Sunday, January 22, 2017
Yeah, AfD of Germany is in the group. Other names you might recongize are the Northern League (Italy), National Front (France), Freedom Party (Austria), the Flemish Interest (Belgium), the Congress of the New Right (Poland), the UKIP (UK), and Party for Freedom (Netherlands).
For the weekend, a big meeting was held in Koblenz, which drew approximately 5,000 protesters....mostly peaceful (unlike the US protest crowd in DC).
Theme? Well....they most gave speeches and put the news media into the position of reporting on this....mostly in negative tones.
You have basically three elements at work in Europe which is drawing more attention to the right, and bringing in more votes.
1. Immigration woes or perception of no control.
2. EU skepticism has yet to peak, and with the next election in 2019....there is some worry that more than a quarter of the crowd there will be replaced by far-right membership....maybe even going up to one-third of the EU representatives.
3. Nationalism isn't considered a negative theme anymore.
Other than the speeches and letting the EU know that they aren't backing off....there's not much else gained by this weekend. To some degree, they are all playing off elections now, and any boost on their polling numbers....helps other groups in different states suggest a public acceptance of the right.
The middle of the road center-right folks? They aren't generally seen as right-wing anymore. Political organizations like the CDU or CSU of Germany are looked upon as centralists (I would have my doubts saying that for the CSU of Bavaria). France Arise is mostly considered a centralist-right party.
The centralist groups was the only acceptable right-leaning political parties in existence for decades in Europe. What changed? I think the internet, social media, and YouTube helped to form a clear message and brought various groups to focus on message that garnered public support. This 'rebirth' of the right-wing politics wouldn't have been able to occur in the 1980s.
A peak? No, there is yet to be seen any type of peak....within any country of Europe.
Mostly what you can expect over the next month or two is for the state-run/public-TV news crowd to center on the group, their speeches from the weekend, and pronounce some fascist threat to democracy.....while cutting and pasting bits and pieces of the speeches in the background, with some scary classical music in the background (I'd suggest Marschner's Der Vampyr, Bartok's Adagio with strings, or Totentanz by Liszt). Throw in some special graphics, some chit-chat by worried theologians, and you'd have a first-class left-winger hype show.
Left-wing versus right-wing? Yeah, it's more or less sizing up as such.
The odd thing is that you can now go to various countries and find that more than fifty percent of the general public has a lack of trust in the news media (it doesn't matter if you talk print-media, internet-media, or the TV-crowd). If they don't believe in the message being conveyed.....it lessens any attachment to normal or what was regular politics, and that means something of a revolutionary nature is underway, in numerous countries.
Perhaps I harp too much on the Jon Gnarr-effect out of Iceland, but when the general public reaches a stage where politics and journalism are seen as a joke....then electing real jokers into public office isn't such a big deal.
So, when you hear ENF mentioned as some dire threat to the democracy of Europe....you can guess where this news topic is going with the story.
Friday, January 20, 2017
Generally, here in 2017.....seventy-two years after the war....'Holocaust guilt' continues on here in Germany. If you are a student in school....after the sixth grade, you probably will average eight hours a year of lecture or movie-coverage on the actions of the Nazi Party and the Holocaust. Some schools will run class trips to concentration camps or memorials, to get some points across. If you attend any university....you will get some further hours on the topic.
Some Germans will note that it seems like that the bulk of German school history classes are the Roman period, and from the 1930s on.
The necessity to continue the 'Holocaust guilt' theme? There are various mass killings which have occurred over the past 2,000 years, and this is one of the few that mandate a necessary guilt.
After WW II ended, a whole generation were on the blunt point of blame for what occurred. Some were just witnesses....some were German Army members who were lucky to survive the war.....and some were kids during the period. This generation is mostly passing on today.
The Germans born in the 1945 to 1960 period? They are less so attached to the 'Holocaust guilt' because they didn't vote for the Nazis or serve in the Army. They've gotten a healthy dose of moral lessons in their life and there's a mix of people who think the necessity of this moral lesson is dwindling.
