Saturday, July 04, 2009
Homeowners across the country are challenging their property tax bills in droves as the value of their homes drop, threatening local governments with another big drain on their budgets.Let's yell it out time and again....
"It's worthy of a Dickens story," said Gus Kramer, the assessor in Contra Costa County, Calif., outside San Francisco. "These people are desperate. They know their home's gone down in value. They've watched their neighborhoods being boarded up. They literally stand in there and say: 'When can I have my refund check? I need to feed my family. I need to pay my electric bill.' "
Taking a break from lionizing themselves for either thinking they have a serious position in the world, to lionizing themselves for never taking a position on anything of mortal importance. We find a kind of lost capability to even just do anything at all.
If another crisis hits eastern Europe in the summer, the US is likely to respond faster than the European Union. What we’re talking about here, is that central governments will be too understaffed to even do the ‘feigned shock’ routine that European now think of a having international policy positions.
When the people who run the western world go on holiday, bad things happen in eastern Europe. Last August Russia invaded Georgia. Over Christmas its gas spat with Ukraine left millions of European consumers shivering (at least from nerves, if not real cold). Easter (on the western Christian calendar) brought protests against ballot-rigging in Moldova. Somebody please tell this idiot that the EU-3 do not ‘run the western world’. If they can’t even support a problem within the EU that happens to their east, where do they get the idea that they do anything substantive in the interest of ‘the western world’ when they can barely manage the ugly business of securing their own interests?
What the coming summer may bring as new upsets can only be guessed at. Another war in Georgia is always possible. Crimea remains a flammable mixture of incompatible military and ethnic interests. The Kremlin's relations with the once-docile regime in Minsk are uncommonly icy. Your columnist will be keeping his BlackBerry fully charged and close by the poolside.
An insightful new paper by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), a think-tank, shows how the EU is complacently frittering away its advantages and losing out to Russia in the countries of the new Eastern Partnership – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. On paper, the EU's position should be invincible. For five of these countries (Belarus is the exception), it is a bigger trading partner than Russia is. That is a big shift from the days when the Kremlin dominated the ex-Soviet economic space. The EU's freedom and prosperity gives it a lot of soft power too: even a distant prospect of membership counts for a lot more than the tangled embrace of Kremlin-run projects such as the still embryonic Eurasian Economic Community or the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO). Belarus has flounced away from an important CSTO summit meeting amid a bitter row about new Russian barriers to its food exports. In case you were not about to ask, the ‘eastern partnership’ is basically an internal matter of the EU which seems to be fizzling under natural apathy, while the Russians doing one of those make-believe organization things that ends up with an acronym, a large staff of unproductive people with PhDs, and a large building – that thing that Europeans are so good at, seem to be able to manage it fairly well. They might even be able to pretend that it’s a UN agency for the management of something internal.
Yet the Eastern Partnership is faring poorly. Launched by the crippled Czech presidency at the Prague summit, the new programme is struggling to make an impact. From the big EU countries, only German Chancellor Angela Merkel bothered to show up at its birth. And Germany was among the countries that insisted that the most vital ingredient in the package – liberalisation of visas – was diluted almost to the point of meaninglessness.
Either way, what we’re looking at is an inability to even demonstrate an awareness of where there are borders between dimwitted prestige projects and operating a government, about meets-and-greets and diplomacy, or much of anything else. They’ve been feeding themselves a diet of so much speciousness, conferences with names of cities that result in implausible declarations named after cities, and press-releases as a salve to the problem of no-one being in to pick up the damn phone.
Besides that, what is it exactly that they’ve been calling “taking action” lately anyway? Floating a canned press release containing the phrase “deeply concerned”? A trained chimpanzee could manage that routine.
Look if “another crisis hits eastern Europe,” the EU, which is to say Western Europe would let Eastern Europe hang, and they know it. It isn’t a sense of obligation that will change that, it will be a sense of individual humiliation or Russian threats of sphere-expansion that might get the EU’s “boldest and brightest” to so much as cut their vacation short.
