Currently browsing USA ⤵

It’s not over until the fat lady sings

Who is the fat lady? I don’t know, do you?

I’m not an American. I’ve said before that I feel some connection to the result of the US elections because of the influence of the US on Britain, but it is to Americans that it matters most, and I can’t begin to imagine what it feels like over there.

Waking up on Wednesday morning and seeing the closeness of the race was an oh shit moment. But by Wednesday evening, UK time, there was excitement as a different picture emerged, and by Thursday things were looking dicey for Trump. The glee turned swiftly to impatience. An election happens incredibly quickly in the UK. The whole process, including the campaign, takes less than a month and the time between casting your vote and having a new government can be less than 24 hours. To us, the US election seems to have been going on forever.

The map hasn’t changed much in two days, but there is calm today. The process needs to reach conclusion, but result is virtually inevitable. Democracy is exhorting its will, state by state, box by box, vote by vote.

I’m trying to resist hyperbole, but it does feel like a small weight is being lifted from the world.

I don’t know about you..

..but this just about sums up the last two days for me.

Holly Figueroa O’Reilly / Twitter

Good luck, America

Approximately twice a day, I head over to 538 to check the latest polling data on the US election. It should calm my nerves, but recent events have proven that nothing is inevitable and that polls are only fleetingly reassuring.

UK politics is inextricably linked to that of the US, perhaps even more so now that we’ve left the EU. America is our largest and most powerful ally, so where they go, we usually follow. We share the big things: language, culture, democracy & love of McDonald’s — but are perplexed by the guns, the crazy health care system, intense evangelicals and FOX News. We accept these as American foibles. It’s not like we don’t have our own problems. Even so, the Trump presidency has been intensely worrying for many in the UK. Deep down, we worry that it might happen to us.

The election of Trump did something, just like Brexit did to us. It turned cracks into fault-lines. But Trump, I think, is the symptom rather than the cause. The fuel for discontent has been gathered for generations. The air was primed to burn. He was the spark, and an unwanted reminder that order and chaos are precariously balanced.

I’ve been trying to think of the standout moments for me. At first, there were the lies – which at first seemed outrageous, but now seem normal. The moment I remember most is Charlottesville and the image of young men – the new face of the far right – carrying tiki torches in the dark, eyes burning with hatred. There was something medieval about it, and I’ve never been able to shake it off.


How do you fix America? From this distance, it seems a problem too big to solve. But the first step, surely, is to evict that orange twat from the White House.

Good luck, America. Please, god, make something nice happen this year.


Riverside Park

The child in me thinks this is great. The parent in me does not.


Three Bridges in Chicago

Chicago Bridges (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

This picture caught my eye when reading the news today. Look at the size of those things!

The first bridge in the picture is the North Clarke Street Bridge. It’s 66 meters wide, 105 meters long and weighs 1400 tons. Enormous counterweights at either end are carefully balanced with the structure so that it takes only a small amount of energy to raise the leaves.

The bridges have been raised in this case to try and prevent looting in downtown Chicago – but, you know, they are nice bridges, and clever engineering.

No Mercy / No Malice

Saturday morning is when I catch up on my newsletters. This weeks edition of No Mercy / No Malice by Scott Galloway is a cracker.

Donald Trump was right, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were mistakes. Mistakes that cost us almost 7,000 American souls, 208,102 Iraqi and 111,000 Afghan civilian lives, and $1.9 trillion (inflation adjusted). But Covid-19 will register an even greater toll of American blood and treasure. The response to the novel coronavirus would have been swifter and more disciplined if the pathogen had brown skin and worshiped a different god. Americans can’t seem to wrap their head around an enemy 10,000 times smaller than the width of human hair.

Link: The Great Distancing

Video from the front in Portland

‘Great civilisations are not murdered. Instead, they take their own lives’ – so concluded Arnold Toynbee after investigating the fall of different civilisations through the ages.

Whatever your political persuasion, scenes like these from the City of Portland yesterday must give you the chills. To an outsider like me, this just looks like a country at war with itself.