We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Forza Silvio!!

I don’t give two flying figs about Silvio Berlusconi’s business dealings be they murky or otherwise. All I know is that he is just about the only European political figure with personality:

Mr Berlusconi lashed out when socialist Martin Schulz accused him of an alleged conflict of interest over his Italian media empire.

Does this qualify as ‘lashing out’?

“I know there is a man producing a film on the Nazi concentration camps,” Mr Berlusconi said, “I would like to suggest to you the role of Kapo (guard chosen from among the prisoners) – you’d be perfect.”

Naturally this left all the po-faced EUnuchs clucking like a lot of indignant hens. Expect a draft directive on inappropriate insults any day now.

79 comments to Forza Silvio!!

  • S. Weasel

    I love the caption the BBC saw fit to put under Berlusconi’s photo: “Berlusconi appeared to confirm fears about the Italian presidency.” Confirm whose fears? Not mine, surely.

    Check out his priority list:

    °Improving relations with US

    °Opening an inter-governmental conference on the new EU constitution in October

    °Promoting peace in the Middle East, possibly by holding Sicily peace conference

    °”New Deal” to boost big infrastructure projects in Europe

    °Support for immigrant holding centres outside the EU

    °Proposals for a common approach to pensions enshrined in an EU-wide treaty

    Fascinating…but is it European? 🙂

  • G Cooper

    David Carr writes:

    “I don’t give two flying figs about Silvio Berlusconi’s business dealings be they murky or otherwise. All I know is that he is just about the only European political figure with personality”

    Quite so! And the more the Left-liberal establishment “lashes out” against the man, the more I start to think he might be A Good Thing.

  • Liberty Belle

    G Cooper – Absolutely! However, just because one leader in Europe seems to have a grasp on reality (which often derives from having a grasp on business), and as much as we might enjoy the presumed upcoming fireworks, we mustn’t forget that the EU is a dictatorship for which the Brits never voted and from which Britain needs to extricate itself STAT. I always worry about people becoming lulled into a false sense of security by a beguiling personality.

    But I must agree with you; I do like Mr Berlusconi’s approach. I’m going to enjoy watching the BBC frothing at the mouth over the next six months.

  • Kodiak

    Hi S.,

    The programme listed above looks a bit eerie, especially when grunted by such a Bush-like condottiere as Sua Emittenza Berlusconi.

    Berlu is huge wart at the face of Europe as Bush is at the face of Americas.

    Berlu is a stalwart salesman who’s got nothing to sell, except himself, thus explaining his disgusting pathetic courting to nepotist George The Second. At least Blair looks a bit more intelligent, distant & cautious (even he was trapped by UK “intelligence” & Rummie’s faked artlessness). You should have looked at Berlu aping the next stateman having an opinion about almost everything (without of course having the means to sustain those ill-expectorated ideas). I suspect this trash TV emperor to be more interested in picking up some sad dollars falling from Bush’s pockets than having any idea at all…

    Well Europe’s gonna be a big circus for the next 6 months & they’re gonna be sterile fights aplenty. Well why not after all? Bruxelles’ corridors are so dull that some peninsular comedia would help us spend a funny summer. The hic is it will last until Christmas.

    Europeans have had a great laugh with Bush. Now it’s the turn of the US to burst into laughters.

    Fair enough.


  • Kodiak

    Hi LB,

    Mind your supporting Berlu could end up decredibilising his whole stance to appear to be a kind of mini-Bush tackling problems of great intellectual complexity such as having a grasp on justice, police, mafia, media, business & a grasp on highly recommendable parties as Liga Padana or something like that (the independentists of the North) & a grasp on very much discrete Mr Fini (the local Le Pen of Italy).


  • Becky

    Berlusconi is corrupt, and had to change the law to secure immunity. Chirac is corrupt, but has immunity while he remains president. Under normal circumstances, both these men would probably be in jail by now. I think it’s awful that France and Italy are run by two men who are probably criminals, and I think you’re being soft on Berlusconi purely because his politics are more acceptable to you.

  • Kodiak

    Exactly !!!

    Chirac in jail for being a crook.

    Same fate for Berlu.

    And Bush to the chair for criminal misdemeanour.

    And a donkey hood for Blair for having happily swallowed all that neocons crap.


  • Liberty Belle

    Kodiak – Yeah. Whatever.

  • S. Weasel

    Becky: of course! It’s only natural to sympathize more with the criminal with whom one agrees philosophically than the criminal with whom one disagrees. How peculiar to expect otherwise. I don’t know that any of us would vote for such a person to run our own countries, of course.

    I note, by the way, that the BBC has changed the caption that I remarked on above to “Berlusconi refused to withdraw the remark.” I wonder how much tinkering they do with stories during the course of the day…and why.

  • Kodiak

    But s.weasal how can you sympathie when you dont know anything about Berlu except what he says in Bruxelles to make cheap funny ha ha ha for anglos to laugh at silly maladroitness of Europe.

    Berlu si the crooke like chirac and rummie!!!

    But I not say bad thing for your president yes because then neocon Bush will send army of amerikkka to bash my head and interrupt my plumbing and cause menopause to my farm animals.

    Tout funny for you!!


  • Kevin L. Connors

    When I read some of the discourse that went on on Capitol Hill in the 19th century, I can’t help but think our legislators today have a stick up their ass.

  • Kodiak


    Tiens, tiens.

    L’excellent comique qui a falsifié le message ci-dessus doit certainement se reconnaître dans la qualité de sa méthode…


  • Silvio dodged a few taxes, maybe bribed a few government officials etc.

    He worked the system.

    He did what he had to do in an unfree world. Can you blame him?

