Saturday, October 23, 2004

TOEFL: The Teaching Of English through French Logic — Out of Touch with Reality

The AFP:
A new report recommending English become a compulsory subject in all schools in France has stirred heated debate in the country, with teachers' unions and proponents of linguistic diversity clenching their jaws in opposition, Friday's Le Monde newspaper reported.

… Such a move would help French pupils catch up with their counterparts in other EU countries who enjoy a big lead in using what the commission's report called the language of "international communication".

… But some politicians who want to see English usage diminished until it is just one of several widely accepted languages — among which French, of course, would figure — have railed against the idea of making English being compulsory.

"English is the most-spoken language today, but that won't last," one deputy from the ruling UMP party, Jacques Myard, told Le Monde.

He predicted that Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and Spanish would all become increasingly important in the future.

"If one has to make one language obligatory," Myard added, "let it be Arabic."

(Merci à Grégoire Schreiber) Might it be that when the French and/or Europeans will have to learn the intricacies of Arabic irregular verbs and Chinese grammar (in their own scripts), they will look back to the "good ol' days" with a longing sigh, remembering when English was paramount?

Meanwhile, "The enemy is English" concludes Virginie Malingre, describing various attempts at resistance by French MPs and pointing out that a manifesto to officially consecrate French as the legal language of Europe has been supported by not a single "Anglo-Saxon" VIP. (The significance of the supposed perfidy to be found in this final sentence is somewhat deluted by the fact that besides a former Portuguese president and an Albanian writer, she cannot name a single foreign VIP who does support the initiative, and that besides Maurice Druon, none of the three Frenchmen who inititated the project a week earlier are very famous. Besides, two of them are 80 or older.) Ah, these Frenchmen, they always know who the real enemy is, and when to fight for a worthy cause…

An editorial weighs in with a proposal that all EU pupils learn two languages:

The imperialism of the Anglo-American language [that racial aspect, again] would provoke less tension if the education ministers of the European Union agreed on the obligation to teach two foreign languages in all their countries.
All very good and democratic (in the French sense of the word), but if a Frenchman has learned English and Estonian, and an Italian knows Swedish and Portuguese, and a Dane speaks Greek and Arabic, then we're back to square one, which is that… everybody needs one single common language (especially if the Chinese businessman heading for Paris knows Japanese and Spanish).

More importantly, this quick solution fails to take into consideration all kinds of practical matters, such as the fact that, even if all politicians agree to more spending on this matter, and even if many (tax-paying) parents agree to this solution, many of their children may not see any interest whatsoever in having to spend three (two?) extra hours per week in school to satisfy what boils down to their elders' need to keep up appearances.

Cradle to grave boredom De l'ennui, du berceau à la tombe
Clinical depression, anxiety, and suicide in France. The truth is, they are just a bunch of whining faggots. Go ahead and slit your wrists. Make my day!
Dépression, anxiété, et suicide en Fwance. En vérité, ils ne sont que des pédaloïdes qui adorent gémir. Vas-y, ouvre-toi les veines. Fais-moi plaisir!

In What Type of Society Does Dubya Live?

Today is the birthday of Adlai Ewing Stevenson (1835-1914), the Vice President of the United States who said (although I have to wonder whether one or two of these quotes don't belong to his more famous grandson)
A free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.

To act coolly, intelligently, and prudently in perilous circumstances is the test of a man — and also a nation.

You will find that the truth is often unpopular and the contest between agreeable fancy and disagreeable fact is unequal. For, in the vernacular, we Americans are suckers for good news.

We mean by 'politics' the people's business — the most important business there is.

This the first time I ever heard it said that the crime is not the burglary, but the discovery of the burglar.

The time to stop a revolution is at the beginning, not the end.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Americans use it to flush the dog shit in the gutters Les américains l'utilisent pour évacuer les crottes de chiens dans les caniveaux
'Declining taste for French wines, especially in the huge US market ...' No relief in sight. Keep cancelling those trips to France guys. Americans, you are hated here. Thanks to Gregory.
'Une demande qui s'affaiblit pour les vins français, surtout dans l'énorme marché US ...' Pas d'amélioration en vue. Continuez à annuler vos voyages vers la France, les mecs. Les américains, vous êtes détestés ici. Merci à Gregory.

Many thanks ... Merci beaucoup ...
... to the paternalistic, condescending, and snobby, Zeropean pseudo-intellectual scum. More votes for Bush.
... à la racaille pseudo-intello zéropéenne paternaliste, condescendante, hautaine. Encore des voix pour Bush.

Panel Investigating Iraqi Oil Scandal Meets Resistance

The AP's Edith M Lederer:
The independent panel investigating alleged corruption in the multibillion-dollar U.N. oil-for-food program in Iraq released the names of 248 companies on Thursday that received Iraqi oil and 3,545 companies that exported goods to Saddam Hussein's government.

Former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, who was appointed in April by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to lead the inquiry, also said his probe had met some resistance in France and in Iraq.

Annan on Thursday said the scandal has hurt the U.N.'s reputation. "And that's why we want to get to the bottom of it and clear it as quickly as possible," he said.

Yes, get the scandal behind us as soon as possible, so we can start moralizing again, and go back to bad-mouthing Uncle Sam from our pedestal in our usual high-falutin' way…

(Merci to Gregory Schreiber)

French Foreign Policy After Iraq

The Economist's article: France struggles to make sense of a challenging world
[In Israel] France is not seen as an honest broker, and is therefore disregarded. These are testing times for France's foreign policy, and not just in the Middle East. In some ways, the French have grounds for satisfaction. President Jacques Chirac's government feels vindicated over the war in Iraq. …

Whereas only 36% of the French approve of [Chirac] generally, fully 76% like his foreign policy. If anything, French opinion on Iraq is more uniform than ever. One by one, the voices who backed the invasion have begun to retreat. … The absence of debate—in newspapers, conferences, or diplomatic circles—is striking.

