Sunday, February 24, 2008

When Bush, and Europe's Excuse, is Gone

Filed under the "Be careful what you wish for department." Europe's hopes and prayers will be answered next January when President Bush leaves office. In his place could very well be a charismatic, articulate, young, likable, and black, liberal Democrat. There will be ONE crucial similarity however .... That liberal Democrat will still be ..... AN AMERICAN.

In one fell swoop, a whole slew of reasons why Europeans say they don't like "the American government" but do like "the American people" - are going to disappear. Those reasons were so darn convenient too! It was so easy to be pissed at Bush - and the Americans - over Kyoto, Afghanistan, Iraq, the International Criminal Court (ICC). It was so easy to associate arrogance, militarism, corporate greed, stupidity, etc., with that rich kid from Kennebunkport Maine, and by extension - to every other American.

The truth is it felt really good for Europe to have eight whole years to get it all out. To get out what they were thinking about the Americans all the time - and not just about the government. I'm sure it was really cathartic. Imagine, talking smack about the Americans - really letting it out - and having a perfect foil to play-off all those unpleasant feelings .... Bush. It was even better than hating Reagan. And the best part about it was so many Americans even agreed with you.

Well Europe, those days are going fast. Soon, a smooth-talking Democrat could be on your TV screen, at the U.N., in your city. He's going to be talking green house gases (your gases too!), he's going to be talking socialized healthcare, he's going to be talking security and China and India, he's going to be talking about how to get out of Iraq, he's going to be talking Afghanistan and doing your part.... he might even ask Europe to make some, gasp ..... sacrifices! He's going to LIKE dialogue and asking for your help...

It's going to be rough for you guys, believe me. All the standard anti-American lines are just not going to stick (i.e., white, rich, inarticulate, stupid, corporate, Republican, military, et. al.) You will know how Hillary feels now - how do we fight this guy? If he starts saying the things that you have been demanding ... then you will have to agree with the Americans! You will have to like us AND our government. Wow. The whole world will finally see how much Europe really loves us. Everyone will see that it was all Bush's fault!

Will this happen? Not likely! My advice to Europe ...... Pray for a McCain victory!

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Real American Dream

High on the list of things about America that really irks Europeans is any talk of "The American Dream." This statement, or ideal, or goal, or whatever it is, just sounds like we must think it is something real special I imagine, to non-English speakers. They must tell themselves, "Well it has 'America' and 'Dream' right in there in that line. So the Americans must be trying to throw something in our faces! Let's show them why they are full of crap! American dream my ass!"

I'm pretty sure that when Europeans hear about the American dream they imagine that we think it means everyone is rich, drives a hummer, is ultra patriotic, talks about freedom all day long, or that we think we are better than any non-American, or? What do they think it is? The only thing I know is they don't like it....

Well, here's a news flash for all of you who think that the American dream is some kind of heaven. Guys, "The American Dream" is really almost a tongue-in-cheek expression - but then really it's not. The American dream is very simple, very basic, and very, very modest.

What it means is this: You, as a normal schlub, can accomplish a simple thing in America with hard work. You can own a house, a car, - have a life - and a place to raise your family and send the kids to school. You can watch TV, you can have a hobby, and then croak - unmolested. That's it!

How does that sound Europe? Is it really worth getting upset about? We are not bragging. This is no boast. It is very simple - yet very powerful, why? Because there are many countries where these simple rights and pleasures are not allowed or are not possible. I believe the American dream was invented for people from places in the world where the rich, or the army, or the local landowner, or whomever, can shoot you in the street as easily as look at you - and with no consequences. Or from places where you can work 14 hours a day and still not be able to provide for your family - nor have a place to sleep.

When you put it in that context, going to a simple job then coming home to your family to have dinner and watch TV, sounds pretty damn good doesn't it? Maybe that is heaven.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Shameless Self-Promotion

Hey, a couple of people from around the web noticed me recently. I was actually interviewed by another Bloguero (actually a Bloguera) - I hope that's a real word ... A gal from Voices en Es-pan-yol, a great Spanish podcast site and bilingual blog based in Madrid asked me a few questions here. Check it out.

Also, a pretty big-shot political web site - Pajamas Media - linked to my post about European anti-Jewish sentiments here. My thing is listed right along with others from the BBC, Reuters, and CNN! You have to scroll down and look kinda hard to find my link - but it's better than a poke in the eye with a stick!

And a gal from Zaragoza - who doesn't like to give links - also posted a piece of that same essay here.

Thanks to all of you.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The European Jewish Obsession

I think progress will be made in Spain on the subject of race relations. There will be more immigration and therefore more possibilities for interaction between Spaniards and Blacks, Latinos, Chinos, and Polacos, etc. However, there is one (small) group that will have to wait for their day, one road that will be a long one in Spain…. The road that ends with the Spanish and Europeans giving a break to the Jews.

