Friday, June 24, 2016

Three Cheers for Xenophobia

Have you ever been in a relationship where your partner persistently denigrates you to no end, blaming you for things that aren't your fault, and generally acts like an intolerable twit? Then they eventually break up with you, but then claim that they can still be 'friends with benefits' with you, as if the constant abuse and emotional negligence had no weight to them, and they never realized that it had weight to you. What would you say to the offer of a 'casual relationship?'

That, in a nutshell, is what happened with the United Kingdom and the European Union in what will be described as one of the worst decisions in the 21st century, sitting somewhere alongside invading Iraq and Keeping Up with the Kardashians.

The 'Brexit,' as it is termed, is the permanent extrication of the United Kingdom from the European Union. There were two sides to the debate: the meager Remain camp, which couldn't articulate anything besides doom and gloom should the UK leave, and the Leave camp, which couldn't articulate anything besides doom and gloom should the UK remain.

Much has been said about this campaign. A lot of what the Leave camp said was outright falsehood sitting somewhere between, well, the reasoning for the invasion of Iraq and the physical appearances of everyone on Keeping Up with the Kardashians. (Little know, or, really, well publicized fact: EU migrants to the UK are a net positive in terms of tax income versus welfare distribution, but the Leave camp didn't mention it.)

And so, in a moment of great fugue in which some people voted Leave because they figured the UK would remain anyway (yes, it happened plenty, as documented by too many articles that aggravate me), the country voted to split from the European Union, 52% to 48%.

Keep in mind that a referendum isn't legally binding. The government will have to enact Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, which details the secession proceedings in far too few words, even though the majority of parliamentarians support remaining. But, moving on.

Leave camp has said that they'd be able to negotiate a deal to remain in the European single market. European ministers have responded by saying that the UK will do no such thing. So, what does this mean?

Higher prices and wage stagnation, along with jobs moving from the UK to mainland Europe, mostly in the finance sector which is a huge economic powerhouse for the country. JPMorgan has already declared 1000 jobs moving to the mainland. It won't be long until others follow suit. The UK was dependent on the single market for the free movement of goods back and forth; now, it will face import tariffs, and not just to Europe, but to other areas of the world where the EU has trade agreements.

For a bit of context, the UK joined the European Community in a referendum in 1975. In the 70s, the UK was the sick man of Europe, suffering from high inflation and wage stagnation. Up until recently, its economy (on paper) was the second strongest in Europe, though given Brexit, that will certainly change.

And then there's the issue of migrants, which was likely the central issue that many took as why they wanted to leave the European Union. Like I stated above, European migrants are a net tax benefit to the UK government. The Leave camp also said that the UK sent 'GBP350 million per week to the EU,' a 'fact' that has been debunked so many times that it ought to be only whispered in sanitariums. In fact, Leave camp leader and brutish turnip Nigel Farage recanted that little bit of factual excrement after the results were in. So why did people vote to leave?

The demographics were split between young and old, educated and less so. Those who grew up as part of the EU wanted it more than those who viewed their youths through glasses so rosy that one might think they're peering through the bloodletting they've inflicted upon the UK.

I concede that the EU needs democratic governmental reforms. I've always said that and I'm a fan of the damn organization, because I know that the good it does, regardless of how little it's reported on, outweighs all the times it's blamed for the maladies of the mundane. And now, the UK will have no chance to actually inspire positive change in the EU, except for demonstrating to other right-wing nationalist movements in other countries how bad an idea it is to leave.

I am, as I once heard while living in the UK, gobsmacked. Speechless. Completely and utterly stunned by not only the negligence on the part of the prime minister in campaigning to remain, but by the people who voted to leave because they felt their 'essential Britishness' was being attacked or degraded. Failed Aflac duck spokesman and Leave campaigner Boris Johnson can now tromp towards the leadership of the country while Turnip Farage gets handed a United Kingdom that may not be united for much longer, given the signals from Scotland and Northern Ireland that they are considering their own referenda to leave.

