Beiträge mit tag "politics @en

Language barrier


I was discussing the conflict in Israel and the Gaza-strip with my best buddy the other day…since then, a question has been occupying my mind:

Does anyone know how to say “Excuse me, but I’m afraid you have annihilated my satellite dish.” in Hebrew?

Just wondering…


The joys of German federalism


Ah, what joy! The voters have spoken in North Rhine Westphalia – exposing one of the greatest flaws of German politics: federalism! While others may regard it an extra protection against giving too much power to a single person, I still regard it a serious flaw, because it allows to happen what Germany is facing right now. Just FYI, in Germany the federal elections are held independently from the elections in the states. German elections explained in a nutshell: Unlike the US of A, the states’ “governors” (“Ministerpraesidenten” as we call them) and the number of states a specific party “wins” have absolutely no effect on how the government in Berlin is formed. The states have an influence on how many seats in the federal parliament the respective parties of all states get, but that’s it. So where is the flaw? Since the governing party (or parties, as it is the case with CDU and FDP right now) and the chancellor at the helm are voted for directly by the people in a great federal election, it is possible that party A wins the majority in the federal elections and their candidate is pronounced chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, while party B holds the majority in the federal parliament (I shall spare you with the difference between “Bundesrat” and “Bundestag”…google is your friend), since they got the most votes state-wise. To make the problem worse, federal elections and state-level elections are not being held at the same time, because the legislative period on the federal level (chancellor and governing party) lasts four years, while the legislative periods on state level last five…except for the states of Bremen and Hamburg (which are considered city-states…the reason being of historical origin too boring to explain here), where the legislative periods last four years. This leads to the elections being anticyclical, which means: party A (or a coalition) might have the majority in both the federal elections and in the federal parliament, but if that majority happens to have been a close shave, they could lose it in any state-level election held within the legislative period of four years – which has just happened!

While the CDU (Completely Dysfunctional Union) and the FDP (Fatal Democratic Pandemonium) are still the governing parties in Berlin, they lost so many voters in the state of North Rhine Westphalia that from tonight they no longer have a majority in the “Bundesrat”…while optimists welcome it as a “balance to the government”, I welcome it as “the demise of the government”…I am not convinced, the Government will take the result “as a warning” as the German minister of applied linguistics and head of the FDP, Guido Westerwelle said…I much rather think, this will lead to even more disagreement on both federal and state level leading to an unleverable blockage between the governing parties and the parliament for the rest of the legislative period…bloody marvellous, but I never expected the coalition to work in the first place…and rumour has it, being foreign minister of Germany is by far not the first job, Westerwelle has blown so far…



The Germans: What yodeling has to do with Pearl Harbor


One of the most cliché-based questions I have been asked is: Do you Germans really yodel?

Short answer: No, we don’t.

Comprehensive Answer: Not anymore. Yodeling has been banned all over Germany ever since the inventor of the traditional “Jodeln”, Afred Jodl” was found guilty in the Nuremberg Trials and hanged as a war criminal.

Only people of non-German origin are nowadays allowed to perform the act of public yodeling. Arguably the best yodler of all times is the Japanese artist Takeo Ischi, grandmaster of the ancient art of Kamikaze-Yodeling, probably best known for his Japanese-language yodeling-version of “Remember Pearl Harbor”. In 1941 Ischi’s father was given the choice between either becoming one of Japan’s famous suicide-bombers and joining his comrades in the attack on Pearl Harbor or becoming a yodeling Ninja . He chose the latter and was sent to Germany as a ninja assassin. His orders were to infiltrate the Wolf’s Lair and to assassinate Adolf Hitler and his Generals through a sudden act of Kamikaze-yodeling. Unfortunately he decided to hide under the desk in which Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg ,leader of the “20 July Plot” , codename “Operation Valkyrie” , had planted the bomb that was to kill Hitler. In a wicked twist of fate, both attempts to put an earlier end to World War II failed, as Ischi Senior’s body was torn apart by the bomb Stauffenberg had planted, leaving Hitler almost unharmed. Adolf Hitler and his wife Eva Braun both died in 2009 in a waterboarding accident in southeast Cuba.



How Germans do politics part III – musical chairs and Der Brain


Ok, I promised that would explain what Der Brain had to do with musical chairs. Ever since last year positions have been rotated a lot. I will only mention the most notable ones.

