Horst Mahler

FAZ:

Der verurteilte Holocaust-Leugner und Neonazi Horst Mahler ist aus der Haft entlassen worden. Nach Angaben eines Sprechers des Brandenburger Justiz­ministeriums vom Dienstag verließ der 84 Jahre alte Mahler bereits am Vortag das Gefängnis in Brandenburg an der Havel. Mahler war Mitbegründer der links­terroristischen Rote Armee Fraktion (RAF), wurde dann Mitglied der NPD und musste sich mehrmals wegen Leugnung des Holocausts vor Gericht verantworten.

Horst Mahler (hinten) im Oktober 1972 mit seinen Anwälten Hans-Christian Ströbele und Otto Schily

I did presentations on Mahler a couple times for language classes. For me over the years he’s been a figure in various RAF books, always imprisoned. The NPD involvement has always seemed a coda. It’s odd to see him described first as a Holocaust denier.

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BBC:

US-India 2+2: Crucial defence deal signed

(L-R) US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Foreign Minister S Jaishankar

These men really are standing in front of multiple American flags and multiple Indian flags. They are. Pompeo is really wearing the Covid mask he appears to be wearing.

Varieties of Democracy:

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Voters across Philly wait through rain, cold, and long lines as window to cast ballots early closes

Philadelphia Inquirer:

As Marlene Mills-Richardson walked out of Overbrook Elementary School [two miles directly north of the MOVE house bombed by Philadelphia police in May 1985 -mw], having just voted, she felt overwhelmed.

The line outside a satellite elections office in the West Philadelphia neighborhood Monday afternoon was even longer than it had been three hours earlier. That’s when she had arrived at the school, about 11 a.m., with her blue folding chair.

While she decried long lines outside Overbrook and elsewhere for early voting in the United States, Mills-Richardson, 70, was grateful her fellow Philadelphians were committed to making their voices heard.

Philadelphia voters said Monday that they were eager to cast their ballots and for the 2020 election to be over — and determined to make sure their vote counts.

Connie Hsu, 18, a University of Pennsylvania freshman, waited with two other college students for an hour and a half at City Hall before they were told to get on a free shuttle to Julia de Burgos Elementary School in North Philadelphia, because the line at City Hall would take four hours.

Outside the elementary school, they waited more than an hour in a line of about 75 people before they got in. They all said they were excited to vote in one of the states expected to determine the winner.

“If I voted in my state, it wouldn’t have meant that much,” said Hsu, a Tennessee native who is registered in Pennsylvania.

Carol Kilgore, 64, said she requested a mail ballot twice, before deciding to go ahead and line up at 8:30 a.m. “I just want to vote and get it over with,” she said. “The stress involved is too much.”

There was also some confusion about where people could vote. Ann Cherry, 64, said she’d started at 7 a.m., driving around to three places that had been traditional polling places in the past before she finally made it to Tilden.

“It’s a lot of turmoil,” she said of the election. “I want to make my vote count.”

Frank Price, 69, a former police officer from Wynnefield, tapped his feet to Gospel music as he waited. As a person who is partially handicapped and uses a motorized wheelchair, he said voting on Election Day would be even more difficult for him than Monday’s long wait.

“I know on Nov. 3, it’s going to be so mammothly crowded,” said Price, who was about halfway through the line and had already waited nearly an hour and a half.

As a Marine, he said it’s ingrained in him to always respect the commander-in-chief, but he doesn’t think Trump is fit for the job. Like most in line, he was waiting to vote for Biden.

Trump, he said, is “not a good president. If he wins again, it’ll be devastating.”

    • Philadelphians are committed to making their voices heard, and filling out a card every two years is the way to do that.
    • They are determined to make sure their vote counts (the Inquirer leaves unsaid the manner in which Philadelphians manifest their determination and ensure their votes count).
    • Voting in a state which is overwhelmingly predicted to favor one candidate or the other is not as important as voting in one of the states expected to determine the winner.
    • Voting is stressful. One votes and gets it over with.
    • Trump is not fit for the job of commander-in-chief, however Biden is fit.
    • Trump is not a good president. Biden will be a good president.
    • If Trump wins again, it will be devastating.
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Neuer Höchstwert, außer Kontrolle

Spiegel:

Neuer Höchstwert am Wochenende
Tatsächlich droht die Situation, zunehmend außer Kontrolle zu geraten.

