A blog by an American expatriate living in the heart of New Europe

"It's a lateral transfer" -- George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States
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  Warsaw, Poland

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*roundtrip ticket

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Fire the owner

In order to ease back into the post-vacation routine, I'll stay away from politics for the moment and just post this interestsing tidbit from Mitch Albom:

Fire the owner: Well, this doesn't happen. It is true, that Ford, unlike some pro sports teams' owners, doesn't need the Lions to make money. It is true that the seats in Ford Field are largely sold no matter how badly the Lions play. It is true that Ford has never been a good judge of football personnel, that he hires people for the wrong football reasons, and that he sticks by them too long. It is true that he seems to lack the passion and involvement that other owners display.

It is true. It is all true. And you know what? There's nothing you can do about it. That's also true.

Of course, he's right. But until it happens, the fans in Detroit will suffer, and suffer, and suffer, and suffer...

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Thanksgiving hiatus

I'm in the States for Thanksgiving, enjoying all of the football and hockey I miss when I'm in Poland.

So far things aren't going so well, UM lost to OSU, the Wings lost to St. Louis, and the Lions are losing to Dallas (arrgh...) - but there's still a half left to play.

Not that we are ever optimistic about the Lions.

Happy Turkey day to all. Sunday vista blogging will be back in two weeks.

And, while I'm at it, here is Mitch Albom's take on Thanksgiving. Should put you in a good holiday mood.

Also - don't forget to check out p3 - contributors will be posting all week.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

New p3 url

Pijemy po polsku has moved to its new, permanent web address.

The new url is: http://polishstyle.blogspot.com

Please update your links and bookmarks.

This thing is just heating up.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A blog is born

"So Gus, why has there been no p3 minutes? We were scared that p3 had not taken place, or worse yet that you hadn't taken your usual copious notes!

Why the delay?"

The last p3 was as successful as the previous few. Few important things were said, and much brew imbibed.

However one major decision was made: That the collective blog begins, and it begins NOW.

Therefore we introduce Pijemy Po Polsku! - the new expat-and-other-interesting-perspectives-on-Poland blog.

We have high hopes for this thing, and really, most of the biggest names in Poland blogging are already there - the beatroot, Rebecca Steel, Aaron Fowles, Jeronimo, and yours truly - with a few others hopefully to follow.

Hence the delay. Pijemy Po Polsku has officially been opened for discussion, which means that now I can finally reveal its existence to you.

Happy blogging.

Monday, November 14, 2005

As long as we've got their prisons...

why not their rockets too?

The US' next project in Poland?

Gazeta Wyborcza
is reporting that Poland and the United States have been holding secret negotiations since last year as to whether to build one of three anti-rocket bases in Poland.

Poland's involvement in the US' anti-rocket shield program was revealed in an section of Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz's roadmap for government. Wyborcza says that the previous government had also attempted to attract the program to Poland, but always unofficially, for fear of angering European partners. Poland is competing with, among others, Hungary and the Czech Republic for the base.

In another article Gazeta reports that Dominique Moisi from the French Institute of International studies, says: "Did Poland consult its decision with European allies? Poland sees itself in the EU as a bridge between NATO and Europe. Together with this new government the question arises: Hasn't she already gone to the other side of the bridge?"

If Poland completely disregards Europe in matters like these, is it any wonder that countries like Germany go and completely disregard Poland (and Europe) when they sign reckless gas pipeline deals with the Russians?

How can Poland insist it has the right to make an individual decision about whether to allow a new US military installment on European soil, and then ask for a "common position" on Russia?

Europe is not a pot-luck buffet.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Sunday Vista Blogging XI

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Friday, November 11, 2005

Air Force One for the Kaczyńskis

The ball keeps rolling

It's confirmed. "Pijemy Po Polsku" is on for Saturday evening, 8 pm, at Tortilla Factory.

Of all of the conservative idiots out there

... and there are many...

