Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Political debate

One thing that is on anybody's mind at the moment is the election next week.
Obama is the senator of Illinois and Chicago is definitely almost unitedly pro-Obama. You see Obama posters and signs in a lot of windows in the neighborhood we are living in.

I think a lot of people (including me) are glad when this whole thing is over. It is getting kind of boring. It seems like when you ask people why they vote for one or the other you always get the same answer - Republicans vote for McCain because he is apparently so much more experienced. Democrats vote for Obama because he wants "Change".

Now personally I am all for Obama. I think he is a great guy and I think he would do great things but I am getting annoyed by the fact that his whole campaign is built around the word "Change". It's not the first time in history that people wanted change and it's not the first time in history people used this powerful word to be of political interest. One example that comes to mind (and I am not trying to draw any similarities to Obamas political plan here!!!!) is the late Austrian right-wing politician Joerg Haider. Obviously Obama and Haider have completely different political interests and I shouldn't even be mentioning them in the same sentence - I only want to make clear that barely saying somebody wants "Change" for a country is not really saying that much.

However McCain supposedly being so much more experienced does not make me more interested in him either. For me he ruined it when he made Palin his candidate for vice president. I am all for women in politics but this woman is a disgrace. She stands for everything I don't want in the government of the country I live in and the country I'll probably eventually will be bringing up my future children.

The fact that people can't come up with anything but "Change" and "Experience" when asked why they will vote for whoever they are going to vote for at this election makes me nervous. It shows that people are not really informed and can easily be influenced.

And I can tell you one thing - I have never seen an election that played with such dirty tricks (and I am from Austria and have seen some nasty stuff - let me tell you that - one sentence "Daham statt Islam" - the German speakers will understand what I am talking about - was just one of a few disgusting, racist election slogans for an Austrian right-wing party).
Today I was watching the morning show (I am still jetlegged and spend my early mornings watching the local news) when the adds came on. I saw four "anti"-somebody spots in a row. All of them were for different politicians. All of them were pretty harsh and went something like that:

"Ms Smith from the Democrat party is not who she says she is. She has been known to kick puppies and on at least one occasion she dropped a newborn child. She also likes taxes very much and wants to raise them as high as possible so all the poor people in Chicago will have to starve. In fact - that's her plan - make all the poor people in Chicago starve so rich people (LIKE HER) will profit and be happy. Do NOT vote for Ms Smith! This is a message brought to you and paid for by the Republican party."

Well, it might not go exactly like that but you get the picture. There are more "anti"-spots on TV than actual election spots. I had never seen an "anti"-spot before.

And then there are the "smears". Smears are attempts of defamation of the candidates of the presidential election. Mostly it's rumors put into the world by fanatic followers of one of the two parties taking part in the election. Often those rumors will be indirectly supported by the party who the rumor doesn't concern. For example - there is this rumor that Obama is an Islamic terrorist. Of course McCain cannot say that Obama is an Islamic terrorist because it is not true but he knows that there are people who are going to believe it (there are more people than you think who believe that) and so he just puts some wood into the fire to keep the rumor going. He would mention the rumor and not oppose it for example.

Recently these smears - especially against the Democrat party - have become so bad that even the Republicans stood up and publicly spoke out against them. Some criminals started to generate automatic recorded messages, faking McCains, Giulianis and Palins voices to send out completely made up messages. Machines will randomly call house phones which will then say those messages over the phone. I listened to one on a website and it said the following:
"This is Rudy Giuliani for the Republican party. This message is to warn you of Senator Obama. If he becomes president he will change the law for sex offenders. Obama wants sex offenders to go free without a trial. He does not want sex offenders to be charged for offense. Do not vote for Obama unless you want sex offenders to go free! This message has been approved and paid for by the Republican party." This is pretty much how it went even though they probably made it sound more "political newscasty".
Now - the problem with these prank calls is that there will be a lot of people who will believe them and that's what scares me.
McCain himself apparently lost an election before because there was a smear about him going around. He has an adopted child from Bangladesh. The rumor said that this child was in fact his own child and that he took it away from her black mother as to avoid a scandal. This rumor went around via email a few years ago and is said to have lost him the election.