These two motifs have been endlessly reproduced since the spring: x locale has just experienced a record number of Covid cases/deaths. The situation threatens to get out of control. You see this over and over and over again regardless of the name or language of the publication, the size or nationality of the location that is named.

Why is a new “record” continually newsworthy? Who, where, possesses a legitimate claim to having Covid under control? China? New Zealand? What is the effect on people consuming news media to continually be deluged with headlines about new record numbers? I’ve largely stopped reading the articles behind these headlines myself, only skimming to see what measures may affect me: what borders are closed/reopened, what mask requirements on the street are imposed/lifted. The numbers themselves have largely lost meaning. The fact that some particular figure constitutes a “record”, or a “new record” has never been of more than dubious value.

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Baltimore Four, October 27, 1967

Jonah House:

Phil Berrigan, Tom Lewis, draft board workers at the Baltimore Customs House October 27, 1967.

“How do we move from dissent to resistance?” The question was in the fore­front of consciousness among anti-war activists of the 1960s. As they watched the young refuse induction and go to prison, the question became critical: “What about us? How can we encourage them if we ourselves are not willing to share in their risk?”

“The Baltimore Four” was the first of more than 100 draft board actions across the country that spanned the years of 1967 – 1972.

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Mahnen und warnen

Spiegel:

Die Kanzlerin mahnt und warnt, das ist die Rolle, die sie in diesen Ausnahmemonaten einnimmt.

“Die Pandemie mit ihren vielfältigen Folgen trifft uns alle, einige aber besonders hart”, sagte Merkel, “vor allem jene, die ohnehin nicht gerade auf der Sonnenseite des Lebens stehen, die im Alltag Aufmerksamkeit und Unterstützung brauchen, die sie nun aber Corona-bedingt noch schwerer als sonst bekommen können. Und so gewinnt die soziale Frage an Schärfe.”

I find this such an interesting insight, and one which sums up observations I’d been reading from people like Joschka Fischer regarding differences between the German Kanzler/Kanzlerin and the French President, Marc Bloch’s Les rois thaumaturges: Étude sur le caractère surnaturel attribué à la puissance royale particulièrement en France et en Angleterre. There’s a German “tut tutting” characteristic that really doesn’t lend itself to the role of leading European integration, and the CDU take on the world, man, just doesn’t begin to engage with the challenges of Covid, Covid bonds, Moria. It’s pretty easy to see why Fischer and Joffe look to Macron.

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Rot, gelb oder grün

Die Zeit:

In den vergangenen Tagen hatte es immer wieder Appelle für mehr Einheitlichkeit bei den Corona-Auflagen bundesweit gegeben, etwa von Bayerns Ministerpräsident Markus Söder. Der saarländische Ministerpräsident Tobias Hans (CDU) sagte der Rheinischen Post: “Wir brauchen einen einheitlichen Maßnahmenkatalog. Die Bürger wollen Transparenz, sie wollen wissen, was passiert, wenn ihr Landkreis rot, gelb oder grün eingestuft ist.”

I’ve been seeing SF Gate and Los Angeles Times articles for some time referring to the color categories various California counties are in, and feeling pretty far removed from California I’ve not given it too much thought. UK press has headlines about various “tiers”, but I don’t live in the UK. What does it do to people to begin seeing their city/county/Land as characterized by one of three colors, corresponding to an official perception of the rate of virus infection? I remember years ago a supermarket cashier noting I obviously wasn’t a local because in response to the question “How’s it goin’?” I’d responded “I’m doing well, thanks” rather than “I’m good.” Grammar aside the vapidity of characterizing one’s state as “good” is certainly manifest. When Berlin is now “red”, this no longer means the SPD/Die Linke are in office, “green” no longer references Robert Habeck. Humans feel most comfortable within a limited range of ambiguity, and it may very well be that the German government will increasingly rely on a narrow set of category choices both to characterize Covid conditions and to determine responses. What will this do to the ways in which we tend to view the world in general terms, unrelated to Covid?

