Meanwhile, back the ranch: in the middle of a political foodfight in
Washington Alan Nathan points out the long view that voters and citizens actually have:
« Often when clashes occur between Republicans and Democrats, it sounds like an argument between two kids in class, each declaring his intent to beat up the other but neither having the temerity to take it outside. Such profiles in courage are now on display throughout Capitol Hill.
The Democrats are apoplectic about this and are promising to paralyze the Senate should the GOP move forward with what Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada characterizes as a violation of "checks and balances."
"Checks and balances" is a term of art referring to the inter-dependency of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of our government. However, referencing this term is not a license for the minority party to have majority sway in the Senate — a chamber that's only one-half of one branch. Democrats want the political force of the Republicans without the numeric force to attain it.
Ultimately, the greatest source of fear [for politicians] is the voting citizenry. But a paradox in representative government is that political power can legitimately go against popular will, even though earlier popular will is what placed that power in office. That's because the electorate is driven more by long-term sentiment over many issues in the aggregate versus short-term feelings over a few in the polls.»
Saturday, May 07, 2005
Meanwhile, back the ranch: in the middle of a political foodfight in
So ironical… So, so ironical…
If anti-zionism ISN’T anti-semitism, then why is this Briton’s blog which blasts zionist’s called “Jews sans frontiers”[sic]
Here he is basing his view of the world on someone who was once rumoured to exist, so he was told by a friend of a friend:
«* First, while many, indeed most, self-declared anti-Semites today use the rhetoric of anti-Zionism, historically some anti-Semites were pro-Zionist. In pre-war Germany and Poland, for example, some anti-Semitic politicians advocated the emigration or expulsion of the Jews to Palestine as a solution to the "Jewish question."Look, Ma! No jooooz!
* Second, some Jews are anti-Zionists. Jewish anti-Zionism exists mainly among socialist or radical Jewish intellectuals outside Israel. There is also a minority among Orthodox Jews, both inside and outside Israel, who reject Zionism as contrary to the will of God.»
Surprised? No? Wait! It gets better!
Have a look at the amusing comment below. The crank who left it certainly isn’t Charles Johnson. I don’t think the chap who runs LGF would be using a shared (dynamic IP) DSL hookup from Bell South wired through Metro Atlanta. The race-baiting is a sign of seething lefty hatred that amounts to tattooing a swastika on their foreheads.
Same goes for the “they’re all like the SS” view this child-unhealed-within has of someone having “buds” at Homeland Security. I have “buds” at DHS, but have little in common with some of them, the ones who vote Democratic, that is. They’re the most adept at arranging government jobs for themselves.
«Bikepaths of Glory:
Donned my tight black shorts and fitted flag-bedecked tee and took the trusty old BMX for another spin round the park today; fucking swarthy kids all over the racetrack, blocking my path, most of them dirty snot-nosed slim spawn.
Waited behind a tree for them to leave, all the while taking notes (I’m a trained journalist) which I will pass on to my important new buds at homeland security in due course.
With any luck the vanguard, err, Republican Party is going to send those oil ticks back to the rat-infested hell holes they come from. Like Muzzieland and Koranistan. Or France.
Then I’ll have the track to myself. Ride bike fast. Go wheeeee. :)
Love, Charles Johnson
CEO & Founder
Have fun storming the castle, pokey! Remember, buds are for socializing with, not smoking!
|Shock and awe||Secousses et effroi|
|Authors previously published or not: New Paris publisher starting activity in July 2005 is looking for manuscripts from daring French language authors. Contact publisher at firstname.lastname@example.org. Leftist humanist poets need not apply.||Écrivains débutants ou confirmés: Nouvel éditeur parisien qui démarrera son activité au mois de juillet 2005 recherche des manuscrits inédits de la part d'écrivains qui osent. Contactez l'éditeur à email@example.com. Poètes humanistes de gôche s'abstenir.|
|What?!? Their Constitution doesn't impose the right to work?!?||Quoi?!? Leur Constitution n'accorde pas le droit aux jobs?!?|
|Blow it out yer ass, Europe. IBM makes Zeropa ground zero for cost cutting.||Hé la Zéropa, va te faire voir dans un bain turque. IBM déclare que la Zéropa est le territoire zéro pour faire des économies.|
This outlet from the sandbox is possibly the last one on earth which can plausibly can ask the question: How Free Is the US Press?
Are they kidding? In a nation where journalists are detained for doing nothing more than criticising the government?
«Political parties are illegal in Saudi Arabia. There are two prominent political opposition movements, both of which operate from outside of Saudi Arabia. A professor of physics, Dr. Muhammad Massari, is the head of the Committee for the Defense of Legitimate Rights (CDLR). Dr.Saad al-Fagih, a Professor of Surgery at King Saud University until March 1994, is the principal spokesman of the Movement for Islamic Reform in Saudi Arabia (MIRA), which continues the work of the CDLR. The organization, which operates from London, is characterized as a militant Islamist movement. It is also described as being financially supported by wealthy members in Saudi Arabia. Peaceful public demonstrations by MIRA in October 2003 resulted in the jailing of 150 demonstrators for activity deemed by officials to be incompatible with Islam.»
Friday, May 06, 2005
George Galloway wins a parliamentary seat – the BBC repeats his “shame on you, world” verbal distemper on the top of every hour.
He parachuted in a LONG way from Glasgow. His seat is in Bethnal Green, in east London, hundreds of new-revolutionary-miles away.
A perfect place for Trotskyites to exploit the grim victims of horrible, failed, leftist social experiments over the years and their moronic über-revision of anything smacking of common sense.
The Shotguns Kate McMillan clues us in on how left wing governments see aid- a too to enrich their cronies - all the while promoting a nonexistent "image of compassion and co-operation".
The Canadian International Development Agency fits the profile of any old Canadian Liberal Party operation a money pit dressed up to make voters feel good. The Canada Free Press investigates. Whats revealing is a pattern: they go on about being more humane than the American who in fact end up covering for Canadian Liberal government embezzlement and internal patronage.
«However, as of last night, according to the pastor, not one penny of the promised Canadian money has arrived in the Ampara area.Its old news, and even Frum thinks it stinks, what is news is that the pattern has been repeating itself for decades unchecked.
Canadians contributed a minimum of $40 Million from their own pockets. Where is it?
