Who Fucked Over His Country Worse in 2020, BoJo or Trump?

For some weeks, I’ve been contemplating which bombastic populist asshole has fucked his country more in 2020: Donald Trump or Boris Johnson. BoJo stubbornly pursued Brexit, slowly weakening his negotiating hand and finally agreeing to a result that favors the EU on most issues. The chances the UK loses Northern Ireland (which will be the recipient of soft power support from the Republic of Ireland going forward) and Scotland have gone up. To feed populism, then, BoJo has weakened the economic strengths of the UK and may have dismantled the last bits of the “kingdom.”

Meanwhile, Trump has spent four years feeding his ego and weakening our alliances. He has systematically delegitimized democratic government, and shat on the Rule of Law. He has spent the months since his loss riling up his mobs, heightening the likelihood of political violence going forward. And unless Warnock and Ossoff win the Georgia runoff, President Biden will be stuck with a hostile Senate and legions of right wing Trump judges to constrain his power.

Plus, it’s likely too soon to weigh the damage Trump has done. As if 2020 hasn’t been interminable already, Trump will have 20 more days to punish the country for rejecting him, all the while deliberately undermining Biden’s ability to operate going forward.

Both, of course, have bolloxed COVID repsonse.

So I really don’t know who is more fucked. Sitting between the US and UK in Ireland, I guess I’d have to say they’re different kinds of fucked, but I suspect the UK may recover more quickly.

Some weeks ago, I asked this question of Dan Drezner, who argued the [rump] UK is more fucked, because it is a small less powerful country and because it is stuck will BoJo going forward.

There are multiple reasons to believe that the United Kingdom is facing the darker horizon.

For one thing, Brexit turned out to be the bigger self-own than the election of Trump. To be sure, the Trump administration has wreaked all kinds of policy carnage over the past four years. Its foreign economic policy was particularly boneheaded, leading to a lot of economic coercion but not a lot in the way of concessions. Plunging the United States into a pre-coronavirus industrial recession to negotiate a trade deal with China that has fallen well short of 2017 or even 2020 expectations is not a sign of winning. Trump’s post-electoral decompensation, and the stranglehold he continues to possess over much of the GOP, is extremely disconcerting.

With all of that acknowledged, however, Brexit is still worse. The referendum decision triggered an exodus of the financial sector away from London and toward myriad E.U. destinations. As predicted, the United Kingdom experienced three years of reduced inward foreign direct investment as a result of Brexit. That trend reversed itself but other European countries experienced an even larger surge in FDI. A hard Brexit at the end of this month will merely add to the economic trauma. And all of this ignores Brexit’s deleterious effects on British control over Scotland and Northern Ireland.

To be blunt, however, the United Kingdom is in the worse position compared with the United States for two simple reasons. The first is that the United States is the wealthier and more powerful country, which means it can afford to make serious mistakes and keep on chugging. Britain must now deal with the fact that it has much less bargaining power compared with either the United States or the European Union.

The second reason is that the U.S. mistake proved to be more ephemeral in nature. A majority of British voters approved Brexit. In two subsequent elections, British voters awarded the Conservative Party with majorities — the second time by a considerable margin. The United Kingdom will continue to be governed by Boris Johnson, a human approximation of an Avenue Q muppet.

Another smart person argued that the US is more fucked, because even if Joe Biden were in the best possible situation, the US simply doesn’t prioritize solving serious problems, notably the economic plight of working class Americans, whereas the UK still attempts to do that, imperfectly. COVID has exacerbated those problems. And unless Biden addresses the grievances of those Americans, Democrats will continue to cede power and some smarter authoritarian (Josh Hawley is already auditioning) will replace Biden.

Consider this a debate thread on which country has been fucked worse.

123 replies
  1. Joseph Andrews says:

    My contribution to this discussion: is there an England-based analog to the deplorable Fox News/talk radio ‘Axis of Evil’ that exists here in the USA?

    If not, I’d guess the USA is worse off.

    What I cannot get out of my head is the thought that if Fox News was a thing in the early 1970s…that Nixon would have found the courage to fight on, and never would have resigned.

    • PeterS says:

      No, the UK doesn’t have that extreme talk radio, nor is there anything quite like Fox. Politics just isn’t as tribal in the UK (though Brexit became somewhat tribal).

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        I’d disagree, especially looking at the last few years. The Tory press — the Mail, of course, but also the Times — has radicalized large parts of the population, and poisoned the entire political discourse. The BBC has neutered itself because it lives in fear of losing its funding or being dismantled. The “political editors” of newspapers and broadcasters are just access-journalist gossips, and everything happens on insider WhatsApp groups.

        In similar ways to the effect of Fox News, British politics — really, English politics — has become defined by appealing to the myths and prejudices of old white people who were born after WW2 but are convinced they won it personally.

        These are the people who fondly remember the years before joining the EEC/EU, because that’s when they were teenagers or in their twenties. These are the people who are just latently racist and xenophobic, and they have an entire media support system telling them that it’s okay.

        There’s plenty to dislike about the SNP hegemony in Scotland, especially the ways it leans on nationalism to paper over failures of government. But the Tories have made the case for independence so well over the past four years, they barely have to do it themselves.

        • PeterS says:

          I know what you mean, and Eddie too, but I still don’t equate all that with Fox News and the very right wing talk radio you get in the US. Print media just isn’t the same; I mean, if you were a demagogue appealing to people’s base emotions you’d give speeches rather than hand out leaflets.

        • puzzled scottish person says:

          ‘There’s plenty to dislike about the SNP hegemony in Scotland, especially the ways it leans on nationalism to paper over failures of government. But the Tories have made the case for independence so well over the past four years, they barely have to do it themselves.’

          As I have said before I am half English, half Scottish but I live in Scotland. I have no particular fondness for the hard SNP stance but we seem to be torn between a rock and a hard place here: Nationalism or incompetence.

          I quite like competent government. Unlike the GOP or Boris, I do not see good governance as a bad thing. Nicola may not be perfect but I think she takes her job seriously; Boris doesn’t. England seeks to be ‘sovereign’ whatever the cost.

          The really scary thing for me is that people have seen Boris and Trump in action and think they want more.

          What kind of sado-masochist votes for that?

        • MB says:

          The kind of sado-masochist who lacks critical thinking skills, the kind that would rather retreat into a fantasy life rather than take any personal responsibility, the kind that defers to “leaders” without question, the kind who easily resort to scapegoating as opposed to problem-solving, the kind who would give deference to conspiracies over science, the kind who distrust intellectualism in all its forms, the kind with a big chip on their shoulders that they don’t know what to do with, etc. etc. etc.

          We’ve apparently got about 74 million of that “kind” over here in the USA. It’s a sad reality.

