Apology Of Ineptitude

Minister of education, science, culture and sports Žiga Turk a.k.a. superminister (due to many a portfolio that were joined together under one roof) recently held a speech where he touched upon what he called “the lost moral capital”. Delo daily ran the speech titled Why Nothing Happens and What Should Happen verbatim in its Saturday supplement Sobotna priloga and it definitely deserves to be commented upon.

minister Žiga Turk at a recent event (photo by yours truly)

First of all, it has been ages since this particular newspaper (or any newspaper worthy of its name, for that matter) ran a transcript of a politician’s speech. True, Delo once did that. Regularly. But in those days its tagline was “Workers of the world, unite!” and was officially still a socialist and party-sanctioned newspaper. In other words, running a speech by a sitting politician has an unwelcome taste of times past. One can hope the newspaper went with it for less obvious reasons, but still. A good three pages were spent on what was primarily an agenda-driven political discourse.

Because that’s exactly what is was. For what it’s worth, here’s a Google translation of the speech. In it Turk submits that the main problem of Slovenian society is the lack of moral capital and quotes Jonathan Haidt‘s Moral Foundations Theory to further his case. Bottom line? Moral principles are not only acquired, but mostly passed down genetically from generation to generation.

Now, we don’t have to spend a lot of time on whether Haidt is right or wrong. He is controversial, to say the least. The problem here is the approach minister Turk takes to explain the current sociopolitical situation in Slovenia. In short: it is a classic example of first defining a conclusion and then using whatever (pseudo)science there is to support it. The conclusion being that both sides of the political spectrum are equally right. Or, better, equally wrong. Also, morality of the right should be equally legitimate as morality of the left. And vice-versa.

Here, Turk enters the slippery territory of WWII history in Slovenia and declares that the fight against the occupation should be set apart from the social and political revolution that took place alongside it. To simplify: rebellion against Nazism and Fascism – good. Revolution – bad. And goes on to say that those who opposed the revolution were guilty of nothing more than a different set of morals. If it were only that simple. While there is no such thing as a clean war (and pengovsky wrote time and again that it is high time we bury our dead), fact of the matter is, that there was no middle ground in WWII and those who sought it usually made the disastrous miscalculation of “picking the lesser evil” which more or less amounted to (at the very least) tacit toleration of the occupation. Also, revolutions happen because the existing societal structure is not fair. They do not happen out of the blue.

Or, of you want a more recent example, Turk cites the Family code debate as a typical example of morals that neither right nor wrong. Just – different. Pengovsky, however, is still at a loss as to how exactly is “gays and lesbians do not deserve a happy family” morally equal to “everyone deserves a happy family”.

This of course is nothing more than the moral, social and especially political relativism which is at the core of neoconservatism. My morals equal your morals. Regardless of the effect they have on the society as a whole as well as on the individual. If right-wing morals are that some are by definition more equal than others, then – according to Turk – this should be accepted as a valid set of morals, no more right or wrong than the opposing set of left-wing morals that all people are created equal.

But all of the above is just a sideshow for the ultimate kicker: Turk adds that the left-wingers who (according to Haidt) subscribe to the first three moral foundations (care for others, justice, liberty) show disdain for symbols of Slovenian state while happily parading around with symbols of the old socialist state and that in this they are markedly different from right-wingers who (in addition to the first three foundations) also subscribe to loyalty, respect for authority and sanctity. In other words, left-wingers are unpatriotic and as such are not being constructive in the attempts to heal the state of the nation. Well, here’s a newsflash: This has nothing to do with (non)patriotism. Rather, it has to do with substance. Or the lack thereof.

You see, most people who today display the red star (or other symbols of the old regime) are doing it as a sign of protest. Just as they were defaming that very same red star and other symbols of the old regime twenty-odd years ago. The problem of this nation is not its inherent division, but a complete and utter lack of substance. Just as the old regime became a caricature of itself and needed to be mocked, so has this state become an empty shell, devoid of all inspiration, prospect and happiness. And this is where a large number of our elected representatives and other key players failed this country. Scattered across the political spectrum, too many of them are locked in a self-perpetuated power-struggle, suffering from a complete lack of imagination and – once in power – will pull no punches when their own positions are threatened. Even if it means shoving the country and its nation further down the drain.

Out of sheer benevolence, I will subscribe to the fact that Turk and people with whom he shares the reins of power these days genuinely want to do good. But this will not be achieved by wearing countless hats, switching at pleasure from role to role. A minister is a minister 24/7. He or she cannot choose to be a politician in the morning, a professor in the afternoon, a weekend economist and a moral philosopher on special occasions. Whatever a politician in office does, is inherently political. In fact, the more apolitical they claim it to be, the more political it is. They were elected and/or appointed to further an agenda. And if that agenda is not furthered or is having disastrous results, someone isn’t doing his or her homework. Looking outside for causes to this only makes it worse.

