Posted by: cmccleskey | October 5, 2009

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Posted by: cmccleskey | September 30, 2009

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Posted by: cmccleskey | September 24, 2009

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Posted by: cmccleskey | September 24, 2009

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Posted by: cmccleskey | September 15, 2008

The Truth About Palin

For those of you who remember the Swiftboat attack ads on John Kerry…those same truth seekers have lifted the veil on Ms. Palin.

 

Posted by: cmccleskey | September 14, 2008

Preying on Palin

Palin finally talked to the press, and the press is now responding. It’s been hard to find much positive to say about Palin. Let’s have a look at what people are saying

MoDo – Maureen Dowd writes from Ancourage about how Palin’s interview performance reminds her of George Bush in 2000. 

Her explosion onto the scene made Obama seem even more like a windy, wispy egghead. Like W., Sarah has the power of positive unthinking. But now we may want to think about where ignorance and pride and no self-doubt has gotten us. Being quick on the trigger might be good in moose hunting, but in dealing with Putin, a little knowledge might come in handy.

WashPost: The Washington Post editorial board remains skeptical of Palin. While she didn’t make any major mistakes in her ABC News interview, the Post calls her responses “unsettling.”

NYTimes: The New York Times questions McCain’s judgement in picking Palin. They then question her world view.

The interviews made clear why Americans should worry about Ms. Palin’s thin résumé and lack of experience. Consider her befuddlement when Mr. Gibson referred to President Bush’s “doctrine” and her remark about having insight into Russia because she can see it from her state.

The editorial continues:

This nation has suffered through eight years of an ill-prepared and unblinkingly obstinate president. One who didn’t pause to think before he started a disastrous war of choice in Iraq. One who blithely looked the other way as the Taliban and Al Qaeda regrouped in Afghanistan. One who obstinately cut taxes and undercut all efforts at regulation, unleashing today’s profound economic crisis.

In a dangerous world, Americans need a president who knows that real strength requires serious thought and preparation.

Readiness??? Bob Herbert writes in the New York Times, that, um, no she isn’t ready to run the world’s most powerful nation, as Vice President or as President. And if you answer, about how Palin got all that experience running Wasilla, check out the Washington Post’s story this morning that explores what she actually did as mayor. Apparently she spent time banning sex shops, regulating bed and breakfasts, and instead of expanding the library, she built a hockey rink.

Time Magazine’s Middle East blog rips apart Palin’s foreign policy views, or lack there of. The blog called her views “simplistic.”

Who’s that white dude always walking around with Palin? Frank Rich reminds us that it’s McCain. He explains how Palin is stealing the show and what we need to be focusing on during this election. 

This election is still about the fierce urgency of change before it’s too late. But in framing this debate, it isn’t enough for Obama to keep presenting McCain as simply a third Bush term. Any invocation of the despised president — like Iraq — invites voters to stop listening. Meanwhile, before our eyes, McCain is turning over the keys to his administration to ideologues and a running mate to Bush’s right.

 

Posted by: cmccleskey | September 12, 2008

America, Meet Sarah Palin

Did you see the big interview last night? Sarah Palin granted her first extensive interview with the press. She had waited awhile, fueling speculation that she might not be ready for the job, as E.J Dionne explains, here.

But the wait is over, we’ve heard Palin in her own words. The reaction:

Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz breaks it down, here. And the New York Times explains how Palin showed confidence, but seemed to be reading from a script. 

The Chronicler was SHOCKED at the Bush Doctrine clip. I learned about the Bush Doctrine freshman year, and anyone who reads the newspaper sees it mentioned. It’s a fundamental tenant of recent American foreign policy, and the woman who wants to be a heart beat away from the Presidency doesn’t know what it means? That is concerning.

The Chronicler is not convinced on Sarah Palin. She is sharp and confident, and as the Chronicler’s mother is always quick to point out, Palin is a mother and was on the PTA. Good for her, The Chronicle is completely pro-PTA and pro-Mama, in fact the Chronicler is an official mama’s boy. But being a good mother doesn’t necessarily translate into being a good world leader. 

Palin’s interview raises many questions and concerns. Stay tuned, part two of the interview airs tonight.

Posted by: cmccleskey | September 6, 2008

God, Grant us Gas

Aside from the cheap Ikea rug, does anyone else see anything wrong with this?

Not sure how I feel about the whole, God needs to work through us to build this gas pipeline thing. Gives me the creeps. How about you? Bianka, can you imagine Merkel saying something like that?

