Saturday, April 30, 2005

People of Ohio! Start writing those letters!

«Gentle folks at the Guardian,

In your plea to get your non-American readers to write to voters in Clark County, Iowa, you are correct that events in the US have had, and will have, effects on world events. For example, we have pulled your chestnuts out of the fire in two world wars that were occasioned by European diplomacy. Maybe you'd like a vote in which American president will oversee the next rescue. The next time you have elections in Great Britain, I shall endeavour to send names of your citizens to people in France, Iraq, India, the United Arab Emirates, Botswana, Pakistan, China and Argentina so that they may attempt to influence your election. It's only fair that everybody in the world should have a say in the selection of the prime minister.»

Here's an Idea! With elections upcoming in the UK this week, a referendum on the EU in France and The Netherlands, and a federal election in Canada, why don't all of those people who were pandered with unsolicited letters from Ohio start writing back. After all the idea was so amusingly stupid that I'm quite sure people kept the letters and still have the return addresses!

I’m not sure it matters how these folks would normally vote – I think a polite and light-hearted letter asking them to simply invert their view of the world would be sufficient to demonstrate the sanity of the original effort. Angry British leftist always know better than any one else in the world. After all, just take a look at their accomplishments over the years – Tibet is free, and catastrophic global warming is no longer a possibility…

This should prove a nice trot down memory lane:

« I just read a hilarious proposal to involve your readership in the upcoming US presidential election. At least, I'm hoping that it is genius satire. Nothing will do more to undermine the Democratic cause in Ohio than having patronising Brits wander around Clark County telling people how to vote. Just, for a second, imagine if the Washington Post sent folks from Ohio to do the same in Oxfordshire. I'm saying this as a Democrat, and as someone who has spent the last few years in the UK. That is, with all due respect. Please, please, be rational, and move slowly away from the self-defeating hubris

«You radical leftwingers are worse than the Taliban. I suggest you stand back and take a good hard look at yourselves.

PS: When do you propose to add Michael Moore to your staff of lunatics?»

Here’s one from one “Harlan in Kentucky”… Hm…:
«The American taxpayers have spent trillions of dollars protecting the peoples of the EU, and what do we get in return. betrayal, betrayal, betrayal. I have been to your country, the country of my ancestors, and I know why they left.
May you have to have a tooth capped. I understand it takes at least 18 months for your great medical services to get around to you. have a great day.»
This list will give the mischievous among us a way to contact the UK press the way any fisherman can.

Such as it is, anyway...


I think we can finally call it the end of the beginning.

Heartening too is Vaclav Havel’s open letter to the Lebanese. An excerpt:

«Let me convey my greetings, solidarity and support to all of you who are pursuing, by peaceful and democratic means, goals similar to the ones that we in Central Europe set ourselves more than fifteen years ago: the path of freedom and independence, complete withdrawal of the occupying troops and renewal of the democratic system. What we consider important is that all this was achieved by peaceful demonstrations; by open, quiet but firm civic resistance.»

Mass grave found, European press marginally impressed

Deutsche Welle actually reports bad news about Iraqi Ba'athists with the straightforward air of actual reporting.

«Investigators in southern Iraq have found a mass grave believed to contain as many as 1,500 bodies. A US official said the victims appeared to be Kurds, the majority of them women and children. The official said they had been lined up in front of the pit and then shot. The site is near the town of Samawa, about 300 km south of Baghdad, an area targeted by former President Saddam Hussein during his crackdown on the Kurdish population. Meanwhile the death toll from a spate of car bomb attacks on Friday in Baghdad has risen to at least 29. More than 100 others were injured in the attacks targeting Iraqi security forces. No-one has admitted carrying out the attacks, but a tape purportedly from al-Qaeda's leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, calls for more attacks on US forces. »

Could it be on orders from above to repair the diplomatic damage they’ve done?

Friday, April 29, 2005

The French Military "Draw Up a Critical Evaluation" of 30 Months of American Operations in Iraq

Experts with the French military have discovered the reason for America's failings in Iraq.

It's the Protestant religion…

It's not because France didn't participate in the Iraq war that its military experts shouldn't take it upon themselves to study the manner in which the Americans undertook "stabilisation operations" from May 2003 to December 2004
writes Laurent Zecchini in his description of a special issue of the CDEF review Doctrine about Uncle Sam's "often disastrous operations". What Zecchini's piece does throughout, basically, is quote the "French experts" (who, to name only one thing, never seem to have heard of the concept of born-again Christians). "For the French military, another considerable weakness of the American military operations was…", starts a typical sentence in this piece in Le Monde (which in a separate article, referred nonchalently and self-evidently to the U.S. Army in the agonizing country [Iraq] as the army of occupation [see image 7]).

Anyway, Americans will be happy to finally understand the basic problem of the whole Iraq mess. It is their attitude and their culture:

"Faced with [the terrorist] threat, the only possible solution was complete extermination. We are thus back to the logic of the 'body count' [in English in the original] … On the one hand, it was out of the question to negotiate with 'Evil' and, on the other hand, in the Protestant logic, one is born a 'bad guy' [in English in the original] rather than one becomes one. It is therefore sufficient to use enough means to eradicate them."

Searching for Villain; Surprise! Up Comes Uncle Sam

When Google challenges Europe. Overnight, the headline in the daily Le Monde turned the popular search engine into a new villain
writes Pierre Buhler in the International Herald Tribune under the title No Google, please, we're French. (More nonsense and wasted tax-payer funds here.) The common-sense sciences-po associate professor counters that
[Google's] motives are undoubtedly commercial, but how does this translate into a "challenge to Europe?"…

To reach its target, Google must … tap heavily into works not originally written in English. The selection criteria have not been spelled out, but both logic and Google's corporate culture point toward a preference for titles that would attract the greatest number of Internet users.
Meanwhile, Elisabeth Rosenthal generalizes anti-Americanism to all Italy with the title, Italy furious as report is said to clear GIs on agent.
Tensions between the United States and Italy surged on Tuesday as Italian opposition politicians and citizens reacted furiously to leaked reports in the Italian media that a joint investigation into the shooting death of an Italian agent in Baghdad would absolve U.S. soldiers of guilt in the incident.
What this means is that the villain is already designated here — Uncle Sam. When Uncle Sam is involved, judgment and condemnation have been passed already, and nothing less than total oppobrium is deserved. The idea that the absolution might have been entirely appropriate, at least in this particular case, is an option that simply cannot be true. Needless to say, if any other country's nationals had been involved, it is unlikely that (unless perhaps they were allies of America) there would have been such an outbreak of "fury".

