Sunday, November 28, 2004
This is a daft message to have to post, but please note that any dull comments will be deleted. Witty, clever, intelligent, funny comments, be they complimentary or rude or whatever are most welcome; however, monosyllabic, agrammatical comments posted by intellectually-limited, teddy-out-of-pram, stroppy Americans called "blazer48", will be removed at once.
Saturday, November 27, 2004
Back in Blighty
Have hied myself back to Airstrip One this weekend; I needed a break from Brussels and wanted to see something resembling a landscape again. A quick trip to the blue remembered hills was just what the doctor ordered, although negotiating Waterloo station during Friday evening rush hour reminded me firstly of how much I dislike conurbations, and secondly how overpopulated the South of England is.
With the obvious high points of greenery, fresh air and lack of Belgians set aside, this weekend has had two other notable high points. Firstly, the sport has been great. Wales chalked up an all-time record win (Japan, 98-0), the Scum in White lost to Australia, and the Aussie rugby league team treated us to a virtuoso display as they trounced the British Lions; shame about the result, but an awesome match.
The second great high point of the weekend was that I discovered that I know nothing about the latest series of I'm A Complete Tosser, Punch Me In The Face! or whatever it is called. I hope to return to Brussels without learning the name of a single "contestant".
God, I hate the British tabloid culture; lowest-common-denominator trash designed to appeal to the stupidest elements of the prole psyche. That said, whoever realised that people would be dumb enough to buy into a bunch of ugly chimps singing karaoke, was a genius. It just goes to show there is no underestimating the stupidity of the public en masse (I don't know why I'm surprised; they voted in two Labour landslides, after all.)
Back to Brussels on Monday morning: refreshed, refuelled, ready to continue doing my bit. Tough on federalism; tough on the causes of federalism.
Thursday, November 25, 2004
I'm not the only one who hates Belgium
This country really is that frustrating. From an unnamed MEP this morning:
"Argh! This country is like being in fucking Africa."
See? He was elected and everything. It must be true.
Monday, November 22, 2004
Back after a break
And ready to rant, frankly.
1) Strasbourg. I spent last week taking part in the ridiculous travelling circus that is the monthly Strasbourg plenary session. The whole European Parliament ups sticks from Brussels and moves wholesale to Strasbourg; MEP's, staff, office paperwork, the Parliament gym, lobbyists, the works; all at a cost of millions a year to the EU taxpayer. This incredible, pointless waste of money revolts me on every level.
That said, Strasbourg is a lovely mediaeval town and it made a pleasant change to get away from grey, miserable Brussels and the utterly vile Belgians. Insufficient reason, however, to move to a tiny office with only one computer, in a crazy labyrinth of a modern architecture monstrosity, for three days a month at the cost of millions of euros.
2) Belgians. Hate them, hate them, hate them. I could forgive their surly uncooperativeness; their rudeness; their abysmal customer service; their facial ugliness; and their bureaucratic nanny state micromanagement of the lives of their citizens; if only they could actually get their godforsaken country to run properly.
Instead, the streets are paved with dog crap; the bloody public transport workers go on strike every twelve seconds; in spite of one million road rules they still can't drive with any degree of safety or consideration; you have to sign forms in triplicate whenever you want anything (and usually don't even get what you asked for anyway); the Police roam the underground looking for foreigners to victimise, instead of doing their bloody job and clearing away the gangs of blacks who congregate on street corners and intimidate pedestrians.
God, I'm glad I'm British (although, we have to take a huge proportion of the blame for creating this disgusting little backwater in the first place. And for rescuing it from warmongering Krauts. Twice. They'd have been far better off if we'd just let the Germans keep the damned place; at least the sausage-munchers know how to run a country properly - even if they can't cook. But German food is another rant altogether.)
3) Amsterdam. Vile, drug-and-whore ridden, filthy, hell-hole. Full of the worst kind of drunken English proles, it is absolutely the most horrible city I've ever visited. I was actually glad to get back to Brussels - and that is saying something. I was vaguely neutral on cannabis legalisation until I visited Amsterdam. Now I could not be more in favour of keeping the stuff illegal, if Amsterdam is any indication of what happens to a city post-legalisation. It has become a sinkhole for Europe's criminal classes. I can't believe I missed Wales v New Zealand rugby to visit the bloody place. And it is expensive.
4) The European People's Party. The Tories sit with them in the European Parliament. Cowardly, pro-federal quislings, supposedly the European "right"; they all voted en masse for the new Commission, in spite of the raft of prior fraud convictions, unrepented communist links, suspected financial irregularities, and histories of repeated political dodginess of the incoming Commissioners. And yet they got rid of Buttiglione because he was a Christian and Udre because she was mildly eurosceptic. Unbelievable hypocrisy.
FIVE Conservatives voted 'yes' to this crop of crooks, and only one against - in spite of an official "abstain" three-line whip. The election of the new Commission presents the utter hypocrisy of both the EU and Conservative EU policy, in a convenient nutshell.
Phew. Glad I've got that off my chest.
Thursday, November 04, 2004
They're Americans, what did you expect?
So, the Yanks have re-elected George Bush, proving that just over half of their voting electorate are red-necked, gullible half-wits who've been suckered into buying the "We're under threat / at war / all going to die" line - rather like their President has, one might suggest (representative government at its most literal!). I predicted (with a heavy heart and an overwhelming sense of the inevitable) a Bush victory by 10 - I was surprised the victory margin was as large as it turned out to be; that said, it was clearly all over when Florida came in Republican, and it serves the Democrats right for selecting such an uncharismatic mong as their candidate. Emphatic though Kerry's victories were in the debates, US politics seems to come down to the sound-bite, and "good ol' boy" Bush had that licked where Kerry seemed wooden and forced.
One thing that puzzled me throughout the campaign was the contradictory messages coming from both sides. Bush preaches "small government", yet advocates increased state interference in the lives of their citizens by restricting abortion and the like and foisting onto people his own hard-line pro-Christian agenda through government investment in such choice items as "faith based" projects, etc. Not to mention the fact that he's taken a $2 billion budget surplus and turned it into a -$5 billion deficit in four years, or that levels of state expenditure have mushroomed during his presidency. Hey! - he implemented tax cuts, so that's ok...
The Democrats are just as bad, however. They seemingly advocate nothing short of a welfare state - idiocy, surely, given the example of the unmitigated disaster of the welfare state in this country. Yes, a basic level of healthcare is needed for your poorest citizens, but steady on! It's a fine line between taking care of the most needy and creating a cash-sucking NHS-style drain on the state and Kerry seemed to be leaning towards the latter.
And the horrible hypocrisy of the Democrat position is evident in their rhetoric; they preached equality of opportunity for all, and talked about creating "One America" - yet they advocate positive discrimination, the best way of creating resentment and socially engineering a deeply unfair selection method for jobs, university places and the like. America's social problems are clearly far more deeply rooted than university places and jobs; they stem from poverty and poor basic education levels and constructing a false system of selection further along the line doesn't address the problem at the base, it merely creates a facade of equality for a lucky few, leaving behind those most needy.
So, pity America for having to make a choice between a intellectually-challenged, gung-ho simpleton and a bien-pensant, head-in-the-clouds liberal do-gooder. I still fear that, as far as the rest of the world is concerned, they made the wrong choice.