I am disgraced, impeached, and baffled here;
Pierced to the soul with slander’s venomed spear,
The which no balm can cure but his heart-blood
Which breathed this poison.

-William Shakespeare,
The Tragedy of King Richard The Second


This is way too vile even for JJ. I can understand that he resorts to dirty tricks and that he is generally a mischevious bastard who will gladly sacrifise people and ruin their reputation and personalities to promote his own agenda. But Mitja Gaspari didn’t deserve this.

After successfully introducing the euro, President Drnovšek proposed Gaspari to a second term as the Governor of the Bank of Slovenia. Given Gaspari’s track record he should have passed the parliamentary procedure with flying colours. (For the uninitiated: think of Gaspari as the Slovene version of Alan Greenspan)

But lo! Behold! What happens? Only 21 days (yes, three weeks) after Gaspari and Janša together oversee one of the most smooth currency transitions ever recorded, so called “documents” appear out of nowhere, produced by the general no-goodnik Zmago Jelinčič of Slovene National Party, who usually serves as a stooge for whoever is in power at a given moment. There documents allegedly claim that Gaspari and his team forecasted much bleaker economic results to the ECB in the months leading up to the introcution of the euro, damaging Slovenia’s reputation. Janša took the cue, now suddenly saying that he’s not so sure about supporting Gaspari for the second run.

Bullshit. A political ambush if I ever saw one.

And it didn’t take long for Gaspari to tighten the noose himself. Unskilled in handling the media he tried to shake off one danger, plummeting headlong into another. Namely: Yesterday afternoon he called a press conference, saying that he never reported anything of the sort and that he never damaged Slovenia’s reputation. Which is precisely what Janša wanted him to say – that Gaspari was more concerned with introducin the euro (and maybe even cooking the numbers, JJ would have you think) than with doing his job properly and with due scrutiny.

Mitja Gaspari didn’t deserve that and I hope that enough protest votes will mount in the parliament later this month to defy Janša’s dirty tricks. Actually, I’d like to see Gaspari’s nomination rammed through the parliament and right down Janša’s throat.

Science Fiction?

Barack Obama for president?

The Land of Plenty is gearing up for post-Bush era… US Senator for Illinois Barack Obama has just set up a Presidential Exploratory Committee – the first step of many which could possibly lead to his running for the Oval Office. But is the switch from a “compassionate conservative” to the first black President of the US of A really possible? Pengovsky is sceptical…. I’d like to see it, but this is the real world…

BTW: to quote Robin Williams: “Compassionate conservative? I don’t know what that is… Sounds like a Volvo with a gun-rack 😀

Voices From the Grapevine…

…are increasingly loud about this guy being the next to go…

Before shit hits the fan, let me make one thing clear: thusfar there is almost not a piece of information around to actually confirm the capiton under the picture. This is all purely speculative and based on bits an pieces I keep hearing from various sources (various both in number and their background).

But the truth is that Slovenia is to preside over the EU in a year’s time and Minister of Foreign Affairs Dimitrij Rupel is apparently losing his grip rapidly. He hasn’t made any headway regarding open issues with Croatia, he failed to reach a deal regarding the final statement of the OSCE summit in Ljubljana and he seems to have outlived his usefulness to PM Janez Janša. While Janša still defends Rupel publicly that is by no means a tell-tale sign that Rupel enjoys the support of his boss. Janša consistently supported his agricultulrar minister(ess) Marija Lukačič, but she resigned a couple of days ago, citing medical reasons.

And given Rupel’s recent blunders (he allegedly spilled the beans to the press, disclosing the contents of a closed-doors session of EU foreign ministers in Finland about a month ago) Janša would do good to get rid of Rupel ASAP.

There are other signs as well, seemingly unconnected. The youth organisation of SLS (one of the junior coalition partners) put up several leaflets around Ljubljana, saying “Mr. Golobič, why don’t you admit that Danilo Türk will be the next president of LDS?

