Monday, May 31, 2010

Smolensk crash and the Kook-meister

There are the finest investigative journalists; there are the lowest of yellow press hacks: and then there is Jane Burgermeister.

Of all the kooks who are running around Poland and western Russia sniffing out the conspiracies that brought down the Smolensk TU 154, Burgermeister is surely one of the most ludicrous. The Swiss-Irish-Austrian (no wonder she is confused!) “investigative reporter” was fired last year, says her web site, as European Correspondent of the Renewable Energy World magazine [?] after she alleged that an international corporate syndicate is manufacturing artificial swine flu to depopulate the US (pdf)! She has since filed a law suit against the UN and WHO for their part in the dastard conspiracy. (??? - yeah, you get the idea).

Now she has got her ample set of teeth into Smolensk. Her “investigative reporting style” entails scouring the net for conspiracy theories. That’s it. And then she seems to believe them all.

This is her after Lech Kaczynski’s funeral. She has gone all the way to Krakow (from Dublin, Vienna, Bern - who knows!) to do a piece to camera, and regurgitate her conspiracy theories - but not, note, to do any investigating.

Basically, she alleges that the plane was lured away from the real runway at Smolensk by falsely situated landing beacons. There, the plane hit the trees and burst into pieces.

But she also says, ominously, that “no bodies or personal affects have been found,” and a host of other nonsense without any factual base to them at all.

Jane Kookmeister - whose supporters included Michael Jackson, an article posted on fellow super kook David Ike’s web forum claims - later refined her theories to include the assertion that there were actually only four people on board the plane when it took off from Warsaw airport on April 10; the rest of the, 92, passengers were kidnapped!

Uncensored magazine quotes this fearless journalistic lioness, and “investigative reporter”, in its new June edition.

Actually, we cannot blame Burgermeister for inventing this nonsense. She didn’t. She is just looking for this kind of thing - and willingly hoovers it all up - because she sees the world being manipulated by unseen forces beyond her - beyond our - control. The theories have been coming out of Poland and elsewhere by conspiracy theorists, determined to find one that they can actually prove was real. For Americans and others the dark forces lurk in the UN and other places. In Poland they hail from Russia.

Nonsense nurtures their feelings of impotence in a complex, modern world. I hope they get better - soon.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The election campaign, that never was

Imagine: three weeks before a presidential election and no campaign posters trumpeting and sloganeering their candidate, dominating the street furniture of downtown. Welcome to Poland’s weirdest election campaign - ever.

There’s nothing. No mug shots of photo-shopped hopefuls with leering catchphrases - just two with a hope of winning, two with a hope of raising their profile, and the rest: self publicising narcissists that democracy attracts like a kid to the ice cream parlour, on a wet Sunday afternoon.

Imagine: you are a campaign manager of a presidential candidate, in hustings done in the shadow of a) the Smolensk horror, and b) the floods. You had been planning your most sophisticated campaign. And then - national mourning, and later the unimaginable stench of flooded homes and lives. Pity poor campaign manager.

The thinnest tightrope walker, of a field of 10 in the presidential elections on June 20, is Bronislaw Komorowski. He’s juggling three balls in the oddest election non-circus on Earth: being an acting president, speaker of parliament and a presidential candidate. Three roles means three opportunities of screwing up. So far, neutrals think he is just about managing to walk the rope without mishap. He’s a clear leader in the polls, too, but they may be giving a skewed picture. He’s been doing things within his current functions, but not actively campaigning.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, meanwhile, has been the most conspicuous in his absence from the campaign. Still wearing the black suits and tie of mourning for his twin brother, he holds few press conferences, a brief appearance at an election rally, and a video expressing peace and love for Russia and thanks for every tear they shed for Smolensk. It’s been called “Jaroslaw‘s metamorphosis”.

He’s saying: Jaroslaw has changed.

All the other candidates have not been pushing the campaign - many have called for the ballot to be put off till the autumn because of the disruption of the floods.

Whatever: I bet election campaign managers sleep like a baby, these days - waking up every 20 minutes, crying their eyes out.