In politics, I increasingly have to choose the lesser evil. ODS has betrayed me so for the first time, I voted for the nationalist SPD in the recent European Union elections – although I am far from being a fan of their views on direct democracy, welfare, and other things. But among the parties that would get an MEP, SPD was the only clear non-communist party opposing the terrifying trends of the present EU.
Don't get me wrong: it may have been just a temporary punishment of ODS by one voter, me. I still think that the actual MEPs representing ODS are much better than the average MEPs – and maybe better than SPD's MEPs.
Because these trends seem so terrible, my criticisms against the Czech PM, former communist oligarch Andrej Babiš, correspondingly weakened. In December 2018, the European Parliament pointed out that Babiš was in a conflict of interests. Last weekend, right after the EU elections (so that Babiš couldn't possibly complain about the timing), a report of an EU audit was released. See the 71 pages in English.
Unsurprisingly, the European Commission-hired auditors concluded that he is in a complete clash of interests. They have audited 39 projects out of 101 since early 2017 – when Babiš placed his Agrofert Corporation into two trust funds with the purpose of formally "cutting his ties" from the company – and 19 of them have been found in the violation of the law. Again: about one-half of subsidized projects in Czechia are criminal. CZK 282 million (€11 million) of EU subsidies was found to be illegitimate because of his conflict of interests. Aside from the conflict of interests laws, Agrofert's companies have violated many other laws, however (some of them could lead to new criminal investigations against both Agrofert managers and Babiš himself), so in total, CZK 451 million (€17 million) in subsidies was paid illegally. These funds should be returned.
Clearly, the whole "trust funds" are just a farce invented by Babiš's lawyers – that may have been a "sufficiently good farce" to please the Czech voters and silence Babiš's critics but that doesn't solve anything from an impartial person's viewpoint. He is still the factual beneficiary of the subsidies and he's controlling everyone who matters inside the "trust funds". He may always remove the "protectors" of the trust funds and other things. So placing Agrofert in the "trust funds" hasn't solved a damn thing and the EU audit agrees with this common sense statement of mine.
In practice, Babiš doesn't want to return a penny so the EU – when they make the statement final in 3 months or so, and the conclusion will almost certainly be the same – will simply take the money from the future subsidies for Czechia. It's being rumored that another report from the second audit is on its way and it will demand CZK 2 billion ($100 million or so) of Czech agricultural subsidies to be returned by Agrofert to the Czech state. Note that his net worth is about $4 billion, just like Trump's, and the subsidies have always been crucial for that agricultural and chemical business.
Wednesday afternoon update: The second audit report (about Agrofert's purely agricultural subsidies – the first one was about subsidies unrelated to agriculture) has been sent to Czech government authorities and rumors say that it's equally brutal and will demand billions of crowns to be returned by Agrofert.
Babiš is almost certainly the most subsidized politician in the history of the mankind.
Lots of Czechs – especially about 30% of voters who pick his ANO movement – will support Babiš and his illegal behavior under any circumstances. They love to learn that their favorite guy has acquired billions of crowns illegally – because they feel happy when successful people from their environment are harassed e.g. because of every penny they should pay on taxes – and harassed by someone who seems to be equally limited in values (and rhetorical skills) as they are. Most of Babiš's voters may be unquestionably described as a primitive jealous rubble.
The fact that many of those Czechs are still anti-migration and have other common sense attitudes is just a silver lining. These are two totally different characteristics that shouldn't be conflated.
Hungary and Poland have leaders who respect some principles – I mean Orban and Kaczynski as the men at the very top – and who actually defend some genuine national interests and the European values and that's why they're being harassed by the European Union's neomarxists. Czechia belongs to the same Visegrád Group (also with Slovakia) and sometimes runs into similar problems as Poland and Hungary. But there's a difference. Many typical Czech politicians – and regular people – are often driven by something very different than grand values or the long-term glory of their nation. As you could expect in the most atheist nation in Europe, most are driven by the most immediate and most material interests. Heydrich had some reasons to say that Czechs were the laughing or cynical swine.
Babiš is Slovak-born and he could probably never become a successful democratic politician in his native Slovakia – this statement should be interpreted neutrally and it doesn't automatically say whether Babiš or the Slovak nation are the "good guys". We sometimes mention that he is an economic migrant because it's fun (he's also a "refugee" because he would have probably been arrested for his suspicious activities in Slovakia, too). On the other hand, Babiš is a rather typical Czech. He represents all the skillful clever spinelessness – and the desire to betray everybody whenever needed – that the Czech communists wanted to teach in Slovakia.