Do you know Karl-Theodor von und zu Guttenberg?
I will simply refer to him as “the baron” as his full name would need more space than I am allowed to use by my provider. A name that would fit a villain in the James Bond series or another series which makes frequent use of the mad-evil-German-scientist-cliché.
We all know that the world suffered a little crisis last year during which the former German Minister of Economics and Technology, Michael Glos, resigned. That was the beginning of a severe incident involving severe Der Brain….

After Glos had resigned, Guttenberg took not so much avail as we can see now.  Nevertheless, after the joined forces of CDU and FDP started to form a new government they still considered the Baron to be the man…but something happened!
A long time ago in a country far far away after a long period of bushwhacking a man named Franz Josef Jung, then federal minister of defense of Germany orchestrated what came to be known as the “Kunduz Oil Party”

While the party had been a real blast, it created a lot of hangover too, since there were so many complaints about the party having been announced on too short a notice…to counter the complaints Jung was relieved of his duty and made minister of labour and social affairs (!) instead…a former military man as minister for social affairs? BIIIG case of Der Brain….

One month later Jung resigned again…so we needed a new minister of defense and another minister of labour and social affairs…so guess who got the job at the head of the military? Of course the former Sergeant Guttenberg…but what about the ministry of labour? Along came the then ministress for family affairs, senior citizens, women and youth, Ursula von der Leyen. Hmmmmkay…now the most vital part of Germany’s economy is handled by a former medical doctor while the ministry of family affairs etc. is now handled by a 32-year old named Kristina Schroeder who has little to no experience and just finished her PhD thesis a couple of months ago.





How Germans do politics part II – Severe cases of “der Brain”


ok, now that I have explained how the communists chanced their marketing strategy by changing the name of the product, I would like to introduce my English-speaking readers to another phenomenon: Der Brain

A case of “Der Brain” is a case which makes the aspiring self-styled intellectual go “Aaargh! Mein Brain!”. The term refers to an individual who is so out of their mind they make you want to slam their head against something solid until they stop twitching…Sometimes something can be done for severe cases of Der Brain, there can be “Heilung” (“healing”). While in minor cases of Der Brain a small dose of Heilung can do the trick, more severe cases need a lot more Heilung. In Germany’s most severe case of Der Brain until today, the whole German people had to wish the patient that the healing may be victorious (“Sieg Heil!”)…nowadays the percentage of people suffering from severe Der Brain usually ranges between 1 and 2 percent, while the majority of the more severe cases seems to be found in Eastern Germany, since most calls for more Heil have been coming from that direction.Thanks to modern medical science, the former treatment for the most severe cases of Der Brain is no longer applied in Germany and has been replaced by less drastic measures. Be advised that pedophilia is not considered a case of Der Brain! The proper medical term for the sexual abuse of children is “Mein Gott”.

You’re asking, what Der Brain has to do with musical chairs?
I’ll explain that in part III!



Musical chairs – How the Germans do politics – Part I


It’s been a while since I last wrote an entry in English here, but today I feel like updating the non-German-speaking world on my view of what’s going on in this funny little country…I have written a lot about education in Germany in my “Dude, you bent my tower!” posts part one, part two and part three and in “Fun facts about Education in Germany”.

In the latter I also gave a brief introduction to how the government works. Today, I’d like to elaborate more on that.

First of all, unlike in the USA for example, the time a chancellor can stay in office is not limited…we hold general elections every four years and as long as he or she gets the majority, either on their own or through a coalition, they will stay in office until they turn to dust…

The most effective ways of losing the position are either by  losing the cold war against communism and having the Federal Republic of Germany annected by the German Democratic Republic as it happened to Helmut Kohl in 1989, after destroying serving his country for 16 years, or, like Gerhard Schroeder did, by joining the Communists because they offer a more attractive salary.