    He is being demonised in the way Thatcher was by the left. Probably means he is a good thing…

  • Kodiak


    Partent, l’imposter


  • Kodiak


    Mon anglais est truffé de fautes.

    Mais ton français n’est pas du français…

    Bon courage quand même!


  • S. Winston

    Oh, for chrissakes…will somebody with access to the Samizdata buttons and knobs please check IP and boot one of these ursids, please? One’s bad enough. Duelling nitwits is more than I can…ummm…bear.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I am with Paul Staines on this one. Yes, Berlusconi is probably a bit dodgy (earth to chattering classes – he’s a politician) but as Lord Tebbit once said, you should judge a man by the quality of his enemies.

    Berlusconi is despised by the transnational progressive classes, the Greens, the left, the unions, the sneering, “sophisticated” denizens of the EU.

    Berlusconi has not yet been much of a reformer in Italy, but I like him if only because he gives such folk the vapours.

  • Liberty Belle

    Me too, Johnathan! I’m sure the feminists, never being able to tolerate being excluded from a grudgefest, have also detected something to be outraged about. Excellent!

  • A_t

    I don’t buy this “you should judge a man by the quality of his enemies.” crap at all… for a start, ‘friend’ & ‘enemy’ are very mobile positions in politics…. would you have supported Hitler when *gasp* Stalin was fighting him? Or perhaps supported Stalin, seeing as he was Hitler’s enemy?

    Judge people on their own actions, not the nature of their enemies. This enemy idea would only work if the world naturally divided into 2 camps, which as non-traditional right/left-wingers, you should know better than to think.

    ‘sfar as I can gather, Berlusconi’s pretty damn corrupt, & not particularly interested in anyone’s freedom but his own, so whatever… support him if you will, but at least come up with some better reasons to do so.

  • Kelli

    Why has no one commented on the anti-Italian slur on the German placard: “No godfather for Europe”? Berlusconi may be a corrupt politico, but I’ve never come across evidence that he runs a mafia “family.” Perhaps if Berlusconi had stuck some cotton in his cheeks and made his joke in a Brandoesque voice Herr Schulz would have gotten it.

    And as for Kodiak’s comments (should I say Kodiaks’ comments?) about Berlusconi’s motive for making this comment, I’d have to ask why he thinks an Italian nationalist can only take a potshot at a German as a way of pandering to an American? Surely Europeans aren’t all expected to have developed a collective amnesia regarding their own bloodsoaked past? But perhaps you’ve seen L’Auberge Espanole once too often? One big happy drunken family, that’s what Europe is. Go on, pull the other one.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    A_T, you are distressed at my use of “enemies” to judge how to feel about someone like Berlusconi. sorry if that offends but I could not care less. I think the fact that he winds up certain groups of folk is a good thing. He helps remind us that “European opinion” is far from being monolithic.

    He is also pretty pro-free market in his rhetoric, at least, if not in his actions.

    The trouble with a lot of us libertarians is that we are always going to be disappointed at real, live politicians. The idea that the equivalent of Murray Rothbard or whoever is never going to enter office naturally disappoints. We have to put up with the frail, often ugly reality. There are two ways of dealing with this – maximising the good that such folk can do, or sulk in the corner. (like those paranoiacs at LewRockwell.com)

    I prefer the former course.

  • Kodiak

    Dear Kelli,

    Glad to hear from you again.

    It’s Kodiak’s comments -not Kodiaks’ comments- you should refer to for my flattering imitator 1/ can’t write Fr at all (well if you do you may check that at a glance) 2/ can’t display these sick ideas of mine…

    “Berlusconi’s motive for making this comment, I’d have to ask why he thinks an Italian nationalist can only take a potshot at a German as a way of pandering to an American?” >>> what are you talking about?


  • A_t,

    I don’t ‘support’ him, I just quite like the guy and his being willing to cock a snoot at the impossibly pompous arses in the European parliament is good enough reason for me.

    Is he ‘corrupt’? I have no idea and care even less.

  • François G.

    Everyone seems to take seriously the charges of “corruption” against Berlusconi. But ANY politician who promises money stolen from others in exchange for power and more stolen money for himself engages in corruption, whether it is “legal” or not.

    Socialist “legislation” is pure theft and slavery, and carries no moral weight.

    State media and state subsidization of “education” and “culture” are criminal because by definition they use stolen goods, and anti-democratic as well because the violence used to steal them violates the principle of free speech. They are mere instruments of plunder and censorship for the benefit of the Socialist exploiting caste.

    On the other hand, a businessman who bribes a government official for the right to manage his own property, which is his own anyway, or to gain access to resources he should have been able to buy from honest owners but happen to have been stolen and monopolized by government people is no criminal at all.

    The “corrupt” official may be one, but that is only because he belongs to the “government”, and his “government” is a gang of thieves and crooks. Let him settle matters with his accomplices if they feel he has betrayed them in trying to get more of the booty for himself.

    It seems to me that the premise of all the charges against Berlusconi is that any money made by a businessman is corrupt and impure, whereas money and other resources — such as the electro-magnetic spectrum — stolen by government people is pure and noble.

    Of course, it is the other way round.

    Even if he had bribed government officials, Berlusconi is innocent, and the Socialists who accuse him are criminals by definition.

  • Kodiak



  • I’m not sure bribing government officials in this context qualifies as “corrupt” in my lexicon, more likely it comes under “business” in a mixed economy.

  • I think we should be awfully careful about supporting Berlusconi. I’m afraid Becky is quite right to criticise Samizdatists for supporting Berlu because they like what he says more than what Chirac says.

