Man, am I glad I ended up voting for Obama

Hillary Clinton is a liarHillary Clinton is either completely delusional, or she’s a complete liar. I’m guessing that she’s both (a complete liar, but delusional enough to think she would get away with it). Now Christopher Hitchens alleges (credibly) that her loyalty to Hillarycare over all else was responsible, in part, for the U.S.’s inaction in Bosnia which was indirectly responsible for the genocidal murder of a quarter of a million people there.

Four months ago, I was leaning heavily towards voting for Hillary. I wasn’t into “Obamamania”, and Hillary seemed like a realist. I also agreed that universal health care was the top domestic priority.

I ended up voting for Obama on Super Tuesday, because I thought he would be a stronger contender against McCain in November, but I still harbored sympathies for ol’ Hill.

The last couple of months have shown a side to her character that I find more than distasteful – they’re dangerous. Someone with such a poor relationship with the truth, and who would put her ambition over the lives of so many people, is a menace and should not be occupying the highest office on the planet.

I used to bristle at Hillary-bashing, which I thought was unfair and sexist. Well, even if the motivation is wrong, I have to say I agree with it more than I’m bothered by it.

Here’s hoping Pennsylvanians sink her candidacy, so that Barack Obama can become our next president.

Gordon Ramsay enjoys yelling at idiots

Gordon Ramsay - fighting stupidity in kitchens across AmericaI’ve now watched a total of 10 episodes of Kitchen Nightmares and 3 episodes of the current season of Hell’s Kitchen, and what’s clear is that Chef Gordon Ramsay does not like to be upstaged intellectually.

The Hell’s Kitchen contestants are all idiots. I mean borderline braindead.

This is in huge contrast with the other cooking reality TV show, Top Chef, where the only drooling idiot was the host, Padma. Those contestants were all exceptionally talented and, for the most part, pretty bright, too.

Not a single Hell’s Kitchen contestant seems to have an IQ above 70. And they seem to be awful cooks, too.

Which, of course, gives Gordon plenty to scream about and throw food around about.

The Kitchen Nightmares proprietors were all either clueless, braindead or just incredibly lazy. Again, plenty of reason to scream at them.

I think I’m the type of person who would rather admire reality TV contestants than get annoyed by them (real life has enough morons to deal with – I don’t enjoy dealing with them in my leisure time), so Top Chef continues to be a far more entertaining show for me than Hell’s Kitchen.

A pity none of the Bravo shows are available to watch online…

If Obama is Kerry all over again, McCain is clearly Dole

McCain is lameI’ve been irritated about Obama’s latest slipped-out Harvardism, that small-town folks turn to guns and religions because the state of this country has left them bitter, not because it’s not true (it’s 100% true), but because this is the sort of honesty I’d like to see from Barack after the election (the last one was his lament to Iowa farmers about the price of organic arugula at the local Whole Foods).

This is a country of religious evangelicals. The religious prefer not to see things the way they are, but rather how they’d like them to be. They’ll bitch for hours about how life is unfair, China and illegal immigrants giving them a raw deal, that corporate fat-cats are reducing their quality of life…but then they want to say that “the power of Christ” gives them happiness that transcends all the misery around them (it doesn’t, but that’s beside the point).

The whole reason Obama has been such a powerful figure in this election is that he presents a strong message of hope. Why the hell is he going off-message at this point of the campaign?

Stick to your message. Repeat it until people get bored – and when they get bored, get into some of the specifics of your platform. Don’t drift onto philosophical musings like John Kerry, who was quickly caricatured out winning an election by the GOP.

So this brings me to another point – that McCain is benefiting from the infighting between Clinton and Obama. He looks confident and secure, while Obama and Clinton are seen sniping at each other whenever the news covers them.

I say: Big. Fucking. Deal. It’s temporary. When the Democrats do settle on a nominee, that nominee will trounce McCain. Even if that nominee is Hillary (although that seems very, very unlikely at this point).

McCain is Bob Dole all over again. When the GOP is weak, they choose an older war hero, playing to their most solid base of cranky old white men. But the GOP is weak, it has a terrible record and everyone knows it, and McCain is not an inspirational figure whatsoever.

Yes, he showed bravery during Vietnam. And he has stood up for his beliefs on campaign finance reform since. But he has also been involved in more than one scandal during his senatorial tenure (the Keating Five and the Vicky Iselman lobbyist ones come to mind), and the fact that he had an affair, and dumped his wife in favor of a much younger woman is not going to play well with the millions of women who have had the same thing done to them.

Besides, he doesn’t project strength. He looks and sounds feeble. He confuses important things, like the Shia and Sunni in Iraq, and gets confused by other things like the economy (and then senilely forgets he admitted as much…twice). He looks like a congenial grandpa, but that’s about it. He does not inspire the cool confidence of Obama, and I know who I’d put my money on in an arm wrestle between him and Hillary.

