## Friday, June 14, 2013

### Czech police raid on lobbyists and politicians

Trained plasma physicist and Czech prime minister Petr Nečas' government named some prosecutors and created the environment in which they may investigate and efficiently combat corruption and other economic crime on the interface of the public and commercial sectors.

Ms Jana Bradáčová is the "Czech Cattanni" who has energized these efforts and caught David Rath, a prince of the socialist democratic party, with $350,000 in a box from wine. Mr Petr Nečas with his wife Radka Nečasová, the brunette, and his chief of staff Ms Jana Nagyová who is also his rumored lover. There's a general 2-sigma signal indicating that Czech prime ministers often prefer to abandon their marriage in favor of a blondier woman. Yesterday, police made a raid on some lobbyists and politicians (mostly nominally center-right politicians) in Prague that some global media consider the greatest scandal in the Czech history. Well, perhaps. Perhaps not. Some of the numbers are impressive. In the apartments or offices of the suspect folks, they found$7 million or so plus dozens of kilograms of gold (1 kg of gold is worth \$50,000 or so). I would bet that most of this wealth has been acquired illegally or, at least, manifestly immorally so that it should be illegal.

It's great that the police works and corruption and other economic crimes aren't easy anymore. On the other hand, it would be great if we weren't becoming a police state and the presumption of innocence were taken seriously. The people who enthusiastically scream "Great! Arrest all of them" simply scare me. In Rath's case, the criminal was caught red-handed and we were told details about the procedure by which he acquired the money. But in this case, at least so far, we haven't been told what the crimes are supposed to be. So at least so far, the situations are simply not analogous.

Ms Jana Nagyová, the director of secretaries of the prime minister – who is rumored to be Nečas' bed partner as well, especially after he divorced his wife in recent weeks (they have 4 children) – is a suspect, too. It was found out (or at least claimed) that she made some military (!) intelligence units spy on the prime minister's ex-wife, too. ;-) She was trying to destroy Nečas' marriage and some discrediting materials were something she was looking for. More seriously, she seems to be connected to the criminal ring in some way. This can be bogus, too.

I think that even if Nečas sleeps with that woman, which is just a rumor, it's not a crime and Nečas himself is innocent. There are clearly many politicians in every party who have been involved in the criminal activity. That doesn't mean all politicians would have to be removed.

Because of all the facts and principles above and others, I find it inappropriate to seriously discuss the resignation of the current prime minister or his government. Needless to say, the social democratic party (and, of course, their closest soulmates in the communist party as well) would use any opportunity and would-be opportunity to try to destroy the government but it's obviously right that the government should struggle to survive because there isn't enough reason to wrap it up – and also because a new social democratic era could be less acceptable than the previous ones.

I am supporting the survival of the current government despite the fact that I am no enthusiastic fan of it or its members or its policies. I don't like that they have raised the value-added tax, that they've been selling some of these left-wing policies as a "pension reform", something that has clearly nothing to do with the taxes and that doesn't have any meaningful "broad vision" either, and so on. But despite these disagreements, one should respect some sensible principles and one of them is that a wrongdoing by a secretary in her private life isn't a fatal wrongdoing of the prime minister himself – unless he is shown to be involved.

There is a lot of irrationality here. The police raid was actually composed of several cases that probably have nothing to do with each other (except for some links to Ms Nagyová). These things are beyond the resolution of a typical angry citizen.

Update: In the afternoon, I was really alerted by the information that an investigator thinks it was a "bribery" for the prime minister to appoint three people to some state-controlled firms or whatever it was (something that he is supposed to do according to the law) in exchange for some political support he needed, probably for the very survival of the government. This is how politicians in any democracy get things through – they have to search for political support and do things that those who support them will appreciate and count as concessions. This is how every compromise is born even though the nature of the concession may have many flavors – but at the end, they're the same thing because one has to do something that the party whose support we need will like (and they will always like it partially because it benefits them or their voters, how it could not be so?).

