I was reading this analysis of a recent speech by George W. Bush (‘The Nation I Know,’ by George W. Bush – by James Fallows – Breaking the News) and it got me thinking about him again.
It’s easy to forget about Bush. Most Republicans act like they have. Many Democrats too. While reviled towards the end of his presidency — so much so that he was shunned by his party at their conventions — there are people who still think positively of him (For example, Michelle Obama Explains Her and George W. Bush’s Candy Exchange and Friendship).
But no one should forget about Bush and all the terrible things done during his presidency, from torture to war. To see what I mean, read this: The Legacy of America’s Post-9/11 Turn to Torture – The New York Times. While some in America would like to forget all that and think better of him, much of the world likely thinks like this: George W Bush should shut up and go away | US & Canada | Al Jazeera. Even there, the idea is to dismiss him and forget about him.
Perhaps Bush is a genial and charming man. But he will also be the man that brought the United States and the World to a worse place. That should not be forgotten.
(Image above: Official White House photo by Pete Souza – https://www.flickr.com/photos/whitehouse/4291602492/ (direct link))
If you come across this article, How Trump Steered Supporters Into Unwitting Donations – The New York Times, you might initially think a) well yeah Trump is a crook so no surprise b) his supporters are dumb so also no surprise. You can think that.
However, consider it from the point of view of people working on campaigns. Some of them on both sides might be thinking: this is a good way to bring in money. It’s hard to raise money, they might think, and this is a way to make it easier. These campaign workers might be working on campaigns for people you support. They might think the ends justifies the means.
So if you do contribute to political campaigns, consider doing it from an account that has a limited amount of funds in it. That way even if they trick you into overdonating, you won’t run into some of the trouble that Trump’s supporters did.
(Image comes from a link to an image in the New York Times piece)
Looking at this Google Trends line, there were two peak periods when there was a strong interest in fascism in the US: at the beginning of Trump’s term and towards the end. While those were peaks, there was much talk about fascism through his period in office. As he fades away (rots in jail?), I expect that interest to die off now the US has a new president. Let’s hope.
Meanwhile, the more and more I became convinced of the fascist behavior of the Trump administration, the more I started to read about it. Two links I found interesting were these:
- What 1930s political ideologies can teach us about the 2020s | Aeon Essays
- The Best Books on Fascism | Five Books Expert Recommendations
If you are interesting / worried about the rise of neo-fascism, I recommend those links.
(Image is one of the best books on fascism).
No longer this guy:
Three years ago I argued Buchanan was the worst president, here:
The worst ever president of the United States of America is… | Smart People I Know
But a lot has happened in three years, and I now agree with Tim Naftali who argues that: Trump Is the Worst President in History – The Atlantic.
He makes a strong case. Not only that, but we haven’t even begin to know all the bad things Trump has done.
There have been many bad presidents, from Harding to Johnson to Nixon. But Trump takes the “prize” for being the worst.
American politics is about many things. One of the main things it is about is money. For a while it was believed that after the “Citizen United” case, the flood of money would almost guarantee whoever had the most money would win. Now it’s not just about what money can do, but what it cannot do.
As some states like Maine and South Carolina showed, vastly outspending the incumbent will not guarantee election: The Democrats Went All Out Against Susan Collins. Rural Maine Grimaced. – The New York Times. That’s not to say money is irrelevant. It’s just that it has limits. It’s no longer enough to bombard people with ads bought with all that money. You need to spend smarter. I am not sure if anyone in the US has that figured out.
Speaking of money, this article by Jamelle Bouie highlights the importance of money especially when it comes to low information voters: Opinion | A Simple Theory of Why Trump Did Well – The New York Times. High information voters might scoff at “Donnie Dollars” (cheques issued by the government with Trump’s name on them). But I agree with Bouie: things like that make a difference with many voters. People might not closely weigh one politician’s promises versus another, but they all remember the jobs and services and other benefits that the incumbents brought their way.
(Photo by Matthew Lancaster on Unsplash)
Two good pieces on Mitch McConnell, here and here.
The first piece is analyzing if he is good at his job. The second piece has a snarky title but gets to the essence of McConnell.
I’d argue he is good at his job. He’s a strong parliamentarian who knows his caucus . He has a simple agenda and he strives to get it done. If you are a progressive, that stinks. But if you are a conservative, it’s great.
People struggling to understand McConnell usually do so because they imagine him to be someone else. But he is simple to understand. How you feel about that is different.
After last night’s debacle at the Iowa caucus for the Democrats, there are going to be many hot takes published on what should change. I suspect many of them will be bad. The following is pretty good, I think.
Something should change, though. That was an embarrassing disaster.