I'd have to say that Pat Robertson is probably my favorite.

Pat Robertson

To: National Desk

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., Nov. 10 -- Pat Robertson's initial comments made on "The 700 Club" on November 10, 2005 regarding Dover residents voting area school board members out of office for supporting "Intelligent Design".

"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover. If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city. And don't wonder why He hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'm not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that's the case, don't ask for His help because he might not be there."


Pat Robertson responds to media requests regarding previous statements made.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., Nov. 10, -- "I was simply stating that our spiritual actions have consequences and it's high time we started recognizing it. God is tolerant and loving, but we can't keep sticking our finger in His eye forever. If they have future problems in Dover, I recommend they call on Charles Darwin…maybe he can help them."

Although Bill O'Reilly comes in a close second.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Marcinkiewicz government wins vote of confidence

Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz

No new vote in January. Sorry folks. Poland officially has a new government.

272 Sejm Deputies (members of parliament) voted for the new government, while 187 voted against. 230 votes were required for approval of the government.

Some happy populists

So happy together...

This is so very, very scary:


Self-defense and LPR to back the government in today's confidence vote

During a joint press conference organized by Self-Defense and the Polish Families' League (LPR), the leaders of the two parties, Andrzej Lepper and Roman Giertych both announced that they will support the government during the vote of confidence which is to take place today. This means that they have added 56 and 32 votes respectively to Law and Justice's (PiS) 154 votes. Therefore, the total number of supporting votes is currently 242, which is 11 above the required minimum. This means that the government can formally begin its work. The support from the parties came as a surprise to most journalists as both leaders earlier said they will make the decision after the Prime Minister presents his programme. The main question of the conference therefore was, what was the price of the deal. Giertych will become the head of the Sejm Commission for Special Services. Lepper's party will head three commissions: sport, environment and social politics.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

A good morning

It's great to wake up to news like this

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Sunday Vista Blogging X

Seville, Spain

EK for WS
Seville, Spain

Another successful p3

"Pijemy Po Polsku" just keeps getting better and better.

Last night's edition was an absolute blast - at least for me. This time Becca from "Boo" joined the beatroot and Gustav in the fun at Tortilla Factory. By the end of the evening, much delicious Polish lager had been imbibed, we had annoyed the local Poles with our raucous laughter, and there had been several heated discussions over topics such as: whether the US-led war in Afghanistan was justified or not, whether democracy can be imposed on a country from outside, and whether much of terrorism in the West can be traced back to the West's own self-esteem issues. Later, a very interesting fellow from Iran and his Polish girlfriend joined in the discussion, and agreed to consider writing for the upcoming "collective blog" - which I think would give it a particularly interesting perspective. Excellent.

A few decisions were also made including:

a. That a collective blog is a darn good idea. And we're down for it. The collective blog remains unnamed, but it was decided:

b. That the name should be simple and easy to search. If someone is looking for a blog about Poland in English, our blog should be listed at the top;

c. That the site should be 100% free of all advertising. This is something we'll be doing because we enjoy it - not because we're going to become rich and famous from it, 'cause we won't;

d. That the site will preferably not be blogger-hosted. There are several other free-of-charge blogging websites - but a quick perusal of them shows they are something less than cool. TypePad - a paid platform - was discussed. It has several useful features, but, yes, you have to pay. This is something which will require further discussion;

e. And finally, that I have been designated the secretary of these meetings, meaning you can check back here after every p3 for reports, if you happen to miss one.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

It's on

"Pijemy Po Polsku" is on for this Saturday, at 8, at Tortilla Factory. Consider yourself invited.

Guantanamo in Poland?

The internet is ablaze with discussion of Human Rights Watch's accusation that Poland is holding a secret CIA detention center for Al-Qaeda suspects. The UK's Independent goes so far as to call the center a "gulag" though there is little evidence that it is anything more than a holding facility.

