Monday, June 20, 2005

Bertelsmann or Who Does Not Understand the Meaning of "Nein"

Over on the English version of Kosmoblog, Ulrich Speck has posted a response to my remarks in "The Meaning of 'Nein'" on his assessment of the current condition of the EU "Constitution": i.e. dead or (if just barely) alive? Read it here.

I agree with Ulrich that the likeliest strategy of the Europeist elites now will be to repackage all the essential elements of the "Constitution" in a new treaty - and, above all, to make sure that no member state submits this "new" treaty for ratification by referendum. Indeed, as Ulrich points out, the Munich-based Center for Applied Policy Research (CAP) has - helpfully - already provided a draft of such a treaty, calling it a "Treaty for the Reform of the Treaty of Nice" [link in German].

The CAP is funded by the Bertelsmann Foundation, the in-house foundation (and majority shareholder) of the privately held Bertelsmann media empire (comprising, among other divisions, RTL television and radio, Gruner + Jahr magazine group, BMG music, and Random House books). By its own reckoning [link in German], the Bertelsmann Foundation disposed of a budget of some €64 million in 2004. There is much more to be said about Bertelsmann and the enormous influence it exercises over EU politics - as well indeed as its excellent contacts in the Clintonista circles of the Democratic Party. It was Bertelsmann, via its Random House subsidiary, that in 2001 paid Bill Clinton an astronomical advance of over $10 million - the largest advance for a non-fiction volume in the history of book publishing - for the literary dud that would be his "My Life" memoirs. (At the time, Roger Strauss of Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux remarked that the size of the deal was "particularly strange", since there had been no competitive auction, and noted that he "did not see how" a profit could be made on it.) It was also Bertelsmann that gave Joel Klein, former chief of the anti-trust division of the Clinton Justice Department - i.e. he who on strict anti-trust grounds could have, but did not oppose Bertelsmann's takeover of Random House - extremely gainful employment as CEO of Bertelsmann, America starting in January 2001, i.e. almost immediately upon Klein's leaving public office. When Klein left Bertelsmann a year and a half later to become Chancellor of the New York City public school system, his position with the company was not filled.

But all that for another day....

(Note: While at Kosmoblog, see too Ulrich's post on the farce regarding the EU budget and the British "rebate" - a farce appropriately labelled "Fatal Distraction" by the ever entertaining and insightful EURSOC - that the German-French duo staged in Brussels last week.)