All the same, French diplomacy is under strain, in three main areas. The first is its inability to secure the release of two French journalists taken hostage in Iraq in late August. … This failure has not only shaken France. It has also prompted questions about the value of the country's traditionally pro-Arab stance. “The failure of French diplomacy” over the hostages, wrote Ivan Rioufol, in Le Figaro, “shows the limits of a pro-Arab policy that is too empathetic, indulgent, manipulable.” France is beginning to recognise that, if it is to count in the Middle East, it cannot shuttle only between Ramallah and Damascus.

The second source of unease is the prospect of Turkey's entry into the European Union, which has provoked fierce hostility in France. … Above all, there is a fear that the French vision of a politically integrated, socially minded Europe is being swept away by an Anglo-Saxon model of loosely linked countries in a liberal market, dominated by English. This is why Laurent Fabius, a former Socialist prime minister, has called for his party to reject the draft EU constitution in next year's referendum. Where once Europe comforted France, it is increasingly seen as a threat. “Europe has been a way to project ourselves, to control our destiny,” comments one French diplomat. “Now, it's become something we cannot control, and that is uncomfortable.”

The third source of concern is relations with America, battered over Iraq. It is no secret that the French are hoping for a victory by John Kerry, though they are careful not to tarnish him with any public endorsement. Polls show that some 72% of the French want him to win. Given today's lack of trust between France and America, a Kerry victory would certainly improve the tone. Yet it is still out of the question for France to send soldiers to Iraq. Even under a President Kerry? “Never,” replies Mr Barnier firmly. To avoid any such disappointment chilling future relations, the French have been trying to puncture hopes in the Kerry camp. Better relations with America, stresses Mr Barnier, should not depend on being in agreement. “Alliance,” he says, “but not allegiance.”

Except, of course, the French never use these high-falutin' words with any other country or group of countries, do they? (In fact, they would very much like the Eastern Europeans to pay allegiance to France.)

The Economist's editorial: How France could improve its foreign policy

IT IS easy from afar to caricature France's foreign policy. The country's pretensions to exert significant global influence are overblown. Its forays into the Middle East, Asia and Africa often seem designed to promote not a worthy alternative view of the world but its own commercial interests, especially defence sales, spiced with a nostalgia for la Francophonie. And too much Gaullist bluster, most recently on Iraq, appears to be motivated by the desire to upset and undermine the United States, still France's most important ally.

Caricatures usually have some basis in truth—and these ones are no exception. Yet the real story of French foreign policy is more complicated than this implies … Yet, even conceding that point, it remains unhelpful that France so often resorts to a knee-jerk anti-American stance in its foreign policy. Its dispute with America over how to deal with Iraq may have been genuine; and it is understandable that the French, having opposed the start of the war, do not see it as their job to help finish it. Yet France gains nothing from further fighting and greater instability in that country. Even if the French government sticks to its insistence on never, in any circumstances, sending troops there, it could be more supportive…

The other way in which France could improve its foreign policy is to subsume it more often within a wider Europe's. The French, like the British, have tended to see Europe's common foreign policy only as a vehicle which can put more oomph behind policies that reflect their national interests. To put it in Gaullist terms, Europe works solely when it is France writ large. But in an EU of 25, soon to be 27 or more, this is unlikely to be a fruitful approach. The French have, for example, damaged their effectiveness by dealing condescendingly with the new EU countries from central Europe. They have woken up late to the fact that they and the Germans can no longer run the show. Instead France, again like Britain, should be doing more to build alliances around an expanded Europe.

This is not to suggest that a wider Europe, any more than France alone, should deliberately pursue a foreign policy at odds with America's. The EU may have a different emphasis when it comes to handling neighbours, such as the Balkans or Russia, or regions with which its members have special links, such as Africa, but its strategic concerns will be similar. Indeed, a stronger Europe, better able to deal with conflicts and problems in such countries, ought to be in America's interests. But to be a counterweight would be counterproductive.

Zhow dee Chermans dat you are Goot Amerikans und dat t'erevor, you vill fote for Chon Kehry in der Spiegel boll

Ledzee… Hoom to I vant do fote vor? Chorge Toupleyou Push oder Chon Vorpes Kehry… Ach du lieber, dat's an eassy vun… Und maype ve zhould to zomet'ing like dee Guartian tit — vrite ledders do Amerikan dumkopfs egsblaining hoom dey zhould fote vor if only dey vere as indellichent as us Chermans… Ja ja, goot itea… Vell, in de meandime, let us ket dis boll rollink… Ve must ket blendy of fotes for Kehry

Zhow Push dat ve haff hu'rt dee Cherman messach
— dat ve unterstand t'at dey are more intellichent und schofisdicated den ve are —
und vote for Chon Kehry!

Rooting for the scum Caillera à go go
Le Monde Al-Jazeera on the Seine explores the depths of deprivation with the Falluja terroristes.
Le Monde Al-Jazira sur Seine en apnée chez les bas-fonds des terroristes à Fallouja (ou Fallujah si t'es pédé).

Excuse me, I have to go and level Falluja.

"There exists something like the phenomenon of the hatred by the saved towards the savior"

Václav Havel:
"The problem is that we don't think very much about Europe's identity," said Havel. "We worry about the bureaucratic rules, about endless regulations and economic issues. But we debate very little about the issue of identity, about the spiritual heritage of Europe and the relationship with the rest of the world." He paused. "I, for one, do not share the emotional anti-Americanism that is very current these days in Europe. That does not mean I cannot be critical of some aspects of American policy."

… "I think the Europeans should define its relationship not just towards America but towards Russia and other parts of the world," said Havel.

"Historically, Europeans played a role as an exporter of ideas, as a conqueror and as exploiter. I think in these days Europe could serve as an inspiration for other parts of the world in order to counter the dangers of globalization."

Asked how Europe might do this, Havel pondered. "I don't understand why the most important deity is the increase of gross domestic product. It is not about GDP. It is about the quality of life, and that is something else." …

"You see in places where Americans helped the most, it is there where the most frequent expressions of anti-Americanism have occurred. There exists something like the phenomenon of the hatred by the saved towards the savior. We can see this very well in Europe, where twice in its recent history, the U.S. had to come in and save Europe, and again, in a nonmilitary way, during the cold war. Maybe this anti-Americanism in Europe is a part of this hatred of the saved towards its savior."

