Saturday, January 03, 2004

I hope this is true. I wouldn't mind being dead wrong on this particular 2004 prognostication.

Friday, January 02, 2004

Michael, to answer your questions:

1) Howard Dean - I don't know, I really haven't thought it through, it's just a feeling but if anyone I think it might be Gephardt. Of all of the Dems the only one with any sense or decency is Lieberman (although he lost my respect in the 2000 election by campaigning against pretty much everything he had supported in the senate up to that point) and he will not be the candidate.

2) Congressional spending - I have no problems with the money spent on the war effort, it is quite necessary in my opinion. I do have problems with all of the spending on social programs (Americorps, Medicare drug benefits, etc). I am a big supporter of President Bush, but a fiscal conservative he ain't.

3) John Kerry - I obviously don't like him. I don't know if it is well covered over there, but he pretty much finishes every statement by mentioning his Vietnam service. OK, that's an exaggeration but he repeated it ad nauseum until even the press corps was ridiculing him. The "F'ing" part refers to his dropping the F-bomb in an interview and a play on his middle initial. I actually think he is probably the most despicable of the current crop of Democratic candidates and that is saying a lot.

Tom wrote (a.o.):

"Howard Dean will not be the Democratic party candidate for president. (Pure gut feeling on this one)."

So who do you think will it be? Gephardt? (not holding my breath though, whoever it is will get slaughtered anyway)

"Congress as a whole (both sides of the aisle) with W's blessing will continue to spend our tax dollars like sailors in a whorehouse."

This is curious to me. I understand fiscal conservatism is needed (you see it in your own household) but as the US is in a state of war (to me it's really a war situation) do such considerations not move to second plan? I mean, in WWII the state deficit was soaring to the stars too, no?

"Finally, and I know I'm going out on a limb here, John F'ing Kerry will tell us that he served in Vietnam."

Obviously you don't like this guy very much (just an observation)
Could this be the second showing of the success of the Bush administration's "trickle down foreign policy"?
This is a perfect example of why I cannot imagine anyone wanting to join the EU as it is currently formulated.
A few predictions of my own for 2004:

(Disclaimer: These are purely hunches on my part, I claim no responsibility for them if they prove to be incorrect. If they come to pass, then I am a genius pure and simple.)

Osama Bin Laden will continue to remain dead - we will not find any evidence.

The Tories under Michael Howard will finally begin picking up steam in Great Britain with their message of a European union of a federation of individual nation states and not a bureaucratic superstate.

The EU will continue to muddle along with the French pushing toward a 2 speed system of tightly integrated countries. This will allow Monsieur Chirac to play the role of big fish (in a smaller EU barrel).

Howard Dean will not be the Democratic party candidate for president. (Pure gut feeling on this one).

Congress as a whole (both sides of the aisle) with W's blessing will continue to spend our tax dollars like sailors in a whorehouse.

Finally, and I know I'm going out on a limb here, John F'ing Kerry will tell us that he served in Vietnam.

Here's a New Year's prediction: 2004 will be really annoying to anyone remotely involved in American politics. While conservatives will have much to celebrate, including the likely second term of GWB, they will have to endure another year of his entitlement spending, which unfortunately and ironically may seal his victory. I now believe and hope that the President, with his second term secure, will start some actual governmental reform based on fiscal conservatism. It took only two years for LBJ and a liberal congress to give us out current welfare state, let's hope conservatives can dismantle it in even less time. Democrats will have a long, hard slog through the year knowing that they're probably going to get routed in the next election. Things will get ugly as frustrations run high, but we're likely going to see the beginnings of revolution within the democratic party. Let's hope they all re-read the constitution before reorganizing.

2004 will also bring us a mostly independent Iraq, but we'll still see the attacks on Iraqis and coalition soldiers continue for a very long time. Iran will feel more and more pressure as a free Iraq begins to thrive. North Korea will settle down in the wake of Libya's concessions, seeing that going along with the US and it's allies is more productive than threatening nuclear war. Europe will continue getting the EU house in order, and I suspect relations between the US and the EU may improve as the US economic recovery fuels a worldwide economic surge.

