Thursday, July 01, 2004

This is a damning indictment of American news media.

"As Watson's men pursued the fighters on foot, a grenade arced over the cemetery wall and exploded beneath a Humvee. After the loss of one Humvee a week earlier, sparking a celebration by Sadr's men, the soldiers refused to surrender this one. The resulting firefight turned into a six-hour defense of a burning car.

"We weren't going to let them dance on it for the news," said Capt. Ty Wilson, 31, of Fairfax, Va., who commands "Apache" Company. "Even all the guys they lost that day, that still would have given them victory."

Hat tip to Belmont Club.
Yep, I'm all for an illegal immigrant amnesty. Read this:

"In Los Angeles, 95 percent of all outstanding warrants for homicide (which total 1,200 to 1,500) target illegal aliens. Up to two-thirds of all fugitive felony warrants (17,000) are for illegal aliens."

Good Lord.
The World turned upside down...

A quote I agree with uttered by John Kerry. No seriously, THE John Kerry.

"'I think that driver's licenses are part of the legality of being here and if you've been here a period of time we may work something out as part of that immigration process, but I wouldn't give somebody who is automatically one year in here illegally all the rights and privileges of being here legally,' Kerry said in the interview.
'I think that's wrong. That defeats the purposes of the law,' he said."'
This REALLY pisses me off:

So, if this hasn't worked, what's the solution? The NDP, which polls indicate may hold the balance of power in Parliament after June 28, has proposed a radical solution: "going across the border to the U.S. and actively engaging in lobbying to have gun -control laws in the U.S. strengthened."
This sounds encouraging:

"At a council of war after Friday prayers at Baghdad's Baratha mosque, the sheiks - or chiefs - of more than 40 of the tribes issued a declaration: they would destroy Falluja, along with neighbouring Ramadi, unless the insurgency leaders they hold responsible for the Shiite deaths are handed over to them - for execution."
I'm doing my part to end our dependency on foreign oil.

Are you?

Wednesday, June 30, 2004


After considerable delay, my new (non-political) website is up. Check it.

Jonah Goldberg rips me off.

Scroll down to my Saturday, June 26 post and behold my supreme insight. It's more proof that DowneastBlog has the true pulse of the nation. ;)

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Ok, this is the pic that should have been posted yesterday. It was a curious glitch.

Barroso, Blair, Bush and Aznar

To the left of the photo you see our new Chairman of the European Commission, read Prime Minister of the European Union, Portuguese PM José Manuel Durao BARROSO. The photo was taken in March 2003 just prior to OIF during the so-called Açores Summit, whereupon Mr. Barroso had invited President Bush, PM Blair and the Spanish PM Aznar. Like I said, Portugals contribution to the liberation of Iraq is rather symbolic (120 policmen), nevertheless Barroso got castigated by the Portuguese for it. He repeatedly angered his countrymen further by vowing not to retreat the officers. His centre-right party was severely punished for this pro-US stance during the recent European elections: with 44% of the votes the rival Socialist Party gained a decisive - and historic - victory.

For taking such an unpopular stance we can certainly forgive him the fact that in his student years he was briefly a member of a Maoist student movement (hey, everyone makes mistakes, even me). It was the early seventies, the final days of the rightwing Portuguese dictatorship, which ended in 1974 with the so-called Carnation Revolution. In 1980 Barroso joined the Social Democratic Party, which in Portugal is center-right. From 1987 till 1992 he was Interior Minister, during which he successfully concluded a Peace Accord which ended 15 years of civil war in the former Portuguese colony of Angola. In 1992, at age 36, he assumed the post of Foreign Minister. The Social Democrats losing the 1995 elections, he briefly lectured law at Washington’s Georgetown University. Back in Portugal, he became Party Leader in 1999. In 2002 he was appointed Prime Minister. His biggest achievement was sanitizing the derailed public finances through strict and sober governance. He is not known as a visionary – Portuguese journalists in Brussels characterize him as “grey” – but he is praised as a tough and tenacious worker.

After the plethora of candidates failed to produce a single all-satisfying Commission Chairman – Barroso’s compatriot, EU Commissioner Vitorino being one of them – Barroso was finally picked as being the ideal consensus candidate – not really angering any fraction and his party a member of the European People’s Party in the European Parliament. This EPP is NOT what the name suggests: a socialist party. The EPP is the Parliament’s Christian Democratic Fraction, which emerged from the June 13 elections as the biggest one. He will assume the EU's most important post on November 1, since Romano Prodi's mandate runs till 31 October. His first task will be supervizing the signing, in November in Rome, of the Constitutional Charter, in short the European Constitution as it is more popularly known. That is the easy part. It then has to be ratified in all member states. In many a country this is bound to happen through referendum, and it can be expected the result in some countries will be "no".

Barroso has literally stated that a unified Europe and the US should be partners rather than adversaries – you will remember that I repeatedly echoed this view. So cheer up, I figure that with the recent enlargement, which further diluted France’s influence, and with Barroso at the helm, a better relationship US/EU can be expected.
Senator Hillary pretty much sums up the leftist view of government: "Many of you are well enough off that ... the tax cuts may have helped you. We're saying that for America to get back on track, we're probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."

Well, at least she's honest about it.

