Oui, Oui, and Poo-Poo

One of my favorite righty insults/incitements is when they say, as they do pretty much all the time, that the beret-wearing cabal of Obama, Pelosi, and Reid are trying to turn the good ol’ USA into some sort of “European Socialist” hellhole.  Would that it were so; I get the distinct impression that Paris, France, is not exactly familiar back in Paris, Texas, where such ignorant nonsense goes over so big.  Either out of poverty, insularity, and/or laziness, the dittoheads bedazzled by such poppycock somehow still envision, say, France or Germany as being impoverished and commie-like; a sort of Siberia on the Seine, to which they’d never travel, Applebee’s being so much closer and all.

Of course, Fox watchers probably would despise, say, Paris, where everyone would rightly look down on them for their obesity and bad fashion choices, and worse, they wouldn’t even be able to spit on the homeless in misguided retaliation, since there aren’t any.  Imagine their horror at seeing clean, beautiful streets, endowed with the gracious harmony that strict zoning and building codes create, punctuated by meticulously maintained monuments and museums, all funded by the commie government, which also has the hopeful audacity to provide mass transit, high-speed rail, and lengthy vacations to all of these annoyingly fit and well-dressed people running around.

If ever there were a place that would make a teabagger look even more like the unsightly, dimwitted nincompoop that he is, the Place de la Concorde must rank pretty high; hence the resentment and tireless smearing, which is getting harder and harder to support with facts.  Europeans have their problems, as do all societies, but, thanks to the American Right, they are nothing compared to what we face, so a lot of hot air must be dispelled to cover up that inconvenient truth.  The chief ways in which what Donald Rumsfeld derisively called “Old Europe” differs from “Merka,” as nearly as I can tell, are as follows:

Europeans, with the exception of Italians, aren’t ruled by a plutocratic elite that doesn’t give a shit what the majority  want.

Europeans tend to be height/weight proportional.

Europeans tend to have an attachment to home and place, something that is all but impossible in our “churn and burn,” blow and go,” society.

Chastened by historical excesses, Europeans don’t find themselves to be “exceptional.”

Europeans expect and demand that their governments protect them from corporate malfeasance, usually successfully.

Europeans accept and applaud the fact that the rich are taxed heavily, because that’s where the money is.

Europeans think Americans are dumb as posts, and fat, too.

I could go on….  Most strikingly, little of the paranoia that has affected Americans has filtered down to the European public; not just because of a somewhat less sensationalized media, but because the Continent’s social programs do make the streets much safer for not just children, but also for adults after dark.  Mayberry may never have existed, but to see the number of unchaperoned children in the streets of European cities, hell, you’d think Fred MacMurray was a closet Frenchman.

Maybe, as is often the case, I’m being too optimistic in seeing the maniacal and fact-free assault on “Old Europe” as being a good thing, but I do.  What the American right is clinging to, with increasing desperation, is the hope of fooling people into believing, without evidence, that countries that are much better run than ours aren’t as nice as they seem to the naked eye.  In this case, the truth would be as welcome to the right as a bucket of water was to the Wicked Witch of the West, and thus the only option is to lie, early and often, about these crucial differences.

How do you keep them on the farm, once they’ve seen Paree?  Well, lying helps, so does destroying the economy, and giving them another Ho-Ho couldn’t hurt.  Soon, no Republican voter will even be able to fit on an airplane, even if they could afford the ticket, and, like the fox and the grapes, they’ll figure out a way to decide that that’s ok.

Worth a try, anyway.

50 Comments

  1. nailheadtom says:

    You should get out more. I dare you to take a late-evening sashay through Clichy-sous-Bois or any of the other banlieues of Paris. Carry an Israeli flag. Or try London’s Brixton in the dark. Dublin has a well-deserved reputation as one of the most dangerous cities in the world, fall asleep on a park bench there and see what happens. And if you’re into skinny folk, skip Europe altogether and head for rural Ethiopia, they abhor obesity in those parts. Sad it is that the US just doesn’t seem embrace those Euro-values you admire so much. But wouldn’t it make more sense for you to just move to the old country and leave the Americans to their dumb and fat? But then, what would you have to bitch about?

