Sunday, April 30, 2006

Hilarious Bush Double Act

President Bush's Double Act at the White House Correspondents' Dinner was freakin hilarious. Good to know he can poke fun at himself, even if he barely survived the White House shakeup (as he suggested). The skit was almost as funny as the one with President Clinton wandering around the White House aimlessly as a lame duck a few years.

Here's a link to the Bush video. Sorry, couldn't find one without a commercial.

Is Oil Headed for $100 Shock?

My friend Len has been ringing the alarm bells on oil supply for quite some time and has been gloating lately about how right he has been about the prices going up. Now some people out there are warning of prices $100/barrel if this whole Iran mess escalates or anything else nasty happens. There's a lot of if'ing in the article, but who knows. It may be just as likely that oil will head towards $50, only to spike later. Still, it may be a good thing I don't own a car.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Unstable Coalition Adds Unstable Deputy PM

Just when you thought it couldn't get much worse for Poland. Not only is populist (read: I want communism back) politician Andrzej Lepper becoming a deputy prime minister, but the right-left-all-over-the-place government still does not have a majority in the parliament. So what is this coalition all about? Still unstable with a volatile and unpredictable Lepper on the team. PiS had once talked about cleaning up Poland and now it brings one of the most unclean politicians into power? Keep in mind that Lepper's Self-Defense party, yes, the one that pretends to represent the poorest, has the biggest cash pile. Just when you thought things couldn't get much worse.

And I never thought I'd say this about the agrarian PSL party. Nice job to keep your integrity by backing out of joining this mess, I mean coalition, at the last minute.

The always reliable beatroot has a nice take on all this.

And I like this little kicker in the Financial Times article:

Mr Lepper's party's economic programme consists of paying out huge sums to the unemployed and attacking Leszek Balcerowicz, the head of the Polish central bank.

My Sister on the Way to College

Quick personal note. I am thrilled to say that my (baby) sister Nicole has decided to enter American University in Washington, starting this Fall. She wants to go into politics some day, and this is not a bad place to start. Congrats, Sis! You'll do great and will get to live in a fantastic city. - proud big bro

Kwasniewski Not Made to r-U.N.

So I've heard from a friendly source -- and please forgive me if this is old news -- that former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski is no longer in the running for UN Secretary General. The Russians, no fans of Kwasniewski since he worked against them a year in Ukraine, basically said they would veto any East European candidate. So, look north for the likely winner.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Uncle Vladimir Warns Europe: Be Nice or No More Gas

I hate to say I told you so, but Uncle Vladimir is already threatening Europe with the one threat that works: gas. Read between the lines: be nice to Gazprom and Russia or else we'll send the gas you need the other way. Russia already uses its gas stranglehold on Ukraine, Georgia and Belarus. Why not start blackmailing the rest of Europe, the one that has the money and the unquenched appetite for energy?

More to come.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Snow'ing in the White House

So looks like Tony Snow will be the new White House spokesman. I'm not an expert on the President's spokespeople, but I don't think any of them has ever said something remotely close about his future employer (at least on the record) as Snow has not too long ago:

"His (Bush's) wavering conservatism has become an active concern among Republicans, who wish he would stop cowering under the bed and start fighting back against the likes of Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Joe Wilson. The newly passive George Bush has become something of an embarrassment." - Snow in November 2005.

This will be interesting.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Russia Inc - Gazprom Wants to Be World's Biggest Corp

There is not much scarier out there than to hear that the state-controlled Russian Goliath Gazprom wants to become the world's largest company. This monstrosity is already using its muscle to threaten its neighbors (see Ukraine and Georgia), but it could also close the valve on most of Europe's gas. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Europe, watch out! Uncle Vladimir controls a good chunk of your energy. Russia Inc. at its finest.