The Leave campaigners won't get the lofty goals they described to their angry followers. They won't get a 'special arrangement' with the EU. They'll be shown as the petulant children they are, rebelling for the sake of the act. And then, who knows, perhaps those angry followers will turn their anger towards the correct target when that happens.
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Thursday, January 21, 2016

I'm Going To Tell You What I Think is An Unpopular Opinion for My Age Demographic

It's all too apparent to see politics happening all around us. As we head into the next round of politics, there are several issues that really strike me as important to my political opinion, and there's one candidate who is hugely popular with my age demographic who heads up that issue in particular. People my age overwhelmingly support him/her/it, and yet, I think differently. I think the other candidate is better.
Why is that? Well, there are several reasons: maybe because I'm more intellectually incisive than my cohorts. Maybe it's because I'm skeptical of the first candidate. Maybe it's because, in my youthful petulance, I think that anyone who amasses a huge following must be evil. After all, Hitler did the same thing, using his words and his promises to sway Germany to the dark side, and look where it got them!
But really, it's because I'm smarter and more experienced than most other people. In my low 20-something years of life and political experience, compounded by the little sidebar thingy on my Facebook page and my aunt Irma's persistent 'news articles' about the upcoming election, I've been deeply political. It started when I watched John Stewart and took a few classes in college, and from there, I've been very involved in politics: I often tweet my opinion to Chief Justice John Roberts on whatever court case makes the front page of the New York Times.
That popular candidate's ideas won't work. How do I know this? Because someone else said so. What qualifies that other guy to be an authority on the subject? I don't know, I've just heard his name a bunch of times and read some of his articles around, as well as the little blurb under his name at the end of his articles. Looks like he has a master's degree, so he must be right about everything. But he used some numbers and some charts. Anyone who takes the time to make charts is an authority in my book. Not that I've written a book, but I could if I wanted to. A political book.
So that's why I support the other candidate. He/she/it has the best chance of winning the general election, regardless of the genitalia between his/her/its legs. Some have said that he/she/it has flip-flopped on his/her/its positions; for example, in 2000-something, he/she/it said that he/she/it was ardently for a thing, and then recently came out as against it. Also, he/she/it said that he/she/it was ardently against a thing, but is now for it. That's not going with popular opinion; that's changing your beliefs because popular opinion changed.
Now it's easy for me to say that my candidate is the right choice for my demographic; after all, he/she/it has said plenty about issues that affect young people with extensive political connections in the political world of politics, while the other candidate has said, eh, not so much (mostly because I'm cherry-picking facts to make this article as persuasive as possible; he/she/it has said a lot about these issues, actually).
So when you go out to vote in your thing, try to remember what you read here, but more importantly, try to remember me, the contrarian, because I'm honestly trying to build a career out of being 'outside the norm' of my peers. Please. Please remember me.
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Monday, December 28, 2015

Give it to the Man with the Do

Donald Trump is a reprehensible person. That much should be obvious to anyone keeping track of the 2016 presidential race, whether it's disparaging remarks about Carly Fiorina being a woman, or about Hillary Clinton, or President Obama, or Jeb Bush, or Rand Paul, or Bernie Sanders, his aim is wide and his trigger finger is happy. But what's more, the man seems to have a memory problem given his persistent back-tracking on things he said and did. Maybe all his fake tans and teeth-whitenings have flooded his brain with enough chemicals to make a horse think it's a mouse, but you can't fault the man for being able to hold an audience's attention.
He is the banner boy for 'American Exceptionalism,' because a person has to be an exceptional idiot to believe even half of what he says. Much of the reason his supporters say that they back him is because he's independently wealthy, funding his own campaign, etc. etc., even though that has turned out to be false of late.
And yet, polls still say that he's leading, and some of the more mainstream Republican candidates are actively worried that he might even win a few primaries and knock out the traditional politicians. If I remember correctly, Chris Christie and Jeb Bush were speaking recently (separately) in New Hampshire, saying something to the effect of "don't leave our party's fate in the hands of a man who owns a golden toilet."
Like I wrote a few months ago, Trump won't win. He's the kind of candidate who has a strange rise in polls and popularity but then poops out when it comes down to the primaries (or almost immediately after, as Ben Carson found out fast enough). I find it hard to believe that any republican delegates will actively vote for him in the primary states, though if Trump does manage to win a few, it might benefit the feds to keep a close eye on the primaries that will seal the deal for the nomination.
If he somehow does secure the spot, this might just be one of the most aggravating, entertaining, or despondent American elections of all time. Sounds like fun.

