A curious broadside from Bernie Sanders is aimed at whom, exactly?

The Guardian today printed a piece by Bernie Sanders with the title “Trump’s economy is great for billionaires, not for working people” the first two-thirds of which is an attack on the Trump administration’s huge diversion of wealth to the richest 1%. Well and good, though misdirected of course. Then come these two interesting paragraphs:

While working families continue to struggle, the US now has more income and wealth inequality than at any time since the 1920s. Since the Wall Street crash [here Sanders means 2007-2009], 46% of all new income that has been created in the US has gone to the top 1%. Corporate CEOs have seen their incomes go up by 937% over the past 40 years and now make over 360 times more than their average workers. While corporate profits are near an all-time high, wages as a percentage of the economy are near an all-time low.

The most important economic reality of our time is that over the past 40 years there has been an enormous transfer of income and wealth from the middle class to the wealthiest people in America. Since 1979, the bottom 90% of Americans have seen their share of national income decline from 58 % to just 46% costing them nearly $11,000 per household.

While in his concluding section Sanders again refers to “Trump’s policies” he focuses much more on what “we must” do — “we” meaning who?

Language endlessly fascinates me, and instructional games in language classes often prompt new insight on challenges posed by my mother tongue. How does one say “class interests” in American without using the word “class”? How do you talk about American society in American without using the words “capitalism” or “neoliberalism” or “oligarchy”?

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Largest defeat for a sitting government in history


European Council President Donald Tusk has suggested that the UK should stay in the EU, after the prime minister’s Brexit deal was rejected in parliament.

“If a deal is impossible, and no one wants no deal, then who will finally have the courage to say what the only positive solution is?”, he tweeted.

MPs voted by 432 votes to 202 to reject the deal, which sets out the terms of Britain’s exit from the EU on 29 March.

It was the largest defeat for a sitting government in history, with 118 of the votes against coming from Prime Minister Theresa May’s own Conservative Party.

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Hoher Fläming

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Americans abroad


Tucker Carlson’s worldview doesn’t come across as particularly complex. It can be summed up in three words: Foreigners threaten America. That’s all that’s needed for good ratings.

This article makes a number of worthwhile points, I think, including the description of the way Grenell is perceived in Berlin. This morning, however, I am considering the nature of the dialectic that many Americans consider a sort of an ideological struggle with Tucker Carlson and Fox News opposed by, say, Rachel Maddow and MSNBC. How to convey the incredible myopia?

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In dubiis

On the title page of my new textbooks I find:

Der erscheint mir als der Größte,
der zu keiner Fahne schwört,
und, weil er vom Teil sich löste,
nun der ganzen Welt gehört.

Rainer Maria Rilke

I like this so much it brings tears to my eyes.

The whole poem reads


Es dringt kein Laut bis her zu mir
von der Nationen wildem Streite,
ich stehe ja auf keiner Seite;
denn Recht ist weder dort noch hier.

Und weil ich nie Horaz vergaß
bleib gut ich aller Welt und halte
mich unverbrüchlich an die alte
aurea mediocritas.


Der erscheint mir als der Größte,
der zu keiner Fahne schwört,
und, weil er vom Teil sich löste,
nun der ganzen Welt gehört.

Ist sein Heim die Welt; es misst ihm
doch nicht klein der Heimat Hort;
denn das Vaterland, es ist ihm
dann sein Haus im Heimatsort.

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William Arkin on US media coverage of the US military

William Arkin:

Despite being at “war,” no great wartime leaders or visionaries are emerging. There is not a soul in Washington who can say that they have won or stopped any conflict. And though there might be the beloved perfumed princes in the form of the Petraeus’ and Wes Clarks’, or the so-called warrior monks like Mattis and McMaster, we’ve had more than a generation of national security leaders who sadly and fraudulently have done little of consequence. And yet we (and others) embrace them, even the highly partisan formers who masquerade as “analysts”. We do so ignoring the empirical truth of what they have wrought: There is not one country in the Middle East that is safer today than it was 18 years ago. Indeed the world becomes ever more polarized and dangerous.

In an Intercept article Glenn Greenwald describes Arkin as a “longtime prominent war and military reporter, perhaps best known for his groundbreaking, three-part Washington Post series in 2010″. I know Arkin from 1980 and his book SIOP, which I used in trying to broaden people’s knowledge of the US Single Integrated Operating Plan for nuclear war.

Greenwald’s article is worth reading from beginning to end, I think. Referencing Jack Shafer:

…filling your news and analyst slots with former security state officials as MSNBC and NBC have done is tantamount to becoming state TV, since “their first loyalty — and this is no slam — is to the agency from which they hail.” As he put it: “Imagine a TV network covering the auto industry through the eyes of dozens of paid former auto executives and you begin to appreciate the current peculiarities.”

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Kick out the jams, Rashida Tlaib!


On her first full day as one of the first two Muslim women in Congress, Rashida Tlaib experienced a media storm over her vow to impeach “the motherfucker” Donald Trump. The promise, made at an event the night before, drew plenty of political pushback from her Democratic colleagues in the House.

“It’s been pretty intense,” the Michigan Democrat said.

Rashida Tlaib, with a Speaker who talks about “trying to be the mom” and “tinkle”, you and the 13th District rock!

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An old friend writes of being very enthusiastic about breathing exercises for clearing one’s ‘stuff’ out of one’s cellular memory. You can apparently take courses on this sort of thing.

Berlin is cold and windy today, quite a bit windier than Bergen-Belsen last week. I find myself thinking about Walter Benjamin’s “Nur um der Hoffnungslosen willen ist uns die Hoffnung gegeben.”

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Owning wit

David Taylor, Guardian US deputy news editor:

In one deft performance the top Democrat in the House owned the president, having faced down Republicans’ scare tactics and attacks from her own side

Pelosi walked out of the White House into brilliant sunshine in sunglasses and a fiery red coat looking triumphant and returned to Capitol Hill to make jokes about Trump’s manhood and utter the memorable description: “It goes to show you: you get into a tickle contest with a skunk, you get tinkle all over you.”

The confrontation showed that Pelosi can outwit Trump.

Taylor’s piece seems to have been written without irony.


I’m continuing to enjoy Wer wir sein könnten. This week Die Zeit has a piece on Habeck with the lead:

In diesem Jahr haben sich viele gefragt, was den Grünen Robert Habeck von anderen Politikern unterscheidet. Die Antwort könnte lauten: Er hat Literatur studiert.

I found this witty.

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The original huts at Bergen-Belsen were for workers who built a military exercise grounds. The military area has been in use ever since, and is today known as NATO-Truppen­übungs­platz Bergen.

Prisoners were transported to the camp by train and unloaded here. The platform is on the military reserve and access is forbidden to civilians.

A memorial at the prisoner unloading ramp is accessible via a several hundred meter path along a barbed wire fence.

The Nazis incinerated the bodies of the dead, but by the end of the war deaths had exceeded the incinerator’s capacity, and when the British liberated the camp the grounds were littered with thousands of corpses, with people continuing to die at the rate of hundreds a day from starvation and disease. The British bulldozed bodies into mass graves, marked with the approximate number of the dead. At first I photographed each one, but soon stopped. There are too many.

The POW camp was separated from the concentration camp by a 70 meter wide clearing. These are mass graves on the POW camp side, where Soviet deaths numbered in the tens of thousands.

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