The Germans born in the past thirty years? For them, this is ancient history and they are having more of a problem in accepting this 'Holocaust guilt'.
If you look around, other parties have a hint of some type of guilt. The British? They should have colony guilt.....but for some reason, it's limited to mostly Brit intellectual types. The French? They probably should have the same issue. Italy? They ought to have Libya quilt for the forty-odd years they were trying to run things. The Japanese? They probably should have China and Korea guilt, and do often try to present such a guilt image in public.
Then you come to the US and Russia. The Russians ought to have various levels of guilt, but it's almost on a zero scale that such exists.
The US? The Germans will kindly point out slave guilt, Indian guilt, Hawaiian tribe guilt, Caribbean Island or Latin America guilt, Vietnam guilt, and nukes over Japan guilt. You can probably add Iraq quilt, global warming guilt, global cooling guilt, oil usage guilt, sugar guilt, fake news guilt, Afghanistan quilt, the 2008 economic crisis quilt, lack of health insurance guilt, and Bush guilt. Today? Probably you can add Trump guilt.
For German intellectuals, it's one of those topics that they'd like to bring up in forums to hype people up and cast a shadow on the US. Some American intellectuals will show up for these shows and try to accept as much guilt as possible to make their German host happy....but the transfer of guilt across to the general public....rarely ever happens.
With the exception of Japanese internment camp guilt and some admittance of guilt there....with money paid out.....American guilt doesn't usually go too far.
Over the past year, the VW diesel cheat-crisis came up, and the Germans are mostly standing there.....with the Americans, and they hate this moment where VW diesel guilt has to occur. They hate this. Added to this....the Deutsche Bank got caught cheating on some stuff, and there's some guilt trip to that.
Bluntly, the Germans would like for some moment to occur where a massive amount of guilt would transfer over to the Americans and some settling of a 'score' would occur. Frankly, I have my doubts that such a squaring of accounts will ever occur.
How long will 'Holocaust guilt' continue? I have my doubts that it can sustain itself past the 100-year point. That's roughly three generations who will have passed in their period. The odds of another Hitler figure arriving? Germany, after WW I ended, was fragile, weak, and drifting. It took four years for Hitler and his thug gang to be a regional problem (at least in Bavaria). In thirteen years....they were electable. The method of the 1919 peace treaty helped in many ways to bring Hitler into the scene. The odds today? I'd almost give it a zero chance.
So when you hear about some big blow-up with the AfD this week and relating to Nazis....that's what this story is all about.
First off....there's the Russian-run RT (Russian Today). DW says that RT could be a dangerous media device. Yet to this detail.....no one will put out statistical number to say there much of anyone in the US or Germany....who watches RT.
For the record, I watch RT.....probably an hour a week....mostly to catch business analysis of Edward Harrison. For Wall Street happenings, he can take complex topics and quickly break them down. The rest of RT....a mixed bag....of which even I can admit they run pro-Moscow material to the extreme, but the ARD/ZDF/DW crowd does most of the same for the Berlin crowd.
Second, DW says that gossip might come up about German leaders in the running for Chancellor? What gossip? They didn't say. Merkel having gossip? Oh please, the worst that they might be able to dig up on her is that she has ingrown toenails, drinks a honey-liquor tonic before bed, or likes to watch Miss Marple mystery dramas. The SPD's Gabriel? They might find that Gabriel likes American-style donuts, failed some Latin class in college, or prefers Coke over Pepsi.
Let's get serious....from the six top candidates appearing in the running for Chancellor....it's hard to imagine any gossip on them. Maybe from the Bundestag....another dozen-odd folks will be found with meth on them or admit they plagiarized their PhD back in the 1980s. Beyond that....I don't expect much.
Third, spreading fake news? Like what? This chat stuff that they will screw over Facebook and Twitter? I'm guessing people are already figuring that out, and you will find both used less, and other untouchable platforms will emerge.