Gaining the position is the tricky part. Majorities are hard to get these days as the average German has about as much interest in the deeper workings of politics as their trademark Dachshund…not surprisingly, the number of people who actually bother going to the ballot keeps dropping and dropping

But we all know that a man named Angela Merkel did it and got elected a second time in a row, despite all bad press and most likely just for the sake of proving the Peter principle. And then the game of musical chairs began…

I refuse to comment on Guido Westerwelle, I have done so already and have nothing to add…

A more interesting thing are “Die Linke” and their story. There was a man named Oskar Lafontaine, a fine example of both solid  mental illness politics and why one should always hire a professional. He had been good friends with Gerhard Schroeder until Gazprom political differences drove them apart. And there was a man named Gregor Gysi whose economical status had severely decayed after his Fuehrer had emigrated to Chile…he had learned a lot from his former and now defunct employer, but not from life and as both Lafontaine’s and his political views are so far out  left-wing that they come back in on the right Pac-Man-style they decided to ignore any majorities and just found a party on their own..a principle which  had already been tested in a broad range and had worked reasonably well in the past century

Just to make the point clear, Lafontaine and Gysi are that kind of people who would consider Josef Stalin “too far right”. Hence those two made it possible that hell froze over and the CDU actually joined forces with the FDP and tried to form a coalition…well…it seems they’re still trying…the game of the musical chairs began…


Germany’s apology for Westerwelle’s behaviour


This post goes out to the whole United Kingdom:

Yes, the most unfortunate thing about Guido Westerwelle is that he does not enjoy skydiving like his predecessor, but we do have the ultimate apology…three words: Mercedes Brabus SL

Jeremy Clarkson will confirm we’re not that bad after all…



The reasons why Germany wants Westerwelle to be their foreign minister


Alright, time for another semi-political rant in English.

Many may have noticed we held some elections recently…not necessarily to make things any better, but rather because Germany got tired of complaining about the old coalition running our government, so we wanted a new coalition to complain about for a change…
The first new reason to complain about them is of course a man named Guido Westerwelle. Considering the fact he is the designated foreign minister for the new coalition composed of the Christian Democratic Uselessness and the Fully Democratic Pandemonium he already showed he knows how to handle international business by annoying the BBC. If you’d like to see what happened, check youtube for the video. And you might also want to watch a splendid display of foreign language skill.

Many people seem to wonder why on earth the new coalition chose him to be the new foreign minister if his language skills are obviously insufficient…there is a simple explanation:

I have already written about how the German government works and this case is no exception.
Guido Westerwelle is a fine example to prove my “shit floats” argument. Yes, he’s arrogant…yes, he’s a megalomaniac and yes, his English would not even get him a job at McDonald’s…that’s why he became a politician instead.
So why are we going to make him the foreign minister?

1. The foreign minister’s main job is traveling the world and negotiating things….bottom line is: Westerwelle will be AWAY most of the time, hence he can’t screw up internal matters as bad as he could if he was around all day

2. He has a doctorate in law…seriously…if you had the chance to get at least one lawyer out of the country for the next four years, you would take it, wouldn’t you?

3. He’s gay…not only will that repel the charms of Berlusconi and Sarkozy…we also figured that with Merkel at the helm and Westerwelle at her side, we have to half men running the show which might just be as good as one real man…

4. If Merkel cannot have the better hairdo, she at least wants to be the one looking more competent…

5. His English is substandard and while the parties keep selling Germany’s long history of language deficiencies (Hans Dietrich Genscher is rumored not to have been able to speak any English when he became foreign minister and you sure do painfully remember Helmut Kohl’s and Gerhard Schroeder’s foreign language skills…) as a sign of “cultural identity”, I’m not too worried about that problem…since Schroeder has long joined Gasprom, we do not really need a foreign minister who speaks English as long as we have a chancellor who speaks Russian…
My message to Mr. Westerwelle: If you want to get away with crappy English in a position for which this particular language is key, you’d have to have the personality and political skill of Helmut Schmidt, Willy Brandt or Konrad Adenauer…
As I already said about the German idea of a “Beamter”…incompetence is not a reason to get fired…

But I must add that I am equally disappointed by the BBC…I personally would also have found it quite irritating to be asked to reply to a question in English, but still I would at least have replied IN English to make it clear that the language spoken during a press conference is usually the hosting country’s rather than showing such a nasty lack of diplomatic skill during one of my first public appearances after the elections…yet I would have expected the BBC to send a person more appropriate for the job abroad…what is he going to report about from a German press conference if he doesn’t speak the language? Had it been CNN, I would not have been surprised by poorly skilled reporters…but the BBC…that’s just sad…

I’ll just send him a letter and offer him free lessons, just to spice up my cv…might actually work…

All cynicism aside, I do see a brighter future for Germany…I will love to go to the UK again and again within the next years…just as I noticed people in England stopped asking me about Hitler after George W. Bush had been elected, with Westerwelle I’m sure I will no longer hear any more jokes about Angela Merkel…

As I said…”poets and thinkers”…


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