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March 2016
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I Am Now a 'German Analyst'

Soeren Kern at the Gatestone Institute quotes the rantings of some obscure crank on his so-called 'weblog':

In an insightful essay, German analyst Andrew Hammel writes:

"Let's do the math. There are currently 16 million Turkish citizens of Kurdish descent in Turkey. There is a long history of discrimination by Turkish governments against this ethnic minority, including torture, forced displacement, and other repressive measures. The current conservative-nationalist Turkish government is fighting an open war against various Kurdish rebel groups, both inside and outside Turkey.

"This means that under German law as it is currently being applied by the ruling coalition in the real world (not German law on the books), there are probably something like 5-8 million Turkish Kurds who might have a plausible claim for asylum or subsidiary protection. That's just a guess, the real number could be higher, but probably not much lower.

"If visa requirements are lifted completely, each of these persons could buy a cheap plane ticket to any German airport, utter the word 'asylum,' and trigger a years-long judicial process with a good chance of ending in a residency permit."

Hammel continues:

"There are already 800,000 Kurds living in Germany. As migration researchers know, existing kin networks in a destination country massively increase the likelihood and scope of migration.... As Turkish Kurds are likely to arrive speaking no German and with limited job skills, just like current migrants, where is the extra 60-70 billion euros/year [10 billion euros/year for every one million migrants] going to come from to provide them all with housing, food, welfare, medical care, education and German courses?

And finally, "the most important, most fundamental, most urgent question of all":

"Why should a peaceful, stable, prosperous country like Germany import from some remote corner of some faraway land a violent ethnic conflict which has nothing whatsoever to do with Germany and which 98% Germans do not understand or care about?"

Turkish-Kurdish violence is now commonplace in Germany, which is home to around three million people of Turkish origin — roughly one in four of whom are Kurds. German intelligence officials estimate that about 14,000 of these Kurds are active supporters of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a militant group that has been fighting for Kurdish independence since 1974.

On April 10, hundreds of Kurds and Turks clashed in Munich and dozens fought in Cologne. Also on April 10, four people were injured when Kurds and Turks fought in Frankfurt. On March 27, nearly 40 people were arrested after Kurds attacked a demonstration of around 600 Turkish protesters in the Bavarian town of Aschaffenburg.

On September 11, 2015, dozens of Kurds and Turks clashed in Bielefeld. On September 10, more than a thousand Kurds and Turks fought in Berlin. Also on September 10, several hundred Kurds and Turks fought in Frankfurt.

On September 3, more than 100 Kurds and Turks clashed in Remscheid. On August 17, Kurds attacked a Turkish mosque in Berlin-Kreuzberg. In October 2014, hundreds of Kurds and Turks clashed at the main train station in Munich.

Just to clarify a few things for newcomers: I am an occasional analyst of events in Germany, but I'm an American citizen who lives here, not German.

I'm also not a neo-conservative, and disagree with many of the positions taken by the Gatestone Institute. But on the subject of European immigration, we see eye-to-eye. I have quoted their reports from time to time on this blog, because they're generally solidly researched and draw attention to aspects of European immigration policy which are most definitely downplayed by the mainstream European media, including state-funded broadcasters.

And I have yet to hear any answers to the obvious questions I posed back in my original blog post on March 1.

You Think X is a Human-Rights Violation. You're Wrong.

A quick note to Germans: Stop calling every policy you disagree with a 'human-rights violation'. There's a solid consensus on what human rights are. They only cover the big things, not every aspect of government policy.

The requirement to send your children to school (g), to pick one of 10,567 examples, is not a human-rights violation. In fact, it's precisely the opposite. Nor is deporting illegal immigrants.

When you claim some government action is a human-rights violation, you're wrong 90% of the time. I can and will prove it.

Stop chuntering about human rights this, human rights that. If you disagree with a policy, just tell us why.

I hope this has been helpful!

Quote of the Day: 'People of Strong, Broad Sense'

"All people of broad, strong sense have an instinctive repugnance to the men of maxims; because such people early discern that the mysterious complexity of our life is not be embraced by maxims, and that to lace ourselves up in formulas of that sort is to repress all the divine promptings and inspirations that spring from growing insight and sympathy. And the the man of maxims is the popular representative of the minds that are guided in their moral judgement solely by general rules, thinking that these will lead them to justice by a ready-made patent method, without the trouble of exerting patience, discrimination, impartiality, without any care to assure themselves whether they have the insight that comes from a hardly-earned estimate of temptation, or from a life vivid and intense enough to have created a wide fellow-feeling with all that is human."

