Dienstag, März 29, 2005

Germans still don´t get it

Germans have yet to wake up from their socialist dream. According to a recent poll only one third of germany´s unemployed would be willing to move to another place in order to get a new job. Also, a majority of unemployed wouldn´t take a new job if their daily way to work was too long. Only half of them say they are intensively looking for a new job.

What´s the rest of them doing? Probably too busy watching TV, playing Playstation and complaining about why no one does anything against the high unemployment rate in germany.

So, what´s to do? It´s easy. Cut social benefits and spread a little "soziale Kaelte" (social frostiness) in order to get them off their lazy asses. But unfortunately, that´s not possible, because germans don´t want "amerikanische Verhältnisse" (american circumstances), i.e. real capitalism. And our cowardly politicians are certainly not going to risk loosing votes by confronting their electorate with reality.

Sonntag, März 27, 2005

Are Koreans going crazy?

And I don´t mean North Koreans this time. According to this piece at One Free Korea, the "Streets of Seoul are no longer safe for foreigners".

Funny how leftist western politicians often try to make you think that we in the west had a monopoly on xenophobia, while xenophobia and racism sadly are quite common all over the world. Take, for example, China. While, as a white westerner, you are actually treated very well, black people are scorned by many chinese.

And, in other other parts of the world, muslims also once again show their intolerance:
According to this article in the New York Times, Muslims are outraged about a Pakistani acteress kissing a Hindu in a movie. Don´t these people have anything better to do?

Montag, März 21, 2005

Two Years Later

A great post from Ace of Spades HQ on the occasion of the second anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War.

Samstag, März 19, 2005

Carsten Schmiester for Reichspropagandaminister

Carsten Schmiester is one of the leading anti-american propagandists in the german media. He works for the publicly funded Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) and publishes about 1-2 extremely biased articles per week on tagesschau.de.
So, here is another piece of his outstanding propaganda work. Goebbels would be proud of him:

"Bush continues to sound "the trumpet of freedom"

Two years ago the USA went to war with Iraq. Today they are still fighting.
For freedom, as US-President Bush says. That is why the sacrifices, the many dead and wounded US-soldiers, were not made in vain, thinks the president. Not everyone is as convinced as he is."

[Of course not everyone is as convinced as he is. If you are an anti-american, socialist propagandist, you probably don´t believe in sacrificing anything for the spread of freedom and prosperity. And there will always be enough idiots to support your views. But that doesn´t make them right.]

"More than 1500 dead and over 11.000 wounded US-soldiers in Iraq. It´s also these numbers that cause - two years after the start of the war - a change of the opinion picture in the US. Opinion polls show that today 53 percent of those questioned speak out against the war, two years ago it was only 27 percent. The fraction of those in favor of the war shrunk from 70% to 45%. America has doubts about the war - only President George W. Bush hasn´t. "

[Yes, only president Bush AND the 45% of americans which, according to the poll Schmiester mentions, are in favor of the war in Iraq. But what´s 45% of americans? If you were against the war in the first place, like Schmiester, this amounts to nothing.]

"He still obliviously praises the achievements of his country: "The insecurity and the sorrows of the last few years were not without avail. Millions have been liberated, millions will follow." The president adds pugnaciously: "The trumpet of freedom has been sounded, and that trumpet never calls defeat"."

[What he does here is simple: Buy using the german word "unbeirrt" (obliviously) he asserts that Bush is a stubborn warmonger who won´t listen to any voice of reason, and still praises his country, although we all know that the Iraq war was an utter failure and that, of course, there is no reason to praise the US. He knows exactly what kind of reaction he will get from his readers: "Damn stubborn yankee! How dare he call his wars acts of liberation! Thousands of civilians were killed only for the oil interests of the U.S."]

