Next week the midterm election will determine whether the Democratic Party maintains its tenuous hold of Congress, or the Republican Party takes over. Polls indicate that there’s a better than even chance that the Republicans will take over both bodies of Congress. And if you listen to the “person on the street” interviews on major news outlets, it will be because a huge number of voters consider “the economy” the largest single issue influencing their vote.
If voters opt for Republicans on the assumption that that party is better able to tackle economic challenges, they will have fallen for the second biggest lie in American politics.
Investors who used to feel guilty about having their retirement savings invested in pariah companies that did not reflect their values now have a choice. They can channel their investments into “ESG funds,” which supposedly focus on companies that stack up well against a list of Environmental, Social, and Governance criteria, and rest assured that the companies they own a stake in are environmentally responsible, operate according to high ethical standards, and act as responsible citizens of their communities.
Americans’ fascination with guns is intriguing and disturbing to most non-Americans. We note that there are about 400 million firearms in private possession in the US – more than one for each man, woman and child in the country. At least one of those guns is in the hands of Marjorie Taylor Greene, which is disturbing in its own right. We see a quasi-religious reverence to the Second Amendment of the US Constitution, which guarantees a “right to bear arms.” And as Americans “bear” those arms, they keep shooting themselves and each other in rather alarming numbers.
As I write this, Covid-19 is still killing thousands of people each day. The vaccines that will protect us are being distributed, slowly, but it will take many months before we reach any semblance of herd immunity. Meanwhile, the economy is a shambles, with unemployment among certain sectors still at a depressingly high rate, small business owners in crisis, and deficits at all levels of governments that will take a lifetime to be paid down. There’s been an attempted coup in the United States, and a successful coup in Myanmar. Climate change is continuing almost unabated. It’s all a bit much to deal with at one time.
So…..I want to talk about the use of VAR (Video assisted referee) in the adjudication of offside decisions in football (soccer). Frankly, it’s a bit of a mess.
It didn’t start with George Floyd. It didn’t end with George Floyd, either.
It wasn’t just the death of one ordinary man in a forgettable city in the Northern US that led to worldwide demonstrations and protests, and brought the issue of systemic racism into daily conversation. Rather, Floyd’s murder represented a tipping point – whereby we could either continue as-is, tacitly accepting the fact that a large segment of our society is actively discriminated against, or we could actually do something about it. And, doing something about it starts with a collective shout of “Black lives matter!”
In May of 2016, Barack Obama took time out from an official visit to Southeast Asia to sit down with the late Anthony Bourdain in a tiny street café in Hanoi, to have a bowl of Bún chả, a bottle of beer, and a chat. Obama was the president of the United States; Bourdain was the host of a renowned travelogue television show focused on food and culture, and a former chef. Two middle-aged blokes sitting on plastic stools in a restaurant on the other side of the world, sharing a meal while musing about the simple pleasures of different foods, the benefits of making peace with former enemies (they were in Vietnam, after all), and of the need to connect with strangers in strange lands. And, weighing in on such weighty issues as whether it is ever ok to put ketchup on a hotdog (apparently not). Their brief chat spoke volumes about America’s place in the world.Continue reading “Respect and Trust: Lessons Learned Over Obama and Bourdain’s Bún Chả”
The US impeachment hearings have been compelling political theatre. Even though the outcome is largely pre-determined (the Democrat-led House will vote to impeach, the Republican-led Senate will not vote to convict), they still represent drama and intrigue. No-one is quite sure who will rise to the occasion, who will sink to new depths of obsequiousness, and who will emerge from anonymity to capture the admiration or ridicule of a nation. We wonder what preposterous story Republicans will next put forward to either deny or excuse presidential behaviour that for any of the 44 previous presidents would have been an open-and-shut case for impeachment. We watch in astonishment as the Republicans on the committee argue in favour of their own irrelevance. And as the domestic and international credibility of the US political system withers. Fascinating stuff. Continue reading “The Impeachment Show – Farce and drama in three acts.”
As most of the world realises, climate change is real, potentially catastrophic, and caused/exacerbated by human activity (i.e. greenhouse gas emissions). The evidence is overwhelming.
Climate change should be an apolitical issue. It affects all people, regardless of location, economic status, or political stripe, and demands action from all people. Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions should be a non-partisan, politically neutral, shared necessity. Should be.
There are opponents, usually on the conservative side of the spectrum, who resist any reasonable action on climate. Among this group of detractors, deniers and do-nothings are those who dismiss climate activists as politically driven opportunists – wanting more to advance a socialist revolution rather than to save the planet. How can they say this? Because climate activists are doing everything they can to portray climate action as an element of a socialist revolution. Their objective appears to be a radical transformation of society (i.e. “System Change”), bundling action on climate with action on social issues. They aren’t helping. Instead of convincing those who need to be convinced that combatting climate change is not a radical idea, the activists seem hell-bent on making it a radical idea.
“Marge, come here! There’s money coming out of the walls!”
Doug Ford’s Conservative government is spending millions of Ontario tax dollars to complain about a federal carbon tax, which he argues will cost Ontarians dearly. But, the television ads which have cluttered the airwaves for the past few weeks show a different picture – a puzzled man sitting on a sofa reading a newspaper, watching a stream of cash spurting from a heat vent onto his living room floor. A stunned-looking woman filling up with gas being treated to a cascade of coins flowing from the pump. Grocery store shoppers side-stepping the money shooting out from between ketchup bottles. Contrary to DoFo’s intentions, the ads show that under a federal carbon tax, cash streams in, not out.