Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Bottrop Case Closed

I wrote an essay piece from the Christmas period.....over a German guy in the Bottrop area...who drove his car into a crowd of migrants/immigrants.  Note, he was not a immigrant or migrant....he was born in Germany....'pure' German. 

At the time, because of chatter in the public arena about the guy having mental issues.....my belief was that the talk of murder charges would go nowhere.

Well....ARD (German public TV) stood up today and said that a court decision has been handed down....with 'reduced guilt'.   Basically, he'll go in a permanent way to some psychiatry unit.

My Gut Feeling Over a Second BREXIT Referendum Vote

Around fifteen minutes of every day, I'll go and flip to either Sky News or BBC....to get the latest on the BREXIT chatter.  In all of 2018, I did this on probably 200 occasions, but since Christmas....it's daily now and sometimes sitting through several updates in a day.  For me personally, it doesn't matter.  But in terms of watching democracy, uncivil discussions, accusations of lies (from both sides) and reporters at a loss to predict much of anything....it's a curious mess to have developed.

I've reached the stage where I think that if you quietly sat the 650 members of Parliament in a secluded area and asked for a private response....the vast majority (maybe over 500 of them) would say that this is so messed up.....that it'd be better to allow a second vote and just vote that it'd go the other direction and ease everyone out of negotiation woes.

The odds of a second vote going to 'remain'?  You just can't predict any sure numbers.  Even if it was 52-percent to remain...would that really settle the matter, or get people riled up to demand all 650 members stand down or step to the side? 

If you go over to the EU and suggest that the second referendum will occur....what would be the reaction?  Could they just accept the second results? 

Even if 'remain' won on a second referendum.....would all of this lead onto a 3rd vote within two or three years?  My guess is yes.  And it might swing by only 51-percent.  So then you'd repeat all of the incompetence and excitement.....with political folks demanding a 4th vote?  Possibly yes. 

Here's what all of this leads onto....political players who can't imagine a non-EU UK existing.  It doesn't matter if you self-identify as Labour or Tory (left or right).....you are attached to the EU evolution.  Why?  My belief is that everyone has a laundry-list of things that they'd like to force upon society, and the British Parliament doesn't have the guts to deliver those items....but because of the EU being so far away, and rarely ever reported upon in detail....they can pass things and the British Parliament members can say 'oh my' and just blame it off on Brussels and the EU. 

If 'remain' won?  I might go and suggest to dissolve Parliament within ten years because virtually all real power is in the EU....not London.  That might freak out the Tories and Labour.....but what actual value do they have?  Maybe instead of 650 members in Parliament....you could run a 'remain' situation....letting all power rest in Brussels....and just have 12 members of a British Parliament existing....just for theatrical purposes. 

Chatter over Berlin, I Love You Movie

I sat last week and observed the movie-trailer of a new 'flick' entitled "Berlin, I Love You".  You can go and view the 2-minute clip over at YouTube.

What my impression is.....it's an artsy Brit-American production, with a combination of British, American and German theatrical people, with the landscape of Berlin in the background.  The basic story?  Based on the 2-minute clip?  I'd suggest that around every single corner....there's some mad British gal ready to fall head over heels with some guy she meets at a cafe or pub.  It appears to be a dozen-odd people who fit into various little short Berlin-love stories. 

The problem with these type of movies....is that people sit there in Wales, or Chicago, or Seattle....getting this feeling that Berlin has all this 'love-power' and you get some element of raw emotion walking down along the river, sipping a beer, and finding some hot lusty Berlin guy or gal.  So they get charged up....buy round-trip tickets to Berlin for two weeks, and generally find that it's a pretty wicked city, varying amounts of crime, drunken or drug-laced behavior, and everyone seeming to chat over the 'evil-Trump'. 

I noticed this morning that Deutsche Welle got into the criticism over the movie.  The thing is....the movie hasn't been released yet.....just the trailer (2 minutes of value) was released.  So the criticism is based strictly on a trailer at this point.

Over the decades, I've been to most of the major German cities, and frankly....I just don't see that 'romantic' feeling about these cities.  Landscape-wise, there's a lot of bold architecture and history.  There's innovation going on (bike trails, sky-towers, city-parks).  There's drug-infested areas.  There's massive movement of people in rush-hours.  There's great crowd of Chinese tourists trying to get a brief 8-hour feel for German metropolitan living.  And food, beer and wine seem to be high priority. 

Maybe the thrill for 'Berlin, I Love You' will recover as the movie actually arrives.  Heck, maybe it'll hype some theme where every year another movie will be made (Hamburg, I Love You.....Stuttgart, I Love You.....Bremen, I Love You....even Dresden, I Love You). 

Germany and Militias

Americans tend to get into this affiliation with militias.  So this is one of those historical essays I write, except it's about Germans (Prussians) and roughly a 180-year period where it was acceptable to have militias around Prussia/Germany. 