        • Charlie says:

          I am English. I lived in France both before and after we joined the EU. Am now in England but looking to move to Scotland!

    • Eddie says:

      The print media, especially Daily Mail, Daily Express, The Sun and Daily Telegraph, is very toxic and a big driver of brexit, anti immigrant populism and empire/ww2 nostalgia. A major part of the problem.

  2. joel fisher says:

    Both are leaving the population with “WTF-did-I-do-last-night?” type hangovers, but I think GB is more fucked: as EW mentioned, lots of important shit is heading for the Continent. Although GB is a more democratic country, waking up to the wreckage, bowing and scraping to the EU, and begging for another chance, GB is not going to get its shit (finance, Northern Ireland, and maybe Scotland) back. Here in the US, losing major industries is an almost daily occurrence and we’re not at risk of losing any actual states—too bad, too, I’d take offers on several: I’m looking at you Alabama, South Carolina, and West Virginia—so at the end of whatever time of reckoning one might choose, GB is more fucked.

    • Zirc says:

      Is GB the “more democratic country”? First past the post means the party with the majority in Parliament rarely gets a majority of the votes. Granted, the Tories won in 2019 by a large plurality, but adding the raw vote that Labour, Liberal Democrats, Scottish Nationalists, and Greens got puts you at just over 50%. They have around 40% of the seats in Parliament. For my money, first past the post almost guarantees minority rule.


      • Ravenclaw says:

        I would have said “a multiparty system practically guarantees rule by a coalition.” After all, the USA has a definite “first past the post” policy but only two viable parties. Both flawed systems to be sure!

        (Oh, and Marcy – it won’t be the “last vestiges” of the United Kingdom until the Welsh, too, break free! Go Plaid Cymru! And even then you’ll have the Isle of Man plus a handful of archipelagoes around the globe…)

    • FL Resister says:

      I venture to guess that the Left is “losing to these guys” because it’s easier to win if you’re okay with cheating through spreading misinformation, disinformation, racist & xenophobic rhetoric; accepting foreign help through financing or sophisticated propaganda, and promising the public things you will never deliver.

      • AndTheSlithyToves says:

        Agreed FL Resister. Allowing a foreign adversary to install/secrete malware–that can manipulate individual votes and change election outcomes–is not winning. It’s cheating.

    • Atomic Shadow says:

      How you lose to these guys is pretty simple. When you are in power you don’t do anything to actually help the working class. The Dems in the USA are just as beholden to our Corporate Overlords as the GOP. They always talk about the working man, healthcare, and jobs. But it’s just talk. They use it to get the base to turn out and then they completely forget all about it until the next time.

      • jvill says:

        Oh, FFS, just stop it.

        The Dems and Obama lost an historic congressional majority and upended an entire corporate industry in order to pass Obamacare and bring health insurance to ~40M Americans.

        As we speak, the Republicans are refusing a $2k/person crisis rescue package in the teeth of an accelerating global health pandemic that’s already delivered the 4th largest mass casualty event in American history because… they ain’t corp tax cuts.

        The parties are not the same.
        You don’t help matters with that nonsense.
        Truth works far better.

    • Robert Matthews says:

      The only way out of the fog is effective opposition. I live in the US, so I can’t comment on the UK situation. After the Corbin disaster, I guess is it will take some time to get a Labor opposition back into shape. The Democratic opposition in the US may have something in the mobilization of people of color. Of course, the Democrats have a long record of grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory, but there is an opening.

  3. viget says:

    UK, by a mile. It is of their own making, not just BoJo’s. If you think that this isn’t what the royal family and the peers want, surprise, it is. They want a return to the aristocracy, they don’t give a damn about the commoners. At least the US has no history of a monarchy to deal with (though we do have that whole slavery and oligarchy thing).

    Also, UK is much more infiltrated by foreign intelligence services and lack the independent civil service protections we have here in the US (although I know those are under fire too). The UK royals/Tories had a lot to do with the attack on this nation by Russia and others, Biden knows this, and is under no obligation to play nice right now. The special relationship isn’t looking so special. I think a more close relationship is brewing with the EU, and particularly with France/the Netherlands. Probably this is why China totally capitulated on their trade deal with the EU that’s been in the works for 7 years.

    • PeterS says:

      “If you think that this isn’t what the royal family and the peers want, surprise, it is. They want a return to the aristocracy”

      You got evidence for all of that?

        • viget says:

          Naw, I’ve said enough. I’ll leave the rest as an “exercise for the reader.”. One more nugget, Towers Financial. Check that out.

        • P J Evans says:

          Andrew may be royal, but he’s well down the list of heirs to the throne.
          Try harder.

          (And, BTW, it was the racists in the UK, and some of the royals, that drove out Prince Harry and his family.)

    • Diogenes says:

      Viget is on target re most of this. UK intelligence is in serious trouble, as the July report makes painfully clear. At least in the US, Russian assassins aren’t killing people openly (not yet, anyway).

      As to his more general speculation re the ‘wish-list’ of the royal family and the aristocracy — as a UK citizen, I can assure you that there is indeed nothing more they would like to do than return everyone else to peon status. . . and Brexit certainly accelerates this dynamic.

      (Re the names he cites: they’re all incredibly dangerous, and we don’t yet know the whole story here re any of them… so I wouldn’t be so quick to mock.)

      • viget says:

        Thanks to Diogenes. Was going to actually going to post a serious reply, but since this is all just fun and games, sure why not laugh? I love to laugh at myself. It’s all just a bunch of Great big Games right, PeterS?

  4. SaltinWound says:

    I have less faith in our voting system than I do in Great Britain’s at this point. It’s crazy that our presidential election isn’t exactly over yet. It’s disconcerting.

    • S.Chepaitis says:

      It’s not the voting system that is at issue here. By all accounts it worked safely and securely and the results obtained have held up in the face of challenges and recounts.
      The issue is that one party feels completely emboldened to attack the results because they think they can get away with doing that.
      In the U.K. they held steadfast to the results of the Brexit vote, but the Tories have not suffered a loss since so we don’t know what would happen if they did. Would they trash all honor in trying to overturn the results as republicans have here? It’s hard to imagine, but I never would have imagined what is going on now in the U.S. either.

      • SaltinWound says:

        I consider one party feeling completely emboldened as part of the “system” here. I’m not just talking about the technical vote counting which Biden obviously won.

      • puzzled scottish person says:

        You got away with it this time (I hope) but the (sane wing of the) GOP and their lawyers are watching Trump’s shenanigans and learning where he went wrong and they are going to put those lessons into practice in four years’ time. They won’t wait until voting has happened to challenge state voting systems, for one thing, they will get in early and put their trust in all those Trump-appointed judges.

        Which is why I said once before that the Dems need to get a bit more medieval. Don’t trust in normal decent behaviour from the other side because it’s not going to happen. Play hardball or you will lose to these bastards.