"Neoconservative Politics
So "Freedom Trumpeter" Bush still sounds the attack, although more quietly. Not only politcal reason lead him to his change of course in the Iran question. That america suddenly supports negotiations with Iran about the Iranian nuclear program, is also due to the fact that Bush lacks the money and the soldiers for a new war. But this doesn´t chance his aim of also helping democracy to a break through in Iran, just like in Iraq, in Libanon, and at best also in Syria. That is still the core of neoconservative US-Anti terror policy. "

[So, in this paragraph, Schmiester first tries to mock President Bush by calling him "Freedom Trumpeter", afterwards he alludes that only the european position of engagement towards Iran was right all along. As if there was no rational argument for a hardline approach. Then he shows, that anti-american Journalists like him will never be satisfied with anything the U.S.-administration does, even if Bush does exactly what they have always demanded from him: Now that Bush has changed his stance on Iran, it is interpreted as if he did this only because he had no other choice. Because due to his flawed decisions in the past, he has run out of money for new wars, and as no one wants to join the US-army anymore, he is also running out of soldiers. While the last part (about spreading democracy) doesn´t sound all that bad, it actually hides the assertion that Bush "just like in Iraq" wants to spread democracy by violent means, which is not true. But this is how Schmiester wants to convey it, and this is how the average reader will understand it. They will think once again: "Damn Bush, always wants to meddle in the affairs of other countries. Why can´t he just let them live how they want to live."]

"Split Echo
Scientiest Rashid Khalidi of Columbia University has his doubts with this policy. He recognizes progress in some countries, but he doesn´t see any reason to laud Bush for this. "If anyone derserves praise, then it´s the Iraqis, who have forced Bush to do the right thing", he thinks, and adds another example: "In the case of palestina, the USA did nothing, to foster progress. The palestinians did that themselves"."

[Great choice of an interview partner. Rashid Khalidi, according to Daniel Pipes, also called Israel a "racist" state with an "apartheid system" and argued that America had been "brainwashed" by Israel. I guess, Mr. Schmiester was very surprised about Khalidis negative assessment of U.S. policy in the middle east. And what did the palestinians actually do to foster progress themselves?]

"Other experts see the issue more positive and are thankful to the american government. Like Professor Fuad Ajama of John Hopkins University. "The bush-administration had the heart to venture into uncertain terrain. Still, doubts remain, but america today trusts democracy more than it did in the past"."

[What a great attempt at pretending balanced reporting! He finally brings himself to interview someone who has a more pro-bush stance and all he quotes from him is this: "doubts remain", "america trusts democracy"???]

"Struggling against a lack of credibility

The future of Iraq remains uncertain. Only one thing is for sure, that american soldiers will have to stay for a long time in order to fight the approximately 50.000 rebels. They have to hold out in the struggle for freedom as well as - since the torture scandal in the Abu Ghraib prison - in their struggle against their own incredibility. "

[Well, they wouldn´t have to, if people like Schmiester wouldn´t keep working night and day in order to damage the image of the U.S. and their soldiers. People like Schmiester are guilty of inciting anti-american hatred. By refusing to call the terrorists in Iraq Terrorists ("50000 rebels") they help them. And that is exactly what Schmiester has in mind. He doesn´t care about the people in Iraq. He´s only interested in harming the U.S.]

"Reminder from the Cold War

The critical public radio "NPR" has rebroadcastet an interview with the recently deceased US-Diplomat George F. Kennan. As a monition. A reporter had asked the originator of the "containment policy" against the former Sowjet Union for the best way to spread to democracy. The answer seems very up-to-date, even today. "It´s one thing when we show, what is possible if you have a democracy. It´s something completely different, if we arouse the impression, that we think of ourselves as superior and demand that others have to learn to be like us". "

[Well, I think we´ve shown the world long enough how democracy works, and what can be achieved by following democratic and capitalist ideals. Unfortunately, that doesn´t seem to have worked. Now it´s time to apply more concrete measures.]

I cannot understand how our public broadcasters can keep people like Schmiester. What he does has nothing to do with journalism. I haven´t read any article from him that was not anti-american or anti-bush. The only thing he does is trying to spread anti-americanism. And the worst thing is, that I actually pay this guy because he works for a public broadcaster!

Freitag, März 18, 2005

Mood Swing?

Here´s the transcript of the chat with ARD-correspondents Tom Buhrow and Jörg Armbruster. Much of what they said was quite encouraging. Maybe I´m too enthusiastic, but I think we are witnessing some kind of mood-change in the german journalistic elite. At least they begin to realize that the U.S. administration is serious about its democratization attempts in the middle east, and that it´s not all about oil. I got the feeling that they are at the same time surprised and impressed by this. Of course, they are still very critic of the Bush administration in general. Some quotes:

Armbruster: "Unfortunately, the americans have made almost every possible mistake in their attempt to create something like a democratic state structure [in Iraq]. I am still sceptic, but I won´t rule out anymore, that in the end there will be something like a new democracy. Even though it will at first not have much to do with our understanding of democracy."

