One of the unspoken rules in politics is to leave family members out of the ring. In the first presidential debate, however, Trump attacked Biden’s son again and again. Biden defended his son, but never returned any attack on his opponent’s family members. Biden didn’t sink low to Trump’s level. He kept his decency. For that alone, I have tremendous respect for Biden.
I first read this book three years ago, but I struggled to grab the story. Not just this book alone but I had a hard time following any work of fiction. My reading interests were mostly none-fiction until the pandemic hit. Being locked down, I wanted to read books I could escape; therefore, I turned to fiction. The more I read fiction, the more my imagination seemed to open up. As a result, I decided to reread this book and I am glad I did.
I read it at a slower pace. If I got lost few paragraphs in, I would reread the paragraphs to make sure I understood what went on. At times, the dialogs can be confusing because Nguyễn omitted quotation marks. It took me a while to get used to who was doing the talking. I also had a cantankerous quibble with the omission of diacritics in Vietnamese words. For example, du me lacks the expressiveness of đụ mẹ (fuck you). The underdots add tremendous weight to the foul language. In addition, I could not figure out the two characters’ name. Without diacritics, Man and Bon don’t sound like Vietnamese names to me. They might as well be M and B.
Nevertheless, Việt Thanh Nguyễn’s The Sympathizer is a well-written novel and a well-deserved winner of the Pulitzer Prize. It’s a lot unpack, but they story about the squid stuck in my mind. I am not sure if I can ever see a squid without seeing what it had described in the book. In any rate, it is definitely worth a reread if you couldn’t get into it the first time. I am definitely looking forward to reading the sequel, The Committed, which will release in March 2021.
Tonight’s debate has confirmed that Trump is an incompetent president. Unlike most incumbent presidents who became older and wiser as they served the country, Trump has become more childish and clownish. It was such a national disgrace witnessing the president of the United States behaved like a toddler who could not follow a simple rule. It’s a damn shame!
The endorsement for Biden from the Washington Post is not a surprise, but its editorial board makes strong case for China and democracy.
On China, the board writes:
Both Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump promise to “get tough” with Beijing and to combat its mercantilism, thefts of technology and expansive claims in the South China Sea. However, Mr. Biden’s approach would be values-based, not erratic and transactional. He would work with allies to confront China’s abusive behaviors while seeking cooperation where interests converge, such as on climate change and health security.
On democracy, the board writes:
Democracy is at risk, at home and around the world. The nation desperately needs a president who will respect its public servants; stand up for the rule of law; acknowledge Congress’s constitutional role; and work for the public good, not his private benefit.
Just as desperately, it needs a president with the know-how and experience to show that values and results can go together.
It is fortunate to have, in Joe Biden, a candidate who can lead an administration that is both honorable and successful.
I have voiced my worry on democracy again and again. The Post has confirmed my concern. Read the full endorsement at the Washington Post.
An endorsement for Biden from the New Yorker isn’t a surprise. The case, however, isn’t as convincing as I had hoped for. I expect much higher from the New Yorker. From the editors:
The polls suggest that Joe Biden currently leads the 2020 Presidential race. We suffer no delusions: Trump has on his side demagogic skill and ruthlessness, a willingness to break any norm or law in order to win. Nevertheless, we hope that Biden will displace him by a margin that prevents prolonged dispute or the kind of civil unrest that Trump appears to relish. Ideally, Biden will have an opportunity to govern with Democratic majorities in both the House and the Senate, which would vastly increase his chances of passing legislation to confront the nation’s array of crises.
Read the entire endorsement at the New Yorker.
I mailed in my ballot on late Wednesday, 23, 2020 and my ballot arrived at the election office on late Friday, September 25, 2020. The mail-in process took two or three days the most. I could have placed my ballot in a drop box at an early absentee location, but I wanted to see if mail-in works. It is still safe and secured to vote by mail in Virginia; however, vote in person if you can. Vote early and get your family and friends to vote. Make democracy great again.
When Trump declared that he won’t commit to a peaceful transition of power if he loses, that is the test of our democracy. We don’t have to wait for four more years to see if democracy will die. If Biden wins on November 3rd, we will see right away if Trump has absolute power or not. I still strongly believe that the Secret Service and the military will kick his ass out if he loses, but we’ll see.
My Dearest Vương,
The past two years, especially 2020, have been tough. Fortunately, I have you to keep me from going insane. When I feel down, your beautiful smiles never fail to pick me up. You have brought so much joy into our lives.
