Saturday, November 29, 2008

Your Fungible Freedoms

Another way of saying "share the goods, comrade" is all they're capable of coming up with.

It is time to think about how to prepare democratic society for the significant stress that adjusting to climate change will cause, and how to guarantee political participation in a difficult period. In Germany, citizens are already beginning to doubt that they live in the best of all political worlds. According to a study conducted by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, almost one in three people hold the view that democracy is functioning badly; astoundingly, 60 per cent of eastern Germans were of this opinion. There is a growing impression that the political system is not equipped to deal with the "big issues" such as climate change, global justice, and demographic development. In other words, democracy is no longer "delivering" and is lacking an essential pillar of its credibility: output legitimacy.
The fear of vague ecological something-or-other is in the view of the great European minds, just another necessary wedge issue/crobar to carve away at democracy by banal rulemaking and use dirigism and subsidies to place the role of work and industry under state control.

Unremarkable to see that these unremarkable minds also believe that measure to control the runaway march to an absolute welfare state, and any number of class-warfare based complaints are some sort of justification for the dismantling of individual freedoms too.

The lack of importance the individual has to the people who spout these theories, and the casualness with which they discuss investing in central governments something closer to absolute power might seem to make a cliche out of these folks, but it's largely true when you read what they write. It's not wooly-headed to plainly say just how much people like this seem to resign themselves to concepts of governance consistence with dictatorship, and sad to see that they show no scepticism of absolutism and to the end of political pluralism at all. I suppose that like the East German regime they will willing to accept the nominal existence of more than one political party for a few years, so longs as they're all the same.
From communication management to democratic skill

It is not hard to understand that those affected by such situations feel themselves abandoned by the state, and often from democracy as well. One of the main reasons is precisely that the state has not ceased to profess willingness to provide care that in reality it can no longer afford. Thus, for example, the increasingly loud demands that low and middle income groups receive compensation for dramatically rising energy costs are likely to be disappointed. No democracy in the world that can vouch for this if resources become scarcer and therefore more expensive; moreover, if democracies wish to retain trust, paradoxically they must admit that they cannot do so. It is possible to imagine what will happen if rising energy costs result in a decline in living standards even for middle income groups, with low earners no longer able to heat their homes
But to find the true ignorance evident in their view, they cant help but forsee disorder in the public communication of relief measures to salve the people where strict controls are trying to do what free-markets can accomplish without manipulation. In wondering just how it is that central governments will be able to tell those "classes" who will demand relief from the rising cost of energy which will be for their own good, they see a "communication management problem". To translate that into plain language: they see the need to propagandize.
In the search for actors that possess or could acquire democratic skills, the gaze falls less and less upon professional politics. Some see the chance for the revival of social participation in active consumer responsibility; consumer rights lends itself well to learning democratic skills through apparently trivial questions such as: "What can I do so that our school is supplied by the local organic dairy?" According to this approach, analogous issues of climate and environmental protection open up new opportunities for political engagement that connect local and regional agendas with global ones.
That's interesting: they don't sem to want democracy, a social form that permits multiple views, debate, and an environment that permits independant study and opinion. They want people with "visible democratic skills" to all make the same kind of decisions and push for the same kinds of initiatives.

The seeming smallness of their motives is as stunningly ignorant as the unthinking ease with which they will concider such a huge and sweeping disposal of the idea that overbearing and invasive state regulation of society is somehow harmless and inherently good.

You simply could not get any more naive about history or myopic in identifying the scale of the problem that they're telling people that they want to solve. Rampling around for yet more, the credit crisis (naturally "caused by greed",) is mined for yet more proof that what the world needs is a veneer of participatory government, so that the real business of an elite within NGOs making themselves a meal-ticket out of the emotional anxiety of the polulation and a few flawed threds of science can trump all else - private of public.

We've already seen the regurgitation of the notion of "making the new socialist man" by way of the use of guilt over social, political, and environmental matters - benignly in the promotion of "new attitudes and lifestyle" which combine a trained non-resistence to anything that looks like a public stunt for "social-justice", or "saving the earth". I only wonder what other revisions of the discredited authoritarian manifestos have been left out.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Gobble, Gobble

Thanksgiving Day and American readers of NP are no doubt decidely not huddled around the television and/or the internet waiting for the latest breaking news filling the world. So, when nobody is watching, what better day to drop a turkey:

There is both growing public reluctance to make personal sacrifices and a distinct lack of enthusiasm for the major international efforts now underway to battle climate change, according to findings of a poll of 12,000 citizens in 11 countries, including Canada.
No doubt as well that this ends the year on a sour note for all involved (the poll is listed as commissioned by the Earthwatch Institute). Six to eight months ago there was undoubtedly great hope. Ideas were pitched, proposals were written, funding obtained, meetings held, powerpoints prepared, urgent emails exchanged, questions worked, polling firms contacted, contracts signed, PR strategy created, and joy all around.

Then those bloody proles got involved and ruined everything with their so-called "answers". No screaming headlines in the Guardian, no prominent mention in a Monbiot piece, no banner headlines, no doom and even less gloom. Just a tattered unread press release left on the sidewalk.

Shudder, what will the donors think....

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

An entire American culture, the West itself, its ideas and experiences, have simply vanished on the altar of therapy

…increasingly to meet a young American male about 25 is to hear a particular nasal stress, a much higher tone than one heard 40 years ago, and, to be frank, to listen to a precious voice often nearly indistinguishable from the female.
Victor Davis Hanson offers up Ten Random, Politically Incorrect Thoughts

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Crisis that Officially Isn't

Brussels Journal reports on an issue that has lit up the French "réacosphere": the idea that a nation with factional, race and ethnicity centered conflict is officially color-blind when society clearly isn't.