Fourth, play up the migration crisis and the crime business? Really? You can open the regular news each week and find another serious mistake by the government on the handling of immigration. Trying to deny such things? That will only get you deeper into a mess.
The crime business? Germans are hyped up....robberies and assaults in urbanized areas are still a problem. The migrants with nine IDs? Oh yeah....there are such people.
Fifth? Targeting German fears? What fears? Most people aren't buying this Russia is a threat deal anymore. NATO collapsing? It should have evolved back in the 1990s. Pretending that fears aren't realistic? Go ahead....do it. Watch some frustrated Germans push back.
Using Trump as some fake target? Go for it. Hype everyone up over BMW-Mexico and just skip the fact that profits for BMW-Mexico are for it, and BMW-Germany might get some of this, or just retain the profits overseas. Those BMWs sold in the US? Taking jobs mostly to Mexico, and NOT to Germany? Oh please, don't tell the German public about that.
What you get with this whole DW article is this massive hint or wish.....that some really super-quiet German election will occur, with no hype or fake stuff. The odds? Zero.
I suggested to my German wife that this was fake news. She suggested that it must be true.
The actions by the German fake news-truth committee? So far, nothing.
The problem when you use Nostradamus predictions is that they could be shaped into true events or shaped into fake events.
Can some idiots run around and do fake news episode everyday with Nostradamus, in Germany, and broadcast via Facebook? Well....yeah.
This is one of those forty-odd issues or problems with the whole fake news agenda. To stop the wave of fake news, you'd have to take on this Nostradamus guy, but he's been dead and buried for a long while. Luckily, he has no Facebook account.
Thursday, January 19, 2017
This made me sit and ponder this odd concept.
There is a long-standing BMW plant in Mexico, which has a production line for the 3-series, 5-series, and 7-series....along with the X-5.
The cost factor when compared to German BMWs? No one has ever said.
How'd this ever start up? Well....Mexico had this funny law in effect....it said (1990s it was in effect) that you had to assemble the car in Mexico, if you were going to sell it there. So, in the beginning....they made parts elsewhere and just found the Mexican employees to assemble this.
After a while, the BMW-Mexico company (note, it's not BMW-Germany)....got around to making parts in the country as well....mostly because of the lack of unions and the low cost standard in Mexico. Then they wised up and started to selling BMW-Mexico cars in the US....meaning less BMW-Germany cars were sold there. Profit? Sent onto Mexico....with some toward the end going to BMW-Germany as the franchise owner.
Lot of money pouring in for this new BMW Mexico plant and folks have a close eye on costs and profits. A thirty-five percent tariff would move the cost of the vehicle in the US....up a notch. For the rest of Latin America....the tariff has no effect.
But I sat and pondered this. If this BMW-Mexico plant was so successful and made cars at a relatively reasonable cost....why not ship the cars back and import them into Germany?
You hear that silence?
Yeah, did I just suggest something that would freak out Germans? Well....yeah.
If you told Germans one night that the bulk of BMWs sold in Germany were to flip and be "Made in Mexico" versus "Made in Germany"....what would happen?
Unions would get all furious. The SPD Party would be willing to draft up massive import regulations to prevent such a thing. The news journalists would be falling left and right over this topic.
Do Germans even realize all these BMWs made in Mexico are cutting their own production numbers? I doubt it.
Would Germans even be willing to go and buy a Made-in-Mexico 5-series car....for 12-percent less than what a Made-in-Germany 5-series car would cost? Could you tell the difference between the two cars? Is there even a quality difference?
Oddly, no German journalist will dare bring this up as a topic, and ask how the German public would accept a Made-in-Mexico BMW. Just something to think about.
I kinda notice on a daily basis various Germans with a wild perception of Donald Trump and disbelief on how things transpired in the US with the election. I've spent a fair amount of time studying the US election, Trump versus Hillary, and the odd amount of mundpropaganda (filtered news) now being generated.
