Tony Blair will not become the first EU President

As Julien Frisch correctly points out in fact it is not the position of EU President that Blair would be running for in any case – indeed quite a cock-up for Le Monde.

Its not suprising that the UK flag is all the way in the back corner...

It's not suprising that the UK flag is all the way in the back corner...

In any case, Charlemagne over at the Economist has rushed to inform of that Glenys Kinnock, the new Europe Minister of the UK “fucked up” and got a little over-excited with a possible Blair candidacy.
Her mess-up however is unimportant – and here’s why – Europe does not need a President of the EU European Council who comes from a country that is not in the EMU (does not have the Euro as its currency) and is Eurosceptic. Furthermore, the first President of the (European) Council under the Lisbon Treaty will get a significant position in shaping the role. This is not quite what we want Blair to do as Europeans – especially when – as Euractiv writes: The New Parliament seen retreating from Anglo-Saxon model.

It comes down to a simple question – what Europe do we seek? (plagiarised from the New Europe editorial this week)?

It just seems to me that the Union could only regress under British leadership.

Perhaps we’ve got enough of Britain represented in Europe as it is

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Palin prank is sad indeed…

Sarah Palin was pranked last night by a Canadian radio station pretending to be French President Sarkozy. The pranker talked about hunting, Joe the plumber, Carla Bruni, Dick Cheney, and even went as far as to make references to the “documentary” called “who’s nailin’ Palin” and Bon Jovi’s “It’s my life”. Palin, remained convinced and happy that Sarko was calling her personally, even flirting with her! 

Obama’s campaign spokesman Robert Gibbs, commenting on the prank, said: “I’m glad we check out our calls before we hand the phone to Barack Obama.”

If true (which it appears to be as it was reported on by AP), the prank call to Sarah Palin may cost the Republicans at least one more percentage point in the upcoming elections. There is much to be said about protocol on the matter, and it is most likely that Bexy (or whatever Palin’s assistant’s name was) lost her job very swiftly.

It seems from the Palin’s replies that the connection was not great, and that she couldn’t make out some of what “Sarkozy” was saying. To play devil’s advocate, In Palin’s position it would be very difficult to confront the caller half way through asking if it was a prank; in any case, it was gracefully handled.

However what is sad is that what has been unveiled by this prank call is that Palin does not have what it takes to be VP of the USA. This is hardly how you would expect a VP to speak to the French President afterall. Granted the pranker did not give much space for Palin to move the dialogue in her own domain, and that she had to respect the seniority of the President of France.

Still, one would expect more etiquette, more respect, and a less casual demeanor. Maybe I expect too much, but her attitude resembles many Bushisms, who has been caught with the mic/camera on one too many times in embarrassing moments. Still these made him more human and added to his appeal.

This prank does nothing else but sadden me. I would simply expect more from a person who is in Palin’s position.

Mandelson back in “action”

Sooner or later... therell be no more yachts for Mandy to cruise on...

Sooner or later... there'll be no more yachts for Mandy to cruise on...

Peter Mandelson gave trade concessions worth up to £50m a year to Russia’s richest man who has entertained him on his superyacht.  Following my post Bye Bye Mandelson… Back to Business… I found this on a fellow bloggers site. Apparently, Mandelson is back in action:

Only days back in UK politics and Mandy is the centre of controversy. This time according to The Times it is over potential conflict of interest in respect of a rich Russian acquaintance. Apparently trade concessions worth some 50 million pounds a year could be involved.

Mr. Mandelson knows very well how to handle issues of trade… Brussels taught him well. Interesting to note that this is the same paper that did the Sting operation on Fritz-Harald Wenig not too long ago. Go figure…

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Obama vs McCain – Dirty politics… or Just kids having fun

I came across this video on a republic blog. The video portrays youths training and showcasing their I-heart-Obama routine. Lots of blogs have put this up as democrat propaganda, saying Obama is training the youth with a nazi-youth methodology.

Being a European – who doesn’t have much preference, and who politically might even prefer the Republicans, I want to say that this is absolute nonsense. This video is either 10 guys having a laugh, mocking the Obama-is-gonna-change-the-world campaign, or a severe case of Republican dirt war.

Just stating the obvious- does Obama need to train tha black youths of America to vote for him?????
If that was 10 white kids, then we’d have a problem (but we probably wouldn’t believe it was a real video).

People are so polarised that they immediately latch on to any piece of information that could strengthen their side, without screening it to see if it’s possibly real or not. Unfortunately, we’ve seen this increasingly with riddiculous statements about Obama. We’re also expiriencing it a little with Sarah Palin- but I must confess that I have more concern about the remarks that are real than those that are fake on that front…

Enjoy the video

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McCain-Europe relations questionable- Obama perhaps not!

To be honest I don’t quite know where I stand on the Obama-McCain question. But something tells me that when it comes to Europe, it seems Obama is the candidate that will be more… reliable. Having heard what some have described as Obama’s historic Berlin speech, and then having read “McCain’s Spanish Dancing“, i’m not entirely convinced of the Republican candidate’s… European orientation.

When asked whether McCain would be willing to extend an invitation to the Premiere of Spain (mentioned both by name and country), McCain became confused. It actually seems as if he had no clue about Spain…

Portion of the Interview:

Q: Senator, finally, let’s talk about Spain. If you’re elected president, would you be willing to invite President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero to the White House, to meet with you?