The cartoon at the left reads:

So, as I was saying, in France we are all racists. (Except for singers and television).
- I wonder if in foreign countries they are as racist as we are...
- No, I don't think so, seeing as how they're not French.

The cartoon at the right reads:

Unfortunately for us 60 million racists, we are a bit harassed by television.

- I propose a TV series where a girl from Cameroon goes to live in a village and finds she's the target of the villagers' racism, but at the end they see she is OK.

- Yeah, super great idea. They're often racists in the villages. Not like us in the cities.

The big 2 refers to French TV Channel 2

So, as I was saying, in France we are all racists. (Except for singers and television).

- I wonder if in foreign countries they are as racist as we are...
- No, I don't think so, seeing as how they're not French.

The cartoon at the right reads:

Unfortunately for us 60 million racists, we are a bit harassed by television.

- I propose a TV series where a girl from Cameroon goes to live in a village and finds she's the target of the villagers' racism, but at the end they see she is OK.
- Yeah, super great idea. They're often racists in the villages. Not like us in the cities.

The big 2 refers to French TV Channel 2.

Monday, November 24, 2008

High noon at the intersection of Realityplatz and Moralitystraße

Guess who blinks first:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel faced calls from fellow conservatives Sunday to fight to water down a European Union climate pact until the recession-wracked economy is moving again.

Bavarian premier Horst Seehofer said in an interview with the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that he had written to Merkel calling on her to back away from EU climate protection goals to be approved next month for a time.
Added bonus:

German Economy Minister Michael Glos, also of the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party of Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, agreed that Germany could ill-afford to make a priority of climate protection with the economy hobbled by the global financial crisis.

"It is not the time to burden the economy with excessive environmental targets," he said.

Washing down two pizzas with a Diet Coke does not count as "trying" to lose weight

If you frequently find yourself at 30,000 feet, good information to have in terms of who not to fly:

Canada's two largest airlines must give disabled and morbidly obese passengers an extra free seat on domestic flights, beginning in January, after the Supreme Court refused yesterday to consider the carriers' appeal of a federal order.
The truly disabled are a different matter entirely. However, the "morbidly obese":

The ruling is expected to benefit would-be travellers like Linda McKay-Panos, a Calgarian who has secured a declaration from the Federal Court of Appeal that she is obese enough to be considered disabled.

Ms. McKay-Panos, executive director of the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre, said yesterday that she has not travelled on Air Canada since 1997, when she endured a "humiliating" flight in which the airline refused her an extra seat even though "my hips were flowing over the arm rest, my hips were basically on the lap of the person who sat beside me."
How do you think the person sitting next to you felt? If anything it is they who should be protected from flabby fliers oozing over and under the demarcation line known as the arm-rest.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Gosh, really?

Those experts, they divine in such a noble fashion:

Banks are anathema to stock-market investors now, but Peter Sorrentino of Huntington Asset Advisors sees that changing, probably around the middle of next year.
Really, what should the collective we buy:

So who does Sorrentino like while they're still cheap?

He's leery of Citigroup.

"I don't know what you're buying with Citi," he said. "I'd rather go with somebody where there's less uncertainty. I like Wells Fargo, I like US Bancorp, I think those are much stronger balance sheets."
Ok:

He's bullish on JPMorgan Chase "That's almost becoming an asset play in and of itself," he noted.
Any surprises in the deck:

Sorrentino owns shares of Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase.
You don't say.... I am guessing US Bancorp is the spread in this baloney sandwich.

Strange headline

French Socialists in disarray after vote

Wouldn't "perpetually" be a more à propos description?

Please Don’t Mention We’re Going Hat in Hand to the Neighbors

Sarko the selfish and greedy want the US and Russia to agree to security terms over the subject of… wait for it… Europe. Isn’t it about time Europe guaranteed its’ own damn security for once? Are someones' delusions about the UN not working at the moment?

"As acting EU council president I propose that mid-2009 we gather for instance within the OSCE [Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe] to lay the basis of what might be a future EU security arrangement ...which would of course involve the Russians and the Americans," Mr Sarkozy said, backing an idea originally proposed by his Russian counterpart.

He also expressed his "preoccupation" with Mr Medvedev's threat to deploy short-range missiles in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, on the shores of the Baltic Sea, bordering Poland and Lithuania.
Sound like there is a lot of acting going on, actually – but it’s a shame that that “preoccupation” with the US defending them from missile attack is seen as imperial over-reach by Sarko.
Prague and Warsaw have poured cold water on French calls for a moratorium on a planned US missile shield in Europe, with both capitals saying that president Nicolas Sarkozy overstepped his mandate.

"I don't think that third countries, even such good friends as France, can have a particular right to express themselves on this issue," Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Saturday (15 November).

The Polish leader described Mr Sarkozy's comments as his "own point of view, [with] no impact of the future of the project," according to AFP, adding that "The question of the anti-missile shield is governed by an agreement between Poland and the United States."

A similar message came from the Czech republic, with the country's deputy prime minister Alexandr Vondra saying he was taken by surprise.

"France did not discuss its viewpoint with us ... As far as I know, the French presidency mandate for the EU-Russia summit did not contain a position on the US missile defence system," he said.
Of course they wouldn’t discuss the viewpoint with you – they’ve got plans that don’t necessarily include you!