As Nečas said, when he was constructing the government, he had to offer jobs of the ministers to lots of people to get the support of their parties, too, and so on. They resigned as lawmakers to eliminate the disunity in the party; and they were given some jobs (lower salary than the lawmaker's salary) in some state-controlled companies. The government survived. Was that a corruption? A regime in which a politician wouldn't have to make concessions or "bribe" others in this sense is called a dictatorship because in such a regime, the politician would have to have a complete power. I am scared that over 90 percent of the participants of the discussions on the Internet don't get these simple points. They just don't understand democracy. Or they understand it but they hate it, too. They're waiting for a new Hitler who will save them and eliminate all these "messy things".

1. You are a thoughtful citizen, Lubos. I wish we had more of those in America.

2. Well, I don't think ODS will go with Nečas next election. It may actually revitalize them in the public's eye, especially if they go with Pospíšil.

4. Thanks for your kind words, Luke - the same about you...

5. Blondier, ha ha.

Don't we all? But as the song goes

Lemon tree very pretty
and the lemon flower is sweet
but the fruit of the poor lemon
is impossible to eat.

At least I think the song is about blondes...;)

6. Same thought.

7. Most people don't mind a bit of trading of favours as long as you are capable of showing your desire for integrity and your love for your country.

8. Dear Shannon, what does the showing of one's desire for integrity and his love for his country exactly means? Empty cliches? Empty populist phrases that don't mean anything about the acts?

9. No. Just for the guy to show his priorities. He owes the people his place at the government. Can he just do his job ?

10. What one could add is that at least yesterday, being 13th
was not Friday, the whole situation may have reminded us the year 1307... not
that it would not be long overdue, when one looks at Czech politics over the
last 20 or so years !

11. "Let me tell you, I despise politicians who are building on these things", yet you find it appalling when one politician doesn't know your national anthem ;-). And I agree with this.

12. In American English (and maybe Br En too), we call this "horse trading". A senator once said, two things you should not watch being made: sausages and politics. Steven Spielberg's Lincoln was remarkable for trying to give us a look behind the scenes, to see the compromises and moral murkiness inevitably arising in the political process. Unfortunately, the movie suffered from also trying to be a hagiography. Boss, I appoint you Minister of Telling Inconvenient Truths in my shadow government. Unfortunately the position is unpaid.

13. http://zpravy.idnes.cz/nagyova-se-vysvihla-do-cela-kabinetu-premiera-a-necas-kvuli-ni-ztraci-rozvahu-1ws-/domaci.aspx?c=A130614_1940329_domaci_jpl

this is just incredible. Necas is an absolutely weak pitiful man who was manipulated by a female psychopath. Now he is in hell. He lost his marriage, he irreparably lost his reputation and he might even end in jail.

Concerning the bribery, here is a quote and a link to the corresponding Czech law

"Úplatkem se rozumí neoprávněná výhoda spočívající v přímém majetkovém obohacení nebo jiném zvýhodnění, které se dostává nebo má dostat uplácené osobě nebo s jejím souhlasem jiné osobě, a na kterou není nárok. "

For all these positive changes in the Czech judical system we probably need to thank Pospíšil who did some reforms while being the minister of justice (later removed by his own party). He basically made the UOOZ independent from government

14. OT: I've noticed an improvement in Disqus. If you hover your mouse on the up or down vote arrow the names appear.What's next ? Smiley faces ? :-)

15. LOL, Shannon, maybe something better.

Good that I didn't pick one of the weaker cmopetitors when replacing JS-Kit Echo one year ago. Disqus grew to 1 billion users and it's clearly a leader in this commenting business.