— Read on http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2020/1/31/21087017/iowa-caucus-democratic-primary-2020
This recent piece in the Washington Post is a reminder what a good man and what an under appreciated President that Jimmy Carter was: The un-celebrity president: Jimmy Carter shuns riches, lives modestly in his Georgia hometown – The Washington Post.
He was dealt a bad hand a number of times, but he achieved greatness too. His greatest deed may have been to allow the United States to transition from the debacle that was the Nixon Presidency. Like Obama with the Great Recession, he saved the country from those that would harm it.
…Is a good one, I think. I found after I read this book, American Nations, I had a much better appreciation for decision made by people from different regions of the United States, once I had a better understanding of the culture and background of each “nation” and how that affects their thinking.
If you are curious, this is a good article that summarizes the ideas in the book:Which of the 11 American nations do you live in? – The Washington Post
The book is good, though. Worth a read.
Bon Appétit has a rich list of articles and photos paying homage to red sauce restaurants in America. You likely know this type of joint. It has:
The oversize portions. The red-and-white-checked tablecloths. A carafe of the house red. Old-school Italian-American restaurants, a.k.a. red sauce joints, are the kind of institutions you’ll find, with very few deviations, in just about any city in America. But as we discovered upon reaching out to dozens of writers, chefs, and celebrities, these restaurants are about a lot more than a plate of penne alla vodka. Whether or not you’re Italian, red sauce likely means something to you—about family, or home, or history, or politics, or class, or citizenship, or selfhood, or otherness, or all the above, or a million other things. And that’s what this package is all about. Welcome to Red Sauce America.
For a feast of this type of dining, see here: Welcome to Red Sauce America – Bon Appétit.
Before this piece, I had limited knowledge of Woodrow Wilson. Most of that was centered on the work he did at the beginning of the 20th century, and much of that came from Margaret McMillan’s book, “The Peacemakers” (in the UK) / Paris, 1919 (in North America)”. My impression of him was a giant, transforming the old world with his ideas and his actions, and it was a transformation that was much needed. The world transformed after the first World War, leaving behind much that was bad, and a lot of that was Wilson’s doing.
However, Wilson racism was a terrible thing, and there is no overlooking it. There is no way to say Wilson was simply a great man: his racism and the discriminatory actions he took stain him permanently. He is a complex man, though, and there is no one scale to measure him on.
This complexity is true for all American presidents. There is a part of Americans that want to revere their leaders. They build them monuments, they sanctify them, they constantly assess and reassess them, be they Wilson, or Grant, or even Reagan. No doubt this will happen to Obama, too. This desire to sanctify leads to trouble, just as it is leading to trouble in Wilson’s case.
Ideally Americans would spend less time idealizing their past leaders and building them monuments and centers like the one for Wilson. Anything like that should include all the history of the person and the time they lived in. Show the complexity of the person, their strengths and their weaknesses, and highlight both what they achieved and what they failed to achieve. Give a full accounting of the person.
(Image is a link to a photo by Mark Makela for the New York Times)
If you want to do more than vote in an election, especially if you are an American, then read this: THIS ELECTION IS FREAKING ME OUT, WHAT CAN I DO!? (An Introduction to Field Organizing). Obviously this is geared towards Hillary Clinton supporters for president, but read it regardless of you who you plan to vote for and at what level. It should help you get to the point of at least knowing the right questions to ask and where you might go next to get more involved.
Voting is important, but there is much more to democracy than that. If you step up, your involvement will make a difference, regardless of your role. Good for you for taking that next step.
..is to follow this, from Bloomberg: Who’s Winning the Presidential Delegate Count?
You can still read the news and follow along, state by state, but what really matters more and more is the delegate count.
One thing that surprised me: right now, Ted Cruz is alot closer to Donald Trump than I imagined. Obviously there is a way to go still, but he is doing well. Will Cruz win? I think the odds are against him, but right now they are not insurmountable.
As for the other side, I believe Hillary Clinton is going to win, regardless of the Michigan surprise showing of Bernie Sanders. Sanders is performing better than many imagined, but she has a big lead in delegates and that will only get larger as we go along.
There’s two ways to tell who will be the next president of the United States.
- Listen to the pundits: The Most Likely Next President Is Hillary Clinton – Bloomberg Politics
- Follow the betters: 2016 Presidential Election – Next President bet | betfair.com
In this case, at this moment, they are both in agreement: Hillary Clinton will be the next president of the United States. Now, the election is so very far away, anything can happen, a week is a long time in politics, blah blah blah, but right now it is hers to lose.
If you ask me, ignore the pundits and follow the betters: the latter are rarely wrong. Read the pundits if you want to know why she is winning.