Saturday, November 10, 2007

Big Bad Boomerang

(the following dialogue is pure fiction, and of course, all resemblance to real people would be the domain of pure parody)

- Say, Didier, mon ami, I think we’ve got a problem.
- Mmm, yeah, Yves,
mijn goed vriend, I think we’re stuck. This whole institutional reform business, with BHV on top of it… *sigh* if only you hadn’t based all your campaign on that. Now, look where we’re standing.
- A hair’s width away from the abyss, I know, I know. Look, I tried to avoid discussing all this, I tried delaying it, I did all I could, and now.
- Now we’re gonna crash into the wall and fail in a pathetic fashion. And then I’ll be stuck having the Socialists on board to make a governmental coalition. You know I don’t want that. You know we had a deal, mijn vriend!
- Well, yes… I don’t want the Socialists either, I mean, your Socialists, mine are not a problem after the beating they took at the polls.
- We’ve got to find a way out of this…hey! I’ve got an idea! Why not let the whole thing roll and your pals in the parliamentary commission vote all together against the French-speaking community?
- Huh?
- Oh, come on! You know we have safety mechanisms! We’ll use them, the vote will be frozen, but it’ll have happened. Then your Flemish nationalists are happy because they’ve humiliated the morons of my dear Wallonia, the king will have no choice other than to “relieve” you of the duty to get an agreement on institutional matters. He'll have to dump that mess to some workgroup or other where it’ll rot away. And in the meantime we get our beloved Blue Orange, I rule all alone and I can spit in the face of Elio and his pals! I’m so smart!
- Erm, but, what about Joëlle? She won’t like that, she has much to lose…

- Look, Yves, Joëlle is a goose, and she’s nothing, she doesn’t weigh anything on the political scene. I need her to maintain a semblance of “social image”, and she’ll shut her trap if she wants to be in power. And even if she doesn’t want to, her political friends DO want to. And she’ll do as I say.

- If you’re sure…

- Yes, I am.

- OK, let’s do it, then.

And of course, we all know what happened. The vote was carried out, one community against the other. The shock in the Walloon population was immense. And in the morning after, “strangely” enough, Yves looked good and happy, and Didier wasn’t all to angry, all things considered. The populations were surprised, because they expected a very strong reaction on the Walloon part. After all, the Walloons had just been badly slapped in the face, and the Institutional Nuclear Bomb had been used by the Flemish parties. And yet, Didier looked rather satisfied with himself.

The king confirmed Yves was still the prime-minister-to-be, and “relieved” him of the burden to negotiate all the institutional matters.

Everything was going according to the plan.

But the two associates had forgotten one thing: the Flemish media doesn’t cater to any political party, no matter how powerful, no matter it is the “invincible” CD&V/NVA cartel. The Flemish media cater only to Flemish nationalism in all its shades, from mild to rotten brown extremism. And those same Flemish media quickly grasped that the one and only objective of the nationalists would be defeated by this little game, and that they’d be the suckers, as well as the humiliated Walloon population. And that, of course, they had to thwart.

So the Flemish media published the information they had, and revealed the whole game behind the vote in the parliamentary commission, and the use of the Institutional Nuclear Bomb. They revealed that both populations, Flemish and Walloon, had been played for suckers by Didier and Yves.

And the day after, the whole Walloon media published the news as well.

And of course, Didier was forced to take a firm stand, to denounce “rumours which amount to nothing else but insults”, and to reaffirm that he’d never, ever be part of a government as long as the Flemish side didn’t give guarantees concerning the respect of the Walloons.

Meanwhile, Yves disappeared the gods know where, being the brave and courageous leader that he’s shown everyone that he is, multiple times. But his party, the CD&V/NVA cartel was also forced to take a firm stand and announce that they’d never give any guarantee, and that on the opposite, Didier and to give guarantee that he’d keep on catering to the Flemish side and yield on the institutional reforms.