Posted by: cmccleskey | September 6, 2008

Catch up

The Chronicler is back in Washington and is more or less settled in his bureau overlooking the National Mall and the Department of State. It’s lovely. 

A lot of readers have written asking for help trying to figure out all this Sarah Palin business. Many of you are not sure where to go to get the best information. I’ll try to keep posting links to respected news outlets and some of the nation’s best columnists to help you sift through the bull.

Let’s get started:

Hurricane Sarah – Sarah Palin knocked it out of the ballpark Wednesday night when she addressed the Republican Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota

Many Europeans have trouble understanding Palin. How did a mom-turned-mayor of a tiny town become a candidate for Vice President? Many Americans are asking the same thing. But what you Euros have to understand is that Americans do not like voting for senators. In our entire history, we have elected 2: Kennedy and Harding. This year both candidates are senators. McCain wanted to then reach outside of Washington. Time Magazine breaks it down, here.

The New York Times isn’t sold that Palin was a good pick, they claim it shows a lack of judgement by McCain.

Then, more recommended reading, check out Gail Collins’ column today, here

Just like me: Why do people love Palin so much? The Chronicler was on the Dallas Morning News editorial board chat explaining that folks see Palin and go, “wow, she is just like me.” That is EXTREMELY important in American politics. The Chronicler’s mother has fallen head over heals for Palin. Move-over Jesus, there’s a new savior in town. Why? She explained “she is just like me.” I pushed further, she said, “When you criticize Palin, you criticize me.” Hmm interesting. 

(Bragging note — The Chronicler’s Professor Steve Roberts – who works as a news analyst for ABC Radio – repeated the anecdote about the Chronicler’s mother on national radio Thursday night, after I shared it Thursday in class.)

But, while she may connect, the question still remains, is she qualified to be VP? The Boston Globe explains that she still have to prove herself.

Sex chat – It’s time for America to have a big talk about sex, says Charles Blow of the New York Times in a column today. Apparently us Americans have the highest teen pregnancy race in the industrialized world. Yikes. And that’s not because we are all such sex gods that we get started at an early age, the Danes are actually the most sexually active. Having been to Denmark in the cold of winter, I can totally understand this. There ain’t much else to do. Anyways. I digress.

If there is a shame here, it’s a national shame — a failure of our puritanical society to accept and deal with the facts. Teenagers have sex. How often and how safely depends on how much knowledge and support they have. Crossing our fingers that they won’t cross the line is not an intelligent strategy.

Blow is right to suggest that parents need to talk to their kids about sex.

That may be extreme, but many Americans can’t even talk about sex without giggling, squirming or blushing. Let’s start there. Talk to your kids about sex tonight, with confidence and a straight face. “I’d prefer you waited to have sex. That said, whenever you choose to do it, make sure you use one of these condoms.” It works.

Earlier this week, Ruth Marcus wrote about the same thing in the Washington Post. After explaining how the Republican Party rather unsexily stresses abstinence, Marcus writes:

Yes, but talking about abstinence turns out to be easier than abstaining. More than 60 percent of high school seniors report having had sex at least once. The message that every family should take from Bristol Palin’s pregnancy is: It can happen here.

So what does grandmother-to-be Sarah Palin think about all this?

Except Sarah Palin opposes programs that teach teenagers anything about contraception. “The explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support,” she said in answering a questionnaire from the conservative Eagle Forum during her 2006 gubernatorial race.

It’s pretty simple — people have sex. Teenagers, adults, old people, it just happens. Let’s not be so prude about it. Let’s teach our kids how to have safe sex.

Posted by: cmccleskey | August 29, 2008

Is Palin Ready?

Cable news is full of people scrambling to figure out McCain’s VP pick, Gov. Palin. Let’s cut through all the yikety-yack and get to the core of the issue. As the Washington Post asks in an editorial tomorrow:

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has some appealing qualities. But could she step in as president?

The Post seems skeptical, as is the Chronicler.

 

In this regard, count us among the puzzled and the skeptical. Not long ago, no less a Republican strategist than Karl Rove belittled Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine as a potential running mate for Barack Obama, noting that picking him would appear “intensely political” because Mr. Kaine’s experience consisted of only three years as governor preceded by the mayoralty of Richmond, which Mr. Rove called “not a big town.”

