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.

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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.

More Trolling on White House Petitions Site: Death Star Edition

| Tue Dec. 4, 2012 8:21 AM PST

That didn't take long.

Last month, "John D" of Longmont, Colorado created a petition on the White House webpage "We the People" titled, "Secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016."

The nature of the petition is fairly self-explanatory. Someone reportedly living in a city in Colorado wants Barack Obama to build a real-life version of the Death Star from Star Wars—the gargantuan spacestation officially named the DS-1 Orbital Battle Station, the construction of which Darth Vader himself oversaw:

As of Tuesday morning, the petition has upwards of 1,300 signatures (if a "We the People" petition reaches 25,000 signatures within 30 days, it merits an official response from the White House). It reads:

Those who sign here petition the United States government to secure funding and resources, and begin construction on a Death Star by 2016. By focusing our defense resources into a space-superiority platform and weapon system such as a Death Star, the government can spur job creation in the fields of construction, engineering, space exploration, and more, and strengthen our national defense.

The unfortunately fictional Death Star, the Galactic Empire's moon-sized base capable of obliterating whole planets with a single beam of energy, would be a substantial stimulus project indeed: Students at Lehigh University estimated that the steel alone (assuming the Death Star's mass/volume ratio is roughly equal to that of an aircraft carrier) would cost $852 quadrillion—13,000 times the world economy's GDP. My colleague/Star Wars buff Kevin Drum puts steel costs closer to 1.3 million times world GDP.

So, yes, such a massive, unprecedented project would almost certainly "spur job creation," and the Obama administration's development of a planet-destroying spacestation would likely guarantee an invincible national-security apparatus (save for certain circumstances).

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"Killing Them Softly": A Hitman Movie—That's Actually About the Financial Crash

| Fri Nov. 30, 2012 7:44 AM PST

Killing Them Softly
The Weinstein Company
97 minutes

Along with Steven Soderbergh's Magic Mike, Killing Them Softly is so far the best Great Recession movie to emerge out of the film industry. (Sorry, Margin Call.)

The story is set in a decayed corner of New Orleans in 2008, at the dawn of the financial crisis. Toward the beginning of the movie, two amateur crooks—both wearing yellow dishwashing gloves, one brandishing a sawed-off shotgun—knock over a small mob-operated casino. As the pair raid the safe and force gamblers to empty their pockets and shoes, a televised address by George W. Bush echoes in the background. The president speaks calmly but deliberately about public panic and market meltdown, as hardened gangsters sit quietly while their wallets are emptied at gunpoint. The thieves then abscond with their bag stuffed with grime-smeared cash. And just like that, they trigger a total "economic collapse" of the local illicit-gambling/mobster economy.

Get it?

If the parallel isn't coming into astoundingly clear focus just yet, here's Aussie writer/director Andrew Dominik, talking about adapting George V. Higgins' 1974 novel Cogan's Trade into the screenplay for Killing Them Softly:

As I started adapting [the novel], it was the story of an economic crisis, and it was an economic crisis in an economy that was funded by gambling—and the crisis occurred due to a failure in regulation. It just seemed to have something that you couldn’t ignore. I always feel that crime films are about capitalism...

Short Takes: "Inventing David Geffen"

| Tue Nov. 27, 2012 4:08 AM PST

Inventing David Geffen

PBS

114 minutes

If nothing else, this film reminds us just how ubiquitous David Geffen is. "The music culture, a show-biz culture, the motion picture culture," says Tom Hanks. "He built it." This funny, fast-paced documentary uses interviews with old friends, A-list stars, and Geffen, 69, to chart how a Jewish kid from a modest Brooklyn household became a media magnate adored and reviled for his relentless cultivation of talent from Dylan to Nirvana—a man who produced films like Beetlejuice and Risky Business, helped launch Broadway's Dreamgirls, and still found time to schmooze with presidents, date Cher (even though he's gay), and sue Neil Young. Highlight: Geffen describing his early career at the William Morris talent agency, where he honed his talent for spewing "bullshit on the phone" and essentially conned and lied his way to the top.

This review originally appeared in our November/December issue of Mother Jones.

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