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Irrevocable

Wade Davis, Rolling Stone:

But when all the old certainties are shown to be lies, when the promise of a good life for a working family is shattered as factories close and corporate leaders, growing wealthier by the day, ship jobs abroad, the social contract is irrevocably broken. For two generations, America has celebrated globalization with iconic intensity, when, as any working man or woman can see, it’s nothing more than capital on the prowl in search of ever cheaper sources of labor.

Ω Ω Ω

Odious as he may be, Trump is less the cause of America’s decline than a product of its descent. As they stare into the mirror and perceive only the myth of their exceptionalism, Americans remain almost bizarrely incapable of seeing what has actually become of their country. The republic that defined the free flow of information as the life blood of democracy, today ranks 45th among nations when it comes to press freedom. In a land that once welcomed the huddled masses of the world, more people today favor building a wall along the southern border than supporting health care and protection for the undocumented mothers and children arriving in desperation at its doors.

Ω Ω Ω

When American friends ask for an explanation, I encourage them to reflect on the last time they bought groceries at their neighborhood Safeway. In the U.S. there is almost always a racial, economic, cultural, and educational chasm between the consumer and the check-out staff that is difficult if not impossible to bridge. In Canada, the experience is quite different. One interacts if not as peers, certainly as members of a wider community. The reason for this is very simple. The checkout person may not share your level of affluence, but they know that you know that they are getting a living wage because of the unions. And they know that you know that their kids and yours most probably go to the same neighborhood public school. Third, and most essential, they know that you know that if their children get sick, they will get exactly the same level of medical care not only of your children but of those of the prime minister. These three strands woven together become the fabric of Canadian social democracy.

Ω Ω Ω

That social democracy will never take hold in the United States may well be true, but, if so, it is a stunning indictment, and just what Oscar Wilde had in mind when he quipped that the United States was the only country to go from barbarism to decadence without passing through civilization.

The chasm here between the society of the American Safeway shopper and the check-out staff is exactly the gap which Peter Temin addresses.

With the American social contract, such as it was, irrevocably broken, what does the US of the 21st Century look like? Here is a society unwilling to even consider social democracy.

The Davis article was cited by Sarah Pines. This is the truth which I’ve seen several German journalists refer to yet is absent from US and UK media coverage of the 2020 US presidential campaign. There seems a spasm of symbolic combat to dethrone the US president and no attention given to his use as scapegoat. What happens when combatants wake up the morning after the mêlée and find themselves surrounded by a shambles which has not disappeared but has rather been increased by their struggles?

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Doch es war ja nicht alles gut, bevor Donald Trump kam.

Sarah Pines, Die Zeit:

Diesen Leuten mit Verachtung zu begegnen, würde auch bedeuten, einem Wunder­glauben nachzuhängen, wonach in dem Moment alles wieder gut wäre in den USA, da der vermeintliche Verantwortliche für die misslichen amerikanischen Verhältnisse verschwände, abgewählt würde. Doch würde es im Falle einer Wahlniederlage Trumps tatsächlich Reformen geben?

Das politische Programm des demokratischen Trump-Herausforderers Joe Biden und der Vizekandidatin Kamala Harris wird in der heißen Wahlkampfphase derzeit kaum diskutiert. Eine Hauptstrategie Bidens war es, sich vergleichsweise still zu verhalten, um Trumps vergebliche Suche nach einer zündenden Wahl­kampf­strategie umso deutlicher werden zu lassen: Mit jedem neuen Anwurf gegen Biden (und dessen Sohn Hunter), jeder neuen Versprechung auf das wundersame Verschwinden der Corona-Krise, jeder neuen Lüge durch den Amtsinhaber wirkte dessen Gegenkandidat automatisch präsidentieller und kompetenter. Biden musste kaum mehr tun, als vor einer zweiten Trump-Amtszeit zu warnen.

