Monthly Archives: June 2008

How About Gwen Ifill

Gwen Ifill

Out of respect for Tim Russert, the guys at Meet the Press have yet to begun throwing names out there for his replacement. My vote goes to Gwen Ifill.  As the host of Washington Week and a regular on both Meet the Press and the NewsHour, Ms. Ifill has proven to be independent, impartial, and tactful. She can also ask the tough questions, as Tim Russert did, gracefully.

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Tim Russert

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For about a year now, I have been addicted to podcasts, especially of the political kind. Even before moving to Spain eight years ago, one of my favorite activities was spending Sunday mornings watching Meet the Press and This Week. So when I finally discovered the Meet the Press videopost, I incorporated it into my Sunday lifestyle abroad as well.

Thanks to these podcasts I am incredibly well informed about the 2008 U.S. Presidential Elections and my obsession for the Obama campaign has been further enhanced. I even turned my girlfriend into a Meet the Press junkie, calling it “our show”. Having said this, it is then no surprise that we were incredibly surprised to hear the news yesterday of Tim Russert’s sudden death at the age of 58. Russert was an institution in Washington political news, having served as the host of Meet the Press since 1991. He also moderated numerous debates during this primary season. It almost breaks your heart to think that Russert won’t be able to witness the results of an election that he played a very active role in moderating. I know my Sundays won’t be the same.

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These Foolish Shoes (Remind Me of You)

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Back in 1999 and 2000 I purchased two consecutive pairs of some really great shoes — orangish-brown loafers and blood red retro sneakers. I don’t remember the day or the moment that I destined them to the trash heap, but I often think about how much I had loved them. Maybe in some blurred corner of an out-of-focus photograph you can catch a glimpse of the loafers. The other pair survives in my memory alone.

Since that time, I suppose, I have always had trouble throwing out old shoes. They seem to accumulate and multiple. Even when they are no longer worn, practically forgotten and relegated to some dreary closet or buried in a nylon shoe bag, I imitate my friend Fred’s policy towards ex-girlfriends, I don’t quite hit the eject button. Why take out the trash when you never know when something old and discarded may come back into style again? Plus, who can say when the situation may call for precisely that pair of shoes? Continue reading

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Smearing Obama as a Muslim

not a muslim

The Internet is now full of a bunch of silly and sometimes astounding allegations against Obama and his wife. In the primaries, Hillary tried to paint him every color imaginable. Now that he is up against the Republicans, we are hearing even more accusations of Obama being a radical, a racist, and worst of all, a Muslim?

To help defend himself against many of these absurd allegations, Obama has set up a Fight the Smears website. It reads,

What you won’t hear from this campaign or this party is the kind of politics that uses religion as a wedge, and patriotism as a bludgeon — that sees our opponents not as competitors to challenge, but enemies to demonize. Because we may call ourselves Democrats and Republicans, but we are Americans first. We are always Americans first.

But as an American, especially one who has just been welcomed into a Muslim home, I am incredibly and painfully embarrassed about the whole anti-Obama, anti-Muslim campaign. Obama defended himself as being a Christian, but should have been bolder and braver. He should have said, “No, I am not a Muslim, but even if I were, this is the United States of America where it is not illegal to be a Muslim, just as it is not illegal to be Jewish, Christian, Hindu, or atheist. We cannot afford to lose our most precious values lest we risk reducing ourselves into an intolerant totalitarian nation.”

Honestly, how can we be so politically correct and politically careful all the time about every other class of people and on every issue, yet such raging Islamophobia gets a free pass?

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Street Poetry

Street Poetry

Not all graffiti is boastful, exhibitionistic, homophobic, misogynistic, anti-American (or anti-NATO), or racist. As proof of such, my friend, Juantomas, recently encountered this piece of urban art. The graffiti reads, as roughly translated,

You’re in love when you realize that someone else is unique.

Because I believe that we are much more predictable (acting in normal patterns and behaviors) than unique, I would personally disagree with the quote. It is our great insecurity that leads us to believe the individual “I” or “me” somehow lives on the fringe and that both our predicaments and character are somehow essentially special and unique. As we cannot accept ourselves as anything other than truly “individual”, it would be disastrous for our self esteem to settle for someone “normal”. Isn’t love both blind and resting nestled in the eye of the beholder?

To that effect, the graffiti should have read quite the opposite, reflecting the illusion of someone else being different from the pack:

You’re in love when you believe that someone else is unique.

That’s what’s so celebrated about love. It makes us think someone else is just as unique and special as we desperately would like ourselves to be. And if the love is requited, then it becomes a virtuous, symbiotic delusion fest.

On second thought and in defense of the romantic, I suppose one could argue that more than a “realization” or “belief”, it is the creation of uniqueness; hence the “significant” in the “signifcant other”. Thus the quote could follow a more creative tone:

You’re in love when you make someone else unique.

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Hope the World Hopes For

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As I have already discussed recently, people around the world are rooting for Obama. Obama’s candidacy and nomination has restored some of the faith in the United States by the citizens of the world.

In a recent op-ed piece for the Washington Post entitled “Whose Race Problem“, Anne Applebaum correctly speaks about Europe’s fascination with Obama and how many in the old continent are asking whether the U.S. is ready for a black president. But then she asks whether Europe and other countries are ready for the U.S. to have a black president. Having spent the last eight years living abroad and witnessing America’s moral authority go down the tubes, I think that she’s got it partly right.

There are two separate issues here. The first is what does an Obama victory mean for European politics and that of the rest of the world, and the second is why the world is so eager to see Obama victorious. Continue reading

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Two Days in Rabat

Oudaya

Have you seen the movie Two Days in Paris about an American guy (Adam Goldberg) and his French girlfriend (Julie Delpy) who stop over for two days in Paris on their way back from a European vacation? Upon arriving in Paris, both turn into the epitomes of their cultural stereotypes: Goldberg a neurotic and paranoid American and Delpy an aloof and overly flirtatious French woman.

Arriving in Rabat this past weekend, I wasn’t quite sure whether I would become the Goldberg character — a hypochondriac Pasha from the mean streets of Potomac in the developing world — or whether I would merely suffer on the out layer of the comfort zone due to a different movie title, Meet the Parents (with me playing the part of Gaylord Focker). Continue reading

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Blanca’s Debut on Mexican Television

I just received this video of my friend (and former roommate) Blanca Pons’ debut on Mexican television for a shopping program. I can’t stop laughing every time I watch my Catalan friend pushing Andalucian china to a Mexican audience. Oh, the unpredictability of life! In any event, Blanca does a great job. Congrats!

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Of Friends and Mobile Service Providers

Last year at about this time, three of my good friends from FONBerga, Karl, and Victor (el Melenas) — left FON to work for Simyo, a new MVNO in the Spanish market.

Besides helping my buddies out, I thought that by changing to Simyo I could save a little money in the process as well. The only pending issue was to ask Movistar, the market incumbent and my current provider, for the switch. Sounds painless? It was like breaking up with a girlfriend who was trying to blame it on my friends Berga, Karl, and Victor. Continue reading

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Robert Fisk and the Crusades

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As mentioned, I am now reading about the Crusades. Well today, I just came upon this harsh criticism by Robert Fisk on the CIA’s recent assessment that the U.S. is succeeding in its war on terrorism in the Middle East.

As long as there is injustice in the Middle East, al-Qa’ida will win. As long as we have 22 times as many Western forces in the Muslim world as we did at the time of the Crusades – my calculations are pretty accurate – we are going to be at war with Muslims. The hell-disaster of the Middle East is now spread across Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Gaza, even Lebanon. And we are winning?

and Continue reading

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