        • madwand says:

          I tend to agree, I think its a rehearsal, see how far they can push, see how much the public and courts allow, develop a plan and put it into action at a future date. I don’t see Democrats leaping into action to prevent this in the next four years. Republicans are all about power, Democrats still about issues, Georgia is a litmus test, perhaps, just perhaps Dems can win. But a whole lot of Republicans have to still believe it was rigged and stay home. Here’s hoping!

        • Kenster says:

          Agree with you both. Unlike the Dems, Trump and the Republicans have been raptors carefully, methodically testing the fences for years. They keep pushing boundaries farther and farther to see what they can get away with and every time they succeed that becomes the new line. While many would disagree, Trump was especially good at this. Unfortunately for him he undermined any successes he had with his narcissism and complete lack of impulse control. That’s why 2024 is going to be a disaster for Dems unless they get much more cold-blooded and strategic.

    • PeterS says:

      I think you are right to have less faith in the US voting system, though perhaps for a different reason.

      In the UK there is non-partisan control of the electoral process and of boundaries (no gerrymandering!).

      And strict controls on election spending; imagine elections without all that dark and not so dark money slushing around!

      This is not to say the UK system is perfect, but none is.

  5. PeterS says:

    “The second reason (that the UK is more fucked) is that the U.S. mistake proved to be more ephemeral in nature”.

    I’d say the jury’s still out on that. A lot of countries must be wondering if the Trump victory really was just an aberration.

    • dude says:

      …”A lot of countries must be wondering if the Trump victory really was just an aberration.”

      A lot of Americans are wondering precisely the same thing.

  6. Tom S. says:

    The U.S., because the Trump cult has demonstrated it is a death cult, if the increased numbers supporting its instrument, Trump, in the most recent election results, is an indication. Packing themselves into maskless shuttle buses feeding maskless rallies in the closing weeks of the campaign after the super spreader events in Tulsa that claimed Herman Cain, at Mt. Rushmore, Sturgis, and the RNC convention takeover of the White house, followed by the Rose Garden Amy Coney Barrett SCOTUS nomination, to name just some examples, confirm a self destructive zealotry Trump and Murdoch’s media organs merely mirror.
    Dr. Marcy Wheeler points to Sen. Josh Hawley as this rampaging racist, barely a minority, death cult’s “arsonist in waiting”. The only question seems to be whether the rest of us can contain this threat literally living among us that cannot be reasoned with, until enough time passes to reduce the size of it, which makes its increased voter turnout even more troubling, or it succeeds in containing us. Biden’s ability to make judicial and administrative appointments partially neutralizing the ones McConnell pushed through the Senate will be known from the upcoming Georgia vote results after January 5. If McConnell remains Senate Majority Leader and Biden is unable to appoint aggressive leadership of DOJ demonstrating no one is above the law, it seems clear the U.S. is the more fucked country, long term.

    • skua says:

      If Georgia goes to the dogs, the future of the nation could be saved by a few patriotic GoP Senators splintering off from McConnell’s march towards rallies in Nuremburg and supporting Biden ln delivering proof of the financial and social benefits of democracy and progress to the 1/3 of eligible voters who didn’t show up in 2020.
      Before the 2022 midterms.
      Failing that there are prayers to interventionist god/s. But remember that Trump wasn’t struck dead by lightning or COVID at any time in the past 20 years.

      • P J Evans says:

        The deities will help those who put some effort into helping themselves. (Not sure that doing the death prayer a la Chalion Quintarianism is a good idea, or even possible.).

  7. Veldhuizen Ap says:

    Unlike the participants in this discussion, most voters in the the US and the UK decide their vote on the basis of limited information. What sticks in the head of many in the lead up to a vote is easily influenced by chauvinistic sentiment generously and profitably pumped out by Fox/Murdoch/Limbaugh/Facebook and by Daily Mail/The Times/The Sun/Murdoch. Progressives have to appeal to the heart of low information voters without condescending.

    • vvv says:

      “Progressives have to appeal to the heart of low information voters without condescending.”

      Man, I don’t even wanna talk to ’em.

    • Paul S says:

      The first image instantly made me wonder if the Englishman’s weight is known. I would guess his weight to be around the 236 pounds that Trump’s MD claimed Trump to be in 2017. Trump has to be over 300 pounds at the very least.

  8. Carol says:

    The UK has no way out of the harm of deluding that it actually achieved anything positive through Brexit, nor the quagmire that will keep the an extraordinarily talentless and incompetent group in power in the near and long term. The most talented people in UK politics are sidelined into the devolved governments, are backbench MPs, or a lone (one) radio talk show host. It is difficult to see how Labour can ever gain ground to win a parliamentary majority because of their wishy-washy-ness over Brexit will keep them out of Scotland (which has better newspapers). There is little local press, only one reliable national newspaper in the UK, the BBC has not been an honest broker (we have all learned the difference between middle ground, centrism and truth at this point in 2020). On the other hand, in the US there has been a popular vibrant opposition for four years with a parallel education process that to varying degrees has encouraged Americans to shift paradigms regarding issues such as race, gender, taxes, the “public good,” and — with any luck — the accountability of those in public office and those who wield oligarchic levels of power. For all its challenges, those views have political currency backed by energized you who have, amongst other things, bolstered opposition to gun violence and structural racism. The US continues to have possibilities if through accountability in the public sphere they they push back against the sadistic power of extreme wealth. No such force exists in the UK. The future here, as a twenty year resident, is bleak for this Cayman Island of the North.

  9. YinzerInExile says:

    I have to give the nod to the US as relatively more fucked, simply because the structural impediments to reform here (meaning the barriers to amending the Constitution) are so high, and because the minority party (by aggregate votes cast nationwide) has managed both to perfect the use of every conceivable lever to hold onto power, and to make the rejection of democracy a foundational principle at the same time.

    I’m struggling to sort out how we overcome those obstacles (although I’m slightly cheered by the notion that change happens the way that Hemingway described going bankrupt: “Gradually and then suddenly”).

  10. Chetnolian says:

    I’m not going to get into the “who is deeper in the doo-doo?” question. Time will tell. But a few things need to be said on this, for the UK, sad day.

    Firstly at least half the whole country does not agree it is sad. Even in Scotland there are Nationalist, Socialist Brexiteers. I still haven’t unpacked that in my brain, though I have a sibling who is just that.

    We cannot tell whether the economy will be worse or by how much. We will have to wait and see and it will be hard to disentangle it from Covid 19.

    viget’s view of UK society and governance is comically simplistic. What made Brexit happen in fact was a conjoining of the views of Middle England, largely small businessmen, retailers and business executives, including many who are retired, and the denizens of towns, not cities (that is a very important difference here) which have not shared in the existence or the benefits of the new vibrant multicultural society which the media reflects and which people like me , even if we are not part of it, appreciate.