Friday, July 03, 2009
Islamic nazis are crushing dissent in Iran, and Obama talks about "lively debate"; in Honduras, meanwhile, Obama Interferes to back a Chávez proxy
Take this hypothetical: imagine that Barack Obama announced that he was going to hold a referendum on legalizing a third term for himself. Imagine that even his attorney general, Eric Holder, advised him that it was illegal. Imagine that the Supreme Court ruled that holding the referendum was unconstitutional. In spite of that, let's imagine that Obama coerced the FEC into holding the referendum anyway. Then - let's further imagine -- we found out that Venezuelan strongman Chávez (who has pulled off a similar power grab in his own country) was financing the referendum. What should the Joint Chiefs do in such a case? And if they removed Obama from office, would they be destroying the Constitution or preserving it?That is the question asked by Pamela Geller on American Thinker (gracias para Larwyn). Oliver North has more.
This is exactly what has occurred in Honduras, to a tee. …Obama is on the same side as Chávez, Ortega and the Castro brothers.And the irony is thick. In a press conference on June 23, Obama said: "I've made it clear that the United States respects the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and is not interfering with Iran's affairs." He never called upon the Iranian mullahs to "respect democratic norms." On the contrary, he ostentatiously refuses to "meddle" in Iran, where individuals are courageously risking life and limb for the idea of free elections. Brutal Islamic nazis are crushing dissent, and Obama talks about "lively debate." Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami spoke out Thursday against what he called a "velvet coup against the people and democracy." Obama has sided with that coup, while in Honduras, Obama and the whores at the United Nations have no qualms about interfering to back a Chávez proxy. On Tuesday, U.N. General Assembly piled on, condemning the "coup" in Honduras and demanding that Zelaya be returned to office. It passed - by acclamation - a resolution calling upon all member states not to recognize the new government.
Elle’s website reports:
Yesterday[Ed.: 30-June] , a 29 year old woman was sprayed with a corrosive product in a sensitive suburb of Grenoble. It was "probably acid," police said. Burned on the lip and hand, the young woman of North African origin was at home during the attack. The doorbell rang and when she opened the door, "a man had thrown the liquid at her. The attacker fled before he could be identified. According to preliminary results of the investigation, jealousy could be the cause of this aggression. The victim was rushed to hospital in Grenoble.”sensitive suburb” is code for the rat-traps that are devolving into the battlefield of a one-sided religious war. But who are we to judge this attacker’s act if it was motivated by culture or if it’s a 3rd world practice that’s supposed to have something to do with how village hicks worship. Obviously Unitarians are to blame.
A single mega-colony of ants has colonised much of the world, scientists have discovered.
Argentine ants living in vast numbers across Europe, the US and Japan belong to the same inter-related colony, and will refuse to fight one another.
The colony may be the largest of its type ever known for any insect species, and could rival humans in the scale of its world domination.
Congressman Barney Frank offers a clue which fits in with what we thought might happen:
When President Obama announced on June 9 that some financial institutions would be allowed to repay Troubled Asset Relief Program dollars, he said the massively expensive TARP bailout had made money for the federal government. "It is worth noting that in the first round of repayments from these [TARP recipients], the government has actually turned a profit," the president said. Indeed, TARP supporters have long held out the hope that the program might be profitable.As we mused in early April:
But now Rep. Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has come up with a proposal to spend any TARP profits before they can be returned to the taxpayers. Last Friday, Frank introduced the "TARP for Main Street Act of 2009," a bill that would take profits from the program and immediately redirect them toward housing proposals favored by Frank and some fellow Democrats.
One can easily imagine a scenario under which the banks get the screws put to them so tightly that they will not only subscribe to the terms above but also the creation of some new, and permanent, set of governmental programmes which dole out the repaid TARP funds, or a big enough portion of them, for all kinds of social re-engineering programmes. The governmentalist mindset will think, "We created this new money, why waste it by simply closing out the TARP programme?"We continue to watch but appreciate Congressman Frank for starting the process which may confirm our fears.