Monday, June 28, 2004

This is the new EU Chief:


Ok you guys. Time for an EU update. Before I start with the latest developments, a tiny bit of EU Leadership 101. Until now we were stuck with this dual leadership formula that is incomprehensible to all earthlings except the EU apparatchiks themselves and, ahem, your servant.

1° The EU Presidency, being performed by the so-called European Council, i.e. the organ personified by all government leaders of the member states. Until now there was a rotating Presidency of the respective member states with six-month long terms and Chairman being the PM or Head of State of the country in question. For the past six months this has been the Irish PM, Bertie Ahern, whose main tasks were making sure the enlargement with 10 new member states went according to plan, as well as getting this famous EU Constitution on the wheels.

2° The EU Commission, consisting of 25 Commissioners and responsible for the daily decisions. President or Chairman or whatever you want to call it was Romano Prodi, a former socialist Italian PM.

These two institutions make up the EU’s “governing body”, that’s what I meant by dual leadership formula. Some of you may remember that I once likened it to a situation whereby the Chairman of the European Council (Ahern) was responsible for the big picture (planning a new kitchen) and the Chairman of the EU Commission, Prodi, for preparing the daily dish. Another valid comparison is with a President/PM tandem, e.g. Chirac/Sarkozy.

Sheesh, I hope it’s a bit clear. I always wonder how you Americans with your super-simple 2-party system and a single Prez instead of a Head of State and a PM, look upon the European situation, especially during this spring when both Prodi and Ahern paraded the news rather prominently.

Now, this rotating six-month Presidency has become totally obsolete, as it left little time to every EU “president” to work himself in and deliver something resembling a good job towards the end. Also, since there are now 25 member states and more to join in the coming decade (Bulgaria, Turkey, Norway?), it would last too long for everyone to have their turn. So now it has been agreed that every EU “President” will be selected by the European Council members (remember, all PM/Head of States) for a period of 2,5 years, with re-election for one second term possible if he behaves. Thus the Irish Taoiseach (Irish for PM) Ahern will have been the last EU “President” as defined by the old system.

As for the European Commission, until 2014 all member states will delegate a commissioner, as was the case till now, so until that date the daily EU government will consist of 25 ministers. AFTER THAT DATE the number of ministers will be reduced to 18. The reason is simple. The European Commission’s “ministers” are each responsible for their own turf, be it Agriculture, Science, Education, Health Care etc… The EU Commission resembles MOST what you would call a government – forget for awhile about the European Council mentioned above. Well, since the EU is growing bigger, they can hardly keep creating new ministries just to give every incoming minister a fancy job, can they? I mean, such a practice was common for decades in the respective member states, but somehow the gentlemen have realized that it just wouldn’t make sense to create, say, a Ministry for Scandinavian Cruises by the time Norway would join the EU. So in short, by 2014 there will be, basta, only 18 ministers.

Now, that part of the EU’s governing body that gets most of the spotlights is unquestionably the European Commission, and it’s its Chairman who is regarded as EU Chief. The past few weeks have seen bitter EU infighting as to whom would be successor to Prodi. In case you weren’t drunk or completely bored you may have noticed I shed some light on the candidacy of our own Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt(back in 2002 at the EU Nice, France Summit dubbed “Nice Guy”, haha, do you get it?).

At some point he seemed a likely candidate since he had firm backing from both Chirac and Schroeder. Now Verhofstadt has always been a true European federalist, i.e. he really wants the EU to evolve to a Superstate and make the national states subordinate to a European Federal Authority. In that respect I could follow him, were it not that I fear that with him the EU would rather follow a collision course with the USA. Note also that he was strongly against the war and that it was him who organized, right after the successful conclusion of OIF, a European subtop on Defense with Germany, France and Luxembourg (at the time mockingly called by German media “Pralinentop”!). The aim was a NATO-independent European Defense organization. The idea was quickly killed since PM Blair at a very early stage understood the implications for NATO.

To cut a long story short, while Verhofstadt was the ideal candidate for Mssrs. Chirac and Schroeder, it was Blair (together with Berlusconi) who did his undoing. Not only because Blair could not forgive Verhofstadt his heavy anti-war stance (neither can I), but also and maybe more importantly because Blair does not want to go as far as our PM with a federal Europe – as you may know, it’s already hard to get the British to accept the EU as some kind of NAFTA vehicle. A 100% federalist like Verhofstadt, promising even more EU regulation emitting from Brussels would be more than a tough sell for the Brits. Thus, exit Verhofstadt, although Blairs candidate, Chris Patten, EU Commissioner and former Hong Kong governor, also had to quit to make defeat for the Germans and French bearable.

Well, today Tuesday will finally see the appointment of the new EU Commission Chairman in the person of Jose Manuel Durao BARROSO, Portuguese Prime Minister. You will be pleased to note he
is a staunch supporter of the US, calibre Aznar. To be precise, Portugal’s contribution to the Iraqi endeavour is largely symbolic – 120 policemen. (still way better than Belgium’s, which sent a dog with a hat on). Be that as it may, when a poll said 74% of Portugues wanted the immediate withdrawal of the officers, Barroso vowed thay would stay “because in need you have to stand by your friends”. He is 48, married and father of three kids. Politically he’s a centre-right Social Democrat. In 1990, as Interior Minister, he brokered the Angola Peace Accord, ending the 15-year Civil War there. In 1992, at age 36, he became FM. Basically he’s the ideal compromise candidate for EU Chief.