And today, the Flemish press is gunning down poor darling Yves, and his party.

And maybe, just maybe, something is about to go right in this country.

Maybe everyone will realize in Wallonia just unworthy of any trust our dear Didier is. Maybe everyone will at last realize that man is only lusting after one thing: power for himself. Maybe people will at last understand that there's only one thing he pursues: his personal ambitions, and everything else be damned.

And maybe Yves and Didier will learn one thing:

When you throw a boomerang in the air, if it misses its target (say because you didn’t take into account all the parameters, such as how the Flemish media operates), it tends to come back to you, and smack you right in the face.

So please, my dear Yves, my dear Didier, stand firm like the good alpha males you roleplay. Stand firm, do not try to evade, and take that rushing boomerang head on. I'll be watching you.

With glee.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Deceit, Humiliation, Shame and Blue Oranges

In French, there is a funny sounding expression, with a very ominous and grave meaning: “to cross the yellow line.” When you cross the yellow line, you go past a point of no return, you do something that is irremediable, and you had better be prepared to take responsibility for your decision.

In Belgium, three linguistic communities coexist—coexisted until yesterday. Their pacific coexistence was insured by unspoken rules such as “all the important decisions which might change even the tiniest little thing in the rights of any one community, or change the structure of the state will always been taken solely when there is a majority in favor in every single community.”

Yesterday, that essential principle was trampled from underfoot, and the Flemish community used what is known as the “Institutional Nuclear Bomb”. The Flemish community, which represents 60% of the Belgian population, voted a law that all French-speaking people and the French community opposes. The Flemish political parties did so in spite of ongoing negotiations, after delivering an ultimatum for getting a “suitable result” to these ongoing negotiations. Of course, it also happens that Mr Leterme, the person in charge of those negotiations to form a government, who is the candidate to the position of prime minister, is also the one who:

  • deliberately delayed talking about the problem which “triggered” the Flemish vote until the last minute, every time it landed on the table. This problem was thus not discussed, because of this oh so wonderful and worthy candidate prime minister, until two days prior to a moment when a parliamentary commission would be able to seize the matter and pass a vote on it.
  • is one of the figureheads of the main Flemish party, coupled with another, extremist and nationalist Flemish party. And he has been either unable or unwilling to hold his troops in check and prevent them from going ahead with a vote in parliamentary commission that is tantamount to a true, hones-to-god war declaration with the French community.
  • already proved his worth and more by stating in an interview in a French national newspaper that the Walloons were intellectually unable to learn Dutch, meaning mentally retarded.

I should add, that our sublime, outstanding candidate for prime minister also demonstrated his amazing qualities of leadership when he fled a meeting of the Flemish political parties (including his own, which weighs the most in these negotiations) and left them to decide for themselves what they’d do come the morning of the vote: consider that their demands had been met, or go ahead with the vote and detonating the institutional nuclear bomb. So brave of him! Running away, instead of staying, rising above his own community and showing that he can, really, be the prime minister of all the Belgian citizens, of all the communities.

Because of his inadequacy, of his ineptitude, the yellow line has been crossed. The Flemish parties have voted, along side with a fascist, far-right and nationalist extremist party. The Flemish side of Belgium has sold its collective soul to worse than the devil, all for three letters, BHV, and to satisfy a stupid, unwarranted thirst for vengeance due to their being stuck in the past, and a false imagery of “French-speakers domination” (it’s so easy to forget that their own upper class was the one which humiliated them, and their own upper class spoke French, while the people on the other side, as poor as they, and as humiliated as they, spoke the Walloon dialects, and were crushed under the boot of a French speaking elite, meaning that all the elites in Belgium spoke French at the time, while the people on every side spoke dialect, be it Flemish or Walloon, but they so like to forget about that).

