Saturday, November 10, 2007

Two Sad Days for EU Governance

Two EU whistleblowers lose in the EU court system, with chilling verdicts, and commentary, from EU officialdom: The cases of Bernard Connolly and Marta Andreasen.

Turkey is more democratic than the EU -- Daniel Hannan
If the EU were a country applying to join itself, runs a Brussels joke, it would be turned down for not being democratic enough.

The old saw is being vindicated anew by the EU’s treatment of Turkey. Ankara has been told that it must alter its legal code to permit criticism of Turkish nationality. Fair enough: while it’s none of our business to tell Turks how to order their internal affairs, the provision has always struck me as a demeaning one. Turkey should be above such touchiness.

But here’s the thing. While the EU hectors Ankara about its legislation, it is slowly building a corpus of Euro-law which proscribes criticism of the European Union. The clearest precedent has been the case of Bernard Connolly, a British Commission official who, out of office hours, wrote a book called The Rotten Heart of Europe, which criticised the single currency.

He was dismissed from his post for criticising the European project, and went on to challenge his former employers on grounds of free speech. When the Euro-judge — a Spaniard, as it happened — handed down his verdict, it contained a bone-chilling phrase. Freedom of speech, said the judge, was not an absolute right: “Criticism of the European Union, like blasphemy, lies outside its terms”.

Meanwhile, the EU has created the new offence of “xenophobia”. How, I wonder, might “xenophobia” be interpreted by a zealous Euro-integrationist? The Commission, for example, has already described opposition to the euro as “monetary xenophobia”.

Look at the whole business from Ankara’s point of view. Turkey is told to be more democratic by an organisation [the EU Commission] that is run by 27 unelected commissars and their accompanying apparat. It is ordered to face up to its past by a body that pretends to have been born out of a reaction against fascism, ignoring the Nazi and Quisling backgrounds of many of its founders. It is nagged about getting more women into politics, despite having elected its first female head of government 14 years ago — a landmark that 18 out of the EU’s 27 member states have yet to reach, let alone the European Commission, 20 of whose 27 members are men. It lectured about free movement by a European Union that continues, in breach of its repeated promises, to blockade the Turkish part of Cyprus.

My point is not that Turkey is always right. But the EU’s hypocrisy and heavy-handedness in the negotiations is causing even the most Westernised Turks to bristle. The Turko-sceptic majority in Brussels keeps dangling the prospect of a radicalised and orientalised Turanistan before us. If they carry on like this, they might just succeed in making their preposterous fears come true.

And a timely update of a related story that's been going on for a few years now.

Marta Andreesen, an EU official who went public with the information that the EU Commission is nearly $300M off in their accounting, has lost her whistleblowing case:

Her predecessor, EU Auditor Dougal Watt, went into hiding for some time a few years ago, for having revealed the same information. He'd received death threats... from members of the government, presumably. Who else's ox was being gored, if not theirs?
Commission officials have welcomed the judgment against Mrs Andreasen. "The court has now rejected Mrs Andreasen's claims and upheld our decision to dismiss her for misconduct. The commission is entitled to respect, trust and loyalty from its officials," said a spokesman.
How about, "The citizens of the EU are entitled to accountability, transparency and respect from their government" ?
The commission claims that Mrs Andreasen broke internal rules of "hierarchy" by going to the press and MEPs with her concerns over standards of EU accounting.

"Her allegations were not new and were rather general. And to be a whistleblower you have to respect certain channels," one official said.
Arrogant, smug, and blithely self-contradictory.

That sort of attitude on the part of the EU goverment, including its local minions where I lived (for several years, as a non-citizen) has much to do with my having decided not to remain there.

Is this what is meant when we are told Europe is more civilized than the US?

I had thought that being ruled by smug, condenscending, vindictive unelected poobahs was something that civilized countries sought to put behind them.

Apparently the truth about being "civilized" is more complex than that... something we peasants can't be expected to understand, naturally.

The School Shooting in Finland

Finnish gun law:
"The ownership and use of firearms is regulated by the Firearms Act of 1998.Firearms can only be obtained with an acquisition license, which can be applied for at the local police for €32. A separate license is required for each individual firearm and family members can have parallel licenses to use the same firearm. According to law, the firearms must be stored in a locked space..."
These are tighter controls than in most US states.

Someone writes:
I'm quite sure guns are not allowed in schools (what country are they allowed in?).

Switzerland for one.

Where, interestingly enough, we rarely if ever hear of a school shooting, and crime rates are quite low (far lower than gun-free Britain, in fact).

Who would try to shoot up a school where the staff can be armed?

The US was once constituted in the same way, in most jurisdictions... school shootings in the US became a visible problem only after a federal law was passed some years ago that forbade guns on school grounds.

What maniac can resist a building full of defenseless children and adults?

As the EU began to emerge as a political union, a condition of membership in this new club was a tightening of member countries' gun laws (in some cases they were already strict, in others, less so). I believe the restrictive 1998 Finnish law is an artifact of that process.

Create a corral full of defenseless people, and you can guarantee that sooner or later a maniac will show up to harm them, with or without a gun.

If they show up with a gun, some politicians will use this as a pretext for further "reasonable" gun control measures (and other "protective" powers), creating more defenseless people in the process (except for the politicians, of course, who get armed guards, but their lives are worth more than those of mere peasants).

As crime (including shootings) climbs, the cycle continues.

In whose interest could such seemingly counterproductive laws be? Whose indeed:

Such concerns are among those that have led Switzerland and Norway NOT to join the EU.

Both countries have similarly unrestrictive gun laws, low crime, and few shootings. Much like most of the US, outside of a few crime and corruption hellholes like New York, Chicago, LA and DC, where legal guns are either banned or tightly restricted.

Norway, in addition, has had the experience prior to WWII of one of its politicians reassuring them they did not need their guns anymore, then inviting the Nazis in for a feast at the corral. (You can read about this politician by googling "Quisling". You can find out about the man, as well as the species of politician he represents, a species that is global in range and far from extinct).

Such lessons were not lost on the postwar Norwegians, though they seem to have been lost (or never considered) on the part of some other folks.

Friday, November 2, 2007

What is an aristocrat?

An aristocrat....

... is someone who thinks they are entitled to privileges other people don't have

... thinks the world owes them a living

... asserts, haughtily, that others should legitimately be expected to "sacrifice" for the sake of the aristocrat's agenda

... has usually risen to power by riding the coattails of and/or sucking up to an existing power hierarchy, rather than through any real-world skills

... has very likely never worked a real job in his/her life

... doesn't like the idea of people being able to prosper without their approval and/or largesse

... thinks that "leadership" consists of forcing their countrymen do what the aristocrat wants without argument or recourse

... thinks that "leadership" of their countrymen legitimately includes yelling, coercion and threats

... considers it an insult to have their pronouncements challenged, or to be asked to explain or debate them

... thinks he/she should be able to silence people whose opinions they don't agree with

... thinks it's OK to force other people to follow rules they don't deign to follow themselves

Why would anyone want to give more political power to people like that?

You don't think Stalin qualifies as an aristocrat? Re-read the list above, then read about his life. I recommend Simon Sebag Montefiore's "Stalin: Court of the Red Tsar"