Oh, and before we forget: the Europeans holding these views are the same who would have Washington join their "fair and objective" International Criminal Court.

Abu Ghraib proven an overhyped story, not a whitewash

…where are the whistleblowers? There would have been a widespread outcry in the military if senior brass and civilians really were trying to shift blame for abuse onto the lower ranks
editorializes the Wall Street Journal about Abu Ghraib, which it calls an overhyped story, not a whitewash.
Yet the only military people claiming that they are taking some kind of fall are the convicted Graner and the former Abu Ghraib Commander, Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, who was blamed for weak leadership in the original Taguba report — which, by the way, remains a thorough and insightful account of what went wrong at Abu Ghraib.

The salient and remarkable truth here is that America has punished its own for the Abu Ghraib abuses; and it has done so even before Saddam and his henchmen have faced justice for the horrors they propagated in that same prison.

Most important, perhaps, is the fact that the Bush-bashers' "wailing says more about the accusers than about any facts that have emerged in the year since the scandal broke".
We'd have thought every American would be relieved to learn that 10 major inquiries, sworn statements from 37 high-level officials, and information gleaned from dozens of courts-martial and criminal investigations have cleared most senior civilian and military leaders of wrongdoing in the Abu Ghraib scandal and other Iraq prisoner abuses. Instead, the latest Army report reaching this conclusion has induced further cries of whitewash.

This wailing says more about the accusers than about any facts that have emerged in the year since the scandal broke. The media and Congressional Democrats flogged the Abu Ghraib story for months throughout the 2004 election year, with a goal of stripping the Iraq War of moral authority and turning President Bush into another LBJ. But now that their worst chain-of-command conspiracy hypotheses haven't panned out, they refuse to admit it.


Top of the pin to Natalie Solent for calling to our attention a fine compendium of leftist cognitive over-reach: The Gallery of 'Bush = Hitler' Allusions

Enjoy it in all it's glory - the hurt feelings, the emotional projection, the invented potential crises of outcome, the dance of the moving goal posts, and the general "I still hate my parents" sickness of never being able to believe that your own society can ever be anything other than evil.

My favorite is the always unctuous Harold Pinter, written about here in The Guardian:

«The American detention centre in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where al-Qaida and Taliban suspects were being held, was a concentration camp.

The US population had to accept responsibility for allowing an unelected president to take power and the British were exhausted from protesting and being ignored by Tony Blair, a "deluded idiot" Pinter hoped would resign
Never mind the fact that his beloved Cuba DOES fence Cubans in like in the concentration camps.

Ever hear of someone navigating plywood-and-tire rafts TO Fidel's socialist paradise?

Today in history

Today in 1945 American soldiers of the 45th I.D. liberated the Dachau concentration camp.

60 years later: In Britain today leftist British academics can’t tell the difference between one kind on Jew and another by “boycotting” Israeli universities which are dominated by leftists as well.

Ariel Sharon… leftist sociology “perfess’r”… same thing to them, I guess. Aren’t the benefits of education marvelous?

How dare they violate the ground in the Muslim holy city of Liverpool!

It’s like a blackboard jungle...

Only in Europe where something as basic as capitalism is only understood by the few who aren’t resentful about their lives - would the successful roll-out of a new aircraft be called “an embarrassment to America”, and a “victory in a battle”.

Meanwhile, back at the chateau, the usury remains business as usual. While abject ignorance pervades. While the BBC tut-tuts about US growth “only” being at %3.1 and after a week of oil prices dropping decries it’s RISE, one is hard pressed to find data on EU-zone growth. One will find quite a bit of “future projection” of growth, but they’re about as accurate as this little figure that “misunderestimated” the cost of oil by ONE HALF.

«A further easing is assumed over the next two years, to USD 25.6 per barrel in 2004 and USD 24.1 per barrel in 2005.»
I can’t think of any other part of the world where people are generally opposed to capitalism because they think it’s oligarchal monoplism, poo-poo nationalism at home and anywhere else, but get nationalistic about their molly-coddled industries, many of which are state owned of not controlled.

Hello Lisbon, here we com!

Thursday, April 28, 2005

America Is So Hopelessly Puritan

If this had happened in the United States, it's a sure bet that Europe's intellectuals and pundits would be besides themselves in bewailing, mocking, and shrieking about American puritanism and hypocrisy:
Miss France 2004, Laetitia Bléger, on Wednesday was barred from wearing her crown and sash for six months after posing half-naked for Playboy, the committee that runs the beauty pageant announced.
And then, don't forget that there is the fact that so many clueless puritans call in to complain about nudity on television, for instance during the SuperBowl spat with Janet Jackson's breast (check out "There's a few things I know for sure" and "You'll never guess who the complainers are")…

By the way: While I am in a naughty mood, you will forgive me for recounting a risqué joke that is 20 years old (but it has to do — remotely — with Ronald Reagan, so I hope I will be forgiven). If you don't like indecent language, read no further; you have been warned.

Before I begin, remember that the Miss scandal is not new, either for France or America.

Isabelle Turpeaut, Miss France 1983, lost her title after suggestively posing for Paris Match magazine.

US actress and singer Vanessa Williams, the first black woman to be crowned Miss America in 1983, was forced to resign two months before the end of her reign after photos taken of her when she was a teenager appeared in Penthouse.
Which brings us to this: A year after the soft-lesbian photos of Williams with another girl had appeared, it was 1984, and President Reagan was running for reelection with his vice-president, the current president's father. While the Democrats' Michael Dukakis was searching for a vice-presidential candidate, the joke went around that he should pick Vanessa. Why? The answer, they said, was that she would make the Democrats win the election for sure …because it was a proven fact she could lick Bush.