    I’ve seen a lot of sober claims (for example, The Economist) that Berlu is a real criminal, meaning on a rather larger scale than France’s crooked Chirac, incidentally.

    Please be careful who you end up cheering on! From what I’ve heard, Berlu’s career makes Dubya being helped into federal office by his brother governor in Florida look positively law-abiding by comparison.

  • S. Weasel

    …makes Dubya being helped into federal office by his brother governor in Florida look positively law-abiding by comparison.

    Eh? Come again?

  • Liberty Belle

    Mark, I’d like you to support the comment that Prez Bush was helped into “federal office” (by which I presume you mean the presidency of the United States), by his brother who is the governor of Florida, with evidence. I’d also like an explanation of the legal process by which the governor of one of the 50 states can somehow whisk someone into the presidency. Surely, if it were possible, they’d all be at it? Although governors of American states are more powerful than the powerless prime ministers of countries who signed up to the EU fiasco, so far as I know, none of them has ever been able to swing the purchase the United States Supreme Court.

    I’d like to read your evidence of Jeb Bush’s incredible power, as this makes him sound like an interesting man.

  • Oh Weasel, I don’t mean to open a new can of worms. Let me just say that the election of Bush younger is perceived by some, rightly or wrongly, as a bit ‘dodgy’ or borderline legal. I am not a Brit who wishes Gore had won, don’t get me wrong.

    But from what I have heard, whoever wants to claim (as Michael Moore does, for what that’s worth) that Bush was not “really elected”, would have to say worse things about Chirac, and (my real point) yet worse things about Berlu.

    Some people criticise Bush’s election, but without deciding the merits of Bush’s case one way or another, Chirac is (I suspect) objectively dodgier and Berlu another order of magnitude dodgier still.

    That’s what I meant. I’m unclear on the details of all three sets of allegations, but that’s how it sounds to me.

  • Just seen your comment, Liberty Belle, after replying to Weasel!

    Well, I have no evidence, and I wanted to say that judging the allegations alone (not the evidence, which I don’t have either way) puts Berlu as creepier than Chirac and Chirac creepier than Bush’s enemies paint him.

    You probably can tell better than me. Was there not some deciding recount of votes in Florida requested by Democrats halted by Floridan supreme justices appointed by Jeb Bush?

    Perhaps it was all completely above board, and I misunderstood a lot of that. But if someone is disposed to suspect/resent US democracy it still looks not so good if the votes are being counted down to the wire in only one state of the fifty, there are claims and counterclaims in that state, and the governor of that state happens to be a brother of one of the candidates.

    My main point of course was that however not good that election looks is in a very different category to how not good Berlusconi looks to me. No serious critics of Bush claim he is
    a/ a man who has consorted with gangsters
    b/ a man who has bribed and cheated widely in business and politics
    c/ a man who should not only not be in power, but should be in jail.

    Whereas there are serious critics of Berlusconi, such as The Economist, who say all three of those things about him. That’s what I was getting at.

  • S. Weasel

    mark: well, then, I won’t deflect this thread off course…but, honestly, there’s not a word of truth in any such thing. I’m not a fan of political dynasties in general, or the Bushes in particular, but there isn’t anything Jeb could have done if he’d wanted to.

    (In a nutshell, the Florida Supremes voted to continue counting – essentially voted in Gore’s favor. The US Supremes voted to stop counting – essentially in Bush’s favor. It’s arguable that neither stopping the count nor continuing it could have affected the outcome, since there was a tight deadline for the results. If the count wasn’t finished by that deadline (and it couldn’t possibly have been), the legislature would vote on the nominee – and the Florida legislature had a Republican majority. If that had deadlocked somehow, the decision would go to the US legislature – also Republican-controlled.)

  • Ah. That’s clearer than I’ve come across elsewhere, thanks Weasel. So Jeb’s position as governor distracted me and others from the real action, it seems.

    Anyway, people say much nastier things (true and untrue) about Berlusconi.

  • Liberty Belle

    Mark – that’s not the point. You made accusations about the legitimacy of the president of the US based on conspiracy theories that the governor of a state was able, in some mysterious way, to swing a president of 50 states into office with the complicity of the United States Supreme Court which had been prodded into being agreeable by the governor of Florida.

    How did this happen, was my question?

    You say you have no evidence. This is a believable position.

    You say, “if someone is disposed to suspect/resent democracy it still looks not so good if votes are being counted down to the wire …” Mark, when, in a democracy, would you propose votes stopped being counted, then? Isn’t the wire the finish line? So stop counting five days before the wire? Twenty-five minutes before the wire?

    I’m sorry, Mark, but you cast a slur on the legitimacy of the holder of the position of chief executive officer of the United States, and I feel you should be able to back your accusations

  • David Mercer

    As ‘dirty politician’ is almost completely redundant, at least he’s OUR dirty politician.

    It is not surprising to me that an Italian has the game of rhetoric to placate the state he is a client of down, the Romans DID make great strides in that area back in the day, no? He’s just on the other end this time.

  • occasional reader

    Well, it’s always disturbing to see myths perpetuated about the US election (in other words, that Bush was appointed). Consider that if Gore had become President after a recount then he also would have been appointed since this was an inevitable court case because the Democratic operatives that persuaded Gore to take back his concession to Bush were manipulating which votes were being recounted. Unless the entire state of Florida had been recounted there was no fairness, and required deadlines for recounting could not be met.
    Just recounting votes from certain counties (heavily democratic) because supposedly the voting machine was too confusing seemed silly to me (if people are so stupid they can’t tell who they are voting for when punching a hole next to a name, or ask for a new ballot if they spoil theirs, or make a mistake, well, Darwin’s theory seems applicable to elecitons also) So we had a spectacle of county election officials holding up spoiled ballots to see if they could divine the voters intention. Elections are very local, and the election officials are usually neighbors you know, and there are guidelines for what is a spoiled ballot that must be tossed. Because of the people around Gore and his naked desire for power, he attempted to subvert the US election process. The election was very close, however, statisticians have looked at the probabilities and even with all Florida state ballots recounted concluded that Gore could not have picked up enough votes through the hand recount effort to win Florida. This doesn’t cover all the little details of what ballots were or were not to be counted.I seem to recall an effort to keep military ballots that didn’t arrive at a certain deadline to be removed from being counted.

