Friday High Five: America Special
This month, our AMERICA series features a whole host of great events focusing on the US, just as the world watches the ailing superpower as it heads into a presidential election. This week, we collect some of our favourite links and articles from around the internet on America.
Michael Lewis interviews Obama in Vanity Fair
Michael Lewis, author of Boomerang and Moneyball, is one of the most compulsively readable non-fiction writers working today; he writes with a blend of intelligence, reflection and sheer style. In the current issue of Vanity Fair (where he is contributing editor), he has published a profile of Obama based on months of interviews and intimate access.
‘Starting in January (and continuing through mid-August), he was allowed to sit up front with the president on Air Force One and ride with him in the presidential limousine. Lewis joined Obama on visits to foreign countries and several states, toured the White House residence with him, and even played basketball with him in one of his regular, highly competitive pickup games.’ Here’s a taste.
Best of American Television: Breaking Bad
This month, we’re excited to be hosting an event where our guests will be geeking out on their love of American TV. One of the best TV programmes of recent years is Breaking Bad, a series that is coming to a definitive close next year. The last episode of this year’s run aired in the US last week, prompting a slew of interviews with creator Vince Gilligan.
Don’t read those interviews if you haven’t watched recent episodes (major spoiler alert), but if you know nothing about the series and are curious to know more, this Guardian profile is a great introduction to this series about an ordinary high school teacher who starts cooking meth after being diagnosed with cancer, then transforms, in the words of Vince Gilligan, ‘from Mr Chips into Scarface’. And if you’re interested in the science of the show, take a look at this interview with chemistry professor Donna Nelson, the show’s leading ‘meth consultant’.
A Six Year Old Gives 10 Reasons Not to Vote for Obama
An organisation called Patriot Update has created an anti-Obama You Tube video starring a six-year-old. The young boy gives ten reasons not to vote for Obama, including that he ‘wants to take guns away from good guys’, ‘doesn’t want Americans to drill for oil or mine for coal’, and ‘takes money from people who work hard and gives it to people who don’t work at all’.
James Fallows and Political Coverage in the ‘Post Truth’ Age
Political junkies will want to book tickets fast to hear James Fallows, the Atlantic’s national correspondent (and former speechwriter for Jimmy Carter when he was president) give his take on the US election. He’s currently in the thick of covering it for the Atlantic, with many of his pieces appearing online.
Recently, he’s written about how the mainstream press is adjusting to ‘the realities of post-truth politics’. This includes calling out political parties for deliberately misrepresenting what their opponents have said - taking comments out of context - in order to discredit them. He’s also welcomed the way Paul Ryan’s factually shaky convention speech was reported. ‘They’re not simply quoting “critics” about things Ryan made up. They are outright saying that he is telling lies.’
Gay Rights Take the Stage at Democratic Convention
Slate reports that for the first time, the Democrats are seeing gay rights as a potential political vote winner during a presidential election. More than a dozen speakers mentioned LGBT equality during the Democratic National Convention, including Michelle Obama, who said, ‘If proud Americans can be who they are and boldly stand at the altar with who they love, then surely, surely we can give everyone in this country a fair chance at that great American Dream.’
Meanwhile, here in Australia, commentators like Michelle Grattan are saying that Julia Gillard did the right thing in boycotting the national conference of the Australian Christian Lobby, where she was to be a guest speaker, following Jim Wallace’s comparisons of the ‘health risks’ of a ‘gay lifestyle’ to smoking.