A pearl necklace: the passive-aggressive network behind the Oil-for-Food scandal

Il Sole 24 Ore’s Claudio Gatti writes in today’s FT on the links found between Charles Pasqua and the Ba’athists in Iraq. The UN’s Volcker inquiry, as the Canada Free Press has been exposing in numerous ivestigations, is looking like it was ginned up as a cover-up mechanism which those in the ‘axis of nuance’ are familiar with. Beginning with the publication of the Al-Mada list, information is emerging on a great many western figures and their connections with the Saddaam Hussein’s regime under the veil of the UN’s post-war terms imposed on the Iraqi regime.

«For Years French magistrates have been investigating his [Pasqua’s] financial records, probing allegations that he received bribes and illicit funds generated by influence-trafficking and other activities, including arms sales to Angola.
Mr. Pasqua has never been convicted of any wrong-doing. Indeed lad September he won a seat in the French Senate – a position which confers immunity against prosecution. »
His diplomatic advisor, Bernard Guillet figures greatly in the matter, acting as an intermediary between the top (Pasqua) and the fixer in this case, Elias Firzli, a lawyer and a Lebanese Christian currently living in the Be’qa valley, an sort of fiefdom of the Hibzallah (the ‘Army of God’).

«The documents [obtained by Phillippe Courroye, a French investigator] shows that middlemen – including a little known Christian Lebanese lawyer and commentator named Elias Firzli – received and traded a total of about 13m barrels [of crude oil]. The documents also suggest that Mr. Firzli paid more than $1m in oil-related kickbacks to Baghdad, payments that would have been in violation of French law and UN sanctions.

Mr. Pasqua’s role has come to light as separate oil-for-food investigations – one by the UN committee led by Paul Volcker, the other by the US Congress –

Mr. Pasqua has had a long history of friendly relations with Iraq as well as contacts with Iraqi intelligence.
Like many other members of the French political establishment, which saw Baghdad as an ally, he had contacts with officials of Mr. Hussein’s regime.

A spokesman for Mr. Pasqua, meanwhile, said France “made a mistake” when it joined the coalition against Mr. Hussein in the first Gulf war three years earlier and that “the time has come to return to Iraq, our natural ally in the Gulf”

Between autumn 1999 and autumn 2000 – the period in which Mr. Pasqua received three oil allocations – Mr. Firzli made payments of approximately $300,000 to a bank account in the name of Guillet. UN investigators also found also found records that suggest both Genmar and Mr. Firzli paid kickbacks as demanded by the regime from 2000. According to Somo’s records, between December 2001 and February 2002 Mr. Firzli paid more than $1.1m in so-called “surcharges” for both his own and Mr. Guillet’s allocation.

Reached by telephone in Lebanon’s Beka’a valley where he now lives, Mr. Firzli said: “[It is] my conclusion that I should not talk.”»


Although I have written a long essay on how to respond to anti-Americans and anti-capitalists, there are times when I have to admit I am thrown off track. … Thus, one day on a TGV heading south, I thought I would tell the train controller about the trouble I had on the SNCF's website and how it needs to be made more user-friendly. Basically, the problem is that you cannot get a complete overview of train departures to a certain destination the way you can with a printed timetable. The only option you have, before seeing a (limited) range of options, is choosing the (approximate) departure time beforehand, on a particular date, and (after a lot of typing) you will get the timetable for the closest departure to that time, with the next four or five departures.

It may be that most people have a very precise idea of when they are leaving, but still it would be nice to have a user-friendly overview that can — précisément — help you make that decision in the first place, the one concerning what day and what time of day you want to leave. (Even if you had planned to take a train on a Friday afternoon, say, you might want to change to Friday morning, or even to the Saturday morning departure, if, at one glance, you can determine that another option provides a more direct link with no changes; also, if you are afraid that city traffic may make you miss your train, it is nice to know that the following departure is only one hour later, rather than three or four hours later.)

Besides that, if you don't write out the (full) date in exactly the manner prescribed (with slashes and all) — nothing, not even the year, is preset for an easier reset — you don't get anywhere (on the site or by rail).

So, when I met the controller, I told him as much (and in a warm and polite tone of voice, too). The controller was also warm and polite — and with nothing but an entirely matter-of-fact attitude — when he answered:

Oh, but that's unnecessary. That would be giving the consumer too much choice. We don't want to do it like the Americans.

Luddism as a Hobby of the idle rich

The only “acting locally” greenies will be doing is shilling for their politicos.

«Should anyone bring up the fact that the world is a cleaner place than it was in 1970, the green alarmists will, of course, take full credit for the progress before moving briskly back to their reflexive attack on modernity and freedom.
Nothing unexpected about that. If environmentalists declare victory, it's political suicide for the movement and those who set up nice lives for themselves by braying at corporate America and the conspicuous consumption of fossil fuels.
According to the [U.S.] Environmental Protection Agency, core air quality indicators such as ozone (down 31%), nitrogen dioxide (down 42%), sulfur dioxides (down 72%), carbon dioxide (down 76%), particulate matter (down 31%) and lead (down 98%), are all well below their mid-1970s levels.
In fact, the 2005 edition of the "
Index of Leading Environmental Indicators" reveals that U.S. air pollution levels have fallen to the lowest on record.

Despite the improvements, eco-activists will be all over the media today heralding an environmental cataclysm if we don't change our wicked ways. It's simply not enough that conditions are much better and the outlook is improving.»

Like the British socialists who were in power in the 70’s, their greatest complaint was that there still wasn’t enough socialism.
The population got sick of their pedantry and lack of perspective and got rid of them. Even “Labour” had to change it’s name to “New Labour” to convince otherwise. How long will it be before the part of the population that is being regulated into mediocrity and being forced to recycle for no reason does the same?

The Blunt, Bad-Tempered Republican and the Frank, High-Principled Rastafarian

John Bolton is blunt where others would be self-protective. This is bad?
wonders Peggy Noonan, while the WSJ editorial asks
Who's Afraid of John Bolton?
He is black, he is dreadlocked; guess whom Ted Hayes supports. (That's him in the Uncle Sam suit)…

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Syria and its' prisons: Fearmongering like it's 1499

Scroll to the bottom of
the page.
Then tell me why you think the likes of A.N.S.W.E.R. are backing Syria.
Hatred, pure and simple.