Paul Martin has put the figure at $425 Million for disaster relief. CIDA seems to be playing their normal game. Canadians want to know where their money went. It is not in Ampara, Sri Lanka.
Weve seen this pattern with CIDA before. In my four-month stay in Kandahar, Afghanistan with the Canadian PPCLI Battle Group, CIDA had guaranteed $100,000 for humanitarian projects in Afghanistan. As a liaison officer, Captain Alex Watson had been charged with the administration of that money. He built five co-ed schools--not the boys-only madrassas. He had 11 wells drilled to supply fresh water in communities around the airport in Kandahar. By the end of Watsons tour, the contractors had not been paid-- CIDAs money never arrived. Trying to make things right, the American military contributed 50 percent of the shortfall, matched by the Canadian Department of National Defence. We were all embarrassed by CIDA.
Theres also the little matter of the hundreds of millions of dollars promised by the Prime Minister for Afghanistan through the Canadian embassy in Kabul. We spent two months looking for this money. We could not find it. And, theres the never-ending reports by Canadians who know, that there have been investigations of CIDA employees wanting kick-backs from local Afghani contractors before giving out CIDA contracts.»
Thursday, May 05, 2005
It took the FBI 18 years to capture the Unabomber.
It took over three years to make an arrest in the murder of a Cape Cod writer.
When Timothy McVeigh was taken in by an Oklahoma Patrol officer within hours of the Oklahoma City bombing, it was totally by accident.
D B Cooper has never been captured.
I mention these examples as it turns out that, among the pieces of good news from Iraq, Abu Musab Zarqawi, the most-wanted terrorist in Iraq, was nearly caught in an undeveloped western border region, while Al Qaeda's number three leader has been captured for real.
One of the main "arguments" used to bash Bush, his administration, and/or America has been to sneer or spit out the question, how come they haven't captured Osama Ben Laden yet, with the suggestion that it is all a conspiracy.
This is related to similar demands that, if American forces don't leave Iraq immediately after the fall of Baghdad, the war is a sham; if elections do not occur immediately after the end of the war, Iraqi democracy is a sham; if the Iraqis do not turn out to be opposed to Uncle Sam, their country is a sham; and (most recently) if the Iraqis do not choose a government immediately after the unprecedented elections, the elections are a sham.
Further afield, statements in a similar smarter-than-you vein try to find all kinds of (dark) symbolism in the fact that, say, the 9/11 anniversary is the same as Allende's overthrow, or to ask, if you took out Iraq, why not Iran, or North Korea, etc…
Every time, some presupposition is set up that, if not fulfilled, supposedly shows sine qua non that some perfidy (or treachery or stupidity) is afoot. And no other possible answer is entertained. To take Carlos, why should he have been captured in 1994 rather than two/12/20 years earlier? Maybe the answer has less to do with odious strings being pulled than with the fact that (with the help of allies, it is true) he did all he could to stay out of jail.
These statements are linked to people's belief in what the Washington Post's Michael Kinsley once called "the central committee of the universe", where everything is somehow controlled and taken care of. (This, in turn, is not unrelated to people's support for a across-the-board birth-to-cradle social security and for their awe for the United Nations, and the new world that would/will ensue if/when such dreams finally come to fruition.)
Right now, unfortunately (in the minds of the utopists), uncouth, greedy, blood-thirsty, clueless demagogues are either in charge of that committee or, because of their blinding greed, they are preventing a plethora of visionary, generous, lucid, and gentle beings from acceding to power in that committee and in turn making life a paradise on Earth for everyone.
The only problem, of course, is that in life, not everything can be calculated, or prepared for, and intangibles are constantly cropping up. In other words, the world will never be perfect. Indeed, trying to make it perfect has often resulted in far greater bloodshed and far more gnashing of teeth and far more shedding of tears than allegedly was the case before.
There is a reason — a perfectly logical one — why the great spiritual leaders have all told their followers to turn within, away from the world. That is simply because perfection can not be found there, and never will.
Via Tim Blair, we are alerted to another fine blogger trapped in a moonbat-utopia, Behind Enemy Lines catches on to the inherent suckiness of the BBC. Their universal anti-american feelings are so longstanding that it becomes an unconcious background, and gets in the way of basis fact-checking.
It does support one of their fetishes, that of all aid from the state and the US is heartless - what next? We drink Venezuelan blood at passover?
«The United States is denying grant money for AIDS to treat prostitutes?"»Pshyeah, right! Never ming the elephant in the parlor, that most global aid is from the U.S., and is mostly private, and thus sincerely generous. It's a smokescreen to cover for Euro-miserliness while EU governments promote their own "reputation of compassion" with their own populations.
It's little more than a skillful accounting scheme to what they won't commit means and funds to.
“Two wrongs don’t make a right.” You hear these two phrases again and again in about every bull session on the shop. “Two wrongs don’t make a right”…
The troops returning home are worried. “We’ve lost the peace,” men tell you. “We can’t make it stick.”…
Friend and foe alike, look you accusingly in the face and tell you how bitterly they are disappointed in you as an American. …
Never has American prestige in Europe been lower. …
“Have you no statesmen in America?”…
I talked to some correspondents from the French newspapers. They were polite but skeptical. They were willing enough to take part in a highly publicized act of vengeance against the enemy, but when you talked about the usefulness of writing a prohibition of aggressive war into the law of nations they laughed in your face.