The banks of course will line up squealing with praise for these new programmes and the need to use these repaid TARP funds for the "better social good". And why wouldn't they line up to do so, they will have repaid the TARP funds and removed the government substantially off their backs. The fact that some new social re-engineering programmes have been created and foisted onto the tax-payer in perpetuity makes no difference to the banks, they got rid of their problem.
Thursday, July 02, 2009
A YOUNG schoolboy was “converted” to Islam on the streets of Birmingham by a radical Muslim preacher, the Sunday Mercury can reveal.One can only wonder where both radical and not-so-radical Islam’s hate – hate relationship with the world comes from, especially when it comes to the sick business of exploiting the young. It seems different for boys than it is for girls, but it’s still founded upon a kind of coercion and exploitation, knowing that from the scared and the innocently young, the hateful and manipulative will go unchallenged. As with paedophiles, they get a feeling of control over another living being that cannot evade that headlock of submission.
The bewildered-looking 11 year-old, who gives his name as Sean, was filmed repeating Arabic chants and swearing allegiance to Allah.
The white schoolboy is prompted throughout by controversial cleric Anjem Choudary, a follower of exiled hate-preacher Omar Bakri Mohammed.
Muslim countries in the Middle East and north-central Africa lead the world in human trafficking, according to a new U.S. State Department report. Of the 17 countries that were given the "Tier 3" listing reserved for the worst offenders, nine were Muslim countries or countries with a large Muslim population from these two regions. Tier 3 countries are defined as those “whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards" of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 and "are not making significant efforts to do so.” Is it rare? Is it merely a rural phenomenon? Can one be convinced to call it a feature of native culture that has to be respected as so many of the west’s theoretical expects on culture (but not civilization) would have you know? Of course not.
Amir Taheri on the other hand doesn’t wonder at all. They are not alone in taking joy of others’ pain:
Foucault was not alone among Western leftists to be seduced by Khomeinism. Some of the historic figures of the May 1968 student revolts in Europe visited Iran during these troubled days to see their fantasy revolution take shape in a Third World country. Like impotent voyeurs, they watched the tragedy imposed on Iran by a revolution they could only dream of in their own countries.And for the thinnest of reasons too, the same reason it’s impolite in EUtopia to dwell too much – too much being in any way that would make a real impression – on the real state of being of those exploited for the pleasure of a fantasy-revolutionary or an equally mal-adjusted people who enjoy taking advantage of those they’ve made servile.
For Western return-ticket revolutionaries, watching the Iranian tragedy was-and for some, still is-a way of obtaining vicarious pleasure without a price in pain. Just as quite a few Western pedophiles travel to Third World nations to gratify the bestial tastes they cannot easily indulge at home, aging European and American revolutionaries flocked to Iran to see a revolution such as they no longer hoped to see in their own countries, and they tried hard to describe it as a "people's revolution."And for those in western Europe too simplistic to look past the first explanation they’re handed, the use of terminology might sound familiar:
In a single incident in August 1978, over four hundred people were burned alive at Cinema Rex in Abadan, set on fire by one of the commandos that Foucault had admired. The commando had blocked the emergency exits from the outside and destroyed firefighting equipment to make sure that a maximum number of people would die. The Supreme Guide of the revolution, Khomeini, dismissed the incident as "a sign of the rage of our youth."So don’t be surprised if the consequences we see someday are largely the same.
What If George W. Bush had made a joke at the expense of the Special Olympics, would you have approved?asks the Free Republic (merci à Hervé).
If George W. Bush had given Gordon Brown a set of inexpensive and incorrectly formatted DVDs, when Gordon Brown had given him a thoughtful and historically significant gift, would you have approved?Update: If George W. Bush had gotten the age of his daughters wrong, would you have joined in the (neverending) scorn and the (neverending) ridicule?
If George W. Bush had given the Queen of England an iPod containing videos of his speeches, would you have thought this embarrassingly narcissistic and tacky?