In fact, rather than “searching for moral capital”, the whole thing should be titled as “an apology of ineptitude”.

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Janša Giveth, Janša Taketh Away

In a surprise move, defence minister Aleš Hojs (NSi) on Thursday dissolved the contract on purchase of Patria APCs, giving the Patria Affair yet another twist. On the surface the whole thing was declared to have been mutually agreed with both sides calling it even. Slovenia gets 30 out of 135 planned APCs while Patria gets 74 out of planned 278 million euro. But in reality, the whole thing is a mop-up operation which no doubt is overseen by PM Janez Janša.


You see, Janša giveth and Janša taketh away. While it is true that anyone can rat but only the ingenious few can re-rat, our illustrious PM definitely does not count among them. Janša and his band of merry men had to remove foot out of their mouth on more than one occasion lately. Like with the kindergarten-freebie his government instituted in the good old days but was among the first benefits to be thrown under the bus when the going got tough.

But the Patria thingie is one of definitive moments of modern Slovenian politics. For the first time a dodgy arms deal was prosecuted and for the first time a senior politician is prosecuted for it. Also, for the first time a senior politician was appointed to a top post in the country while prosecuted.

The irony of the situation could not be more pronounced. It was Janša government 1.0 which signed the contract and it is Janša government 2.0 which is dissolving it. The only difference is that the person who actually signed the now-defunct contract (Karl Erjavec of DeSUS) got promoted from defence to foreign minister. In fact one can not shake the feeling that Janša’s main purpose is to clean up after his 2004-2008 power-orgy. As far as the case against him is concerned, this doesn’t change a whole lot. I’m sure some bright soul will try to trump up some sort of legal mumbo-jumbo saying that since the contract is no more, so should the case against Janša be. But in reality the Prime Minister still stands accused of corruption in from of a criminal court.

Politically, however, things are even more funny. Ljubica Jelušič (SD), defence minister in Pahor’s government (the one between both Janša’s tenures, to refresh your memory), said that annulling the contract was a good idea. However, while in office, she was adamant about not annulling the contract, which puts her in a rather awkward position and somehow makes Janša look like a person who can make decisions as opposed to Borut Pahor, who, well, couldn’t.

And this is the crux of the matter. It was Janša and his government who OKd a deal that was fishy from the start and where handsome bribes were allegedly paid. The deal had and anti-corruption clause built-in and PM Pahor had both grounds and ample time to either sue for annulment of reach settlement with Patria. Apparently, it wasn’t that hard.

Truth be told, not everyone is happy about it. Especially NATO is apparently cross with us now, because Slovenia gave a commitment to form a mid-size armoured brigade some time soon. This will not happen now. And it was probably this why then-PM Pahor couldn’t bring himself to kill the deal. His incessant need to be liked by everybody and his brother once again worked against him. The deal was stalled as it was and it was clear that it will not be going anywhere but while Slovenia had the brigade at least on paper, Pahor got the attaboy treatment in Brussels. Which is fine and dandy. The problem is that he probably knew back then this country wasn’t going to deliver. But he chose to dodge the issue rather than tackle it. Which is probably why he’s running for president now (but more on that some other day).

Janša on the other hand cares jack shit about such things. He killed the deal as soon as he got the chance, making his domestic position a little bit more stronger. Which seems to have been his modus operandi ever since he came to power seven months ago. Mostly by trying to keep coalition partners in line with various doomsday scenarios. Even if it means losing whatever credibility this country has left with foreign investors.

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Who’s Your Daddy?!

The modern plagues of Egypt have befallen the Slovenian branch of the Roman Catholic Church. It, too, was rocked by the paedophile scandals, just like sister branches near and far. Then followed the infamous financial crash of the Maribor diocese which revealed the gaping € 800-million hole in church coffers, by far the largest of any Roman Catholic diocese anywhere in the world. And that in a diocese with a flock of merely 100k sheep. And now two of the most senior Slovene clergy-men are accused of having fathered children.

Cardinal Rode, Peter S. and Archibshop Uran (source and source)

Within a space of a couple of months, Slovenian Roman Catholic Church (RKC) shook all the way to its foundations. Seemingly out of the blue, former Archbishop (top-ranking cleric in Slovenia) Alojz Uran was ordered to completely retire from public life and leave Slovenia immediately. While no official explanation was given for expulsion of a very popular former Archbishop out of his homeland, it was soon speculated and later confirmed that claims of Uran having fathered a child are at the crux of the matter.

Uran responded first by heeding to orders from Vatican but was soon admitted to a hospital due to a worsening heart condition, prolonging his stay in the country. However, only a month or so later (mid-August), Delo daily, which broke the story on Uran, ran a bomb-shell of an article claiming, that a middle-aged German citizen of Slovenian descent claims that Cardinal Franc Rode was his father and publicly demanded a paternity test.