Here's my big prediction: Osama Bin Laden will be found, and Democrats will accuse GWB of waiting until the election before apprehending the man. They will also claim that Republicans killed Jesus, but will later retract the statement so as not to offend the sensibilities of non-Christians.

One last thing: I will be proven wrong about the majority of these predictions, and this post will be mysteriously deleted from the archive.

Happy New Year to all of you!

Thursday, January 01, 2004

Happy New Year to you too Michael! I read that Time issue as well, some heartbreaking as well as uplifting stories there. The American GIs never cease to amaze me in their ability to evaluate, adapt, and overcome in almost any situation. They are average Americans who volunteer to serve their country and as volunteers will always have an advantage over non-volunteer forces. Their esprit de corps and belief in what they are doing sustains them through Hell. I read an article just before the war began in which it was stated that many Europeans did not believe it possible, given the size of our forces, that they were all volunteers.

This is not to diminish the contributions of all the other nations fighting with us, we are grateful for every one of them. I am just glad to see them treated in our press with respect and admiration for once and very proud of them. Let's hope this new year begins bearing the fruit of their efforts.
Kerry and Scott,

I am preparing a valuable answer to your questions. Can't do it overnight, need some time and that's just what I haven't got now.

On the other hand, saying the following and meaning it with all of my heart takes no sweat:


Thanks for the GREAT JOB the US is doing in restoring peace, order and democracy throughout the world!

And now that I am at it: as I have been enjoying the festivities of the past evening, with good food, beverages, friends and family around I feel more than ever compelled to give at least some thought and a couple of prayers to all Coalition soldiers out there, but especially the American ones since they always bore and bear the brunt of the fighting. I have a subscription to Time Europe and in last week's issue, with the great photo on it featuring Sgt. Buxton, Spc. Grimes (beautiful lady btw) and Gunner Whiteside, there was a heartbreaking story on the fate of a.o. Lt. Colgan who perished from shrapnel in his brain during a patrol in Adhimiya district, one of the hotspots of Baghdad. Lt. Colgan was a hell of a father, husband and soldier and leaves behind his wife Jill and two cute kids. I am wondering how Jill and her kids are coming through this very period which is supposed to be full of joy and happy prospects. I hope and pray enough family and friends are around to stand by her in this difficult time. I sometimes take a look at CNN's Coalition casualties info. These heroes portrayed there, because they are nothing else, not only restore peace, order and democracy; they are protecting my very way of life.

Damn right Time chose The American Soldier as Person ot the Year. Who else?

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Michael, upon re reading the agreement, it says that unanimity (one country blocking is enough) is reserved for among other things foreign policy and defense. This caused some interesting feelings, my first was, "oh no worries, they'll NEVER get anything done that way"--then it hit me, "OH NO, that's exactly it!". If there were an event such as Iraq, in this layout, it would take only ONE state (France, say?) to say "Mais non, les Americains, malheureusement, je regret...." well you get the picture. One state could block help from the entire of Europe under auspices of "defense" or foreign policy. In the same way, say that the majority wanted to send aid to Iraq....same scenario. One state could block it. Who thought up this unanimity thing, or dare I ask? This is truly frightening to me. I mean it is good I suppose that on one hand France and Germany can't decide to go to war with a certain other nation without a unanimous vote, but we all know that isn't how things are done in Europe anymore. Therefore, the French could indeed use this as a vehicle to become a major player in Europe, in fact I suspect that they already have. You know the French were against the "invasion" of Iraq, therefore we must appease them if we want to do such and such as the EU, we must sweeten the deal for France. Am I paranoid here? Tell me honestly if you can not see this happening....
Hey all, since it is New Year's, any resolutions or predictions out there?
I mentioned to Scott that the dollar is down from it's high against the Euro, here's the story.

Also, for those of you that may have missed it, there was an interesting commentary on Instapundit on Dec 10 regarding the news media and reporting of Iraq. It was from an article published by The New Republic. It is fantastic. Here it is.
Thanks for the viewpoint, this is exactly why we want you here! I do understand that most of our allies are socialist anyway, but some of them (not unlike our democratic party members) get the bigger picture, and some live in their own utopia.