So while it’s a rough time right now with Obama & Hillary attacking each other, and McCain seemingly enjoying a rise in popularity, it’s not going to last. We Democrats like to wring our hands and bemoan missed opportunities, but we have a short memory like the rest of this country. The nomination will happen, people will forget about the internal divisiveness and rancor within a couple of weeks, and the media will focus on the Democrat vs Republican battle through November. And there will be plenty of time to do that.

Follow-up: What Europeans Think of Each Other

I logged into my blog after two months of complete neglect to see over 400 comments awaiting moderation. I thought it was the usual spam crap until I started wading through the list. Not sure how this post made it on someone’s radar, but it seems to have spread virally, and I spent a good two hours reading through the over-300 comments added to it. It was thoroughly amusing.

My thoughts:

  1. There were a handful of people who didn’t hesitate to tell me that I was completely ignorant and was completely in the dark about Europeans. They were vastly outnumbered by those who agreed with me completely.
  2. I was amused by those who confirmed exactly those national stereotypes I had written about (the indignant Greek, the xenophobic Brit, the stupid Swede…ok, I’m joking about the last one)
  3. I really appreciated the insights about the Portuguese, Hungarians, Romanians, Bulgarians, ex-Yugoslavs, and others that I didn’t know enough about. (Truth be told, I’m part Croatian, and know a LOT about the ex-Yugoslavs, cak i govorim hrvatski, but at the end of the post I didn’t have the energy to go into it. Fortunately, “Serbo” was, for the most part, right – except for my family, who defy every possible Croatian stereotype, thankfully. He was only partially right about Serbs, but, being a Serb, of course he was.)
  4. Sorry – I always get “Nordic” and “Scandinavian” mixed up. So Finland is Nordic, but not Scandinavian. I’ll probably fuck it up again in the future. Fortunately, I don’t mix up Slovakia and Slovenia, though. That’s good because most Europeans do. (Add to that the eastern region of Croatia called “Slavonia” and you have a recipe for Europeans eating their words about American geographical ignorance.)
  5. I am aware that Spaniards are not Latin American. But when you hear a person speaking Spanish, even in Europe, it’s not all that unusual to find out that they’re, in fact, Latin American (the rich variety that moves to Mother Europe). They outnumber Spaniards about 9 to 1 worldwide. But if you dare ask a Spaniard if they’re from Colombia or Argentina, be prepared to wipe some venom from your eyes.
  6. The nationality that consistently told me I was wrong: POLES. Oh, the irony. I lived in Poland for 2 years (the other 2 years in Europe were spent in the Netherlands). I lived with two Polish families, in different parts of the countries. I speak Polish fluently. Alez Polacy….nawet MIESZKALEM w Polsce, to wiedze chyba wiecej o Wama niz to, co Wy wiecie o samym sobie. W odroznieniu od reszty nacji europejskich (oprocz Finow),  jestescie ciszymi introwertykami (nie ma w tym nic zlego!). A nigdy w ogole nie slyszalem ani jednego zartu o Niemcach…..ANI JEDNEGO! Takich zartow “Polak, Rusek i Niemiec” nigdy nie slyszalem.
  7. Times sure have changed. When I was living in Europe (the beginning of this decade) there was not nearly as much resentment against Poland. But then again that was before Poland joined the EU and Poles streamed out of the country to the west.

Because I’m multilingual, nonreligious, and not fat, I guess I didn’t fit any European stereotypes of Americans, which are much worse than the fanciful (positive) stereotypes Americans generally have about Europeans. I heard “But you’re not a typical American” all the time – which, I think, the usual American would embrace like a badge of honor, but which I felt vaguely insulted by (maybe I’m not typically American, then!). But, regardless, Europeans opened up to me and told me what was generally thought of other nationalities within their Union.

But, of course, these are mostly stereotypes, and very temporal in nature. And the intensity of feeling, of course, increases as you approach the border. Poles and Spaniards have nothing but good things to say each other, because they’re nowhere near each other. But talk to a Pole in Cieszyn and a Czech in Tesin (hint: it’s the same city, split in half), and you’ll suffer 3rd degree burns as each fulminates about the other.

There was a request about how Americans feel about each other. It’s not as nuanced, because our country is much younger, and Americans are far more mobile, but there are stereotypes and feelings. Many of them might not be any surprise to Europeans and others familiar with US geography; others might seem inconsequential.

Give me a day or two and I’ll publish something.

(A boyfriend of a friend of mine was Ghanaian, and worked in Ivory Coast, and told me all about Africans, back in 2002. I wish I could remember all he told me – that was a great listen)

Update: Looks like Metafilter picked it up. Thank you, goodnewsfortheinsane!