Lebanon still infested with Syrian spooks

Here's an unfortunate wet blanket to throw on all the orgasmic adulation of the European press wonks about Syria's military exiting Lebanon.

These two blogs, by the way, are a great way to take the temperature of Syria and Lebanon. It's safe to say that things are not as simple as simply conferring in Switzerland under the sponsorship of a UN alphabet soup operation.

Let's also not forget about Hizballah. The last militia to
remain under arms.

So while people are trying to use these events to undercut Bush, saying that he should not take credit for it, which he didn't, others still are missing the ball: Hizallah and Iranian National Guards in Lebanon may have been reinforced by the Syrians on their exit, and the Syrian Intelligence Agencies still monitor everything from minute civil affairs to people's telephone records.

Opinion Journal's
Best of the Web made this observation:

Yesterday we noted that critics of the Bush administration were sure to refuse to give the president any credit for the end of Syrian military occupation of Lebanon, and we quipped that we might as well just give up and congratulate Mikhail Gorbachev. Well, there's an alternative. Consider this speech:

The Bush Administration appears willing to sacrifice the prospects for an independent Lebanon in order to curry favor with Syria's dictator. . . . To acquiesce now to Syria's control over Lebanon would show disdain for our long-standing commitment to Lebanon's territorial integrity and independence. . . .

If a more representative government is formed, it should be possible for the United States to support that government and enhance is [sic] independence. . . . I look forward to working with Lebanese Americans to help make Lebanon's dream of a new era of peace, prosperity, and democracy a reality.

That was Bill Clinton--Gov. Bill Clinton, in a September 1992 campaign speech before a gathering of Lebanese-Americans. (We think that the meaning of "is" above is "its.") Thirteen years later, the Clinton policy has borne fruit!
Then, as now, leftist remain les faux culs about international affairs, thinking it has more to do with the "It's a small world after all" display at Disneyworld, rather than to try to put themselves in the position and perspective of the people that they're talking about. At least the Right knows well enough not to use it as a domestic factionalizing tool and a state-side political bludgeon.

The MSM Rule About Non-American Scandals: Ignore the Story. Ignore It. Ignore It and Wait. Wait. Wait Until…

What is the most appropriate way to react when a major scandal hits a country, an organization, or a person who or which is not the United States, not an ally of the United States, not allied or otherwise linked to the United States, and/or not the economic incarnation (capitalism) of the United States?

The answer, for most of the mainstream media (in America as well as aborad), of course, is to ignore it. Ignore it. Ignore it. Ignore it and wait. Wait. Wait until the scandal, or part of the scandal, can be, in even the minutest way and (indeed) even if the charge is totally false, somehow tied to the United States, and … then let loose.

That is what is happening in the food-for-oil scandal.

Needless to say, the way the MSM (New York Times editorials come to mind) has handled (not to write mishandled) Kofi Annan is totally opposite to the way that same have handled, say, Donald Rumsfeld during the Abu Ghraib scandal.

Big words, hand-wringing, exoneration, and reassurance for the former, spitting accusations, castigation, mockery, and calls for dismissal, for the latter.

(Update: Two senior investigators with the U.N. committee probing corruption in the oil-for-food program have resigned in protest, saying they think a report that cleared Kofi Annan of meddling in the $64 billion operation was too soft on the secretary-general.)

And yet, it was/it is the Americans who, as usual, made the most penetrating investigations and took the most far-reaching reforms. As Claudia Rosett explains here:

Yet more scandal at the United Nations? Secret deals, millions in bribes, leading to billions in global kickbacks? What to do?

Have no fear, reform is here. The United Nations has already put in place a sweeping set of improvements, with Secretary-General Kofi Annan reorganizing and streamlining the world body to bring about, according to a U.N. reform dossier, "a culture of greater openness, coherence, innovation and confidence." A blue-ribbon panel has "set more stringent standards for judging the performance of peacekeepers, in the field and at Headquarters." And there is now a system for dealing with U.N. staff, that "gives more precedence to merit and competence and less to tenure and precedent."

All of which sounds terrific. Except that the reforms cited above, heralding the new era of openness, coherence, competence, integrity and improved peacekeeping are all plucked from a U.N. dossier released almost three years ago, in June 2002. These reforms were shepherded through by Mr. Annan starting in the late 1990s …

Since the U.N.'s self-described dawn of integrity three years ago (one of several such sunrises since Mr. Annan became secretary-general in 1997), we have seen the sex-for-food scandal in the Congo, featuring the rape of minors by U.N. peacekeepers, which continued well after press disclosures last year prompted a U.N. internal investigation. We have seen theft at the World Meteorological Association, scandal in the U.N. audit department, the resignation over sexual harassment charges of the refugee high commissioner Ruud Lubbers, turmoil within the Electoral Assistance Division, and allegations of corruption involving the U.N.'s Geneva-based World Intellectual Property Organization. We have seen rebellion by the U.N. Staff Union against "senior management, and a raft of resignations by senior U.N. officials who nonetheless linger on the premises on official salaries of a dollar a year, plus the various perquisites and connections the place affords.

Biggest of all, we have seen the former Oil for Food relief program for Iraq blow like Krakatoa. …

The UN has found a scapegoat: Now that Uncle Sam has been fingered, you can expect the mainstream media to make a much bigger deal about the scandal than before. The BBC:
"The bulk of the money that Saddam made came out of smuggling outside the oil-for-food programme, and it was on the American and British watch," Mr Annan said.

"Possibly they were the ones who knew exactly what was going on, and that the countries themselves decided to close their eyes to smuggling to Turkey and Jordan because they were allies."

In other words, qups Gregory Schreiber, what Annan said was, "It's Bush's fault that my son is a crook!"

That's a cry that the world, ignoring its inherent irony, will be sure to pick up.