If George W. Bush had bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia, would you have approved?
If George W. Bush had visited Austria and made reference to the non-existent "Austrian language," would you have brushed it off as a minor slip?
If George W. Bush had filled his cabinet and circle of advisers with people who cannot seem to keep current on their income taxes, would you have approved?
If George W. Bush had been so Spanish illiterate as to refer to “Cinco de Cuatro” in front of the Mexican ambassador when it was the Fifth of May (Cinco de Mayo), and continued to flub it when he tried again, would you have winced in embarrassment?
If George W. Bush had misspelled the word advice would you have hammered him for it for years like Dan Quayle and potato as “proof” of what a dunce he is?
If George W. Bush had burned 9,000 gallons of jet fuel to go plant a single tree on “Earth Day”, would you have concluded he’s a hypocrite?
If George W. Bush’s administration had okayed Air Force One flying low over millions of people followed by a jet fighter in downtown Manhattan causing widespread panic, would you have wondered whether they actually “get” what happened on 9-11?
If George W. Bush had been the first President to need a teleprompter installed to be able to get through a press conference, would you have laughed and said this is more proof of how he is inept he is on his own and is really controlled by smarter men behind the scenes?
If George W. Bush had failed to send relief aid to flood victims throughout the Midwest with more people killed or made homeless than in New Orleans, would you want it made into a major ongoing political issue with claims of racism and incompetence?
If George W. Bush had ordered the firing of the CEO of a major corporation, even though he had no constitutional authority to do so, would you have approved?
If George W. Bush had proposed to double the national debt, which had taken more than two centuries to accumulate, in one year, would you have approved?
If George W. Bush had then proposed to double the debt again within 10 years, would you have approved?
So, tell me again, what is it about Obama that makes him so brilliant and impressive? Can't think of anything? Don't worry. He's done all this in 10 weeks — so you'll have three years and nine-and-a-half months to come up with an answer.
Do note, these are just some of the highlights. One wonders what will be in tatters first for producing such a reality-based study, the Dr's funding or their reputation.
Optimistically treating European Commission partially funded data1, we find that for every renewable energy job that the State manages to finance, Spain’s experience cited by President Obama as a model reveals with high confidence, by two different methods, that the U.S. should expect a loss of at least 2.2 jobs on average, or about 9 jobs lost for every 4 created, to which we have to add those jobs that non-subsidized investments with the same resources would have created.
Therefore, while it is not possible to directly translate Spain’s experience with exactitude to claim that the U.S. would lose at least 6.6 million to 11 million jobs, as a direct consequence were it to actually create 3 to 5 million "green jobs" as promised (in addition to the jobs lost due to the opportunity cost of private capital employed in renewable energy), the study clearly reveals the tendency that the U.S. should expect such an outcome.
Despite its hyper-aggressive (expensive and extensive) "green jobs" policies it appears that Spain likely has created a surprisingly low number of jobs, twothirds of which came in construction, fabrication and installation, one quarter in administrative positions, marketing and projects engineering, and just one out of ten jobs has been created at the more permanent level of actual operation and maintenance of the renewable sources of electricity.
This came at great financial cost as well as cost in terms of jobs destroyed elsewhere in the economy.
The study calculates that since 2000 Spain spent €571,138 to create each "green job", including subsidies of more than €1 million per wind industry job.
The study calculates that the programs creating those jobs also resulted in the destruction of nearly 110,500 jobs elsewhere in the economy, or 2.2 jobs destroyed for every "green job" created.
h/t and deep bow to EU Referendum
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
Dousing all skepticism in the interest of nationalism, which at this points merely amounts to peddling their goods, we find some interesting ironies in the Yemenia Airlines post-crash rear-guard action. Even the Times’ Charles Bremner doesn’t seem immune to the repetition.
The Yemenia Airbus that came down yesterday off the Comoros islands, killing 152 aboard, had nothing to do with the problems that ended Flight 447. The plane was a relatively old (19 years) A310 that was in poor condition and which had been banned from French air space in 2007. Okay, that makes sense.