Using Mr. Rove’s criteria, Ms. Palin would not fare well. Her executive experience consists of less than two years as governor of her sparsely populated state, plus six years as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska (pop. 8,471). Absorbed in Alaska’s unique energy and natural resource issues, she has barely been heard from in the broader national debates over economic policy and health care. Above all, she has no record on foreign policy and national security — including terrorism, which Mr. McCain posits as the top challenge facing America and the world. Once the buzz over Ms. Palin’s nomination dies down, the hard questions about her will begin. The answers will reflect on her qualifications — and on Mr. McCain’s judgment as well.

 

But as I posted earlier, she seems to have fired up the debate. The Chronicler’s mother was having none of it earlier when I tried to bring up criticism of Palin. Read More…
Posted by: cmccleskey | August 29, 2008

VP Upset

The Chronicler’s Blackberry exploded this morning with emails from Euro-friends asking what the Chronicle’s take on McCain’s VP pick was. 

Let’s take at look at this pick.

So, first of all, the basics — McCain announced that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin would be his running mate. Dave Levinthal of The Dallas Morning News has the story, here.

Ms. Palin, 44, offers the GOP ticket youth and robust conservative credentials – something it until now arguably lacked.

Ms. Palin, who became Alaska’s governor in 2006, is a former beauty pageant contestant and avid hunter. She opposes abortion and supports gun rights. And she campaigned in her most recent race against corruption that’s permeated the Alaskan political landscape in recent years, with top elected officials accused of a variety of misdeeds.

I know all you Europeans like to think we are backwards and so non-progressive over on this side of the pond (in some ways we are, but this election should take some steam out of that argument).

The selection of a woman vice presidential candidate means that for the first time in U.S. history, only two of the four major party candidates in this year’s presidential race are white men – Mr. McCain and Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden.

Curious about what this means? The Washington Post has a great analysis, here. For the first time in history, we will either have a black President or a female Vice-President. 

What does this mean for the McCain campaign?

McCain has been struggling all week to make the news. The Democrats gathered in Denver for a week long convention full of headline making speeches here, here, and here. Time Magazine puts the highlights into a 3 minute video, here. Last night members of the media nearly orgasmed as they praised Obama’s speech. (However, the Chronicle participated in an online chat with The Dallas Morning News editorial board –transcript here – and remained skeptical, as was most of the editorial board.)

But today, McCain made the news. His VP pick will be on the front page of all the major papers tomorrow. McCain has successfully made a splash.

The Chronicler was impressed by Gov. Palin’s speech this morning. She’s one tough cookie. No, she doesn’t have tons of experience, but she was a member of the PTA (Translation for Europeans: the Parent Teacher Association is a group of mothers who volunteer at schools. They can be vicious. Don’t screw with them.) We all know the PTA really runs this country. If she can get the PTA vote for McCain, the Republicans will win.

The Chronicler has been leaning toward Obama. But, at hearing that McCain had nominated a woman for the Vice Presidency, there was a little part of me that said, “ooh, it would be nice to put a woman in line for the Presidency.” 

There has been a lot of talk about if McCain could stir up the base. Well, the Chronicler’s parents are as ‘basic’ as you can get. Papa Chronicler owns a gun. He goes to Bible study every week. He drives an SUV. Mama Chronicler loves George Bush. She is a PTA member. She hates Hillary Clinton. She listens to Rush Limbaugh. And we are definately a FOX News family. 

What did my parents thinks of the speech? 

Mama Chronicler: “I’m going tomorrow to the Dallas Republican Party office and volunteering for the McCain-Palin campaign.”

Papa Chronicler: “Great speech! I like her!” 

Looks like, the base got energized today.

The Chronicler’s reaction? She was a great pick. She neutralized the whole “McCain is ancient and boring” argument and she can get people excited in a way that McCain can’t. But we have to see where she stands on the issues.

Without question, this election just got a lot more interesting. 

The Chronicler recommends the Washington Post’s coverage of the speech, found here.

Posted by: cmccleskey | August 29, 2008

Meet Maureen

For those of you in Europe who heard me rave about Maureen Dowd, but never really knew who I was talking about — meet Maureen:

The Chronicler gave German friend Bianka a copy of Are Men Necessary. Bianka, how is it?

Posted by: cmccleskey | August 27, 2008

Britons drunk? Never!

I thought of all my beloved British readers as I read this article from the New York Times. It seems the Brits have a tendency to go on vacation and drink a lot. That’s why the Chronicler loves his British friends. 

But apparently it’s becoming a serious problem. 

MALIA, Greece — Even in a sea of tourists, it is easy to spot the Britons here on the northeast coast of Crete, and not just from the telltale pallor of their sun-deprived northern skin.