So I'm going to lay out the whole election, the Trump victory, the 2008 economic crisis that fell upon the world, and how this crazy Jon Gnarr of Iceland fits into the whole voting process and election of Trump.
For those who aren't aware....for roughly a decade prior to the 2008 economic crisis...Iceland was considered this fantastic place where you could throw money into a bank and it made profits. Lots of Brits, Germans and Dutch had stashed money into Icelandic banks. Bankers in Reykjavik were consumed with passion over their success and easy sales pitch. No one ever said much that the investment tools being used were these bundled mortgage loan packages back in the US, and the failure rate was increasing year by year.
When the crap hit in 2008....banks in the US and Europe suffered greatly. Banks in Iceland? They went through what you could only describe as the worst possible imagined crisis. From 2008 to 2011....for roughly three years....the country was in a crisis stage. At one point, McDonalds even closed down in Reykjavik.
Politicians from Iceland....left and right players....tried to comfort the public but public confidence more or less went south.
So in 2010, with the local city election of Reykjavik coming up....something odd happened. With roughly 119,000 people....there's roughly 56,000 votes in an election at stake. You'd typically have three parties which would play out the normal game....the Independence Party (slightly-right-leaning), the Green Party (obviously left-leaning), and the Social Democrats (left-of-center). At some point months prior to the summer election....this comedian from town by the name of Jon Gnarr met with some friends.....sipped some beer....and suggested the idea of forming a political party.
The crew at this meeting were friendly to this idea but asked what to call it. Jon said it ought to be the best party, and they liked the name....so it became "The Best Party".
Yeah, Icelanders are that way, but let's not drift off the Democracy topic.
Jon used social media to carry the message out across Reykjavik. I don't a single cent was spent on real advertising. The party theme? It's a joke. Politics, the banking crisis, the whole fake solution gimmick by the Icelandic Parliament, the news media, etc. It's all a joke.
Jon even made up fake promises....saying at one point that his party would pursue free towels at the local public pools in Reykjavik.
So 29 May 2010 came. The next morning....someone called Jon up early, and suggested he better sit down. No one ever said much over polls, and Jon didn't really didn't expect more than a couple hundred votes. The Best Party carried 20,666 votes....37-percent of the vote tally.
Yeah, the comedian won. Why? People were fed up with regular politics, and the fakeness of the news media, politicians, and they wanted to twist democracy a bit to make it different.
You'd think that Jon would just say no and slip away. Well....no, Jon stayed on and became Mayor of Reykjavik. A bold success? No. But Jon wasn't a failure at this. He actually took it serious and didn't screw up.
So you zoom forward to 2016....the United States....the Republicans and Democrats, and a news media landscape that was behaving like some propaganda machine. The public looked at 23 candidates from the two parties and just started laughing.
By spring of 2016, the Jon Gnarr effect was underway....Donald Trump was to become the Jon Gnarr of America. Virtually every single Republican 'thug' or wannabe pretender tried to intimidate Trump and stall this upward trend.
Fake news? You can play this anyway you want....Jon Gnarr used the internet and social media to take on the normal system.....Trump would do the same thing.
Democrats crossed the line and voted Trump. Republicans from the top of the party chatted wildly about 'never-Trump', but it didn't matter. The Gnarr-effect was in full swing. The public was fed up with politics and the news media.
So in November it all came to a close. The American Jon Gnarr-crowd won. It was a message, more or less.
The anxiety moving across German politics and the news media today with fake news. Sit back and think about it. What happens if some Jon Gnarr-effect starts in Germany? What if you had social media as a tool and didn't have to spend twenty-million Euro in some election? What if you skipped the state-run/public TV device? What if you had just three German university students making a six-minute video and mounted it on YouTube and had 500,000 Germans giving it a thumbs'up?
I sat the other night thinking about this. Some German 'Billy-Jack-like' guy....talking about crime and threats in Germany, using direct programming to go after the 18-to-25 year old vote.
