Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

The FT publishes me again (on Gazprom vs Blair)

by Jerome a Paris Wed May 10th, 2006 at 03:23:48 PM EST


A tale of double standards, hypocrisy and sad fantasies

From Mr Jérôme Guillet.

Sir, Wolfgang Munchau ("Europe needs a joint response to Russia", May 8) perfectly encapsulates the mindset of the Blair/Barroso/Cheney crowd with respect to Russia - complete with blatant hypocrisy and terrible inconsistency.

When Russia talks about diversifying its clientele to China or the US, it is blackmail, but when Europe says that it should diversify its suppliers away from Russia, that country has no reason to feel threatened by it? The dependency is mutual and works both ways.

The criticism of the Baltic pipeline as a denial of a weapon to the Poles (that of interrupting Russian gas exports further west) acknowledges the logic of pipelines as weapons, which makes a mockery of calls for cross-border gas infrastructure in Europe to be managed in accordance with pure market rules. If Poland should have access to such a weapon, why deny it to Russia, then? Again, double standards.

The call for "solidarity" between European countries in case of gas cuts by Russia to one of them suggests that market mechanisms would not be sufficient to solve the issue. Why wouldn't other European players on the market take advantage of the arbitrage opportunities created by such an artificial shortage? Calling for further elimination of the supposed obstacles to free energy markets in Europe would have been logical. The fact that such a call is not made demonstrates that market proponents know perfectly well that the markets are not enough to resolve such issues. The calls in the same article for further liberalisation are all the more incongruous.

The one thing never acknowledged in the panicked stories about Europe's "growing dependence" on Russian gas is that this is purely a UK story. France, Germany, Italy and many others have long been largely or fully dependent on imported gas, and to a large extent on Russian gas, and they have managed that situation for a number of decades without any hitch. The only difference today is that the Blair government is panicking in the face of an apparently unplanned-for switch from net exporter to importer, and has found it convenient to blame "protectionists" on the Continent or evil Russian "imperialists" for its own lack of foresight. European solidarity in this context means that those European countries that have planned for, and paid for, the infrastructure and long-term contracts required to provide for security of supply would be required to share these investments with the one government that had decided not to plan for these things, because the "markets" would take care of it, and suddenly finds out that it is not the case.

You would provide a service to your readers not to indulge Tony Blair's sad fantasies and blame game.

Jérôme Guillet,
Editor,
European Tribune,
75016 Paris, France

That's my letter, as sent to them on Monday, published in full, with the kind correction of a couple typos and expressions.

I see this as an encouragement to continue, and I thank them for printing a second letter in less than a month.


Display:
So what newspapers are you guys writing to?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 04:35:35 AM EST
Do you have suggestions?

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 05:26:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have an idea. This letter-writing business is best done

  • after someone notices a story soon enough (not days later),
  • alerts others who would be willing to email the paper,
  • and after a little ET brainstorming.

So special diaries OR 'debates' could be started with an "LTTE: ..." subject line. This would be especially good for me, who mostly catches stories worth to respond to late - unlike you.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 05:43:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was hestiant to voice same sentiments. My personal  reservations are that I feel skilled into one terrain (earth sciences) and that credibility becomes an issue on others.

A Rapid Response team such as DoDo suggests includes a team of people who flag issues and then moves into Operational Research and pooling of information by others to facillitate the process.

If only everyone could be on-line as early as Fran, we would have one mean lean machine...
 

by Nomad on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 06:02:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If we reply on the same day, that's still good.

But one problem that is not just mine is missing a lot of threads where 'commentable' themes come up, including some Breakfast thread which I miss (scared of its sheer volume by then) when I get to ET later in the day. So special LTTE threads could be worth it just as pointers.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 06:24:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It not only takes being early on-line but also, sorry to insist on that, to have the luxury of time.
At the risk of being provocative, for me it would imply at least one of the following :
  1. not have to earn money for a living
  2. not have the family life quality I aim at
  3. not have any of the charity work occupations I have recently got involved into.
So yes, this is an excellent idea, and I envy and heartily support those of you who are able to turn it into action.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 07:06:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
4. Not having to commute.