They are the ones, the locals say, who are carousing, brawling and getting violently sick. They are the ones crowding into health clinics seeking morning-after pills and help for sexually transmitted diseases. They are the ones who seem to have one vacation plan: drinking themselves into oblivion.

Now, my immediate response is, so what? I’ve seen every flavor of European drunk beyond believe, it just happens. Especially on vacation ( Case and poin — you ever seen a group of Swedes headed to the beach?)

But the Brits seem to win the prize, according to Sarah Lyall from The NY Times London Bureau. 

“They scream, they sing, they fall down, they take their clothes off, they cross-dress, they vomit,” Malia’s mayor, Konstantinos Lagoudakis, said in an interview. “It is only the British people — not the Germans or the French.”

The report goes on:

So it would seem. Reports of scandalous incidents rumble on regularly here and elsewhere, helping to cement Britain’s reputation as the largest exporter of inebriated hooligans in Europe.

Earlier this summer, flying home to Manchester from the Greek island of Kos, a pair of drunken women yelling “I need some fresh air” attacked the flight attendants with a vodka bottle and tried to wrestle the airplane’s emergency door open at 30,000 feet. The plane diverted hastily to Frankfurt, and the women were arrested.

Rule Britannia! Maybe this is further reason of why I should do my masters in Britain, sounds like the folks there are fun.

Posted by: cmccleskey | August 21, 2008

Teachers+Kids+Hand guns = Texan Approach to Education?THe

The Chronicler was down in The Dallas Morning News Austin Bureau earlier this week when the news broke that Gov. Rick Perry backed the idea that teachers should be allowed to carry hand guns into the classroom. Yikes!

DMN Austin Bureau Chief Christy Hoppe raced to the Capitol to get this story:

Gov. Rick Perry said Monday that he supported the Harrold school district policy to allow teachers and staff members to carry guns at school as long as they are adequately trained in gun safety.

“I’m pretty much a fan that if you’ve been trained and you are registered, then you should be able to carry a weapon. Matter of fact, there’s a lot of instances that would have saved a lot of lives,” Mr. Perry said.

Luckily, the editorial board of The Dallas Morning News is trying to knock some sense into the Governor. They ran this editorial today exploring why this is perhaps NOT such a great idea:

 

Don’t mess with teachers in the tiny Texas town of Harrold. They may be packing heat.

An ill-conceived policy adopted by this community’s school district allows teachers to carry their concealed firearms in the classroom.

Handguns and kids – what could possibly go wrong?

It’s a great editorial, arguing that teachers are not police. My favorite line from the editorial (emphasis is mine):

While Texans certainly are within their rights to carry licensed weapons nearly everywhere, schools are among the few safe havens where guns simply have no place.

I’ve been home for over two weeks, and the culture shock is still, well shocking. 

The rest of the editorial, after the break. Read More…

Posted by: cmccleskey | August 20, 2008

Oh Texas…

WACO, Texas-

The entire McCleskey clan is in Waco to take the Chronicler’s brother Andrew to Baylor University. (Go Bears!)

My favorite activity while traveling in small Texas towns like Waco is to watch the local TV news, it’s usually quite entertaining and tonight was no exception.

Tonight’s evening news told of a coming smoking ban for neighboring Killeen, TX. A city councilman was interviewed and explained the ban:

“Well, I we need to expand the current ban to include all public places…well…except the Bowl-a-rama.”

Oh Texas, how I missed you!

Posted by: cmccleskey | August 20, 2008

The Chronicler Chronicles Education

The Chronicler broke onto the opinion pages of The Dallas Morning News this Sunday with this column on why the U.S. approach to education is still a winning one.

Response from readers has been overwhelming positive, however there has been some hate mail. Usually from people who didn’t actually read the whole thing and just fire off an angry email before I addressed their concern. Whatever.

Some criticism has come from Europeans, but even then they contend that many European universities, especially the German ones need some help. As one British friend put it, “The German universities are crap.” No my choice of words, but I can’t really argue with that.

The German newsmagazine Der Spiegel recently ran an article deploring the state of Germany’s universities, under the headline “Rotten at the Core.” Universities here don’t even have the money to keep up with basic repairs, let alone begin massive building projects. Similar problems plague universities across Europe.

Also interesting to note, an editor at one of Germany’s most infuential papers told me that I should under no circumstances do a masters in Germany, he said the German universities are just so behind British and American universities.

That said, us Americans can learn from Europe.