We will see how it will all play out.
There is a big event coming up in Chicago on Election day. Obama is going to be in Grant Park to hold an Election Night (hopefully) celebration. It will be huge. E and I were thinking about going but giving the weather conditions here at the moment I don't know if I want to be standing outside for too long. The wind has been pretty bad and as I said - it has occasionally snowed a little bit. Also - there will be A. LOT. of people. I kind of want to be there for this special occasion but then I just think I would rather be in a cosy, warm bar with a beer in my hand ...
Wherever I end up - if Obama wins - the city will celebrate. That's for sure.

So long from Obama central.


Monday, October 27, 2008

The beginnings

As promised - here is my blog to keep you updated on my life and let you take part in my life virtually.

I have been in Chicago for almost a week now. When I arrived it was a sunny 15 C. Today it snowed. I bought a coat and a fleece jacket to wear under the coat. I have been told layers are the way to go.
I remember when I arrived in Holland 7 years ago. It rained without stopping for 2 weeks. And the weather didn't change much in the following 7 years.

So - what have we done so far? We got ourselves bank accounts. That was much easier than in Holland. People were really friendly and didn't give us any hassle. The only thing I couldn't get was a credit card because I don't have a social security number yet. I have to apply for a social security number soon as I will not be able to work before I have one.
Two days ago we got ourselves some phones. That was kind of a bummer for me. I guess there is a bigger market for cell phones in Europe than in the US. We chose the second crappiest phone they had (we had take a two year contract to get it for free) to get the "family" plan in which you get two phones and two numbers. Anyway we are paying as much as I was paying for my contract in Holland  but the phone is quite a downgrade. It is definitely a downgrade to my Sony cell phone I got 1,5 years ago and which was already then kind of old for Dutch standards but I think it might even be a downgrade on the Samsung I had before the Sony. So yeah, it's a crappy phone but it's not like I ever do anything with it other than make calls. And I hope that doesn't sound whiny but I don't really have anybody but E to call me anyway at the moment. So the phone is not really an issue.

We moved into an unfurnished apartment which is partly a great opportunity because you get to chose exactly what you want for your house but partly also not much fun because the only furniture we bought so far was our bed (which will be delivered next week) and a little vanity table and we are already running low on money. All the things one needs! 
We are borrowing some basic things from our neighbors who are also good friends of ours. We started with a table and two chairs, a TV, a futon and some kitchen stuff, just enough for two people. It's strange to realize that you don't have a kitchen knife or that you want to make guacamole but you don't actually have a bowl to put it in. It's been so long that I had to buy that kind of stuff. I really miss Hema. They have amazingly cute and tasteful furniture and household items here in Chicago but they are expensive. I could always find something cute and cheap at Hema. 

To make the place a bit homier we bought a candle and put it in the fireplace (which is closed up so you cannot actually make a fire in it). It smells like pumpkin and it really helps to make you feel welcome.
We also painted our first room. We are planning to paint all of the big rooms. We started with the bedroom which is blue now. It looks great if you ignore the fact that it is a bit wonky at the corner were we left it white. It was our first room though. We hadn't really painted much before so even though it is much less than perfect we are happy with it. And once our friends come home from work (they are experienced painters) they might be able to explain to us how to fix this.

We also really like the street we are living in. It's a typical American street with pretty houses and back yards and sometimes front yards and trees that are just changing colors and surprisingly already since last week - a lot of Halloween decoration. We also have a pumpkin which we will try to empty and carve one of these days.

The only one in our little family who is not so happy about the move is the cat. She has been really confused and scared. I think she does not understand the time change and I wonder if she realizes how far away from her old home she is now. I have moved many times with her and she was always ok after a few days but she just kind of seems depressed. Maybe homesick? E thinks she doesn't like that the place is so empty so maybe once our furniture and our boxes with stuff arrive she will feel better. I really hope so.

Anyway, there isn't really much interesting stuff to tell right now as I just haven't been doing much except trying to get my life in order and shop for cheap furniture. I'll keep you updated anyway.

Baba (thats Austrian for Bye Bye)