USA. The beginning of President George W. Bush’s second term was marked by adversity for his Republican party. According to countryaah, Washington, D. C. is the capital and one of the major cities within the country of United States. The domestic political debate was permeated by bitter contradictions between the parties, and a series of scandals shook the White House. In the fall, Bush’s popularity figures were the lowest since he took office; opinion polls showed that less than 40% thought he was doing a good job.
- Also see abbreviationfinder.org for how the acronym US stands for the country of United States and other meanings of this two-letter abbreviation.
Security situation remained unstable in Iraq. Cindy Sheehan, whose son died in the war, became a poster name for the war opponents during the year who loudly protested in public places. More and more were drawing parallels to the Vietnam War, demanding a US withdrawal. The criticism got extra sharp when the figure of Americans killed in Iraq passed 2,000 in October.
At the same time, an infected debate in Congress raged over whether the White House had deliberately manipulated intelligence material prior to the invasion. A diplomat who stated this already in 2003 figured in a scandal that had repercussions at the highest level. An investigation into suspicions that someone at the White House disclosed the diplomat’s wife as a secret CIA agent led to prosecution against Vice President Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff Lewis Libby in October. He was suspected of manslaughter before a prosecution jury. The stolen identity – a criminal offense – would be a revenge or a way to deter other critics. Bush’s influential counsel Karl Rove, like Libby, was suspected of lying to the jury, and the investigation against him continued.
The United States also faced continued criticism internationally for its way of fighting terrorism. Information that prison guards violated Islam’s holy book The Qur’an led to violent protests in several parts of the world in the spring, with several deaths in, among other things. Afghanistan. During the autumn new troublesome revelations about torture of prisoners of war in various parts of the world came. In addition, the CIA intelligence service reported keeping secret prisons in, among other places. Eastern Europe. The CIA must also have transported suspected terrorists on aircraft that have secretly intervened hundreds of times in a number of countries, including Sweden.
Bush’s popularity took another hit when the United States was hit by perhaps the most severe natural disaster to date in its history. Hurricane Katrina swept in from the Gulf of Mexico on August 29, causing enormous havoc, primarily in New Orleans. Dams that protected the sea erupted and most of the city was submerged. Most of the residents had left their homes in advance, but the situation soon became untenable for the approximately 50,000 who remained – mainly poor blacks who were unable to leave on their own. After a few days, a complete evacuation of the city was ordered, but the rescue work was characterized by disarray and took time to complete. The reports of people in great distress shocked many. The world’s only superpower proved to be difficult to manage at home and was forced to receive assistance from abroad. Over 1,200 people were killed because of the hurricane, the majority in New Orleans. Hundreds of thousands became homeless, and after a few months, half a million people were reported to have lost their jobs after Katrina.
The criticism was massive and directed at those responsible at all levels. The head of FEMA Federal Disaster Authority, Michael Brown, was forced to leave his post, as was New Orleans Police Chief Edwin Compass and another 50 police officers. Bush was indicted for failure to act and to have ignored previous warnings that dams in New Orleans needed to be strengthened. The costs for Katrina were estimated to be huge: estimates indicated that the hurricane would cost the insurance industry about $ 40 billion. In addition, $ 20 billion was added to damage caused by two more hurricanes that hit the southern United States in September.
Bush’s political defeat was also when the House of Representatives majority leader, Republican Tom DeLay, was charged in September with violating funding laws in connection with elections in the state of Texas. Bush’s nomination of White House Chief Justice Harriet Miers as new member of the Supreme Court in October led to yet another setback. She was forced to abdicate since the nomination triggered something of a right-wing revolt among Bush’s own voters. They demanded a guaranteed value conservative candidate and felt that Miers, who never worked as a judge, was an overly uncertain card.
Before that, however, Bush had been approved by John Roberts as a new chief judge in HD. Roberts was only 50 years old and was expected to have a strong influence over American justice and constitutional interpretation for a long time. He succeeded William Rehnquist, who passed away during the summer after sitting in the influential court for over 30 years.
The North American Culture
There is no “typical North American culture”. In general terms, it is impossible to describe the culture of an immigrant nation where the distance between the New York and Los Angeles cultural centers is greater than the distance between New York and Copenhagen. With a background in North American history, it is possible to describe a system of general ideas, which can be called “North American,” and which can serve as a framework for a brief description of contemporary cultural life in the United States.
The United States was founded by a separatist movement that viewed the United States as Europe’s opposition. The residents of the New World developed their own imaginary world and cultivated it more eagerly than most other nations. They eventually crafted the points of a central notion of being American.