That point is being hammered by the French media today.
The Yemeni plane was a first-generation Airbus, a relatively simple aircraft. These do not have the computerised, fly-by-wire system that Airbus has used since the 1980s and which is under suspicion in Air France flight 447Emphasis mine.
The plane was a relatively old (19 years) A310 that was in poor condition and which had been banned from French air space in 2007.Which is to say that depending on the month of completion, it was fabricated in 1989 or 1990, years after one would understand ‘fly-by-wire’ to have come into use.
Were the aircraft or the passengers of a less fashionable culture of origin, make no doubt about it that the flinching instinct to look for, say “the missile that no one saw” would be whipped out in a cold minute, otherwise the press will accept that because it’s a product of their countrymen and government, to accept that their products are perfectly fabulous, had they only replaced it when the French government (that also has a hand in selling them) said so.
That an airline executive would take that urging to replace it with a grain of salt is actually somewhat understandable, knowing that a big, fat dogpile of dirigisme might be behind the ‘warning’, which would partially mask a genuine safety bulletin.
As for a press corps that selectively doesn’t ask questions when they think their neighbors’ job or national prestige is at stake, well, heal thyself assmonkey, and spare us your never-ending supply of evasive theories about America.
Greedy Yankee Capitalists Have Much to Learn From Fraternal and Generous Europeans As Well As Their Universal Health Care Systems
And why is that, pray tell? The primary reason announced is being fed up with (get ready to be shocked — shocked, I tell you)… administrative red tape!
La première raison invoquée est la lourdeur administrative et la "paperasse" qu'impliquerait la prise en charge des patients CMU [couverture maladie universelle] : ces derniers ne payant pas leur consultation, le remboursement du médecin s'effectue par l'assurance-maladie, ce qui peut prendre du temps si le praticien n'est pas informatisé.Needless to say, the news of the report, reports Cécile Prieur, is but leading to more laws, i.e, to more… red tape…
…Mais la principale raison du refus reste financière : les patients CMU ne pouvant se voir infliger un dépassement d'honoraires, les prendre en charge constitue un manque à gagner pour les médecins…
L'étude souligne ainsi qu'avant d'accorder un rendez-vous, certains praticiens opèrent "un tri en fonction de ceux qui seraient des "bons pauvres" ou des "mauvais pauvres". D'autres tentent de renvoyer les patients CMU à l'hôpital public : avec l'idée qu'il s'agit là d'un lieu pour les plus défavorisés, les cabinets de ville étant réservés aux "autres patients"."
While French readers are scandalized — bemoaning the capitalist system à l'américaine (naturally!) — a number of doctors bring their testimony, including one Michel D:
…spécialiste en fin de carrière, j'ai refusé d'être informatisé. Ayant pris en charge des patients bénéficiaires de la CMU, j'attends le paiement de la sécurité sociale DEPUIS PLUS DE 2 MOIS ! C'est la SANCTION de la sécu. En 30 ans, le tarif sécu d'un spécialiste secteur 1 a diminué d'un tiers : le tarif horaire du psychiatre moins cher que le plombier, le coiffeur, le garagiste ... après 10 ans d'étude, une vie de formation continue et une vingtaine d'années d'analyse !!! Scandale !
Why wouldn’t Obama panic at the sight of a Congress and Supreme Court removing a left wing Socialist President who violated the Constitution in pushing to make himself el-presidente for life, by violating term limits?asks Daniel Greenfield in the Canadian Free Press (merci à RV).
Today Manuel “ALBA” Zelaya. Tomorrow it could be Barry “Hussein” Obama. And Barry knows better than anyone else the full catalog of lies, crimes and scandals brewing beneath his regime. Obama’s rise to power has been part of an American hemisphere trend that covers the likes of Chavez, Zelaya, Correa, Silva and even the return of Kerry’s old buddy, Ortega, to power in Nicaragua. What all of them have in common with Obama is a left wing socialist agenda that ignores the rule of law. An attack against Zelaya, could in Obama’s mind be seen an attack against him equally.
