Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Very good, as always

Last night I saw Bruce Springsteen live for (I think) the eleventh time. I thought it was a really good show, and the reviews in the Swedish tabloids today are indeed very positive (here and here). Personally, I really liked The Seeger Session versions of great songs like Atlantic City, The Ghost of Tom Joad, and The River. And American Land was a fantastic closing.
[Thanks for a great night out Henrik, Per and Jocke].

Since I am editor in chief, Aktuellt i Politiken has an article about Bruce and politics this week (here). And don’t miss our interview with Göran Persson or the editorial (ok, I wrote all those articles, but hey, this is my blog).

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I am going to Washington DC on Friday. Since I followed the US elections on American soil in 2000, 2002, and 2004 it would be stupid to stay home now when the good side is likely to do well… It will also be a perfect opportunity to write some articles and catch up with all old friends in the DC area.

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Speaking about the US elections, The New Republic has an article about why Mark Warner won’t run, but also an article suggesting that “as bad as the United States has been on Darfur, Europe has been worse” (here).

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It is always interesting to read what an American libertarian (as I understand it) thinks about Sweden (here).
[Thanks Kevin]

Friday, October 27, 2006

The American Right...

Hope you haven’t missed the important ad in which Michael J. Fox supports Claire McCaskill (D) in Missouri, and notably her support for stem cell research. An if you can bear it, listen to how the right-wing maniac Rush Limbaugh attacks Michael J. Fox and the ad.

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Center for American Progress reports that George W. Bush now says that he uses “the Google”.

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Finally got to see “Good night, and good luck” and I really liked it. The underlying question is of course what has happened to American television since the days when CBS opposed McCarthyism, and how much money the American right has spent in order to get rid of “liberal media”. Moreover, the footage in the film is awesome. I really don’t like cigarettes and smoking but in this film, it looks really cool.

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And speaking about the media; don’t miss that China Public Television has switched sides

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Mustn’t it be a woman?!!

Spent the day at the Social Democratic conference meeting (“förtroenderåd”) where the election committee that will lead the search for new party leader was elected. You can read an informative article about the meeting here (ok, I wrote it, but you will get all the official stuff).

The vivid debate during the meeting made me happy, people from across Sweden took the floor and voiced their opinions and thoughts about the future. Since these meetings aren’t official (i.e. closed to the public), I cannot tell you more than that… But needless to say, the important work commences next week when the election committee starts working.

Personally I think that we really should try to elect a woman as party leader this time. I am very pleased that the chairperson of the best branch of the Social Democratic party (the students) has expressed this view clearly.

Therefore, Lena Hjelm Wallén’s most important call will have +32 as country code…

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One of my favorite albums, it really means a lot to me, will be released in some kind of deluxe edition. Guess things like this happens just becuase people like me will buy it right away... (Link here, listen to some good tunes. ”Once we rode together...”)

Friday, October 20, 2006

Fox News makes Foley a Democrat

Fox News...

Guess y'all have heard about the Mark Foley scandal and the problems his Republican party is having before the Midterm elections on November 7th.

However, Fox News tried to turn Foley into a Democrat in order to limit the damage to the GOP... Talk about spinn, Faux News, and Fox outfoxing itself!!!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Time to get tough again?

Does anyone know if the Swedish Conservative party is about to re-launch their own campaign above anytime soon?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

And if he were a Social Democrat?

The question of the day is whether the Social Democrat Party ever could keep a Finance Minister if (s)he had the same skeletons in the closet as Anders Borg apparently has (oh yes, more sins were revealed today). Moreover, my mum, who is a very wise woman, asked me why the women in the new government are forced to leave, while the tax-evading men can stay on. Beats me.

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Started a mini-tour today during which I will visit social democratic clubs/organizations and lecture/talk about why we lost the election and what should be done now. It is so much fun and at tonight’s meeting in Hammarbyhöjden I met a young woman who visited her first social democratic meeting ever, and a man who has been a member for some 60 years (he played professional football for Hammarby IF in the late 1930s and in the early 1940s). I love this party.

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The Internet makes life so much more enjoyable. Right now I listen to Bordeaux-Liverpool thanks to a web-based radio service provided by Liverpool FC.

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Watched the filmMe and you and everyone we know” with Emma and my sister Anna last weekend. I really like weird, independent American movies but I didn’t like this one.

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But I really like the version of “Bring’em home” on the new edition of Bruce Springsteen's “We shall overcome – The Seeger Sessions”. And Bruce comes to Stockholm on Monday…

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Who's next?

Who will be the next minister to resign? Anders Borg, who indeed paid his nanny cash in hand? Or Tobias Billström, who seems to have been involved in a lot of strange stuff down in Malmö?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Just one more remark about the budget...

After watching Sweden’s new Minister of Finance (Anders Borg) on TV tonight, I must add one thing about the budget. Borg said, smiling in a weird way and twisting his head, that he did not understand why the trade unions “are trying to force their members out of the unions” since he thinks that “they should stay there”.

