Tag Archive: Germany


“Viewed by some as a nation of square-jawed robots whose language sounds like something awful in the drains, whose cars outperform all others and whose football team seldom loses, the Germans seem unassailable.” – Xenophobe’s Guide to the Germans

How does Almost DailyBrett square the ingrained stereotype of the industrious unsmiling Germans with the idea of München with its famous umlaut being a romantic venue for newlyweds?

My beautiful Fraulein Jeanne — now lovely Frau Jeanne — was more than curious, if not downright skeptical — when she first heard your author’s suggestion about beginning our August 2015 honeymoon in München or how the Yanks spell it, Munich.

Besides the romance of summertime beer gardens, wine bars, outdoor markets, jaw-dropping churches, great shopping and Medieval cobble-stone streets, München is perfectly located in the geographical center of Europe.

Why is that important? Jeanne also wanted to visit artistic Florence, Italy for a week as part of our honeymoon. Kein Problem.

Germany is indeed das Land in der Mitte (or the country in the middle of Europe), and München is a great place to have a Wunderbare time in Germany.

Consider the difference between fun-loving Bavarians in the south, and the image of goose-stepping, monocle-sporting Prussians to the north.

Bavaria with its story-book fairy-tale towns (e.g., Rothenburg ob der Tauber), its snow-capped majestic Alps, Mad King Ludwig’s castles and traditional folk in lederhosen and dirndls is very familiar to most Americans.

There was also the lure of Neuschwanstein (Disneyphiles instinctively know this castle), which was a must see for our Honeymoon. Mad King Ludwig’s most famous of his four castles belongs on anyone’s Bucket List.

The Best European Point of Entry

There are very few words in the English language more frightening than … Heathrow.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

London Heathrow airport code (LHR) ranks up there with Chicago’s O’Hare (ORD) or New York’s Kennedy (JFK) as the most desultory, frustrating and disorganized airports in the world.

When you land at Heathrow, nine times out of 10 there is no jetway. Instead, you walk down the stairs to a waiting bus to take you across the tarmac to the terminal … and then up another flight of stairs to baggage reclaim, customs and the transit hall.

Travelers to Europe have alternatives for the continent’s initial point of entry: Frankfurt (FRA) or Paris (CDG) with their own individual horror stories.

Just as important, if one pulls out a map of Europe, München lies right smack dab in the middle.

Instead of flying to jammed Heathrow, Charles de Gaulle or Frankfurt, ultra-modern Munich (MUC) offers immediate air transfer or high-speed rail connections to all points on the continent, and quick and efficient subway ties to downtown München.

One can arrive at the MUC airport and literallybe  drinking beer at the Augustiner Keller (founded by the Augustinian monks in 1328) in downtown München one hour later. Trust Almost DailyBrett: It can be much Wurst, arriving and enduring other airports.

An American traveler may be inclined to make the obvious observation that English is spoken at London’s Heathrow or Gatwick. The argument: Why not start a honeymoon or any vacation in Europe at a venue that speaks your own language, English, the world’s Lingua Franca?

Many make this choice, and who can blame them? Almost DailyBrett, an admitted Germanophile with nearly 10 visits (lost count) to München for business and holiday, urges travelers to live a little and experience different cultures and languages. Even though English and German are related Germanic languages with about 25 percent of their combined vocabularies serving as cognates, Deutsch is totally different and distinct with its own (cringe) difficult grammar rules.

Keep in mind that English is compulsory in the German schools. With few exceptions they can speak your language, but can you speak any German? Knowing a few German words and even trying to speak their language — before asking them if they speak English — is more times than naught appreciated in München and other towns in Germany.

Will you make mistakes with the language? Natürlich.

For Jeanne and yours truly our honeymoon consisted of two languages and cultures: Bavarian dialect German (e.g., Grüss Gott instead of Guten Tag for the standard greeting) and Italian in Firenze.

We learned when it was time to ask for the check at a restaurant, it was die Rechnung bitte in Germany and il Konto prego in Italy.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with honeymooning in traditional tropical venues such as Hawaii, Mexico or the Caribbean.

However, if a loving newlywed couple is seeking a non-traditional venue to celebrate a marriage and to explore the best of storybook Europe, München is a great launching (and ending) point.

Almost DailyBrett note: Jeanne and your author are heading off for our fourth trip to Europe as a couple this summer including Paris and Salzburg. And our point of entry to the continent: München!

 

A simple little phrase is ultimately bringing down one of the longest standing and most influential global leaders in the first two decades of the 21st Century.

The final demise of German Chancellor Angela Merkel after 13 years in office, most likely next year, comes three years after she grabbed and clutched the new highest voltage Third Rail of Politics: Asylum Immigration.

In 2015, Merkel unilaterally decided to allow approximately 1.2 million asylum seekers (about the size of metropolitan Portland, Oregon) from the Middle East into a country of 82 million.

