America

Why is Biden so unpopular?

23 min listen

New York Post writer Miranda Devine joins Freddy Gray to discuss Joe Biden’s unpopularity. Why are Americans increasingly not supporting him? And how have Biden family scandals and rumours affected trust in the President? In a week that Biden gave a commencement speech, they also discuss the recent controversy over NFL kicker Harrison Butker’s speech. What insight does the reaction to the speech tell us about America today? Produced by Natasha Feroze and Patrick Gibbons.

Veep show: who will Trump pick for his running mate?

We are in the fifth week of Donald Trump’s ‘hush money’ trial and the real scandal is that it’s all so intensely boring. Sex, porn-star witnesses, shady lawyers, a president in the dock – the headlines are a tabloid dream. The crux of the case, however, is a bunch of tedious charges to do with tax reporting and accountancy. Who wants to read about that?   Trump is ‘not looking for an heir because that would be Macbeth or King Lear, a bloodbath’ Trump adores the attention, naturally. As the greatest showman of the 21st century he understands that we, the people, need fresh drama and new characters. That’s why, while

No tips please, we’re British

I hate tipping, not because I am intrinsically mean but because of the anxiety it induces. You pitch up at some glam hotel, after a gruelling flight, then the guy next to the concierge takes your bags to your room, and, as you go, you fumble in your pockets, searching for the mysterious notes and coins, even as you try to estimate the right amount to tip the porter. Tipping is yet another toxic byproduct of America’s tragic past and should be treated like an invasive species This is a complex equation at the best of times, as it involves so many imponderables: the state of the local economy, the

A gripping podcast about America’s obsession with guns

The love affair between so many Americans and their guns – long a source of international fascination – appears to be getting more painfully intense. The greater the publicity over gun crime, the more Americans think they’d better acquire a firearm to keep themselves safe. There are now roughly 400 million guns in the US – but most citizens feel more unsafe than ever, and with some justification. Last year featured both the highest level of gun ownership in US history and the highest recorded number of mass shootings. This really is one to listen to in bed, in the pitch dark – even better, pretend you’re in a couchette

Trump’s trial has nothing to do with Stormy Daniels

Why did Stormy Daniels testify in court yesterday about her allegedly sexual encounter with Donald Trump? Anybody who has followed the Donald Trump story in recent years will have already heard most of Stormy’s account of her interactions with him. Daniels has a sense of humour. Like many others, she enjoys mocking Trump in public. And in our licentious yet strangely puritanical times, details such as the porn star spanking the 45th president with a rolled-up copy of Forbes magazine are just too much to resist.  The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Nobody seems to care much The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the

Coleman Hughes on neo-racism, US election, and The View

47 min listen

Freddy Gray speaks to writer, podcaster and musician Coleman Hughes. His latest book The End of Race Politics, The: Arguments for a Colorblind America promotes Martin Luther King’s teachings for a colourblind society. On the podcast they discuss Coleman’s recent appearance on The View; whether Coleman thinks Trump is racist and how the Israel-Gaza war exposed the failings of US universities. 

Does America own Britain?

45 min listen

Freddy speaks to Angus Hanton, entrepreneur and author of Vassal State: How America Runs Britain, and William Clouston, leader of the Social Democratic Party. They discuss the ‘Special Relationship’ between the US and the UK, and ask whether it might be detrimental to British business. 

The skull beneath the skin: Ghost Pains, by Jessi Jezewska Stevens, reviewed

Hell, according to Jean-Paul Sartre, is other people. Jessi Jezewska Stevens would nominate parties. Social catastrophe can stem from the invitation: ‘Email!’ she laments. ‘The way all modern tragedies begin.’ She homes in on the space between what a woman thinks and says and does. Her anti-heroines can be relied on to make wrong decisions – men, marriage, nipple-piercing and, of course, parties. The choice invariably ends in failure. Ghost Pains is a collection of 11 stories, sardonic and elegant, imbued with a sense of isolation and self-awareness. Stevens’s women throw spectacularly disastrous parties. And attend them. The result can be amusing for the reader while being grievous for the

Can I stay in Britain?

Brexit Britain, for all its flaws, has been welcoming to me. When the UK was a member of the European Union, the only way to control immigration was to crack down on non-EU visas. Ten years ago, Americans like me who studied in Britain and wanted to stay needed to earn £35,000 a year (which would be £47,000 now). That was unrealistic for a recent graduate. After Brexit, Boris Johnson brought back the old post-study visa, giving us two years to find work and requiring a more achievable minimum salary of £26,000. Finally, international students who won places at British universities could meet their EU equals as, well, equals. We

Emergency on Planet Biden

‘If aliens attacked Earth, do you think we would be safer under Joe Biden or Donald Trump?’ That’s a question in a new poll of American voters, and 43 per cent of respondents opted for Trump, 32 per cent for Biden, while 25 per cent sagaciously picked ‘Don’t know’. It’s fun to imagine President Donald in charge against the extra-terrestrials. ‘Zogblark the Magnificent is a good friend of mine,’ Trump would shout from the White House lawn, as the helicopter blades of Marine One clattered away behind. ‘He’s said some very nice things about me. Believe me. Things you wouldn’t believe… But we can’t have him exerting the supreme authority