German militias were originally referred to as 'Freikorps' (meaning Free Corps).   The first historical identification goes back to 1759 and Frederick the Great.  This group of 80 men were all volunteers and they were based around the Dresden region (the far east side of what was Prussia).  Oddly enough, these were all Hungarian men.  By the end of 1759, four additional groups of volunteers were created....mostly of Prussian men.  These four were based around other cities (Berlin, Leipzig, for example).  The key thing was that they were all volunteers, and not part of any military unit.

by the late 1770s, other units had been created around Germany/Prussia and these were made up of a number of ethnic groups (Prussian, Hungarians, Turks, Cossacks, Poles, Lithuanians and Slavic men).  In the Seven Years War, all of these militias played key roles.

There's a key thing about the militias that were created.....they weren't regular Army, and tended to be undisciplined.  Training skills?  No one ever gives them plus-points on combat-type skills.  It's hard to find occasions that militia members were ever paid anything much.  Most did it out of patriotic motivation (a little adventure).

Throughout the 1800s, in every single 'skirmish' or war that the Prussians had with France....the Freikorp guys showed up.  Some got recognition in battles.  Some commanders got noted recognition and public 'status'.

So you come to 1918....the end of WW I.  Oddly enough, a large number of regular soldiers found themselves returning to communities in defeat, and by joining a local Freikorps unit....they felt they were part of a bigger team.  In some ways, the local militias now became political devices.

The potential coups threats of the 1920s?  All leading back to some type of militia unit.

By the fall of 1933, Hitler and the Nazi machine came to a realization....that the various Freikorp units were a threat.  Over the period of three days in June and July 1934....most of the commanders of Freikorp militias (along with the Brown Shirt thugs) were detained, and in some cases executed.  That basically triggered the end of the militias in Germany.

Existence today?  No.  Nor do I think that the Berlin crowd would appreciate such units popping up and suggesting that the police were no longer capable of providing protection.

Monday, January 21, 2019

How a Myth Carried Germany into the 1930s

In historical texts.....you might rarely come across the German phrase: 'Dolchsto├člegende', which translates back over to the phrase: stab in the back myth.  This is one of those historical essays that I'll write to tell a little piece of German history.

So, when we come to the end of WW I.....things get messy with the German loss, and the humiliation factor surges to an absolute maximum level.

The best sense to view the 'myth' is that when German men returned from the war, they felt a need to create a blame scenario for the loss.  Political folks and journalists in various ways helped to carry the myth to the people and it was routinely discussed.

Blaming the shift away from the Kaiser and the monarchy-style government?  As the war ended, it was a fairly quick way in which the Kaiser was forced to leave and a republic government was put into place as the savior.  The thought by the war veterans is that these pro-republic folks....were always intent on dismissing the Kaiser and they probably helped to make the German effort in the war to be doomed failure.

The question of the pro-republic intent?  There is no doubt that anti-monarchy and anti-Kaiser enthusiasm existed prior to 1914.  But the length of this war and the great losses to society (in the range of 2.2 to 2.8 million men)....triggered a public disbelief over the Kaiser's stance. 

As for the question of this myth lingering throughout the 1920s of Germany?  I would imagine if you walked into any beer-hall and veterans were in attendance....the topic got brought up.  There's no doubt that it interfered with the progress of the Weimar Republic, and helped in some ways to deliver the Nationalist-Socialist agenda to the German people in 1930. 

Trying to explain this in modern times?  Imagine some event occuring and total disbelief is the end-result.  Then the disbelief reaches a level where you chat about this daily and it interferes with you or your associates 'moving ahead' or getting over the dramatic turn of events (like a Trump win in November of 2016), and out of this....some myth carries itself through the routine of each day.  You seek a blame tool to convince yourself of the great loss in life or trust.  That's pretty much how 1919 went with this myth. 

German Security Story

When the German cops reach a point where they try to make a dent in clan-mafia or far-left radical operations.....there's usually 'push-back'.

So today, I noticed story out of Berlin from Tagesspiegel .  Someone from last night hit the city-police parking lot in the Neukolln neighborhood of town.....set fire to nine public service vehicles. 

The reaction by the police?  Just an investigation right now, and a review of video cameras.  Potential is there for far-left radicals, and for the clan-mafia folks.

Can You Measure Poverty in Some Clear Manner?

Back around twenty-five years ago in Germany, a long discussion started up and the talk centered on the escalating cost of welfare, and the anticipation that old welfare system of Germany would create a massive problem in the future which the country (and it's politicians) could not afford.  So this Frankenstein-creation came to be written up as a solution (Hartz IV is the program name). 