    It might help others who watched this spectacle from outside the US to remember that ALL the major news anchors on ABC, NBC, and CBS wanted Gore to win. Some of them got so tired at 3:00 AM they actually let it slip out their mouths.

    I was never really hot on GW’s candidacy but I sure voted for him. Gore was so unappealing that I don’t want to go into the litany of reasons why.

    I know that this isn’t the topic of your thread, but I wanted someone to benefit from all those hours I spent watching those events, and listening to the Supreme Court announcements ( a first in US history).

    Bush has done an outstanding job with the hand he was dealt, and he has an excellent team, one that Gore could not have equaled. It might help people watching from the outside to remember that the first responsibility the US President has is to secure the safety of the citizens of the US. I think I see what the strategy is, bold and risky, yes, but better than sitting with your thumb up your ass hoping for the best. I expect there are plenty of people in the world planning a nuclear attack within the US, not a prospective future that will be putting a candyass like Gore in office anytime soon, I sincerely hope.

    I hope things go well for Europe and the EU and the whole adventure doesn’t turn into a bloodbath. As far as Berlusconi, well, I think it’s best not to have blatant crooks in office, but, well, how do EU citizens have a voice in his position? Do you have some impeachment process through your elected officials that can confront issues of criminal behavior, or as noted above do the immunity laws insure the politician from being removed from office?

    Oh, and I can’t resist this revelation I received from watching so much news coverage since 9/11:
    Why do they hate us? Answer: BBC World

  • another occasional reader

    Ha ha, well said, occasional reader.

  • another occasional reader

    Oh, and I found Berlusconi’s remark a delightful thumb in the eye to the whole @#$% EU process. Soldier on, amico.

  • Kodiak

    A question to US people (& others).

    In order to avoid an avalanche of well/bad-grounded (?) criticism about democratic/nepotist (?) Bush being elected/appointed (?) by an independent/biased (?) supreme body, is it unconceivable that Unitedstaters could vote DIRECTLY for candidate A, B or C without having first to choose a bunch of delegates?

    Is this kind of unagency vote too technically complex to be implemented for a big nominal voting population (although 50% bother to vote), or is there any constitutional incompatibility?


  • Kodiak


    Quoting you: “Bush has done an outstanding job (…), and he has an excellent team, one that Gore could not have equaled. (…) the first responsibility the US President has is to secure the safety of the citizens of the US”.

    You can tell the worth of a bricklayer as you can see him starting work at the foot of the wall (proverb).

    So, how can you decree Gore was absolutely irrelevent provided you still don’t know what he’s worth (given the supreme court’s unprecedented decision to nominate Bush The Second for president) ?


  • mark holland

    In addition to occaisional reader’s comments I’d like to chip in something David Farrer pointed out a while back. Check Florida’s timezones. The panhandle is an hour behind. That means that when the polls closed in the east and the press screamed “Exit polls say Dems take Florida” some of the voters in the west who’d not voted may not have bothered. Given that, I think it’s fair to speculate, the panhandle would go GOP this would have given the Dems a boost. I understand that Florida is now drafting a law to prevent exit polls being announced until the polls have closed across the whole state.

  • Liberty Belle

    Gosh, I didn’t know that about the Florida panhandle. Does this make FL the only state in the union with two time zones?

  • G Cooper

    What I find really interesting reading this debate about the US election, is the casual way in which people trot-out the lies about Bush’s ‘appointment’, without ever having bothered to question them.

    I’m not taking a swipe at Mark, or whoever it was who started it, more remarking on the nature of myth and the ease with which it becomes ‘fact’ in the minds of those who don’t habitually examine what they are told for factual fleas.

    This, of course, is precisely what the Leftist news media intended to happen.

    Joseph Goebbels would have been very proud.

  • mark holland

    Liberty Belle,

    good grief no.

    see http://www.time.gov/

    Looking at the map the following states have more than one time zone.

    Oregon, Idaho, N & S Dakotam Nebraska, Kansas, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennasee, and Florida. And then there’s some daylight saving wierdness in Arizona and Indiana.

  • Kodiak

    G Cooper,

    You may be right.

    The fact is that even if the nomination of Bush as new provisional renter of the White House was perfectly legal, maybe the more than 50% of the US voting citizens who chosed Gore throughout the Unitedstatish territory had the legitimate feeling something was going wrong…


  • Liberty Belle

    G Cooper – Yes, the lefty media bashed home the lie, counting on people (including Americans) not to be able to understand – or not wanting to be bothered – the complexities of the issue. As in, the time difference in the panhandle, the fact that the Dems tried to get the overseas military vote discarded because the military tends to vote Republican, the chads, the dimwits who didn’t punch their chads all the way through, the recounts, the Florida Supreme Court, etc. And then the morons in Hollywood, i.e., Barbra Streisand, who didn’t even graduate high school, routinely referring to Bush as “selected not elected” and you really get a flourishing myth that grows stronger hrough noise and one side and weary silence on the other. That’s why I sprang at Mark (sorry Mark; it wasn’t personal) because I couldn’t bear to see this lie, first through casual mention and then, through not being addressed, become embedded on a libertarian site.