  2. cocktailhag says:

    As Norma Shearer said to Joan Crawford in “The Women,” “You’re even more predictable than I’d dared hope.”
    Pointing out pockets of squalor will quickly get you in trouble, if you start to match them with American ones, which tend to be a lot less pocket-sized. The most dangerous countries are always the most Randian ones, as everyone but you has by now noticed, and it’s as tiresome as it is counterfactual for you to attempt to posit otherwise.
    I’m an American, clearly much more than you are, and don’t need to emigrate to some mythical Austria to find a suitable economic system. You do.

  3. nailheadtom says:

    “I’m an American, clearly much more than you are. . . .”
    ************************

    Let’s see, you like Europeans better than Americans and think that Europe is a better place than America but you’re more of an American than I am. That’s what passes for logic in Lefty-land.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Let’s see… Ayn Rand was Russian; all your favorite economists are Austrian…. No society of the kind you favor exists. That’s lefty logic, I guess. I would point out to you that Eisenhower was much more of a socialist than, say, Barack Obama, but I know you don’t read much.

  4. The Heel says:

    I had a big smile on my arrogant Euro-Trash face when I glanced at the comment section below (while still reading) and noticed that Naily-Boy was the first to comment. LOL. Even more predictable than we dare to hope, he of course gave you the old “..then why don’t you go there” line. Nice.
    I usually get an iteration down the lines of “..then why don’t you go back there…” from members of the new master race.

    But in all honesty, America is unfortunately leading the way on all levels. I wish old Europe would have isolated itself from all the cultural (?) and social brain farts coming from the USA. But what can you do? Kids there grow up watching MTV and what not and think anything that has a US label is “cool”. Hence they flock to McDonalds restaurants in Florence, Italy (Florence arguably being the global epicenter of fine cuisine). Hence they play “world of warcraft” video games and blood splattering is a part of life. Soon they will be ashamed of nudity and see sexual harassment as something other than employee benefits :)

    I would have to agree, Europe has a lot of problems of its own – the biggest being its aging societies – but all in all, it is a very nice place for a large majority. They still have a real “middle class” and it doesn’t start at $250,000 in income.

    90% of the US population would be way better off in Europe under similar IQ constraints….

    Wonder where Naily would fit in ?….

    • Ah, Heel…they just don’t know, do they? Have you seen Caterina Va in Città? It’s a marvelously cynical film about Italian social-climbing, the innocence of youth, and the loony, congested beauty of the Italian capital.

      There’s one marvelous scene I’ll never forget, in which an overly-bright 15 year-old explains to his class — and his teacher — how it is that the true friends of the working class and downtrodden are the right-wingers and skinheads, that the communists and socialists are all elitists like his desiccated professional/academic parents.

      Fertile ground for Berlusconi to plow, and ample evidence that historical inversion doesn’t afflict only the U.S. If only I could go back to the Italy of 1963, when the garbage-collectors sang opera, the young blades wore their suit jackets draped over their shoulders come Mastroanni, the lira was 621 to the dollar, and anyone with a Vespa, or a cinquecento, was automatically a part of the post-war rinascimento.

      Poor Tom — and I mean that in the spiritual as well as the moral sense. When you’ve smelt the pines of Rome, who cares what the camicie nere of any country think?

      • Oh, and by the way, congratulations to Bayern München on a magnificent match, full of Sturm und Drang. After watching Barça reduce my boys to stunned silence, though, I doubt that anyone will get past them this year. But first Lyon, eh? Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Not very comfortably, I’d guess, Heel.

  5. michlib says:

    The billy goats Gruff just told me those damn Europeans took that Resmuglican bombast about ” family values ” and had the temerity to put their Euros where their mouth is.
    Norms for the EU, but fantasies here …paid parental leave- Sweden sets the gold standard w/ 69 weeks paid leave at about 2/3 of their wages. After mommy returns to work, daddy takes over at about 50% of his wages for a year. After the first 2 years, Denmark ( free ) and Sweden ( small % of salary ) child care run by professional staff is available. The rest of the EU provides childcare at low cost and convenient locations.
    Fancy that – human rights that kick in AFTER being a fetus !!!

