Backstabbers

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


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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.

Voices From the Grapevine…


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…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…

Media Naiveté

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Anything wrong with this picture?



Watching Robert Newman’s History of Oil (for the n-th time) the other day, I found myself chuckling to a part of his stand-up performance where he scorns the corporate media for their acquired naivete. He cannot get over the fact that media happily report on a “British and American plan to bring democracy to the Middle East” as if the plan were a fact and not just another attempt to control the oil fields in the region, which (by the way) the West has been doing for the last ninety years.

But he also notes that from time to time the corporate newsmedia basically fuck up and report the truth. He quotes the Times which apparently (I was unable to confirm that) ran an article in 2003 titled “West Sees Glittering Prizes Ahead in Giant Iraqi Oil Fileds“. Which basically sums up the reasons for US occupation of Iraq.


Now all this would be just an episode, it it weren’t for yesterday’s web edition of Delo newspaper, which ran this article. The title reads “Nato lani v Afganistanu ubil preveč civilistov” (NATO killed too many Afgan civilians last year).


Eeeerrrrr….. Exquiz me? Baking powder? What the fuck?


Are NATO and Delo trying to tell me that there is an allowed number of civilians that you can kill?! And if you kill too many, you just call a press conference and say: “Look, we’re sorry, we screwed up. We had a mandate to kill 145 civilians, but the Yanks felt trigger-happy and we went above two hundred. I mean we tried to compensate by cutting down the numbers of allowed civilian kills for the Brits, Canadians and the Aussies, but it just didn’t add up…”


Furthermore: How stupid can you be to actually report something like that? This is almost as bad as “embedded reporting“. No wonder Delo is a shitty newspaper if its editors let slip-ups like this happen. Maybe the guys in NATO HQ are going “great, at least this Delo-thing published it the way we wanted it to be published“. Jamie Shea must be really proud…

Euro

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Slovene two-euro coin, featuring France Prešeren, previously the star of a 1000-tolar banknote. Photo: Primož Lavre, source



No, this is not a sob-story about the demise of Slovenian tolar. Neither is this a praise for the common European currency, the euro. It is, rahter, a real-politik based look upon the official admission of Slovenia to Economic and Monetary Union (falsely known as European Monetary Union).

The most obvious effect of this is of course the adoption of euro as Slovenian currency. Slovenia will also transfer a part of its monetary sovereignity to a collective body of European Central Bank, which by means of consensus formy monetary policies for all members of the EMU. Slovenian economy will thus from midnight tonight officially become a part of one of the largest single markets in the world – especially in terms of purchasing power.

Single monetary unit is an extremely important step in creating a sence of internal and external sovereignity. In mid-seventies Henry Kissinger uttered a sad-but-true sentence: “Europe? Who do I call?”. While this is still the case in foreing politics, where member-states refuse to transfer foreign policy powers to Brussells, the question has been solved in monetary area. The Governer of Federal Reserves can now call the Governor of the ECB. EU (or at least, members of the EMU) is at the early stages of external monetary sovereignity (external in this case meaning that it is recognised as a legitimate player by other players). By people actually using the currency – banknotes and coins – the EU is (slowly, but still) also gaining internal sovereignity: being recognized as a legitimate player by its citizens. The process is slow, paintful and not at all even in all areas. Luckily, I might add… Allow me to elucidate with refference to specifics:

I always saw the EU as an entirely Marxist concept. According to Karl any given society is shaped (created, if you will) first by establishing an economic infrastructure, which is followed by a social superstructure. European Union is a text-book expample of this. If we skip the early forms of European economic cooperation (the Coal and Steel Community), we see that the “original” EU (the twelve member states) at first formed European Economic Community (EEC). While it may seem normal from today’s point of view (with the World Trade Organisation and such), the fact that member states were not charging customs for nearly all products imported from another member state was revolutionary for that time (nearly a decade later, in 1992, Slovenia recorded a historic budget surplus, precisely because of charged customs for foreign products).

Now in the years following, the EU jumped a bit ahead of itself. While it may have seemed that adoption the euro and formally declaring a single market was enough in terms of creating an economic infrastructure, allowing the then leaders to eagerly concoct a social superstructure, the truth is that not enough has been done.

While I strongly support further expansion of the EU, which in my opinion must at least include entire Balkan Peninsulla and Turkey (more on that on some other occasion), the same amount of effort (if not more) must be put into actually making the common economy work. Euro is a big step, but it is not enough. Things will not just happen on their own. More must be done to persuade Great Britain to join the eurozone and help other EU members to achieve criteria to join the euro-zone. The benefit will be two-fold: firstly, the fact that one of the hottest economies of the world adopted the euro would be a great boost to both internal and external sovereignity of the EU and secondly, more eurozone members means a bigger common currency market, more business opportunities, etc, etc… To summarise: while building the social superstructure of the EU must continue, the economic infrastructure of the union must be strengtened. To put it in construction terms: The current foundations cannont bear the weight of the structure and must strengthened “toot-suit”, and at the same time the works on the structure must go on. A daunting task, I know… But if one of the two fails to materialize I fear the worst…

So for once I’m glad that my sorry little country where the rule of law was recently raped and mutilated, where minorities are endangered, where the terms “state media” became popular again and where a ban on abortion can still become a proposed government policy, that for once this country did the right thing and did all it can do to forward the European idea – although I believe Europe stands for ideals different than those of the current Slovene government.

P.S.: Happy 2007 to everybody… Whatever the weather, we (always) weather the weather, whether we like it or not…

Suzuki is a piece of shit…

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Somehow I always picture the scene below taking place
in Springfield Elementary School 🙂


First day in an elementary school somewhere in Midwestern USA…


The teacher introduces a new pupil, Suzuki from Japan. A history lesson begins and the teacher decides to quiz the kids:


Who said »Give me liberty or give me death«
Silence befalls the classroom. Suzuki raises his hand: »Patrick Henry in 1775 in Philadelphia!
Teacher: Very good, Suzuki


Now, who said »Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth«?
Suzuki stands up solemnly: Abraham Lincoln, 1863, Washington
The teacher scorns the rest of the classroom: You should be ashamed of yourselves. A Japanese kid knows more Amercan history than you do!


A quiet vioce from the back of the classroom: »Fuck off, you Jap sons of bitches«
Teacher yells: WHO SAID THAT?!?!
Suzuki raises his hand: General Douglas McArthur, 1942 just before the battle of Guadacanal and Lee Iacocca in 1982 during Chrysler’s shareholder meeting in Detroit.


The class falls silent, but a single voice that whispers: »Blow me!«
Suzuki: Bill Clinton to Monica Lewinsky, 1997 in Oval Office, Washington


Another kid yells: »Suzuki is a piece of shit!«
Suzuki: Valentino Rossi, 2002, during a MotoGP Rio de Janeiro Grand Prix


All the other kids freak out and start a rampage, the teacher blacks out and then the headmaster enters the classroom: »WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING AROUND HERE?«
Suzuki: Prime Minister of Slovenia Janez Janša, Ambrus, November 2006