    The people who persuaded them everything was the fault of the EU, when much of it is the natural historic consequence of the existence, myth and conclusion of Empire) were largely not aristocratic, though they might have been to Public Schools (that is expensive private in the UK, sorry to be confusing but this is Britain). They were the sons of the big farmers, rentiers and rogues so splendidly decribed by the late great John Le Carre.

    I suspect Scotland will indeed split away, though it will be nasty and perhaps quite long. I will become an accidental immigrant, which will be odd. Covid has helped. AT all times Bris’s natural style has worked against him; he always seems shallow, talking like a tabloid newspaper headline. NIcola Sturgeon has come across as careful, solemn, humble and on top of her facts, all the very things Boris is not. She will have increased her hold on Scotland.

    And if Scotland goes can Northern Ireland be far behind? We need to bear in mind that the loyalties to the UK of the Democratic Unionists in N Ireland are very family based, and that the families concerned are in Scotland, not England.
    Oh and by the way “GB” can’t lose Northern Ireland, as GB already excludes N Ireland. When I say I don’t think Boris really understands how important putting a border in the Irish Sea is I really mean it. He did it, as he does with every decision, to jump the immediate political hurdle. No-one has ever thought of Cairnryan as a border port. It’s the equivalent of putting a customs post at, let’s say, the Seattle ferry terminal at Bremerton.

    I will leave Americans to worry about the USA but one comparison is very strong. The USA believes democracy is everything. It even allows its Supreme Court Judges to be voted upon. It is true the UK has some monarchic survivals, such as the means of appointing our Supreme Court Judges being opaque to this day, though not as bad as in the past.
    But when Boris tried to set aside the wishes of Parliament by simply using his powers to get HMQ to close it down, our Supreme Court called him to account, effectively said he had lied to HMQ and set the decision aside. They faced up to the Executive not by a narrow margin, not by a wide margin, but unanimously. It’s one of the things in our recent history I think the UK can be proud of.

    • Peterr says:

      The people who persuaded them everything was the fault of the EU . . .

      The US has folks like this, too, though our designated enemies were not the EU but immigrants/people of color and the federal government. We see your Dominic Raab and raise you a Stephen Miller and Mitch McConnell.

    • posaune says:

      Chetnolian @ 11:25 re the border:
      Couldn’t the border be re-set from the Irish Sea to the English-Scottish border (the Hadrian’s Wall line). Seems that would be much more controllable.

    • vvv says:

      “It even allows its Supreme Court Judges to be voted upon.”

      Just to be clear, not literally/directly.

  11. Bellringer says:

    I’m no particular fan of Johnson; we have a Tory government because the Labour Party couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery (a source of regret to some of us). But, you have to be joking…..right? Trump has unleashed attacks on your elections, and rule of law (including pardons for , shall we say, some rather dubious characters); separated migrant children from parents, encouraged violence against elected officials, promoted racism. I see that some commentators in the USA believe these effects on society will outlast Trump. I see no comparable actions by Johnson.
    Brexit was decided by a referendum, by the popular vote. Some of us knew that our economic bargaining hand would be poor, but we had joined the EEC which had mutated into the EU (moving from an economic commuity to a union with much grander plans). The flavour evidenced as progressive loss of national sovreignty, alignment with some very unpleasant anti-democratic East European countries; its continued dangling of membership to that well-known liberal democracy, Turkey; its treatment of Greece – enabling that country’s debt and then bringing the hammer down. Economics was not the sole issue for some of us. All we need to do now is to lose our own grandiose ideas of being a “world player” and concentrate on being the small country that we are. Anyway, isn’t it the American way to make your own way in the World?
    The Tories have always been the party for whom the United Kingdom has been paramount, hence its official title: The Conservative and Unionist Party.
    The break- up of the UK is the aim of various political parties in the devolved nations of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Interestingly, only England (where I live) doesn’t have its own national assembley. Enough said.
    As for Covid, I don’t believe there is any comparison between Trump and Johnson. Have you watched their news conferences on Covid? (Johnson is still giving them, by the way). We have had a national lockdown and a series of regional ones. The government has been leading the response, and Johnson emphasises the seriousness of the problem. There were mistakes at the beginning, it is true, but it hasn’t simply given up.
    One last thought, is it just possible that you have displayed some confirmation bias?

    • emptywheel says:

      I’m absolutely happy to argue Trump is worse! I believe that’s what I argued above. But I also think it’s a topic about which people have interesting heated disagreements.

  12. Molly Pitcher says:

    From Reuters, as posted on The Daily Beast “The father of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Stanley Johnson, who used to be a member of the European Parliament and never backed the campaign to leave the EU spearheaded by his son, said Thursday that he’s in the process of applying for French citizenship so he can retain the benefits of being an EU citizen that his son’s government is stripping from people with sole British nationality. Speaking on French radio, the elder Johnson, whose mother was French, said: “I will always be a European, that’s for sure.” ”


  13. dude says:

    Well, supposing there is break-up of the UK into its constituent parts. With whom does the US have its “special relationship” about which all modern presidents are so fond of noting? I mean: what of strategic alliances to say nothing of economic or symbolic ones? Does everything become bi-lateral? Seems like Trump’s ‘transactional’ template was made for situations like this.

    • Raven Eye says:

      BoJo is going to find that the UK no longer has head-of-line privileges. Biden has a lot of stuff to un-fuck and he will need to focus his resources on the international players with the most influence. Germany and France, with the rest of the EU in train, will have more influence economically than the newly fenced UK, no matter how fast gates can be installed.

    • emptywheel says:

      BoJo is already in a bit of a pickle bc Biden is a performative Irish-American (not necessarily a good thing) and so will make The North a priority.

  14. Winston Smith says:

    I am a Canadian expat in the US with a green card and the call of the homeland is getting stronger. The US is fucked: 30-40% of frontline workers in Riverside county CA REFUSED to take the COVID vaccine. Death cult indeed.

    • MB says:

      Do you have a link for more information on this particular stat? As a resident one county to the west, that’s alarming. I know someone that lives in Riverside (he’s a PhD professor teaching at UCR), and his description of the county is one of a non-homogenous mix of intellectuals and students (all connected with the university) and surrounding residents largely comprised of pro-Trump anti-maskers who like to maraud around with flag-adorned pickups and harass strangers.

