Tag: US Politics

2021, Economics, Politics, Psychology, Society

It’s Status, Stupid

Note: I wrote this in January and then it set in my Drafts. So I’m publishing it now, with very few edits, in the hopes that it still makes some sense. When I was in undergrad and grad school, studying political philosophy, I was extremely skeptical of explanations of human behaviour based in class. Especially …

1955, Books, Non-Fiction

The Age of Reform (1955) by Richard Hofstadter

When I picked this up I wondered, “Why the hell am I reading a history book written in 1955?” My experience with much older history is that it is incomplete, lacking more modern insights that have since become general knowledge. But I knew of Hofstadter’s reputation, I’d read his most famous article at some point …

2010, Movies

Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (2010, Alex Gibney)

This is a fascinating documentary about former New York State Governor Eliot Spitzer’s sex scandal and New York State and American political corruption in general. I must admit I didn’t pay much attention to the scandal at the time – I don’t care much about American gubernatorial politics – and assumed he’d done things a …

2020, Politics, Psychology, Society

70 Million Americans Voted to Re-Elect a Con Man to the Presidency [Updated]

In August of 2016, before his election to President, I wondered whether or not Donald Trump was the Greatest Con Man of All Time. (The GOAT-Con? The Con-GOAT? The GCMOAT?) A year and a half later, still mystified by his support, I wondered how people continue to trust him, as he burns one after the …

2006, Movies

Shut Up & Sing (2006, Barbara Kopple, Cecilia Peck)

Can you imagine being so angry at a band that you drove over their CDs with a tractor? I can’t imagine Jeff Tweedy doing something that will that would make me so angry I would drive over my Wilco CDs or light them on fire. I just can’t relate to it. At all.

2020, Personal, Society

Journal of the Plague Year: Blood on Their Hands

If you had asked someone in Autumn 2019 which country would be best equipped to handle a pandemic, they might have answered “The United States”. They have the most resources of any country in the world. Of course, given who is in power, they might have expressed doubt. But ask the question in Autumn 2015, …

2016, Books, Non-Fiction

Dark Money (2016) by Jane Mayer

This is an alarming – dare I say frightening – examination of the ways in which American billionaires – primarily the Koch brothers – and multimillionaires have used their fortunes to influence US politics, particularly since Obama’s first term. It also chronicles their efforts to create an education and lobbying system to promote their extremist …

2002, Books, Non-Fiction

Theodore Roosevelt: A Strenuous Life (2002, Kathleen Dalton)

At long last, I have finished this mammoth, exhaustive one-volume biography of Theodore Roosevelt. Given the depth of this one, I have to wonder about the detail of multi-volume biographies. Anyway, why would I read such a thing? Well, I read this because TR is my dad’s favourite president. I had mixed feelings about him …

2019, Books, Non-Fiction

Republic of Lies (2019, Anna Merlan)

This is a survey of contemporary American conspiracy theories and the extent to which some of them can be found in mouths of the powerful in America. It is well-written, engaging and sometimes quite funny. But if you’ve read anything about American conspiracy theories before, there isn’t much new here.

Politics, Psychology

Incremental Socialism is a Conspiracy Theory

I was having a conversation with a conservative on Reddit a while ago. The conservative I was primarily engaged with shared many of my views (to an extent) when it came to the nature of reality, something I was not expecting. I had posted those views because I thought fundamental disagreements of the nature of …

2007, Movies

Chicago 10 (2007, Brett Morgan)

The trial of 10 people after the demonstrations outside the 1968 Democratic Convention is certainly a notable trial in the history of civil liberties abuses in the United States. And it is a story that deserves to be told. But I’m not sure if this ADD movie is the right vehicle for it. Moreover, it …

2018, Podcasts

Bag Man (2018)

This podcast tells the Watergate-adjacent story of Spiro Agnew’s resignation prior to Nixon’s, a story I was basically entirely unfamiliar with. It’s a story that’s particularly relevant to today, as you might imagine, but it’s even interesting if what is going on with the current Administration wasn’t going on. But I can’t give it a …

2010, Movies

Casino Jack and the United States of Money (2010, Alex Gibney)

This is an episodic yet frenetic documentary about Jack Abramoff and his lobbying scandal. I can’t say I loved the style of the film, which was a little over-reliant on pop culture cues, but the film takes a serious issue and makes it entertaining, which is something that should be commended.