Poles Invade Britain (And Rest of Western Europe)

When I was in London a year, I was surprised to hear plenty of Polish spoken behind the counter at Starbucks and many other places around the city. And now there's proof that my fellow compatriots are going to Britain in droves. According to an article in the Evening Standard (sorry, no link):

AROUND two million people have traveled to the UK from Poland since it joined the EU two years ago, official figures reveal today.

The number of arrivals has quadrupled and comfortably exceeds the population of Warsaw.

The figure includes holidaymakers, students and business people but more than 200,000 have signed up to the Government's employment register in the last two years - a 58-fold increase on the 3,459 given permission to work here in 2003.

Not included in the statistics are the self-employed and those working on the black market to avoid taxes.

I'd imagine there are similar statistics in places where Poles can find jobs, like Ireland or Germany or Holland. The Isles have been especially helped by the growing popularity of the no-frill airlines, like Ryanair. And I remember reading not too long ago Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary dissing Poland as a revenue source.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

George Michael Dope'd Out

Poor George Michael. He hasn't released a good song since I don't know when and now he's become a proof that pot may not be so harmless after all. Poor guy supposedly chain smokes at least 20 joints a day and has some problems with motivation. I would too, if most of the stuff I wrote sounded good when I was stoned but then nobody bothered to listen. He still has some remains of a career in Europe, but here in the U.S. nobody even remembers. Nobody bothered to wake up George before his career go-go'ed.

UPDATE: My friend DK reminded me that George has been quite a disaster lately, slamming into several parked cars with his Range Rover and falling asleep in his car in the middle of an intersection. You can't even let him outside, duuude!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Please Don't Die! I Need You To Govern

Ran across this interesting Bloomberg piece pointing out that Italy's Romano Prodi needs the help of some way-old "Senators-For-Life" to create a government after winning the elections by the slimmest of margins. The average age of these teeny boppers is 85 years old according to my quick calculation, with the oldest nearing the century mark at 97. Lord, wouldn't the AARP love to be in this position? Grandpa and grandma would get whatever they want....

And the Pope might get some extra funds just to pray that these folks stick around long enough to govern, if most of them remember which team they're on. Next to them, Prodi is a spring chicken at 66...

Monday, April 10, 2006

French Gov't Caves In; Immigrants, Economy to Suffer?

So our friend Jacques Chirac and his crony Dominique de Villepin cave in to the unions and protest-happy students and drop employment reforms that would have made it easier for employers to hire and fire new workers. Good news for France?

Hardly. First, a stagnant employment market keeps unemployment levels high. Why would you hire new workers if you'd have to keep them when going gets tough? Even more importantly, the current laws discriminate against immigrants in France, especially Muslims. Yes, the ones that were burning cars all over France a few months ago. One of the main problems: unemployment in some immigrant communities at around 50 percent. So these reforms would have given many of the poorest immigrants a chance to find employment. But then the unions stepped in. French immigrants on the losing end again. Not to mention the French economy.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Kieslowski's Double Life Reconsidered

The New Yorker's Anthony Lane writes a great reconsidered review of Krzysztof Kieslowski's Double Life of Veronique. The movie is one of Kieslowski's finest. The lives of two women -- one Polish, one French -- are masterfully intermingled, and the visuals, as mentioned in the review, are often stunning. I love how Kieslowski made the movie seem a little dreamy, a little worn down, seen at times through a brown haze. And of course, there's the young and breathtaking Irene Jacob. I admit, back in college I had a poster of her in Red on one of my walls. In many ways this film is more thoughtful, more moving than any of the Three Colors movies.

Can somebody please release this masterpiece on DVD???

Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Day Smart Poles Dread May Be Coming

Gazeta Wyborcza is reporting that Poland's ruling PiS party has now given a green light to a possible creation of a coalition with the ultra-leftist Self-Defense party of the ultra-opportunist Andrzej Lepper. I had always wished the day would never come when this creep becomes a member of the Polish cabinet, not to mention a deputy prime minister. What is this world coming to? Tragic.

This government is a disaster. At least the commies didn't get this desperate...