      And not to increase homesickness or anything(!), an anecdote: a close friend of mine who moved to Canada 35 years ago (but who just became a Canadian citizen last year), recently fell down a stairway covered with wet leaves and broke his arm, on the same day of travel to visit his girlfriend on the east coast (PEI). While in the hospital at Vancouver, there was some debate with the orthopedist as to whether he should return home and cancel his vacation or continue on his vacation with a broken arm, to arrive at a place where he had somebody who could help out. So they called in a social worker to resolve the dispute. She ultimately decided it would be best to continue traveling with the prospect of help being present when he arrived. He was also told to make an appointment with an orthopedist in Charlottetown to continue his treatment while away.

      I am so unused to hearing about humane treatment being offered as a matter of course to the population at large. We are barely-civilized savages here by comparison.

      • Molly Pitcher says:


        Some healthcare workers refuse to take COVID-19 vaccine, even with priority access

        “At St. Elizabeth Community Hospital in Tehama County, fewer than half of the 700 hospital workers eligible for the vaccine were willing to take the shot when it was first offered. At Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, one in five frontline nurses and doctors have declined the shot. Roughly 20% to 40% of L.A. County’s frontline workers who were offered the vaccine did the same, according to county public health officials.

        So many frontline workers in Riverside County have refused the vaccine — an estimated 50% — that hospital and public officials met to strategize how best to distribute the unused doses, Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari said.”

        • MB says:

          Thanks. Ugh.

          Looks like the anti-vaxx movement, which pre-dates Trump and QAnon, is having its moment. Doesn’t help to have an heir to a notable political dynasty – RFK Jr. – as one of the prominent spearheaders of that movement. As well as many prominent “alternative-wellness” influencers with large followings on social media.

          I can understand reluctance on the part of pregnant women and people who might be willing to take the vaccine but definitely don’t want to be in the first group taking it. But I think the majority of the anti-vaxx crowd are those who fell sway to rampant politicized propaganda currently coursing through the social media bloodstream.

        • Rwood says:

          “…fewer than half of the 700 hospital workers eligible for the vaccine were willing to take the shot when it was first offered.”

          My deontological perspective has been at war with my utilitarian perspective on this for the last year.

          In my past I’ve seen woman walk several miles a day, almost always carrying their kids with them, just to wait in line for hours in the hot sun to get them vaccinated. They know the importance because when disease comes to them it’s not hidden away in an ICU behind HIPPA laws or filtered through the glass face of their device. Its right there in front of the whole village in all of its horror and ugliness.

          Here in America however we get things like this (from a resent online conversation I had): “It doesn’t matter where someone goes to school or what their profession is… unless they’re part of making this vaccine they don’t know all there is to know about it. I don’t think many people, physicians included, have much access to the information.”

          This person said this to a group of physicians. Many of them working in research. Yet she still feels she knows more than them. Not only that, she gets upset when corrected, as if its their fault for not confirming her batshit crazy beliefs. The conversation went on until one Dr. finally said it.

          “You’re right, don’t get the vaccine.”

          I’m not ashamed to say that I silently applauded his remark. None of his colleagues spoke out either. I imagine they are all as exhausted as I am from fighting the war on stupid. So is it best to let the stupid win, knowing the result? There was no further conversation, so the question went unanswered. But it stayed with me.

          Should we still be trying to save the deniers now that there’s a vaccine? Or should we stop wasting our efforts on a deaf audience and just go full-on utilitarian?

          The vaccine changes the equation. Maybe this virus is doing us a favor? Maybe we should let it.

    • harpie says:

      I just read the following and wondered if it might have to do with the anti-vaxers:

      Police investigate deliberate spoiling of 500 vaccine doses
      https://apnews.com/article/us-news-milwaukee-wisconsin-coronavirus-pandemic-3d6db7b839be9276734088cb9d93a52d 12/31/20

      Grafton, Wis. […]
      In a statement late Wednesday, Aurora [Medical Center] said the employee involved “acknowledged that they intentionally removed the vaccine from refrigeration.”
      Aurora said it has fired the employee and referred the matter to the authorities. […]

      • MB says:

        I suppose we’ll find out after “police and federal authorities” continue their investigations. Seeing as how the Tennessee bomber believed in lizard people, it would not surprise me one bit to find that a medical center employee in rural northeastern Wisconsin did this as an act of rebellion in accordance with one or more conspiracy-fueled beliefs about vaccines. After all, Senator Ron Johnson chaired a recent senate committee hearing that featured anti-vaxxers as chief witnesses. He’s a mini-Trump giving the all-clear signal that the lid to Pandora’s box is indeed wide open.

      • harpie says:

        Police have ARRESTED the pharmacist:

        https://twitter.com/MikeBalsamo1/status/1344764187977932801 4:55 PM · Dec 31, 2020

        A hospital official told reporters the pharmacist “deliberately removed 57 vials that held hundreds of doses of the Moderna vaccine from refrigeration” for two nights. The vials contained enough doses to inoculate 570 people.


        The Grafton Police Department said the former Advocate Aurora Health pharmacist was arrested on suspicion of reckless endangerment, adulterating a prescription drug and criminal damage to property. The department said in a news release that he was in jail. Police did not identify the pharmacist, saying he has not yet been formally charged.

        • MB says:

          OK – not an anti-vaxxer, but a common criminal seeking profit based on his “posession” of the vaccine. The fact that one of the arrest charges is “suspicion to adulterate a prescription drug” is very telling…

        • P J Evans says:

          Formally charged, and apparently did it with the intent of making people think it’s ineffective.

      • J R in WV says:

        This former employee is now arrested. Good news.

        I think healthcare workers should have the free choice to either be vaccinated or change their career path to not working in the health care industry. Their un-vaccinated status puts their patients at risk. Goes for dietary workers, orderlies, CNAs, everyone who meets a patient at work.

        This is banana-pants ludicrous behavior and can’t be tolerated in hospitals or long-term care facilities. Patients who become ill with covid-19 while in an institution should sue the facility if people who have refused vaccination are working there, and the institution should not have a leg to stand on in court. Wilful negligence to expose patients to carriers of the disease!

        • Eureka says:

          There is no U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved vaccine to prevent COVID-19

          I copied that verbatim from the Pfizer/BioNTech Fact Sheet for Recipients and Caregivers (Rev. December 2020) given to those who’ve received the vaccine.

          Vaccine experts, bioethicists, and healthcare orgs are treating these EUA’d COVID vaccines differently than, say, the customarily mandated annual flu shot for several reasons. It may be worth dialing it back to appreciate some of those complexities before you’d have people fired from their jobs. I have affirmatively heard of most healthcare organizations NOT mandating the EUA’d vaccines, and heard of none who have done so.

          Paul Offit, vaccine expert, advocate, and member of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) who recommended that the FDA EUA both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines has said that he does NOT believe it is ethical to mandate that healthcare workers get these vaccines, did not want his own system to do so, and has noted that in the vaccine safety world, there’s a sort of Rubicon of three million administered doses where one can be more reasonably confident that the risk of rare adverse events wanes. [I’ve linked that interview before; there’s another where he notes that the coronavirus expert imported to the VRBPAC gives something like two months as a fair _time period_ to wait to see most adverse events.]

