office of responsibility and power. Human beings do a lot of compartmentalizing.

RNC, day 1… well, whatever

September 2, 2008

You could call it day 2. Tuesday. I like that the opening speaker referred to Sarah Pawlenty. That was a cute Freudian slip to start with :)… “oh why didn’t we pick the Governor of MN”… No, it’s not clear yet that core Republicans are unhappy about the pick, although the media are loving all the stories, and democrats can’t help feeling things are falling apart for McCain. But it’s always hard to tell with these things. Reagan made it through Iran-Contra, Bush got elected with Quayle, Clinton survived Gennifer Flowers – you just don’t know what’s going to stick and what’s gonna slide off.

If Palin’s speech tomorrow goes well [and she’s been out of the spotlight & moved to tomorrow night because the VP candidate always speaks on the penultimate night & she’s prepping for the biggest speech of her career, not because they’re ditching her – she was on the roster for tonight when she was just an ordinary up-and-coming Governor] then this might just be seen as “liberal hubbub” or something.

ANyway. The RNC line up has been all about “service” tonight, and they’ve been exploiting every military, churchy, volunteery, or patriotic activity possible… Even Laura Bush’s speech introducing her husband, which seemed like it was at least trying to point toward statistics or arguments about why this presidency was a success, got the most applause with the line “he has kept us safe”. It’s the same stuff from 2004, though they can’t focus as much on 9-11 – but instead of talking about issues or ideas, they are tugging at heartstrings. I suppose they can make the argument that they’re the party of less government, so their platform is about the power of the individual human spirit, but it is misleading since they are showing exceptional cases, not explaining how ordinary people will deal with ordinary problems, like rising health care costs and unemployment.

The other three speeches were Bush on a video screen, Fred Thompson, and Joe Lieberman. What a weird night. It was all kinds of contradictory – do we support Bush? Are we in tough times or is the Other Side full of shit? But as expected, it showed a pretty strong decision to stay on attack. Bush made a regular guy generic type speech about service, with a line in there about how he and John sure didn’t agree on everything. Thompson focused on McCain’s bio, and then went on the attack – first against the media and their treatment of Palin, and then against Obama and his empty rhetoric.

Lieberman was the weirdest talk of all as he mostly tried to go above the actual attendees and try to talk to the people watching at home, to court democrats and independents. It was believable that he was being sincere when he was talking about McCain as an experienced reformer and Obama as a young, eloquent, but not-yet-ready senator, but it was just unbelievable when he tried to attach Sarah Palin to that. It just made his entire judgment seem unbearably questionable so that listening to him in the first place was practically pointless…

We’ll see how the next couple nights go, but the fight isn’t over yet. The RNC certainly seems to have a smaller audience, and it seems like the democrats have a lot of advantage when it comes to issues (health care and economy, primarily) but I’m not sure racism is out of the picture (in a very hidden / underlying sort of “we don’t know this guy” way) and emotional sway has a lot of power in other ways (patriotic duty, etc). So we will see.