    • cocktailhag says:

      Well, before Ronald Reagan came along, right here in California (I’m in LA for a week) a kid who was smart enough could go all the way to UC tuition free, and MediCal was as close to real public health as anything yet tried in the US. They also built the aqueducts, ports, and freeways that make life, for better or worse, possible here, and all are deteriorating rapidly…. Talk about saddling your grandchildren with a bill; the righties have ruined California in a remarkably short time. (And of course they blame everyone else for this…)

      • My two years at UC cost me 86 bucks a semester, after which I paid California State taxes for almost 35 years with nary a whimper. You probably should mention also that the research into oenology done at UC Davis as a direct subsidy to agriculture in the state saved the wine industry world-wide. Davis-trained oenologists now run, or consult at, most of the world’s major wineries.

        So when you watch Bottle Shock, think your tax dollars at work. Likewise with the defense industry, although you probably shouldn’t mention to Tom that without UC’s subsidies to the dark arts, his beloved stealth bombers and thermonuclear warheads wouldn’t exist.

        I could go on and on, but what would be the point? He thinks Pepperdine is all that’s needed in the way of higher (?) education anyway, whereas every time there’s a fire in Malibu, I hope I’ll see film at eleven of the place being consumed. It very nearly happened once, but nearly wasn’t nearly enough for me. I’m one of those bloodthirsty commies who wants to eat all their livers.

        • I should add that against the day when an opportunity arises for me to do my revolutionary duty, I’m never without a bag of fava beans and a nice bottle of chianti in the pantry.

        • cocktailhag says:

          Ewww… Do you think that would be tasty? Maybe if you made a pate….

          • I have a wonderful Mario Batali recipe, which involves lots of sliced onion and a glaze of balsamic vinegar. I do it with calves’ liver, which is heavenly. With Tom’s liver, though, there might be a need for parboiling, which is iffy for the dish in question. Like all Italian cooking, Fegato alla Veneziana is critically dependent on the quality of the ingredients.

            Maybe I’ll invite the Heel, and make Leberknödel instead. I’m sure he’d love dining on an American exceptionalist — especially when all the rules of Gemütlichkeit are observed, and there’s plenty of beer to wash everything down with.

          • cocktailhag says:

            Good idea; the Heel loves boozy dinner parties, especially the night before the maid comes.

          • The might before the maid comes? Does that involve howling, and a frenetic thrashing of the limbs? If so, maybe we should eat our liver first.

            (Yes, that muted giggling you heard as you clicked on the submit comment button was me. God knows my own keyboarding mishaps have earned me the right to at least one suppressed titter when one befalls our gracious host.)

          • cocktailhag says:

            As your humble proprietress, I get to edit comments whenever I’m inclined (or shamed…) so I’ve no idea what you’re talking about…. (the glare on the computer screen is dreadful as I lounge under the palms drinking out of a pineapple and trying to turn into beef jerky.)

        • cocktailhag says:

          And as price goes up, quality goes down… John Yoo teaching at Berkeley; the mind boggles.

    • nailheadtom says:

      The state raising your children while you work . . . a human right.

  6. nailheadtom says:

    And even the most subversive French have a more pleasant opinion of the US of A than you weasels: http://www.logorama-themovie.com/

  7. dirigo says:

    Leaving aside drones about the sanctity of American free markets and the never-ending war imperative, I’d like to hear Tom explain why American culture today is superior, even to that of France, which is recognized as such by most people with a reasonable grounding in art history and philosophy.

    And by culture I don’t mean “culture wars,” the totally bullshit domestic political clang that causes headaches and mass confusion daily, even hourly, all across this country, aggravated to the minute by commercial, reactionary media outlets such as Fox News and Drudge – a phony, thirty-plus year old crisis which has, by design, no resolution.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Wait a minute… The land of Velveeta, Jello, and avocado-less guacamole? Ain’t that culchah?

      • dirigo says:

        Chipped beef on Texas toast please! And black coffee. With extra black.

