Archive for politics

Dear Mr. Erdogan

Posted in Society with tags , , on June 26, 2013 by shirhashirim


May I be so bold to suggest an answer in response to your rhetorical question whether you should kneel to the protesters in Taksim Square (and other places)?

Without wanting to belittle your own personal achievements in politics, I would point out that greater politicians than you have done it, so why not you?

It would not end the protests. It would not solve any of Turkey’s problems. It would not even solve any problem any Turk might have. It would change nothing in Turkish politics of society. It would not even change or solve anything at all.

But it would do you a world of good. You personally. Seriously.



Posted in Society with tags , , on January 7, 2011 by shirhashirim

Poor Dion Graus, the Dutch politician of the anti-islamic PVV political party that managed to get his idea for ‘animal cops’ into the agreement with which our new government started its task of ruling the country. No less than 500 new police officers, with the exclusive task of guarding animal welfare,  would be found during the coming years. Their main field of interest would be pets, not animals reared for the food industry. It was Mr. Graus’ personal crusade, and he succeeded.

But then came along the chief police officer of the capital, Amsterdam, Mr. Welten. In a speech last week Mr. Welten made short work of two proposals by the new government. This first a proposed bill against wearing (islamic) dress that covers the whole body, including the face, in public; more specifically: the burqa. Mr. Welten announced the Amsterdam police force would simply not enforce the law, if instituted. The police has better things to do according to the commander in chief.

For Mr. Graus’ animal police he only needed three words: ‘guinea pig police’.

There is no other way out now for Mr. Graus than to let his animal cops die a silent death. The invention of the term ‘guinea pig police’  is enough to taint the idea forever, and not just the idea: anyone ever working for this corps will know what their colloquial designation will be.

Naive and enthusiastic Mr. Graus did not reckon with one of the main laws of public relations: ridiculability. No matter how sensible your idea may be, if it’s ridiculable, you don’t go for it. It’s an accident waiting to happen, this time it was the more cynical Mr. Welten.

Quote of the day (22)

Posted in Quote of the day, Society with tags , , on January 3, 2011 by shirhashirim

A leader of the country should not say what people think, but what nobody has yet thought of.

Guido Weijers
Dutch comedian

Screwup (4)

Posted in Society with tags , , on November 23, 2010 by shirhashirim

The Netherlands has a new government. I blogged before about the formation of it and indicated the worst of all possibilities. Well, an even worse option materialised: a minority coalition between Christian Democrats and Liberals, supported by the fiercely anti-islamic PVV of mr. Wilders, who is now functionally part of the government, without actually being part of it and bearing responsibility. The coalition has only a one seat majority.

The PVV is staunchly hard on crime. Mr. Wilders is even on record for having said that ‘street criminals’ should be kneecapped, and criminals with a double nationality should be deprived of their Dutch citizenship and sent back to the country of their other nationality. It’s coarse statements like these that earned him his electorate. It now seems such a staunch and coarse outlook on society has backfired.

Somehow, political parties like this attract the wrong people. Within a few months of coming to power, the PVV has had to deal with several members of parliament that turned out to be the very street and other types of criminals it purports to battle. Before that, there were some odd newsreels too. A small list of disasters.

Mr. Brinkman, who I september 2009 was said to have hit a barman while inebriated. He denied having hit the man, but admitted to having a drinking problem. A while later charges were filed against him for attempted manslaughter by a builder who was refurbishing a farmhouse for him. The case was dismissed conditionally.

Mr. Graus, who in 2003 faced charges by two women for stalking, abuse and threats, who was claimed to have abused his eight months pregnant wife and threatened to kill his father in law. None of the charges were followed up on.

Mr. Sharpe, who had been fined by the Hungarian authorities for misleading his clients when he ran a company over there and who as an athlete had been suspended for half a year for assaulting a fellow athlete. Mr. Sharpe did the honorable thing and left parliament when all this came out in november 2010.

Mr. Lucassen, who has been actually convicted in 2002 of illicit relationships with a subordinate while serving in the army and has several charges filed against him for terrorising his neighbours. He kept silent about all this when he was selected by Mr. Wilders as a potential member of parliament. Mr. Lucassen refused to leave parliament, forcing Mr. Wilders to stand behind him, as kicking him out of the party would have meant losing the one seat needed for the government majority.

Mr. de Mos, who was found out in november 2010 to have lied on his resumé. He claimed to have been the director of a school. He also said so during an interview, but he had just been a teacher. First he tried to wriggle his way out by claiming he was cited wrongly, then it turned out the interview was taped.

Mr. van Bemmel, whose company went bankrupt and was accused by his curator of fraud. He claimed mr. van Bemmel took out money from the company just before it went bust, thus depriving creditors of their money. The legal procedures are still pending.

Mr. Hernandez, who in september 2010 was arrested for assault and spent a night in a police cell. The fight was caught on camera and procedures are still pending.

Mr. Wilders, whose party has 24 seats in parliament, has in the past years consistently made a point of the high crime rates among youths of Moroccan descent, an issue that is linked to Islam in his circles. This is not propaganda, but a real problem: crime rates among youths of Moroccan descent vary between 5.8% and 13.8%.

However, mr. Wilders may now potentially be looking at a staggering 29% among his own members of parliament.