It has been an amazing experience observing you grow day by day and listening to you say word by word. My heart melts every time you gently ask, “Bà ngoại (grandma), iPad,” “Mommy, bú bú (breastfeed),” or “Daddy, play.” Your brothers have nothing but love for you. I love seeing you imitate your brothers, Xuân in particular. As a result, you are catching up fast in both speech and sharpness.
Of course, you are no softie. Growing up with three older brothers has toughened you up. You scream and fight back when you have to. You show no sign of backing down. Still, you have been the calmest boy out of all them. I hope you will keep your cool temperament for years to come.
I love you with all my heart, son. I am happy to see you enjoyed your second birthday. I am sure we will have many more wonderful moments to come. Don’t ever stop smiling, kiddo.
I find this Twitter thread from Teri Kanefield insightful; therefore, I reposted here to make the reading experience easier. Kanefield writes:
I didn’t want to respond to the Atlantic piece about how Trump can steal the election by flipping electors in states with GOP held legislatures, but I will.
Here’s my take.
A few weeks ago, a theory that Trump could steal the election in this manner made the rounds. For this to happen, a string of very unlikely and highly improbable things would have to happen. The story died down.
The press right now is very bad for Trump.
Next thing we know, a legal advisor to the Trump campaign tells a reporter that this extremely unlikely event WILL happen because the states will line up and do what Trump wants (overturn the will of the people).
The Trump campaign wants this in the headlines.
“The state legislatures will say, ‘All right, we’ve been given this constitutional power. We don’t think the results of our own state are accurate, so here’s our slate of electors that we think properly reflect the results of our state.’”
I’m pretty sure everyone knows Trump would cheat, lie, steal, and even let 200K people die if he thought it would help him win.
There are several ways to respond to this story, but we have to begin by wondering why the “legal advisor” wants us to have this information.
First, remember that each state has rules that govern the certifying of their elections.
Yes, laws still matter. The Trump legal advisor wants you to think they don’t. Why? Because when enough people lose confidence in democracy, democracy will fail.
That’s why, as Clint Watts reminds us, a goal of active measures is to get you to lose confidence in democratic processes. Trump is trying his best to get you to lose confidence in democratic processes. He is trying to make you think he can pull this off.
New polls came out today showing that Trump is ten points behind nationally. The Strongman needs you to think he’s strong. He doesn’t want you talking about the polls. If he was winning, he’d want you talking about the polls. He’s losing so he needs to present a situation that makes him look strong. He wants you to think state legislatures will do whatever he tells them to do, including overturning the will of their own constituents because Trump ordered it.
This is not to say that very real things can’t go wrong. Polls showing a close race in Florida worry me. The fact that more than 45% of voters willingly choose Trump, despite everything we know worries me. The fact that so many people don’t vote worries me.
Here’s the thing about democracy: If a majority of voters no longer want it, it will cease to exist. If a majority of voters don’t put in the work, it will cease to exist.
Another thing to remember: These states with GOP-held legislatures that the Trump advisor wants you to think will do whatever Trump wants are getting hit very hard right now from COVID. People like Stuart Stevens tell us most GOP officials know Trump is unfit.
For about a dozen reasons, the scenario is highly unlikely. If Biden’s win across multiple swing states, getting hit by a meteor is more likely. But Trump wants the headline to be: Trump can steal the election! Being rather perverse, my response is, “Trump wants this headline, so let’s not give it to him.”Trump’s talent is controlling the national conversation. He manipulates everyone. Look how easy it is. His ‘legal advisor’ puts something like this forward…
Then most of Twitter takes the bait. Twitter peeps instantly (and obediently) begin discussing whether he can. People begin arguing for why it might be possible. Then everyone starts wondering how to prepare for this worst-case scenario. And Trump succeeds. Trump manipulated everyone. He transformed himself from a loser (in the polls) to a scary strongman. He’s a genius at manipulating the media and controlling the conversation.
I only recently discovered the HTML Details element and I am loving it. I immediately applied it on the footer of this blog to hide and show additional information such as about, contact, feeds, privacy, and so on.
In the previous version of my blog, I had everything listed on the footer, which got tedious to scroll, especially on mobile devices. Then I moved everything to an info page. That worked out OK, but I was not too crazy about the extra click. In addition, I don’t want to make an extra page for this blog. I wanted to keep only posts and no pages. Because I redesign this blog so often, I wanted to keep it as simple as possible so I can quickly go and give it a redesign without having to worry about a page format.
As a result, I brought all the additional information back to the footer, but put everything into a disclosure widget using the