        • cocktailhag says:

          I thought that dish was called “shit on a shingle,” if memory serves, and as I recall, a can of Campbell’s mushroom soup was involved. (see: Tater Tot Casserole…)

          • dirigo says:

            Of course, Boo Boo, it’s not called SOS in more cultured precincts in America. It is in the military, but even there, such an utterance could get you extra KP on the potato peeling line.

            Creamed bovine florets? Add baby peas and it’s French. Garnish with parsley and it’s even more French.

  8. retzilian says:

    Oh, gosh, let’s think of a few more admirable qualities of the Europeans here – they are naturally conservationists, considering they don’t have the resources to waste as we do. They have developed wonderful mass trasport out of necessity and are light years ahead of the USA when it comes to the ecology. (Even the sloppy Italians have stopped throwing things in the sea)…

    European children are multi-lingual, most speak their native tongues as well as French or German and of course English. Most have a higher standard of living, so much so that they have to ben financially encouraged to procreate. There is a negative population right now, so it may behoove many American kids to migrate to Germany, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, etc., and have a better future than staying here.

    I am a fifth generation American and I can tell you that the best days of this country are behind us. I would encourage my children to leave.

    • cocktailhag says:

      I remember an NYT article in which a couple were teaching their daughter some words… What do they call people who speak two languages? “Bilingual.” What about people who only speak one language? “Americans.”

      • dirigo says:

        I’m assuming your post is based in part on stories referring to recent surveys of quality of life in Europe.

        Here’s the latest. Haven’t read it all, but it sounds pretty good.

        http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/pubdocs/2009/02/en/2/EF0902EN.pdf

        • Thanks for this, dirigo. It makes for fascinating reading. Amazing what you can do for your people when you consciously decide not to build a dozen nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and deposit a thousand military bases around the world in a forlorn attempt to keep the Wogs in line.

          The Wogs, of course, are not cooperating. Like Obi-Wan in another galaxy far, far away, they may be our only hope.

  9. mikeinportc says:

    There are two(used to be 3,then came the bankruptcy bill) areas where we do better, IMHO. ( & of course, most of the righties would like to eliminate those too.)Every European that I’ve met has thought that this is a wonderful/amazing place to visit , especially the wild parts.( However, being here in the hinterlands of the East Coast Socialist Hell, I’m meeting them before they reach any of our freedom-loving-conservative utopias, such as Texas, or Alabama, so don’t know about the final verdict.) Our wealth of natural wonders ( & I include even run-of-the-mill NEern woods,rivers, etc in this too) are some consolation.They have theirs too, but on balance, I wouldn’t trade. ( Maybe because they’re the ones I know?)

    The other is on acceptance/attitude towards immigrants(in some places- Sweden, for ex, would seem to be different.) . ( Keeping in mind , I haven’t lived there, but going on what non-Europeans who have, have told me, and what I’ve read. [ & heard, in song]. ) Here, everyone is assumed to be American, or an American-to-be. Five minutes, not five generations. A few years ago, (3-4?)the Swiss debate over possible changes to their citizenhip laws , brought that point home to me. My great-grandparents came here from Switzerland, 102 years ago .[My grandmother, born shortly thereafter, was one of those notorious Swiss anchor babies. :) ] Had the situation been reversed, I might still be waiting for citizenship.
    Other than that, we’re generally at the bottom of a tall mountain, looking up, wondering how (or if) we get there.

    Meanwhile in New Orleans , I see a [completly] whiter shade of pale. ;) The introduction guy seems to make words come trippingly off the toungue. His glowing intro for Caribou Barbie included words about her meteoric “mediocre” rise , and something on what she “representeded”(sic)( Didn’t catch what – too busy trying to breath) .Maybe that’s the new strategy; make the non-truebelievers choke to death on laughter?

    Ps: Seeing all that ^ , maybe I subconciously yearn to be Canadian?
    [ Saved ya the trouble, tom ;) ]

    • cocktailhag says:

      Admittedly, our status as a country based on an idea rather than an ethnicity has had its advantages, albeit less so lately, to hear the righties talk. Of course, since “e pluribus unum” has been replaced by “I got mine,” Canada does look better and better, except for the weather.