Politics, Society

Graham Greene and McCarthyism

In 1952 the British Catholic novelist Graham Greene attempted to visit the United States to meet with his American publisher, among other things. Greene had visited the US multiple times before and had even put a play on in Boston (an adaptation of his The Heart of the Matter, it was a disaster). He applied …

2017, Personal, Politics, Society

Fascism is Alive and Well in the United States of America

I must admit that I have been somewhat of a “Trump optimist” these last few months. I believed in his obvious, demonstrable incompetence at just about everything he does – except branding and self-promotion, obviously. (He’s been abetted in this incompetence by untold numbers of people if you’re wondering why someone who is generally incompetent …

2016, Politics, Society

Well that was Stupid

Regardless of how you feel about last night’s US general election, why did that take 18 months? Why does it take 18 months to make a decision about who should be president? 18 months! This is not normal. No other democracy in the world takes this long to pick its head of state. None. This …

2016, Politics, Psychology, Society

Is Trump the Greatest Con Man in American History?

Sorry for the clickbaity headline. What I really mean to ask is “Is Donald Trump trying to become the Greatest American Con Man of All Time?” because only if he wins the Presidential election will he achieve this feat.

2008, Books, Non-Fiction

The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder (2008) by Vincent Bugliosi

I have “read” one book by Vincent Bugliosi before. (I say “read” because it was an audio book.) And in that book Bugliosi impressed me with his rather ruthless rigor of thought about an issue that was clouded by too many books and opinions.

Politics, Society

Treason is what you make it

I am a regular viewer of the Amazing Race, the only “reality” show I can handle which isn’t cooking-related. I am aware that the show is not exactly what it seems, as I am aware that it is edited and that the crew manipulate the results. I don’t care. I enjoy the “race” aspect of …

Politics, Society

Armchair Governing

For decades we have known about the phenomenon of “Armchair Quarterbacks”: fans who watch so much football that they decide – probably subconsciously at first – that they would be better at the offensive coordinator job than the experienced professional currently holding that position. And it extends to other football decisions and other sports decisions. …

2012, Economics, Politics

The Fiscal Cliff: Another triumph of rhetoric over policy

I am not economist and perhaps that’s why I have trouble understanding the panic and the political stubbornness around the non-crisis of the so-called “fiscal cliff. (On the other hand, it is perhaps because of the fact that I am a not an economist that I have perspective, something that seems to be sadly lacking in most …

Politics, Society

Sandy Hook and Self-Censorship

The BBC informs me that Django Unchained‘s premiere has been canceled on account of the massacre in Newtown, CT. This is the second film to be delayed because of this tragedy – as far as I know – though it is certainly the more artistically significant of the two. I think this is a mistake. Let …

Philosophy, Politics, Society

What is Neo-Conservatism?

Since before the recent US election the use of the term conservative has been driving me crazy. To tell you the truth, it has driven me crazy since I learned about ideology in university over ten years ago, but now that I have a blog, and now that I am inundated daily with misuse of …

Philosophy, Politics, Psychology, Society

Liberal as a Slur in the United States

Every US presidential election makes me insane. I do my very best to avoid paying attention but it is very hard, with how dominant the TV coverage is, even in Canada. I find I have to pay attention to US government policy in my current job and so I find that this year I am …

2010, Books, Non-Fiction

The Mendacity of Hope (2010) by Roger D. Hodge

I was extremely skeptical of this book when I was lent it by my father. I don’t particularly like polemics and I figured, despite the claims on the back cover, that I would react the usual way to such things: which is that I would dismiss outright after 25-50 pages.

2009, Politics, Society

Palin is coming to Hamilton

I don’t know why she’s coming to Hamilton. I can guess. Supposedly she’s coming to speak at a hospital fundraiser. I figure she’s really coming because she’s already spoken everywhere in the US that would take her. Though she is probably the dumbest politician I have ever seen (dumber than Quale, and that’s saying something), …