January 6, 2009

New EU President Klaus Is a ‘Figurehead’; Appellation Rarely Used on Predecessor Sarkozy

KlausAndCaptionUKtelly010209To say that President Vaclav Klaus of the Czech Republic is not liked by Euro-elitists is a grand understatement.

European media has generally bent over backwards to give European Union politicians and bureaucrats in Brussels respect and the benefit of the doubt. If there is a voter referendum that enhances EU power, the press is for it, and those in countries like Ireland who reject its advances towards smiley-faced socialism are unenlightened.

Even France’s widely disliked Nicolas Sarkozy received favorable treatment from the Europhile press during his 2008 stint as EU President.

That has changed now that Klaus, a fervent advocate of democracy and ardent opponent of statism, whatever its disguises — including “climate change” — has taken over that office.

David Charter, Europe correspondent for the UK Times Online, led the charge last Friday (the picture and caption above is from the Times’s story page), and reported that things are getting quite testy between Klaus and the Europe uber alles crowd:

EU’s new figurehead believes climate change is a myth

The European Union’s new figurehead believes that climate change is a dangerous myth and has compared the union to a Communist state.

The views of President Vaclav Klaus of the Czech Republic, 67, have left the government of Mirek Topolanek, his bitter opponent, determined to keep him as far away as possible from the EU presidency, which it took over from France yesterday.

The Czech president, who caused a diplomatic incident by dining with opponents of the EU’s Lisbon treaty on a recent visit to Ireland, has a largely ceremonial role.

But there are already fears that, after the dynamic EU presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy – including his hyper-active attempts at international diplomacy over the credit crisis and Georgia as well as an historic agreement to cut greenhouse gases – the Czech effort will be mired in infighting and overshadowed by the platform it will give to Mr Klaus and his controversial views.

Czech diplomats in Brussels insist that Mr Klaus is not a big part of their plans and are trying to limit him to one speech to the European Parliament in February and chairing one international summit, either the EU-Canada or EU-Russia meeting.

….. Tensions recently erupted between Mr Klaus and Brussels when a private meeting with senior MEPs descended into a slanging match after they presented him with an EU flag and said that they were not interested in his Eurosceptic views.

Mr Klaus responded: “No one has spoken to me in this style and tone in my six years here. I thought these methods ended for us 18 years ago. I see I was wrong.”

This led to a counter-attack from Mr Sarkozy in the European Parliament. He told MEPs: “The president of the European Parliament should not be treated like this and Europe’s symbols should not be treated like this, whatever people’s political engagement.”

What should not be lost in all of this is that Klaus is likely in better touch with the mood and outlook of average Europeans than the insulated bureaucrats and elitist politicians in Brussels. It’s no secret that the blowback against radical steps to fight the non-problem of “climate change” is continent-wide, and growing ever more fierce.

In fact, as CCNet’s Benny Peiser noted in the Wall Street Journal in mid-December, Europe has gone wobbly while the administration of the new president-elect of the US may be poised dive headfirst into the globaloney pool:

Participants at last week’s United Nations climate conference in Poznan, Poland, were taken aback by a world seemingly turned upside-down. The traditional villains and heroes of the international climate narrative, the wicked U.S. and the noble European Union, had unexpectedly swapped roles. For once, it was the EU that was criticized for backpedalling on its CO2 targets while Europe’s climate nemesis, the U.S., found itself commended for electing an environmental champion as president.

Thus, Klaus arrives at his supposed “figurehead” position at the EU just as European public opinion has swung dramatically his way. No wonder Europe’s media is going out of its way to aspersions on him. Expect US media either to follow suit or to somehow forget one of its favorite mantras — “we should be just like Europe” — for at least a while.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Press Plays ‘Obama Distraction’ Card Once Again, This Time Over MN and IL Senate Seats

obama3.jpgWhy can’t everyone just settle down, get out of the way, get rid of the “distractions,” and let Barack Obama do his magic? That seems to be a recurring media meme during this presidential transition period.

Here are just a few examples in just the past 30 days:

  • In a December 12 “analysis” piece at Reuters, Steve Holland opened by telling readers that “A political scandal that led to the arrest of Illinois’ governor has become an unwelcome distraction for President-elect Barack Obama as he tries to keep his focus on preparing to run the country.”
  • Amanda Paulson’s Christian Science Monitor report on December 23 about Obama’s internal investigation of contacts between his team and Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich fretted that “As the saga of Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his alleged “political corruption crime spree” has played out over the past two weeks, it’s been an unwelcome distraction for another politician from Illinois: President-elect Obama.”
  • And yesterday, Brent Baker of NewsBusters caught ABC World News Tonight anchor Dan Harris worrying that Bill Richardson’s unexpected withdrawal as Commerce Secretary nominee might be “a distraction in the key early days.”