  • G Cooper

    Kodiak writes:

    “The fact is that even if the nomination of Bush as new provisional renter of the White House was perfectly legal, maybe the more than 50% of the US voting citizens who chosed Gore throughout the Unitedstatish territory had the legitimate feeling something was going wrong…”

    Nonsense. Governments are frequently elected with fewer than 50% of the votes. Unless you have a system of proportional representation, it’s quite common.

    Given the routine, systematic and widely reported fiddling of polls by self-styled ‘Democrats’ at a local level, it’s a wonder any Republicans get elected.

  • Kodiak

    G Cooper

    “Governments are frequently elected with fewer than 50% of the votes” >>> SO THERE’S MUCH WORK LEFT TO CARRY OUT !!!…

    Shall I have the tremendous arrogance to inform you that Jacques The Crook was elected DIRECTLY by the French on a 100% PROPORTIONAL SYSTEM ???

    Since the US is just 4 & 1/2 times more populated than France, would it be that surreal that a similar unquestionable system be enforced there to avoid further deleterious comments about Bush’s squinting landing on the White House?


  • Kodiak

    Barbara Streisand may not have haunted the benches of Yale or of the next High School or may be a dreadful singer or an uncaptivating actress.

    At least she had the guts to say what she thinks against the overwhelming mainstream current of happy FoxTV gazers.


  • D2D

    There were actually two decisions in Bush v. Gore. The first decision was 6-3 in which the court said that the state of Florida would be in violation of the equal protection clause if they only counted the undervotes and not the overvotes as well. Also all the votes had to be recounted not the votes just in four counties. The second decision was 5-4 and this was about the remedy. The court sent the case back down to the Florida Supreme court the with the first 6-3 ruling in mind. There was not enough time to remedy the situation without being in violation of Florida’s election law concerning time limits. So instead of allowing the state legislature to decide the Florida court simply let the state election cerification stand. In order for the Florida Supreme court to get what it wanted, namely to have Al Gore elected President they would have had to run roughshod over most of Florida’s election laws. In the end they just didn’t have the balls for it.

    I believe Jeb Bush had only appointed one or two justices to the Florida court the rest were democrats.


    The electoral college is part of the U.S. Constitution and to change it would require a constitutional admendment; something very difficult to accomplish.

  • D2D

    Bill Clinton never received over 50% of the popular vote in ’92 or ’96 he was elected by plurality both times. Lord and Lady Douchebag never got a majority of votes.

  • Kodiak


    I didn’t know that Clinton was elected with a minority of votes… Nobody complained about that?

    That’s really surprising.

    A constitutional amendment is hard to get, all right. But it is feasible, isn’t it? It’s also wishable, or?


  • G Cooper

    Kodiak writes:

    “Shall I have the tremendous arrogance to inform you that Jacques The Crook was elected DIRECTLY by the French on a 100% PROPORTIONAL SYSTEM ???”

    Very little about the French political system surprises me. Dismays me, perhaps…


    “Since the US is just 4 & 1/2 times more populated than France, would it be that surreal that a similar unquestionable system be enforced there to avoid further deleterious comments about Bush’s squinting landing on the White House?”

    Why? There are perfectly sound arguments against proportional representation. Most of them are to be found in the EU states.

  • Kodiak

    G Cooper

    You can’t have the butter AND the money from the butter.

    Either you stoically accept criticism about Bush appointment because you think proportional is not for you, or you won’t have it that ambiguity prevails & you install proportionality.


  • Alfred E. Neuman


    Maybe you should fucking learn a little about the US election system, most specifically the electoral college, before you open your ignorant mouth.

    You don’t know the first fucking thing about any of it, yet here you are blathering on.

    Typical European lack of knowledge. You just keep eating the shit that your media shovels you, Mr. Critical Thinker.

  • D2D


    While Clinton did not receive a majority of the popular vote he did receive a majority of the electoral college and by constitutional law that is all he needed to become president. The electoral college allows the states some sovereignty on how elections for the president and vice-president occur within their borders. Electoral delegates, an equal number in each state representing each candidate, are predetermined by the candidate or his political party. If a candidate wins the popular vote in a state he gets all of his parties electors the losers get none. In most states it’s usually all or nothing, but a couple of states split electors based on vote ratio. When a candidate reaches a certain number of electoral votes somewhere around 270 + he is declared the winner after the votes are counted in Congress. As flawed as it seemed in Florida this actually prevents ties. And a third party candidate, while not being able to win a state and its electoral votes, can certainly spoil another candidate’s chances by garnering enough popular votes to prevent him or her from winning a state’s electors, much as Ross Perot did to George H. W. Bush and Ralph Nader did to Al Gore. Election law in the U.S. varies from state to state. The U.S. is in reality 50 separate political entities that are bound together, by the U.S. constitution and the consent of the governed, into a federal republic. It is not as politically monolithic as is perceived.

    Also it would be impossible to amend the constitution to change the electoral college. Americans just don’t trust politicians to do the right thing and certainly do not want them monkeying around with the Constitution concerning elections.

  • S. Weasel


    It is absolutely not desirable to eliminate the electoral college and resort to proportional voting.

    The US population is pretty evenly split between rural and urban. Since cities are, of course, concentrations of people, it’s mighty tempting to politicians to spend all their promises and efforts on population centers. The ‘winner take all’ nature of the electoral college means they can’t afford to do that.

    Poor old Wyoming (300,000 people and 3 electors) still doesn’t get as much attention as New York (19 million people and 33 electors), but it damn well means rural upstate New York gets nearly as much attention as New York City. Imperfect, but nobody’s suggested anything better.

