Trump’s Presidency: the German Perspective

by Dominik Meier and Inga Karten, Miller & Meier Consulting, Berlin, Brussels and Washington  (website)

This Tuesday, Donald John Trump took the last hurdle on his path to the US presidency by securing a victory in the Electoral College. In the meantime, the German public has gotten more used to the idea of a Trump administration. After an initial wave of emotional reactions – Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen, for instance, expressed “utter shock and surprise” after the vote in November – commentators and politicians have started to rationally assess the election’s impact on German and European politics.

Germany’s leading news magazine Der Spiegel argues that consequences will be immediate and drastic, especially in economic terms. First, Trump’s announcement that in the future Europeans must rely on their own military resources, rather than on America’s military might, will lead to a massive increase of the defense budget. Experts predict that the current budget of around 30 billion Euro will double. Chancellor Angela Merkel has already declared her plans to spend more money on Germany’s notoriously underequipped army, the Bundeswehr. But per current surveys, around two thirds of all German citizens strongly oppose increased military spending. Political strive seems inevitable.

Second, key decision-makers fear that trade relations between Germany and the USA, a cornerstone of German economic policy since the end of World War II, are in peril. Given Trump’s strongly negative stance on free trade agreements, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will not come to pass any time soon. Vice Chancellor and Minister of Economic Affairs Sigmar Gabriel has fought long and hard for this trade deal against massive opposition in his own party, the Social Democrats. Thus, Trump’s election is undoubtedly a great setback for him personally. However, consequences might be even more dramatic. At present, the German trade surplus in transatlantic business is more than 50 billion Euro. Germany is used to being an “export nation”, but a more isolationist US economic policy that aims at restricting free trade could alter this status fundamentally.

It is no secret that most German politicians had hoped for – and indeed expected – a President Clinton, rather than a President Trump. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, had even referred to Trump as a “preacher of hate”, a term usually reserved in German discourse for radical Islamic clerics who incite their followers to acts of terror and violence. Merkel offered the President-elect a close cooperation based, as she pointedly added, “on democracy, freedom, and respect for the dignity of all people”. Irrespective of this aside, however, the Chancellor is first and foremost a “Realpolitiker”, a pragmatist who knows how to deal with powerful men and values rational solutions above emotional politics. This week, she sent one of her most trusted foreign policy advisors, Christoph Heusgen, to New York to establish direct contact with Trump’s transition team. Time will tell how these careful advances will pan out.

© Copyright 2016 Miller and Meier Consulting

Ken Feltman: I have known and worked with Dominick Meier for several years and have seen him tame some of the most difficult political personalities in Europe (those who are members of IAPC or EAPC know his diplomatic way of prevailing). His staff is exceptional and Americans are fortunate to have Inga Karten in Washington. Should you wish to contact them, please do so directly or I will be happy to make an introduction. 

Posted in Border control, Congress, Democracy, Elections, European Union, Germany, Immigrants, Politcal Consulting, Political parties, Washington

How Republics End

By Paul Krugman, New York Times

Lately I’ve been reading a lot about the ancient world. Initially, I have to admit, I was doing it for entertainment and as a refuge from news that gets worse with each passing day. But I couldn’t help noticing the contemporary resonances of some Roman history — specifically, the tale of how the Roman Republic fell.

Here’s what I learned: Republican institutions don’t protect against tyranny when powerful people start defying political norms. And tyranny, when it comes, can flourish even while maintaining a republican façade…

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/19/opinion/how-republics-end.html?smid=tw-share

Posted in Controversial, Democracy, Donald Trump, Political parties, Politics, Thought-Provoking Analysis, United States

Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say

The flood of “fake news” this election season got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy, say independent researchers who tracked the operation.

Russia’s increasingly sophisticated propaganda machinery — including thousands of botnets, teams of paid human “trolls,” and networks of websites and social-media accounts — echoed and amplified right-wing sites across the Internet as they portrayed Clinton as a criminal hiding potentially fatal health problems and preparing to hand control of the nation to a shadowy cabal of global financiers. The effort also sought to heighten the appearance of international tensions and promote fear of looming hostilities with nuclear-armed Russia….

 

Continue … https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/russian-propaganda-effort-helped-spread-fake-news-during-election-experts-say/2016/11/24/793903b6-8a40-4ca9-b712-716af66098fe_story.html

 

Posted in Botnets, Controversial, Cyber security, Elections, Fake news, Hacking, Propaganda, Russia, Trolls | Tagged , ,

Here’s Proof Some Pollsters Are Putting A Thumb On The Scale

Introduction by Ken Feltman:

This is perhaps the most important news about political polls to come out of the 2016 election: Nate Silver and others at FiveThirtyEight have the statistics to establish that some pollsters, intentionally or not, skew their results.

Before you click to his article, please consider how he ends it:

“So … what to do about it? If you’ve read this far, you’re undoubtedly highly interested in polling. So my message for fellow polling geeks is as follows: Let’s not give pollsters so much grief the next time they publish what looks to be an “outlier.” Polling data is noisy and polling is becoming more challenging. The occasional or even not-so-occasional result that deviates from the consensus is sometimes a sign the pollster is doing good, honest work and trusting its data.

    It’s the inliers — the polls that always stay implausibly close to the consensus and always conform to the conventional wisdom about a race — that deserve more scrutiny instead.”

By Nate Silver

 

It’s time to stop worrying about outliers and start worrying about inliers. Earlier this year, my colleague Harry Enten documented evidence of pollster “herding” — the tendency of polling firms to produce results that closely match one another, especially toward the end of a campaign. What’s wrong with the polls agreeing with one another? The problem is that it’s sometimes a case of the blind leading the blind. Take a look at the polls conducted in this year’s Senate race in Iowa….

Source: Here’s Proof Some Pollsters Are Putting A Thumb On The Scale

Posted in Big Data, Candidates, Cyber security, Democrats, Donald Trump, Elections, FiveThirtyEight, Political parties, polls, Republicans, Technology

Internet of Things gets its zombie apocalypse, and this is just the beginning

By Adario Strange

Winter is here. The Internet of Things (IoT) winter, that is. 

All those digital routers, DVRs, “smart” kitchen appliances and IP-enabled cameras you assumed were innocuous as they worked away in the background of your life are rising up like zombies at the behest of the Night’s King of Game of Thrones. 

And like the fictional, aforementioned zombie army, it seems there’s little we can do to stop the next big distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, fueled by the malware dubbed Mirai — a word that appropriately means “the future” in Japanese.
But is this latest zombie-flavored hacking attack really “the future” for the Internet of Things?

Read more here…

Posted in Big Data, Hacking, Internet of Things, Ransomware, Technology