          The frontline workers and seniors and others getting the first doses are effectively participating in post-market research, for which we owe them yet another round of thanks. Anti-vaxxers aside, that some of them already in the hot fires might want to wait and see a little bit is not unreasonable. We are just over 2 mil. “half vaccinated” now. None in that larger group in the US has received the second dose, much less a cushion of time for near-term reactions.

          That said, HCW I know have not only gotten vaccinated but are doing their best to advocate that others do the same.

          Also, when you say:

          Their un-vaccinated status puts their patients at risk.

          be aware that to date, we do not know that the opposite is true, that the vaccinated would not spread disease (asymptomatically). Entering the EUA process, the best data indicated that the vaccine (Pfizer/BioNTech) would help prevent _severe COVID_ in vaccine recipients (Moderna had a *smidge* more data also suggesting reduction in cases, period). That’s besides any degrees to which the vaccines are not “efficacious”, however defined.

          I would also point out that these are workers who _are_ mandated to wear masks in the workplace (surely there are exceptions in some parts of the country, but I’d bet that the Venn of those exceptions with places that _do_ mandate a vaccine is slim. Maybe that’s a dumb bet these days…).

          Even the vaccinated need to wear masks and practice all of the other NPIs (as possible).

        • Eureka says:

          As to second dosing, which has begun in the UK — there is a whole separate scheme-scandal of officials trying to delay the second dose (to a time period not validated/likely invalidated by research, and, if pursued, would likely render the vaccine not only ineffective but create conditions favorable to viral resistance) (UK virology twitter was hopping mad about this). That’s a nightmare walking that I hope doesn’t see fruit OR get imported here.

          I also saw some nutter* affiliated with the Oxford Vaccine Group talking about *mixing* vaccine types between the first and second dose (of course we’ll need studies, he said, while also saying it should make no difference to mix “brands”. Uh, well…) (he does have product to sell, which so far comes with less impressive data than the two on the market in US). A good reminder the grass isn’t always greener, esp. given the topic of this post.

          *A well-published one, just appeared in Nature Rev Immunol

        • Eureka says:

          Wow they are sticking with it, though there’s a “resistance” determined to get second doses into the arms of those who already have appointments on the original schedule:

          Covid vaccine: chief medical officers defend rescheduling of second doses

          Earlier, one doctor who spoke to the Guardian on condition on anonymity said they hoped to continue with the original schedule for the second dose rather than cancelling appointments, saying that to do otherwise would put their most vulnerable patients at risk and break promises to patients.

          Alison Bolam, a GP at Horfield health centre in Bristol, said her practice would take a similar approach. “If we try to ring and cancel 1,000 80-year-olds, and then ring 1,000 75-year-olds and ask them to come in instead, we risk wasting vaccine because we don’t have the staff capacity to do that with the bank holiday in the way,” she said. “If anyone gets the first vaccine now, the second one will be 10 to 12 weeks later, but for anybody who has already had it, they will get their second vaccine as originally scheduled.”

          Fine: UK wins today’s prize for Unconsented* Experimentation and Other Bad Ideas.

          *uninformed, not-as-promised, arm-twisty bait-and-switch, however you call it.

    • vvv says:

      I had previously heard that some in the health field, like others in the gen’l population, were skeptical of the “warp speed” of the vaccine development, feeling that political pressure has made it possibly not sufficiently/thoroughly tested.

      That said, I have not heard that said out loud in recent weeks.

    • Raven Eye says:

      Indeed…Which makes a person wonder if he fleeced investors (or whatever shape donors took) over there too.

  15. Ex-Pat Brit says:

    1st comment, but avid reader of EW:
    How does the Murdoch (& political coziness) multi-media monopoly in Australia, UK & US over the last decades reflect the current political debacle? Open question. Anyone see the play INK?

    • DrFunguy says:

      They, and before them right-wing talk radio, were a major factor. They abolition of the ‘Fairness Doctrine’ (requiring media to air opposing points of view) and other media deregulation that began with the Reagan administration allowed Murdock and his predecessors (and others, like Sinclair) to dominate the media. Coupled with a successful long term strategy by the right to ‘work the refs’ by unceasing trumpeting of alleged liberal bias in the news media, a situation has been created where 80% of Trump voters believe a complete fabrication- that the election was stolen from him.
      Heather Cox Richardson covers some of this in her column today:
      Eric Alterman’s What Liberal Media? is still pertinent.
      Another good, brief synopsis by Dr. Alterman:
      Until the forces for democracy and evidence-based thinking figure out how to better counter this, we are loosing.
      p.s. this doesn’t begin to address the deregulation of campaign finance, voter suppression, gerrymandering and other institutional barriers to democracy that, in part, flowed from the transformed media landscape.

  16. Chris says:

    I agree that it is the UK that was screwed much worse by Johnson in the short term, but ultimately Brexit will be just very, very disruptive while still presenting a host of still-solvable problems, whereas in the long term the UK will still suffer the dire consequences of Trump’s inaction on climate. So I wonder if Trump will have screwed the UK even worse.

  17. Krisy Gosney says:

    Could the answer of who is the most fucked be heavily influenced by Russia? UK’s Russia Report concludes Russia had an influential role in the passing of Brexit. And we’re familiar with Russia’s meddling here in the US. The UK will be pulled apart, losing Scotland, losing Northern Ireland, etc. In the US, Russia has been influencing, behind the scenes, for example, the campaigns for Texas to be a separate country, secede, and for California to become two separate states and then 2017s call for a ‘Calexit’. https://www.dallasobserver.com/news/is-russia-pushing-for-texas-secession-7340112, https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-41853131. So the UK took the Russian break-apart bait, the US hasn’t (hopefully won’t ever). I think that says something about who is in a weaker position going forward.

  18. Philip s. Webster says:

    Some great posts here. Thank you.

    Our at times partner across the spit are imploding empire now; Brexit was a fatal mistake.

    Getting Trump out of office is just the beginning of trying to see through the smoke; it will take longer to get a good view.

    all the grifters are just making money now off their ignorant base at least up to Jan 20. Network effects are becoming more obvious.
    Gotta hold some people accountable this time or we may end up Proper Focked right along with Brits.

    Best to all.

  19. Epicurus says:

    I imagine neither got screwed worse. People vote in both places pretty freely and they pretty much got for what the majority of voters voted. Since both countries have neither reasonable management nor leadership as a result of majority votes and desires over a period of time the chances of fixing things are minimal. It reminds me of a part of Asimov’s Foundation trilogy where a person from the outer worlds goes to see what they have to fear from the empire. He returns and says, basically, nothing. The maintenance men don’t know how/can’t fix their own machines. They can’t manage themselves any longer. BoJo and Trump are just the messengers.