…instead of coming in with a bold plan of relief and reconstruction we came in full of evasions and apologies.…
We have swept away [the dictatorship], but a great many Europeans feel that the cure has been worse than the disease. …
The taste of victory had gone sour in the mouth of every thoughtful American I met. …
The time has come, for our own future security, to give the best we have to the world instead of the worst. So far as Europe is concerned, American leadership up to now has been obsessed with a fear of our own virtues. …
John Dos Passos, January 1946
…in the very month that Sarkozy warned of "la patrie en danger", his great rival for the succession of President Jacques Chirac, Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin, published a remarkable book that claimed the new tide of globalization was flowing France's way and a new golden age for France and her ideals could be dawning at lastwrites Martin Walker (merci à Stavn Piranha who also points out that Dan Darling has a very interesting thread going at Winds of Change.NET about the reasons France seemed to be gearing up to join an Iraq invasion, but then suddenly reversed positions to be so adamantly anti-war). In his book, Villepin suggests,
"After the first globalization dominated by Spain at the time of the Renaissance, and after the second, launched by the Industrial Revolution and dominated by the Anglo-Saxons, cannot one wager that the third globalization, that of identities, of cultures and of symbols, will bring a new spirit to French ambition? For the values that energize our ambition are equally those to which international society aspires--the universal rights of man, faith in solidarity and fraternity, the hope of reuniting all human differences in the single human community, the need to correct the distortions of the market by means of regulation."When the Henri Vernet-Thomas Cantaloube book originally appeared, No Pasarán had a few comments about its contents as well as the timing of its publication
The title of Villepin's new book translates as "The Shark and the Seagull" (a quotation from the little-known French poet René Char). Villepin has carefully avoided challenging the general view of his reviewers that the shark is a metaphor for the United States while the seagull represents France. Villepin's shark (masculine in French) "drives through the sea to snatch its prey, . . . a symbol of power, strength and the refusal to be halted by the complexity of the world." His seagull (feminine in French) is a much more spiritual and graceful creature, at home in the heavens, blending and merging with the air, "intoxicated by the sky."
"She turns, borne by the winds, with wings that beat and curve like waves, unleashing from time to time her agonizing cry of laughter", he writes. "She watches, soars, approaches, climbs and swoops, turns suddenly. The straight line is seldom her course. She listens to the world."
Villepin's new book is best read in conjunction with his previous publication, Un Autre Monde (An Alternative World), in which he is simultaneously author, editor and commentator on the work of other analysts who tend to share his view that "Two visions of the world confront each other." One vision is American (sometimes characterized as Anglo-Saxon), based on a brutal Darwinian capitalism of the survival of the fittest, and the other--for these are the only two with "universal aspirations"--is French, and committed to social solidarity. The heirs of the two great revolutions of the 18th century are thus condemned to be rivals throughout history in "the cultural and moral spheres." For Villepin, their warring principles echo to this day in America's Declaration of Independence, which celebrates the individual, and France's "Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité", which understands that man is a communal and, at his best, a cooperative animal.
The Shark and the Seagull takes this inherent tension between French and American views of the world and applies it to the crisis unleashed by the Iraq War and the threatened clash of civilizations with Islam. Accompanying this leaden horseman of Villepin's apocalypse are familiar dark cavaliers: the advance of a soulless globalization, pollution, nuclear proliferation, new epidemics and so on. "This future of planetary disaster darkens our horizon", according to Villepin. "Everywhere resounds the chorus ofa world deprived of soul and of spirit, crushed under the heavy roller of an economic liberalism without brakes or morals, of a conquering and inhuman technology."
But cheer up. Inspired by the principles of the French Revolution, led by the kind of great man that France uniquely produces (Napoleon and de Gaulle are his heroes), and infused with the warm glow of human solidarité, a brighter future beckons. Humanity is
"in search of ways to cross to the shores of a new age, of illuminators capable of seizing the spirit of the world and unveiling for it a new dawn. Our epoch above all needs the will of us all. Lucidity and courage, cunning and grace will be the qualities required to escape the yawning gulf and chart another destiny. To get out of the confrontation that looms, to escape the perplexities of modernity, to found a pact of salvation, we need a new myth, a fertile word, a grand gesture to define a future."
And guess who can provide this pact, this myth, this fertile grandeur?
"This book is enriched by the conviction that France was never so faithful to herself as when she had the audacity to reach for the universal. Our country has a message of hope to deliver. It is capable of calming the tumult of fear and hatred while opening a prospect of justice. France, a middle-ranking power, a nation like the rest? No. But power in the service of the peoples, a power that is awaited, expected and understood, seized by the values of tolerance, of democracy and peace . . . yes, I believe in this crazy French immortality which seeks to reconcile the opposites. I believe in the eternity of the man born one evening in 1789 [the year of the French Revolution]."
Villepin's work can be seen as an extended manifesto for his claim on the presidency, a post for which a certain intellectual and literary distinction has long been desirable. As well as a diplomat, he is a poet, a historian (of Napoleon's last Hundred Days, in which he noted that the catastrophic defeat of Waterloo "gleams with an aura worthy of victory") and a political philosopher of what de Gaulle called "une certaine idée de la France." Villepin also has a catastrophic record as a political advisor to Chirac, recommending an early election in 1997 on the issue of "Who governs France?" after Prime Minister Alain Juppé's failed attempt to face down striking truckers. The Socialists under Lionel Jospin won the subsequent election. The Socialists' defeat in 2002 paved the way for Villepin to become foreign minister, an appointment initially welcomed in Washington, where Villepin had graced the French embassy during the Reagan years and was thus somehow assumed to be unusually sympathetic to American ways. Colin Powell was to learn the limits of this assumption in their confrontation at the UN over Iraq.
It is a lesson that American diplomats have been slow to learn. As Miller and Molesky point out in their jolly canter through 225 years of Franco-American relations, Americans have too easily thrilled to references to Lafayette and Yorktown, to St. Mihiel and Normandy, to F. Scott Fitzgerald being dashing in Montparnasse and Ernest Hemingway liberating the Ritz. Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson had to grapple with the ruthless self-interest that underlay French support for American independence. Charles Gravier de Vergennes, the French foreign minister who in 1775 proposed covert support to the colonists because it would "diminish the power of England while it will considerably extend ours", was no friend to the infant republic. His instructions to the first French minister accredited to the United States noted, "The King feels that the possession of these three countries (Canada, Nova Scotia and Florida), or at least that of Canada by England, would be a serviceable principle for keeping the Americans uneasy and cautious."
Whether monarchy, republic or empire, Miller and Molesky entertainingly recount how French interests--and thus French policy--did not change. Within a month of becoming president, Jefferson was sounding the alarm about French ambitions to build "New France" in Louisiana, which became one motive behind the Lewis and Clark expedition. "The day that France takes possession of New Orleans fixes the sentence. . . . From that moment we must marry ourselves to the British fleet and nation", Jefferson wrote. Madison boasted of an army of American militia poised to take the city. Napoleon was ready for war, until he learned that the French army in Santo Domingo had been destroyed by yellow fever. At that point, he cut his losses and authorized Foreign Minister Talleyrand to negotiate the Louisiana Purchase. The Bonapartes were not quite done with North America: Napoleon's comic-opera nephew, Napoleon III, tried to take advantage of the Civil War to establish a French protectorate in Mexico.