Whatever it is, it's sure to tick off the EU, which is already up in arms over Poland's new President's views on gay rights.

The question is whether this really matters, or if it surprises anyone. Certainly going around saying that Poland is hosting US-run gulags is enough to get anyone riled up, but few of the facts are really known. The original Washington Post report only referenced "several Eastern European democracies" - which have since been widely leaked as including Poland and Romania. However, the accusations HRW makes are solely based on military flight records, though the WaPo insists unidentified officials in high places confirm the story. Still, a stopover in Poland is hardly cause to believe torture is afoot.

So while this will cause further tensions with the EU, it seems doubtful that it will spark a crisis. The importance Poland puts on its strategic relationship with the US is well-known. Taking that into consideration, the idea that the US military may be transporting prisoners here is far from shocking.

However, this does reveal yet another risk that Poland is taking to maintain its "strategic relationship" with the US. Poland has been taking a lot of risks like that lately (supporting the War in Iraq, buying American military and civilian aircraft instead of European ones), for which it has received little in return.

The beatroot has more.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Where's his heart?

Of all of the elements of strangeness and lunacy surrounding the current formation of Poland's minority populist government, one of the most flummoxing is the case of the new Health Minister: respected cardiologist-turned-politician, Zbigniew Religa. (ZBEEG-nyev re-LEE-ga)

On Monday, Religa was sworn in as Health Minister in the new government - a government he actively worked to prevent.

In 1985 Religa performed the first successful heart-transplant operation in Poland, gaining him his first taste of renown. Later, in the 1990's, he made several failed attempts at gaining political office, until he was elected a Senator in 2001. In 2004, he founded his own party: Partia Centrum - the Party of the Center.

Early in the year Religa's name started to be thrown around as a possible candidate for President of Poland, and polls showed wide public support for his candidacy. Religa did join the race, but was finally forced to withdraw, as his uninspiring campaign ran out of gas. On September 2, the day Religa dropped out, he said:

"To protect my vision of Poland, I believe it is my duty as a citizen to support Donald Tusk in these elections. This is necessary to carry out the vision of a modern Poland." (subscription required)

He added that he was "afraid" of Lech Kaczyński's plan for the Health Service.

Tusk then made a speech laying into Kaczyński's proposal to return to funding the Health Service from the budget, instead of the current National Health Fund (NFZ), calling it "dangerous", "irresponsible" and "radical". Religa stood behind him, silently nodding in agreement the whole time.

Religa was named honorary head of Tusk's election committee. Throughout the campaign, Tusk dropped Religa's name at every opportunity, always harping on the Duck's "radical" plan for the Health Service. Religa continued to support that view.

Tusk of course, lost the race to Kaczyński, who has since not backed away one inch from his "dangerous" plan to fund the Health Service from the budget.

At the first opportunity, PiS showed their political shrewdness, and pulled (another) fast one on PO, eagerly proposing that the man who had so bitterly opposed their plan for the Health Service become their man in the Heath Ministry. Without so much as a grumble, Religa accepted.

So what's going on? There are some who believe that Religa sees this as an opportunity to finally mold Poland's ever-mismanaged health care system in his own (presumably more sensible) image. The more cynical ones posit he simply loves seeing himself on TV, and would jump at any chance to gain a thimblefull of power.

Whichever the case, by joining this government he gives it a legitimacy it doesn't deserve, and makes PO look gullible for wasting their time with him. It contradicts his "centrist" position. It's a move that will damage Poland by giving this government a longer lifespan.

It's betrayal, pure and simple.

We remember

EK for WS
Powązki Cemetery, Warsaw

Warsaw Station hopes you had an All Saints' Day full of warm memories - and peace.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Sunday Vista Blogging IX

Sunday Vista Blogging returns - finally.

Gus for WS
Wallace and Gromit
Rondo Dmowskiego, Warsaw

Gus for WS
Happy Halloween!

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