Frankfurt If you couldn't tell from all the red banners this was a far-left rally, you could probably tell by the smell. It was an earthy group consisting of various age groups and even more various hair dyes. They seem to like denim. And I think I've figured out how they managed to give their blue jeans that unwashed look.
Wiesbaden, Germany In the late 18th century, the Germans built a casino in the town of Wiesbaden. It was the first of its kind. But considering the wealth of the surrounding area, it flourished. In fact, the casino is where Dostoyevsky lost a hefty amount and, according to town historian Patrick Walz, the author never paid up. Wiesbaden is also where a Free Democrat rally took place Wednesday evening. The FDP is gambling on a large turnout of its middle- and upper-middle-class supporters here, hoping to remain in power for another four years and hoping to keep its seats in the Bundestag. The economy is humming along. Unemployment is low. Most Germans could say they're better off now than they were four years ago. So why does everyone seem so anxious?
There is something futile about breakfast meetings. Breakfast ought to be where you dissipate the irrationality of dream-life and find your way back to a clear view of the things you care about in the waking world. Alcoholic memoirs are full of where-the-hell-am-I stories, some funny (“I seem to have woken up with this tattoo . . .”) and some terrifying (“I seem to have woken up with my hands caked in blood . . .”). They appeal to readers because every waking, even on the best of days, is a where-the-hell-am-I story.
Last week, the New York Times ran a piece on the dire demographic problems facing Germany. The short version: Germans aren’t having enough kids, and as a result the economy is in trouble and there are all sorts of logistical problems—vacant buildings that need to be razed; houses that will never be sold, sewer systems which may not function properly because they’re too empty.
President Obama told a German audience today that the U.S. lags behind other countries because Americans don't speak enough foreign languages. It’s not the first time he’s expressed the sentiment: back in 2008, Obama said, “It's embarrassing when Europeans come over here, they all speak English, they speak French, they speak German. And then we go over to Europe and all we can say is merci beaucoup, right?"
President Barack Obama, speaking today in Berlin, cited German philosopher Immanuel Kant:
"For thousands of years, the people of this land have journeyed from tribe to principality to nation state to reformation and enlightenment. Renowned as the land of poets and thinkers, among them Immanuel Kant, who taught us that freedom is the unoriginated birthright of man and it belongs to him by force of his humanity."
Bjorn Lomborg claimed on John Stossel's television show last night that money isn't being spent well to combat "global warming":
"The Germans are spending about $110 billion on subsidies for these solar panels," said Lomborg. "The net effect of all those investments will be to postpone global warming by 37 hours by the end of the century."
"All those billions, for 37 hours delay?," asked Stossel.