    In a direct voting system, a candidate could expend his whole effort sucking up to, say, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami and get elected, and screw the yokels.

    Though I don’t know why I’m bothering. You don’t seem to have comprehended a word of explanation so far.

  • Kodiak

    Dear most suavely urbane Alfred,

    The batracian ignorant mouth needn’t learn the subtleties of US undirect vote system. Just knowing the appalling consequences are dividing your country in 2 antagonist blocks is enough for my curiosity.

    I’m not putting up for a PhD in US electoral law: I’m just wondering why such a smaaaaaaaaart, moooooodern, sophisticaaaaaaaated country love to stick to primitive, old-fashioned poltical customs that trace back to the XVIIIth century…

    Well if you identify knowledge with the extremely scintillating US political life, I may well take the most exquisite pleasure to content myself with coprophagy…

    Bon appétit.


  • Kodiak


    I knew that popular vote is not a legal criterion to determine who’s the winner. College is. OK.

    I just wonder why constitution modification is sacrilege. Especially when fair popular representation is at stake.


  • S. Weasel

    Kodiak: word of advice – Mister Thesaurus is not your friend (even one named Roget).

    Now, given that – no matter how you look at it – the 2000 presidential election was the closest thing to a 50/50 tie in the history of US politics, how exactly would direct voting have made the outcome any different? Other than making a recount that much more daunting.

  • Kodiak


    Your remark on fair representation of low-populated bits of the territory is totally receivable.

    Just I thought the senate was the ad-hoc chamber designed to make the voice heard of legal subdivisions (US states).


  • Ralph Phelan

    It’s hard to take the accusations of corruption seriously when Chirac and D’Estang are running around loose.

    It’s even harder to credit the claim that calling people Nazis is outside the range of polite discourse, after all that Europe’s politicians said about Bush.

  • Kodiak


    Well I suppose you count the votes (in the hypothesis of proportionality).

    If this is exactly 50/50 >>> revote.

    If this is not, then “more than 50” wins.


  • Proportional representation is probably the worst form of democracy I can think of, offhand.

    The reasons against it for a presidential contest have already been outlined above. The reasons against its use in a parliamentary system are perhaps even larger, namely no link between the elected and the electorate, and an almost certain guarantee of a perpetually hung parliament, with all the concomitant fun and games, like coalition governments negotiated by secret back room dealing.

    Observe the farce which is Scotland, a blindingly incompetent hung parliament precisely because it has a significant PR element. Though I pity the Scottish, they don’t even have PR, they have some evil, unintelligible system that the voters there barely understand, and thus care about.

    PR – Just Say No.

  • D2D


    In a way you do have to win the popular vote, you just have to do it in each individual state as opposed to the nation as a whole. Gore won all of the large population centers and states except for Texas and Florida, Bush won everything else. S. Weasel is correct when he says that the electoral college prevents politicans from promising everthing to densely populated areas and ignoring the rest of the states. In a very close election even Wyoming’s 3 electoral votes may change the outcome.

    The bar governing amending the Constitution is very high for a very good reason. If the Constitution were not damn near impossible to change it would look nothing like the original document today. Monarch’s in Europe had a bad problem of disregarding their national constitutions when it suited them because their parliaments made it easy for them to do so and the justify that behavior. The framers did not want anyone or anythin usurping the Constitution when it suited them or on some wild-assed leftwing feelgood whim.

    That is one reason the basic government of the U.S., the president, congress, and judiciary are pretty much the same now as they were in 1789 and why America has been able to remain a demcratic republic for 214 years.

  • S. Weasel


    A state is allotted one electoral vote for each Senator and one for each Congressman. So, the college mostly concentrates power to the most populous states, as per Congress, but it has a little of the mitigating effect of the Senate (where, for those following along at home, every state gets two Senators regardless of population).

    So the fewest electors any state can have is three. The most, at this point, is California (with 54 in 2000). Again, this isn’t perfect, but it helps rural states keep some hold on the president’s concentration.

    If a national popular election had come anywhere near, say, 51/49, we’d be counting and recounting until our dangly chads fell off. Which is all that the Supreme Court ruled – that you can’t keep counting forever.

    Interestingly, in the week before the election, it was believed likely that Al Gore would win the electoral college and Bush the popular vote. Two magazines (I think Newsweek was one) commissioned articles from constitutional scholars in praise of the electoral college…which were quietly pulled when the results became apparent.

  • Kodiak

    The Last Toryboy,

    100% agreement on proportionality avoidance for parliament & chambers >>> we don’t need obscure combinations from twatty poltical parties >>> all we need is a clear-cut majority doing what they have to for a specified term. All right.

    Presidential (you’re choosing a man, not a bunch of unquenched politicos) requires electing mode that can’t allow the slightest ambiguity >>> proportionality >>> less than 50? please go back home >>> 50 exactly? sorry you’ll have to come back next Sunday >>> more than 50? well come in & congratulations.

    It works.


  • Oh, I don’t know about it working. What if there was a UK President? How would the Ulstermen react to that? Or the Scottish? Its not like the 5 million odd living in Ireland would be relevant in the campaign compared to, say, London.

    I don’t think the US electoral college is perfect, for that matter I don’t think there is such a thing as a perfect democracy, but I do think it better serves it’s electorate than direct election does.

    If we had a directly elected president in this country, we’d end up permanently with a lefty nutter like Benn probably, a truly terrifying thought for the likes of Farmer Tripstick in Darkest Devon. (and me)

  • D2D


    On your choosing a president what happens if you have 4 candidates with 3 getting 24% of the popular vote and 1 getting 28% of the popular vote? Where I come from this is what is known as a clusterfuck. I detest ambiguity and fraud in elections.