From a public relations standpoint, there was very little explanation and preparation by Merkel and her government to garner public support for such a drastic upsurge of immigrants into the 4th largest economy in the world.

„Wir schaffen das,” proclaimed Angela Merkel. Simply translated: “We can do it.”

Die Kanzerlin, who is affectionately known as “Mutti’ or Mother, was widely seen for so many years as being a steady source of deliberate and reasoned decisions. Merkel deserves praise for her vital role in the completion of Germany’s public relations miracle (Öffentlichkeitsarbeitswunder), rising from the globe’s #1 pariah at Zero Hour 1945 to the most admired country in the world.

She has been acknowledged as the most powerful woman on earth, and yet the Ph.D in quantum chemistry was a steady hand for Germany’s now enduring and successful democracy.

At one time, Merkel was universally viewed as one of modern Germany’s greatest chancellors, comparable to her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) predecessors Konrad Adenauer and Helmut Kohl.

Is the bloom off the rose?

Almost DailyBrett acknowledges that once she makes a major decision that Merkel is an influential leader.

When the ground shook Japan’s (e.g., 8.9 earthquake) Fukushima nuclear reactor in 2011, Merkel immediately announced that Germany would prudently exit nuclear power by 2022.

When the southern nations of the European Union were attempting to break the 2 percent budget deficit limitation rule (e.g., particularly Greece), Merkel imposed fiscal austerity, and by extension Germany’s will.

When a particular bully arrived on the scene and tried to push her around and intimidate with a large canine (e.g., Russia’s Vladimir Putin), she demonstrated her resolve.

No leader in the European leader has done more to get into the face of the former KGB chief, and yet her leadership always represented Germany as a reluctant hegemon.

Most of all because of Germany’s solid incorporation into the European Union and the passage of time, Germans now joyously wave their flag and are proud of their normal nation.

“Half-Dead Wreck”?

“I don’t want to be a half-dead wreck when I leave politics.” – Angela Merkel

In nations without term limits (e.g., Germany), leaders can overstay their welcome. More than a few in history failed to recognize the flashing lights about when it’s time to step down … usually at the 12-year-mark … from the bully pulpit (i.e., FDR, Margaret Thatcher, Helmut Kohl).

After inviting 1.2 million asylum seekers into Germany without any preamble, and worse women celebrating New Year’s Eve in Cologne being sexually assaulted and raped by asylum seekers, the tide was turning against Angela Merkel.

The optics — worse yet the reality — of the New Year’s Eve attacks became a metaphor for a decision that was too much, too fast with little societal preparation. Merkel’s chancellorship was coming to an end.

Even though her party was returned to power in 2017, the Christian Democrats (CDU) and her coalition partner, Social Democrats (SPD), repeatedly lost strength to the Greens on the left and the anti-immigrant/anti-EU Alternative for Germany on the right. This electoral trend intensified with breathtaking losses (i.e., Bavaria and Hesse) for the CDU and SPD during the course of this year.

Almost DailyBrett knows her legacy is somewhat tarnished. The question remains: Will history be good to her?

The Caravan Is Coming

Even though comparisons between two nations with two distinct cultures, located nine time zones apart, are difficult at best … one contentious issue ties both of them together: immigration.

In both countries, there are those who espouse completely open borders … come one, come all.

These souls advocate for the right of non-citizens to hold driver’s licenses, serve on public boards and commissions … and even vote.

Wasn’t the privilege of voting reserved for actual citizens?

And just as asylum seekers from Syria and other bad places became the catalyst for the political downfall of Angela Merkel, could an approaching caravan(s) of asylum seekers from Central America become the source of political peril here in America?

Before one touches the new third rail of politics … political asylum … America’s political class would be well advised to weigh what happened to Angela Merkel’s tenure as Germany’s chancellor, and most likely her legacy as well.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/29/opinion/in-merkel-europe-loses-a-leader.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/29/world/europe/angela-merkel-germany.html

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-46020745

https://www.politico.eu/article/angela-merkel-drops-the-we-can-do-it-slogan-catchphrase-migration-refugees/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/02/20/putins-pooch-und-merkels-dog-o-phobia/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/09/24/the-right-leader-for-the-fatherlandeurope-just-happens-to-be-a-woman/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/08/22/morning-in-germany/

 

Always charming Donald Trump thinks Angela Merkel is “insane.”

In contrast, Time Magazine dubbed Germany’s first Kanzlerin as its “Person of the Year” for 2015.merkelsyrians

Merkel’s polling numbers plummeted from about 75 percent approval just two years ago to below 50 percent now according to ARD Deutschland. Keep in mind, she was even lower in the same survey, touching 40 percent at the nadir of the Euro crisis in 2010. She was overwhelmingly re-elected in 2013.