      • Epicurus says:

        True, but one can only be a US President or British Prime Minister through some indirect majority vote, the tyranny of the simple direct or indirect majority as it were. In both direct and indirect situations in both countries I’ll stick by my assessment that whoever wins, along with his/her administration (a loose term), is neither a leader nor an effective manager. In that sense neither country is worse off than the other.

  20. Raven Eye says:

    One thing that might influence the US/UK more-screwed-up ranking is what condition the US will be on 21 January.

    Our adversaries are spending energy right now trying to decide if and/or what they are going to do in the next three weeks. That’s not to say they think that Biden is a super-hero or miracle worker, but he has to hit the ground running to begin fixing a lot of things. The nation states of China, Russia, and Iran are undoubtedly considering what they might want to do during this period.

    Trump has been packing loyalists into DoD and the IC. Part of the calculus for the adversarial players is how much damage Trump might do to the US whilst responding to a range of different external acts. Those effects could be immediate or long term. The Russians have traditionally played the long game (thus the records of all those international students who studied in the USSR and the KGB’s records of Trump’s first visit decades ago). China is so massive, it can just “be there”. Iran has some resources to act directly, and vast capability as a political/social/religious influencer.

    Trump has been so reckless that international clients and friends are sometimes “no longer”, and sometimes at increased risk. Our “friends'” vulnerabilities are now our risks.

    I’ve been telling friends for the past half year that the period of time that would worry me the most was between Election Day and Inauguration Day. These are the days of uncertainty. ISO 31000 tells us that Risk is the “effect of uncertainty on objectives”.

    Trump has never understood risk. I know less about Johnson, but his understanding appears to be very limited.

    These are VERY risky times.

    Things can happen in the next three weeks that will re-shuffle the deck…And may shake up this topic’s ranking exercise.

    • Old Antarctic Explorer says:

      Those now civil servants that Trump is populating agencies/departments with aren’t there to bolix up the works, they’re there to spy and report back to Trump/McConnell/GOP. They can’t be easily fired, but they will have to be walled off from any/all information.

      • Raven Eye says:

        It would be interesting to see if Trump’s recent E.O. on civil service might be worth keeping around for a little while.

  21. TooLoose LeTruck says:

    Good question, and my vote goes to Trump…

    Boris might have caused a lot of misery in G.B., but he doesn’t have the reach to be a threat to the entire world the way Donnie does.

    I’ve always thought of Boris as Trump Lite, right down to the ridiculous hair…

  22. Yargelsnogger says:

    I would try to keep the distinction between the two variants of the question clear; Who fucked their county up worse (Trump or Boris) versus which country is more fucked going forward.

    In answer to the first question, I weigh in on the side BoJo. Trump’s screw job has been (or may be) more ephemeral. It appears he will fail to destroy our democracy entirely, and we may yet get some accountability (if not trials and jail time at least a more honest accounting of what happened) with the change in administration.

    But as to which country is more fucked, I think the US wins that one. Our political system is almost completely dysfunctional. It was designed, to a degree, for gridlock and it is providing that in spades. Our campaign finance system is in tatters and moneyed influence runs amok. Polarization is through the roof, and we live in completely isolated fact universes on the left and the right.

    In Britain, they have basically a unicameral legislature (the house of Lords having no significant powers anymore), with no separate executive. They are stuck with Boris for a while, but when he is gone they will have a chance to go in a new direction. And even under the conservatives at least they get to implement their agenda and the people can fairly judge the results. In the US, everything is murky and accountability is unclear because of the divided nature of our government. No party ever really gets to move an agenda forward and be judged on it’s results.

  23. I Never Lie and am Always Right says:

    I’m with Chetnolian on not discussing the question of which of the two countries got fucked over worse during 2020. Even though there are things to be learned from such a discussion, my own proclivities are to stay away from a discussion that, to me, is akin to discussing who is likely to hit the ground first when two people have jumped out of an airplane without parachutes.

    Of course it’s much, much more complicated than a simplistic “jump without parachute” analogy. Still, to me, the question is how do you keep your country from metaphorically hitting the ground without a parachute as the result of the actions of Trump and his enablers?

    I see a significant part of the solution as requiring real leadership from those who oppose Trump. I mean leadership at many levels, from your immediate social cocoon up to and including national level leaders. People who are willing to publicly articulate the principles for which they stand, to take visible concrete steps to advance the principles for which they stand. People who are willing to take the “heat” that comes with leadership.

    Many people perceive that they don’t have the ability become a leader, due to their personal circumstances. Others are afraid to become a leader, due to their personal circumstances. But you can and should become a leader, notwithstanding all of the shit going on in your life.

    I view Dr. Wheeler, and other principals here, as leaders. Thanks for your leadership and inspiration. And may we all gather the intestinal fortitude to become leaders, in our own way.

  24. Bet Mulligan says:

    Boris. Not even close. The UK will be paying the consequences of Brexit a lot longer than we have had Trump.

  25. CD54 says:

    Short term maybe a push. Long term probably UK — Boris can actually talk and answer questions (I’ve seen it on TV) so he’s not going to self-destruct as easily as Trump.

    I think the U.S. is in a better position going forward. Trump has a chance of dying in prison. The FBI will now be unleashed to investigate Right-wing domestic terrorism. The unshackled HHS can now work unmolested on Covid-19.

  26. Christopher Blanchard says:

    Hmm. I couldn’t start to answer that kind of question, but a couple of points:

    The first is the relative amount of facism, along with fascistic fellow travellers and other kinds of anti-democratic person, and their relative power. I suspect the US has a lot more of them, and more in positions of power and influence. I have no idea of numbers, but if it is ten or fifteen million (out of 350M or so), then that is a heavy burden, and the UK has ‘merely’ tens of thousands (out of sixty odd million). Both groups have a fuzzy and much larger penumbra and a lot of current politics is about opportunists like Trump and Johnson pulling our anti-democratic enemies into ‘real’ politics, so as to get votes from that penumbra. That calls against the USA, but:

    Second, and I think I have said this here before, the US has, in some important ways, a deeper and stronger democratic system. It looks horribly frustrating, but it seems to have saved you, despite your large and armed fascistic minority. That is very much to US credit.

    Another thing, by way of context about the UK is that we have had worse in my lifetime. Brexit is viciously stupid, and will, I am pretty certain, make us poorer, cut our freedom (less freedom of movement, etc.) and cost a lot (every one of those customs officials on EU borders is a waste of life, and that useless make-work has to be paid for), never mind the bureaucracy). But, we had Thatcherism in the eighties, which destroyed more of my country: more communities, more businesses, more technical and other skills and so on, than Brexit is doing, and we recovered. There are permanent losses, of course, but even Thatcherism didn’t open us up to facist take-over, and the loss of most of the international financial service business, which we now face, won’t be as destructive as the loss of our manufacturing, which Thatcher did.