[The next quote shows that they really start to understand what the foreign policy of the Bush administration is about. That´s not something ordinary for the german media.]

Buhrow: "In the view of President Bush his policy in the middle east is two sided: On the one hand he´s concerned about the security of the U.S. and its allies (which we also belong to). He believes, that one cannot fight terrorism by fighting particular groups, but only if you bring the people in the region freedom and hope. Then - so his calculation - the breeding ground for terrorism would dry out. The second aspect is the following: He really believes in the mission of spreading democracy and in the constructive power of democracy."

Armbruster: "The Iraqis want democracy, but they have no experience. They still have to learn, just as we have learned after World War 2"

Armbruster: I don´t think it was the elections in Iraq. Therefor Iraq is perceived too much as a scaring example. Much more important is, what is happening in Libanon at the moment. The opposition managed to force the government to resign. This is egregious in the middle east."

[This last quote is quite revealing. It shows the reluctance to give the Bush-administration any credit for any possible democratization processes in the region outside of Iraq.]

Mittwoch, März 16, 2005

Meet the press

On thursday at 15:00 CET ARD-foreign correspondents Tom Buhrow (Washington) and Jörg Armbruster (Cairo) will be answering questions during a live chat-session on the ARD-Homepage. The topic will be the future of Iraq and democratization in the middle east in general.

Those are the people providing germans with their view of the U.S. and the middle east. Will be a good opportunity to ask them some interesting questions...

The Flat-Tax revolution

Today´s good news come from Poland, where the government decided to implement a flat-tax system. The Czech government might follow this example soon. So the idea that this system could even spread to western europe one day, is not so far-fetched anymore.

The basic idea behind the flat-tax is, that by lowering the tax-rate to a single unified low rate and abolishing all tax exemptions, the state´s tax-revenues will actually rise. This is due to the fact a low tax rate will probably result in higher economic growth. On the other hand there are fewer incentives and possibilities for tax-evasion.

The system is explained in more detail in this paper published by the Adam Smith Institute.
The countries that have already introduced a flat tax include Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Romania, Georgia, and - to some extend - Russia, Serbia and Ukraine.

The economist also discusses this issue and reaches a quite optimistic conclusion. Open markets in the European Union might encourage a competition for the best economic and fiscal system:

"So far, the preferred response of the Germans and French is to press for an EU-wide ban on “fiscal dumping” and to push the EU towards tax harmonisation. The trouble is that EU decisions on tax are taken by unanimity—and there is no way that the Slovaks and others are going to surrender their freedom to set their own taxes. So some in western Europe are beginning to think of copying the flat-taxers, rather than fulminating against them. Gerrit Zalm, the Dutch finance minister, has said that his Liberal Party is considering a flat tax for the Netherlands, albeit at the high rate of over 30%. More surprisingly, advisers to left-of-centre governments in Spain and Germany have also done serious feasibility studies on flat taxes. If old Europe cannot beat the flat-taxers of new Europe, it may have to join them."

Meanwhile Craig of the National Exam makes the case for a Consumption tax system. But, as a german, I may be a bit biased against the "Mehrwertsteuer", because I already have to pay it everyday...

Samstag, März 12, 2005

Is North Korea executing refugees?

According to AlertNet North Korea has executed 70 refugees who where caught in China and handed over to the North. The Article is based on a statement by a South Korean group that helps refugees and should therefore be taken with some caution.
But, on the other hand, there is no reason to believe that people who are caught fleeing the "Workers Paradise" would not be rigorously punished by the regime. The least they can probably expect is to end up in one of North Koreas notorious Prison Camps.
I already wrote something about this issue some time ago. You can read it here.

You can download a wave-file of an interesting speech by David Hawk, who wrote the report on North Korean prison camps for the U.S. committee for human rights in North Korea. Hawk bases his report mostly on interviews with North Korean refugees who have made it to South Korea after an escape that often lead them through half of asia.