Where the Wild Things Are Au régal des vermines
Anybody in the market for a used Citroën?
Quelqu'un cherche une Citroën d'occas?

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Yes, Now That You Mention It, I Do Wonder Whom She's Voting For This Year…


(Thanks to Jane)

Thomas Sowell Compares the Handling of the Iraq Crisis with That of World War II

If we are to be completely honest with ourselves, we must admit that there is risk in any course we take.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Thomas Sowell:
Who said, "if you hold your fire until you see the whites of his eyes, you will never know what hit you"? It was President Franklin D. Roosevelt and he said it on May 27, 1941. It applies even more today.

 If you are going to go to war against terrorists in a nuclear age "only as a last resort" and also only when it meets international approval, you might as well not bother. You could see a mushroom cloud before you see the whites of their eyes.

FDR said something else that has relevance today: "If we are to be completely honest with ourselves, we must admit that there is risk in any course we take." He said that on December 29, 1940. But today there are those who think you can "plan" everything and that anything bad that happens is the fault of leaders who did not "plan" for it right. "Plan" seems to be a magic word politically.

 No one asked FDR why he did not "plan" for the devastating surprise German counter-attack that led to the Battle of the Bulge. We were adults and knew that wars don't run on a timetable or a road map, much less on an itemized budget.

 Some today may take seriously Senator Kerry's demands to know what the war in Iraq will cost and when our troops will be out of Iraq, as well as the administration's plan for the rest of the war on terrorism. But President Roosevelt said, "Nobody knows when total victory will come" and "The American people will never stop to reckon the cost of redeeming civilization."

 That was said in 1943. The war would end two years later. But no one knew that at the time and no one expected the President to know. As for a "plan" — Senator Kerry's magic word — we had plans to invade Japan in 1946. But the atomic bomb spared us (and the Japanese) a bloodbath that would have dwarfed the death toll from Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

 Back then, we knew that the job was to win the war, not to score political points over it. We didn't even have these debatable "debates" of today. The idea of choosing a wartime leader on the basis of quick-reaction sound bites would never have occurred to anyone.

 Sound bites are usually not very sound. Those who have spent their whole political careers talking may be very glib, but what have they actually done? It is amazing how long that question has been kept off the table by the Beltway media, who are on record as being for Senator Kerry by 12 to one.

 Neither Senator Kerry nor Senator Edwards has administered anything. Nor have they created a single piece of major legislation in their combined two dozen years in the Senate. Both have incredible records of absenteeism at meetings of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

 But they talk a great game. And they have "plans."

 What they also have is utter irresponsibility.

 A classic example was Senator Kerry's calling Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi a "puppet," when Allawi is putting his life on the line every day, in order to try to overcome a terror campaign and give his country a chance for a decent life. That is a new low, even for John Kerry, with his history of having given aid and comfort to the enemy before, during the Vietnam war.

 Insulting nations whose 28,000 troops are fighting and dying alongside our own in Iraq, by calling them a "coerced coalition" as Senator Kerry has done, is more of the same. So is making up out of whole cloth a claim that the military draft is coming back.

 A man unable or unwilling to weigh either the truth or the repercussions of his words around the world is not fit to be President of the United States.

 Two men who have twice dragged the personal life of the Cheneys' daughter into nationally televised debates don't have the character to be President and Vice President. John Edwards' claim that people like Christopher Reeve would be able to get up out of their wheelchairs and walk under a Kerry-Edwards administration shows more of the same shameless demagoguery — and his contempt for the voters' intelligence.

 Kerry and Edwards remain viable candidates only because their rhetoric has obscured their reality — and because too many in the media seem reluctant to bring out the facts against candidates who share the media's vision of the world.

(Joe N has nothing to fear but fear itself)

Read also what is a better comparison than Vietnam for the Iraq conflict

After the gay baiting, it's homemaker bashing D'abord ils insultent les homos, ensuite les femmes au foyer
Condescending, uppity, and disdaindul. Her husband must be French.
Condescendante, hautaine, et méprisante. Son mari est certainement un franchouille.

Coleridge on the Best Type of Advice

Today is the birthday of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the English poet (1772-1834) who wrote
Advice is like snow — the softer it falls, the longer it dwells upon, and the deeper in sinks into the mind.

Works of imagination should be written in very plain language; the more purely imaginative they are the more necessary it is to be plain.

A poet ought not to pick nature's pocket. Let him borrow, and so borrow as to repay by the very act of borrowing. Examine nature accurately, but write from recollection, and trust more to the imagination than the memory.

"La Citation" (Le Monde's Quote of the Day)

The print edition of Le Monde has started a habit on its American election pages of writing sound bites in huge letters (as large as some headlines) belonging to people involved, closely or less closely, in the campaign.

Unless I missed any, the one-liners so far belong to: John Kerry; Jimmy Carter; Hans Blix; and Ralph Nader.

Huh? No, of course, the independent newspaper's coverage is objective. Why do you ask?…

(A daily American voter's box by Patrick Artinian seems to have been started in the past couple of days, each including a quote from one individual voter next to his or her photo; the first is from a Ralph Nader supporter in San Antonio; needless to say, the second choice of Jesus Sifuentes, he says, is John Kerry. The second and third filler-type articles are also from Texas (maybe the new column is supposed to concern only voters from Dubya's home state); "I would never have imagined that [our former governor] would have become such a bad president", quips Beverly Spicer of Austin, who, needless to say, adds that "of course", she will vote for Kerry. Also hailing from Austin is Southside Tattoo owner Bart Willis who is voting for — guess who — a fellow by the name of John Forbes Kerry.)

WMD: "the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence"

As everyone knows, Tony Blair has "acknowledged" that there weren't any WMD in Iraq and expressed his sorrow for faulty intelligence, although he has (rightfully) refused to apologize for the removal of Saddam Hussein. That acknowlegment may be good politics, but for what it's worth, paradoxically, it is hardly truthful.