Excuse me. The new budget means that the fee you pay to the unemployment benefit society increases. At the same time, the right to deduct the fee you pay to the trade union is taken away. In this way, Mr. Borg forces some of the Swedish employees – especially the ones with low incomes – to chose between the unemployment benefit society and the trade union membership.

The only person trying to force people out of the trade unions is Mr. Borg himself, and he knows it, because he wants to weaken them. He is lying on TV, twisting his head in different directions.

[The right for the employer to deduct the fee to employment organization will not be touched, of course].

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I seldom watch Swedish TV 5 but in order to calm down and get a good laugh I will now watch the final of “100 höjdare”.

Sweden’s new government, part II

Last Monday I wrote down my basic reflections about Sweden’s new government. A week later, two members of the government have resigned, and this might continue. The new government seems to be full of cheaters and tax-avoiders (for you non-Swedes out there, the now ex-Ministers of Trade and Culture have been avoiding paying taxes for their nannies, for their TVs, for their houses, etc etc so they have both resigned after about a week as members of Sweden’s new right-wing government).

You can read my editorial about all this here [in Swedish]. My main point is that even though these scandals causes a lot of problems for the new government, it won’t solve the basic problem of the Social democratic party: the leaders, the policies, and the rhetoric of 2006 won’t win the election in 2010…

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Still, the new government managed to present a new budget today. Here is my top-three list of things I don’t like in it:

1. The tax cuts aren’t financed (in 2007, eight of the 42 billion in tax cuts aren’t financed, and in 2008 16 of the 49 billion in tax cuts aren’t financed).
2. People who are long-term unemployed, sick, early retirees, or on parental leave will pay for the tax cuts.
3. The employment tax will be raised with some 6,1 billion, which will hurt small and mid-sized companies. For an entrepreneur with 2-3 employees, the annual tax will be raised by some 37 000 Swedish kronor. As a happy, modern social democrat I like small business cause they give people jobs and they pay taxes that we can spend on welfare for everyone.

And: Can someone promise me that the man who presented the budget, Minister of Finance Anders Borg, always have paid his taxes and never have bought services in the black market? Or will these stories continue?

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Went to see one of my favorite artists, Lloyd Cole, live for the first time last week. Thanks to a lot of luck and confusion in the box office I got a seat for free on the fifth row, and it was great to see him live. But the concert was not that well structured, and I basically agree with this review. Thanks to You Tube, you can see a clip from the concert here. ”You wanna leave me baby, be my guest, all I'm gonna do is cry...”

Monday, October 09, 2006

We have a new government

Sweden has a new government. Some basic reflections:

1. It is heavily dominated by the Conservative party, who took all the important posts (Prime Minister, Minister for Finance, Minister for Justice, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for Employment, Minister for Defense).

2. The old Prime Minister of the disastrous government we had in 1991-1994, Mr. Carl Bildt, is back in town as the new Minister for Foreign Affairs. Reinfeldt is probably hoping to be able to hand over all foreign policy stuff to Bildt, and concentrate on domestic policy with his friends Borg and Littorin. We will see if that works, and to what extent Bildt will dominate the new government. Moreover, Bildt supposedly has a lot of suspicious international skeletons in his closet that we should start digging into.

3. It is obvious that Reinfeldt's strategy is the same as in the election campaign: signal left, turn right. The statement of government policy was loooong, boring, badly written and delivered without emotions. Nevertheless, Reinfeldt continues to try to position himself in the middle, a very smart move leftwards towards the center. But his long-term policy, his choice of individuals in the cabinet (a lot of rich, upper-class people) and the domination of the Conservative party in the government indicates a slow turn rightwards. I have written an editorial about that here (in Swedish).

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The man I considered worthy of the Nobel Prize in Economics one year ago is no longer with us. Edmund S Phelps will receive it this year; why not Paul Krugman instead? Or why not a woman - for the very first time?

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Hope you didn’t miss yesterday's edition of Sweden’s best radio program about current affairs (especially the part about political makeovers...).

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Been watching season seven of The West Wing all weekend, I have really been enjoying it. Guess who wins, who dies, who comes back, and who Josh finally starts dating

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And after watching so many episodes of The West Wing in a row, I hoped I was just confusing things when I learnt about the recent development in North Korea. Politics in Asia, and in the world, has changed.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Long-term thinking, please

Here are some thoughts on what the Social Democratic party should do now [Swedish].

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Tuscany was great, of course (thanks Martin and Kristina for hosting us). A very nice and outgoing owner of a restaurant on a hill close to Ravi said that his mother, who is running the restaurant with him, would serve Usama Bin Laden but not George W. Bush. I was pretty chocked to hear such a harsh statement, and I am not exactly pro-Bush, but I guess it says something about the image of the US in some parts of Europe.

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Paul Westerberg is about to release a new record.

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The GOP is facing a lot of problems right now, notably FoleyGate. Read more here (New Dem Dispatch) and here (The New Republic).

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Last but not least, here is a new site collecting news from Sweden’s trade union press. Now I am going to a post-election Social Democratic "party". Life goes on anyway...