    No matter how hard you wish, it is not going to change, and Algore is not going to win the 2000 election. Unless a candidate a wins the popular vote in states that give him the number of electors he needs he cannot become president, period.

  • Alfred E. Neuman


    Thanks for your unintelligble rebuttal. Please continue to demonstatrate your comprehensive grasp of English as well as your laser-like logic and ability to intelligently discuss systems you have no understanding of.

    Here, I’ll just sum up your overall question:

    “Why can’t you change your stupid Constitution when you feel like it, especially if the candidate you wanted to win didn’t?”

    If you don’t understand how dumb that question is, then there is no hope for you.

  • T. Hartin

    “I just wonder why constitution modification is sacrilege. Especially when fair popular representation is at stake.”

    Its not sacrilege at all. It is just difficult to do. We amend our Constitution periodically. I guarantee you eliminating the electoral college system will not pass, though, because it will strip influence from states that would be required to approve it.

    What do you mean by “fair”, “popular”, and “representation”? I think the electoral college system that the US uses for its President is fair, reflects the popular vote (on a state-by-state basis) and results in as much representation as any other system.

    Think of it this way – you determine the winner of the French Open by who won the most points or games in an entire 5-set match. Rather, you look at who won the most sets. This is analogous to the electoral college system, which doesn’t look at who wins the most votes, but rather looks at who wins the most states/electoral college votes.

    It is actually very rare for a politician who receives less than the plurality of popular votes to win the Presidency, and nearly impossible to lose the popular votes by an appreciable margin and still win the Presidency.

  • T. Hartin

    Oops – that should read “Think of it this way – you DON’T determine the winner of the French Open by who won the most points or games in an entire 5-set match.”

  • Kodiak

    The Last Toryboy >>> time will tell…

    D2D >>> if such a thing happens, then there is what we call “second tour” in France (run-off, presumably?) >>> the 2 candidates having the highest scores are invited to compete man-to-man the next Sunday.

    MY DEAR ALFRED >>> “Please continue to demonstatrate your comprehensive grasp of English” >>> DEMONSTATRATE >>> THAT WAS CERTAINLY WORTH A SONNET BY SHAKESPEARE, WASN’T IT ???
    For the rest, most honourable Alfred, please stop brainsucking & try to recollect the the electrical influx irrigating your second-hand plastic brain…

    T. Hartin >>> Ok I understand it’s not feasible since member states will veto. The tennis analogy is winning the point, although the state-by-state basis representation should be reviewed.


  • occasional reader

    I always have fun reading European reactions to the US electoral system (and how the US functions generally). It’s been my experience that even non-citizens or immigrants who have lived here a long time have difficulty understanding this country or connecting with the many themes that run through the political, social and cultural life that varies quite a bit throughout the landscape. Maybe it’s sort of like the story of the blind men describing the elephant (sometimes Europeans seem a little too fascinated with one end of the “elephant”! ), it can be daunting to get the big picture I quess.

    The electoral college system was discussed quite vigorously after this last presidential election and changing it appears dangerous to many US citizens.
    It seems on theory to be appealing to have direct election for a national office such as President, however, one of the underlying governing principles of the structure of the government is “checks and balances”. I have read that this is really the best way to describe US government, but “checks & balances” doesn’t sound as sexy as democracy (as in “democracy, sexey, whiskey!”). Having experience for many years in listening to political debates through many elections, I certainly see the danger in NOT having the electoral college. Ordinary citizens see it as a check against a powerful political lobby for an individual candidate appealing to the narrow interests of a highly populated urban area. For example, essentially all Presidents would be chosen by New York or L.A.
    As someone who lives in a less populated state in a semi-rural area, believe me please, when I tell you that this would not only be a really negative outcome for the US, but extremely unfortunate for the rest of the world. As imperfect as it is, one of the goals of the system is to creat a “check” as much as possible within the system to keep as much as possible such an “elite” class from being created. Presently candidates have to argue their case for election across a diverse population who challenge their positions.

  • Kodiak

    Occasional Reader,

    Your amazement at rather sound objections to a very retarded presidential electoral system is -to blind Europeans, at least- by far more fabulously exotic as palpating the trunk of a pink elephant…

    Your 2nd comment implies that taking care of representing underpopulated rural areas (undirect electoral college) is more relevant than resorting to integral proportionality (universal DIRECT ballot + one vote = one count).

    Again, wanting to overrepresent rural AREAS when it’s all about electing a MAN is irrelevant. If you want AREAS (urban or rural) to be represented this or that way, then please create an ad-hoc AREA-representing chamber (Senate for instance >>> 2 persons for each state, rural or urban).

    If you want PEOPLE to be represented, then one voice is one count since a New Yorker is above all a US citizen voting for the president of the USA as a whole, then maybe an inhabitant of the actual city of northeastern USA. And so is an Ohioan, a Californian & an Alaskan.

    Even if you take the metropolitan areas, NYC accounts for just 7% of the US population, LA for not even 6%, Chicago for 3%, Washington-Baltimore & San Francisco for 2,5% each. So the theoritical argument for UNDIRECT COLLEGE due to overrepresentation of the cities falls short.

    Same with US states: California = 12%, Texas = 7,6 %, State of New York = 6,7 %.

    What’s the point?


  • Kodiak

    Occasional Reader,

    Further remark.

    Given that the number of college members is far smaller (say 100 or 150 or 200 people) than the number of US citizens entitled to vote (say 100 or 150 or 200 million people), the probability to hit a perfect 50%-50% (& thus a Bush-appointment-like controversy >>> a polemic opposing legality versus legitimity) is extraordinarily higher with the undirect college than with integral proportionality.