Vik puts this into perspective:

I was with the US-ARMY from 1975-1977 in Berlin. Our quarters were Roosevelt barracks, a complex of old Prussian Barracks and also used in 3rd Reich by the SS.

USAEUR (US Army Europe) spent some money in 1976 and built up a brand new mess hall for enlisted.

For that they had to destroy old big concrete plates on our motor pool.

I remember very well, one day the whole compound were evacuated because right under this motor pool they found hundreds and hundreds bombs, shells (even mustard gas) and ammo from ->WW150 50 tons of chemical stuff can be hidden in less then 5 cargo containers.

-> 50 tons of chemical agents are enough to kill millions in big european towns.

I guess saddam had no problem to hide this somewhere in Iraq.

Most of chemical agents can be stored for a few years in
- sealed containers or even in
- a fake central heating system,
- gas containers,
- gas trucks,
- waterheaters,
- thermosbottles etc.etc.

No need to stored this stuff in shells.

It will certaily need more than 10 years to check out all possible ways to hide this stuff.

I still wonder why we have no news about the last statement (december 2002 more than 12000 pages etc.) from Iraq.

Where is the result ???

Responding to Paprika, Vik continues:
[quoting Paprika:] "The big difference Erik between WMD and ammunitions is that the WMD actually leave some traces around and behind them. And still no traces of traces in Iraq..."

first-that is totally wrong, most chemical agents can be dissolved and did not leave traces at all.

second- it still remains the question if inspectors had time and money enough to search for years in iraq for some hidden stuff.

saddam use to hide big military equipements like airplanes and helicopters.

why a man like saddam should not hide the cheapest and most effective weapon he had spend some millions to search for????

is there one man or one organisation than can say "we are 100% sure there are no more weapons of mass destruction in iraq today"???

Iraq was a danger for peace in world and that is what the Un Security Council in resolution 1441 said (please read it).

The US-Statements and the decision to go in, are based on the same intelligence reports as known by the UN Security council.

Paprika was responding to my post about Afghanistan where, suddenly out of the blue, a contingent of Canadian soldiers discovers a significant cache of arms, and that, only 10 minutes from Kabul. This was two years after these particular Canadians set up camp, whereas Vik's example relates to "hundreds of bombs" discovered by American troops 30 years, if not 60, after the régime they fought collapsed.

There should be some credence given, perhaps, to the fact that in those cases, the troops were not particularly searching for any caches of weapons, but Vik's point nevertheless remains the most important:

is there one man or one organisation than can say "we are 100% sure there are no more weapons of mass destruction in iraq today"???
In that perspective, it is useful to remember that 30 to 40 planes were discovered in July 2003 (about the time — three months after the collapse of Baghdad — that detractors started speaking of Bush's "lies"). The MiGs had been dug into the sand.

When I look at this picture, I do not look at the foreground. I look at the landscape, the endless desert and its sand and hills stretching out on the horizon. And I reflect on the fact that Iraq is a country of 170,000 square miles… Tony, you spoke up too soon…

(Thanks to Joe N)

Buy low, sell high Achetez au creux, vendez au sommet
Thanks Dhimmicrappers! Those who bought the day before yesterday got a 12% one day gain. That one was too easy. And the show will still air. Party time! C'mon, drive the price down again, just one more time.
Merci les dhimmicrottes! Ceux qui ont acheté avant hier ont bénéficié d'un gain de 12% en un jour. Trop fastoche. Et l'émission sera toujours diffusée. Mégateuf! Allez les gars, faites baisser le cours encore une fois, juste une fois.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

That Silly Bush Administration, How Could Its Members Be So Blind, Dumb, and Irrational?

"Iraq was not a terrorist haven before the invasion"

(Thanks to Gregory Schreiber)

The Flawed American Justice System Should Look Towards the French Republic's System as a Shining Example…

The European Court of Human Rights ruled against France Tuesday in a case where a defendant was found guilty after a hearing that lasted 17 hours with only brief breaks
reports the AFP.
Abdemmazack Makhfi was given an eight year sentence in December 1998 by a court in western France after being found guilty of rape and theft.

On the second day of his trial the court sat with three breaks from 9:15 am to 0:30 am the following morning, at which point Makhfi's defence lawyer asked in vain for the hearing to be suspended.

It resumed 30 minutes later at 1:00 am and the defence made its closing submission around 5:00 am, by which time the court had been in session for a total of 15 and three quarter hours.

By the time the judges and jurors retired to consider their verdict the day had lasted for 17 and a quarter hours. The verdict was given two hours later at 8:15 am. …

(Merci to Greg Schreiber)

An Odd Type of Documentary:
Documenting Iraqi Voices

At a time when shrill political diatribes dominate the documentary scene, along comes an authentic work that dares to let the subject speak for itself—literally
writes the Wall Street Journal.
This spring, film producers Eric Manes, Martin Kunert and Archie Drury sent 150 digital video cameras to Iraq and invited Iraqis to tape whatever they wanted—and then pass the cameras onto someone else. The three had no idea how the victims of first Saddam Hussein and then of the chaos that accompanied his fall would react.

By the end of last month, the producers had received some 450 hours of footage, taped all over the country with some 2,000 Iraqis. The scenes in their completed film, Voices of Iraq (, come as a shock.

Yes, there are tragedies and "in Baghdad many express fear or bitterness about the lack of security … But mostly, overwhelmingly, there are signs of life and optimism."
Their enthusiasm and resilience are mind-boggling. So, too, is their ability to put even the most infamous acts in perspective. As one man says: 'The Abu Ghraib scandal has shaken your country—but those prisoners were Saddam's henchmen. What you saw on TV: I was personally tortured by those [Iraqis] and tortured much worse.'"
Not quite the sort of documentary to win the Palme d'Or at Cannes, huh?

(Thanks to e-nough)

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Jack Anderson on America — Or Is It Europe?