    On those lines, the colour I associate with Thatcherism is the pinkish/purpleish red of rosebay willow herb, because that is what grows first in the yards of abandoned factories, and there were a lot of them.

    And incidentally, three bits.
    Independent Scotland seems good to me, so it doesn’t do to count that as the UK being fucked over – not at all.
    That aristocracy stuff is certainly what Thatcher and her successors wanted, but it doesn’t have anything to do with the remnants of the old version, like the monarchy. They want a new and revitalized version, drawn from people like Thatcher (her father owned 12 Grocery stores), and Edward Heath before her – they despise and detest the remnants of the older aristocracy.
    Johnson is, happily, a feeble and pale shadow of his predecessors, with aristocratic affectations but without the greedy savagery which would make him real. I am very glad about that.

    I am entitled to Irish citizenship, and if I am too optimistic here, then I will go for it. So Dr EW, should we meet in Lisdoonvarna, if the UK and US really go to hell? I saw Kevin Burke play there in a dance hall, after the show-band had given in. I was about four feet away. Ah! civilisation.

  27. The Old Redneck says:

    I don’t think Boris is causing long-term damage as much as Trump. Boris seems content to operate within an institutional framework. He may be a craven politician but I don’t hear him trashing the other branches of government. The UK economy may suffer on his watch but I don’t see the whole structure collapsing.
    Trump, on the other hand, wants to burn everything down. He has no respect for institutions or governance. Telling his followers they should neuter the legislature or court system – or flatly disregard the results of a fair election – is a lot more dangerous in the long run than anything Boris is doing.

    • P J Evans says:

      It won’t work – he’s not going to stay in power after 12:01pm on Jan 20.
      He’d do it because he could, though. (And I hope the generals refuse.)

  28. e.a.f. says:

    My vote goes to Trump for fucking over his country the most. Boris is a late second. we know why Kim 3 fucks over his country, but the other two guys, who knows.
    Boris kept it to the U.K. Trump he impacted others. i.e. pulling troops out of the middle east which resulted in the murder of Kurds. He had an Iranian General murdered. Pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord, made nice with Kim 3 and Xi and praised Putin, well publicly said he believed Putin instead of his own intelligence services. Deprived people of health care, sent children to concentration camps. Stoked racism to new levels. Boris wasn’t a great guy, but the U.K. could get over what he did a lot faster than what the U.S.A. WILL have to get over. OH, lets not forget Trump’s handling of COVID with around 330K dead and a vaccine program which hasn’t really started to do what its supposed to: get people vaccines.

  29. Eureka says:

    Whose population is more terrorized?

    I don’t just mean the escalating (threats of) gun and explosives violence — and context to each man’s rise is everything here, too — but specifically the Miller-Bannon-Goebbels wing (backed by Barr and McConnell when respectively relevant) effort to enshrine their sickness in law and practice. The years in review include everything from banning trans persons from homeless shelters, to Miller sharing the idea to move immigrants around on trains to evoke the Holocaust, to taking away public benefits from different vulnerable groups, to the new office dedicated to denaturalizing citizens… Everyone* has watched them chip, chip, chip away to remake the core into an anti-David, devoid of soulful gaze but glossy white muscle nonetheless.

    *And so I should add to the opening sentence, whose population is more emboldened?

  30. DAT says:

    On the topic of relative fuckedness of the two countries, Fox News’ and hate radio’s antecedents in the empire’s “gutter press” and R. Murdoch need to be acknowledged.

    In this same arena, I’m surprised Fintan O’Toole’s piece from Boxing Day in the Irish times hasn’t had more play. It wasn’t this piece, but a recent one in the NYRB that called both Johnson and Trump necrophiliacs. Their love objects, empire in one case, and coal mining jobs in the other, are never coming back.

  31. GKJames says:

    Each is the product of a dysfunctional political system, the reform of which the ruling minority will obstruct at all cost. Which is why I’d flip the question: Which country’s people was more driven to self-harm purely to stick it to the other half of their fellow citizens by CHOOSING an obvious sociopath as leader? It’s common in both countries to describe what we see — in connection with Covid, specifically — as incompetence. This misses the nihilism driving Trump and Johnson … and the millions who cheer them. For the many dead, the consequence has been tangible and immediate. For the rest, only time will tell. One thing is certain: both of these dudes and their many enablers will enjoy comfortable, accountability-free retirements. By the time the chickens roost, blame will be directed everywhere but at the guilty.

    A reasonably pleasant and slightly less insane 2021 to all.

  32. Sam Penrose says:

    Happy New Year, Marcy. Thank you so much for your valuable work. It is a gift to civil society.

    Stopping to think is good. I believe an optimistic frame is important for the same reason that Josh Marshall did when Trump was elected[1]: that moral posture affirms your agency to act. Yes Trump has done serious damage. That just means there is more to repair. His actions may change what we work on, but not whether to step up—not whether we should strive to “achieve our country”, but perhaps how. We’re not newly “fucked”, mainly because we faced plenty of urgent crises and daunting structural obstacles in 2016. If China and the US, or India and Pakistan, detonate dozens of nuclear warheads on each other’s lands, we will not consider Trump or Brexit or Covid the great crisis of the 21st century.

    The United States needs better civic fabric. It needs many more productive cities scattered across red states. To oversimplify, Trump won white people who didn’t go to college, live in exurbs, and don’t have Black friends. There is long-cycle work to do funding higher education, especially community colleges, which will provide the social infrastructure that moves people away from resentment of elites and out-groups as a primary political valence.

    America has always had ugliness and daunting challenges. It has often had corrupted institutions. I don’t agree with everything Corey Robin says[2], but his emphasis on the continuity of anti-democratic conservatism is true and important.

    [1] http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/observations-on-the-day-after
    [2] https://jewishcurrents.org/almost-the-complete-opposite-of-fascism/

  33. J R in WV says:

    An internet acquaintance who goes by the nym Tony Jay at the other blog I follow closely thinks the US has escaped out from under Trump, while the UK will not get another chance to join the EU in our lifetimes. That’s not very long for me, I turned 70 late last year.

    But if the UK can’t participate in the EU’s economy for 25 years or more, I think they are seriously hosed, not to say Fuqed!! International trade is so way more complex than internal trade, and the UK has gone full bore international in every way.

    All the while Boris Johnson’s father has applied for French Citizenship, as his parent was a French citizen. Presumably Boris can apply for French citizenship should his father be awarded French citizenship in the near future… so he can slide out from under the damage he has created for “Great” Britain.

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