24 February 2011

You Are Not Belgium!


Mrs. Pack is in the news again. Visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina as the head of a European Parliamentary delegation she scolded the Bosnian-Herzegovian politicians for not jet having formed a government coalition. Her choice of words was rather peculiar, and revealing. She stated:
"You are not Belgium and you cannot afford that luxury."
Or in other words Mrs. Pack as a cultivated German lady, a bearer of superior European manners, came to the semi-savage land of Bosnia, to straighten it up. She came then, not as a guest or a simple passer-by, but as a figure of authority, a bona fide empress. Her mastery over this pitiful land no less the matter of her allegiance to the civilised portion of the continent, as the matter of her official function. And the first thing on her mind was to remind the natives of their station.

A more honest phrasing of the warning would be: Do not dare compare yourself to Belgium - they are Westerners. You must listen to us and do as we say (not as we do).

20 February 2011

Parallel Universe


Just after the worst ever year for the occupation in Afghanistan in which by its own data the number of attacks rose by over 50% it is possible to read in the press:
"General Petraeus’s success in bringing security to much of southern Afghanistan has defied gloomy forecasts from critics — including many in Mr Obama’s inner circle — who insisted that the Iraq surge could not be repeated in such a different setting."
Note the outrageous lie within the outrageous lie. Actually "the critics" never fell for the idiotic "the surge worked" spin and fully expected the Afghan effort to replicate the non-existent results of the Iraq surge.

Seeing that more and more the Empire is content with imaginary newspaper victories in place of the real thing I propose that henceforth it conducts imaginary invasions and imaginary occupations, directing imaginary divisions and imaginary Predator drones to be reported on by the pliant press as if they were real. That way the imperialists can have their "successes" and the rest of us can get on with our lives, secure in the knowledge that self-delusion in Washington is not costing the lives of innocents the world over.

15 February 2011

Russia Police Purge


As part of its police reform Russia is to fire 20% of its policemen. Welcome news. Knowing a little about how bureaucracies work I would not be surprised if they booted the least bad 20% of the militsioneri, but it is still a step in the right direction.

Too bad it is too be paired with an increase in salaries for the remaining cops. The rationale behind such moves is always the same - the buerocrats' jobs become more valuable to them making them less likely to risk them by accepting bribes, thus cutting down on corruption.

In reality what this does is make the bribes too expensive for poor people to afford, making it impossible for them to deflect the worst of a state assault on their wallet, or person, with a strategically placed banknote.

For a more detailed look at the reform and its other aspects, many of them positive, check out an entry at Russia: Other Points of View.

14 February 2011

Chuck Brilliance


In last week's episode of Chuck a villain – who not unusual for Chuck universe is a voluptuous, exotic woman – succeeds in coming up with a way to produce flawless copies of one hundred dollar bills. Later on it is revealed her villainous plan is to crash the US dollar by placing into circulation one trillion worth of these notes.

The funniest part of the episode comes half way into the show at a villains' meeting where the lesser villains that had provided the funds – one hundred million in gold – for the money-printing operation demand a status report. The chief villain reveals she has printed up "more notes than originally anticipated, for a grand total of one trillion US dollars", after which the financiers go ballistic exclaiming that that is too much currency, after all their fortunes depend on a strong dollar!

The chief villain – and the proud owner of one hundred million in gold – smiles, noting that her fortune on the other hand does not rely on the strength of a dollar. After which she naturally signals to members of her all-female private army and they gun down the lesser villains.

There you go, even TV villains are aware of dangers of excessive money creation and the advantages of owning gold. Now, if only the job of real spooks was to combat inflation.

12 February 2011

Byzantinism in the Protectorate


In regard to my last post an attentive reader may come to wonder, how is it possible that five Croat representatives in the House of Peoples come from Bosnian Muslim parties as do majority of the Serbs? Would this not have to mean these parties are actually multi-national and can claim to speak for a part of Croatian and Serbian people in Bosnia and Herzegovina? No, thanks to the convoluted ways in which the political system in the country works this is not the case at all.

The delegates to the House of Peoples are elected by cantonal assemblies. Each canton of the Federation elects a predetermined number of Croat, Serb and 'Bosniak' representatives according to its national structure as per the 1991 census. However as Croats (and Serbs) are small minorities in many of the cantons, they have little influence in the cantonal legislatures and therefore do not play a role in election of ostensibly 'their' representatives to the House of Peoples. Delegates from such cantons owe their position not to the few Croat (Serb) voters, but to the Muslim parties that dominate the cantonal legislatures that instal them. Once they take place in the House they vote accordingly.

Initially the role of the House of Peoples of the Federation was to reassure the less numerous Croats that in a union with the Bosnian-Herzegovian Muslims they would have the means to prevent the possibility of being dominated by their partners as per the democratic principle of the rule of the more numerous. As their voice in the chamber would be no less than that of the Muslims, and the chamber would need to confirm the budget, new laws and the government they would have the means to block motions that would be harmful for them and which they could not counter in the House of Representatives of the Federation.

However since then the House of Peoples had been gutted. In 2001 the foreigners' colonial overlord Wolfgang Petrisch involved himself in a virtual tug of war with the Bosnian-Herzegovian Croats eventualy going so far as to remove the Croatian member of the presidency and ban him from public life. (The equivalent Koffi Annan overriding US elections and booting George Bush from the position of the president of the USA.) The next year he rewrote the constitution, introducing changes affecting the House of Peoples. The number of decisions requiring the confirmation of the chamber was lessened, the requirements for a House of Peoples veto were raised and the proportion of Croat delegates from the cantons where there are few Croats increased.