Talking crap about the Jews is the last protected area of inappropriate free-speech in Europe. The Jews are open game. No one will disagree with the common assumptions – age old wrong assumptions – about the Jews. I have been in conversations with many a Spaniard when the usual Jewish conspiracy theories are raised. Let’s see… The Jews somehow control major aspects of the U.S. Government, huh? The United States is at least 40% Jewish – actual percentage: 2%. Secret Jewish organizations run the media … et al. One guy, a very educated Spanish guy, once told me that the Jews upset the natural balance in Spain because they work too hard!

Bottom line, to them the Jews = Conservative politics, conspiracy theories, arms industry, evil police state, evil U.S. empire in league with Israel, oh and of course, only interested in money.

To me the Jews = Liberal politics, hard work, value of family and education, one of the very few democracies in the Middle East, tiny place surrounded by 22 other countries that want to kill them, they couldn’t care less about converting you and, who doesn’t like money?

It seems to me that the people in Europe who have a knee-jerk reaction to dislike the Jews - haven’t really stepped back to analyze the situation. Are Jewish people really so different than the typical Western European? Would it really be so bad to have Jews living next door to you? Sure they may have a real Mercedes while you have a Smart car, but I’m betting that’s because they studied, and then worked, their kosher asses off to get it.

The Jews are socially liberal, drink booze, don’t give a bad time to gays, work hard, have mothers who want to feed you, don't go on welfare, don’t force their religion on you, they respect women, don’t give a rat’s ass what you do as long as you leave them alone.. What’s wrong with that picture?

They sound like good neighbors to me.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Is This Offensive or Funny? I Really Don't know ....

Help me out...

Check out this video from El Pais. I know this is that puppet political show from TV and they are pretty brutal to everyone.... On this one they have Condoleezza Rice disguised as Barack Obama so she can start fights between the real Obama and Hillary. How can Condoleezza be disguised as Obama? Well, she’s black of course, just like him...

Does this cross the line or am I overreacting? Is this "Spanish humor", so it's alright? I know this would not be OK in the States, at least I think I know ...

Friday, February 8, 2008

Buzzed Blogging

Alright, I'll admit it. Sometimes I drink about half a bottle of wine and start writing down whatever random thought is in my head - hopefully it doesn't show too much. The scary part is this method sometimes produces interesting posts. I think all those big guys like Hemingway and Henry Miller used to booze it up a lot, right? Have to justify it somehow.. At least tonight I'm sampling a Ribera del Duero purchased from the Whole Foods Market in L.A.... Gotta love globalization.

Tonight my random thoughts are still tuned to race. I always kinda wondered why the Spanish are prejudiced against the South Americans (Peruvians, Ecuadorians, et al, etc.) in Madrid ... The so-called "Sudacas". This is interesting to me because the Spanish CREATED the South Americans. They are their children so to speak. The South Americans in Madrid speak Spanish, are Catholic, share ALL religious holidays, have a shared history, they are like cousins. There should be some sense of , "Alright we royally screwed these guys so let's give a little back.."

But there really isn't that sense. It seems like they see them as foreigners equal to say, the Chinese - that's strange to me. I like the South Americans in Madrid. To me they bring a little more interest to the stew.. It was getting a little bland if you know what I mean. And let's be honest, the Spanish have to get over this "No spicy food" thing. It's almost like a badge of honor to them! I know that Mexicans are scarce, but maybe some day we'll even get decent Mexican food in Madrid - although I won't hold my breath.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Racists? Who Us?

Spain is learning what a minefield the subject of race is to everyone. It is a very, very difficult subject. What do you think we have been doing over here (in the U.S.) for so many years? Well … learning about different people, learning about ourselves, learning what other people think is offensive, trying to figure out how to help people previously hurt, trying to make things fair – and many times in that process making things more unfair (i.e., quotas). We have had a head-start on Spain in the race department, but it seems that Spain wants to skip the first basic step. And that first step is to simply recognize that there is a problem. They would rather jump ahead to we are doing fine…. "You people are crazy, for saying there's a problem."

The Spanish do not realize that they have inappropriate views on race because that’s the way it has always been and everyone thinks the same way. I guess that’s a fair argument. A white man from 1950’s Alabama was a product of his environment. But it is time to start to change.

Maybe Spain needs their own Archie Bunker to teach them what is offensive. Archie Bunker from TV’s, “All in the Family” was a ground breaking 1970’s TV character. He was a good man but a bigot. Everyone knew that whatever he said was what you were NOT supposed to say and think. He was very effective. Spanish TV would like him too because he taught that everything politically conservative was wrong (no slanted viewpoint there!)

One of these days, and pretty damn soon too, the people of color in Spain will not be just a small minority afraid to get together to demand their rights from the Spanish “Man”. I wonder what the Spanish equivalent of the NAACP will be? And which minority group will start it?