Is it America that Jack Anderson is talking about, or some European country(ies), when the US newspaper columnist (whose birthday it is today) says:
The incestuous relationship between government and big business thrives in the dark.

You do not give up freedom. That's what we are talking about here. Freedom. Because without the watchdog, your freedoms would be stripped from you.

Politicians are proud, egocentric people who would give an arm or leg before they gave up their reputations.

Only an arm and a leg? How about adding to that "list" the willingness to sabotage an alliance with a friendly and honest nation?

Garbage Ordures
France? Canada? They are history.
La France? Le Canada? De la vieille histoire.

Did they chopper in the Parisian chicks? Et gonzesses franchouilles sont héliportées aussi?
Wipe out the animals and the poetry will be choppered in.
Anéantir les bêtes et la poésié sera héliportée avec le reste.

A blast from the past Voilà un revenant

Wicked rush Ça déchire grave
But coming down is a real problem. NAACP signs up voters with crack cocaine. Being it's all for the Kerry campaign they started off by trying to give away French hookers, but nobody wanted their sorry asses.
C'est atterir après qui pose problème. La NAACP (espèce de MRAP) règle les nouvelles inscriptions électorales en crack. Comme c'est dans le but de recruter des voix pour Kerry, ils avaient commencé par essayer de fourguer des putes franchouilles, mais personne n'en voulait - elles avaient piètre croupion.

Kill faster. Total war. Tuer plus vite. Guerre totale.
Rip 'em to shreds.
Qu'ils pissent du sang par tous les trous.

Crushing of dissent in Zeropa Cognant sur la dissidence en Zéropa
Freedom of of speech in Zeropa? That's a laugh.
La liberté d'expression en Zéropa? Tu veux rire?

Neo-cons Les néoconservateurs
Why they are more of them than you think. Why they are here to stay.
Pourquoi ils sont plus nombreux qu'on ne le pense. Pourquoi ils seront avec nous encore longtemps.

How stupid do you have to be to pay for Le Monde's online version? Imaginez un peu l'insondable stupidité de quelqu'un qui paie pour la version 'Desk' du Monde en ligne.
French newspapers are dying. Maybe they'll create a new tax to protect subsidize this so vital element of French cultural heritage. The French Old Guard bloggers are losing their Political Commissars and copy-and-paste mouthpieces.
Les quotidiens franchouilles se meurent. Peut-être ils vont bricoler un nouvel impôt pour protéger subventionner cette partie du patrimoine culturel fwançais si primordial. Les bloggeurs franchouilles de la Vieille Garde sont en train de perdre leurs Commissaires Politiques et feuilles de chou bonnes pour le copier-coller.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Operation Rooster Crow: Infiltrating the Pro-Kerry Rally Under the Eiffel Tower

When word came that the French chapter of Democrats Abroad was organizing a pro-Kerry rally beneath the Eiffel Tower, we knew we had to be present.

Within a matter of days, half a dozen people had signed up, along with Joe N, who flew in from Washington, DC, on D-Day minus 1, with T-shirts galore.

Soon we were busy getting our weapons ready: translating the Protest Warrior slogans into French, and making signs.

On D-Day, at H-Hour minus 1, Erik, Frédéric, Aléric, Joe, Carine, and Hervé gathered at the assembly zone, and set out for the Place de Trocadéro.

Scanning the horizon, our local scouts spotted the enemy encampment. (If you look beyond the white tents under the Eiffel Tower [they were for the Paris marathon the following day], you will see the Champ de Mars; about one third of the length of the field away is a barely visible white sheet; that spot marked the target zone.)

Crossing the perilous river, we passed under the awe-inspiring Tour Eiffel, and stopped to set our stopwatches. Fanning out, we approached the 100-some crowd from all sides.

Then one of our signs went up. Then another, and another, and another. Operation Rooster Crow was in full swing.

Wearing a Communists for Kerry T-shirt, Frédéric displays a sign in each hand.

Next to him, Hervé holds signs that read "NO TO WAR; yes to collaboration", "Munich inhabitants for KERRY", "Frenchmen for KERRY (after Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot…)", and "GLOBAL TEST for BUSH; and mental examination for Kerry (flipflopathology)".

Induhviduals came up to argue. One of our precepts had been not to lose your cool and pointlessly argue back, but to fish out a copy of a BBC article on the latest mass grave unearthed, and ask arguers (noncommittally) what they happened to think about that. On the reverse side of the sheet of paper, for French people, was the photocopy of a Le Monde article explaining that "it is almost impossible to find anyone in Iraq (outside of the fallen Ba'athist members) who supports the position" of the "peace camp". (Both had the merit not only of not being partisan litterature, but of coming from mainstream media sources that are traditionally anti-American — sorry, anti-Bush.) Rounding out the items on the photocopy was a picture taken from one of the mass graves, the point being to show the picture to someone while asking, in an Americans-Anonymous-wise fashion, "What do you think this person's wife/mother/son thinks of Bush's 'war for oil', the 'peace camp' position, and the slogan 'No more war'?"

Aléric (in white Protest Warrior T-shirt) debating with an unusually reasonable bloke

Some of us were interviewed by Reuters TV (if any reader can find a link, we'd be ah-mighty grateful…; if anyone can provide me with the cute interviewer's phone number, Ah'd be ah-mighty grateful…)

The idea behind the Democrats Abroad rally was to have demonstrators go up to the front, take turns holding a bullhorn, climb up an unsteady stepladder, and speak up for Kerry, resulting in constant noice against Bush throughout the afternoon. So I thought I would join in the fun.

Jumping in front of the line, grabbing the bullhorn (from an American Cathedral VIP — a priest? — who'd said, pulling out his words with strength on every syllable, that "Believe me, George W Bush is no Christian"), I climbed the small stepladder, struggled to keep my balance, and started speaking.