16. And I bet all our comments are also stored somewhere in Utah ;-).

17. Necas has been in politics for 19 years. So it may be true he has maybe never did anything "corrupt", but he sure wasn't a sain't or a let's say "a proper citizen". In Slovakia and also Czech republic, the party is your "brotherhood" - he must have known about the crimes of his fellow party members - friends, but he didn't do anything about it. A morally strong person just could not remain in politics (especially in corrupt countries) for so long without any side effects (like leaving). I was in a "party" and I knew what was going on. I didn't want to believe it but once the police came for my fiend, that's when I left. Never want I return to to politics on local or national level ever again.

18. Dear Dixon, I find your comment offensive, untrue, and worrisome.

First, my country doesn't deserve to be called a corrupt country. If there's corruption, it's comparable to any other average democratic country's corruption, and some corruption is a fact that is inseparable from the existence of a public sector with the public money.

The declaration that any moral person would have to leave politics is just bullshit, the kind of antipolitical demagogic bullshit of those who are waiting for a new Hitler who will cancel all the political compromises, all the need to please others in order to get a political support, and so on. You should be ashamed if you really believe the junk you wrote.

Politicians are representatives of the people. They may be more or less materially oriented and more or less willing to help themselves but there's absolutely no reason to expect that as a group of people, the politicians morally differ (on the negative side) from the whole nation(s). Only jealous hypocritical mobs who like to demand that others are saints but who would steal much more than any existing politician claim to believe this kind of pernicious nonsense.

19. Here in the US, lobbyists win because lobbyists pay. Being a politician
is such an easy job, you don't have to think or research the issues,
just vote in favor of whatever groups pay the most.

20. Luboš,

seems you take politicians and politics seriously. Good luck with that!

Alex

21. Politics is the activity of affecting other people and groups of people and determine the present life and future evolution of a nation or the whole human society. Politicians are those who are doing that.

Only a complete nutcase could "not take politics and politicians seriously".

22. I have no idea? So what I've seen, experienced and suffered through is somehow offensive, untrue and worrisome? Hahaha... well... if you think your approach to politics (and life) is pragmatism, then you're horribly wrong. This blog post and you're replies are a prime example of genuine naivety.

23. Have you suffered through something caused by injustice in the political arrangement of your country during age of the democracy? You're a dirty fucking liar who has no clue.

You should have been fired from jobs and schools and denied any right to travel, possess things or anything, like we were during communism and our ancestors were during Nazism.

You haven't suffered at all in your life, you fucked-up spoiled brat who has no clue, and your arrogance to suggest otherwise is immensely offensive.

You're just jealous because some people are more skillful or successful than you are and this is what you consider "suffering". People like you are disgusting.

24. Lubos, just don't tell me that the whole problem is that you seem you can't stomach the fact that Necas needs to take responsiblity for his close colleague who he appointed.

Well too bad for him. I have liked him but as I see what a weakling he is, I have lost any sympathy for him. He needs to be fired even if it means new elections.

You see as a person who has been in a number of supervisor boards of a number of state owned companies I was always amazed to see my friends, my colleagues, party members and other people turn against each other (or me) just because of monetary gain. I was threatened, harassed and had my reports locked in safe forever just because of my rigid stance on corruption. I just couldn't stomach it. And i'm not the only one who did the right thing to leave.

And if you want to talk about suffering - my father was locked in Pribram.. how do you think I felt when I lost my father to radioctive damage at 16? As a young "brat" I've even had possesion stolen by the state from my own room and had to live in a garage next to our house that has been taken over. We had to move from Prague to Bratislava because we had a house there we could live in - it was a house where my mother was hiding catholic nuns from our disgusting regime.

I'm 66 now and for some time I fight the "other fight". I fight this way - I have raised two great kids (btw both of them are active clima-skeptics and conservatives - one even studied nuclear physics and works at Reference Materials and Measurements institute in Geel, Belgium), and doing good business (and employing a few people).

That's my contribution to the world. Never took a bribe and always took responsibility for my actions.

So keep your cool as you seem very passionate about your belief and your positions (which is good) and don't prematurely hurl insults at people.

25. Hmm, I thought you were a different generation although it's likely that in average, the generation of your contemporaries is probably even further from the ideals of freedom and democracy than the generation of teenagers I had in mind.

