Monday, February 28, 2005

Having gone to an American high school, I, too, was taught to revere the work of the great American workingman's playwright, Arthur Miller, who recently passed away. Death of A Salesman is as much a part of the high school curriculum as The Catcher In the Rye or Lord Of The Flies.

Yet Canadian blogger Colby Cosh nails it on the head:

"When I think about the man who wrote plays about how capitalism thwarts human aspirations, and then got married to Marilyn Monroe, I'm afraid about all I can do is giggle."
Via Reuters comes this fascinating incident from the Bush-Putin meeting in Bratislava:

"When Bush complained about restrictions on press freedom in Russia, Putin gave a response that surprised Bush and baffled the Americans.

"He said if the press was so free in the United States, why did reporters at CBS News get fired over a story that arose during the presidential campaign, officials said.

"CBS News fired four employees in January after an independent report critical of CBS anchor Dan Rather found a "myopic zeal" led the network to disregard basic journalism principles when it aired a faulty story on Bush's military service record.

"A senior U.S. official said other Russian officials raised the same issue during the day and noted a Russian journalist at the Bush-Putin news conference had asked about journalists fired in the United States. This led to suspicions that the question had been orchestrated by the Kremlin.

"The view that Bush somehow had something to do with the CBS firings was'divorced from reality,' the U.S. official said."

For those of you who don't know about the "Rathergate" incident, it was a case uncovered by bloggers, who also coordinated an investigation amongst themselves that soon brought to light the deception that CBS had very eagerly fallen for.

But could the Kremlin be so dense as to not be aware of the blogosphere phenomenon? Are they so out of touch with the internet? If that is so, then it really leads me to believe that American pre-eminence in things innovative will be preserved for a long time to come.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Interesting billboard in Los Angeles.

The most significant aspect of this phenomenon is how deeply disconnected the two liberal coasts are with middle America. American MSM certainly did not help in this, as they overwhelmingly supported the losing side. I tend to think it has a lot to do with people believing their own propaganda.

In one way, we saw this in the deafening silence of European media in the aftermath of the successful elections in Iraq. Europe's MSM believed their own version of the future, and made no allowance that the coalition presence might have stirred other things than just dissatisfaction against their presence.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Helsingin Sanomat, that mouthpiece of the Social Democratic party, refused to print the following article by MEP Ari Vatanen. So he turned to the Wall Street Journal Europe for help, and they were all too happy to oblige.

Here is what Hesari tried to censor:

Finland's Shame
February 21, 2005

The Finnish Parliament decided in December that we are to remain a non-allied country. For an EU member this claim is as credible as being half-pregnant.

The recent anniversary of the defense victory against Stalin in 1944, when Finland lost Karelia but kept its independence, made us Finns realize once again how we were on the edge of the precipice 60 years ago. Had the heroic defense along the eastern border collapsed, the Red Army would have marched to Helsinki. Finland would have been occupied like Estonia and its stubborn people would have been scattered around Siberia.

When World War II began we were left alone because the League of Nations turned out to be nothing but a paper tiger. The fact that the 1939 aggression against Finland, which started the five-month Winter War, led to the expulsion of the Soviet Union from the organization did nothing to stop the Red Army. No state came to our rescue and all we had was the will to remain independent. The battle against injustice united Finns and gave us the strength to make the impossible possible. The second attack against Finland during World War II was the only major campaign Stalin failed to see through victoriously in 1944-1945. The fate of the Baltic states was avoided by the skin of our teeth, but the cost was tragic: 95,000 dead and 200,000 wounded. My father lost four of his brothers.

Finland's insular political culture adds salt to these old wounds by censoring debate about Stalin's capture of Karelia. The memory is still painful for Finns who were torn away from their homes. Democratic neighbors must be able to talk about such past injustice.

Now we have to secure the dearly won freedom for our children. The instinct of self-preservation that arises from our collective memory should dictate our future direction. It is our duty to analyze the ever faster evolving world. Nobody is threatening the former enemies Britain, Germany and France, and yet they remain active members of the alliance. Similarly, the three Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia as well as other former Warsaw Pact members rushed to do the same after the fall of Communism and the Berlin Wall. Are we Finns going to wait until Russia joins NATO? Already 94% of the EU population belongs in NATO because it's like a revolutionary fire insurance that actually prevents the fire. Every father would want this kind of protection for his family.

It is time for Finland to join NATO. Among the EU countries attacked in World War II, only Finland remains alone. It is impossible to understand why we are taking such a risk -- haven't we learned from our history? We are like a lonely survivor on a desert island refusing to board a ship because we think it may be going in the wrong direction. But in considering what's best for the nation's interest, there's no room for political correctness, wishful thinking or anti-Americanism.