Villepin's other hero, Charles de Gaulle, is seen by Miller and Molesky as "the worst . . . of all the arrogant Frenchmen who had put their thumbs in American eyes." They cite de Gaulle's instinctive response when awoken in 1942 with the news that American troops had landed in Vichy-controlled North Africa: "Well, I hope the people of Vichy throw them into the sea. You can't break into France and get away with it." The Germans had of course gotten away with it (and a lot of Frenchmen helped them do so), and any hope of liberation lay with the Anglo-Saxons.
All this is useful and important, but Miller and Molesky take matters just a few millimeters too far for their engaging polemic to be taken too seriously as scholarship. Just because Ho Chi Minh and Pol Pot studied in Paris, one cannot blame the Cambodian genocide on the French. While French intellectuals had a great deal to do with existentialism and structuralism, with deconstructionism and post-modernism, it is a stretch to conclude: "Not only did the postwar French intellectuals prepare the tainted broth from which future despots would drink, their poisoned leftism also inspired them to invent modern anti-Americanism." And while the Treaty of Versailles has few admirers, it verges on the outrageous to say that World War II "was as much the product of French intransigence and vengefulness as it was Hitler's lust for dominion."
Above all, Miller and Molesky do not seem to grasp the degree to which France seeks to exercise her traditional diplomacy through the European Union. Just as the more insufferable Brits used to pontificate about their being the Greeks to the American Romans, the French have a metaphor about a French rider guiding the German horse that pulls the European cart. "The U.S. has a clear incentive not to let Paris emerge as the capital city of a new axis of anti-Americanism", Miller and Molesky conclude, which is obvious enough, but only takes on real significance in a broader European context. These days, France alone is little more than a nuisance.
It is at this point that we can hail a treasure. French Negotiating Behavior, by the former CIA station chief in Paris, Charles Cogan, is a real discovery, a gem of a book that starts where Miller and Molesky leave off, but clearly knows a great deal more about France, its history and the self-defeating and arrogant way the Quai d'Orsay goes about its diplomacy. This has become so offensive that even some Frenchmen are starting to notice. Cogan cites former-Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine saying:
"We've got to be careful lest our European partners end up saying that if by chance the French were to find themselves in the same position as the Americans today, they'd be even more unbearable than the Americans! Many Europeans think this already."
Cogan's book is profoundly useful, because he understands the degree to which the French today believe their country and system to be in deep crisis and to be even more imperiled than Britain during its 1970s decline. The French problem runs much deeper than the economic mismanagement and fits of self-doubt that Margaret Thatcher so briskly addressed and corrected, because the French grand strategy of the last forty years is crumbling in their hands. Europe is not prepared to be the vehicle to maintain French greatness, and Germany is too big, too rich and increasingly too self-confident to play the equal, let alone the horse to France's cavalier. The European Union of 25 countries, and soon perhaps thirty, including Turkey, is beyond any hope of French control.
After France's humiliation at U.S. hands over Suez in 1956, German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer told premier Guy Mollet, "Europe will be your revenge." And at least until German unification, Adenauer's advice seemed to hold good. But France then damaged its own economy with high interest rates to maintain "le franc fort", a currency strong enough to take France into the euro. This was Mitterand's price for accepting German unification, locking Germany into the ultimate European institution of a common currency. And just as the price of unification was a decade of low growth and high unemployment for the former powerhouse of Europe, along with the sacrifice of the deutschemark, the price of the euro has been equally dispiriting for France's economy. Moreover, the new enlarged Europe is no longer made to French specifications. Increasingly Europe speaks English, looks to Thatcherite principles of free trade and free markets, to lower taxes and privatization, and rejects the French concept of state-led industrial strategies.
"For having too long believed that Europe was being built in its own image, the French suffer today from not recognizing themselves in it", noted Pascal Lamy and Jean Pisani-Ferry in 2002, in one of many quotes astutely chosen by Cogan. (Lamy, an excellent EU trade commissioner, may well be a future Socialist president of France, and Pisani-Ferry could well be his prime minister.) "The French see themselves diminished in the face of a Germany numerically more powerful and an England politically more alert."
No American diplomat or official should henceforth be allowed to set foot on the European continent without having read, swallowed and inwardly digested Cogan's book. Thoughtful American tourists are also strongly advised to read this distillation of a long career's wisdom and to ponder Cogan's three case studies of French diplomacy in action: France's failed bid to get the Mediterranean command in return for rejoining NATO; the Uruguay Round on trade; and the tangled period between the happy agreement of the NATO summit in Prague in November 2002, the Franco-American confrontation at the UN in February 2003, and the outbreak of war in March. Cogan gives a masterly summary of this last crisis, citing French sources to note that a French general was in the Pentagon in December of 2002, declaring that 15,000 French troops and 100 warplanes would be available in the event of war. And on January 7, 2003, speaking at the Ecole Militaire, President Chirac told his troops to prepare for action.
So, what has been hailed in France as the "revelation" in the Bob Woodward-style book, Chirac contre Bush--that Chirac was quite prepared to go to war and had prepared the French army to fight in Iraq--is not so new after all. It is entertaining to learn that President Bush's nickname for Jacques Chirac is "Jackass", and not a great surprise to read that the Americans were able to bug Chirac even in his Elysée palace. The authors claim that a senior U.S. official told a French counterpart, "The relationship between your president and ours is irreparable on the personal level. You have to understand that President Bush knows exactly what President Chirac thinks of him." (Given Chirac's contempt for Bush, for Bush to call him "Jackass" in return seems fairly mild.) They offer some interesting details. It seems plausible that the French and Germans were drawn to work more closely together in New York after the French were invited to make use of the glass anti-bugging cage installed in the German mission. They may or may not be right to say that Bush was irritated from the start by Chirac's constant references to his father, the 41st president, which were interpreted as a crude attempt to remind Bush Junior to respect his elders.