Besser nicht zu genau hinschauen bei Biden
Die Website joebiden.com verzeichnet in der Rubrik “Joe’s Vision” fast wie im rhetorischen Stil seiner kurzzeitigen innerparteilichen Konkurrentin Elizabeth Warren einen “Biden Plan” für fast alles und fast jeden. Dutzende verschiedene Vorhaben und Adressaten dieser Vorhaben werden dort aufgeführt. Die Trump-Kampagne hingegen hat darauf verzichtet, ein neues Wahlprogramm zu erstellen; sie hat das von 2016 einfach wieder aufgelegt, so als habe der Präsident es nicht nötig, sich neue Ziele zu setzen (was zugleich ein unfreiwilliges Eingeständnis bedeutet, die Ziele nicht erreicht zu haben).

Man darf nun nicht zu tief in die einzelnen Programmpunkte der Biden-Kampagne eintauchen. Unter “Tackle the Climate Emergency” etwa wird zwar der auch nur sehr theoretisch formulierte “Green New Deal” der Parteilinken Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez als “Rahmensetzung” für die Umwelt­politik einer Regierung Bidens genannt. Doch schon die von Biden genannte Frist, bis wann die USA klima- und also treibhausgasneutral sein sollen, ist ernüchternd: 2050. Das gleiche Ziel hat die Bundesregierung für Deutschland formuliert, und Beifall für Übereifer bei der Weltrettung hat sie dafür von kaum einem Klimaschützer bekommen. Auch wenn Biden diese Aussage selbst­verständlich vermeidet, ist er doch weit­gehend ein Kandidat des Status quo ante. Alles soll wieder so werden wie vor Donald Trump. Nur ohne Barack Obama. Doch es war ja nicht alles gut, bevor Donald Trump kam.

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Peter Temin

Sarah Pines, Die Zeit:

Die USA sind kein Wohlfahrtsstaat. Strukturell sind Menschen dort auf sich allein gestellt, sie werden vom Staat im Stich gelassen, wobei die Armen hintenüberfallen, diejenigen mit materiellem oder Bildungs­kapital hingegen nicht. Schon die Gründer­väter Benjamin Franklin, James Madison und Thomas Jefferson drückten Ende des 18., Anfang des 19. Jahrhunderts der da noch jungen Nation einen Grund­gedanken des schottischen Nationalökonomen Adam Smith auf. In The Wealth of Nations, ein Werk, das die Männer allesamt gelesen hatten und gern zitierten, findet sich die Idee vom Wohlstand einer Nation, der dann zunehme, wenn das Individuum sein Eigeninteresse ohne Eingreifen des Staates verfolgen könne.

Die Folge war eine bereits von Alexis de Tocqueville in dem Erfahrungs­bericht De la démocratie en Amérique (veröffentlicht in zwei Bänden 1835 und 1840) festgestellte Alleingelassenheit, die Freiheit als individuelle, vom Staat (mit Ausnahme des Second Amendment, dem Recht auf Waffen­besitz) kaum geschützte Unabhängigkeit des und der Einzelnen versteht. Deren strukturelle Schwächen traten nun in Zeiten der Pandemie vollends zutage.

I remember many years ago being surprised to hear Adam Smith referred to as an early American, and surprised to realize that while many of my peers would easily say “Wealth of Nations” when they heard “Adam Smith” in a sort of reflexive Jeopardy! response, very few had actually read The Wealth of Nations, just as if you said “Das Kapital” people might easily answer “Karl Marx” without having ever glimpsed the work, or without even having any idea how many volumes it is comprised of. Sarah Pines is writing of Americans, and America, and chooses to begin with ideas of Adam Smith and Alexis de Tocqueville. Her giving the French title here caused me to pause and reflect: how many Americans read French? I remember in my teens my dad giving me de Tocqueville to read, in English, of course, but how many line dancing-Philadelphians are familiar with de Tocqueville in any language? One can certainly argue individuals are shaped by their society’s myths without being consciously familiar with them, but I wonder if the very term “their society”, the idea of a unitary society, is perhaps of little validity. I wonder if Peter Temin’s application of the model of a dual economy to the US is really quite necessary to understand the country in 2020.

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