It never hurts to take a look at what folks elsewhere are doing, of course. (For example, the much-praised Scandinavian school systems could offer some ideas. In Sweden, students get to choose which high school they attend. A wide selection of specialized schools includes not only the traditional college preparatory tract but also vocational programs ranging from carpentry to flight school.)

And we should take a page from the European book and stop over-praising students who produce less-than-stellar work. We’d also be wise to back up students’ can-do spirit with a stronger grasp of concrete facts.

Now, I have to give the Germans some praise, the big benefit of their system is the independence given to students. Germans mention this (often rather aggressively and defensively) anytime they hear criticism of their university system. So before I get angry emails from my German readers, check out this column I filed for the GW Hatchet this winter.

While they may be broke, the German universities do have their benefits.

“Students in Germany are more independent,” said Johann Banzhaf, a medical student in Berlin who spent a year studying in the United States. “American students are maybe a bit sheltered from the real world.”

He is right. American universities try to be both academic institutions as well as substitute parents. Even with our urban location, many GW students live in a bubble. It was great having a cleaning service freshmen year, but would it really have been that hard for me to vacuum my own room?

Wait, there’s more praise for the Germans!

Having suffered through my freshmen biology requirement – only to forget everything 10 minutes after the final – I agree that the Germans are smart to allow students to take responsibility for planning their own academic program. I doubt that I will spend much time writing about mitosis and meiosis during my career as a journalist.

“I think that we believe in the human being that is able to reflect and act responsibly and the American system doesn’t promote that kind of responsible student,” said Benedikt Mertens, a law student at the University of Münster who has visited GW

The point to take away from all of this? We can – and should – all be learning from each other.

Posted by: cmccleskey | August 13, 2008

Geoff on George on Georgia

In case you missed it, wanted to draw your attention to this comment left by reader Geoff Challinger who hails from the motherland of Great Britain:It’s a bit of a misfortune for your argument (and George Will’s) that the cooling off of the crisis has been achieved by the French and the EU.

It’s a bit of a misfortune for your argument (and George Will’s) that the cooling off of the crisis has been achieved by the French and the EU.The one part of his argument that’s accurate is that the UN is as much use as a chocolate teapot when trying to curb the excesses of members of the Security Council, be it Russia, China or the US. The most common use of Security Council veto power seems to be the US vetoing resolutions telling the Israelis to stop killing people somewhere or other.

It is notable that Sarkozy is the one who brokered the deal (we’ll see how long it holds). It shows us how much of a lame duck Bush is. I like Sarko, I think he brings energy and a can-do spirit to a Europe desperately in need of reform.

Way to go for Sarko. Now let’s watch how the EU and the US handle the Ukraine, which could be next on Putin’s European Tour.

Posted by: cmccleskey | August 12, 2008

George on Georgia

Looks like the war in George has got you guys all stirred up. It should.

As always, George Will gets to the bottom of what is going on. Check out his column in today’s Washington Post. 

Some highlights:

  • This crisis illustrates, redundantly, the paralysis of the United Nations regarding major powers, hence regarding major events, and the fictitiousness of the European Union regarding foreign policy.
  • This year’s August upheaval coincides, probably not coincidentally, with the world’s preoccupation with that charade of international comity, the Olympics. For only the third time in 72 years (Berlin 1936, Moscow 1980), the Games are being hosted by a tyrannical regime, the mind of which was displayed in the opening ceremonies featuring thousands of drummers, each face contorted with the same grotesquely frozen grin. It was a tableau of the miniaturization of the individual and the subordination of individuality to the collective. Not since the Nazi’s 1934 Nuremberg rally, which Leni Riefenstahl turned into the film “Triumph of the Will,” has tyranny been so brazenly tarted up as art.

    A worldwide audience of billions swooned over the Beijing ceremony. Who remembers 1934? Or anything.

Posted by: cmccleskey | August 12, 2008

USA! USA!

This headline from The Washington Post:

TEAMS USA CRUSHES ANGOLA

I’ll admit that I don’t know the first thing about the Olympics and which teams are the teams to beat, but that headlines doesn’t make me proud, it just seems sad. We crushed a small backward African nation. Woohoo!

Posted by: cmccleskey | August 11, 2008

The Chronicler has Landed/War in Georgia

Well, the Chronicler is back home in Texas. 

I’d plan to chronicle my arrival earlier, but shortly after arriving I fell sick and spent most of my time clinging to the toilette and hurling like a drunk frat boy. It was lovely.