AFP’s Jitendra Joshi offered up the latest example yesterday:

In distraction for Obama, chaos stalks new Senate

The new US Senate is set to convene in a swirl of allegations of corruption, voter fraud and dynastic nepotism that threatens to dog the early days of Barack Obama’s presidency.

….. The senatorial to-and-fro is an unwelcome distraction for Obama as he prepares to take office on January 20, reliant on a focused Congress to enact his ambitious plans including a mammoth economic stimulus package.

Republican blocking tactics in the Senate could undermine that agenda, especially if the Democrats’ provisional working majority of 59-41 is weakened by court challenges.

The circus surrounding Burris — and more specifically around Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich — is a distraction closer to home for the president-elect following his weekend move to Washington from Chicago.

You see, it’s such a shame that unimportant things like criminal investigations and election disputes are happening. Apparently, nothing should get in the way of Barack Obama and his appointed agenda.

By taking up precious column inches and bandwidth bellyaching about “distractions,” the press is also able to avoid explaining how different the agenda of Obama the president-elect appears to be in comparison to the agenda of Obama the candidate, and how remarkably fluid it seems to be on a nearly day-to-day basis.

Not so coincidentally, if that agenda, whatever it is, fails to materialize or to become law, the press can cite the distractions it has been dutifully qualifying as convenient excuses. After all, discussing what might have been wrong with the agenda in the first place would be so, well, distracting.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Couldn’t Help But Comment ….. (010609, Morning)

“Citgo pulls $100M in oil donations to Citizens Energy” (HT Lucianne) — I guess the PR value for Hugo Chavez is no longer worth the cost. Instead of begging Chavez to change his mind, Citizens Energy head and dictator-coddling useful idiot Joe Kennedy should start doing what he should have been doing all along: working on helping us get more affordable domestic energy resources. It’s out there; we just have to have the national will to get it.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for media condemnation of Chavez for being so heartless smack dab in the middle of winter.

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Bankruptcy filings were up by a third in 2008 over 2007 — The dirty little secret of the day is that VP-elect Joe Biden (D-MBNA at the time, now D-Bank of America) was a big supporter of so-called bankruptcy “reform” in 2005. This “reform” has made filing more difficult in the sense of introducing time delays (mandatory pre-bankruptcy counseling and the like) and costly (increased fees to file).

It believe that these delays have in many cases given mortgage lenders time to foreclose, whereas under the old law many of those in financial distress filed for bankruptcy ahead of such filings. If I’m right, Slow Joe and others (mostly Republicans, but with quite a few Dems besides Biden) threw a bit of kindling onto an already-smoking fire, and have caused some who might otherwise have kept their homes to lose them.

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“Some US cities drop criminal-history question from job applications” — Let’s stipulate for the moment that maybe we’re too harsh on those who have served their time for their crimes, especially nonviolent offenders. That does NOT mean you don’t ask the necessary questions. You change hiring policies.

That said, ex-cons need to accept the idea that employers, including government employers, are naturally risk-averse, and that, all things being equal, a person with a criminal record will always have a harder time getting work than someone without one. Sorry.

The crazy thing is that an employer, government or otherwise, who doesn’t ask questions about criminal background is a sitting duck for lawsuits by fellow employees, customers, clients, or whoever is affected if the employee commits a criminal act on the job. Relying on background checks is not foolproof. And of course, when it becomes known that a given employer will hire ex-cons, that employer becomes an ex-con magnet.

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USA Today’s Understatement of the Day — “(former Clinton White House chief of staff) Leon Panetta is arelative outsider in the intelligence world.”

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Proving that he is among the prominent of the defeated defeatists, Harry “the war is lost” Reid is now Harry “Petraeus is a genius” Reid.

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Magically, Vaclav Klaus, this year’s EU President, who “just happens” to be a major globaloney critic, is now being called a “figurehead.” I don’t ever recall last year’s EU Prez Nicholas Sarkozy of France, ever getting that tag.

Klaus (as paraphrased by the link’s author) “believes that climate change is a dangerous myth and has compared the union to a Communist state.” Klaus is correct, and eloquent (see “Update and Elaboration” at link).