I am on vacation this week for a long overdue time off. In that regard, I am like many of my American counterparts. As this piece shows, Americans don’t get much vacation time. Worse, they are bad at taking it. As for why that is, it says Americans…
- felt they couldn’t adequately disconnect from work while on vacation
- thought they wouldn’t feel relaxed or connect with loved ones
- anticipated negative outcomes, such as feeling stressed or having financial burdens.
As someone who has worked with many Americans, that all rings true.
There’s a joke on the Internet that Europeans will take off the whole summer for vacation, while Americans are available to take a business call during surgery. An exaggeration, but not that far off.
For more on this, see: U.S. vacation time is short and Americans don’t use it wisely.
Get some time off. You and the people you work with will benefit.
America is great in many ways, but when it’s bad, it’s terrible. Much of this has to do with the Republican party and the people who support it. That support means that people in Republican Counties Have Higher Death Rates Than Those in Democratic Counties. People are stupid, but it doesn’t help when those that lead them are evil or incompetent. Speaking of evil, here’s a piece on Tucker Carlson and why it is pointless to interview him. It’s not all evil though, some of it is just incompetent, like the Texas power grid. Also dumb are Republicans thinking they should have the right to spam people. Back to evil, this piece on Citizen Bopp, explains how much toxic legislation gets drafted. Now back to freedumb and how Americans will sooner metaphorically shoot themselves in the foot for freedom than to act reasonably.
Besides the GOP, much of the badness of the US rises out of political Christians, which has lead to the rise of Christian nationalism . Evil. As for dumb? What Happens To Christian Influencers When They Get Married?
All that helps explain why the American right falls over terrible world leaders like the bigot Victor Orban from Hungary. (Not that we Canadians should be smug: our ex PM Harper is apparently a fan.)
America still reserves the right go assassinate people around the world, and because the weapons are getting better and the targets are awful, no one blinks an eye at stories like this: Little-known modified Hellfire missiles likely killed al Qaeda’s Zawahiri.
Anyway, those are just some of the links I’ve saved over the last while on the badness of America. Never mind their Supreme Court and how evil and incompetent they are. It’s one thing to be right wing, but they had a chance to limit Roe v Wade in a way that would be less damaging and they refused to take it.
Maybe next week I’ll be in a better mood and I will write about why American is great. Often times they are great because of their enemies and the challenges they pose. Some of those enemies are foreign, but many of them are domestic.
With all the news concerning the US Supreme Court, I did some digging to see how the current court measures up against its predecessors. Here some pieces I found on the worst decisions ever made:
And here are two articles on the worst members of that court:
Judge for yourself. 🙂
Like many people, I am riveted to what is happening in the USA lately. It seems to be coming undone as right wingers try and pull the country to a place that will be bad for Americans and in some cases bad for the world. To support that opinion, here’s some links I’ve recently collected. (As well as other links related to politics in general.)
Jan 6th: First up, there is the January 6th committee investigating the insurrection that happened on that day. Mike Pence featured prominently in the beginning, leading to pieces like this, Why Democrats Should Honor Mike Pence, and this and this. Then there were others, like Rusty Bowers in Arizona. More on the role of the GOP in the hearings. I respect all those who did their job/duty and pushed back on Trump and those who tried to subvert democracy. I don’t think we need to make them all into heroes, but we should respect their courage and determination. And who knows, but here’s how Merrick Garland might play into this.
Trump: On the other side, here’s a piece on Trump’s legal defence. A key player, Rudy Giuliani used to be looked up to. Hard to believe now. This piece explores his decline. Here’s a piece on the Congresswoman Nancy Mace and limits of Trump’s influence. Here’s Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein comparing Nixon and Trump in terms of corruption.
Media: As an aside, this was good: Bob Woodward explains key scenes in All the President’s Men. This was not so good: The Washington Post’s social media meltdown. Finally, people who are political junkies might like this: The Rise and Fall of the Star White House Reporter.