But now I am well again, just in time to catch Russia’s invasion of Georgia.

In case you missed it:

Russia and small, U.S.-allied Georgia headed toward a wider war Saturday as Russian tanks rumbled into the contested province of South Ossetia and Russian aircraft bombed a Georgian town, escalating a conflict that already has left hundreds dead.

This is huge, folks. Russia appears to be waging a full-scale war against a sovereign European nation that is a steadfast ally of the United States. This is part of Russia’s resurgence and is a clear test. So far, the West hasn’t done much other than ask Russia politely to stop. As George Will pointed out on ABC’s This Week this morning, President Bush is still hanging out in Beijing instead of dealing with the crises.

How we handle this will not only send a message to Russia about how we will react to future power grabs, but it also tells our allies just how much we value the friendship. As the New York Times reported today, Georgians are staring to ask where we are.

One soldier, his face a mask of exhaustion, cradled a Kalashnikov.

“We killed as many of them as we could,” he said. “But where are our friends?”

It was the question of the day. As Russian forces massed Sunday on two fronts, Georgians were heading south with whatever they could carry. When they met Western journalists, they all said the same thing: Where is the United States? When is NATO coming?

Since the conflict began, Western leaders have worked frantically to broker a cease-fire. But for Georgians — so boisterously pro-American that Tbilisi, the capital, has aGeorge W. Bush Street — diplomacy fell far short of what they expected.

Even in the hinterlands, at kebab stands and in farming villages, people fleeing South Ossetia saw themselves as trapped between great powers. Ossetian refugees heading north to Russia gushed their gratitude to Dmitri A. Medvedev and Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian leaders. Georgians around Gori spoke of America plaintively, uncertainly. They were beginning to feel betrayed.

They should feel betrayed, the West hasn’t and likely won’t do much to protect them.

I never thought I would agreed with William Kristol of Weekly Standard fame, but he hits a home run with this column in today’s NY Times, check it out.

 

    Posted by: cmccleskey | August 5, 2008

    Catch up

    The last several weeks have been wild as the Chronicler has prepared for the closure of the Berlin bureau. It’s sad, but hey, it’s just the trend in journalism at the moment.

    So let’s recap what’s been going on here over the past weeks.

    • Toreador! The Chronicler and his fellow singers in the Humboldt University Philharmonic Choir performed the opera Carmen in a circus tent to a sold out crowd of over 1,400. Want to hear a bootleg recording? Click here for the famous Toreador song and here for the famous Habanera. It was a once in a life time experience — a boy from Texas singing a French opera about a Spanish love story with a group of Germans. That’s globalization for ya.

    How we got all those people in that tent is beyond me…

    • Bavaria I made another run down to Munich to visit the family I lived with back in 2001 during my exchange program and to meet with an editor at the Süddeutsche Zeitung. He ended up using my thoughts as the basis for his column the next day. It was a proud moment.
    • Fake birthday Since I will be stuck in boring Dallas for my birthday celebrating with my parents (We will probably drink prune juice and all fall asleep on the couch before 9 pm), it was decided to celebrate my birthday one month early Berlin Style.The celebration began with a big Clayton style dinner chez Clayton, complete with deadly Claytonitas (it’s never totally clear what’s in them, but it’s an attempt at making margaritas…).The next day Swiss friend Etienne, German buddy Bianka, and Spanish friend Juanga joined me for a bike trip to a lake outside of Berlin. It’s clear to me that I am now European — I was not shocked by the naked people on the beach. I had not problem changing into my swimsuit in public on the beach. I can’t wait to try that at the public pool in Dallas…

    ¡Hola Juanga! Only in Europe would someone go swimming in nothing other than a Vanity Fair frisbee.

    People in Dallas take note — this is what nature looks like. Those green things are trees.

    Bianka and the Chronicler at the BBQ later that night — Spanish friend Maria said the photo was very Sex and the City/Charlotte’s engagement photo.

    • The weekend ended with a bang — Sunday night at one of our fav Berlin clubs. We all got home at 7 a.m. I am going to miss Berlin! (To protect the dignity of the Chronicler’s friends, photos from this evening will not be appearing on the Chronicle.)
    • Good bye Grill Swiss friends Xavier and Etienne and I joined forces for a good bye grill in a park in the middle of Berlin. I showed up with meat and a few beers. The Swiss and the Germans showed up with gin and vodka. Gotta love the way the Europeans picnic.

    The Chronicler gave Bianka a copy of Maureen Dowd’s book and a Texas bumper sticker, something every German needs.