You need roughly 2.4 million German votes to get to the five-percent point, and thus enter the Bundestag. A Jon Gnarr-type campaign, with Gnarr fake promises, and treating the big four political parties as children? You might be be able to cross the four million vote line, out of 44.3-million. That's be enough to get 8 percent of the vote and achieve 70-odd seats.
All this German fake news hype over a Jon Gnarr affect? Yes.
We have reached the stage where democracy is not controlled by newspapers, TV moderators, or political parties themselves. The Jon Gnarr effect has no control....unless you can rope them into some fake politics or fake news type fakeness.
Once you grasp that....the question is....are we reaching a stage where democracy is a joke, and the public is in on the joke? This is where you'd pour a double shot of your more expensive booze, and sit in front of a window for an hour and contemplate this dilemma.
Democracy started out in Athens, Greece in 508BC. It started out as a tribal method of picking leadership and suggesting that people could make wise decisions on their own. No one says much about this first election in 508BC, or who the folks were who were running for "chief". My guess is that these early Greek politicians promised free wine, free firewood, and free towels at the local local pool (the Gnarr effect).
People hyped up this whole idea of democracy being a fine idea, and for 2,500-odd years....it's done as much as it could. The Gnarr effect? It's kinda like a correction would work in a economic mess....to move things back to a better position.
Trump? The Germans may sit and spend hours and hours worrying about Trump and how crazy he might be. Some Reykjavik folks did the same with Jon Gnarr. After a year, they realized that Jon wasn't quiet as crazy as they originally imagined, and he did a decent job. Could Germany survive some Billy-Jack-like character coming out of thin air and creating a fake political party? It's hard to say. They did have that little Austrian guy show up for a while in the 1930s and 1940s. Oddly, one could say the Jon Gnarr affect was in full bloom with Germans negative with the normal political parties.
Life presents some odd curves....Trump and Jon Gnarr are such curves.
Although I'm more attracted to business and political stories....occasionally crime stories will catch my eye.
So, this was the story for a Wednesday morning (0:47AM) crime. Somewhere near the Reeperbahn subway point in Hamburg....in the Altona-Altstadt part of town (west part of town)....some 34-year old German gal was attempting return home. At some point, she is confronted by a Moroccan juvenile (said to be 16 years old), who attempted to rob her.
The Morganpost points out....that the guy came paperless to Germany in the last couple of months of 2016....so his ID and age isn't exactly reliable. Hint: he might be sixteen....he might not be sixteen.
So as this robbery is attempted....she apparently does fight back, and ends up being pushed off the standing area, and onto the tracks. She bangs her head fairly hard, and is unconscious. Luckily, no trains approaching, and emergency medical folks arrive to transport her off to the hospital.
The 'kid'? Well, the cops pulled up the video (there's lots of cameras around this subway station), and they have a pretty good picture of the kid. In fact, it took only a few hours for the cops to find the kid and detain him.
What the Morganpost points out (maybe via internal cop comments) is that they have another robbery at the subway station with a woman, and think he's connected to that one as well.
The charges at present? Theft and dangerous bodily harm. If this were theft alone, he'd be talking about three or four months in some local jail. The dangerous bodily harm charge, if convicted....section 226 of the German code suggests between one and ten years....depending on the severity of the victim's injury.
My humble guess is that the cops will lean back toward BaMF, and demand an accounting of his real ID and if he is 16 or not. The guy probably won't cooperate but they will eventually make some factual determination (maybe by X-ray technology).
Six months down the way....a court will convene and some public defender will do his best but with video and victim comments....the kid will face some new reality in life....prison. If he's lucky, the victim comes out of the hospital stay with no long-term effect. If she has permanent effects? He's going to be in the prison for the full ten years.
Where all this leads onto? You have a group of people who just wished on a new life somewhere else....got transportation to somewhere else....and then arrived to discover that it costs real money to survive somewhere else.
There is no plan B.
