No Shutdown, But a Lot of Sellouts

So, the Democratic Party continues its rightward drift. No surprise, but still disappointing.

From John Nichols in The Nation:

If you had asked Franklin Roosevelt or Harry Truman or John Kennedy or Lyndon Johnson or Jimmy Carter or even Bill Clinton what Democrats would defend in a fight over the future of government, there’s no real question that funding for housing, public transportation, community development programs and safe air travel would be high on the list.

Yet, in order to achieve the Friday night deal that averted a government shutdown—for a week and, potentially, longer if an anticipated agreement is cobbled together and agreed to—all of those programs took serious hits.

And to summarize:

In other words, precisely the sort of programs that Democrats used to defend were slashed.

Oslo City Hall

If you’ve already watched Barack Obama’s Nobel acceptance speech today (if you haven’t, at least give it a read), you probably caught at least a glimpse or two of Oslo’s stunning City Hall. I attend an event there each summer, and can’t ever get enough. At first glance, it’s not an inspired piece of architecture from the outside, but it grows on you. Inside is a visual feast.

Everywhere you walk you’ll face fabulously massive murals. The first one below, in a reception room, is one you won’t find in any city hall in the USA. At bottom are two of several reliefs on the exterior near the main entrance.

More pics of Oslo City Hall here, and more pics from Oslo here. A little more about visiting Oslo (last updated in 2007) here.

Oslo City Hall, originally uploaded by pirano.

In defense of war crimes

Remnants of Bush/Cheney (even Cheney himself) infested TV shows over the past few days to demonize the Obama administration for releasing classified documents about the previous administration’s use of torture. (I’m not sure why I even bother to watch these clips.)

That most of this info was already out there and available for awhile seemed of little consequence to those doing the demonizing. That the use of torture is a war crime didn’t seem to matter much either. They weren’t bothered that a civilized society, under Bush/Cheney’s leadership, would utilize these methods. They were only upset that the use of these methods, devised and perfected by the Khmer Rouge and Stalin, were officially made public.

Obama has made clear that those in charge will not be pursued, but pressure is beginning to grow for, at least for now, further investigations. “Nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past,” he said. In other words, a battle he’s simply chosen not to fight.

So, all we can do is watch Jon Stewart:

Do you really have to waterboard somebody 183 times? I assume after 90 waterboardings the guy’s thinking ‘you’re not really drowning me.’

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Ammo Shortages in the USA

From NPR:

“It started the day that Obama got elected,” Johnny Dury, who owns Dury’s Gun Shop in San Antonio, tells NPR’s Michele Norris. “It is when everything just went crazy in the gun business.”

From The Casper, Wyoming Star-Tribune:

“It’s a political deal. Everybody’s worried about losing their guns and ammo or not being able to get it,” Wagner said. “There’s a huge influx of that right now, but our sales are up in all categories. Our sales are double what they were last year.”

From the Fort Myers, Florida News-Press:

Tired of having to cancel trips to the local gun range because he couldn’t find ammunition to buy, Patrick Naidl went on the offensive last week.

“I called every Wal-Mart from Naples to Port Charlotte and everybody was sold out,” the Cape Coral resident said. “The Lehigh store told me they were selling their last box when I called and that they only had it for two hours.

“Ammunition is very hard to find because everybody is stockpiling. It’s like the paranoia before Y2K.”

From the Detroit Free Press:

At Jay’s Sporting Goods in Clare, salesman Tim McCall said the store had been largely cleaned out of 9mm pistol ammunition and was experiencing massive sales of .40 and .45 caliber ammo.

“Anything for personal protection is selling like crazy,” he said. “They’re also buying a lot of .223 and 7.6×39 Russian.”

Non Violence, originally uploaded by pirano.

Obama Wines

Keeping with the St. Martin’s day theme and before I forget, notes on a few wines that were uncorked before the champagne during the election watching party the other night:

First was this 2006 Bonvin Humagne Rouge, made from a little known grape grown in Switzerland which I picked up a little over a year ago in Zurich. I’ve never tried or even heard of it before, but fell for a cute red-headed saleswoman’s pitch when I asked about local reds. I’m glad I did. It reminded me of a good zin, fruity with solid tannins. If anything it was opened at least two years too soon. Drink this with something Sarah Palin and Nicholas Sarkozy might shoot on their next helicopter-hunting trip.