"Whenever someone says the word community, I want to reach for an oxygen mask"

People have learned what liberal programs and rhetoric have taught — governments exist less to secure our unalienable natural rights than to deliver our unassailable public entitlements
writes William Voegeli in his Wall Street Journal article on the liberal mind — American, European, or otherwise.
(We can glimpse the success of this project in the general strikes that bring France to a halt when the government is foolish enough to talk about reducing the five weeks of guaranteed vacation.) The "Don't Tread on Me" spirit is now visited upon any government that doesn't come across with every entitlement it promised, or induced us to make it promise. The insurance facade of the Social Security system has served its purpose. That the people regard their benefits as a "legal, moral and political right" is clear. But so too is the debasement of their understanding of the ideas of law, morality, politics and rights. …

What, then, of the idealistic argument for Social Security? Robert Kuttner, co-editor of The American Prospect, points us in that direction:

In a democratic polity that also happens to be a highly unequal market economy, there is immense civic value to treating middle-class and poor people alike. A common social security program, or medical care program, or public school program, helps to create the kind of cohesion that Europe's social democrats like to call "social solidarity"--a sense that basic humanity and citizenship in the political community require equal treatment in at least some areas of economic life. And by doing so it also creates a reliable constituency for the Democratic Party.
This is an argument from which neither political calculation nor circularity has been expunged. Social solidarity promotes the growth of the welfare state, which promotes the growth of social solidarity. Mr. Kuttner doesn't ask if there's a point at which the welfare state might become too big, or where social solidarity might trigger claustrophobia. Nevertheless, his concern for cohesion, basic humanity and political citizenship suggests that he sees social solidarity as an end in itself, not just as an instrumental value.

Benjamin R. Barber, a political theorist who teaches at the University of Maryland, elaborated the case for the intrinsic value of solidarity in a recent Los Angeles Times op-ed. Privatizing Social Security would, he argued, "do irreparable harm to our democratic 'common ground.' " "Privatization--whether of education, housing, or Social Security--makes us less of a public. It diminishes the republic--the res publica, or public things that define our commonweal. It turns the common 'we' into a collection of private 'me's.' " Privatization is "a kind of reverse social contract: It dissolves the bonds that tie us together."

As with Mr. Kuttner, it is hard to know how far Mr. Barber wants to pursue togetherness. The most important words in the English language, it has been said, are "up to a point." We can only assume, or hope, that there is a point beyond which Mr. Barber would not wish to press his argument that any privatization makes us less of a public. …

Newsweek International editor Fareed Zakaria recently told an interviewer, "People often say, 'How could you, living in India, end up a Reaganite?' Well, the answer is, live in India. There are two things that people don't understand. One is the degree to which a highly regulated economy produces masses of corruption because it empowers bureaucrats. It just has to be seen to be believed. The second is that you are very quickly inured to the charms of preindustrial village life. Whenever someone says the word community, I want to reach for an oxygen mask."

…[Elizabeth Anderson's] bland confidence on [her defense of Social Security] is compatible with Richard Rorty's association of leftism with "a constant need for new laws and new bureaucratic initiatives which would redistribute the wealth produced by a capitalist system."

… Few Democrats or leftists of any stripe have come forward to applaud Bush's pragmatic, experimental social policy. Yet, they can't confess that their "principle," that government must always grow and never shrink, is something they pulled out of the air.

The counterproductive and self-destructive culture of black rednecks in today's ghettos is regarded by many as the only "authentic" black culture

What then could explain such large disparities in demographic "representation" among these three groups of blacks?
asks Thomas Sowell in a WSJ article that focuses on America, but whose ramifications Europeans would do well to study as well.
Perhaps they have different patterns of behavior and different cultures and values behind their behavior.

There have always been large disparities, even within the native black population of the U.S. Those blacks whose ancestors were "free persons of color" in 1850 have fared far better in income, occupation, and family stability than those blacks whose ancestors were freed in the next decade by Abraham Lincoln.

What is not nearly as widely known is that there were also very large disparities within the white population of the pre-Civil War South and the white population of the Northern states. Although Southern whites were only about one-third of the white population of the U.S., an absolute majority of all the illiterate whites in the country were in the South.

… Slavery also cannot explain the difference between American blacks and West Indian blacks living in the United States because the ancestors of both were enslaved. When race, racism, and slavery all fail the empirical test, what is left?

Culture is left.

… The redneck culture proved to be a major handicap for both whites and blacks who absorbed it. Today, the last remnants of that culture can still be found in the worst of the black ghettos, whether in the North or the South, for the ghettos of the North were settled by blacks from the South. The counterproductive and self-destructive culture of black rednecks in today's ghettos is regarded by many as the only "authentic" black culture — and, for that reason, something not to be tampered with. Their talk, their attitudes, and their behavior are regarded as sacrosanct.

The people who take this view may think of themselves as friends of blacks. But they are the kinds of friends who can do more harm than enemies.

Update: He is black, he is dreadlocked; guess whom Ted Hayes supports

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Belgian spooks boozing on the job

Oh boy.

«[SMH] Brussels: The battered reputation of Belgium's security forces has suffered a new blow with the revelation that its internal spy service has disarmed almost all its field agents after one drunkenly tried to shoot a colleague in the head.
The civilian agents of the Surete de l'Etat, the equivalent of ASIO [the Australian Intelligance Agency], are already among the most powerless intelligence operatives in the Western world, with no right even to tap telephones.
Now they have had their pistols confiscated on the orders of their general administrator, Koen Dassen, a Belgian newspaper reported on Monday. A working group has been established to work out who is armed and why, after Mr Dassen realised controls were "worse than approximate".
Saar Vanderplaetsen, a spokeswoman for the Minister for Justice, Laurette Onkelinx, confirmed that Surete agents had had to hand in their weapons, pending new regulations.
She was unable to confirm reports that officers had gone on a virtual work-to-rule since being disarmed, including avoidance of risky missions.»
Let’s hope they don’t actually have to DO anything. Besides, what could they do? The do-gooders have turned them into drunken louts anyway!

- h/t to our resident remote sensing specialist, Steve

The Beatification of a Trade Commissioner

Is the photo-editor of this photo carried by the New York Times a poor propagandist, does he have a ripe sense of humour, or just un-interestink but shtoopid?

Listening and speaking bluntly

The American conservative firebrand talk-radio host, Rusty Humphries has been touring and doing his radio program from Iraq. His observations support quite a bit of what we have read before on this matter, but he has a way of keeping it straightforward and being amusing. Oddly enough, he does have a habit when he is on the air for a few hours of showing his exhaustion by sounding like the caricature of an old time preacha’ man in the way he pauses between phrases.