The right, SCOTUS, and Roe: To understand what is happening in the US, you need to understand the Religious Right. This helps with that: The Real Origins of the Religious Right. But it helps to know what other players are up to as well, such as Peter Thiel. Or this $%&*, Tucker Carlson.
Which leads to the overturning of Roe vs Wade by the Supreme Court of the US (SCOTUS). Two pieces on that: the Roe opinion and the case against the Supreme Court of the United States and SCOTUS’s argument for overturning Roe v Wade and Casey. Relatedly, this piece was wrong: The leaked draft Roe opinion is a disaster for the Supreme Court. They lived.
Other things worth reading: More on SCOTUS and how they are dishonest in their judgments; this oped, A Requiem for the Supreme Court After Roe’s Demise; and this, Decades Ago Alito Laid Out Methodical Strategy to Eventually Overrule Roe.
To get more of a handle on this, I read these pieces trying to understand what happens next in the US by these studies of Oklahoma and Ireland. Here’s a piece on how legislatures play into this. Here’s how right wing extremists will be collecting data potentially to go after women seeking abortion. Finally, this on the doctrine of potential life and what’s wrong with it.
Politics and Tech: here’s four pieces on how tech intersects with politics: 1) On period trackers, 2) Microsoft reportedly censors searches for politically sensitive Chinese data, and 3) Canada and how Russian hackers come after it and 4) The Surreal Case of a C.I.A. Hacker’s Revenge.
Generally: the war is still ongoing in Ukraine. Here’s two pieces on it: here and here. Elsewhere in Europe: Hungary: where replacement theory reigns supreme. And to wrap up: How Asian Civilizations Will Change The World Order….nope; The Meaning of Machiavelli.…Yep; For Tens of Millions of Americans the Good Times Are Right Now….maybe?
If you’ve read this far, thanks. All comments are moderated and any I deem thoughtful I’ll approve. The rest go in the trash.
Here’s some interesting links I found on America, China, and Africa over the year that I thought worth revisited as we move from 2021 to 2022.
On American justice: There was plenty of turmoil in the American justice system in 2021. For example, the Arbery trial outcome was uncertain: Nearly All-White Jury in Arbery Killing Draws Scrutiny while the Rittenhouse trial was not: Of Course Kyle Rittenhouse Was Acquitted. The effects of the US Supreme Court becoming more conservative was discussed in pieces like this Five Justices Did This Because They Could and this It’s time to say it: The conservatives on the Supreme Court lied to us all. Finally a reminder of how terrible capital punishment is in many ways, as this piece shows: They executed people for the state of South Carolina. For some it nearly destroyed them.
On American history: Americans spent much time debating their history, too, in pieces like this, Date of Viking Visit to North America Pinpointed to 1021 AD,
this The Debate Over a Jefferson Statue Is Missing Some Surprising History this Cancel Columbus Day: Sun storms pinpoint Europeans being in Canada in 1021 A.D., and this: Does America really lose all its wars?.
A special focus was put on the 1619 Project, here The 1619 Project and the Demands of Public History and here The 1619 Project started as history. Now it’s also a political program. Relatedly, this: List of last surviving American enslaved people.
Finally, this bears rereading: Bertrand Russell’s Ten Commandments for Living in a Healthy Democracy.
China: like the US, China is struggling too. Struggling with it’s young people (‘Lying flat’: The millennials quitting China’s ‘996’ work culture to live ‘free of anxiety’), scandals (Beijing Silenced Peng Shuai in 20 Minutes, Then Spent Weeks on Damage Control), worldwide distrust (As Distrust of China Grows Europe May Inch Closer to Taiwan), and their treatment of Uyghurs (U.S. Holocaust Museum Says China May Be Committing Genocide Against Uyghurs). And as Xi Jinping gains more control, he is coming under more scrutiny, as seen here China’s Xi Jinping Remakes the Communist Party’s History in His Image and here What if Xi Jinping just isn’t that competent?
Africa: For the first part of the 21st century, China and the US will be the dominant great powers. However as we move towards the 22nd century, the next great power may come from Africa. At the very least, Africa’s rising cities will be dominant.
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.