Sunday, July 26, 2020

Last Call For All Out, The Family

America is no longer a great place to raise a family, and the precipitous decline in birth rates (not to mention the massive disparity in pregnancy-related deaths among Black and Latino women) mean that increasingly the American dream of a house, two kids and a car are out of reach for the vast majority of us and that the increasingly majority decision by younger Gen Xers like myself, Millennials, and Zoomers now entering their twenties to not raise a family in the US is a completely conscious, if not moral one.

In case you thought America wasn’t experiencing enough turmoil of late, the United States has been named the second-worst wealthy nation in which to raise a family in 2020, according to new research by travel site Asher & Lyric.

“The first time I looked at the data, I was in disbelief,” co-founder Lyric Benson-Fergusson said of the findings in the “Raising a Family Index” (RAFI).

The Los Angeles-based mother of two started the site with her Aussie husband, Asher Fergusson, to help people “stay safe, healthy, and happy at home and while traveling,” per the website’s description.

To determine the most and least family-friendly countries, the couple rated 35 OECD countries (part of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development forum) according to safety, happiness, cost, health, education and time.

The US clocked in at an abysmal 34th place, just ahead of last-place finisher Mexico, whose murder rate jumped to the highest in nearly two years as drug cartels have run amok during the coronavirus lockdown. Leading the pack of overall fam-safe nations were Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland.

“I think if we, as Americans, are truly honest with ourselves, we might understand why the United States ranks solidly as the second-worst country to raise a family,” said Benson-Fergusson.

Case in point: The red-white-and-blue came in dead last in terms of time — which the RAFI gauged by maternity leave, vacation days and other factors — and cost, as measured by out-of-pocket health spending, cost of living, income ratio and more.

The study noted that the US is the only country that doesn’t require employers to offer maternity leave. Even worse, the average household blows 31.79% of their income on child care compared to the 4 to 10% spent by Scandinavian nations.

Most surprising was America’s global safety rating, which was, according to the research, the second-poorest after Mexico.

Despite statistics showing that reported crimes have been on the decline nationwide, the US homicide rate is still eclipsed only by Mexico, per the research. And America reportedly tops the list in school shootings with a whopping 288 incidents from 2009 to 2018, with Mexico placing second at eight and all other countries recording zero, per the study.

The Land of the Free also came in “fourth-worst” for human rights — here defined broadly across several categories including “protection against enslavement, the right to free speech and the right to education.”

Think about that.  We're 34 out of 35, just ahead of a literal narco-state, and the main reason Mexico's crime rate is so bad is because of our War on Drugs.

Do you blame anyone between 18-45 in not having kids?  Because I'm noticing that it's becoming a majority position for a lot of us these days.

Working The Refs, Senate GOP Edition

With 100 days to go until the election, Senate Republicans are now directly complaining to the media that Democratic challengers aren't being "scrutinized" enough and the GOP wants the Village to start demanding Important Debates In The Age Of Covid.

In Iowa, Sen. Joni Ernst (R) has challenged her Democratic competitor to six debates, starting in August. In North Carolina, Sen. Thom Tillis (R) pressed his Democratic opponent to accept five debates, which he wanted to start in the spring.

And in Maine, Sen. Susan Collins (R) declared that she wants to debate her opponent 16 times, once in each of the state’s counties, starting immediately.

Republicans acknowledge that this upends the usual debate about debates, in which an incumbent rarely wants to give the challenger the same platform. Incumbent senators are pleading with their lesser-known rivals to join them on debate stages, or Zoom, trying to elevate the profile of these Democrats.
But they view this as a matter of necessity in a campaign in which Republicans are running into the head winds of President Trump’s sagging poll numbers amid his stumbling response to the coronavirus pandemic.

And the pandemic has limited campaign activities that are normal for a big Senate race, activities such as state fairs, beach walks and large church services — and without those staples, there are fewer chances for candidates to make mistakes.

Instead, Republicans are growing fearful that Democratic candidates are receiving such little scrutiny that they could steamroll to victory, and to the Senate majority, mostly by raising huge amounts of money that fund smart media campaigns on TV and social media.

“The more voters see their candidates, the worse off they are. This is a very weak crop of recruits,” said Jesse Hunt, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

No writing by WaPo's Paul Kane that the Democrats are not a "weak crop of recruits".  In fact this seems like a straight up NRSC press release.

Republicans think that if they can get on a debate stage with these nominees, they can make them look foolish.

“We’ve invited him — how many times does an incumbent invite a challenger to debates? He’s deferred on all,” Tillis complained in a recent interview with the conservative outlet Newsmax.

Tillis’s campaign has created a logo accusing Cunningham of campaigning from the “DSCC windowless basement.”

Cunningham and Tillis agreed Friday to two debates and are trying to schedule a third, not quite the five the incumbent wanted.

I don't blame the GOP here, they're headed for loss of the Senate unless something changes dramatically overall (very unlikely) or enough changes individually in each race.  But this nonsense where Republicans are demanding eight or ten or sixteen debates is pure working the ref, and I'm glad to see that Democrats aren't falling for the "debate me you coward!" ploy.

Our Village betters though are already vulnerable.  Expect to see a lot more of this in the weeks ahead as they try to create a controversy.

Sunday Long Read: The Most Luxurious Lip-Sync

Author and comic Sarah Cooper has become something of an internet phenomenon by lip-syncing Donald Trump's rambling speeches on social media, and in treating Trump like the gigantic cosmic buffoon that he is, we all get a much needed laugh.

Donald Trump is hard to listen to. That was true even before he was elected president of the United States, but the power he commands now makes hearing from him that much more agonizing. 
At press conferences and rallies, his words tumble out in a furious clutter. Some of it is hateful and frightening. Some of it is incomprehensible, which is alarming for its own reasons. When he submits to interviews, even well-prepared journalists like Leslie Stahl and Chris Wallace look somewhat agog. He said what?

The problem is also his voice. The novelist Lorrie Moore has insisted that it “has music,” but I hear the record skipping. His voice sounds pinched and abrasive, even grating. It sounds condescending. It sounds familiar to women who have been talked over in meetings.

So it comes as a surprise to those of us who once preferred not to listen to it for extended periods of time that that voice has begun to inspire a different reaction—not despair or rage but laughter.

For the past several months, comedian and actor Sarah Cooper has been posting videos to TikTok and Twitter in which she impersonates the president. The imitations set her apart from those who’ve mocked Trump in the past. Unlike Alec Baldwin, who crowned his famous impressions with a flaxen helmet, she makes no effort to look like him. Unlike Stephen Colbert, who has at this point caricatured most members of the Trump clan, she doesn’t even attempt to sound like him.

In truth it isn’t fair to write that Cooper mimics Trump when what she does so well is pantomime him. While his voice rambles on in her videos, Cooper moves her own lips with frightening precision. The result feels like watching the social media era’s first silent film star. The bluster and performance are the point.

Case in point:

Cooper has been doing this bit since April and it's still hysterical.

He's getting exactly what he deserves, and I hope Cooper gets an amazing gig out of this.
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