George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss (source)

A Policy Critique is not 'Fear'

Die Welt headlines an article about Thilo Sarrazin's new book: 'Sarrazin's Fear of Masses of Uneducated Migrants (g)'. The first thing to note is now that Germany's signed a deal kicking them out of Europe, they're suddenly migrants, not refugees. I bet some pretty interesting things are happening in Greece right now, but you won't read about them in the German mainstream press, because they don't fit with the image of Germany as the last valiant guardian of European Values™.

The second thing to note is that Sarrazin's policy critique is here described as 'fear'. This goes along with calling the objections ordinary Germans have to Merkel's policy 'concerns and fears' (Sorgen und Ängste). Before Cologne, anyone who expressed misgivings about Merkel's policy could be labeled a racist.

After Cologne, even the most belligerently naive of German politicians realized they had to give permission to ordinary Germans to disapprove of the policy of letting hundreds of thousands of uneducated young males from the most unstable parts of the world into Germany with no background checks. So they now recite the phrase 'Of course, I take the concerns and fears of the population seriously', before doing whatever it was they were going to do anyway.

It's a more subtle dismissal, but that's still what it is. Any resident of Germany who disapproved of throwing open the borders and abandoning security checks must be motivated by fear, not by rational concern. (Unlike those who insisted Germany immediately cancel all existing nuclear plant contracts after Fukushima, at a cost of €7 trillion. That overnight flip-flop was motivated only by cool-headed policy analysis.)

I am not 'afraid' of migrants, nor is Sarrazin, nor are most of the people I speak to who disapprove of Merkel's Mistake. We simply find it an epochal policy mistake whose consequences will burden Germany for generations. And we have about a thousand quite rational reasons for thinking so, thank you very much.

Böhmermann is Guilty

There's only one way in which I care about the Erdogan thingy -- as a pretty interesting legal puzzle. As for all the self-righteous German bloviation about Freedom of Speech, The Whims of a Despot, etc. -- that's all a bunch of hooey nobody except a tiny journalistic elite cares about.

From a purely legal perspective, there's a good case Böhmi should be found guilty and fined. Just so nobody don't get the wrong idea, let me explain that I find the 'insulting foreign leaders' law silly, and believe Germany should have got rid of it a long time ago. I also have doubts about whether a modern legal order needs the category of 'abusive criticism' (Schmähkritik). I am talking here descriptively about German law as it is, not as I might wish it to be.

And under these laws, Böhmi's guilty. The 'insulting foreign leaders' law will obviously be interpreted in light of artistic and political freedom guaranteed by the German Basic Law. But here's the thing: artistic freedom, satire, etc. have limits. German magazines can be and have been punished for satire that 'goes too far' (I'm lookin' at you with admiration, Titanic). The key distinction is whether there is a 'Sachbezug' -- roughly, some relationship to a recognized political or social issue. It's a weighing test: the severity of the insults against the strength of the relationship to a legitimate subject of debate.

Böhmi's 'poem' fails. It wasn't a puppet-show, or a song, or a sketch, or even a straightforward political commentary. It is nothing more than a collection of racist insults that go far beyond what German law permits in any case. Goat-fucker, kiddie-porn devotee, carrier of gang-bang related sexual diseases, etc. All of these insults are illegal in Germany, even when used sarcastically and even when nobody could be expected to believe there was truth in them. That's how German law works. If Böhmi had said these things about a private persons on national television, it is 100% absolutely ironclad certain he would be convicted. There are literally hundreds of cases on exactly this subject. There was only a brief mention of political issues in the 'poem'. Böhmermann himself, as he read the poem, said that it was illegal. He even entitled it 'Schmähkritik' (abusive criticism). Böhmi consciously, knowingly, by his own admission engaged in conduct that is against the law in Germany. 

And if this argument doesn't convince you, let's do a Gedankenexperiment: Böhmi reads a poem about the Israeli President Reuven Rivlin calling him a 'dirty Jew', 'child-murderer', a 'racist warmonger', and a 'fat, malodorous pig'. That is the level of rhetoric directed at Erdogan. Would German politicos and journos be whining about freedom of expression and kowtowing to foreigners? Of course not. Any judge worth his salt, however, will see that these two cases must be treated equally, if the idea of a principle-driven legal system is to have any meaning at all. The issue isn't which foreign leader was targeted, it's what was said.

So he should be found guilty, and I think he will. This is not a case about freedom of expression. This is a case about whether a person who publicly announces he is going to break the law and then does so should be punished. The answer is, and should be 'yes'. The best analogy here is to Joseph Gibbons:

Artist and former MIT professor Joseph Gibbons learned this week that robbing banks, even in the name of art, will still land you in jail. He pleaded guilty to burglary in the third degree this week in a Manhattan court.

Gibbons was arrested in January for a heist staged on December 31 at a Capital One bank in New York's Chinatown. According to court documents, he made his demands for cash in the form of a polite note asking the teller for a donation for his church, and then took $1,000 (see Artist and Former MIT Professor Robs Banks Claiming It's His Art).