He put his venture into Fallujah this way:

«Before I get into what I did and saw in Fallujah, I must tell you about Saddam’s “Palace.” There are many more of these palaces than I thought. They are everywhere. Some are within blocks of each other.

I would think that (if it were real), Disney’s Haunted Mansion may have been a magnificent place a long time ago, that’s how the palace I stayed in was. The guy who had this place built had a lot of money and zero taste. Big ugly gold fixtures are everywhere, nice marble floors, a lot of rooms but the best word to describe it all is tacky!

[Fallujah is…] Dirty, dusty, with garbage in the streets, graffiti as far as the eye can see. As we drove through the streets in our convoy, the resident came out to give us the thumbs up. Lining the streets as if we were in a parade - men, women, and children, all showing their support for our troops, everywhere! It was so heartwarming and was much more prevalent than I had expected. Yes, there are those who don’t like us, but they aren’t showing their faces. The ones who have seen the promise of a new day are out in the open and plentiful.

One Iraqi I met is a young man who serves as Maj. Phelps’ interpreter, Musapha. He tells me, “These guys are my heroes. They have changed the lives of so many in my family and in my country. My dreams are becoming real now. Most Iraqis have been living without any faith. Trust me, this is the truth. Saddam not only killed many people, but tried to kill the souls of the rest of us. We are now coming back; Freedom is like air, and water. We need it to survive; the American’s have brought an abundance of it. I want to give thanks to the American people, thanks to everybody. You have given Iraq a chance to live and grow again.”

Reconstruction is evident and everywhere. It is a success story that we should all be proud of.»

It’s worth thinking about reports of this sort when all one hears is the endless characterization of every setback as an abject failure, and the lid put on any of the obvious progress.


Gomery Update Line

Its 10 oclock. Do you know where your government censors are?
folks are looking - and not letting go.

The culture vultures seem more interested in a different kind of bondage.

Passover is a nice time to think about freedom. Dr. Charles Jacobs with the American Anti-Slavery Group thinks about freedom on it's most fundamental terms all the time.

He works to end Sudanese and Mauritanian black slavery. In Mauritania, the enslaved are Muslim. In Sudan they are mainly Christian and Animists.

Naturally, he is smeared as an "anti-Sudanese propagandist" and a Zionist by the a man who later proved himself to be nothing more than an

apologists for evil
which has made Jacobs the focus of the emotive ire.

Like the American Christian organizations which have been doing the same sort of work, and making missions to Sudan to buy as many slaves out of bondage as they can, he is driven by the imperative to free. The difference with Jacobs is this: he refuses to hide his own faith: Judaism.

The shots they try to take?:

"...In reality, many of the 'slaves' are fakes..."
Woah - not so fast there, Chief… Covering for the ownership and breeding of human beings as property - like emotionless animals who are raised for food?

And they do it with a straight face. How filthy can you be?

Monday, April 25, 2005

Trying to revserse the orbital decay of planet Canada

Conservative Canadian newbie bloggers of note.

Courtesy of Kate McMillan, who is also the dynamo who keeps The Western Standard’s “The Shotgun” putting fire on target like this guy does. Accept no imitations.

Those Stunning French Leaders and Their Spectacle-Making Decisions

As Allied forces liberated France and Europe some sixty years ago, Charles de Gaulle allegedly told Winston Churchill, "We shall stun you with our ingratitude."

According to a Patrick Jarreau article, it turns out that, some ten years ago, Jacques Chirac told his closest collaborators that "I will stun you with my demagoguery."

It often seems that what moves the French most (leaders and citizens alike) is whether the effect is stunning or theatrical or ostentatious, not whether it is the right move, a just one, one that is seen as friendly to (and by) its closest allies, or even… the best move for France.

Thus, one French high school history book described Charles de Gaulle's refusal to attend the 20th anniversary of D-Day in 1964 as "France's spectacular decision to stay away".


Scott Burgess reports on the elementary, poverty creating, and worthless bugaboo of leftist economic thinkers: income inequality, which was Marxism's only real economic goal.

«But is income inequality, in and of itself, really so terrible? To put the matter into stark perspective, consider this question: Would you rather live in Canada (tied for second in this survey) or Belarus?

Think carefully - those who emphasise the importance of income equality as an overriding social goal should seriously consider the latter, considered by the CIA World Factbook to have the highest level of income equality in the world. Egypt and Rwanda are other places to be considered, as preferable to Canada in this respect.»

Scott cites what the author thought was key - which it was, just not in the way the author could register:

«"While 17 per cent of those born in the UK in 1958 made it from the bottom quarter income group to the top, only 11 per cent born in 1970 did so."

A little thought raises an interesting idea concerning this conclusion - one which Mr. Brown, strangely, finds unworthy of mention. Given the importance of the 26-34 young adult years with respect to increasing an earner's income level, it's intriguing that the more successful older group would have spent that period (not to mention the previous four years) entirely under Tory governments. OTOH, the younger group will have spent nearly all of that period (except for 1996-and-a-bit) under Labour.»
Time and time again, history has proven that dwelling on income difference improves NOTHING. It is an excercise in class-warfare and amounts to lillte more than a display of envy. Why then, do the bobo crowd not want to learn from a century of disproof?

Attack of the Raging News-Elf

Via Babes for Bush, this bit of Drudgery about the world’s oldest teenager who unlike Peter Pan or Annette Funicello is working ‘da news:

«NEW YORK TIMES writer Alessandra Stanley is set to kick NBC's TODAY show host Katie Couric when she is down -- kick her hard!

Facing audience erosion, Couric "has grown downright scary: America's girl next door has morphed into the mercurial diva down the hall," Stanley is planing to smack in Monday editions, newsroom sources tell DRUDGE.

"At the first sound of her peremptory voice and clickety stiletto heels, people dart behind doors and douse the lights."

NBC has turned TODAY and Couric "into a Marxist-style cult of personality. The camera fixates on Couric's legs during interviews, she performs in innumerable skits and stunts, and her clowning is given center stage even during news events. TODAY hit a low point in July, when Saddam Hussein appeared in a Baghdad courtroom to hear the charges he will face when he goes to trial as a war criminal.