She has received international accolades for Germany’s Willkommenskultur or opening up Germany’s borders to those fleeing death and persecution in Syria and Iraq. At the same time, she is blamed for threatening the European Union’s Schengen (Treaty) open-borders policy for its member countries.

Merkel has also faced serious questions as to exactly how many refugees can Deutschland reasonably absorb, an 80-million soul country about the size of Ohio. In 2015, Germany accepted 1.1 million, with another 1 million or more projected for this year based on the daily in-flows.

The issue literally exploded on New Year’s Eve in Köln as hundreds of immigrant men, ostensibly celebrating the arrival of 2016, forced women to run a sexual gauntlet as they groped, robbed and even raped. The German public reaction was predictable and enduring.

Does all of the above signal that Germany’s Öffentlickeitsarbeitswunder is over? Or if Germany’s public relations miracle lives on, is Angela Merkel after 11 years in office finally in trouble politically?

The immediate reaction by Almost DailyBrett from nine-time zones to the west is that Germany’s epic comeback from the ashes of World War II and the Holocaust is still intact However, Merkel may indeed be facing the strongest and potentially lethal political headwinds in her tenure as chancellor.

No More Walls

In America, there is the clamor by a noisy type to build a wall on the southern border and to have Mexico pay for it. Sure.

Germany has more than enough experience with Walls, in particular die Berliner Mauer. Nein Danke!

A good reason for Germany’s willingness to “manage” more than 1 million refugees per year steams undoubtedly from a collective guilt originating from World War II and the Holocaust. Germany is still performing penance.germanysatellite

Another is that Merkel is the unofficial titular head of the European Union. If Germany does not shoulder (more than) its fair share of the burden of welcoming and hopefully assimilating literally hundreds or thousands of refugees, then how can Deutschland reasonably expect other European nations to do the same?

There is also the issue that comes with Germany’s hegemony in the European Union. Deutschland wants to be seen as a normal country, but it is still das Land in der Mitte … and more. Germany is the world’s fourth largest economy, prolific exporter and is the home of legendary German engineering.

The problem with size and strength is this combination usually leads to jealousy and demands (see: the United States of America). Germany can never wipe clean the tarnish that comes with Adolf Hitler, the Nazis, the Third Reich and the Holocaust. Ironically, the memories and images of die NS Zeit may have been partially attributable to Merkel’s success as chancellor … her measured “Mutti” consensus-oriented style serves as a partial antidote to these horrific times.

Should She Run Again?

The next federal elections in Germany are due in 2017. By that time, Merkel will have served as chancellor for 12 years, just short of Helmut Kohl’s 16 years and Konrad Adenauer’s 14 years. One of the truisms of politics is that one can overstay her or his welcome in the center ring. With each decision no matter how popular comes disappointment, if not enemies.

How much disappointment (e.g., refugee policy) and how many enemies (e.g., CSU boss and Bavaria premier Horst Seehofer), will she trigger/ or has she triggered during the course of 12 years is the subject of conjecture.

Britain’s Margaret Thatcher and Germany’s reunifier Kohl waited too long to exit stage right. Their departures were less-than-celebratory.ursula

Almost DailyBrett does not rule out that Merkel pulling out a Kaninchen out of a Hutte. At the same time, Germany’s first woman Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen is waiting in the wings. Will Merkel want to seed her seat to a fellow CDU minister (assuming the voters go along)?

If so, the Feminization of the Fatherland may produce yet another chapter in Germany’s Public Relations Miracle.

https://www.bundeskanzlerin.de/Webs/BKin/EN/Chancellery/Timeline_Federal_Chancellors_since_1949/timeline_federal_chancellors_since_1949_node.html

http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21692916-under-pressure-reverse-her-refugee-policy-angela-merkel-faces-court-case-welcome?zid=307&ah=5e80419d1bc9821ebe173f4f0f060a07

http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21688418-ultimate-victim-sexual-assaults-migrants-could-be-angela-merkels-liberal-refugee

http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21685512-attacks-women-mobs-young-men-inflame-germanys-refugee-debate-new-year-new-fear

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8XUinVkCNk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7vMZYuWCsQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxJvXHu0Xf8

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/06/18/germany-from-holocaust-to-normalcy/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/06/01/the-katarina-witt-brand-uber-alles/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/06/24/feminizing-the-fatherland/

https://www.bundesregierung.de/Webs/Breg/EN/FederalGovernment/Cabinet/UrsulavonderLeyen/_node.html

 

 

 

Hillary’s election was “inevitable” in the 2007-2008 presidential election cycle.

As we all know, it didn’t quite work out that way.

hillaryobama2008

For months, we have been told once again that at least her 2016 Democratic nomination was “inevitable,” and quite possibly her election as the 45th president of the United States could be phoned in as well.