"George W Bush is the worst politician in the world…" I started, borrowing a page from Winston's book. (Cheers, applause)

"George W Bush is the worst liar in the world…" (cheers, applause)

"with the EXCEPTION… of all the rest!" (perplexed silence)

"Saddam Hussein was a worse liar than Bush … the people who said that the UN could, and would, solve the entire Iraqi mess were worse liars than Bush … the people who claim that the 'peace members' motives were benevolent were worse liars than Bush … the people who said that Iraq was better off than before the war were worse liars than Bush…"

At about this time, the members of the crowd started trying to drown me out by chanting "No more war! No more war!", so I asked "how do Iraqi citizens feel about the war?" and stepped down…

Then the six of us crossed the Seine again for some well-deserved medals (beer, etc…)

It was a good day: All the brothers (and sisters) were valiant.

Related topic: read about the French anti-American march that took place in Paris on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings, and which was crashed by you know who…
(Be absolutely sure to click on the hyperlink named "Answer")

What "superb tourist and cultural asset" is steadily losing money?

"The museum is a superb tourist and cultural asset, both in terms of the permanent exhibition and the temporary presentations as many visiting schoolchildren and elderly people would agree"
What museum is Jacques Vignal, a senior county councillor, talking about? The Musée Jacques Chirac, bien sûr.
A state-funded museum built to display gifts showered on President Jacques Chirac by foreign dignitaries has gone almost three times over budget and is steadily losing money as admission figures slump.

(Merci à Gregory Schreiber)

"The notion that France has ever been a steadfast ally is a pernicious myth that serves French interests, not American ones"

Frontpage's Jamie Glazov interviews John J. Miller, co-author of Our Oldest Enemy: A History of America's Disastrous Relationship with France, who has the following to say:
It’s occasionally worth asking for France’s help and support, but never worth pleading for it. The fundamental error that many people make in assessing American relations with France— the error Our Oldest Enemy tries to correct — is believing that France is some foul-weather friend that has always stood by the United States. John Kerry falls into this trap whenever he speaks about the importance of “grand alliances” and the like. What he really means are alliances that include France, as if those that don’t include France aren’t legitimate.

The notion that France has ever been a steadfast ally is a pernicious myth that serves French interests, not American ones. If France were America’s oldest ally, it wouldn’t have backstabbed the colonists at the end of the American Revolution, become the first military foe of the United States (following the ratification of the Constitution), sought to split our nation in two during the Civil War, accommodated the Soviet Union during the Cold War, quit NATO in the 1960s, or harassed the Bush administration over Iraq. I’m reminded of an old saying, which is actually an old French saying, and I’d be sure to mention to President Bush if he were to honor me with a phone call: The more things change, the more they remain the same.

(Thanks to Gregory Schreiber)

Canada's Trudeau on principal objectives and cutthroats

Regarding claims that large international organizations such as the UN can and will act when needed, as well as claims that pre-emptive war is senseless, evil, and illegal, let us remember that today is the birthday of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada (1919-2000) who said:
I bear solemn witness to the fact that NATO heads of state and of government meet only to go through the tedious motions of reading speeches, drafted by others, with the principal objective of not rocking the boat.

If I found in my own ranks that a certain number of guys wanted to cut my throat, I'd make sure that I cut their throats first.

Hungry. Will philosophize for food. Philosophie contre nourriture. J'ai faim.
Does a philosophical Europe exist? Their whole Zeropean circus is going into the crapper and they find time for alot of useless jawboning. Maybe those Germans layed off by GM, who only know how to unionize their own sorry asses, can eat a big steaming plate of philosophy.
Existe-t-il une Europe philosophique? Tout leur bazar zéropéeen part aux chiottes et tout ce qu'ils trouvent à faire c'est de remuer les claquemerdes à cent à l'heure. Peut-être les schleus virés par GM, qui ne savent qu'à se foutre dans des syndicats, peuvent tous bouffer une bonne assiette de philo bien chaude.

It's officiel C'est confirmé
The Spanish surrendered to Al-Qaeda.
Les espingouins ont capitulé devant Al-Qaida.

No! There. Are. No. WMD. In Iraq! Isn't That Clear Enough For You?! And No, Of Course There Are No Hidden Ammo Dumps in Afghani—Wait a Minute…

Let's make this perfectly clear, okay? Listen carefully, now: If within the space of eight weeks or so (that was the amount of time it took after the fall of Baghdad for the media to start calling Bush and Blair "liars"), American troops did not find WMD in a country of 170,000 square miles of desert, mountains, valleys, canyons, caves, cities, and other natural and not-so-natural features, it can only mean one thing:

That the weapons of mass destruction do not exist and never did; that Saddam Hussein didn't have any WMD and never meant to have any; that the psychopath should have been trusted when he said as much; that the Bush administration, the CIA, and the NSC can only have been aware of that; that therefore they were treacherous and duplicitous (no, not Saddam's thugs — the Americans!); and that Dubya is nothing but a fraud who lied to his people and to the world.

No American serviceman discovered any hidden weapons (of mass destruction or other) and therefore such stocks don't exist. (Just like when you play hide and seek, if you don't discover the friend who's hiding, it turns out that the only plausible conclusion is that he doesn't really exist and that he never did exist.) At least intelligent people like the Toronto Sun's Peter Worthington understand that (emphasis mine):

Canadian soldiers attached to the Afghan National Army (ANA) [have] "discovered" a huge Soviet ammunition dump a few kilometres from Camp Julien with the potential of obliterating the camp, as well as most of Kabul.

That may sound like hyperbole, but I was with the Canadians who discovered the cache — soldiers … who are training and working with the ANA …

In the dusty foothills, 10 minutes drive from Camp Julien (population 2,000), 82 buried bunkers, each 20-metres long, housed thousands of Soviet FROG missiles (one step down from Scud missiles), and every variety of rocket and mortar shells.

Some of the FROG missiles were still in their original cases. Some heaped in the open. Some stacked to the roof in the unlocked, open bunkers. Much of the ordnance had warheads removed to collect the explosive for homemade bombs — or for blasting at a nearby quarry.

"Unbelievable!" was Maj. Brian Hynes' reaction when he saw them. "We (troops of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)) have been here some two years, and no one knew this was at our back door. Unbelievable."