    • Adios – The Chronicle’s Spanish entourage came over for one last dinner at Clayton’s. It was a sad occasion, but the good news is that plans are already in the works for the Chronicler to go to Spain this spring. (Don’t tell my dad, I have to make him think I am going to some academic conference in a boring place…)

    Hasta la vista compadres!

    • Viking land – As previously mentioned, I went to Stockholm and then to Vejbystrand for a quick Swedish fix before heading back to Texas.

    Clayton’s future residence — the Royal Palace in Stockholm

    Ok, I don’t really speak Swedish, any guesses on what this could mean?

    It was a challenge to get Spanish friend Jaime to agree to delay his siesta by 2 hours so we could head out to the island, but he graciously agreed. Muchos gracias Jaimito!

    The Ängelhom/Helsingborg International Airport, my favorite airport in the world. You basically land in the parking lot, no joke.

    The Chronicler with Swedish father and blog reader Håkan — Hej Weidrups! — notice his GW sport wear. Go Colonials!

    Posted by: cmccleskey | August 4, 2008

    Smiley Sweden

    VEJBYSTRAND, Sweden–

    The Chronicler is up in Sweden for a last hurrah in advance of moving back to Dallas on Wednesday. =(

    I travelled to Stockholm with Spanish friend Jaime to visit Swedish friend Julia for a fun filled weekend. Stockholm is perhaps Europe’s most beautiful city, and we spent a lovely day out on the archipelago basking in the wonderful warmth of the Swedish summer.

    My visit has confirmed what I have long believed — Sweden is just a friendlier version of Germany. Everything is clean and organized here, but people smile and are friendly. It’s lovely. I don’t constantly feel like I am being scorned here. Nothing against my beloved German friends, but you guys need to cheer up your fellow country men. Life is to be enjoyed! Smile!

    Anywho, back to my travels…

    Yesterday I hopped on a quick flight down to Ängelholm to visit the Weidrups, my Swedish family I lived with back in 2008. Poor things, I just keep coming back.

    The flight down here was a bit bumpy and as the plane bumped and bounced its way toward the bustling Ängelholm airport (it has one runway, two “gates”, and a terminal building that is half the size of the plane), I was comforted to read that I am not alone in my air-anxiety.

    As luck would have it, I was reading this column by journalism super start Tyler Brule (his Fast Lane column should be weekly reading for anyone who is into traveling) while praying for a safe landing:

    Here’s a question to all captains and first officers on commercial airliners: is it just me or do increasingly crowded skies mean you push it to the edge more than you used to? Does better technology mean you can take on weather conditions that you would have once given a very wide berth? Is it more important to keep to your finely tuned schedules than to worry about passenger comfort (read: nerves)? Why do I ask? Simple. I’ve recently had two of the worst flights of my life and they both seemed wholly avoidable.

    Tyler continues:

    Despite the title of this column, I’m not the world’s greatest flier. I like my chosen airlines to have young fleets. I like to think the aircraft are maintained by people who take pride in their jobs and are not doing it because it’s the only gig they could get and, while I know it’s not the fashionable thing to say these days, the crew on the flight-deck has to be either Australian, Kiwi, Canadian, German, British or Japanese. In the case of the latter, I want them to have grown up in Los Angeles so they speak perfect English that’s readily understood by Russian air traffic controllers and pilots from Pakistan Airlines. Moreover, I want them to be completely honest at the point of departure and make an announcement that goes something like this.

    “Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Well, we’re about to push back here from the stand but have just been advised by air traffic control that the storms swirling overhead our destination are not letting up. As a result we’re expecting an incredibly bumpy ride that may not be to the liking of all of you on board. While this Airbus has been designed to withstand most things mother nature could possibly throw at it, I’m anticipating a very difficult descent that’s not for the faint-hearted. As a result, I’m allowing those of you who are faint of heart and don’t have checked luggage the opportunity to get off this aircraft and rebook on to another flight. For the rest of you, buckle up and pull out your worry beads.”

    Amen to that. I spent a lot of time on airplanes and my heart still stops every time we hit big time turbulence.

    I have a theory that things must be particularly bad when the aircraft is rocking from side to side, falling violently and there’s not a peep from the captain or the first officer.

    It could be just the luck of the draw or shifting weather patterns or maybe our crowded skies are putting too many demands on overstretched airlines. But my message to the cockpit crew? Pick up the mic and let me know.