What it basically did was take those unemployed or under-employed (on part-time jobs), and slide them into a group which the local town Job-Center would handle.  Through their encouragement, training programs, and 'help'....things would be on a level path.  The welfare payments?  Well...they turned into a minimum survival program.  In some ways, the German idea was to strongly encourage people to get aggressive and motivated to find jobs.....to climb out of poverty. 

Twenty years have gone by with the results of Hartz IV.  You could sit down in a pub with a dozen Germans, and you'd get a dozen opinions.  Some are pro-Hartz IV....some are bitterly negative about the program.  Some will say it's created a new class of super-poverty in Germany.  Some will suggest that the Job-Center folks need to be gutted out and recreated. 

We have a number of reality shows over the past couple of years which have focused on the poverty folks and their path down Hartz IV.  I can basically make five observations over the people in the reality shows and their results with poverty:

1.  A heck of a lot of these individuals on the welfare program smoke excessively or drink in a habitual way (if not an alcoholic, then progressing to that level).  You consider that a pack of smokes typically run 5.0 to 6.0 Euro (for twenty smokes) and you do one pack a day.....you can figure 150 Euro is spent (that's 190 US dollars).  Even if you buy the raw tobacco and pack the smokes yourself....it's still two-third's of the 150 Euro.  I sat and watched some documentary piece where a guy was purchasing a dozen cheap beers per day (it amounts to 4 Euro or 5 US dollars).  Go take the 416 Euro which you get per adult, and deduct out the beer and smokes.....with your housing already covered via another program, and there's really not much left for food or anything else.

If you didn't smoke or drink?  That's the point where the money would be sufficient.

2.  For people without job training or a certification in some skill?  There's no real job potential if you get unemployed by age forty.  You will end up making the same amount of pay related to Hartz IV....so why work?  You see this argument presented a great deal by those who've been unemployed for more than five years.

3.  While some of these individuals on the German poverty program seem to be bright or potentially 'capable'.....I would suggest that more than a third of them (at least 33-percent)....are intelligence-challenged.  These are the people that you could ask what's one-third of an hour, and even after two minutes....they are still doing the math or shaking their head. 

4.  Some of these people often featured on the welfare-poverty shows demonstrate a continual lack of economic knowledge or poor purchasing habits.  You can present three 'deals', of which two are obvious as being poor purchases or bad-judgement situations.....and you see a number of poverty-players not able to grasp the deals or how they are making poor decisions. 

5.  Finally, while not the norm....you often see adults in this poverty-class who've gone to low-motivation in life and being in a poverty class isn't that big of a deal.  So this make you question how you can write or draft up logical measurements for measuring if people are in poverty, or if they desire to get out or leave it. 

I come to this end-point....that present measurements that you make (at least in Germany).....aren't capable of measuring poverty or its consequences.  In some ways, we are working with a method that probably came out of the 1960s, and simply avoid recognizing the general manner or sequence to how the guy or gal reached this level, their present way of living in the manner, or the way of getting them out of the situation. 

BREXIT, the Germans, the EU, and the 40-odd Billion Euro

If no BREXIT deal is completed?  A year ago, folks would have said that just won't happen.  Today, I suspect a majority of Brit are entertaining this idea.  In the middle of the present deal on the table.....there is a 'quitting' fee of 40 billion Euro that the UK would pay the EU.  If the deal doesn't happen....there is no 40 billion. 

Here's the amusing thing....that 40 billion is kinda important for Germany and the EU.

The budget process for the EU is an inept machine.....most everyone will admit it and offer excuses.  Once they set a budget up and running....it's not a one-year deal.  It's a multi-year situation.  So if the UK leaves the EU....because the Brits were pumping in a fair amount of money.....which a third of the contribution never came back to the EU, the UK contribution is important for the running of the EU mechanism and for the lesser country projects.

So when the deadline comes, and there's no BREXIT deal....what happens to the missing money to cover EU costs? 

Well....the richer nations (like Germany) will have to cough-up the money.  So you can imagine Chancellor Merkel sitting there in late summer and admitting to folks that the German government has to find at least ten billion (maybe even fifteen billion) extra Euro laying around....to hand over to the EU....of which they will hand sixty to seventy percent of the money back....and consume the rest.

Here's the more amusing part of this deal.....in 2020, Chancellor Merkel would have to come back and find another way to 10-to-15 billion Euro. 

Why can't the EU just downsize it's cost and trim expenditures?  Yes, that would be a curious thing to ask, but it doesn't seem to be something they are capable of performing.  Naturally, this goes back to the argument that numerous Brits had in their anti-EU discussions....that the EU isn't competent for the work required. 

At this point, a lot of bureaucrats (both in the EU and in the German government) would like to get this deal business over and prepare to receive the 40 billion Euro.  As each day passes, it appears more and more likely that the 40 billion won't  ever arrive. 

So when you see the EU or German politician all hyped up over BREXIT.....there's a special reason for their anxiety.