      • retzilian says:

        Toronto is beautiful, cosmopolitan, clean, safe, diverse, but very very expensive. It’s the coveted, rich first-cousin of a coastal city like Cleveland where the lakefront is developed, they have a better ballclub, newer fashion, better clubs, more culture, better theater, and pretty much a nicer population.

        However, it’s so expensive! I really enjoyed Montreal as well, but I can’t speak the strange French.

  10. nailheadtom says:

    Not that it matters to you affluents, but 10 of the most expensive cities in the world are in Europe, including Paris, Oslo, Copenhagen, London, Frankfurt, etc. But that’s a good deal for the locals as they’re all pretty well off. Chances are the shopgirls, waiters and chimney sweeps in Amsterdam are making what a chemical engineer does here in NoCulture America but since they have free medical care, who cares if a beer costs $6 and and a gallon of gasoline goes for $7.68? But they don’t need the gas anyway, because they can’t afford a car and wouldn’t have any place to park it if they could. And what does that matter, with the fabulous public transportation that they have? If only we had that here. Well, someday soon, now that the Euro-thinkers are running things, we’ll be able to jump on a high-speed train in LA and get off in Ruidoso, NM or Dodge City, KS or Poplar Bluff, AR or Monticello, IA. Won’t even need a gas guzzling piece of Detroit mal-engineering. I can hardly wait.

    • dirigo says:

      Why do you assume everyone posting here is affluent?

      Oh, right, it’s all money, innit, Tom?

    • cocktailhag says:

      Im shocked, shocked that you equate auto dependence with “freedom,” when any fool could see it’s just the opposite. What about the young and old? What about the cost? What about the blight of just too many cars, like here in LA? What about the pollution? The land taken off the tax rolls and money to maintain it all? Sheesh, you’re dim, Tom.

    • Sounds like a Tom-free paradise to me.

  11. rmp says:

    It would take a nail in my head to believe that the Europeans don’t know what is really important in life. Americans endlessly chase happiness and Europeans just enjoy life day to day. I lived three years in Germany and traveled all over Europe. Materialism doesn’t dominate their life or worries about health care or ample vacations. They are not trapped in cars and find ample time for vacationing, hiking, biking, walking and drinking with friends.

    I spent a night last weekend with some new friends from Russia and the Ukraine who are in their late ’30s and early ’40s. They were comparing life before and after the fall of communism and the infusion of capitalism. They had many fond memories of the “terrible” life under a socialist environment where people were fairly equal and enjoyed life and each other. One woman had returned to Ukraine recently and life there was much worse for her mother, grandmother and friends now. Life before had its challenges and was hard in many ways, yet the values and life perspective were better under communism in their eyes. OF course, coming to America meant that their creature comforts were far better in America.

    The answer to the question of comparing America and Europe comes down to what you value in life. To me, many Americans have values that I would never adopt or cherish. Americans have lost their way in so many ways thanks to corporations dominating and controlling our lives.

    • cocktailhag says:

      It’s the “more is more,” thing, RMP. “He who dies with the most toys wins,” and all that.

      • dirigo says:

        Could it be as simple as comparing the citizen with the consumer?

        One has rights; the other just buys and gets, thinking that purchasing is a set of rights.

        The former needs a stake in the political franchise; the latter is persuaded he doesn’t. A new car is much, much more important.

        • cocktailhag says:

          ‘Specially if it’s got a GPS and BIG cupholders….

          • dirigo says:

            Rolling down the highway, with the radio at full blast, waiting for Sarah Palin’s next foreign policy address, or her analysis of the nuk-u-lar threat.

            You go, girl …

    • nailheadtom says:

      As I remember the super-socialist lifestyle of East Germany was so attractive that they had to build a wall around the most equalized parts of Berlin to keep disgruntled capitalists from invading and making off with the best of the consumer goods. But some made it through anyway, my trusty Trabant will run any wimpy Buick off the road. And that Russian PC the neighbor smuggled over here, I’m using it this very moment.

  12. amateri says:

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