Works for me.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 07:09:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, you're right, I forgot the 4),  which also applies to myself.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 07:13:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...wil have a hoot when she discovers this thread. The difference between theory and practice in practice, indeed.
by Nomad on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 08:42:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...that ET at current capability simply lacks the necessary manpower to bring such schemes to fruition. ET is not DailyKos (yet). The framework is there, but the desks are empty. At an average of 1800 visitors per day (but still growing), the working crowd is simply spread too thin to make it operational in full force. As you (Agnes) stresses, this type of activity remains voluntarily. 30 to 60 minutes ET acticity per day is a sizable chunk in itself, although an ET Rapid Response is doable with enough people enthusiastically pitching in with insights or comments.

But there's  nothing provocative about being realistic... I'd say we can sketch out the framework DoDo proposes and fill in the gaps as ET develops. I also believe there's a chance it's a flywheel process: even if it starts small, it can attract readers and contributors, brining in more people to expand activities, etc.

by Nomad on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 08:57:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I say go for it, and it will start small, but that shouldn't stop you.

One thing that the US grassroots is good at is letter-writing, and it doesn't take as much time as you think.  In fact, the shorter your letter, the more likely it is to be published. (I have a friend that got up everyday and wrote a LTE first thing in the morning.)

What you need to start with, before heading straight into letter-writing, is compiling lists of resources: contacts of major European media outlets and of political representatives. Start with the obvious but also try to compile nation & region specific resources.  

And also a "how to" on letter writing.

Rather than reading everything, just posts alerts when you have read something aggregious, along with talking points about why it is aggregious, and contact info.  You can do this as diaries (as Jerome has been doing) & set up a sep. box on the right for LTE alerts.  Or you can start an e-mail list.

Which is what the Rapid Response Network has done.  I rec. you check them out and ask for pointers if you are serious about this.

http://rapidresponsenetwork.org/

And I cannot emphasize this enough, but ET needs serious cross-pollination with other groups.  Blogs like Bella Ciao and I'm sure there are pro-France, -EU, etc blogs out there you could work with.

Daily kos did not just happen to get so big.  After the primaries Dean, Clark, Edwards people came there looking for a home.  Then the Kerry and Deibold people flocked there.  Tons of grassroots, political and activist organizations convene there.  One sto-shopping.  Even looking at RRN, it was born of Dean, PDA, and other organizations.  

I think the quality of debate here at ET is outstanding enough to ensure that ET would not be diminished by working with other groups.  

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 12:47:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I haven't read Colman's post on faireurope yet, although I can make a tentative guess and on what it will build on...

Even with the Daily Kos analogue, I see problematic developments for here in Europe - the EU will not "federalise" much further at this point, I believe. Europe is up to different challenges and much more divided by cultural differences (or what about language barriers?) than the USA is... But it's very late over here, and I tend to get gloomy at these hours.

I now scanned through Colman's initial post and much of what you wrote comes back again. Let's see if I can recap:

  1. List of resources
  2. Writing letters for dummies
  3. A system for flagging
  4. Cross-pollination (Bella Ciao seems at first sight very interesting!)

I can memorise this list and work with it, give a beep when I forgot something... I'll bring back contacting the guys from Rapid Response into Colman's thread. I'm through with re-inventing the wheel for the 100th time...
by Nomad on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 09:06:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ET is not DailyKos (yet).
But if EuroTrib were like Daily Kos... well, I think it would be a lot like Daily Kos, and I'd probably lose about 80% of my interest.
---------

What the world desperately needs, I am convinced, is a medium a lot like this one in some respects, but differing in having scalable and flexible dynamics for group entry, exit, and overlap, -- this being combined with an improved set of community-building, discourse-debugging, and integrated Wiki-like collaborative tools. In aggregate, changes at this software-framework level hold promise of substantially improving the quality of community discussion and output -- including rapid responses of the sort under discussion at the moment.