OK, in the past, he has marketed himself as the most important defender of the European Union in Czechia. He has bragged about many friends in Western Europe. Macron and others love him, we have often heard. Babiš would guarantee that the Euroskeptics would lose in the Czech elections, he sometimes boasted, too. Babiš's ANO movement has MEPs that belong to the same fanatically pro-EU ALDE group as Guy Verhofstadt.
Well, this support for the EU has always been due to the billions of crowns that Babiš has been almost directly sucking from the European Union since the moment we joined. Suddenly, the European Commission has made it clear that they don't want to pay another penny to him as long as he is the prime minister. And it makes a difference for him. Babiš – who obviously doesn't have any concern besides his own material well-being – has turned into a huge Euroskeptic. The speed of the transformation is amazing.
Tonight, Prague's Wenceslaus Square is likely to see that largest rally since the Velvet Revolution, an estimated 120 thousand could attend (update, the estimate remained the same after the event). And in the afternoon, right now, the Czech Parliament debates the EU audit about the subsidies. Babiš has spoken, too.
His speeches are usually crazy from most of the intelligent people's viewpoint – both intelligent Euroskeptics and intelligent EU fans. They are primarily addressed to the stupid enough voters or possible voters. And they get what they want to get. Mr Marek Prchal, a P.R. professional, is probably writing all these speeches and Babiš would be hopeless without him. What did we hear today?
Of course, he hasn't violated any law, he told us. The trust funds where Agrofert was placed had the effect of cutting him from the company and he has nothing to do with the company anymore. Cutely enough, he has used the term "my company... former company" several times in the same speech! Freudian slips. He actually knows that the trusts are just a farce and that Agrofert is still his company and he thinks that most Czechs, including his voters, know it, too. He just makes it clear that he thinks that he has "successfully pißed upon the legal system" and his voters applaud him for that. Well, the European Commission seems to share the opposition's opinion – and it disagrees with Babiš's belief that the pißing was successful. Transparency International has been renamed to "Corrupt Transparency International" and Babiš has discussed how TI is funded by the EU and by George Soros! I am pretty sure that this is a complete novelty – he wouldn't use this Soros card just a week ago.
Also, The Guardian has become "the left-wing, pro-migration Guardian"! The former agent of the communist secret police and a communist cadre who leads the largest Czech left-wing party attacks the Guardian for its being left-wing! His wife told him that the audit or the European Union itself (I didn't quite get it) resembled the Game of Thrones because both of them had Spitzenkandidaten ;-) or something like that. And so on – there were several other bizarre, out-of-place references to the mass culture. (He also made me laugh – it was incredible – when he said that last night, he ate sausages from Agrofert and they have 90 or 92 percent of meat in it. This is childish and probably also an illegal advertisement on TV.) He won't return a penny, the current report is terrible and scandalous and its authors must have copied sentences from the TI and from the left-wing Pirates. The final report will have the opposite conclusions and will declare Babiš innocent and the conflict of interests to be non-existent. Not a penny will be paid back. (Everyone else thinks that this revision of the audit is a fantasy.)
You can see that the nationalist theme has suddenly emerged in his talk and it has emerged dramatically, indeed. The EU is very arrogant to interpret our laws about the conflict of interests, we heard. And it's scandalous that the EU is looking how its own money is being spent! So far, he stopped short of declaring the war on the European Union.
As you should have understood by now, I have mixed feelings. I think that many of the folks in the European Union – those that actually define what the European Union stands for and where it wants to go – are much more dangerous than Babiš who has "just" illegally acquired a billion of dollars or so (not to mention some other vices). On the other hand, it seems impossible for me to support Babiš in this conflict because he's clearly defending his assets, not Czech national interests or some grander values I care about.
We're talking about some shared money at the European Union level. Even if the EU were free of neomarxists, it could have some shared money to pay for the new ponds and bike trails. And while they're often mocked, I actually find the new bike trails and ponds – and other, less childish and less symbolic projects that are funded or co-funded by the EU – to be good investments (in many cases). They have turned many places of Czechia into places that resemble what we have considered "the superior design of Western Europe".
So while I cannot say that the attribution of the money is perfect – and there are surely many things paid by the EU that I consider downright pernicious – the EU simply has some funds and, like everyone who has funds, it should better watch and make sure that the funds are simply not stolen by someone who has an easier access to the funds. And it has the rights to do so. That's what their "ownership" of the money means. So even though the European Union also stands for neomarxism and other insanities, it's just another organization that is collecting some money from the European taxpayers and uses them in some way, and that must make sure that the money isn't completely wasted or stolen.
Of course they have the complete right to demand the money to be returned and/or subtract the money from future payments going to Czechia.