How is the petite Finnish Maid reacting when looking at Russia, where democracy is sadly going down like the Kursk, the Russian submarine that sank in August 2000? We must do our utmost to help the democratization in Russia. The best way to do that is to be faithful to universal values.

Alarming events are taking place next door, most tragically the war in Chechnya. A war in my country on the scale of Chechnya would mean the death of about one million Finns or 10 million in Ukraine, another country that borders Russia but isn't in NATO. If President Vladimir Putin in his actions is a prisoner of his past, we certainly cannot afford to be the same. Yet we recently closed down a Chechen resistance Web site that had been operational for only two days without as much as a court order. The Web site was then relaunched from Sweden. In January, Chechen ex-minister Akhmed Zakayev did not dare to come to Helsinki from his asylum in the U.K. because he did not get guarantees that we wouldn't hand him over to Russia. Shameful post-Finlandization!

The Finns did not fight and die so that 60 years later the leaders of the country could undermine Finland's security. Does President Tarja Halonen meet her responsibilities as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces when she insists on the unilateral prohibition of mines in order to join the 1997 Ottawa Convention? Finland shares a 1,269-kilometer border with an unstable great power to the East, which has no intention to follow suit. At the same time Russia is opposed to Finland allying itself with the peacemakers of the West. Do we deserve a drafty home with unlocked doors? During the wars, the keys of Finland were in firmer hands.

The leading foreign policy duo, Ms. Halonen and Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, insists on fighting yesterday's battles. They have been unable to grow out of their 1970's anti-American, anti-military ideology and cannot bring themselves to admit that without decent defense forces, peace cannot be guaranteed.

Consequently they managed to change the mutual defense clause of the future EU constitution to allow Finns to stand idly by while other EU members are putting their necks on the line. No NATO, no EU defense for Finland. Instead the grand project of our leaders is the Helsinki Process where Finland is creating a brave new world by clamping down on globalization. But Finland is not an NGO nor is ATTAC our best defense!

Ms. Halonen even insists on a green light from the U.N. as a precondition to dispatch troops for missions of the EU rapid reaction force. But what about the thousands of Srebrenica civilians who died when they trusted the U.N. for protection? Dogmatism can be a lethal substitute for realism. This Chamberlain vision of world affairs is not shared by our previous Social Democratic leaders Martti Ahtisaari and Paavo Lipponen.

During the Cold War, it was wise to be neutral, though signing the Agreement of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance with the Soviet Union made our political elite rot from inside -- in stark contrast to our defense forces and the general public. Now wisdom and the national interest call for Finland to have such an "AFCMA" with countries deeply committed to democracy and human dignity. We cannot be free-riders while others lose their lives to build a democratic global team.

Great things are happening. Europeans made history when we stretched out our hand to Turkey, a world of a different faith. Ukrainians majestically stood up for their rights and the resulting victory of justice inspires people all over the world. And in Iraq, not even terrorists' death threats could quench the people's thirst for democracy. Finally we hear some positive news from the Israelis and Palestinians. The roadmap for global peace is boundless, and though it is littered with obstacles, it will lead to a new world where all arms point in the same direction. At this crossroad, the Finns need leadership that stands the test of time.

Mr. Vatanen, a native Finn, was elected to his second term in the European Parliament from Grand Sud-Est, France. He is a member of the European People's Party and the Foreign Affairs Committee.
Is Putin becoming Russia's Richard Nixon? This Newsweek article studies his paranoid tendencies.
Wow. A completely negative view about Bush's initiative to patch up things in Europe, - from Canadian Mark Steyn.

And you know what? I'm almost in agreement with him: 'This week we're toasting the end of an idea: the death of "the West".'

The sad part is that Europeans are clueless as to the sea-change that is certainly happening right now. They're still all caught up in wanting to be "an equal partner" to the US, without paying the price. In other words, still hoping to catch a free ride on the shoulders of the American worker-consumer.

Finns should ask themselves why did Lipponen (the smarter of the Social Democratic set) make an appearance in New York a few weeks ago for a speech to the Finnish-American Chamber of Commerce? At least he has a clue that the bridges might not be that sturdy, after all. Goodbye to Nokia, and all of that quick growth...

Europe is all washed up. The demographics say it all: aging populations, lavish welfare states, and scloretic business environments, (not to mention a completely inept policy in handling third-world immigrants). The worst part, of course, is this insiduous bigotry against the American worker-consumer, who wound up paying the lion's share of the costs for the secure, European welfare state.