At first glance it makes no sense, as Gregor Golobič (formerly of now-oppostion LDS – Liberal democrats) is at odds with the current LDS leadership, while Danilo Türk (former right-hand man of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan) is known to be close to right wing parties, notably Janša’s SDS. But if one takes into account that SLS were always agents provocateurs, making it their purpose in life to make life difficult for the senior coalition party (any senior coalition party, that is) than a possible scenario goes like this: Rupel is on the verge of “being resigned”, Danilo Türk is most likely to succeed him but SLS like their pond murky so they link him to LDS, aiming to destroy his chances of becoming Janša’s FM. Sounds like a conspiracy theory, but why in the world SLS try to contaminate Danilo Türk with LDS-virus if he wasn’t up for a job? And there’s only one job good enough for him in Slovenia…

To go on… Rupel being a resident “guest star” in Saturday’s edition of Delo newspaper is bad news for Janša who likes to run a tight ship. And that includes Rupel, who always prided himself in being a sort of a maverick. Which can be good, but not if you’re Foreign Minister. And this article by The Economist calling Rupel “oddly abrasive” is not to Rupel’s credit. Not to meniton the recent discovery by Dnevnik that he had his driver run errands for his wife… In their own right none of these events warant Rupel’s dismissal, but put them together and the picture becomes much darker.

Not to mention the rumour which was floating around some time ago that Janša and Rupel have a deal where Rupel resigns as soon as they find him a cosy ambassadorial spot. You see, Janša doesn’t have the foreing policy expertise Janez Drnovšek had (and probably stil has). Once a journalist asked “Drle” (who was still PM then) why does he make Rupel do all the dirty work and Drnovšek answered “You think so? It seems the other way around to me…“. But now, as Janša was stuck with Rupel, the latter holds his boss a virtual foreign policy hostage. And the fact that Rupel is losing grip is plainly obvious in the fact that JJ has yet to make a formal visit to any of the neighbouring countries. Helloooo?

The man’s been in power for two years and he hasn’t payed a visit to Zagreb, Rome, Vienna or Budapest… You see, when Germany elects a new chancellor his (or her) first order of foreing policy business is to formally visit Paris. The first foreing visit of an Austrian chancellor is either to Bern (Switzerland) or to Prague (as it happened a couple of years ago, to the dismay of many).

Dimitrij Rupel failed to advise his boss to visit any of the neighbouring countries. And if Rupel is unable to provide sound advice, then he should be replaced as soon as possible. The prospect of his chairing the EU council of ministers is supposedly scarry to a lot of people. You don’t believe me? Apparently Tone Rop (the man who succeeded Janez Drnovšek as PM) wanted to get rid of Rupel quickly, so he thought of proposing him as a candidate for EU Commisioner to the Cabinet of then President of the Commission Romano Prodi. When word of that got out calls were made from Prodi’s cabinet not to name Rupel (Rop heeded those calls, naming Janez Potočnik instead, which was a wise long-term move).

Tone Rop eventually dismissed Rupel, who became a turn-coat, rapidly supporting Janez Janša in his bid to win the elections (which he did). Rupel was rewarded with his former job again, but ever since he became more of an obstacle than an asset – mostly for the reasons cited above. And that’s why I think he has outlived his usefulness to JJ. And we’ve seen how Janša deals with politically expendable people. There is no reason to think that Rupel will be exempt from such treatment. Also, it seems that Rupel has been slightly sidelined lately…

But then again, I may be dead wrong…

Ljubljana Escalator Redux (and some good music)

On Tuesday I posted some more or less random thoughts on Ljubljana Escalator which opened a day later. I also wrote that heads will roll if the thing doesn’t start making profit soon. Well now… Heads might roll, but not in the near future as the escalator is expected to return the investement in forty years!!!!!. For fuck’s sake! Even I will be either geriatric and heavily demented by then – but most likely already six feet under… Jesus… Seven million euros divided by 2,5 euros (the ticket fare) means that the poor thing will have to transport at least 2.8 million passangers (provided they all buy a return ticket) just to break even. And that’s not counting the operating costs, repairs and necesary overhauls. Sheesh!

So, if you want to see how the gala opening went, here’s the piece I did for the Firm™ (in Slovene)

The voiceover is a bit screwed up because of compression and the camera work is not all it could be, but still…

The legendary jazz musician (and City Councilor) Miha Jazbinšek performed at the soiree and here they are: Miha Jazbinšek and His Legends, doing Gershwin’s Summertime

This video wasn’t aired anywhere, so it’s kind of exclusive 😀 Note how he looks into the camera at the end of his solo 😉