I don't believe that your troubles in the commercial sector were all about corruption and I don't believe in your kind of collective responsibility - for secretaries and other things. More generally, I dislike the attempts to discredit various people by constructing chains that ultimately lead to someone who committed an illegal activity, or at least an unpopular person.

Everyone can be connected with everyone but that doesn't mean that everyone should resign, be fired, be arrested, or whatever.

Nagyova has probably used her friends in the military intelligence service to hurt Necas' wife. That's clearly not an activity that Necas should be made responsible for - in fact, it's bizarre exactly because it was *not* him who ordered those things. He was told that this monitoring was for the safety of his ex-family.

At any rate, the woman has been fired and waits to be arrested, perhaps. I think that even her act is minor and bizarre more than harmful to anyone. Even the people from the military intelligence service who violated their duty by obeying the commands of someone else than their superiors did a minor thing. I find it crazy to harass people such as the Afghanistan war hero Kovanda just because he used a tiny fraction of the manhours of his employees to do a moonlighting job for a woman whom he found worth helping.

The claims that the political agreement about the jobs-for-deputy-jobs is corruption is utterly unacceptable to me and whether anyone in the government was connected to Janousek and Rettig - and whether these men have done anything wrong at all themselves - remains to be seen but to say the least, there's no publicly available evidence that could allow to claim that they did something wrong and that it was linked to Necas or his government.

26. Nečas is going to step down on monday. Pospíšil is the most popular politician at the moment so it can only help ODS to make him their no.1. Němcová is another choice but that's probably it.

27. No, Cynthia, politics is not an easy career.
I do think there is far too much money involved in politics but most of our leaders work very hard and are people of integrity who cannot be bought.
(This might be a minority opinion.)

28. The Czech Republic certainly is not a corrupt country. Corruption exists in every country but it is clear that your country is doing quite a bit to control corruption, probably more than the average democratic country. So are we in the US.
It is clear to me that our system is actually very good at weeding out the dishonest scum-bags in politics and it is getting continuously better thanks to the communications revolution.
The cynicism of some TRF responders (I don’t need to name names here) is misplaced.

29. If they vote for Martin Kuba it's not going to help them much. He's labeled "kmotr" by many. Other parties will certainly use it to discredit him.

30. Dixon,
Your history is is interesting and stands in marked contrast to mine. I am eleven years older than you and fortunate to have always lived in a free country. I can understand the physical and emotional cost of life under communism and I deeply admire your personal integrity under trying conditions. I do believe, however, that politics as I have known it in the US is an honorable profession. I am sure that Czechia and Slovakia will soon rid themselves of the lingering after-effects of communism.
Politics in your countries is likely already a more honorable profession than you realize.

31. A somewhat strangely incomplete list. The title page of idnes.cz says that Kuba has a chance to get there and I think it would be a meaningful choice because he has represented some of the - uncontroversial - values of ODS in recent years.

32. It's not about right or wrong. It's about the reality of the situation. He won't help ODS to repair their public image and I don't want to see the 'jerks' ruling over us for the next 4-8 years. The next elections are going to be a complete disaster for them. Since they won't stand a chance it might be an excuse to vote for a smaller party like Svobodni. Their PR is also terrible though.

33. Dear Carbone, what your philosophy "it's about the reality of the situation" overlooks is that we (and ODS) are or (in a democracy) should be co-creating the reality. In my opinion, the ODS' image in a big portion of the electorate has been made this bad because ODS wasn't going sufficiently aggressively after the neck of the socialist and communist demagogues. If ODS or any other non-left-wing party starts to tolerate the demagogy about Godfathers (which is, by the way, a total contradiction already at the level of one word: there can only be one Godfather because it means the boss of the bosses!) and allows the opinion that statements about Godfathers are legitimate statements that define the public image of anyone, it really means that they have surrendered in their fight against the Left.