But go back to that crucial two weeks between Chirac's speech to the Ecole Militaire on January 7 and then-Foreign Minister Villepin's famous January 20 "ambush" of Secretary of State Colin Powell at a UN meeting convened by Villepin to discuss "terrorism", after which Villepin gave a press conference saying "we believe that today nothing justifies envisaging military action." What changed?
None of the books on offer has a clear explanation. French officials now say that it was partly the reflex decision to adopt a "European position" by supporting the anti-war stance of German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. The current French ambassador to the United States, Jean-David Levitte, took a high-minded line in a lecture at MIT: "If this were not a matter of principle, don't you think we would have jumped on the bandwagon of war?" Miller and Molesky cite Richard Holbrooke saying that it was routine French brinkmanship: "The classic play out of the Charles de Gaulle playbook; hold out to the end, get more leverage."
"We refused to establish a link between the terrorist networks and the Iraqi regime, and in the absence of a prospect of peace in the Middle East, we feared that violence in Iraq would only intensify the resentment and anger", is one part of Villepin's explanation in The Shark and The Seagull. France could simply not go along with the broad approach of the Bush Administration to the Arab world. Villepin goes on:
"But the misunderstandings proceeded less from such recent events than from much deeper historical roots. Against France, heir of the pragmatism of Cardinal Richelieu, supporter of a system of interstate relations based on custom, on the transaction and exploitation of national interests, the United States affirmed its power and refused to share it. For the Americans, any agreement would be seen in one way or another as a compromise. In the concert of nations, the United States saw its place only as conducting the orchestra."
Chirac contre Bush has the French president in that crucial two-week period recalling his days as a young officer in the doomed war to keep Algeria French and what he saw as the new danger of the Iraq War unleashing a clash of civilizations with Islam. Something else that lay heavily on Chirac's mind was the new Bush Doctrine that justified preventive war and the heady rhetoric from Washington of "regime change" in Iraq as part of a broader ambition to democratize the Middle East. …
Still smoking crack, the EU tries to pretend that it’s about making people’s lives better and easier, when all it does is make if more complicated. All it manages to do is make it more laughable.
Imagine the paperwork it would take to comply with this:
«The EU's Directive on Working Time, which is currently undergoing a review with a first reading in the European Parliament due on 10 May, is perhaps one of the Union's most controversial measures in the social field. Originally agreed in 1993, the Directive sets limits on the amount of hours people can work per day (11) and per week (48, calculated as an average over 4 months, extendable to 12 months by collective agreement).Free will, you see, can’t be permitted because people are too stupid to eat their own young if nanny doesn’t tell them what to do.
Under this provision, individual workers can exempt themselves from the 48-hour ceiling on weekly working time by signing an agreement with their employers. Seen by some as an expression of pragmatism ("Enterprises need flexibility") and by others as a self-evident individual freedom ("Every person should have the right to work as much as he likes"), a third group considers the opt-out as the denial of a fundamental principle ("Every person should enjoy a limited working week") and calls for its suppression.»
The documentation burden and the regulation burden are so old, familiar, and heavy that even the author is displaying a kind of “Stockholm Syndrome” with the command-economy as well:
«These conditions will, for sure, add paperwork and somewhat reduce flexibility for enterprises, but, in truth, isn't this a fair price to pay for maintaining the opt-out? As for its opponents, if they do not deem the safeguards just mentioned sufficient, they should think about two further conditions the Commission has proposed. First, setting an absolute working time limit of 65 hours per week for those on the opt-out undermines their argument that the opt-out precludes every worker's right to a statutory limitation of working time. Second, the proposal that the opt-out can only be used if expressly foreseen in a collective agreement should do away with their remaining concerns that the opt-out cannot be applied in a fair manner to the workers involved.»
It ain’t over ‘til it’s over
NZ Herald: “One in four UK voters still undecided, poll shows”
Given the thin reporting of exit polls, perhaps the press isn’t finding all the drama it was hoping for. If they go completely silent, it would only be because the Conservatives might be doing well somewhere.
|He hasn't lost his touch||Extension du domaine de la loose|
|Houellebecq in this week's Inrockuptibles: 'You must be brief when the subject is uninteresting. If I were writing a book against Buddhism, it would require several hundred pages, because it's an interesting and complicated religion. Islam is a basic and stupid religion, and it can be written off in one sentence.'||Houellebecq, cette semaine dans Les Inrockuptibles: 'Il faut être bref quand le sujet a peu d'intérêt. Si j'écrivais un livre contre le bouddhisme, il me faudrait plusieurs centaines de pages, parce que c'est une religion intéressante et compliquée. L'islam est une religion simple et bête, on peut donc l'expédier en une phrase.'|
|It's elementary!||C’est élémentaire!|
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
Not long ago, I took my kitten to the vet closest to my home for a check-up. While discussing pets and cats, I noticed her office boasted the type of huge air conditioner that looks exactly like the type you see in windows in the South. "Elle est américaine?", I asked innocently, pointing to the unit. The vet (who as far as I know is unaware that I carry an American passport, only knowing that I am not French) looked up: "Ah, j'espère que non", she replied — "I hope not".
Then I seemed to lose her as she thought hard for a moment, finally correcting herself: "No, no, that's not what I meant to say…" Then came another couple of seconds of (deep) thought. She looked up. "No, no, it's only Bush I am against." Then she went back to her work…
- More news of stellar treatment from France's health care system
- A dispassionate discussion with the members of the band
- The Spanish artist who would not go to America
- The Danish girl who knew what kind of nation the United States is
- The Latin American lady who refuses to drink Coca-Cola
- The friend who asked me if I was happy
- The flight attendant who doesn't like violence
- Some initial French reactions to 9-11
- Immortal proclamations of Franco-American friendship on 9-11
- The firefighter gives a lesson in truck mechanics
- The BUT argument: Patterns in conversations in France
- The 50-year-old man who lectured me about America's race problems
- Taking World War II as an example, a Frenchman gives a lesson on the meaning of injustice
- I give my cat's veterinarian a scare
- The train conductor explains why the SNCF website should not be user-friendly
A degree of integrity that the silent majority of the unfree world can appreciate far more than any cloying efforts to win friends by wooing despots
… it has been a while since the American press was flooded with anguished soul-searching articles exploring whether or not the rest of the world — especially in those quarters dominated by tyrants — loves uswrites Claudia Rosett.