Unfortunately, I've found it hard to get this topic itself discussed, and find that many blogpersons take their current medium for granted, saying (to slip into metaphor) that clay tablets and styli are just fine, thank you. This, despite the enormously beneficial innovation we've seen in just the last 5 years.

Ooops, now I'm once again urging that we examine and take the potential of new technology seriously. Damn.

/rant

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.

by technopolitical on Thu May 11th, 2006 at 03:15:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ET is not DailyKos (yet).
And good thing it isn't. If you had said "it's not as large as Daily Kos" we might have a debate, even on "as influential as DKos". But DKos is just too partisan.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 11th, 2006 at 03:29:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bob and Colman are good about making front-page stories out of breakfast items...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 06:09:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The only way this can work is to fire off the letter in the morning, right after reading the paper. In this case, I wrote the full deconstruction of the article, posted it as a story, wrote immediately to the FT, and posted that letter as a comment.

I suppose I could post the draft letter as a comment before sending it off, and get it polished by the readers then on the site. This can work only if the comments come reasonably quickly, in order to keep the momentum of the endeavor (and not be caught by other activities of the day).

So I'll try to do that next time.

The other option is to try to polish some comments from the Breakfast threads into something more LTE-compliant. That could be easy and done by anyone.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 11:07:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just remember J, your...well...you! You've got the Midas touch with writing, is what I'm trying to say.

But anyway, I do wonder if we could put "letters to the editor contact info" in the wiki, or in our menu somewhere, so we have ready access to that. Also, how about our favorite journailists addresses?

ideas, anyone?

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 03:31:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This was a request from Alexandra in Wmass and I've made a half-hearted attempt to restyle my diary, but am not satisfied. It's not crisp enough, nor do I want to make a full-scale bash out of the article in the first place - since the point was raised that any education on global climate change anywhere is helpful to sway minds.

In any case, congratulations to you Jerome. Add one to the score for you.

by Nomad on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 05:55:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Great job, Jerome.  I enjoyed this.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 10:34:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It means that
  1. either they did not see how you rant against them  (perhaps they did not check ET content on a regular basis) ;
  2. or they consider criticism as a sound encouragement to improvement

Either case, this is good news, for them and for ET.

What's your secret, did you trade ET time against sandman's, or against that owed to your employer ? <s>

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill

by Agnes a Paris on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 04:37:57 AM EST
Sceptical third option:

3) They judged Jérôme over-did the ranting, and think their regular readers will read it as huffing and puffing by a backward Frenchie.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 05:27:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey, I had not considered that one. Looks the best choice to me now.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 05:36:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for your encouragements.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 06:13:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm really sorry for my usual dose of pessimism, but I tried to make up for it with constructive proposals elsewhere in the thread.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 06:26:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Irony is the best antidote against vertigo.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 06:55:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And cutting off people's legs makes climbing very difficult.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 07:02:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Unless they already have wings.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 07:06:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That would make them angels. I don't believe in angels.

And gnomes certainly don't have wings.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 07:08:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You never know, gnomes are very special creatures indeed. I suspect they know means to rise beyond the levels of us mortals. Or so we believe. And belief is what matters.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 07:12:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Refer to my comment below on doves, which do have wings.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 07:23:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Considering the other letters on the page (printed version here in NY) I do not think they were publishing the letter as irony.  It was the #1 letter on the page, spread over three columns right next to the leader, with headline "West's approach to Russian energy supplies: a tale of double standards, hypocrisy and sad fantasies" - which to me is not knocking Jerome.

On a rapid response team, we should delineate between errors of fact vs. other responses.  I recently caught the NYT saying 55 gallons in an oil barrel, and sent a note directly to corrections with a definition link.  They never contacted me, but five days later a correction ran citing "Because of an editing error...." and that's now attached to the article in perpetuity.  So we should be looking for the easy and fast responses on factual errors differently from those responses regarding thought process.