…Meet Obama, the bright young Senator with a phony biography geared to playing up his biracial angst for the college campuses. Who promised his leftist volunteers an end to rendition, detentions, eavesdropping and a whole bundle of other things, only to pull a bait and switch on them.
After all tools like that come in handy, even if they’re less likely to be used against Muslim terrorists, than they are against protesters.
Meet Barack Obama, the man who was going to bring an end to the American of other countries. No more would tell the rest of the world what to do. Except of course to dictate where Jews can live in Israel, how the Honduran judiciary can operate and who can head the Muslim community in Greece.
Of course Obama has drawn the line somewhere. He has drawn the line against standing up to Ahmadinejad, Chavez or any Socialist or Muslim tyrant. Instead Obama has browbeaten America’s democratic allies, in support of Muslim and Socialist tyrannies. You can read that as Obama putting his own political and religious loyalties ahead of America’s interests. Or you can read it as the act of a craven coward who hopes to sacrifice America’s remaining allies in order to win over America’s enemies.
…Obama has been compared to JFK, but what he represents is no profile in courage, but a profile in cowardice. A liar and a manipulator who serves his own ends first and his host country’s, last. Who proclaims, Ask not what I can do for your country, Ask what your country can do for me. And above all else, a craven coward.
Le Monde reported on the 26 June:
Swedish police accused officers of the Swedish Migration of being infiltrated by left-wing extremist groups.As if that was a shock. Of course the very idea that people who fancy themselves as revolutionaries of the adolescent sort that would “smash the system” even if it was their own, isn’t endemic to Sweden, but largely true of people with emotional problems and those who pretended to be well-adjusted when they were children.
According to police intelligence services (SÄPO), these "infiltrators", linked to left wing groups like AFA (Antifascist Action) or Revolutionär Fronten ( "revolutionary front"), arrange to complicate or even block the work of police officers who carry out evictions, and in some cases, help asylum seekers to flee.The REALLY FUNNY thing is that the other kind of stupid “revolutionaries” just ripped their mask off. You know the one – the one that hid the racism and selfishness. The one that says “I got mine, now buzz off”.
For the past 14 months Undocumented Migrants have occupied the premises of the CGT Labor Exchange on rue Charlot in Paris (II). They were ordered to leave the premises by Wednesday 24 June under the double pressure of the law and the CGT, which has tried to remove them while police remained outside according to sources. The ball-busting union thugs that have traditionally supported any unlawful resident in the interest of their egos is now seeing them as competition for jobs, which is precisely the opposite of the position that they traditionally held against blue-collar conservatives, and something they tried to cast as nationalist nativism.
Before the "impasse" in discussions with the occupants for several months, the CGT had mobilized to Paris in the morning "dozens" of militants to dislodge them, according to the union.
According to the National Commission for the Coordination of the Undocumented, "a hundred thugs from the security service of the CGT who were wearing balaclavas and armed with iron bars, sticks, and tear gas, penetrated to within 11.30 in the Exchange ( ...) but were repulsed by those present, including women and children to throw them out. "More than 60 came out shouting. It was really impressive," said Rodolphe Netti, president of
What do you expect when it’s the union that has the Pinkertons, even if they get pasted by a bunch of lightly armed illegal aliens (including women and children).
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
UKIP points to Europe's recommendation that suggests a new definition of an enclosed or indoor areas where smoking should be banned.So, how to explain this out of officialdom:
These would "include any space covered by a roof or enclosed by one or more walls or sides, regardless of the type of material used for the roof, wall or sides, and regardless of whether the structure is permanent or temporary”.
UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom said: “Enough is enough. Today six pubs will close in the UK. Part of our culture is under threat and today is the time to say enough is enough. These jumped up puritanical dictators must be told where to get off.
Yesterday health minister Lord Darzi said there are no plans to extend the smoking ban to outdoor public places in the UK, following a question from crossbench peer Lord Laird.