    Good news is that we landed safe and sound in Ängelholm. But tonight I fly back to Berlin and storms have moved in around Copenhagen.

    Posted by: cmccleskey | July 30, 2008

    Diversity, Not all it’s cracked up to be?

    This column from the op-ed page of The Dallas Morning News is an interesting read. Columnist Trey Garrison explains why he doesn’t want to live in a diverse neighborhood. He makes some very good points.

    Garrison recent move to a well-to-do suburb of Dallas earned him criticism from friends who said his kids wouldn’t experience ‘the real world.’

    Well, yeah. Probably. The real world is a lot bigger than Dallas, bigger than (Sam Houston, forgive me) Texas, and bigger than the United States. The majority of the real world is dirty, violent, poor and absent indoor plumbing and two-ply toilet paper. More than half the world’s people live on something like $1 a day.

    Good point.

    He then explains just how diverse life in the burbs can be:

    I was also told, most oddly, that by subjecting my kid to suburban life and suburban schools, she’d get no exposure to people from other cultures. That’s when it got silly. So I’d harrumph in my best Ted Baxter voice that’s crazy – why, the lady who does her nails is Vietnamese, and our lawn guy is a Mexican from Costa Rica or Panama or someplace.

    Amen.

    The whole is of course a bit tongue-in-cheek with his real point being that ‘diversity’ is more complicated than just bringing together people with different skin colors.

    It’s weird. We’ve made “diversity” into some kind of totem, an end to itself, and we haven’t even defined what it is. Do I learn more about a different perspective chatting with my Ukrainian neighbor (whom the census counts as white), or from a guy brought up five miles from me who happens to be black?

    Anne Applebaum has an excellent column in The Washington Post that is a must read for all you Europeans out there.

    She echoes what those of us here at the Chronicle have been saying for a long time: Europe is happiest when it can gab without having to bear any real responsibility.

    Way back in 1991, when an otherwise forgettable foreign minister of Luxembourg infamously pronounced that sentence, it seemed to portend great things. “This is the hour of Europe”: That meant that in the post-Cold War world, Europeans, not Americans, would resolve the conflicts that were about to become the Bosnian war, and maybe a lot of other things, too. Yet he was wrong. Those Balkan conflicts were eventually “resolved,” up to a point, not by Europe but by the United States and NATO. European influence in Washington dwindled — and then dwindled further during the Bush administration, which mostly treated the very idea of “Europe” as a kind of pointless distraction.

    But things are changing. As Obama’s trip showed, Americans are interested in Europe and the next administration -either McCain or Obama- will be more open to working with instead of against Europe.

    In a very real sense, 2009, not 1992, truly will be the “hour of Europe.” By that I mean that if the chancellor of Germany, the prime minister of Britain and the president of France — backed by their counterparts in Southern Europe, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia — were to walk into the White House on Jan. 21 and propose serious, realistic new contributions to, say, the war in Afghanistan, the reconstruction of Iraq, the nuclear negotiations with Iran and perhaps even climate change, the White House would listen.

    The only problem is the Europeans are short of ideas. Outside of criticizing U.S. policy, European governments often have no policy of there own.

    Yet I’d also wager that I could not find a dozen current members of any European government who have even thought about coming up with any ideas at all. This is the hour of Europe — but do the Europeans even know it?

    Applebaum adds that in many ways, Bush was a great gift to the Europeans:

    And as the election draws closer, the anxiety will grow. In a strange sense, Bush’s catastrophic diplomacy was a gift to Europe’s politicians. “Bush allowed them to explain away radical Islam as an understandable, even legitimate, response to the hypocrisies and iniquities of American policy,” one British columnist wrote this week. Bush also allowed them to blame American “unilateralism” for their own lack of initiative, to use bad American diplomacy as an excuse for doing nothing.

    Times are changing. As I said for German TV last week, America is ready for a new partnership with Europe. That means team work, both sides pulling their own weight. The most obvious example of a European country skirting responsibility is of course the German position on Afghanistan. Germans love to give long sermons about the Hitler past and how they are so beyond war. That’s great. But the time has come for Germany to grow up and pull its weight.

    But don’t hold your breath, nothing in recent history shows Europe doing much without the U.S. prodding it along.

    Posted by: cmccleskey | July 28, 2008

    Obamamania

    The Chronicle was very blah about Obama’s speech. The 30 minute sermon was the same old “let’s all work together” speech he has told in the U.S. 1,569,839 times.

    The Chronicler blogged about it for Julie Mason.

    Click here to check it out!

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