It won't take long for Americans to wake up to that fact, especially when ex-Europeans - like me - get on the campaign trail.

Monday, February 21, 2005

In what is quite uncharacteristic of the New York Times, here is an opinion piece by Jessice Seigel that claims that French views about American obesity vs. European slimness do not take into account the massive amounts of cigarettes that are consumed in Europe.

"In her best-selling diet book, "French Women Don't Get Fat," Mireille Guiliano says that when she was an exchange student in the United States she gained 20 pounds from the American way of eating - specifically from junk food. Even after returning home, she continued to gorge on pastries, but finally slimmed down by learning to eat with élan the feminine French way. Considering the strain in French-American relations these days, I thought it very gracious of her to share this story."

"When I was a college student in France for a year, I also picked up a bad habit: a pack of cigarettes a day. That's what you do in Paris - sit in cafes drinking coffee and smoking. I acquired a newly svelte figure not from chewing slowly through four-course dinners, supping on oysters, or setting out fine china at every meal - among the sensuous eating pleasures from the land of Chanel that the author recommends. The régime français I learned was cigarettes and it took me 15 years to quit. Merci beaucoup."

Kudos for the New York Times for "daring" to publish such an anti-French piece. It's about time they tried to be a bit more fair and balanced.
The anti-American blogosphere in Europe, - in addition to the MSM in Europe - seems awfully quiet so far during this latest Bush trip. As I see it, Europeans aren't really prepared to handle this latest initiative from Bush. And quite rightly so: Bush is in a win-win position. Either Europeans accept this overture and begin to work in tandem with him (something they are loathe to do), or Bush can go home, demonstrate to his domestic critics that an attempt was made at bridging the gap, but in the end America has no choice but to embrace unilateralist policies.

I'm also very skeptical about assertions that the US desperately needs EU involvement in Iraq. No one in their right mind in the State Department thinks that the EU will come through on Iraq. Even if it did, the contributions would be so paltry (but just enough to be able to justify freeloaderism) that it really wouldn't make a difference. The stage is set, rather, for noting that the invitation was there, but that the EU did not rise to the challenge.
A friend just emailed this link to me: the LATEST CRAZE on the internet.

It's an mp3 copy of a voicemail left by a guy who witnessed an accident while on his cell phone. It's a laugh riot! Moral: don't get into accidents with little old ladies...

Sunday, February 20, 2005

I like the term "lofty-softies" that this Indian blogger uses. I think the term applies well to the Bimbo Of Finland and her nitwit sidekick, former lover, and foreign minister, Erkki Tuomioja.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Great photo of Scandinavia and Finland, courtesy NASA.

Check out the Russo-Finnish border in Karelia. The border is clearly delineated in topographical terms.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

David's Medienkritik is organizing a Pro-American rally in Germany for the upcoming visit by President Bush.
Excellent article on the current state of the American blogosphere in the Wall Street Journal

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

More good news from Afghanistan... thanks to the US.
"According to Oppenheimer, behind-the-scenes debate is already under way in Washinton on how to approve the [Kyoto] treaty without losing face".

This assertion by Americans Michael Oppenheimer and Peter Goldmark, published in Turun Sanomat, is so far from American political reality that it bears careful scrutiny why these two gents from the Environmental Defense Organization would frame it in such a way.

The article doesn't mention exactly where, - and to what audience - the two men made such an assertion, but a quick Google search of their names reveals numerous German articles on the subject, which leads me to believe that they made the statement to a German audience.

Now, the key to everything is really this statement (and I translate from the Finnish):

"Most likely the US will demand significantly relevant changes in the treaty before joining, Oppenheimer predicts, but he holds this to be more akin to unavoidable political theater.

In this way the White House will be able to say that withdrawal from the original treaty was due to inherent weaknesses in the treaty, and not from American selfishness".

My guess is that Oppenheimer and Goldmark are attempting to set up a political environment where Europeans will be amenable to acceding to American demands. It makes sense, if you're a concerned environmentalist. However, I doubt that the message is understood in such a way in Europe. For Europeans, Kyoto has become equated with the expression of anti-Americanism to such a degree that any retreat from European demands has become politically untenable.

Those are the costs of policies based on bigotry.

STT, Finland's main news service, recently issued a proud report that, according to a recent study, it only takes 6 years for an immigrant to start paying for his own way in Finland's welfare state society.

As I wandered New York's streets, marvelling at all the immigrants in the city busily making money, it occurred to me that under America's immigration "policies" - which do not grant ANY aid to incoming immigrants - it takes 0 years for an immigrant to start paying for his own way....