The European Union says it wants its member states to ban smoking in enclosed public places, on public transportation and in workplaces by 2012.If the statist template holds, the pattern should follow some version of this:
EU Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou says smoking and secondhand smoking cause serious health and economic problems for Europeans who increasingly prefer smoke-free environments.
Step 1) denied as originating from the EU;
Step 2) introduced as a non-binding EU feel-good measure only affecting four Romanian pubs located in Outer Suceava - no worries you see;
Step 3) buried in some piece of EU-wide binding legislation dealing with 'child health';
Step 4) 'discovered' during implementation, after the fact and amid claims from member state legislatures that "there is nothing we can do"; and,
Step 5) denied as originating from the EU*
That should be a close approximation. One thing from the first article does grate:
Robert Humphreys, secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group, stressed that this was a non-binding recommendation, and said it was probably aimed at other member states without smoking bans.Industry does itself no favours when slavishly kow-towing to governmentalism. This particular ban will be on them before they know it, then what? By always going-along-to-get-along, industry refuses to rock the boat and in the end sinks their own ship by not putting up a fight agains the encroachment of that bigger governmental hand in purely private affairs.
*Legislation passed but ignored in France and Belgium
What does the (real-life) governor of Alaska have to do with the jungles of Africa, you might ask, especially in the context of a fictional character? That is the question to ask regarding a state museum, Jacques Chirac's Musée des Arts Premiers (or Quai Branly), which is holding an exhibit on the most enduring character of Edgar Rice Burroughs, entitled Tarzan! ou Rousseau chez les Waziri (18th-century-type subtitle added just to give it a higher pseudo-cultural touch).
Well, it just so happens that the exhibit (under gay museum director Stéphane Martin) features a (French) Tarzan magazine (it looks like a Sunday strip, but it is really four Rex Maxon dailies from the 1940s, subsequently colored and brought upon the same magazine cover page) before and after a number of panels were censored by the French. Fair enough. But then read the accompanying museum caption…
After speaking tongue-in-cheek of "the associations of Puritan America" putting an end to "that horror" — a nude sequence in Tarzan and His Mate (1934) — it continues with censorship of the French Tarzan comic of 1947:
The French control commission, invested as much by the Catholic associations as by the do-gooders of the French Communist Party, will bring about the banning of [the magazine] Tarzan.So far, so good. But look what comes then, in the final sentence: an entirely gratuitous, an entirely caricatural, and an entirely erroneous slap at jungle inhabitant Sarah Palin!
It would seem that a certain Sarah Palin is carrying on the fight…
Some states faced with sinking tax collections and rising debt are going after unused gift cards that bolster their revenue.
South Carolina is considering legislation that would give the state the right to collect unclaimed gift-card credit. A similar measure in Texas to allow the collection of unused credit even from cards that have no expiration date passed that state's House this spring and stalled in the Senate. Texas already collects unused gift cards with expiration dates.
Since the recession began, states have been aggressively tapping so-called abandoned property -- anything from gift cards to dormant bank accounts and safety-deposit boxes. About half the states collect unused gift cards after a period of two to five years.
Looking for a new mix of Zoloft, German “culture” types try to gin-up comparisons between the Guantanamo Bay detention center with Auschwitz and the German system of concentration camps.
The American novelist and essayist Louis Begley was in Frankfurt’s Old Opera House earlier this month to promote the German edition of his new book Why the Dreyfus Affair Matters. The English edition is first scheduled for release in late August. Oddly enough, however, a German translation has already been published. The German edition bears a different title: The Dreyfus Affair: Devil’s Island, Guantánamo, a Historical Nightmare [Der Fall Dreyfus: Teufelsinsel, Guantánamo, Alptraum der Geschichte].Why, you ask? Stupidity, a strange thing to think you would find in the sneering “culture” set. However, if you knew much of anything about Germany’s public dialog, you wouldn’t be surprised to find this sort of intellectually insulated narrowness at all.