In keeping with the doctrine of democratization that Mr. Bush put forward three years ago, the focus has switched to what we appreciate about our own values. With that comes a degree of integrity that the silent majority of the unfree world can appreciate far more than any cloying efforts by Washington to win friends by wooing despots who claim illegitimately to speak for their people.Speaking of Ronnie, and with the European constitution in the news cnstantly, take a moment to read the following quote:
The results have been much written about in recent times, but they bear noting again. As happened when President Reagan stood fast and spoke up in the 1980s about the "evil empire," places deemed lost to the free world have been waking up. Not only are we seeing a huge movement for democracy in Lebanon, along with stirrings in Egypt and even Syria and Saudi Arabia. Last week, in Washington, a North Korean defector announced the founding in this country of a group of North Korean dissidents-in-exile, dedicated to replacing what is probably the worst tyranny on the planet with a free society. It is a small beginning, but it is one more sign of a world changing for the better.
…overall, we have entered in era in which America— more than at any time since Ronald Reagan's presidency — speaks the truth and appreciates the worth of its own system, which is what has made it both powerful and free. More tough tests lie ahead. But I think it is worth taking a moment, in spring, to note how well we have weathered those of recent years.
I had a copy of the Soviet Constitution and I read it with great interest. And I saw all kinds of terms in there that sound just exactly like our own: 'Freedom of assembly' and 'freedom of speech' and so forth. Of course, they don't allow them to have those things, but they're in there in the constitution. But I began to wonder about the other constitutions -- everyone has one -- and our own, and why so much emphasis on ours.
And then I found out, and the answer was very simple -- that's why you don't notice it at first. But it is so great that it tells the entire difference. All those other constitutions are documents that say, 'We, the government, allow the people the following rights,' and our Constitution says 'We the People, allow the government the following privileges and rights.' We give our permission to government to do the things that it does. And that's the whole story of the difference --why we're unique in the world and why no matter what our troubles may be, we're going to overcome.
«She says she has received a number of phone calls from women who claim to have had romantic links with him. She adds that Galloway has tried to smooth things over by telling her it is a plot by an unnamed intelligence service to discredit him.
The threatened divorce action will be a blow to Galloway, who is standing for election in Bethnal Green and Bow, east London.
Speaking from their home in Streatham, south London, Galloway’s wife, a Muslim, said: “I should tell you that when he told me his new party was going to be called Respect, I went upstairs and cried. How can he call it this when he doesn’t even treat his own wife with respect?”»
Even the proliferation and expansion of nuclear arsenals can sway so called “anti-war” types from their REAL enemy: their own cultures.
The content and the tone of the World Socialist Web Site’s item: “US steps up provocations against North Korea” says it all – war is always wrong unless those warheads are pointed at Japanese and South Korean Capitalists, and from the perfidiously less-communist-than-last-week Chinese.
Even Molly Ivins gets in on the act – you seem if anyone in the world does anything wrong, deadly, or aggressive, they aren’t actually responsible – somehow SOMEHOW the U.S., and specifically “Chimpy W. Hitlerburton” is. Ivins:
«The problem of proliferation simply deteriorated under his guidance. Fewer weapons-grade nuclear materials were secured in the two years after 9/11 than in the two years before the attack [thanks to Jimmuh Carter]. North Korea, which then had two nuclear weapons, now has as many as eight. After dealing with Bolton, the North Korean government called him "human scum" and "a bloodsucker," and declined to recognize him as an official of the United States. No one is claiming North Korea has a rational government, but any halfway-skilled diplomat could do better than that, and many have»
So Ivins (whose head looks like it’s been attacked by woodland creatures) is taking the automaton-like invective of the North Koreans seriously because she can somehow impugn one of Bush’s nominees. Wise indeed. She will remained seared, seared, in our memories as an idiot who takes Stalinist propaganda for it’s face value. Obviously she’s been hanging out with activists.
Her comparison is meaningless, and she is, in fact by using North Korean statements, claiming that Lil' Kim runs a rational regime. What she is really doing is projecting invective against conservatives any way that she can - throwing spaghetti at the wall, and hoping some of it will stick...
Always Putting into Doubt, and Expressing Scepticism About, the Beliefs and Goals of American Conservatives
When free discussion is denied, hardening of the arteries of democracy has set in, free institutions are but a lifeless form, and the death of the republic is at handonce wrote Williams Randolph Hearst, whose birthday it is today.
"The religious right now has an unprecedented influence on American politics and policy," said Ralph White, co-founder of the Open Center, a New York City institution focused on holistic learning. "It is incumbent upon all of us to understand as precisely as possible its aims, methods, beliefs, theology and psychology."Jon Ward provides the context:
The Open Center, founded 21 years ago, played host to the two-day conference at City College of New York called Examining the Real Agenda of the Religious Far Right.When I was a kid, one of the books my dad read for me when I went to bed was the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. One of the things that left the greatest impression upon me, I remember (and which I couldn't fathom), was that Ben could, and would, remain friends with his political "enemies" (or adversaries, to use a better word), even going out for drinks with them after their "duels".
By contrast, the political ammunition of today's élite basically amounts to suggesting that their adversaries ("enemies" would be a better word here) are dishonest, stupid, blinded, and/or treacherous, and that they are zealots, extremists, idiots, traitors, and/or sell-outs. What amounts, in so many words, to the reducing of everything to a personal level, accompanied by natural feelings of superiority, is also (as can be seen in many of the comments left in our comments section) the predominant feature of political (and cultural) life in the old Europe.
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
(How sad it is to hear of the extent of Sonia's suffering. Fortunately, her British colleague explains the importance of the European Constitution and, in the process, shows how more intelligent and sophisticated Europe's citizens are, as compared with the uncouth Americans.)
French fashion designer Sonia Rykiel said she was "100 percent behind the treaty," adding: "I find myself confronted by the Americans, the Japanese, the Chinese. It's very important that I get Europe's support."
[Vivienne] Westwood launched a simple appeal to French voters to approve the constitution, saying: "Don't bore yourself reading all 800 pages and just vote 'yes'. It's very important."
Quoting an AFP dispatch on the latest development of Baghdad's Italian car shooting, Le Monde gives only one single, solitary, dry, matter-of-fact sentence that appears in the very final line of a boxed text.