About voting, I love nothing better than to cast my vote as well, so I know what you mean that it doesn't affect you personally. I assume that you show some form of ID? How do they know if you actually vote or if somebody votes for you? We actually just go in and tell the person our name, they look it up on the register, read your address to you, you say "yes, that's me" and off you go! However, it is a small town and someone could know if someone else was voting for you. However, if my husband voted in the morning and then voted in the evening, I'm willing to bet that he could go once as himself, and once as me (since I have a male/female name) and never get questioned. If he did though, there'd be more than a fine. On the other hand, we have Miami, (and every other large city with a large immigrant population) where they pick up street vagrants in vans and tell them how to go in, get registered and vote such a way, and if they do, they'll pay them $20. I personally believe that if you aren't registered 4 weeks before the election, you've forfeited your vote. If our military members can vote absentee when they are in Korea, I think the average American can handle walking down to their town office. Can felons vote in Belgium?

About the EU. The seats in the EP is scary, Germany (99) and France (75) alone make up 174. I do realize that they also need 2/3 of the countries, and 255 votes but how much $ dealing is that going to take? I forsee a mess not unlike our congress, which is to say that it is pretty easy to get 2/3 vote when you put enough promises in for everyone else, particularly when almost all of the parties are socialist or socialist leaning. I agree that the EU is probably good for Europe economically, but our experience tells us the more government, the less say of the average person. I do like the fact that the numbers seem to be based somewhat along the lines of our electoral college system, in that the more populated countries have more votes, but not to the extent of their populations, so as to be able to have too much power allocated in one place. I will feel better once the "candidates" are members. Many of those are the Eastern European countries that have high regard for us from downing the "Iron Curtain".

I think that in spite of an at first sight lukewarm EU interest among Europeans most feel comfortable we matter in today’s world because of the Union.
This is the sentence that struck me the most. Here is an interesting article from National Review, a conservative bend magazine here in the US:

"The European Union consists of 15 members, due to rise next May to 25. All these states naturally have their interests, and none of the politicians can envisage how to reconcile conflicts among them, as things stand. The solution they come up with is a federation that will eradicate as far as possible the characteristics of the constituent nation-states. To that end a team of experts under former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing has been laboring for two years to devise a federal consitution. On December 12, heads of state came together in Brussels to ratify acceptance of the document that emerged, which gave Europe among many other things a legal entity, a supreme court, a foreign and defense policy, and a president. Countries with weak identities like Belgium or Luxembourg are eager for this new format. In contrast, Poland and Spain have very strong identities, and are not prepared to compromise them very far. The discussion in Brussels turned on technicalities, but the substance was the unwillingness of Poland and Spain to take a truly subordinate place in a federation run by France and Germany. Nothing was ratified, and all the politicians went home bad-tempered to struggle with explanations to electorates who are indifferent to these antics, bewildered by them, or outright hostile . In a phrase that President Reagan was fond of, you ain't seen nothing yet."

I'd be interested on your comments on it. You of course, must look out for yourselves, and we are looking out for ourselves, saying what is the EU going to do that will be good for us, or for the world? I haven't seen a convincing answer to that yet...

This is all very interesting information. From an American non-leftist point of view, I have no trouble with the basic concept of the EU, even though I've been a strong critic. I think the core issue that bothers many of us over here is the notion that the EU exists to counteract the economic and diplomatic influence of the United States. Of course, I have no trouble with a strong EU competing with us economically. I believe in free markets, and if the EU wants to compete on a level playing field with the US and everyone else, then we're all better off. What is troubling to me is the point that Kerry touched on, where there seems to be such a paranoia about US dominance that the EU, or at least it's most powerful members, will obstruct the US on issues like Afghanistan or Iraq just to keep us contained. Hopefully, as you mention, there are enough EU members to counteract this bias and keep things more neutral, but so far the balance of power seems to be with those who would choose to work against us even if doing so puts them in the company of Al Qaeda or Sadaam Hussein.

