Monday, July 25, 2016

The World's Gone Mad

If there was a competition for the country that's going the most bonkers, I'm pretty sure the USA would squeak through as the winner right now. Oh, I know it's all a bit crazy in post-Brexit Britain - I mean Boris Johnson as the Foreign Secretary for god's sake! At least the rest of the world isn't just laughing at the USA. According to a source in the EU, "Everyone in the European Parliament thinks it's a bad joke and that the Brits have lost it." Oh dear. 

Meanwhile, back in the USA, boy did we have a circus last week. Political parties (in this case mainly Republicans and Democrats) have what's called a National Convention, where they officially nominate their candidate for the upcoming Presidential election. It all gets very complicated as the two parties have different rules and not only are there votes as we would normally understand them (ie. by the people) but they have delegates and super-delegates who cast votes for their man or woman. 

Last week we had the RNC (Republican National Convention) to officially nominate Don the Con Trump. Hardly anyone else from their party even showed up to the Convention let alone took the floor to speak for him. Instead, he had his children (he has five from three different mothers), and Willie Robertson from Duck Dynasty.Yup. He did. This guy - 

Then he had has-been Scott Baio (anyone remember him from Happy Days?) He said some awe-inspiring things like "Now America is an easy place to get to." Okay. And "Is Donald Trump a messiah? No he's just a man..." which probably didn't go down too well with old Donnie. Oh and Scott looks like this now - 

Then there was Dana White, who first of all is a guy, and second, is the President of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, a (mixed martial arts) fight promotions company. Yup. Apparently him and Don the Con go way back. 

Notably missing from the Republican National Convention was every single, living former Repub president, John McCain (nominee against Obama in 2008), Mitt Romney (nominee against Obama in 2012) and three of his rivals in this race, Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Lindsay Graham (another guy, btw). 

What a circus!

But first, he was introduced by his wife, Melania, as is traditional. She gave a good speech - parts of which were lifted wholesale from the speech given by Michele Obama in 2008 when Obama kicked off his candidacy. Oh my, did that kick off a sh*t storm, especially as Trump and his people just insisted it wasn't plagiarism, even when it had been run through the software that detects how much of a speech has already been published before. Here, take a look - 

After several days of nothing-but-plagiarism being discussed, and the Trumpkins flatly denying it, they eventually said that Melania had given the passages to her speech writer (after having said she wrote it herself) who inserted them into the speech, which Melania then delivered. But - it still wasn't plagiarism, and the speech writer duly resigned. 

Today kicks off the Democrats Convention and we already have a huge scandal - their National Committee e-mails have been hacked (possibly by Russia) and reveal a bit of skulduggery in an effort to get Hillary, rather than Bernie Sanders elected. Watch this space. 

You couldn't make this stuff up! 

Monday, July 18, 2016

When Expats Come Home

My latest post at the Expat Focus web site is about repatriation, but more specifically, I'm talking to a couple of Americans who have returned to the US after a fair stretch in England. 

I often wonder what it would be like for me to return to the UK after 26 years away. They say it's almost worse than emigrating because you come back to what you think you know - only to find you don't. For me it's 

- not being able to read the TV guide. The one my mother gets is like War & Peace now that there are so many channel options. There are also Plus One options, which I have no idea about. 

- not being able to turn the TV on. OK, here in the US it can be complicated so it's all about what you know. However, no matter whose house I'm in in England, I usually have to sit and wait for someone else to turn the telly on if I want to watch something. And it's always me who presses the wrong button, turning something off and causing my host to ask "What did you press?" in a not-quite benign tone. 

- not understanding the celebrity gossip. I left the UK before many of today's stars were even born let alone famous. Hello magazine, once my guilty pleasure, might as well be written in Chinese now. 

- being nervous about the London Underground. When I worked in London in the 80s, I commuted everyday on various forms of London transport. I knew which bits to avoid at various times of the day, how to jump off one tube and get another if it meant a quicker journey and so on. These days the tube map is completely different and there's an Oyster card to contend with. Fortunately, when I'm with the family, it's often cheaper for us all to jump in a cab than pay for five Tube fares. 

- prices. Some things are so much cheaper than in the US it's great, and other things are bloody astronomical. I quite often find myself saying "How much?" in a semi-screechy voice. Petrol/gas, for instance. And it's measured in litres not gallons so I'm paying even more than I realize. (Just to make Brits jealous, the average price per gallon at the moment here is $2.50. That's about  1 pound 88 pence - per gallon. Unless I'm mistaken, converting gallons into litres, that's around 50p per litre.)

- expecting speedy service. I am usually very good about "slowing down", taking time over a meal and generally accepting slower service. However, I come over all American when the service is slow because it's bad. Last year the kids and I went into some Italian restaurant before going to the cinema, were shown to a table and then abandoned, it appeared. After about 15 minutes of nothing - no menus, no offer of drinks, nothing, I finally got up to find someone and yes, they had totally forgotten they'd shown us to a table and we didn't appear to have an assigned waiter. Sigh.

I'm sure there will be more this summer! Watch this space!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Trump - Keeping up with the Krazee

Consider this a good deed, those of you in the UK. A sort of comedic relief from your post-referendum chaos. Actually, if you're reading this in the US, it's also a good deed because I'm reminding you of the idiot to avoid in the November election. 

Yes, I'm talking about Donald Trump. Again. Because it's as bad as a car wreck/accident and I'm unable to look away no matter how horrific it gets. 

Here's a little taster of what he's said in the last few weeks. And this is all ver batim folks. 

(Of Saddam Hussein) - "He was a bad guy - really bad guy. But you know what he did well? He killed terrorists. He did that so well. They didn't read them the rights. They didn't talk". (Tuesday, July 5th) So what does he think the drones are doing now, in their hunt for ISIS? They're not exactly sitting them down beforehand with a copy of their legal rights under international law now are they? 

He also loves to get on Twitter and rant. Unfortunately of late, someone seems to be persuading him to think before he presses send, (what a spoilsport) because his Tweets aren't nearly as hilarious as they used to be but if you watch and wait, there's always a few - 

"Sleepy eyes Chuck Todd, a man with so little touch for politics, is at it again. He could not have watched my standing ovation speech in N.C. " (July 6). This is what he does when a well respected political journalist in this case, dares to fact-check him or otherwise highlight hie errors. He claims he's not thin-skinned but I don't see any other politician reacting this way. And - choosing nick names based on someone's appearance. Pot-kettle anyone?

And always patting himself on the back - "Raised a lot of money for the Republican Party. There will be a big gasp when the figures are announced in the morning. Lots of support! Win." (July 5) - There wasn't. A big gasp, that is. 

Some of the top Republicans aren't going to their party's convention in a few weeks, and people are running away in all directions when the Vice President role is mentioned. His response? - "The only people who are not interested in being the VP pick are the people who have not been asked." (July 4) Billy No Mates perhaps? 

And on the day after the terrible police shootings in Dallas, the guy who has called for a ban on Muslims entering the US and who calls Mexicans rapists and drug dealers, had this to say " (our) nation has become too divided."

Gee, I wonder why. 

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