Selon la chaîne de télévision CBS, un enregistrement satellite américain a permis de déterminer que la voiture dans laquelle avaient pris place Giuliana Sgrena et Nicola Calipari roulait à environ 100 km/h.Period. That's it. Go on to the next piece of news. (By the way, read the question in the final line from April 14.)
The International Herald Tribune hardly does better. In a two- or three-sentence post-scriptum tagged on to Maria Newman's New York Times article, the information is given no more importance than a "for the record" filler.
U.S. investigators concluded from the recording that the car was traveling at a speed of more than 95 kilometers per hour, or 60 miles per hour. Giuliana Sgrena, the freed Italian journalist in the car at the time, has said the car was traveling at about 50 kilometers an hour.Imagine the outcry that would have followed (the scandal! the deliberate decision to deceive! the liars! the loss of credibility! ) had the satellite validated the passengers' tale and proven the American military wrong.
Basically … Europe doesn't have the death penalty because its political systems are less democratic, or at least more insulated from populist impulses, than the U.S. government. And elites know it. Referring to France, a recent article in the UNESCO Courier noted that "action by courageous political leaders has been needed to overcome local public opinion that has remained mostly in favour of the death penalty." When a 1997 poll showed that 49 percent of Swedes wanted the death penalty reinstated, the country's justice minister told a reporter: "They don't really want the death penalty; they are objecting to the increasing violence. I see this as a call to politicians and the justice system to do more." An American attorney general--or any American politician, for that matter--could never get away with such condescension toward the public, at least not for attribution.Thus writes Joshua Micah Marshall in an article that gives insight on everything from Germany's and Italy's postwar constitutions to the centripetal pressure created by European integration through differences between European parliamentary government and the American separation-of-powers system (thanks to Kosmopolit).
You seldom hear conservatives note, disapprovingly, that "America is the only industrialized country in the world that doesn't have X." It's not hard to figure out why, since X usually involves European (or Canadian or Japanese) big government. But liberals sometimes imagine that America's peculiar lack of, say, nationalized health care, tough gun control, decent child care, widespread mass transport, or substantial arts funding is a sign of political underdevelopment. And so they bemoan America's uniqueness.
Particularly on the death penalty, and particularly now. The old taunt--"The only other industrialized country with the death penalty is South Africa" (recently amended to include "and now even they've abolished it")--has been hurled with particular force in recent weeks. The flood of capital punishment horror stories, combined with partial or full recantations by conservative luminaries George Will and Pat Robertson, has left anti-death-penalty liberals more convinced than ever that, on this issue at least, American political culture is inferior to its counterparts across the Atlantic.
If only it were that simple. It's true that all of America's G-7 partners, save Japan, have abolished capital punishment, but the reason isn't, as death-penalty opponents usually assume, that their populations eschew vengeance. In fact, opinion polls show that Europeans and Canadians crave executions almost as much as their American counterparts do. It's just that their politicians don't listen to them. In other words, if these countries' political cultures are morally superior to America's, it's because they're less democratic.
|With extreme discretion||De façon définitive|
|José Bové, high priest of a luddite paganisme, must be stopped.||Il faut arrêter José Bové, grand prêtre d'un paganisme de luddite.|
03-May-2005 Update -
Many thanks to Abhirup Roy for paying us a visit and leaving a comment - alluding to Ann Coulter being a racist, and his self NOT being one. Amusingly, the entire article we cited of his made a huge number of assumtions about people for nothing OTHER than their race. As for Coulter, one hears a great deal of being judgemental, but not of people skin color.
For that, you have to find one of two things: an actual racist, or what passes for your typical anti-racist activist / exploiter of others' misery and pain.
Quite frankly, they are the only two sorts left who care about anyone's skin color, and manage to blank out at what people say. The wound in the human heart may not heal - otherwise how else would they make a living?
In trying to read the scribbles of serial hate-speech generator Alex / Abhirup Roy, it's foggy lack of meaning and directness become obvious. One cannot read his rants, one must decode them. That's an awful way to try to make a point. Ideas don't matter. Only appearance and the symbolism of who one looks like becomes the only thing that matters. It is "identity politics" at it's worse, because the politics is nothing more than a focus on personal identity. A sample:
- One should hate transvestites.
- One should hate Ann Coulter.
- She compares conservatives to Fascist Extremists. Don't forget: conservatives are the majority of the US population, and if they were permitted to express themselves, Canada and many European states would be as well. Fascist Extremists demand the statist policies of the far left.
- Displaying the leftist obsession with skin color, but not the acceptance of others' ideas, she remains preoccupied with straw-men. In this case with "Aryans", and thinks that the Crusades still figure into European thought, even though less than 10% of Europeans practice a religion.
Do you see the way this works? He has the right kind of name and the right hue of skin to spout this sort of thing. It makes people raised in the West a special kind of elitist, the kind that know better than anyone else.
«Ann Coulter, a 44 year old thinly curved blonde, is the conservative right-wing’s most strident mouthpiece. Piecing in radical interpretation of homespun values with xenophobic hypertension; her rough garment of polemic invokes the image of the moisturized skin of an ill-tempered transvestite soaking under a burlap dress after a hard night’s work.»
«It is easy and oversimplified to plainly accuse Ann Coulter and August Kreis of ignorance. They have things to say, and Democracy coerces us to listen. Democracy permits us to examine the psychology of loudness and treat its volume control apparatus, hoping the logic of good government will perform the duty of a good shrink and set things straight through its muscular legislative, judiciary, and executive tentacles, like some anthropomorphic Goddess of Eastern Mythology.»
«Great Britain, a little island along the coastline of France, celebrated its short lived might, not by commemorating its history of blue-bodied Barbarism, but by exhorting to the English the image of the Roman and the Greek: an olive-skinned people that despised the backwardness of the Anglo-Saxon: as their founding father!»
About 20 years ago when it became obvious to the public of just how hypocritical these leftists were, they did their best to enlist a means to innoculate themselves from any sort of criticism. They began hiding behind people who don't match their obsession with "whitey".
They were going on the theory that the public can't differenciate between an idea and the color of someone's skin. Why? Becuase they can't.
The difference now is that old leftists are intolerant and blind to the needs of a larger world.