The plan commenced with the “Hard Choices” book tour, followed by ones-and-zeroes binary code video presidential candidacy announcement, and then bus tours to listen to average voters in Iowa and New Hampshire. The path seemed so easy … until it wasn’t.

Almost DailyBrett will refrain from taking a deep dive into the plethora of errors including declaring the first couple was “dead broke,” the myriad of allegations of conflict of interest regarding the Clinton Foundation and of course, the wiped clean private email server … that damned server.

We are 14 months away from 2016 election day, and the tenacity of the Clintons should never be underestimated. There is still time for the “inevitable” to once again be inevitable.

Maybe to understand why “inevitability,” which some could very well equate with arrogance, is not quite working, it is instructive to appreciate the profiles of two very powerful women: Madam Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton and Kanzerlin Angela Merkel.

Never Take The Electorate for Granted

“….It is for the rising German generation, for German youth, to dispel the mistrust, this fear, by rejecting what has long been rejected and clearly and unanimously announcing their desire: not for a German Europe, but for a European Germany.” – Author Thomas Mann

One is known as “Mutti” or a German term of endearment for “mother.”

The other is closer to being America’s mother in law.

This month, Angela Merkel will mark her 10th year as the second longest-serving Chancellor of the modern iteration of the Vaterland, the European Union’s strongest economy: Germany. Merkel bristles at the notion that she is the first female chancellor of Germany, preferring to be seen as the first German chancellor, who just happens to be a woman.

After the evil demagoguery that led to Germany’s eternal shame, most Germans want their nation to be seen as normal. They desire their country to be regarded as  an integral part of Europe, not for Europe to be an essential  part of Germany.

Ever compromising Angela Merkel has served as a calming influence for the 80 million inhabitants of Germany. Yes, she has ruffled feathers in rebellious Greece and other southern European nations, but that is a result of fiscal austerity policy not because of her personality.merkel2

She and her Union parties will be required to call an election in two years’ time. Certainly, there will be no proclamations of inevitability. Instead, the anticipated rhetoric will be along the lines of her earlier, Deutschland’s Zukunft in Guten Händen (Germany’s Future in Good Hands). Merkel will once again want to be seen as a strong mother figure, which seems to suit the Vaterland with no desire to flex its muscles ever again. Germany has been repeatedly described as the reluctant hegemon.

“Run as if you are running behind; Take Nothing for Granted”

The folks who attend the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses are notoriously fickle.

The same maybe even more true with the Live Free or Die crowd in no-state-sales-tax New Hampshire, the site of the country’s initial primary.

These are retail states. These are states that want to see the candidates in living rooms, coffee shops and factory gates. They are fiercely independent. They don’t want to be taken for granted. Their support is anything but inevitable.NHvoters

If elected, Hillary Rodham Clinton will make history as the first woman president of the United States. Her other half, William Jefferson Clinton, will be the nation’s First Man, a position he has previously held … albeit in another capacity.

From a public relations, marketing, reputation management standpoint is it best to campaign to be the first woman president of the United States or the first president of the United States, who just happens to be a woman?

If Angela Merkel was born in Hampton Roads as opposed to Hamburg, there would be no campaign focused on her inevitability. She would undoubtedly prefer to be the first president of the United States, who happens to be a woman.

Reflecting back on my days working on George Deukmejian’s successful California gubernatorial campaigns and also in his media office in the Office of the Governor, we always ran as if we were running behind (even when we won by a record 61-37 percent margin in 1986), and we took absolutely nothing for granted.

Do the folks in Iowa and New Hampshire believe they are being taken for granted, let alone residents of South Carolina, Nevada and the other states that will follow on the primary/caucus calendar?

Almost DailyBrett contends the electorate is much more tuned in than many of those within the confines of the Beltway believe, ditto many of those in the hallowed halls of academia.

Maybe Hillary and her trained spokespeople would be well advised to be a tad more humble, and focus on Hillary becoming America’s first president, who happens to be a woman.

The image of Mutti is far more endearing than America’s inevitable Mother in Law.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2015/09/02/what-hillarys-sinking-poll-numbers-really-mean-in-one-chart/?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_popns

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2015/09/02/hillary-clintons-image-is-struggling-but-shes-no-donald-trump-or-jeb-bush/?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_daily202

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-clinton-remains-yes-inevitable/2015/09/03/57de7cdc-5273-11e5-8c19-0b6825aa4a3a_story.html?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_headlines

http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2015/01/angela-merkel-profile

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/09/why-is-merkel-still-so-popular/279887/

http://www.angela-merkel.de/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-sanders-vs-clinton-new-hampshire-replays-past-splits/2015/09/07/072ac4ec-5581-11e5-b8c9-944725fcd3b9_story.html?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_evening

 

 

 

 

 

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