Major Hynes, step back into your ranks and keep quiet! You are out of order! The weaponry was not discovered within a couple of weeks of the victory over the Taliban, so they do not exist and they never have existed! It's that simple.

But wait! There's more…

In truth, the Soviet bunkers were well-known in an area supposedly under control of the Afghan Militia Force (AMF) — not to be confused with the ANA. The AMF is paid by various warlords and so their loyalty is to them.

"These bunkers have been known for two years but no one bothered to check them," said Maj. Hynes.

"To me, that's incompetence."

"To me it's criminal," said Sgt. Power, who works with the major in training the ANA.

I've never seen anything like it. The feeling is that AMF soldiers were selling access to the dump or permitting friends to enter it.

Littered with burned out Soviet military vehicles, the whole area is a junk pile strewn with every sort of live ammunition, fuses, unexploded shells, rockets, etc., all supposedly under the authority of Belgian troops (at the moment), who ignored it.

In the midst of examining the bunkers and taking photos, a Swedish UN guy, a French major and a German colonel arrived to make a fuss and order the Canadians to leave. The French major insisted his government had a deal with the Afghan government for the area, and ISAF had no business being there.

This cut little ice with Maj. Hynes … The French major was clearly bluffing, hadn't checked the bunkers and got a classic Canadian roasting from Maj. Hynes — who was supported by a German general who was also appalled at the laxity.

"Now we've stirred up the hornet's nest," grinned Maj. Hynes. "Good. Now we may get some action."

"I feel foolish that for eight days we've been watching our front, when at our back all this was going on and nobody cared," said Sgt. [Mike] Mazerolle [who made the discovery].

(Thanks to Gregory Schreiber, eh?)

Sunday, October 17, 2004

American Journalists Are Too Trusting of Foreign Governments, Taking Their "Opinions" at Face Value

One of the most bedeviling things in writing about (and exposing) anti-Americanism is the tendency of Americans (both residents and expatriates, both common citizens and media journalists) to take the positions of foreigners (both the opinions of their citizens and the official policies of their governments) at face value — something they would never do at home.

Americans are perfectly willing to take the declarations and statements of Washington with a pinch of salt, to say the least (and a very good thing that is, too), but then when they hear the statements of foreigners about American foreign policy or any other subject, really (either while travelling, from their news media [domestic or foreign], or — when it is American members of the news media themselves who are concerned — when they report from foreign capitals or even from the countryside) they listen to the self-serving pontificating (or ranting and raving) with scarcely a second thought.

Case in point is Bernard Gwertzman's New York Times interview of Guillaume Parmentier, in which the Council of Foreign Relations consulting editor simply asks the director of the Center on the United States at the French Institute for International Relations to state his views (it would be better to say France's views, or the official views decided by the élite for their countrymen — although I'm not sure if Parmentier fits in more with the élite deciding or the countrymen repeating). Gwertzman never once questions France's motives for opposing the war (or the relative failure of the French media to report on the oil-for-food scandal) or asks any questions that are the least challenging.

Then, there is Roger Cohen, David E Sanger, and Steven R Weisman's longish, (supposedly in-depth) New York Times article on the new world order since the Iraq conflict, an article that is replete with subheads such as "A World Alienated" and "A Question of Consultation", and that states at one point:

…a new spectrum of relations with Washington has emerged. At one end are estranged allies like France and Germany, angered by the war, convinced it is a losing struggle, alarmed by America's use of overwhelming power.
This is taken at face value.
France's and Germany's reactions are taken at face value. The seriousness and maturity described in the positions that they express (anger, conviction, alarm) is taken at face value. And their corollary, the mockery or consternation that they express towards American policy, is taken at face value.

Unheard of, not even to be considered, are Realpolitik and double-dealing, for one thing. Greed is another. And Pavlov-type reactionism is a third. (Not even to speak of a combination of the above). Not to be considered, either, are double standards. And the corollary of double standards, positions and statements on policy that are self-serving. As for any talk of disloyalty, conscious or unconscious, don't even consider that!

(On the other hand, the countries that chose to follow Washington are said to have chosen to "fall in line". Untouched upon, ignored, and supposedly unimportant are the facts that they chose to resort to action — rather than to remain passive bystanders; that action meant that they agreed to put their armed forces in harm's way; and that their leaders put their political careers at stake in the process.)

Read how a diplomatic spat with Spain is treated:

On … the day of [Spain's national] parade, tensions rose further when the American ambassador, George L. Argyros, skipped the entire event. That annoyed Spanish officials, who said they had been expecting him.

"I didn't plan to attend the parade for many reasons, principally because last year the current president, Zapatero, did not stand up when the American flag passed by," Mr. Argyros told the Spanish wire services EFE and Europa Press …

Mr. Zapatero, who was the opposition leader last year, indeed remained seated as American troops marched in front of him, though he stood for the troops of other nations.

Can you imagine the hoopla if George W Bush or Powell or Rumsfeld had made the point to publically snub a foreign flag in an official ceremony? This would be considered a scandal of the gravest type, even had it been done before they had made it into government. And rightly so. The Spaniards' condescending attitude is not helped when one hears the recent remarks of the afrancesado's defense minister and when one reads of Zapatero, sitting tranquilly in his safe armchair in Madrid, his troops not (or no longer) involved in Iraq, and gratuitiously calling on Uncle Sam's allies to follow his lead and pull their troops out.

The reaction of the New York Times to all that is to relativize it, minimizing the snub (an insult, really, one of a gratuitious nature, and not just to the current administration) of el caniche de Chiraque, relativizing the spat, and suggesting that both nations are equally at fault.

The "current disagreements" follow "the recriminations over the parade" in Renwick McLean's vocabulary, joining phrases such as "The back-and-forth follows weeks of growing strain between the governments", and "it appears that whenever one of them might be ready to shake hands and move on, the other raises a fist." Charming.

With an article on Gerhard Schröder's reaffirmation of his country's opposition to Iraq, the New York Times does it again. It waxes eloquently about the German government's firmness and the German public's reasoned opinion (that happened, just happened, quite accidentally, to support the government of… Germany). Not a word is mentioned about how this might have been, if not a disloyal move towards an old ally, at least proof that the proselytizing about a relationship with John Kerry being more conducive to cooperation was misleading.

