November 2000  

November 25, 2000
He did it anyway. President Havel named as the new Governor of the Czech National Bank a man both major political parties had already deemed unacceptable. Even the former governor, long considered a confidant of Havel's, argued vehemently against the appointment of Zdenek Tuma to the post. Tuma, they feel, is too much a tool of private groups with their own agenda in mind. Havel, ever the dissident, took his own counsel and denied, through his spokesman, that he had been warned in advance that the cabinet would try to overturn such a decision. The spokesman later admitted that Havel had in fact been warned, all fueling the atmosphere of distrust and bitterness that currently exists between the government and the Castle. Now, even the First Lady has jumped into the fray. She didn't exactly moan, in good Hillary fashion, that there was a right-wing conspiracy against her husband. But she did declare, among other things, that Finance Minister Mertlik is the biggest liar in the world. That's certainly news to most of us who believe that her good friend Bill Clinton is the biggest liar in the world. Of course, Mertlik is a liar too, as his role in the takeover of the IPB bank this summer would suggest. But on the scale of lying, he probably ranks somewhere close to her husband.

November 18, 2000
Most experts on business law and taxes couldn't figure it out. A member of parliament named Vladimir Tlusty introduced an income tax bill that would require businesses to tax their past-due liabilities. Apparently he wanted to do something about the problem in this country of not paying one's bills on time. But instead of going after the deadbeats, his answer was to simply make everybody pay more. Nobody stood to gain anything had the bill passed and the Senate decided this week that it wanted nothing to do with it. Mr. Tlusty also had no luck with his proposal to give homeowners a tax break for owning a computer. Despite the bill's failure, Tlusty left on an all-expenses paid trip to Seattle, with a stopover in Las Vegas. In the current fashion of Czech politics, Tlusty refused to disclose who paid for his trip. Now let's see: What company is located in Seattle and would profit from a burst in the sale of home computers?

November 11, 2000
While Elian 2 began winding its way from one court to the next, another election took place. Several seats were up for grabs in the Czech Senate and on regional councils on Sunday. The ruling Social Democrats got trounced, while the Communists declared they were on a comeback. The Communists benefited from the fact that less than a third of eligible voters showed up to cast ballots. The regional council is a new invention, as was the Senate a few years ago, and most people here are simply too apathetic about both, as well as about the government, to really care. Then the situation in Florida stole what limelight remained. The morning after the presidential vote, 61% of visitors to the web site of Mlada Fronta Dnes, the largest serious Czech newspaper, preferred Bush over Gore. But even Bush can no longer escape the general consensus now that, no matter who wins, he stole it. What's more, corruption fits Gore like a glove, so he can't do any worse by dragging this thing out. And then there's this little item from a Czech magazine that tips the balance in Gore's favor for me. Several Hollywood stars, led by Alec Baldwin, have sworn they will emigrate before they live under a Bush administration. America has to keep these rich and powerful people at all costs. Not that I'm worried the working classes would be left without a voice like Barbara Streisand's, rather I don't want these assholes over here.

November 4, 2000
It's a perfect close to the Clinton years. The world's moral authority, given to preaching democracy to banana republics, is beginning to look like one with this presidential election. Vote, count, recount, recount again, maybe vote again. All because some people in South Florida, where that shabby miniseries Elian was filmed, insist that they voted for the wrong man. Personally, I can sympathize with them. In 1992 I voted for Clinton and have regretted the choice ever since. This man started off as a Democrat, promising to give America a national health insurance plan. But his wife screwed that up and the Democrats lost the Congress. Fearing for their jobs, Clinton and his vice-president made winning reelection their top priority. For that, they needed cash, lots of it, and a new philosophy. The Republicans were the guiding light in both instances and Clinton easily won another term. With his base secure at home, he turned his attention to the world, perhaps thinking he could prove he was still a liberal with the issue of human rights (he had gladly missed an excellent opportunity earlier in Rwanda). But when the Lewinsky scandal intervened, the rest of the world was put on hold. India and Pakistan went nuclear, the situations in Kosovo, Africa and the Middle East deteriorated. Only when the heat was on did Clinton really remember the world, mostly by bombing sovereign countries. And yet he remains popular with Americans because he made them rich. He championed globalization and made sure America got a big, fat slice out of markets everywhere. Clinton even once declared a trade war with the European Union after the banana king, a Republican, poured millions of dollars into his Democratic Party coffers. But his chosen successor, Mr. Gore, is a lump and lacks Clinton's oily grip on the media and population. The 2000 vote turned out to be a tie, but the Clinton machine is determined to count and keep counting until it's satisfied. And the man spearheading their cause in South Florida is none other than William Daley, the son of the man who stole votes for Kennedy in 1960, thereby helping give him the election. The loser in that case, Nixon, declined to challenge the results. Kennedy, ever the ingrate, simply sneered when it was over that Nixon had no class. Maybe that's why Gore won't throw in the towel. Heaven forbid that he, like Bill and Hillary and the rest of that group, be accused of having no class.