Douglas Murray

At least Britain isn’t that corrupt

Long-time readers may recall that I take a special interest in the art of corruption. And this week America has thrown up a delicious example. Democrat Senator Robert Menendez was indicted last week on bribery charges. This follows a raid on the New Jersey Senator’s home in which federal agents found more than $480,000 hidden in clothing and piled up in his closets. The agents also found 13 gold bars. You have to go back to the 1990s for the last time that parliament was seriously accused of being ‘up for sale’ Menendez denies the charges and said on Monday that it has simply been his habit, for some years,

Children need protection from adult madness

The Texas Supreme Court just upheld a state law banning so-called gender-affirming care for minors, to explosive consternation from predictable quarters. Progressive commentators portray this and similar laws passed by more than a dozen Republican-controlled state legislatures as ‘anti-LGBTQIA+’. In truth, the laws are aimed not at that whole bramble of capital letters, but solely at the ‘T’. The left claims withdrawal of puberty blockers and sex ‘reassignment’ surgery violates trans kids’ ‘rights’ Slamming these bans histrionically as ‘genocide’ (four in 15,000 patients of the Tavistock or on its waiting list committed suicide between 2010 and 2020, but according to propaganda it’s up to 50 per cent of trans kids

A thoroughly modern 18th-century heroine: The Future Future, by Adam Thirlwell, reviewed

Adam Thirlwell’s latest novel begins in revolutionary France and chronicles the travails of its embattled celebrity heroine, Celine, who is being subjected to a campaign of malicious gossip about her sex life. She resolves to cultivate a coterie of influential writers to wrest back control of the narrative – cue earnest meditations on power, misogyny and the ability of the written word to shape reality. Meanwhile, she finds solace in female company, reflecting: In a society made of words and images and circulating and recirculating, all devoted to disinformation, it was very difficult to find any personal safety, and one minuscule form might just be this intense form of friendship

What’s gone wrong for Ron DeSantis?

It’s widely acknowledged that, as governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis has been a success. As a presidential candidate, however, he has been a disaster – at least, so far. Last weekend, amid reports that his bid for the White House was floundering, DeSantis sacked a dozen of his staff and scaled back his travel plans. He may have raised some $20 million between April and June, but some of the biggest Republican donors, who flocked towards him at the end of last year, are starting to turn away. His campaign is now concerned about funds running out. ‘The question comes down to: do you want boring Trump? And the answer

George Washington’s lesson for Ukraine

The Australian morning TV host called me darlin’. We’d never met, but she opened with: ‘Good to have you on, darlin’. Be with you in a moment.’ Then the picture went black. When the live show returned to my Zoom screen, I was just another viewer, watching the three hosts seated on a couch half a world away chatting about the charity walk one of them had done over the weekend and the toll this had taken on his feet, which led – in a surprise twist – to a brief discussion of the strange internet hunger for images of feet. Somehow, the fetish conversation segued into a video montage

Who lifted the ban on trans women taking part in Miss Universe?

Mx Universe A transgender woman was named ‘Miss Netherlands’, and will now compete in the Miss Universe contest. British TV viewers might be surprised to learn there are still such things as beauty pageants, given they disappeared from the main TV channels in the 1980s. They might be even more surprised to learn who was responsible for lifting the ban on transgender women taking part in Miss Universe. – The decision was made in 2012 by Donald Trump, who then owned the franchise for the competition, after a Canadian trans woman, Jenna Talackova, had been banned from taking part and her cause had been taken up by the Gay and Lesbian

Lionel Shriver

Heritable guilt is in vogue

I made a poor excuse for a Presbyterian even as a kid. I resented religious indoctrination every precious school-free Sunday. Yet despite my apostatic nature, any number of biblical tenets with broad secular application have become touchstones. Of particular value during our post-Floydian festival of flagellation is Ezekiel 18: ‘The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.’ Ergo, while we can’t take credit for our forebears’ virtues and achievements, at least whatever horrors our ancestors got up to is

How to barbecue like an American

Barbecue is a fact of life in America. Long summer evenings and reliably good weather make it an easy choice – plus turning on the oven heats up the house to an intolerable level, so if you want a hot meal, outdoors it is. When I was a kid my mom wouldn’t turn on the oven for the entirety of July and August. It was burgers, salads or quick quesadillas on the grill every night of high summer. Americans have been barbecuing pretty much since before the nation was a nation. The tradition came up from South and Latin America with the invading Spanish. Barbacoa they called it, and they’d use green

Joe Biden is not OK

One of the most reliable standards in international comedy has long been the outstanding ineloquence of American politicians. In this place I recently summoned up the golden memory of Dan Quayle. But if you look at the record, there was similar – far less justified – tittering at Ronald Reagan. Closer to our own time comedians and others had much fun with George W. Bush, Donald Trump and indeed almost everybody who has ever risen to the top of the Republican party. Kamala Harris picks up big subjects then says something simultaneously excitable, unfollowable and banal Something striking about this is that rarely is there any similar tittering over the

Judge Dredd: the prescience of a 45-year-old comic strip

In 1977, an enduring character was created for the pages of the IPC comic 2000 AD: Judge Dredd, lawman of the future, the most visible symbol of police procedure – a helmeted, black-clad, motorbike-riding policeman patrolling the streets of Mega-City One, a vast metropolis stretching along the eastern coast of the US, whose remit also allows him – as his honorific implies – to be an on-the-spot judge, jury and, when the occasion demands, executioner. The occasion often demands it. It is interesting that the two longest- running human cartoon characters in Great Britain represent opposite poles of the psyche. Their names both begin with D, for some reason or