Friday links! I did it for the money edition

Benicio del Toro enjoys some on-the-nose dialogue with James Caan's bagman in The Way of the Gun

Benicio del Toro enjoys some on-the-nose dialogue with James Caan’s bagman in The Way of the Gun.

“Fifteen million dollars is not money,” some hard case says in Christopher McQuarrie’s The Way of the Gun. “It’s a motive with a universal adaptor on it.” That criticism of contemporary screenwriting applies even better to contemporary society. We all agree you shouldn’t do things just for the money, but an awful lot of what we do now compensates us little else. From financial services to country music, society encourages growing numbers of people to perform empty tasks joylessly for money. What used to be a sad admission around bar close has become an operating principle. Today is Friday, and if you don’t take whatever money they offer you to do anything, you’ll starve. Won’t you buy in with me?

First, the good news: Jeb Bush thinks we can achieve robust economic growth, but we all have to work longer hours—him as president, us as waste oil removal technicians or whatever. In response to a question from New Hampshire local The Union Leader about tax reform, Jeb said:

“My aspiration for the country—and I believe we can achieve it—is 4 percent growth as far as the eye can see. Which means we have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours” and, through their productivity, “gain more income for their families. That’s the only way we’re going to get out of this rut that we’re in.”

I don’t see the word “tax” in there, but maybe I need to read it again. More importantly: sad aspiration for the country, bro. “Four-percent growth as far as the eye can see” does not fondle the old heartstrings like “a chicken in every pot.” But here is one situation where life is actually being unfair to Jeb Bush. From my reading, “work longer” appears in the context of low work-force participation, and Bush is implying that the large number of people languishing in part-time work need full-time jobs. Bush wants to put America back to work. It’s just that he’s a pussy who was born rich, and to him working longer hours means staying up later. Seriously, scorched earth on a third President Bush in my lifetime.

You shouldn’t talk about Mrs. Jeb Bush, though. All she did was fall in love with a rambunctious Texas boy, and she is not a fair subject for political argument. Even Donald Trump deleted this tweet:

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Got him! He should have thought about his Mexican wife before he started talking about immigrants. But then everybody got all butt hurt, so Trump took it down. At long last, he has some sense of decency, in addition to the whitest, most luxurious wife in the world.

Meanwhile, billionaires who have enough sense to stay off television quietly welcome Eric Holder back to criminal defense. The Attorney General who “failed to win a single conviction in court for any crimes related to the financial crisis,” pioneered the extra-judicial settlement, and replaced fines with tax-deductible “remedial payments” has resumed work for Washington DC’s Covington & Burling. They actually kept an office empty for him while he was gone. At Covington, Holder rejoins a team of defense attorneys whose clients include Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, Chase, Bank of America and Citigroup—all companies with whom Attorney General Holder negotiated Justice Department settlements.

Sometimes I feel like a massive conspiracy is driving our already weakened nation toward catastrophe—apocalypse, even. But then Kaitlin Sullivan and James Harvey curated this fan-sourced project to make an Akira/Simpsons matchup, which both reminded us of that question and assured us everything was fine.

In case you’re wondering why that’s so wonderful, here’s the original Akira trailer:


If you don’t know what Akira is, I don’t know what to tell you. Probably I should shout your name and extend my hand as a distant explosion engulfs the sky. Or you could watch the subtitled version right now. Do not watch the English-dubbed version, or it will suck and you’ll think I’m crazy. Watch the Japanese one and think I’m a dork.

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