That's all for now,
Das Flüg 
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Friday, November 6, 2015

The Doctor is In

Ben Carson is actually Eddie Murphy's latest method of a comeback into the entertainment industry.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Hillary Won

I'm an unapologetic Bernie Sanders supporter. I figured I'd get that tidbit of information out of the way before going on, because it may give some precedence to the unfortunate blathering that is to follow.
Two nights ago, the democratic party had its first of six debates (far too few, if you ask me) for the five (or so, it's hard to count Jim Webb as anything other than an aging Terminator) candidates. It was, essentially, a debate between former secretary of state and Bratz doll model Hillary Clinton and Vermont senator and Troll doll hair model Bernie Sanders. The latter is ardently left, the former is ardently ambivalent until public polling dictates her position.
Bernie, as is his schtick, continuously expounded on his main talking points, i.e. inequality in America, prison overcrowding, Wall Street greed, climate change, social security, etc., and they are always his strengths. Unfortunately, as most Bernie Sanders followers should realize, Senator Sanders' points on foreign policy and gun control were weak.
(25:42 for gun control; 36:06 for foreign policy in Syria, 46:18 for Sanders being uncertain about Putin)

To be fair, Sanders has always been a domestic policy guy, but it was obvious that he took the Syria issue to indicate a possible yes/no for boots on the ground. Syria is an intricate problem with enough interests and alliances to make Machiavelli's head spin, and yes, boots on the ground would be a horrible idea, but so is allowing Russia to aid the Assad government.
Clinton was obviously able to pull out her experience as the secretary of state and display (to a minimal point) the intricacies of diplomacy, it was enough to demonstrate that Sanders needed to brush up on foreign policy.
Besides that, while his populist message has a very true ring to it, he wasn't able to touch upon the recent republican battle against Planned Parenthood as Clinton did.
But then again, Clinton demonstrated her perpetual equivocation on many issuing, ranging from the trans-pacific partnership to the Keystone pipeline to Wall Street to marijuana legalization, and has been one of her most contentious points thus far, especially when she said that the TPP was the gold standard for trade.
Of course, there are five more, so let's just wait and see.

Monday, September 21, 2015

A Perfect

Have you ever experienced serenity? A moment in time, or a day, or a week, or a year, or possibly even your whole life, where the sole feeling that dominates you is one of utter placidity, where your worries and wants are nonexistent because there is nothing more for you to do in your moment than enjoy it?

I experienced one once. It was my last night in London after a hectic and storied year of growth and change, and I leaned out my window, taking in the city one last time. The sky above was cloudy and just a bit cool for the end of summer, but the city was in full swing below. Heat rose from the laughter and joy of the people on their nights out, which was more than enough to keep warm the drunken idiot who danced when only he could hear the music.

The lights gleamed off the clouds above, bathing the entire city in gold, and I just leaned on my windowsill and breathed it all in. The temperature of the air, the laughter from below chirping like birdsong, the kingdom of London glowing in the night; it was a perfect ending.

But, of course, the credits didn't roll, the audience didn't stand up and stretch their legs, and the movie theater employee didn't sweep up the stray bits of popcorn and candy that slipped from the patrons' buttery fingers. My life went on after that moment.

For the past 2 years I've been running a personal marathon to reclaim that moment, but not to relive it; rather, that moment gave me the clarity to realize just what road I'd be running for the rest of my life. It gave me a general direction, and since then, I've been better fine-tuning my compass to right my way.

