Notes about America: An Expat Perspective

Over the 19 years that I’ve lived overseas, I’ve kept up on the news about the States from one source or another. With the advent of the internet, it became much easier, and I often read the daily newspapers where I work for almost 20 years: The Chicago Tribune and The San Francisco Chronicle. Of course, with what I see as the most important election of my lifetime going on, I’ve been paying even more attention to what happens in the US than usual. Here are a few things that have caught my attention recently.

Studs Terkel

Studs Terkel

Studs Terkel, the legendary Chicago writer, died at 96. Studs is known around the world for the books that he wrote about Chicago and America, including:  Division Street America, Hard Times and The Good War for which he won a Pulitzer. I only met Studs once and that was 40 years ago. I was a young activitst and was helping out at a community health center that the Young Lords started. Studs came by and was interviewing people for something that he was writing. We talked for 10 minutes or so and once he was satisfied that he had found out all that I knew, he kind of chuckled and moved on to chat with someone else. Another great Chicago writer gone. Rest in Peace, Studs.

This little poll item  popped up on the internet yesterday. 23% of Texans polled in a University of Texas poll, believe that Barrack Obama is a Muslim. Did all the idiots in America move down to Texas? Where do people get their information, and how discerning are they about their news sources? Of course, as Colin Powell said recently, if he was a Muslim what difference would it make. Despite Palin’s fantasy that America is a Christian nation, the fact is that it isn’t and that’s one of the great things about America – the separation of church and state and the freedom of religion.

Another what the heck is going on with the US moment is this story about Americans failing a test on politics. The test was to name the United States secretary of state, the party that had a majority in the House of Representatives, and the prime minister of Great Britain. Only 18% were able to answer all three questions correctly. The good news is that only 44% of Brits were able to name the prime minister, so ignorance isn’t just restricted to the US. What do Americans do with their time these days?

The last sad item that I came across was a story on the dropout rate in American high schools. The article says that one out of four teens drop out of high school before graduation. When I was a kid, you could still drop out of high school and get a decent job. What are these kids going to do today when the standards continue to rise for most jobs, and the manufacturing jobs that my buddies and I had available 40 years ago are now sent overseas?

So as not to end on a dismal note (maybe my take on the news today has something to do with this earache that I’ve had for the past week which is making me really cranky), Obama is still up in the polls, and it is seems like the American people are going to make a vote for the future, a vote for hope, and a vote for policies that will benefit most Americans and not the criminals who have brought down the economy with their greed. I’ve already voted, if you’re an American, make sure you vote.


~ by drbrucepk on November 1, 2008.

One Response to “Notes about America: An Expat Perspective”

  1. Hello, My name is Michelle Crowther and I do a program on ABC Radio in Australia (same as our NPR) called Hair of the Blog. I like to feature bloggers from around the world and would love to interview you tomorrow some time between 8.30am and 10.30am about your thoughts on the US election – and the mood in Bali ahead of the execution of the Bali bombers. My blog is
    Can you please email me your phone number at if this is possible? It’s just a 5-minute phone chat… hopefully you’re around!

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