Today is the NEA’s “National Teacher’s Day/Week” – in reality what they’d like it to be is “National NEA week” – one where a private political organization that promoted political causes (for your OWN GOOD dammit!,) is given a cherished place in the culture to do it unquestioned and unchallenged by anything other than their received wisdom.
If this wasn’t the case, why would more people, now more than ever be going to the effort and expense of home-schooling than ever before? Especially in the Western world where education is treated like a leftist softly-softly re-education camp. Make a note of how they “keep files” and see anyone who doesn’t agree with their position where it relates to things of a very public nature as “an attacker”.
These institutions are EVERYONE’S… they just don’t want to admit it.
Their “Teachers Count” initiative is amusing when you think about the teachers who really CAN’T count – not even their own paychecks. Amusingly, the website displays two MEN, possibly representative of the last two men teaching who haven’t been cowed out by the lefty feminism etc. etc. of the establishment.
They’ve been making the argument that they have a low median pay for years, but when you average it into the actual hours worked by the majority of them, they are quite OVERPAID. A simple google search of the string: “teachers overpaid” reveals an automatic tirade of defensiveness. I guess laying a never-ending guilt trip on parents must not only work, but keep working for decades.
Although it brings to mind a decrepidly old Dead Kennedys song - Ken, the sick puppy behind Nanny Knows Best relays a nice little morsel of doppelganger advice to those the state believes are terminally stupid: namely the entire poplation. It's brought to you in collusion between the British nanny state and the BBC. Ken's characterization? "No Sex Please, We're Drunk"
Not to be outdone the same evil cabal calls some of us "RSODs", or Risky Single Occasion Drinkers. (Check out the cute little background animation that assumes that people are idiots, and were raised in a barn.) They seem to have forgotten the value this activity had in thinning out the herd, as it were.
Obviously, persistent and frequent drinking is preferred by Nanny.
Don't laugh, people - everyone needs a hobby.
Monday, May 02, 2005
Karin Quade, who runs the fine website Anti-anti-americanism from Germany wonders about the motivation behind the SPD’s recent tome against capitalism, as well as inconsistent actions which give their stated position an air of moral repugnance:
«Franz Müntefering, the chairman of the Social Democratic Party, is attacking the business world by criticizing "the internationally growing power of capital and the total economization of short-winded trade for profit"1. And believe it or not: Chancellor Schröder and Wolfgang Clement minister in charge of the Economy and Labor support Müntefering´s rhetoric. And they are not alone: according to an opinion poll2 two thirds of Germans agree.David’s Medienkritik chimes in too. From the graphic that they chose to run, their distaste is also quite clear:
Is this the reason why our government prefers trading with countries like Russia and China? And how do big business deals being signed with Russia and China match the anti-capitalist rhetoric? Schröder in an interview last December said that going to China helping the German economy was patriotic3. Is it also patriotic calling German employers "market-radical and anti-social"4?
And where have the former leftist ideals gone? You don´t remember? I was thinking about human rights, justice and so on. All forgotten?
About a week ago Russian President Vladimir Putin came to Hanover to open the world´s largest industrial fair with Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. Important business deals have been signed. Chechnya? Not mentioned.
Same with China. Winning business contracts with China is patriotic. Human rights? Never heard about. And that´s not all! Our Chancellor even wants the European Union to lift it´s weapons embargo on China. Although China is threatening Taiwan. And again, if China attacked Taiwan it would be the U.S. who would guarantee freedom and human rights in the region.
I´d really wish the Left would TEST the WEST! Who knows, they might like it and that´s why the under European law obligatory warning-label is indispensable: "Warning! Testing the West might destroy your world-view!"»
«The SPD's major problems?: The Iraq war is no longer a major issue and people are slowly growing tired of America-baiting and Bush-bashing. Unemployment is at record highs and expected to rise, economic growth has slowed to virtual stagnation and the country continues to run chronic deficits above the 3% maximum set by the EU. So, what is the sputtering German left to do?
so he thinks... Public Enemy #1: Global Capitalism [what? not surprised?]
That's right ladies and gentlemen, Comrade Muentefering has boldly identified global capitalism as the new enemy of the courageous German Socialist movement.»
But only sometimes. Biased BBC's Ed Thomas reports, you decide.
Natalie Solent comments:
Well spotted about the placement issue - i.e. UK cutting aid to Africa is held to be more relevant to Africa but US complaining about Zimbabwe on the HRC is held to be more relevant to the US. I hadn't thought to look at it in such detail. The furthest I'd got was to ask myself whether a story was "buried" or not.
- As well as the general tendency to do whatever puts the UK/US in a bad light, I think this placement reflects (unconsciously) the mentality that sees Africa as a passive recipient or victim. This mentality overestimates the extent to which Africa's fate is determined by aid.
Just the fact that we accept this term demonstrates how far we've gone.Discussing 1984, he also told the Times (UK):
Were not pointing the finger, saying: See how like today it is. But the political messages will come through, the exercise of power for its own sake that we see all around us. The love story has become the centre: this is opera, after all. I didnt set out to write an anti-opera. But love music is love music and rat music is rat music. Weve created a dreadful world in this opera. Im a pretty tough old bird but after I wrote the Room 101 scene I can tell you I didnt sleep for a couple of nights.Elsewhere on his own website he gives an example of the pervasiveness of this dumbing down of civilization:
Today I'm with Glenn Dicterow, esteemed concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic. We have just finished two rehearsals of very interesting repertoire: Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto with Mr. Lang Lang, a young man who just turned 20, from mainland China, who plays the piano superbly well, and the Mussorgsky "Night on a Bare Mountain," which used to be called "Bald Mountain." I believe there is just a touch of political correctness here: people are no longer bald, they are "hair-disadvantaged"; mountains are no longer bald, they are "bare."Speaking quite personally on the 9-11 attacks, he describes a lovely day with his family which would later be shattered. Speaking finally of his children:
But the images of the September 11th tragedy are indelibly tattooed in their memory, the knowledge of man's vulnerable fragility, forever burnt into their bones.The BBC and the politically minded patrons of the New York Philharmonic may not pay much attention to you if you aired more of your feelings openly. But then again, unlike the loud leftist writers, Maestro is a man - an adult, unafraid to bear his humanity before others in a way that isn't selfish and solipsistic. In short - the man actually has a point.
September 10, 2001 was to become their Last Day of Innocence