Perhaps it's just because I've hit my quarter-life crisis head-on; after all, suddenly so many of my friends are in long-term relationships, or having children, or maintaining steady jobs and doing other things while I'm still thinking about how cool it would be if DC introduced Darkseid into their cinematic universe. That's not to say that I haven't done or accomplished things in my life; to the contrary, whenever I tell people about my experiences they actually seem legitimately impressed.

But of all the things I've done, nothing will strike me as more important than bringing back that feeling of peace. Maybe it's a taste of Buddhism's nirvana, where all wants and needs are released and the soul is at peace for eternity, or maybe it's just the knowledge that I can be that content in my life. There is no panacea for it; one person's cure will usually only work for them, so here's to stumbling blindly through my life and feeling the walls for clues until I see an inkling of light.


Sunday, September 6, 2015

Seeking Refuge

Of late, the current crisis of refugees making their way from Syria and the Middle East into Europe has been dominating headlines, and for good reason: there are currently more displaced people than ever before in history due to the wars in Syria and Yemen, as well as ISIS' destructive crusade around Iraq.

It was recently reported that Germany has taken in more than 800,000 refugees on its own, while the ever-aggrandizing and aloof David Cameron finally bowed to public pressure, though that 'pressure' only constitutes no more than 10,000 refugees.

The EU as an entity has been lackadaisical in its approach to the current crisis, as is warranted by a body that depends on unanimity. There is very little in terms of a top-down approach that can emanate from Brussels and be accepted throughout the union, but should there be some great rise of public consciousness, then I should hope that a refugee allotment plan looks something like this:
  • Firstly, the refugees need to be registered, which is, of course, a difficult task, but a necessary one. Registering them allows for a formal process of integration into a country, and also allows for access to public records, if the person has any. This also aids in background checks run by INTERPOL, EUROPOL, and the member states' various security agencies.
  • Secondly, the EU and its member states should seek to find suitable housing arrangements for the refugees, whether through public housing or temporary housing of some kind. Families would obviously be kept together. The number of people distributed throughout the EU should, ideally, be commensurate with population, also taking into account available living spaces. There should hopefully be no 'excuses' as to why a country can't host more refugees, aside from a legitimate one such as size.
  • Thirdly, and this is probably a bit idealistic of me, offer free language classes for those who don't already either speak a member state's native language or English, or both. Also, enable a job seeker's scheme whereby vocational training classes are offered at either a discounted price, or for free.
  • Fourthly, there are likely many qualified individuals who have fled from the various conflicts, and they would probably like nothing more than to work and save money for their families. This is a measure that would be slightly controversial, especially with the more nationalistic states/parties, because there might be a notion that 'refugees are stealing jobs.' It would be the most difficult to sell, but the most necessary as well if they are to stay in the EU for a long time, or for the rest of their lives.
  • Fifthly, get ready for the long haul. The civil war in Syria has no discernible end in sight, especially since now all western powers are afraid that if Assad's government falls, then ISIS will be able to set up camp in Syria. This would give ISIS better access to Turkey, which is already fighting the Kurdish Worker's Party in the south of Turkey, while the Kurds are also the primary force fighting ISIS (which is another completely confusing and Risk-esque situation in itself). 
This is obviously not detailed, but I'm not a policy adviser; otherwise, I might have actually written up a policy paper. (Not saying I did, but if I did, it would probably be around 50, maybe 55 pages long, with individual policy suggestions for each member state, along with distributions of funding from the EU in addition to discretionary funds available from each member state's annual budget, and then a future analysis of population growth and possible employment demographics from the refugee pool. Again, just a hypothetical. Maybe.)

Finally, the US. The country that boasts the most has done the least in terms of allowing in refugees from Syria. Since the conflict started in 2010, the US has taken in somewhere around 1400 Syrians total. It goes without saying that the US, a country with more open space than all of Europe, should be actively vetting and aiding Syrian refugees.

That's all for now, 
Das Flüg
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