In November, Gibbons held up a bank in Rhode Island using the same method, and made off with $3,000.

Both times, Gibbons videotaped the theft. “He was doing research for a film," his cell-mate, Kaylan Sherrard, told the New York Post. “It's not a crime; it's artwork…He's an intellectual."

Gibbons went to jail because freedom of expression does not cover illegal activity. That's just as true in Germany as it is in the U.S. Whether you agree with Germany's restrictive freedom-of-expression laws or not, Böhmi broke them.


How to Save the SPD: Universal Basic Income

Here's the problem:

1.     Anyone who's paying attention can see that 95% of the migrants who came to Germany in 2015 are going to integrate into the German social welfare system, and probably 50% will never leave it.

2.    This is going to piss off working- and lower-middle class Germans, who will still have to work 40 hours a week to make a wage only 20% higher than welfare. Uwe says: 'Why do I have to I bust my ass working in some shitty supermarket for an asshole boss while Firduz hangs out on the street corner getting free money from the government for doing nothing?'

The answer: Universal Basic Income. Abolish Germany's ludicrously complex welfare system, and just give everyone, say, € 900 per month. Enough to subsist on, but not much more. 

This plan will have some side-effects, of course, but it won't be such a huge change, since everyone in Germany is already entitled to a basic income -- they just have to prove they're unemployed and have no more assets. Under the new plan, everyone gets it. 95% of the useless welfare bureaucracy will vanish, providing huge savings to the German state.

Most importantly, UBI will remove, or at least greatly reduce the envy factor. Uwe will probably continue to work, since the UBI won't pay enough for any luxuries, such as a private washing machine, cars, or vacations. But since he is also getting what Firduz is getting, he will feel much less resentment.

If the SPD had any sense at all, it would stop futzing around with idiotic nanny-state schemes nobody cares about (sexist advertising) and come out loud and defiant in favor of UBI. 

Germany's Leaders are More Virtuous than Turkey's

The German mainstream media is now up in arms about Turkey's Prime Minister Erdogan. This despicable Ottocrat wants to throttle free speech in Germany by using the devious trick of...invoking German law. The nerve!

But Erdogan is just the latest Two Minutes Hate of the German national media. Earlier targets include George W. Bush, Silvio Berlusconi, Alexis Tsipras, and various Polish populists. If I had a nickel for every tired old diatribe against some foreign leader which I skipped reading, I'd be rich enough to buy a Maibach.

These bursts of righteous moral indignation always seem to come in spurts. Like the herd animals they are, German journalists decide, perhaps without consciously being aware, that it is now time to gang-tackle some foreign head of state.

The question is why? And I think I have the answer: To remind Germans what opinions it is proper for them to have. The mainstream, national German press (FAZ, Die Zeit, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Spiegel, etc.) view their readers as lovable but not very sharp and, most of all, impressionable and easily misled. Like your cousin Uwe who was dropped on his head when he was young.

To prevent Uwe from wandering off into the brown swamp again, you have to constantly remind him of what it is proper to think. Usually the papers do this by splattering the front page with a tediously moralizing opinion piece by some guy you've never heard of: "Civilize Capitalism"! or "We Must Help the [Ethnic Group Oppressed in Some Faraway Land]!" or "The [Political Party] Has Gone too Far This Time!" or "The Welfare State Must be Saved!" or "The Welfare State Must be Trimmed!" It's hard to imagine who would be masochistic enough to actually read all this bloviation.

Considering the German press' ever-dwindling circulation, nobody.

And this is where foreign leaders come in. You pick out one of them to act as your pinata. You then write article after depressingly similar article explaining why they are so backward and horrible. Using the handy symbol of a foreign head of state, the press can make sure Uwe learns which policies which the German urban haute bourgeoisie dislikes. Eventually, with much patient instruction (like training a cat to use the toilet) he can be brought to dislike them too. 

Here's a handy chart of just some of the punching-bags the German press has sought out recently:

Foreign Leader to be Trashed

Policies/Ideas He Represents Which Contrast to the Noble and Inspiring Example which Germany Sets to the World
George W. Bush Warmongering, death penalty, guns, fundamentalism, capitalism run amok
Silvio Berlusconi Private television channels, non-boring politicians, populism
The Kaczynski Brothers Populism, Catholicism, unfair and hurtful Nazi-baiting
The Pope Catholicism, disapproval of gays
Recep Tayyip Erdogan Fundamentalism, oppression of ethnic minorities, free-speech crackdowns
Alexis Tsipras Unfair and hurtful Nazi-baiting, budgetary profligacy, failure to acknowledge there is no alternative

I hope this helps!