The Great American Embarrassment

Third Cultured vol. 48

This week has been a civilizational embarrassment, and it’s only Wednesday.

After Monday night, the United States must ban caucuses immediately and Iowa should be forced to go last in 2024. If you decided to keep your sanity and ignore 2020, then you may or may not have heard that Iowa’s caucuses did not go according to plan.

Democrats thought it would be a good idea to try an app they’d never used nor successfully tested before to tally the caucus results. The expected happened next.

The name of the firm that botched the results? Shadow. (Can’t make this stuff up.)

As of Tuesday night with 71 percent reporting, Buttigieg is winning slightly in state delegate count percentage (26.8%) over Sanders (25.2%) but Bernie has an edge in the popular vote. Most campaigns are already moved on to New Hampshire, especially the Biden campaign who finished in a distant fourth (potentially fifth).

Is this “gift” of democracy we invaded countries to bestow upon people?

China is building a hospital in 10 days and we can’t even seamlessly execute a process we’ve been talking about for 18 months! Or, one we perform every year.

Americans are exceptional alright. Never before has a people thought so highly of themselves while failing so miserably on every scale.

Thanks for reading.


Three Things to Know

  1. One American Thing

    2020 Election

  2. One International Thing

    Updates on 2019-nCoV: The Wuhan Coronavirus (interactive map)

  3. One Cultural Thing

    Sunday – 02/02/2020 – was the first true global palindrome day in 909 years!

"I have spoken recently about winds of hope. But today a wind of madness is sweeping the globe. From Libya to Yemen to Syria and beyond – escalation is back. Arms are flowing and offensives are increasing.

“All situations are different but there is a feeling of growing instability and hair-trigger tensions, which makes everything far more unpredictable and uncontrollable, with a heightened risk of miscalculation.”

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday night

American Empire

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)’s leader was killed. Qassim al-Rimi was the head of Al Qaeda’s operations in Yemen.

Defender-Europe 2020 is the largest NATO military exercise in 25 years with 37,000 U.S. service members will fall in with other NATO forces. They’ll also bring 20,000 vehicles to augment the stock of 13,000 already in the arena. Moscow is not happy.

GOP Senators want to call the UK’s bluff on Huawei and the Five Eye’s alliance.

Impeachment is over but Trump wants revenge on Bolton, the House managers and GOP defectors like Senator Mitt Romney. On that note, check out this feature in The New York Times about Trump and Deutsche Bank’s shady financial relationship.

In Syria, US forces prevented Russian military convoys from passing the Iraqi border and taking control of the M4 highway, the dividing line in northeast Syria set after the Turkish incursion in October 2019.

Joint military operations in Iraq to combat ISIS resumed after the “Soleimani pause.”

Palestinian Authority is cutting all ties with Israel and the US. Similarly, Turkey’s President Erdogan met with Hamas’ leader to jointly oppose the US “peace plan” as an Islamic Cause. The Arab League also rejected the plan.

Poland purchased $4.6 billion of F-35s to modernize its former Soviet Air Force.

Pompeo offered Belarus US energy after keeping the nation off the travel ban list and DC is sending its first ambassador to Minsk in 12 years.

President Trump loosened restrictions on landmines and deployed new nukes.

Privatization is destroying the US military, slowly but surely.

Creating a professional warrior class seemed like the obvious solution, but, looking back, we see now that it created an isolated community that society at large could expend on endless wars. These were no longer our sons, our fathers, our friends. These were distant superheroes we occasional saw in movies and airports. We might have told them “thank you for your service,” but what we really meant was “better you than me.”

We need to bring back war bonds, and a war tax, and, possibly, some semblance of national service to give our children the muscle memory of being part of something greater than themselves. We need to force our innovation sector to work on inventions that make our lives better, instead of just more comfortable. And if they have to earn just a smidgen less profits to build those inventions here at home, so be it. If America protects our corporations, then they should protect America.

China, Europe, Russia, and Everyone Else

1.3 million people attended General Soleimani’s funeral in Tehran.

Billions of locusts continue to destroy crops all over Kenya and eastern Africa.

France to send 600 more troops to Africa’s Sahel. Paris now has 5,100 troops in the region alongside MINUSMA, the Mali-based 13,000-strong UN peacekeeping force.

Greece is hopeful Brexit will push the EU to support the return of the Elgin Marbles.

Iran knew immediately that its rocket took down the Ukrainian airliner.

Iraq named Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi as prime minister.

Israel paused its West Bank annexation plan until after upcoming elections.

London police shot a terrorist who stabbed two people.

Macron visited Poland to remind Warsaw why it joined the European Union.

Russia accused Norway of restricting access to the archipelago of Svalbard.

Turkey retaliated against Syrian forces for artillery strikes that killed six Turkish soldiers. The Turkish airstrike “neutralized” 35 Syrian troops according to Ankara. The Russian and Syrian Idlib offensive has displaced 700,000 people – 150,000 in January alone. As of Wednesday, Erdogan and Putin agreed to “coordination.”

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Cities, Climate, Culture & Corporations

$435 million – Record advertising spend for Super Bowl LIV

Amazing profile on the one-and-only Janelle Monáe.

Anniston, Alabama chose not to #Annexit the same day the UK left the EU.

Big Tech is getting bigger and eating everything on the way.

Gene Munster, a managing partner at Loup Ventures, a venture capital firm in Minneapolis, said it was harder than ever for new challengers because the top incumbents were so effective at “incremental evolution,” like Apple’s building subscription offerings to go with its hardware or Google’s branching out into cloud computing. The big tech companies skillfully move into new markets with lower prices and more money for marketing than their new competitors. In time, they take over.

Everything you know about the origin of the vibrator is wrong.

Hunting is on the decline and it’s actually hurting endangered species.

Must see LGBTQ+ films in 2020.

Suspense novelist Mary Higgins Clark passed away at 92.

The car-free movement found its way down San Francisco’s busiest street.

The case for a progressive wealth tax. #TaxTheSuperRich