In every age it has been the tyrant ... who has wrapped himself in ... patriotism, or religion, or both to deceive and overawe the people. Eugene Debs

by fatbear (fatbear < > aol.com) on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 02:19:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
quote "I love being the centre of attention" unquote

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 03:02:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am very grateful to you for taking that potential temptation away from me.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 03:30:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd hope if my sceptical third version is right, the editors' calculation doesn't work on readers, for this was a great takedown of all the hypocrisies.

(Myself, my letter-writing activism took a nosedive when I got into an on-line brawl with a letters/opinion editor of a main daily over his publishing choices regarding the coming Iraq War - and didn't improve after later exchanges with on-line journals' editors. FT may be turning into a full-time 'Anglo-Saxon' propagandist, but still retains traces of a journalistic sense for objectivism.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 05:35:04 AM EST
...on the other hand, I might start sending emails to FT or other Western European quality rags in the name of ET, so that it's not just 'Frenchies' but NuYurpians too...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 05:37:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT may be turning into a full-time 'Anglo-Saxon' propagandist, but still retains traces of a journalistic sense for objectivism

Totally seconded. I sometimes feel uncomfortable when Jérôme's meta-coverage turns the FT into the worst of evils the press ever produced.

Besides, my guess is that if Le Monde was an English language newspaper, it would be an excellent source for ranting-and-deconstructing articles. By such standards, even the most remote oil resources would be depleted before Le Monde.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill

by Agnes a Paris on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 05:42:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]

when Jérôme's meta-coverage turns the FT into the worst of evils the press ever produced.

Would you care to substantiate that?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 06:13:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"shameful and unprofessional" were the words you used to qualify the FT headlines two days ago. I do not have the luxury of time to head more back in you past posts, but I was under the impression that you were pretty critical of the FT.
I apologise if this impression was pure fantasy and not substantiated by anything whatsoever you may have written.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 07:01:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If we were talking about The Sun, "shameful [because] unprofessional" would go with the territory. The problem is when you find that the "newspapers of record" (NYT, WaPo, LA Times, Times, Guardian, FT, Le Monde...) behave like taboids.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 07:03:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you'll find that in general he's been pretty nice about the FT. I suspect he's sold more than one subscription for them.

Certain of their articles have been terrible though. I rather got the impression that part of his annoyance is that he expects better from the FT: certainly that's my opinion. You don't call someone unprofessional unless you expect professionalism from them.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 07:05:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you Colman, you really made his point, and I certainly do not know Jérôme as well as you do, and could not have guessed.
Besides, I may have been led astray by my own belief that, when conveying a message, one should aim at making oneself understood even by those who are not up to your levels of intelligence or insight. Ah, the élite legacy... <s>

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 07:10:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm glad you appreciate my humble efforts to explain things to the thousand other people that read this stuff and don't know how well you do or don't know Jérôme.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 07:20:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This thread is beginning to dovetail wirh silliness.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 07:22:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Touché thank you for showing me so diplomatically the way out.
BTW, I could have done with Migeru's comment.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 08:08:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't understand, I thought you would have troll rated my comment.
I did not rate yours, as there is no catgeory corresponding to "wounding".

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 08:23:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Clearly, I entirely misread your comment. I like my misreading better than whatever it was you meant to say: take the 4 as a present and let's leave it at that...
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 08:36:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am currently in a working environment that is very much conducive to paranoia. And my comment, in a way I wanted to be soft and not whiny as I often tend to be (in the nobody-likes-me style), was for you to know I did understand your message. That said, I was hurt by what I had understood. No use however to keep polluting the thread.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 02:59:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
(Another, earlier low point was when I got a letter published in Newsweek or Time, but with a crucial phrase edited and a counter-spinning title added.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 05:48:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i think the ft recognises superb commentary when it comes in.

colour me dead impressed and proud in a funny way...

i wouldn't be surprised if they offer him a job!

well done jerome

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 04:40:22 PM EST
What, offer him a job? Like Colbert at the White House?
by Number 6 on Fri May 12th, 2006 at 06:01:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now I'm bragging about it on dKos: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/5/10/181116/548. Feel free to encourage me over there!

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed May 10th, 2006 at 06:14:29 PM EST


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