In taking his firm position against the Iraqi invasion, Mr. Schröder was widely supported by the German public, which remains convinced that the invasion was a disastrous mistake. It would be politically difficult for any German government to deploy troops to Iraq, certainly as long as armed opposition there continues.
(Interestingly, the International Herald Tribune changes Richard Bernstein's wording to make the Germans' firmness, rationality, commitment to principles, even heroism appear even stronger.)
In taking his firm position against the Iraqi invasion more than two years ago, Schröder was widely and solidly supported by the German public, which remains deeply persuaded that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake that has led to disastrous results. From that point of view, it would be very difficult politically for any German government to deploy troops to Iraq, certainly as long as armed opposition there continues.
Not a word about the the fleet of BMWs Saddam Hussein bought for himself, his family, and the members of his régime (along with French perfume, Chinese ping-pong tables, etc…)

Ah, finally! The New York Times does mention oil-for-food. In an editorial. But what does it do? First, it relativizes the oil-for-food scandal by suggesting it is ever so complicated:

So much flak has been thrown at United Nations programs to constrain Saddam Hussein's oil revenues and weapons purchases by those charging corruption that the average citizen must be reeling in confusion.
Quite a different image from any scandal implicating Uncle Sam, huh? There, no amount of flak thrown is ever too much, is it now (Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo, WMD, etc…)? Then, the editorial waxes reassuring:
The emerging scandal is already under multiple investigations in this country, in Iraq and at the United Nations.
I.e., don't fret, everything's being taken care of, and if you do read anything about it, it can only by somebody whose nature is unduly obsessive (not lucide), even unbalanced or extremist. Indeed, the editorial goes on to say as follows:
But nothing that has surfaced so far suggests that the sanctions were failing in their main purpose, that the Bush administration's precipitous invasion was necessary or that the United Nations is fatally hobbled by corruption or incompetence.
After hearing about how Kofi Annan has responded "wisely" to the scandal — i.e., a piece of reassuring phrase meaning that (unlike the Bush administration) we can safely trust the UN not only to conduct a fair investiation, but to be quite willing to do so — and prior to hearing about how "Iraqi oil money [may have] poked holes in the sanctions" — meaning nothing really that important happened — we read the following. (Notice that the issue is of a "difficult", i.e., complex, nature, meaning that it is something that you, and we, and everybody, cannot allow oneself to judge lightly. Nay, more than that: it is a "more difficult issue", i.e., "more difficult" to explain, that is, we are going to have to make an extra effort and stretch to find a convenient way to explain this. And, reader, you must not allow yourself to judge the situation. Quite a different tone of voice and attitude from "the Bush administration's precipitous invasion".)
A more difficult issue is posed by the behavior of U.N. Security Council members. Prominent figures in Russia and France were reportedly made the main beneficiaries of Iraq's largesse, presumably in the hope that they would influence their governments to favor Iraq. But these nations were sympathetic to Iraq from the start. And the accused French and Russians legitimately complain that the Duelfer report listed their names before any guilt had been established, while the names of American companies and individuals who got oil vouchers were kept secret, emerging only in news reports.
"They legitimately complain". The complaint may be legitimate, but in the larger view of things, would't it be more appropriate if the French announced a determination (a credible one) to get to the bottom of things? Isn't that what the New York Times should be calling for? Am I wrong, or isn't this akin to Donald Rumsfeld, instead of responding to the Abu Ghraib scandal as he did, deciding to complain that illegal picture-taking had been going on inside the Baghdad prison?

What the editorial is saying, basically, is take sides and weave double standards: Be prepared to put into doubt any Washington decision (or failure to decide) at a moment's notice; and if something turns up, even minimal, gnaw it to the bone and pursue it to the ends of the Earth. But, everything other nations, and their administrations, and their media, and their public opinions, do and say, that is supposed to be taken at face value. "But these nations were sympathetic to Iraq from the start." See? That explains it… It was that simple… No judgment at all about whether sympathy to Saddam's Iraq in any way could have been wrong, in any sense of the question. No willingness to even start questioning whether the "peace camp's" attitude might have derived from their ugly and illicit money deals.

I have written before of how the Transatlantic Intelligencer made an in-depth study of how American papers such as the New York Times blindly trust in European assurances of such matters as the "legend of the squandered sympathy".

In that perspective, read also John Rosenthal's take on Deborah Sontag's New York Times article on Tariq Ramadan

Finally, read Deborah's essay on what the Europeans say to your face and what they say behind your back… And if anyone is reading this at the New York Times office, this is the kind of stuff you reporters should be finding out on your own!

The Kerry People Should Not Be So Stupid to Expect French Reinforcements Should the Democrat Win…

From the outset, we have said that the "peace camp's" attitude on the Iraq crisis contained large doses of hypocrisy. Events have born this out (notably with the food-for-oil scandal), and this week their leaders have been confirming it. From Berlin:
German officials on Wednesday reaffirmed their policy of not contributing troops to the American-led force in Iraq and rejected speculation, prompted by a published interview with the country's defense minister, that the policy might change. "There will be no German soldiers in Iraq," a government spokesman, Thomas Steg, said …
As far as the French position is concerned, Guillaume Parmentier said in a New York Times interview (and please notice how he is already considering the possibility — the probability? — that Democrats [being Americans] may be as stupid as Republicans) how he hopes that the Democrats would react (or not react) in case of a John Kerry victory.
What I would hope is that the Kerry people would not be stupid enough to come to Paris and ask for troops to Iraq immediately. That would be very bad. There won't be any French troops.
Meanwhile, just to give a different perspective, Hatsuhisa Takashima, Tokyo's foreign ministry spokesman, says
Relations between Japan and America have never been better than with Bush.
But what does he know, eh?

Condoleezza Rice says much of the same thing with regards to Russia, Chnia, and India.

But what does she know, eh?