"All the networks interrupted their programming to show live images of Saddam -- all except NBC. TODAY stayed on Couric swatting shuttlecocks with the U.S. Olympic badminton team."

Stanley punches: "Something has to be very wrong with NBC's TODAY if viewers are turning to ABC's Diane Sawyer as a refreshingly wholesome, down-to-earth alternative."»
Don’t forget that Couric is the woman who gave America a guided tour of her rectum. Ever notice that these women who call themselves “Divas” can’t sing, and the ones who call themselves “Goddesses” are allergic to and uncomfortable with any religious issue?

The freedom to mouth the State Party Line©®™La liberté d'ânonner la non-pensée unique inique de l'Etat©®™
Free speech in Europe? Only if you are a big earning lefty faggot in a PR firm who shills for the 'Yes'.
La liberté d'expression en Europe? Seulement si vous êtes un pédaloïde de gôche qui se fout plein les poches dans une boîte de com' et qui tapine pour le 'Oui'.

It's viralC'est viral
The 'No' vote is at 52% ... in Holland!
Le 'Non' à 52% ... au Pays-Bas!

The price of teaChinoiseries
Mad Minerva has the dope on Raffarin's trip to China.
Mad Minerva nous fait le topo au sujet de la tournée chinoise de Raff-fera-rien.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

The BBC: abandoning even their sham pretense of balance

The Telegraph reports that the BBC has, in violation of their guidelines, been using hidden microphones and staging news by sending hecklers to Conservative Party events. They singled out the Tories, and the fig leaf they constructed was a “documentary” on political heckling set to air the night before the upcoming polling day.

«“Last night a BBC spokesman said: "This is a completely legitimate programme about the history and art of political heckling. The programme observes hecklers at other parties' campaign meetings and not just the Conservatives…"
The spokesman was unable to provide details of any other campaign meetings attended by the BBC3 crew”
"Mr Black's strongly-worded letter accused the BBC of staging the event "to generate a false news story and dramatise coverage. . . intended to embarrass or ridicule the leader of the Conservative Party". The letter said that BBC staff were guilty of "serious misconduct"

"I do not believe that the BBC should be in the business of creating news..."

"This is a clear and serious breach of recognised BBC producer guidelines, and accordingly a breach of Section 5.3(b)1 of the BBC Charter Agreement. I also believe that the recordings which were taken of these organised hecklers, of ordinary members of the crowd and/or of Conservative officials who reacted and were recorded, would amount to 'surreptitious recording' under those guidelines."»
Biased-BBC’s David Farrer (of Freedom and Whiskey )reports on the damage control cover your tukhus scramble going on at Broadcast House and points out that they’re laughably still trying to pretend that they aren’t biased. The commenters to that piece put a great deal of it into context.

Noted one commenter on the pervasiveness of their bias:

«[I’m] Surprised the biased BBC blog hasn`t made a post about the two part Doctor who programme, the second part of which was shown last night.

Basically the story turned out that a family of aliens (high up and powerful in government) wanted to start a war for profit despite not having a UN resolution, one of their motives was oil. There was a bogus threat of 45 seconds. Yet to whip the people up in a frenzy the alien family were behind the crashing of a spaceship into big ben in order to give them a reason to start a war.

Worked it out yet?»
Űber-blogger Natalie Solent pointed out that Scotland on Sunday called it for what it was:

Fury at BBC sabotage of Tory speech

«The admission that hecklers were equipped with microphones for a programme that will be viewed before polling day on May 5 leaves the BBC open to allegations that staff showed political bias, in breach of corporation regulations.

The BBC has claimed that the exercise was carried out as part of "a completely legitimate programme about the history and art of political heckling".

The BBC added that it had "observed" meetings [Ed.: As if conservatives were little more than alien creatures or animals in the wild] carried out by other political parties, but refused to say whether it had miked-up hecklers for meetings carried out by other parties. It has been claimed that none of Tony Blair’s meetings was infiltrated or disrupted in the same way.

The BBC’s use of surreptitious recording devices is strictly limited by the corporation’s rulebook, the Producer Guidelines.

They lay down that plans to use hidden microphones must be approved by senior management within the BBC, and that it should only be used "as an investigative tool to explore matters which raise issues of serious anti-social or criminal behaviour".»

Un-freaking-glaublich! Maybe THIS is what's really chapping their lederhosen:

«I believe red tape, bureaucracy, regulations, inspectorates, commissions, quangos, ‘Czars’, ‘units’ and ‘targets’ came to help and protect us, but now we need protection from them. Armies of interferers don’t contribute to human happiness. »
- Michael Howard

Please, suffer some more, it's so picturesque...

Extremists Greenies should be charged with crimes against humanity. They probably get off on hearing the moans of death.

Rainforest Action Network has been engaging in an attempt to blackmail lenders into denying electricity, protein, and heat to the poorest of the world.

«…With other banks having already caved in to these outrageous demands, poor Third World countries will have nowhere to turn for financing. Which, of course, is RAN’s agenda; for them they will all remain traditional, indigenous, and impoverished, requiring few if the Earth’s "finite" resources, and keeping their populations in check through disease, malnutrition, and starvation.»

«That means 800 million people will be chronically undernourished with 14 million Africans facing starvation in southern Africa alone. More than 230 million children will continue to suffer from Vitamin A Deficiency and a half million of them go blind every year. Two million will continue to die from problems directly related to VAD.»

«None of this is necessary. Modern biotechnology can save lives while preserving wildlife and habitats. It would let farms grow more food on less land, but RAN and other Greens declared war on biotechnology years ago. They cry out that it requires widespread use of pesticides, but that is just another Green lie. Biotech crops can withstand insects and viruses without heavy use of pesticides. Some crops have been created to grow better in saline and nutrient-poor soils. Others can thrive despite severe droughts. Meanwhile, RAN and its allies spend $35 million a year battling the introduction of biotech crops.»

«RAN is among those Green groups that lobbied to get the United Nations to ban the use of DDT to protect people against malaria. It infects an estimated 400,000,000 people a year in Africa alone. It kills 2,000,000, half of them children. The loss of revenue to poor African nations is in the billions annually because a third of their workforce is sick much of the time.»