I also fear that while it may seem to be beneficial to the nations of Europe to be part of a larger and more powerful union, the prevailing political belief in Europe is still socialism, and I just can't see the EU accepting a free market situation with the US or other nations. Basically, I feel the protectionist, regulated economy of a socialist Europe will be at odds with a mostly free market capitalist US economy. This historically leads to the free market economies outperforming the regulated economies, which will be bad for Europeans and will only exacerbate anti US sentiment.

I'd like to get your take on this, as you clearly have more knowledge of the EU and its intentions. I've hammered the EU pretty hard in the past, but that doesn't mean I'm against a thriving European economy or a politically powerful Europe. I just don't see the EU's current direction leading to anything productive in the long run.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Hi Kerry,

Well, obligatory voting… at election day we are forced at gunpoint to move our ****s to the ballot boxes by BP (Belgian Police) and the Army…No, seriously: yes it IS obligatory (Belgium is one of the few remaining EU countries to have it that way) AND indeed you get fined for not showing up. Personally I don’t bother much as I like to cast my vote.

“With the socialist faction growing all of the time, what happens when there is a situation like Afghanistan or Iraq? Will we be able to count on Britain, Spain, Poland, and our other "allies"?”

As much as I deplore the fact that the EU’s left-wing political families are basically in charge, you have to remember that your staunchest allies in Iraq are mostly socialists too. PM Blair is Labor, PM Leszek Miller of Poland and the Polish President, Kwasniewski, are socialists. Miller is even a former communist. I might add just as well soon-to-be EU members Bulgaria, with an ex-communist, Georgi Parvanov, as President, and the Czech Republic, with Vladimir Spidla, a social democrat, for Prime Minister. It is remarkable to see how in Eastern Europe ex-communists and social democrats are dominating the political agendas. That most of them support the US in Iraq stems, I believe, from both a generally perceived realization that it was the US which were at the root of the Soviet Union’s demise and, hence, the downfall of the Iron Curtain, AND from less esoteric motives because they are angling for US support for their ailing economies (actually they want to have it both ways because they are eager to join the EU for the same reason).

What I want to illustrate with this is that being a leftist EU country not necessarily means not being able to “do the right thing” when it matters in cases like Afghanistan and Iraq. What worries me more with the left-leaning EU is that I doubt its ability to produce adequate answers to core “domestic” issues such as stopping the influx of (illegal) immigrants, counter the drain of not only labor-intensive industries but recently also of highly intellectual work to developing countries, the ageing of Europes population and hence the still heavier burden on the active people, in other words keeping the welfare state a doable thing etc. etc…

Because I want to be frank with that you know, the mere existence of the European Union is something I endorse VERY MUCH. And not only because I don’t have to swap Belgian francs for DMarks or French francs anymore if I want to visit my mother-in-law in Poland or visit Boulogne-sur-Mer in Frogistan. I believe the EU is a necessity for Europeans, creating a powerful politico-economic framework to counter the problems mentioned above, easing and facilitating economic activity from Dublin to Sofia and from Helsinki to Malta. And if that creates a large “Eurocracy” and if financial scandals emerge (and they do), well, I can live with it.

I think that in spite of an at first sight lukewarm EU interest among Europeans most feel comfortable we matter in today’s world because of the Union. The actual leadership realizes this more than anyone else. The UK’s, France's and Germany’s governments know all too well the days they could play first violin on the world scene by themselves are definitely over. You rightly suspect a country like France might want to use the EU as a vehicle to still do just that. But I wouldn’t worry too much about that. Just take a look here. To get a proposal passed, the Commission (the EU’s government) needs 255 votes (of the 342). In the 25 member Union France just has 29. The second column really deserves study you know. The recent Brussels summit was such a poor show because a.o. Germany insisted it should have more say than Poland or Spain as, after all, it has double the population of those countries (80 million as compared to roughly 40 million for both) while it has under the Nice agreement only 29 votes compared to Spains and Polands 27. Fair enough argument, but they should have fought for it at Nice and not now.