American Views Abroad

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Sage Stossel's Thanksgiving ----- eight cartoons about 'in these turbulent times, the old order, it seems, is crumbling ---- with bedrock facts of life giving way to new

Thursday, November 20, 2008

From a friend, who lives mainly in Munich but is often back home in California, this note:

At the local Barnes and Noble Starbucks here in Torrance, I overheard two 80+ year old ladies talking about Barack Obama and his politics and how comforted they felt for our country when they saw him on TV with his broad, capturing smile and flash of white teeth. It touched me to hear these two snow-white haired ladies with different skin colors ---- one pale white and the other dark black ---- two good friends sharing their happiness about the outcome of the presidential election. How far we have come in the span of our life-time. It is truly hard to hold back the tears.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The election has taken its toll in a surprising way. People here are still commenting on it, but in almost hushed tones. They admit to getting up early on election morning to see who won. There are even more comments on the Electoral College than eight years ago. That's an awfully strange way of electing a President is frequently heard. Interesting how long it has taken before people outside the US have finally understood it. Who devised this system? Explain it was around 1776. Bewilderment at the fact nothing has changed since then. Why not? OK there are big states and smaller states, in population if not in size, and how it would be next to impossible to change the status quo.

Two other comments follow immediately: fear and hope that nothing happens to Obama and distress on Palin having been nominated for Vice President. There is real concern for the President-elect's safety here. And utter astonishment at someone so unqualified not only being nominated but at how the system could be hijacked by its own process.

Yes We Can has become part of the language. A local newspaper has adopted it into a series on how citizens have changed their lives with this positive, uplifting phrase. It has even been changed around now that the Green Party has elected a Turkish-German citizen to lead it. Yes we Chem -- a play on this leader's first name.

It is an interesting time to ponder the differences in the systems on both sides of the Atlantic. Obama managed to start off his race on his own as an outsider and through enormous discipline, organization and brilliance win against so many odds. Anything like this is unthinkable over here where strict party rules would prohibit such a newcomer to rise so fast. On the other hand, there are far more political parties to choose from here and in the last twenty years two new parties are now in Parliament with voices in federal and state elections, the Green and the Left Party.

Among all the enormous problems facing the new administration, one of the most symbolic is Closing Guantanamo. How and When by Elisa Massimino at

Closing Guantanamo will require more than the stroke of a pen. It will take comprehensive policy changes and a major investment of domestic and international political capital. But it can be done, and it can be done in the new administration's first year. .....For nearly seven years, Guantanamo has been a trap, not just for the prisoners held there but for American moral authority and global leadership. We have had the keys to unlock it all along. It is up to President-elect Obama to use them.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008
An email to friends at 8:30 am today: Since 3 am we have sat stunned in front of the TV watching the returns on CNN. I feel like a flat tire ---- all the air is out. It was beautiful watching Ohio, PA, and Florida turn blue. It was so emotional seeing the Obama and Biden families together on stage in Chicago. We just went into the NY Times web and switched on the maps of all the elections since 1992. It's amazing how the country has changed colors. Jon called from Philadelphia at 5:30 to let us know everyone was out on the streets celebrating. Perhaps because we watched the result in the dead of night, we had the feeling of the world being turned upside down. The beginning of the end of an eight year nightmare.

A reply from a close friend in West Chester, PA this afternoon: It was awesome to say the least, watching the states flip. I had tears in my eyes watching Obama's speech in Grant Park, it was so amazing and moving. Obama and Biden have their work cut out for them and I do not envy them their job but I really do believe they are up to it with bi-partisan cooperation from Congress. I am finishing my pot of coffee, cause your right, the wind is gone out of my sails and they are flat from the shear exhaustion of it all (not to mention the Phillies last week winning the World Series in baseball! What a ride.) Chester County went for Barack in a big way --- a first! I am proud of my county and state this year. The turnout at the polls was amazing. We have 1450 voters in our precinct, I was #944 at 4:15, they had 100 absentee ballots and only 400 left to vote with four more hours to go. When I left, they were still streaming in at a steady pace. Obama got a mandate, so much more than Bush's supposed mandate 8 and 4 years ago.

In fact almost 85% of the 1479 registered voters in Chester County precinct cast a ballot according to an official email sent out later. Obama defeated McCain 633 to 600, even though Republicans outnumber Dems by almost 2 to 1. In the county Obama won 9 points. By comparison in 2004 Kerry lost by four points and in 2000 Gore lost by 10 points.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Just received from a friend in Dayton, Ohio on this election day:

Well, I done it. I voted already; just walked in, signed up immediately (but DID have to show my driver's license to some old right winger, the cad) and waited for two people ahead of me to get to their voting machine before finally getting to mine.

It was a joy to punch in for Obama. It was a thrill not to punch in for McCain...

Today Rove (who was thoroughly wrong in all respects in 2006 and carries his record in with him into 2008) said that he expected Obama to win in a landslide, taking all the "toss-up"
states. That was probably a deliberate move on his part to spook right wingers into voting instead of thinking they didn't have to worry in those "toss-up" states. (Do you toss up in a "toss-up" state when you lose? I do anyway...)

Here's hoping!

It'll be a long night way into tomorrow morning for those of us abroad. As he said in Ohio, so it is in Hamburg and around the world: Here's hoping!

PS: My son just voted in Philadelphia and reported no lines and was in and out in 10 minutes.

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