I've sat and looked at dozens of crime-related stories with migrants (they flow across a wide spectrum of countries) in Germany over the past three years. There are typically two characters. The first is some professional thug, who is a permanent thief and he was probably a thief before he ever arrived in Germany. The second is the guy who just left his homeland in search of the better life and had no real plan, and later ends up as a small-time criminal of sorts....either conducting snatch-and-go robberies, shoplifting, drug sales, home-burglary, or pick-pocketing....as their way to survive.
Both characters are problems. The second guy....the accidental loser with no real plan....is just surviving from day to day, and eventually will screw up and be caught by the cops. The first guy....the semi-professional...might be smart enough to get by for several years before he makes a mistake.
Twenty years ago, Germans didn't worry that much about either thugs or criminals. You could walk around areas like Hamburg-Altonia (I walked there in 1984) and feel completely safe at 10PM at night. Today? You have to look over your shoulder at night in most all German urbanized areas. In the block or two around the Frankfurt railway station, after dark, it's probably not a safe place to be unless you are in a group.
For this Moroccan kid? If he'd just done a plain snatch-and-go theft....he'd be looking at short period of time in jail. He's giving up possibly ten years of his life....for a crime that likely nets him fifty to a hundred Euro. I just shake my head over this.
After the Berlin terror act (12 dead and 50-plus folks injured), there's this big open question of how it happened. The German cops do an amazing job and in four weeks, there are hundreds of pages of data/info on how this Tunisian guy got into the country, and what he managed to do over a year-long period. You didn't really need a truth-commission (the normal invention with incompetent politicians asking questions). So, they took that info and laid as a template across their known list of 547 individuals that they are watching on a daily basis.
Yeah....547 individuals out of 82-million....which the Germans have to devote assets, time, and money onto....but can't really arrest or detain, and kicking them out of the country isn't exactly an act that they are capable of.
How do you get on the list of the 547? That's a question-mark. Over the last year or two, journalists will hint that it tends to be leads that are developed....you were hanging out with some extremist guy and said something.....so some German security official simply made the decision that you needed to be watched.
This template from the analysis of the Berlin terror act? No one says much about this either. We know that the Berlin terrorist traveled around a lot, and was closely connected to the drug-trade (cocaine and ecstasy were his products). We also know that he seemed to get into alternate ID's and continually tried to get himself registered as a new immigrant....hoping for monthly welfare money (he was fairly successful at this)....attempting this nine times.
We come to this template exercise over the past week. Funny thing. Out of the 547 individuals that they say they are watching....they can't find three of them.
Yeah, they just up and disappeared.
The Berlin leadership and the cops aren't saying much. I'm guessing there is a full-scale man-hunt going on in the background. Associates and friends are being asked what happened to each of the three. Maybe they went back to the mideast. Maybe they went to Belgium. Maybe they just took a month off and are in some vacation resort. The longer that the three are not found? That's a problem.
One might sit there after a while and ask the question....did the three just dump their ID and go to a new name, new ID, new city? I'm of the opinion that this would be rather simple and that the German method of controlling the public just isn't the perfect system that everyone is led to believe. The fact that the Berlin terrorist sat and registered himself nine times under nine different ID's....makes me think that the system is fairly screwed up. The finger-print system should have done a review and within 24-hours been able to rat on the applicant that it matched another ID in the system.
Should people be worrying about the three? No one says much. Even if the authorities did worry, then what? A man-hunt for three guys that haven't done anything wrong yet? Even the cops would be laughing at that type of suggestion.
Over the next year, if any of the 547 individuals perform some act of terrorism....the authorities will be put into a corner and have to justify how the remaining individuals are allowed to walk freely. The minute you admitted that this many folks are not trusted anymore....but you can't arrest them, detain them, or remove them from the state....you invite public frustration. It's like being told that your particular brand of car has a unique problem and on rare occasions at 120 kph, the brakes on the front-right will go into full-effect....but it only happens three times a year on average across the whole nation....so you sit and accept this, but you quietly review options to dump the car and go to a new model with different company.