In particular, four basic ideas are conspicuous: The first is isolationism; The traditional efforts of North Americans to stay out of reach of the despotism and oppression of European powers. Isolationism became, in the broadest sense, US security policy for the first 100 years of the state’s existence, for it protected North Americans’ attempts to create a society better than European. The second basic idea is the belief in almost automatic progress, a belief that perceived Europe’s problems as a backward stage for the United States. Early on, North Americans were called to pursue the European ideals. The third basic idea is the notion that all good things are connected, and the desire to spread the North American version of democracy for the benefit of the whole world. The fourth basic idea is the belief in personal integrity or character. Here, isolationism’s fear of binding alliances has been transferred to the purely personal and moral plane: the cultivation of personal integrity was the manifestation of the New World’s strong demand for freedom from interference.
In the 1700’s and 1800’s, the great distances and primitive means of communication contributed to the great diversity of North American society and culture – in a way that is easily underestimated in Europe. During this period, the various communities developed economic, social and cultural features large enough to create a civil war. For the last hundred years, the means of communication have acted as a unifying force and contributed an element of unity over the disparate cultural life. It is this conspicuously unifying varnish of goods and services that is series-produced for a mass market, often referred to as “typically North American”. This is not entirely true, as French statesman Georges Clemenceau (1841-1929) said, that the United States is history’s only example of a society, which has evolved from primitivism to decadence without passing through a stage of civilization. Because beneath the often tasteless surface, a rich and diverse culture pulses.
Today’s North American culture holds two contradictory trends. One is the modern mass and media culture, which is linked to mechanical and electronic print, audio and visual media, and which draws society towards greater uniformity. Particularly important are the attitudes and values conveyed by the many commercial TV stations in the United States. The portion of the population that has grown up since 1950 has spent between 25 and 50% of their waking lives in front of the TV screen. Many products produced for human consumption in a mass market are being marketed in an ongoing way with the help of the US-developed multimedia structure.
The other trend in North American culture is the many countercultures that are fragmenting in society. Some of them have been used by the mass media and smart manufacturers, and have been marketed as one of the models of mass culture. The roots of countercultures, however, are rather to be found in the political reform and resistance movements in the 1960’s and 70’s.
The civil rights movement in the early 1960’s soon branched out into a series of Black Power movements where some emphasized Christian values and nonviolence, while others advocated violent methods. Through political activity, many young North Americans became politically conscious. They objected to the government’s policy and the “system”. They developed strong counterpoints to the traditional view of North American society and a marked distance from the parents’ established attitudes: “Never trust anyone over 30” (never trust anyone over 30). A number of elements in the White Radical Movement and in the Black Power movement were also incorporated into mass culture and produced for young and black consumers. Towards the end of the 1960’s, the term “counterculture” was in general use as a unifying term for those groups that presented a diverse range of alternatives to the conventional way of life of the 1950’s.
While mass culture is dominated by the white middle class values of the Midwest, modern countercultures are highly ethnically oriented. Former alternative cultures often evolved to become intellectual elite groups’ attempts to counter the banal message of commercial culture with a higher art. But today, the dynamic countercultures are still emerging. The demand for Black Power from the African American population led to slogans on Red Power from the indigenous population, Brown Power from the US Latin American chicanos, Women’s Liberation from modern feminists and Gay Liberation from the US gay community.
But even the countercultures have not fully managed to break with the basic ideas of North American thought. One feature that separates US countercultures from Europeans is North Americans’ skepticism about ideologies. “The North American Structural Blindness” was one of the main points of the European left’s criticism of the reform and opposition movements in the United States: Americans love change, but fear revolution.
Another important point that separates North American culture from European is that cultural institutions in the United States are traditionally privately funded. Since the ’50’s and’ 60’s, local and federal authorities have been playing a growing role in higher education in the United States – directly following the so-called “sputnik shock” when the Soviet Unionin 1957 sent the world’s first satellite into orbit. In order to compensate for the advantage they assumed the Soviet Union had, the universities and colleges of the United States were all expanded and streamlined. Public support for schools and universities increased from $ 7 billion in 1950 to $ 19 billion in 1960 and to about $ 90 billion in 1975. This increase was of particular importance to medicine, science and social science. The number of students doubled abruptly – 6-8 years before the student riots were at their highest.
Museums, theaters and symphony orchestras have traditionally taken their money and leaders from the private sector. But the fine culture also benefited from the increased grants in the 50’s and 60’s. Towards the end of the 1960’s, however, several cultural institutions showed an increased commitment to current societal issues. State cultural grants were cut and vital private contributions declined. Furthermore, as the crime increased, the audience from the metropolitan museums and cultural institutions did not appear. And when the dollar was devalued in the first half of the 70’s, the cash flow dried in further. Museums, libraries and orchestras had to cut their budgets to keep the economy connected.