Screwup (3)

Posted in Society, World politics with tags , , , on November 3, 2010 by shirhashirim

As most people know Europe is being plagued by the spectre of populism, nationalism, right-wing politicians or whatever you want to call them for the past decades. Things have been going faster during the last years, 9/11 and the Danish Cartoon Controversy having greatly speeded up things.

It has ended us up with some politicians who are veritable champions of logical and other types of inconsistencies. The really worrying part of it is: they seem to attract more voters the more they cheat them.

Now we have Pia Kjaersgaard of the Danish People’s Party (DF) organising another screwup, and nobody seems to notice.

Her party, strictly anti islam immigration, has in the recent past vehemently campaigned against any kind of censorship. A nobel cause in itself.

DF poster: “Freedom of speech is Danish, censorship isn’t”

But now it seems that standard does not apply to muslims immigrants and is only valid for Danes, as Mrs. Kjaersgaard has proposed to ban al-Jazeera and another Arabic broadcasting corporation, because it is the only source of news for a lot of muslims immigrants, and they ‘sow hatred’ towards the west.

Not only is this idea contrary to her own stated views, she should also know better. Her proposal is going to change exactly nothing. Because muslims all over the world have an impressive experience with dictatorial measures like this. In most islamic countries loads of broadcasting corporations are not just banned but actively jammed. It does not prevent millions of them to watch whatever they want to see. Satellite dishes and anti-blocking devices are everywhere and easily obtained.

It is no different in Denmark, so Mrs. Kjaersgaard must know that what she has said is just words, intended to attract yet more credulous voters…

Screwup (2)

Posted in Society with tags , , , on June 11, 2010 by shirhashirim

I blogged before about Geert Wilders and his now long forgotten film Fitna, and how he screwed it up big time. Now it’s not just mr. Wilders any more, it seems the Dutch electorate has screwed up, big time. Last Wednesday we had parliamentary elections. Here are the results.

The winners

VVD – 31 seats (from 22)
Liberals (in the classical sense) and neoliberals, generally regarded as right-of-middle. Favours leaving public interests to the market, shuns high taxes. Often termed a party for rich people. Their 2010 program promised the strongest cuts in public finance of all major parties.

PVV 24 seats (from 9)
Mr. Wilders party. Positions itself as an anti-Islam, anti-left, anti-establishment, anti-intellectual, anti-European Union and pro-Israel party. Mostly generates voters among those who’ve never seen a Muslim. Is downright left where it comes to social-economic viewpoints, but right when it comes to immigration and public safety.

D66 10 seats (from 3)
Nondescript, left-wing liberals (in the classical sense of the word). As a rule lose support when in government, gain support when in the opposition. Favour many innovations in politics like a chosen mayor and introducing elections by districts (as in the UK, where their closest counterpart heavily opposes the district system).

GL 10 seats (from 7)
Old-time left, termed ‘green left’ because they have always made much work of the environment

The losers

CDA – 21 seats (from 41)
Christian Democrats, generally regarded as a party that takes middle ground. Since 1918, apart from 1994-2002, they have always been in government. Skillfully run aground by our prime minister mr. Balkenende whose four successive cabinets all foundered before their time (2002-2010).

PvdA 30 seats (from 33)
Social democrats, officially, but mostly a bit left of the middle, workers party. Has been in government almost always.

SP 15 seats (from 25)
Old-time socialists with a modern and slightly populistic twist. Considered ‘left’, but have a position on immigration that resembles the right more. Rich, because members working for the party are required to hand over their salary. They get a standard fee in return.

CU 5 seats (from 6)
Traditional to fundamentalist Christians. Opposed to abortion, same-sex marriages and shopping on Sundays. Traditionally considered ‘right wing’, but their social-economic viewpoints tend to differ very little from those of the left-wing parties.

the Steadies

SGP 2 seats (from 2)
Fundamentalist Christians, notorious for their opposition to voting rights for women. Despite its fringe status, it has produced a few well respected members of parliament. Their social-economic viewpoints too tend to differ little from those of the left-wing parties.

PvdD 2 seats (from 2)
The animals party, big on animal rights.

As you can see, the political middle is vanishing. Never before have the major parties had so few seats. Never before has anyone so disruptive gained so much support among the Dutch populace. One coalition seems to be the major focus of negotiations now: VVD, PVV and CDA, with a minimum majority of exactly 76 seats. Another option is a coalition called ‘purple’ of VVD, PvdA, D66 and (e.g.) GL, but the major party leaders don’t see that as an option yet, even though it has a bigger majority (81) and no PVV in it.

Mr. Wilders has the honor of being the first screwup Dutch politician to break his promises. Before the elections he was strictly opposed to raising the retirement age from 65 to 67. It was considered non-negotiable. In less than 24 hours, even before any negotiations have started he has reneged on that.


Posted in World politics with tags , , , on January 20, 2009 by shirhashirim

While sitting in the train back home yesterday a friend texts me: ‘I’ve just read that tomorrow Obama will ride into Washington on a donkey!’

I burst out in laughter so loud people looked up to me. I felt obliged to explain so I told my fellow travelers I had just received a very funny text message and read it to them.

Most listeners looked puzzled. One woman asked me in earnest: ‘Oh, really?’

I thought I could save the situation by explaining this was a biblical reference. Before I could elaborate however, one of them said ‘ah!’ as if to indicate he had understood, but his eyes had the same blank look in them as before.

Secularism has its disadvantages too…