In some cases, ODS was fighting and redefining what a "good image" actually means - but in most cases, it remained passive. Concerning the positive examples, when the social democratic shadow bastard finance minister said that self-employed (and entrepreneurs?) are parasites, when he gave them one year, at most two ;-) (as a billboard says), ODS managed to crisply define itself (also) as a party that defends those folks. But ODS should do it in all similar contexts - become a self-confident defender of all the natural (and more inclusive) groups like all the people who are earning or who have earned above-the-average and their family members, among other natural voters of it - defenders not only against the potentially dangerous left-wing policies but also against the disgusting mudslinging that you consider a legitimate determinant of the image but a viable right-wing party should not!

I like Svobodni but I won't vote for a party with less-than-3-percent preferences so if it happened that ODS would surely be below 3 and Svobodni stayed there, I would vote for TOP 09 or whatever I would find appropriate. On the other hand, if the estimated preferences for ODS were 4+ percent, I would surely vote for ODS because the difference between 4.9 and 5.0+ is exactly the qualitative difference that makes every vote important, so I would think that the best application of a vote is to try to help ODS so that 4+ percent of the votes aren't lost.

34. Bohuslav Sobotka and ČSSD are far less aggressive than during Paroubek's tenure and their preferences surged to almost 40% at one point. The overagressive nature of Paroubek was what lost them the 2010 elections. Despite being in opposition they only managed to get measly 2% more than ODS with newly appointed Nečas. I think it mostly doesn't matter who is the leader when it comes to their political programme so they might as well choose someone who's going to give them a chance to realize it.

35. In fact, when a member of executive branch directly and expressly bribes members of the lawmaking branch for passing a specific law, then not only this is corruption, but it also is an intentional attack on a cornerstone of democracy--separation of powers. Of course, the case has to go to court, but I have zero sympathy for an argument that this is politics as usual. If indeed this is becoming politics as usual, then we have to draw a line in the sand before somebody uses this method for a new Ermachtigungsgesetz.

36. This is not "becoming" politics as usual. This has been politics as usual since the first day when politics existed. Hundreds of recent years. Republic in the Ancient Rome. Everywhere else. Every political deal has make a compromise like this. Whenever a politician sacrifices himself for some common good in a civilized society, he or she must be at least partially compensated for that.

There is no violation of separation of powers here, either, because only the executive branch was involved (both the state-appointed supervisors of state-controlled companies and the government that appoints them belong to the executive branch) - legislature and judiciary had nothing to do with the political deal at all. Another reason you don't have the slightest clue what you're talking about.

37. So a member of the executive expressly bribes (with taxpayer money) a member of the legislative branch for passing a specific law (or resigning so that the law can be passed, same thing if not even worse), and there is no violation of separation of powers. Is that what you really want to say?

Very fortunately, the fact that you do not get this extremely simple point is irrelevant. The question will come to the courts, and every constitutional lawyer I know will listen to this point.

38. Every lawmaker has some considerations that decide whether or not he will support a bill - or vote confidence in a government - or not and his own well-being is undoubtedly among them in pretty much every single case, too. If you deny this trivial fact, you are living in a fantasyland that is completely detached from the reality.

According to the very clearly written law, it is up to the deputy, not you, to decide how to vote about a law or whether to resign; and it's up to a prime minister, and not you, to decide what are the relevant criteria to pick the state's representatives in state-owned companies' boards etc.

39. Well, the smaller party may end up being Suverenita if the Klaus rumors are true. With his name 5% is pretty much a guarantee, maybe even 15% if they do it right.
On the other hand ODS went with an half-assed experiment - Kuba as a leader behind the scenes and Němcová as their face in front. There is no actual change communicated to the public. No apology, nothing. The polls show them barely above 5%, that's even worse than right after Nečas was forced to step down. Now, they let Klaus cannibalize what's left. Kuba is failing miserably and should not be let anywhere near the chairmanship. They should go with Pospíšil and do a complete overhaul.