If Babiš were persuaded that he really can't both stay in politics and keep on getting billions in subsidies, he could be forced out of politics – because his political career is primarily driven by a better access to the subsidies. (Well, maybe he could stay in politics and surrender the money – because he also wants to stay out of prison.) Would I call it a coup d'etat? A colorful revolution of the Soros type? I probably wouldn't. Babiš is a spineless, self-serving, down-to-Earth man whose behavior is uncorrelated with the ongoing main ideological conflict in the West. The old-fashioned problems for politicians – such as scandals involving the violation of laws – haven't disappeared and if Babiš is forced to leave (and he's promising everybody that he will never leave and never return a penny), it would be an example of the old-fashioned dynamics in politics.
I think it is wrong to interpret Babiš's troubles as aspects of the ongoing ideological conflict in Europe – neomarxism and globalism against the conservative, national values etc. He doesn't care about any of these things, in one way or another, and similarly, his problems don't really have much to do with this main conflict, either. However, it is true that Babiš's removal from politics could lead to some pro-EU or pro-neomarxist shift in the composition of the Czech Parliament. It seems hard to predict what all the Babiš's voters would do if he disappeared from politics.
Should I help Babiš to fight to keep the billions that he has clearly acquired while plagued by the conflict of interests – just in order to keep his "lesser evil" party powerful enough in the Czech Parliament? I feel it's not right. Some of the ANO voters would probably leave for SPD and even the communists which seems extreme. But would it really be worse than ANO? I am not sure. After all, I voted for SPD a week ago, too.
Also, the party of the ex-president son, Václav Klaus Jr, is being started these days. It seems that they will call it THO, The Tricolor Civic Movement, or something like that. I would almost certainly vote for this party once it is founded. It could get very powerful and the Czech Parliament could be reshuffled in a way that could represent a big improvement from my point of view. That's a likely enough scenario that confirms my view that it is wrong to support Babiš in his personal battle to keep the illegally acquired billions just because he's a lesser evil in some comparison.
Well, my enthusiasm for Klaus Jr wouldn't be perfect, either. He seems to be one of those who say that Babiš's sucking of the billions in subsidies is as OK as other companies' subsidies because subsidies are evil. Well, subsidies may be evil but there's still a difference between the subsidies in general and subsidies that are clearly being increased or stolen by someone who has a better access. Politician's access to subsidies simply is much worse than the subsidies for a non-political entity – exactly because of the conflict of interests. I totally disagree with some people's (including Okamura's) implicit or explicit assertion that it doesn't matter whether the recipient of the subsidies also decides about their allocation. Subsidies may be just a modest distortion of the market and they represent a potential to be abused by individuals. But when we look at situations such as Babiš and his subsidies, it's not just a potential; the abuse of the subsidies is a fact. That's why special laws have been approved to fight against the conflict of interests. The law defines what is kosher. For a politician, to get subsidies simply is less kosher than for other people. That doesn't represent any "inequality in front of the law" because everyone has the right to be or not to be a politician.
P.S.: There are lots of other things in Czech politics. The boss of communists is proposing a new bill saying that journalists (at least in the public media) should be elected for 4 years like politicians. It's radical but it's actually interesting.
Also, the government's budget is in deficit 50 billion crowns after May, the largest May deficit since 2012. So much for Babiš's incredible skills in fighting against deficits! He's been clearly throwing billions everywhere to buy a larger number of voters but he's running out of the money.
The European Union has banned another traditional alcoholic name in Czechia after the Domestic Rum. Mandlovice/Mandlowitz, a 38% liquor from wine distillate and almond flavor added be maceration, can't be called in this way because -ice indicates that it is a distillate from almonds themselves, which can't be done. The producer of the brand Ms Kopová from Hustopeče – the village near the Central Europe's largest almond orchard – is gonna lose about $50,000.
Needless to say, the idea that the consumers can't figure out it's not an almond distillate is wrong. The claim that all -ice are corresponding distillates in Czech is also wrong; -ice is the most frequent feminine ending for any kind of derived word, so "samice" is a female animal of any kind; "hadice" is a hose derived from "had", a snake, but may also be a female snake; "lvice" is a female lion, that's how the female animals are called for many species; Budějovice is a town and lots of towns an suburbs (Vršovice, Bohnice) end with -ice; "opice" is a monkey and it's not even an ending -ice there; "stolice" is stool, in both meanings; "palice" is a sledgehammer; "matice" is a matrix or a nut in screwing (which is needed in matrix/screwing string theory).
The idea that the consumers would be harmed if they thought that it was a genuine almond distillate is also wrong. The ban is just another idiotic intervention by parasitic Brussels-based aßholes who need to report some activity so they're crippling people's lives, freedom, and businesses' prosperity.