Worse, there are insistent rumors that this whole scenario was co-written with Mr. “I want POWER NOW and without the socialists” Reyndens, in order to get rid of the BHV problem. If that were to be true, then Mr Reynders deserves to be sent back into the opposition for a very, very long time. Mr Reynders is unworthy of holding any position of power, at any level whatsoever. There are prices you just CANNOT accept to pay, no matter how much you lust after what is offered in exchange.

The decision of the king to keep Mr Leterme as the head of negotiations to form a government is alarming. More, it is shameful, and humiliating for the whole French speaking population. The very measured response of the Walloon political parties called upon to form the “Blue Orange” government is also more than distressing. They are fast losing all credibility and I’m not sure people here will love being represented by ass-kissers who’re so happy to continue licking the boots of those who just kicked them in the mud.

Mr Leterme has disqualified himself for the position of prime minister. He will never be the representative of Belgium, he has shown that more than clearly. He’s unworthy of it, irremediably so. He must go, if there is to be a federal government.

And quite frankly, if the Wallon parties accept to paly in the current game of the Flemish parties, the coalition they will form will maybe be an Orange, but it will not be Blue.

It will be a Brown Orange.

And Brown, in this context, is the color of the far-right, fascist parties.

So, Mr Reynders, Mrs Milquet, if I were you, I'd think well, I'd think long before yielding to any kind of temptation to get power in your hands. Some things come with a price I'm quite sure you can't afford to pay.

If you forget about this, you can be certain that the voters won't. The next elections are in 2009. And that's already knocking at our door.

See you then...

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Don't You Hate Obituaries ?

I do.

I hate them.

Not only because they’re a pain to write, but also because they mean you’re giving a final farewell to someone. And final farewells don’t sit well with me, agnostic though I am, the more so when they concern people this rotten world needs alive and present. Not gone.

Benedicte Vaes was a master at her art. Her sword was the pencil, then the keyboard. Her finely honed mind always led her arm unerringly, allowing her to knife through deceit, through lies and to shed a stark light on all the questions she analyzed. Without compromises, aiming only for the truth. Rejecting convenience, and all sides in a matter be damned.

Benedicte Vaes was one of the finest voices of journalism in Belgium. I have read many of her papers in Le Soir, and I can hear her voice echoing in my mind, from radio debates she used to participate in. She was an expert in social and economical matters. She denounced unfairness in laws, in decisions made by the government, the union leaders, or the corporate business associations. She exposed the high and mighty when they destroyed workers’ lives to make their already considerable fortunes grow bigger. She rang the bell when things were getting bad.

She was a voice everyone knew. Everyone respected.

She was a voice people heard. They might not like what she had to say, because she was one of the mightiest voices for the left, although I’m quite sure she wouldn’t like to be qualified that way. She stood for fairness, for justice, and for all that’s good in our human hearts. And when she drew out her sword and wrote, the high and mighty read. They grumbled, they complained, they crushed the paper in their hands before dumping it in the nearest bin. But they read it.

And the truth came glaring out at them all, shaped by the pencil and keyboard of Benedicte Vaes.

Now that fate has struck, as it so loves to do, I sit here at my keyboard wondering: whose voice will rise to replace hers? I sit here, and I hope someone will. Until someone does, the light will shine a bit less bright on this forsaken planet. Unless we do not let ourselves forget.

Unless we do not allow the voice of Benedicet Vaes to fade into silence.

Unless we remember that even though she is now out of our reach, she has left us gifts that will forever remain with us. Gifts that Time will not, cannot erode or take away.


Web pages.

Benedicte Vaes’ weapons were the pencil and the keyboard. Her sword and bow which supported the cause of justice, of fairness, and upheld all that is good in all of us.

What her weapons shaped, wrote and crafted will always remain with us. It’s all still with us. We just need to google her name, and read.

So I will not say farewell, or “I’ll miss your voice”. But I will say, “I’ll remember” and “I’ll keep on reading and forcing my lazy mind to work out the truth behind all the spin of the days.”

Here’s to you, Mrs Vaes. I, for one, will not forget.