A: I would be willing to meet with those leaders who are our friends and want to work with us in a cooperative fashion. And by the way, President Calderón of Mexico is fighting a very, very tough fight against the drug cartels. I’m glad we’re now working in cooperation with the Mexican government on the Merida plan, and I intend to move forward with the relations and invite as many of them as I can of those leaders to the White House.

Q: Would that invitation be extended to the Zapatero government? To the president, itself?

A: Uh, I don’t, you know, honestly, I have to look at the relations and the situations and the priorities, but I can assure you: I will establish closer relations with our friends, and I will stand up  to those who want to do harm to the United States of America. I know how to do both.

Q: So, you have to wait and see if he’s willing to, to meet with you, or you be… able to do it? In the White House?

A: Well, again… I, I don’t… All I can tell you is that I have a clear record of working with leaders in the hemisphere that are friends with us, and standing up to those who are not, and that’s judged on the basis of the importance of our relationship with Latin America, and the entire region.

Q: OK, what about Europe? I’m talking about the President of Spain. Are you willing to meet with him, if you’re elected president?

A: I’m willing to meet with any leader who is dedicated to the same principles and philosophy that we are for human rights, democracy and freedom. And I will stand up to those that do not.

The authors comments (which seem reasonable) were:

McCain’s reluctance to meet with Zapatero was odd because Spain is a member of NATO and a longtime U.S. ally …

We listened to the McCain interview several times and got the impression that the senator was confused during the first few questions. The interviewer says Zapatero’s name quickly and it seemed to us that McCain did not recognize the name. His answer suggests he is focused on other leaders from Latin America. But the interviewer seems to notice his confusion and reminds him “OK, what about Europe? I’m talking about the president of Spain.”

But McCain’s reply does not suggest that registered with him and he offers a more general reply about meeting with “any leader who is dedicated to the same principles and philosophy that we are.”

We would have accepted a McCain-was-confused explanation for this one, but the McCain campaign sent reporters a statement from foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann that said McCain’s answer was intentional.

“The questioner asked several times about Senator McCain’s willingness to meet Zapatero — and id’d him in the question so there is no doubt Senator McCain knew exactly to whom the question referred. Senator McCain refused to commit to a White House meeting with President Zapatero in this interview,” Scheunemann said in an e-mail sent to the Washington Post and CNN.

Scheunemann said that if elected, McCain “will meet with a wide range of allies in a wide variety of venues but is not going to spell out scheduling and meeting location specifics in advance.”

So where does that leave us?

Obama is right that McCain “said the other day that he would not meet potentially with the prime minister of Spain.” McCain’s words make that clear and are reinforced by Scheunemann’s statement.

It’s less clear if McCain “wasn’t sure whether (Spain is) aligned with us.”

To us, McCain seemed confused. But Scheunemann’s statement is adamant that McCain knew the subject was Spain. As a result, his comment that “I have to look at the relations and the situations and the priorities” indicates at least some doubt about U.S.-Spanish relations. So we find Obama’s claim to be Mostly True.”

 

 

 

 

 

See the clip of Obama’s speech in Berlin for comparison. McCain’s rationale, or ignorance is for this European NOT convincing.

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Fear of the Austrian far right; far fetched. Or is it?

From the Associated Press, to the FT to the Independent and the Times, the press is all over the rise of the far right in Austria. The real question is, should we (the rest of Europe) be concerned?

The Times notes that “The two parties that campaigned on an anti-immigrant and anti-European Union ticket have captured about 29 per cent of the vote”.

The Guardian raises the alarm with the historical and religion elements:

Heinz Christian Strache, the leader of the Freedom party …  who has been associated with neo-Nazi militants who deny the Holocaust, according to a court ruling, and who wants a new government ministry created to manage the deportation of immigrants, wound up his campaign at the weekend by calling Muslim women who wear the burqa “female ninjas”.
… He talked of east European immigrants to Vienna as “European brothers who don’t want to be Islamised”, while another of his party leaders reminisced about the days when the kiosks on Vienna’s squares sold sausage and wiener schnitzel, rather than “the kebab joints selling falafel and couscous, or whatever you call that stuff”. 

Though all of the above sounds quite significant and frightening, especially looking back at what negative effect the extreme right (and left) have had historically, we must take into account what sort of society we live in today.

First off, the reality is that if the Austrian goverment is not singing the EU tune, they can be, not thrown out, but put on a political, and more importantly financial freeze. This would not be the first time something like this came to happen… again to Austria none-the-less.

And this would end up backfiring until the people were bullied into voting for an acceptable candidate. Acceptable? Democratically speaking no… For the better of the world? Maybe… But still wrong…

Other option: Austria leaves the Union and heads for solitude, only not with the good graces of the member states like the solitude of Switzerland…. Outcome? God knows, but I don’t think (and I hope I never have to be proven wrong) that Austria’s military size pozes a threat- 81st in the world according to good ‘ol wikipedia.

Bottom line; extreme situations end up resolving themselves. The biggest problem is not the rest of Europe, but what goies on inside the country, and THAT is what the EU and all other international organisations must strive to protect if the shit hits the fan, and I say if because politicians do not tend to be as extreme as they have been historically.

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