Now, if Uran story was huge, the Rode thing was a motherfucker-of-an-A-bomb–showed-up-your-ass-and-detonated type of story. You see, both Rode and Uran served as Slovenian Archbishops. Rode replaced the wildly popular Archbishop Alojzij Šuštar who lead RKC during the dying stages of socialism in Slovenia and into its first democratic years. Although very conservative, he was seen as a dove, someone who could be reasoned with. Enter Rode and the Church immediately became more aggressive. He regularly made headlines, promoting a rigidly conservative, high-visibility and very hardline political profile of the Church. In all honesty, he massively increased the political (and economic) clout of the RKC, culminating in a concordat between Slovenia and Vatican in 2004. But he also alienated the Church from the more moderate part of the flock. As a result, percent of Slovenes declaring themselves of Roman Catholic persuasion (not necessarily practising, but simply of faith) fell from 75% under Šuštar to 55% under Rode.

In 2004 and Rode was recalled to Rome to take over as Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, in fact keeping tabs on various orders of the Church around the world. This he did with much gusto, which is something some of the more liberal nuns in the USA experienced first hand.

At any rate, Rode, who was made Cardinal by the new pope Benedict XVI shortly thereafter, was succeeded by Alojz Uran in Ljubljana. And this where the plot thickens. Under Uran, who always struck pengovsky as a Roman Catholic version of Friar Tuck, the flock began to swell again. But apparently Rode was none to happy to have been succeeded by a man with a down-to-earth-back-to-the-people agenda. Also, it was hinted lately, that Uran was opposing RKC’s financial excesses in general and the machinations of Maribor diocese in general. Without much success, but annoying quite a few people along the way. The straw, which seems to have broken the camel’s back, however, was Uran opposing using Church funds to pay for renovation of Goričane mansion, where Rode was planning to retire to after he bid goodbye to Vatican.

Thus a below-the-radar investigation was apparently initiated into Uran’s alleged fatherhood. While no names were named, the rumour mill went up to 11. Thus it was said that Uran apparently had a thing going in Šentvid area of Ljubljana and that everyone involved, including the kid, was pretty cool about it. Uran, for his part, denied ever having broken the vow of celibacy, but apparently bowed to Vatican. He was expected to be sent to Trieste, which – although just across the border in Italy – technically is outside Slovenia.

It was speculated early the whole thing is Rode’s payback for Uran being a pain in the ass. That the whole thing is a high-level semi-divine power play became apparent after one Peter Stelzer, 42, a German citizen of Slovenian descent publicly claimed that Franc Rode is his father. As with Uran, Delo daily had the exclusive, where the allegedly Cardinal’s long-lost son claimed that Rode, then a young vicar, knocked his mother up forty-two years ago and then left her, whereupon she, barely 18 years old, emigrated to Germany.

Rode’s reaction was most curious. He confirmed a relationship with Peter’s mother, but said that it was platonic and discontinued due to his heavenly call. As if… 😀 Additionally however, Rode hired a stellar lawyer, Nina Zidar Klemenčič, who – incidentally – also represented PM Janez Janša in various civil cases, including those tangential to the Patria Affair (which got its own twist today, by the way).

In the last few days the story got another twist, with Rode in principle agreeing to a paternity test which Peter S. demanded and said he’d have it done by the Ljubljana Institute of Forensic Medicine. However, Peter S. now says he wants the test done by a relevant German institution, citing concerns that religious persuasion of the head of Institute Jože Balažic would taint the process.

This will be fun to watch, although pengovsky would be very much surprised if the Rode – Stelzer paternity test came back positive, despite their seemingly strong physical resemblance. In fact, the only reason why this is mildly important to the general public is because the Church, from position of celibacy, takes it upon itself to approve or disprove of how other people’s intimate lives and family matters. Like it did in the Family Code debate. If either or both allegations turn out to be correct, this would be the final nail in the coffin of RKC’s credibility and morality.

Other than that, pengovsky doesn’t really care a pair of fetid dingo’s kidneys if either Rode or Uran (or both of them) fooled around. Quite to the contrary. I’d rather have clergymen screw consensually than screw little children forcefully or screw unsuspecting shareholders and investors out of their money.

As the old folk-wisdom goes, why does the vicar have a housekeeper? Just in case.


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Guess Who’s Back…

No sleeping with the fishes yet (photo by yours truly)

While pengovsky was sleeping vacationing chez les Croats shit was going on that needs to be covered here. The Catholic is being rocked by financial paedophile paternity scandals allegedly involving some of the most senior clergy men, the country is going bust while its prime minister is going bananas (at least some people think so), the government itself is repeatedly opening mouth and inserting foot while the mayor of the capital is looking down the barrel of a full-blown investigation into tax-fraud allegations.

Not to mention that there’s an election to be held in two months time. Stay tuned, pengovsky will bring you all of this and more in the coming days. Guess who’s back… 😎

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