    Again, I’m just referring to presidential elections, not to congress, senate etc elections.


  • Sorry, Liberty Belle! I really was just talking all along about what uninformed people including myself perceived as odd about Bush’s election, and saying that even if true that was nothing compared to what I’ve heard about Berlusconi.

    Of course the election was technical, I got lost in the detail & was not following diligently at the time, but ‘the wire’ only meant there was the coincidence that the last state to be counted held the balance either way and that there were squabbles about counting certain ballots in that state, and the governor of that state, out of all the fifty states, happened to be brother of one of the candidates.

    People less used to democracy and more used to corruption, like Europeans, Arabs, and lots of others – tend to have trouble with coincidences. But of course coincidences actually happen quite a lot.

    The coincidence of Jeb Bush holding one of a number of high offices (arguably not the crucial high office, I agree) in Florida in the days when suddenly it is Florida which decides George Bush versus Al Gore is amply enough for any conspiracy theorist – perhaps most of the world, feeling powerless personally, are conspiracy theory believers.

    Weasel above explained very clearly what I personally misunderstood (though in any case I was glad Bush, not Gore, got in). I must apologise to Liberty Belle and anyone else I offended with my cheerful ignorance. Though the idea, probably liberal-media-originated, nestling unexamined in my mind that some short chain of influence from Jeb through some colleague or person he had chosen extended helpfully to George, did not strike me – even before Weasel explained it was not thus – as particularly improper.

    My impression at the time was that a large number of Americans voted for each candidate, you can’t please everybody, Bush was the favoured candidate for a bigger slice of the US than usually get a government elected in Britain, and Gore eventually conceded that all was basically in order.

    Weasel leaves me thinking that all was more than basically in order – and that the Jeb-George coincidence was just that, a coincidence.

    In any case, since it looks like my sideswipe about Dubya being helped into office diverted this whole thread from Mr Berlusconi for something extraordinary like fifty comments, I’d like to apologise to everybody.

    I’ll be much more careful what I say in future, and – by the way – I really do fear Mr Berlusconi is a bit shady for us to be cheering him on.

  • back2cali

    Kodiak, you really don’t have a lot of facts at your command, do you? I’m with Alfred E. Neuman — learn some basic US civics before you spout off.

    I’m not putting up for a PhD in US electoral law:…

    PhD? I learned this stuff when I was 11.

    … I’m just wondering why such a smaaaaaaaaart, moooooodern, sophisticaaaaaaaated country love to stick to primitive, old-fashioned poltical customs that trace back to the XVIIIth century… [later post] “a very retarded presidential electoral system”

    It’s our 227th birthday. Since America began its “primitive, old-fashioned political customs,” France has had 4 Kings, 2 Empires, 5 Républiques, several piles of dead bodies, plus various sieges & communes, provisional governments, and a niiice looong visit from Adolf Hitler.

    Since 1776, with no interruption in its “primitive, old-fashioned political customs,” America went from backwater colony to lone hyperpower, during which time France slid from superpower to second tier to third tier.

    France has a lot to teach America, but it’s how to cook omelets and sew clothes, not how to run a great nation.

  • Kodiak

    Dear Back2cali,

    1/ REMARK: “I’m not putting up for a PhD in US electoral law”
    ANSWER: “PhD? I learned this stuff when I was 11”

    You learnt that all when you were 11. Fine.
    Just be magnanimous enough & consider we, unsophisticated Europeans, learn about Midddle-Age, Renaissance & modern Europe, Ancient Rome & Greece, Egypt, Islamic Civilisation, India & China before being delivered the slightest notion of the history of some 50 states united somewhere in Northern America… (joking, but its’ true)


    2/ “It’s our 227th birthday. Since America began its “primitive, old-fashioned political customs,” France has had 4 Kings, 2 Empires, 5 Républiques, several piles of dead bodies, plus various sieges & communes, provisional governments, and a niiice looong visit from Adolf Hitler”

    You’re right.

    Just if the US had such neighbours as China, India & Russia instead Canada & Mexico, maybe things would have gone a different way.

    What I mean is that (Monaco, Andorra & Luxembourg being excluded) France’s neighbours weren’t especially unknown, unambitious, peaceful, underpopulated, inactive, unsuccessful, poor, unorganised, unpioneering or French-loving nations… That too most probably had an impact on Fr political life as own Fr designs.

    Being still around is alone not too bad a result (for frogs I mean)…

    But now, with your invading Iraq, it seems you’re hunting for more exciting neighbours as Syria, Iran & Saudia Arabia. Welcome & good luck !


    3/ “Since 1776, with no interruption in its “primitive, old-fashioned political customs,” America went from backwater colony to lone hyperpower, during which time France slid from superpower to second tier to third tier”

    Don’t worry. Fr is not exactly a 3rd-world country & contrarily to a very widespread cliché is very much relaxed about the so-called “perte de grandeur”.
    Well the Fr I know are not crying everyday because their country is not the same as it was under Napoléon or Charlemagne…

    You may attribute US development to internal astounding assets like political system.

    The country is also the result of the steady operating of once virgin lands (weren’t it for the Amerindians…) the vastness & emptiness of which were certainly a major incentive for industry- & nation-building.

    USA: 9,1 million km2 – 275 million inhabitants – 30 inhab/km

    European Union: 3,2 million km2 – 375 million inhabitants – 117 inhab/km2.

    European Union (from 2004 on): 3,8 million km2 – 430 million inhabitants – 113 inhab/km2.

    You’re a very young country. But there’s plenty left for you to achieve in terms of significance…