I have no idea on its availability elsewhere, but my guess is that very little, if any, actually makes it out of Switzerland. Price tag was CHF 22.50 (today, EUR 15, USD 19). Nothing’s cheap in Switzerland, so this is definitely worth jumping on if you’re passing through.

Chateau Haut Padernac 2004. I picked this up in Paris on 07/07/07, and although my gut instinct was to wait, I yanked it out of the cellar simply because a Linz, Austria-based radio journalist from France, in town to cover the HAIP Festival, came by for the watching party. And I wanted him to feel at home. It rocks!

Produced by Pauillac’s Chateau Pedesclaux (sorry, don’t feel like googling the estate’s website right now), it’s a solid wine, with delightful layers of fruit and with just enough tannins to last until the next election when you can celebrate the Republicans losing even more seats in the House. By far, the best EUR 11.95 (USD 15.20 today, 16.20 on day of purchase) I spent that fabulous Saturday afternoon.

I’m heading to Greece today for a week, a little work in Athens, and a little play and time for reflection on Syros. I’ve never been. The weather forecast is warm and sunny.


Obama wines, originally uploaded by pirano.

U.S. Election reception, Ljubljana

A few shots from a U.S. Election reception hosted by the U.S. Embassy at the Hotel Union in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on Tuesday night. Above a life-size Obama cut-out.


Foreshadowing? The expression on the McCain cut-out.


Yousif B. Ghafari, U.S. Ambassador to Slovenia.


Katarina Kresal, president of Slovenia’s LDS party.


The last picture of Sarah Palin I ever want to see.

Before Expatriating, Some Considerations

We’ve all heard someone say it: “If that fascist/socialist/weasel/liar/idiot/etc wins, I’m gettin’ the hell out of the country.” Here’s a quick, short and entirely un-researched checklist for the 0.2 % of those who may actually consider following their convictions when the results are in on Wednesday morning.


If the outcome of an election is your primary reason to move on, bear in mind that escape won’t necessarily help. It’s something you obviously feel strongly about, so don’t think you’ll ever stop paying attention. Depending on where you choose to go, the consequences could be even worst. In Europe, watching debates live meant staying up or waking up at 3 am. My sleep cycle is still screwed up. Suggestion? Stay in roughly the same time zone.

If you’re from the right and want to escape the ludicrously bizarre hysteria of an America taken over by Obama’s “socialism”, suffice it to say that the chances are quite good that you won’t be very happy almost anywhere else.


When your anger/shock/despair subside enough and you start planning your move, consider some practical matters before booking that one-way ticket (VERY expensive, by the way).

Choose your expatriation destination extremely carefully. Laws, rules and regulations on immigration and foreign workers vary wildly from country to country. Jobs aren’t that easy to find. The global economy is in a tailspin at the moment, remember?

Everyone’s situation is different. Although it was on the list, politics wasn’t my primary reason for moving. Work was. And the simple fact that I always preferred Europe in general. I was born in Slovenia, and although my family moved to the US before my second birthday, I had ties here. Immediate relatives, and a few good friends. I visited quite a bit as I was growing up and later in life. I was fluent in the language. I enjoy drinking and eating lots of meat.

No-brainer: have real steady work lined up and a decent place to live before you leave. You’re not stuffing a backpack for a vacation, remember? You’re not going on an extended couchsurfing tour, remember? And don’t even consider boarding that plane until you have, at minimum, enough cash on hand to cover at least six months of living expenses, plus pocket money. Six months fly by. Six months in a profoundly different environment fly by even faster.

Socializing. You’ll be leaving your family, best friends and other relationships you’ve cultivated over your entire lifetime behind. Email, photo and video sharing, phone calls and text messages won’t begin to fill that void. The older you are, the more difficult it is to create those sorts of relationships in far off and unknown places. Virtually all expats agree that this is the most important consideration, one that will make or break your move.

Moving boxes. You’re not packing your stuff for a vacation, remember? Moving sucks. Packing shipping containers sucks even more.

A few months ago Adventures in Wheelsville’s Camille linked to a great expat adjusting write-up here, a good starting point to begin your planning. Good luck!

bleed the sky (Oslo 18), originally uploaded by pirano.