A short walk through history

Nearly every minute of my walk to the grocery store encounters a reminder of Germany’s dark past.

Not long after I leave my home, I pass these three “Stolpersteines” (German for stumbling stones) memorializing a family deported to separate concentration camps under the Nazi regime.

For the past 20 years, artist Gunter Demnig has crafted and placed these small memorials outside the last known address for victims of the Nazis reign.

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Seven weeks until the German Elections!

Willkommen von Deutschland! So, it’s been a little harder to keep up with this blog than I anticipated—as well as with what is happening politically in the United States. Seems I wake up every morning to a dozen push alerts and messages from friends. (Though, I’m glad I might have health insurance when I return home! It was weird to watch that vote over breakfast.)

Plus, I’m in language school 8 hours a day. Which is fun…but…a lot.

I want this blog to be a “value add” so I think I’m going to just post here when I see something that I think might be of interest. That said–the German Parliamentary Election (or Bundeswahl 2017) season officially kicked off this weekend and I thought people might enjoy hearing how quaint it is. It lasts seven weeks.

Yes. Seven weeks.

Over the weekend, campaign posters popped up around Germany and in my neighborhood.

They’re so…tame….and issue focused.

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PPDB von Germany: The G20

Hello from Deutschland! The G20 summit is happening today and tomorrow in Hamburg and I happen to have just arrived in Berlin, Germany. Between the jet lag and getting settled into my new place, it’s been kind of a hectic week.

I will be here for the next year as I am a 2017-2018 Bosch Fellow. Each year, the Robert Bosch Stiftung (a private European foundation) selects 15-16 mid-career Americans to bring to Germany to learn more about the transatlantic relationship between the U.S. and Germany. I’ll be here for the next year studying German, learning about German government and institutions, and helping strengthen ties between the U.S. and Germany. (If you know someone who might be interested in this sort of program — please pass along the link to the application process! Next year’s application closes in November.)

It’s a heck of a time to be here! I hadn’t even get off the plane when a German let me know her thoughts on the current administration. “I’ve lost respect for America,” she said.

I guess that bluntness cultural difference is accurate.

However, I’ve also been encouraged by how much I have heard from Germans and those connected to the German government in regards to learning more about Middle America. (I hope I’m a good ambassador for flyover country over the next year!) Continue reading

PPDB: The Tweet Stops Here

The biggest story overnight should be The Wall Street Journal’s scoop that a “GOP Operative Sought Clinton Emails From Hackers, Implied a Connection to Flynn.”

Yet, talk continues regarding President Donald Trump’s deplorable comments about “Morning Joe” host Mika Brzezinski. She and Joe Scarborough are out with a very measured (and I think appropriate) op-ed in The Washington Post responding to the president’s attacks entitled “Donald Trump is not well.”

I know there are those who say, “This is no surprise. Let’s move on to health care.” But I respectfully disagree. This is an online attack against a woman delivered from the highest office — that of the President of the United States. That office is supposed to fight to protect human rights and the dignity of all. There are clearly people who are horrified by this behavior, yet continue to enable it. It should be embarrassing for all Americans—whether you are a Democrat or Republican.

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PPDB June 26, 2017: Health care and more

The report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which will evaluate the impact of the Senate’s health care bill, could come out as early as today. That CBO score should give us a better idea of exactly how many people might lose insurance, how much premiums might rise for working Americans under this plan, and the impact on those covered by Medicaid.

There are reportedly five GOP holdouts on the bill including staunch ObamaCare opponent Ron Johnson from Wisconsin. (Those of you from Kansas: Sen. Jerry Moran is reportedly “on the fence.”)

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PPDB: Senate Health Care Bill

I’ve been offline a bit this week as I have been in the middle of a pretty exciting and substantial move. I hope to be able to announce more about that soon, but I hope you’ll accept my apology for being out of the loop a bit this week. In the meantime, I wanted to take some time to do a roundup on the issue of health care.

The Senate Republicans finally released the text of the “Better Care Reconciliation Act” — the health care plan that 13 male members have been drafting in secret. I thought I would do a quick rundown in regards to what is being said about this bill, as well as point everyone to resources that spell out the differences between the Senate Bill, the House Bill and ObamaCare.

First of all, here’s the link to the full bill if you want to read the complete version.

The Washington Post and LA Times both have great breakdowns of all three bills and how they might affect your loved ones.

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Some Notes From the Swamp PPDB: June 16, 2017

Before I get started on the week in review, I want to say something about Washington, D.C. in the wake of Wednesday’s shooting. I’ve been in D.C. for almost two years now and I can’t help but think about the contrast between the rhetoric you hear about D.C. versus the people I’ve actually met here.

There’s been a narrative characterizing D.C. as the “swamp” and that people are corrupt. I can say there is some swampy activity here. No doubt. However, the vast majority of people I have met came to D.C. because they wanted to make a difference in the world. They’re working on projects like curing the Zika virus, figuring out how to combat climate change, and making sure that veterans and seniors get the benefits they need.

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After Sessions: The PPDB for June 14, 2017

Breaking news: There is terribly sad news coming out of D.C.  today of a gunman opening fire on the Republican Congressional softball practice. I don’t want people to think I’m ignoring this horrible tragedy which is not far from my home. My heart sank when I turned on the news this morning. I’m going to urge caution with initial information coming out of this, however, I think we all should take a moment to pray for the victims.

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Polite Politics Daily Briefing: June 13, 2017

It’s going to be another active day in Washington: Attorney General Jeff Sessions will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee at 2:30 pm Eastern time today. It sounds like a lot of the networks will be covering it live.

Meanwhile, in an interview with Judy Woodruff on PBS NewsHour, a Trump confidant stated that the president is mulling over firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller. (See what I did there?) This seems like a bad idea, but this administration has done equally perplexing things regarding this investigation (ahem… Comey) so who knows if this is legit. My feeling is it is just staff members leaking information to gauge reaction and prove to Trump this is a bad idea.

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Polite Politics Daily Briefing: June 12, 2017

Before I get started I want to thank dear reader, Allison, who suggested changing the title to the PPDB for Polite Politics Daily Briefing. I love it!! It takes a village to run a blog, I tell you. Now without further ado… the PPDB for June 12, 2017.

Hey, how did everyone like infrastructure week? Did you even know last week was the White House’s infrastructure week? I’m going to guess probably not.

The beginning of this week is also looking to be “off message” for the administration as instead of talking about health care, jobs or literally anything else… we’re going to still be talking about Russian interference.

Reportedly, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has agreed to testify Tuesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, but that’s not confirmed by the committee yet. It’s also not confirmed whether it will be in closed or open session. The White House would probably prefer closed session in order to keep the issue out of the public eye and their message more on point than during “infrastructure week.” However, this would obviously not be very transparent to the public and Democrats are calling for the testimony to be open.

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