«There is something obscene to the opposition of Green organizations to anything that would improve the lives of the very least among us, the poor and the starving masses of the Third World, but that is their objective. Their concern is for wildlife or for forests that anyone knows can replenish themselves. Cutting down a tree does not mean another will not grow in its place, but not cutting down a tree often leaves people without ground on which to grow crops or an income from that tree when sold as lumber.»

«From the rainforests of South America to the parched lands of sub-Saharan Africa, RAN is plotting ways to insure that people, no different from you or I, remain trapped in poverty, lack of adequate food, a constant threat of disease, and the specter of death by age 35–if they make it past infancy. That is what the modern, perverse vision of environmentalism is really all about.»

Hat-tip to hurricane blogger Dr. Jon Ray.

How dare they call themselves «experts»?!?

While the secretariat of left-leaning transnational types try to blame the common-sense burdened mainstream of civilization and fly around world-wide to conferences that resemble an "internationale" of class hatred, the data bears out differently.

«A determined renegade group of three scientists has fought for years – with little success – to get out the message that no more than a third of HIV transmission in Africa is from sexual intercourse and most of that is anal. By ignoring the real vectors, they say, we’re sacrificing literally millions of people

«These renegades note that one indicator the role of vaginal transmission is overplayed in Africa is that it hasn’t played much of one in the U.S. Here 12 percent of AIDS cases are “attributed to” heterosexual transmission, meaning victims claimed to have gotten it that way. Of these, over a third are males. »

It’s obvious that AIDS is mainly spread by compulsive, unfaithful ass-bandits - men who are getting it from men, and giving it to woman and men. For them, standing by one man or one woman is impossible, and almost always involves lie-ing to one or more of them.
Why can’t the like of the WHO say it? It Politically Incorrect, and ruffles the sensibilities of a handful of comfortable westerners. Who do people need to die to indulge their feelings or desire for personal drama?

Simple parental advice about only having sex with someone you trust and love is drowned out by endless distracting blathering not heard since the days of Trotskyite-Leninist schisms.

Bolkestein Gets Wolfowitzed

At a moment when France is leaning toward rejection of the EU's new constitution in a referendum in May, the name and the project have served Jacques Chirac with a unifying banner — noble-France-battles-hypercapitalist Bolkestein — meant to save the so-called European social model from the cold breath of reality, and himself from the disgrace of the French turning their backs on their president
writes John Vinocur in the International Herald Tribune.
And there is Paul Wolfowitz, the United States' deputy secretary of defense, now George Bush's nominee to become the next president of the World Bank, whose name, repeated as an evil incantation throughout America's involvement in Iraq, has taken on a life of its own in European opprobrium. For catalyzing rage against the United States and suggesting the world is in the hand of shadow figures, saying Wolfowitz again and again has sounded just right over the last three years.

Stacked together, the men sat journalistically one on top of the other [recently] on the opinion page of the Paris newspaper Le Monde. An article with the headline "The Bolkestein Stakes" hovered directly over one that said, "Wolfowitz: Bad Makes for Good."

Wolfowitz got described by the newspaper in an editorial as a man "whose personality" was such that his choice to run the World Bank demonstrated new American arrogance. The suggestion was also that America's neo-cons, Wolfowitz at their head, vaulted over Donald Rumseld, Dick Cheney and the rest of the Bush administration, to insert an ideological chip into Bush's brain that resulted in "the crusade of good against evil."

On reflection, and on the European scale, Bolkestein has gotten Wolfowitzed. Over the past months, just as Wolfowitz before him had been marked as the plotter behind a world clash of civilizations, Bolkestein became the sinister personification of a perceived cabal to tear apart Europe's social protections.

In fact, it was the collective and unanimous decision of the European Commission last June, including its two French members, to put in place a measure opening the 70 percent of the EU economy that is the service sector to cross-border competition. For the politicians and activists who wanted it blocked, Bolkestein became their bloody shirt.

The name (Bolkestein was the EU commissioner who drew up the directive) became a brand. It gurgled from radios: "Bolkestein, Bolkestein, Bolkestein." To some media wits, it rhymed with Frankenstein. Market tested against the Bush bogeyman - François Baroin, a Chirac-allied pol, gave, "A no vote to Europe is a vote for Bush" a quick try - Bolkestein proved to have vastly greater shelf life.

A less-loaded sounding reference to "services directive" gets used, according to The Associated Press, in places like Britain, Ireland, Poland, Spain and even Germany. But in France, obsessed by maneuvering on the constitutional referendum, both left and right rushed, straight-faced, to defend la patrie from Bolkestein's horde of invading Czech plumbers about to undercut French prices by half.

Protesters shouted, "Bolkestein, we'll get your ass." Chirac is absolutely not a bigot, but in a country where statistics published last week showed record levels of racist and anti-Semitic acts, it would be Pollyannaish not to think this might be all part of the same zenophobic cloth. …

… while Wolfowitz has the loyalty of Bush and is next to certain to be approved at the World Bank - the nexus is a tradeoff in international posts between the United States and France - Bolkestein feels let down by Europe. In this sense, the contrast between the support Wolfowitz has received from the administration and Bolkestein's sense of abandonment at the expense of European political weakness is remarkable. …

Europe, in Bolkestein's mind, had become terrified about a concept certain to create vast numbers of jobs. He saw the European Commission's lack of fight against the Chirac-led charge to water down the services directive as emblematic of its lack of self-confidence.

"In the broader sense, it's a lack of self-confidence all through Western Europe. They're afraid, they're scared and that's a big story."

As for France, a country that he truly likes but that helped turn his name into "scapegoat," Bolkestein said: "The French feel they are losing control in Europe. They don't like competition, the market, or enlargement. It's the fear of the unknown, and it's exaggerated because it's French."

He paused. "Personally?" he asked of himself. "My name has been misused. There's an element of xenophobia in all of this, not to say more."

To say more: In collecting comments on Wolfowitz's nomination as head of the World Bank, Agence France-Presse, the news service, wrote that an analyst at a left-wing Washington think-tank said that putting Wolfowitz in charge was akin to giving Herod the keys to the nursery. …