The German title is not only grammatically puzzling. Why the emphasis on Dreyfus’s place of imprisonment — an incidental feature of the Dreyfus Affair? And what is the “historical nightmare”? And what does Guantánamo have to do with it? An article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) on Begley’s Frankfurt appearance makes somewhat clearer the significance of these associations. Referring to the book, FAZ author Edo Reents writes:
Relentlessly and with a pressing intensity, Begley lists the anti-Semitic incidents that took place in France during and after the Dreyfus Affair. He then moves from this to the American Islamophobia of the Bush government, which, inasmuch as it illegally imprisoned and tortured people, essentially behaved no differently than the National Socialists.
The comparison is obviously ludicrous. And yet there it is, presented with great solemnity in the Arts and Culture [Feuilleton] section of Germany’s most prestigious daily. Of course, on Reents’s account, it is not Reents himself who is drawing the comparison, but rather Begley, who is not only American, but, as Reents takes pains to remind us, also an American Jew.So identity, that bugaboo of Euro-thought that has thrust their wars an misery on the rest of humanity for centuries, is somehow supposed to explain everything. I guess it DOS take a near Borg-like feeling about your own self and culture to believe that somehow it’s your GENES that somehow define all your motives and thoughts. Failing that, you can try calling it “culture”, but it doesn’t go very far in explaining their own horrifying past should anyone ever point it out.
If “that’s just what a. [ you name it, fill in the blank ] or b. [ Americans ] or c. [ Jews ] “just do,” would it not be safe to say that Europeans are going to bring humanity to the brink of self-destruction yet again, because it’s imporinted on them? Of course not, but if enough of them keep that “culture” just means things like cuisine or any number of other things they don’t do natively anymore, like raise their children, what then will become of the real thing? To which I mean civilization ?
The passage is remarkable in that it weaves together two of the favorite idées fixes that have occupied Germany’s chattering classes in recent years; the famous “Bush=Hitler” meme and the notion that “Islamophobia” is, in effect, the new form of anti-Semitism. Which would be amusing if we started calling things like the wars in the former Yugoslavia as a “war against Orthodox Christians”. The difference is quite simple. Self-serving morons can invent all manner of externalized theories about people when they’re covering Pygmies in the section 3 of the newspaper as though they are an animal species, but doesn’t look good when the mindlessness of that kind of generalization is applied to them.
Monday, June 29, 2009
After the speeches of Nicolas Sarkozy, Gordon Brown, Stephen Harper, and Barack Obama commemorating the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landings at the Military Cemetery of Omaha Beach next to Normandy's Colleville-sur-Mer on June 5, 2009, planes from the air forces of France, Britain, and the United States (in that order) shoot by overhead, with one American pilot breaking formation to fly straight up, vertically, into the sky…
While people are getting cranked about the goings on in Honduras, they managed to consistently overlooked that it isn’t a military putsch. The Honduran military was acting on the direction of the highest court of Honduras.
Barack Obama, on the other hand, the great respecter of sovereignty is in full ”don’t look now, but I’m acting like a leftist” mode by trying to override Honduran self-determination in a useless bid to be liked by Hugo Chavez. In a fit of extra-legalism and reactionary false-consciousness, similar methods are being proffered by abusive dictatorial regimes.
Not to be outdone, Sarkozy is demanding an equally overbearing act of telling the Israeli Prime Minister to remove his Foreign Minister from office.
And to think that these people are trying to make humanistic argument for the removal of the Taliban.
In the New Criterion, Mark Steyn reviews Paul Anthony Rahe’s “Soft Despotism, Democracy's Drift: Montesquieu, Rousseau, Tocqueville, and the Modern Prospect” noting that though the advent of enlightenment ideas open humanity to a great many breakthroughs and possibilities. It finally boils down to the fact of Benjamin Franklin’s warning that a Republic is a fine thing if you can keep it.
Ah, but I wonder if those early settlers would recognize the people, and their assumptions about the role of government. Mr. Levin’s listener was trying to articulate something profound but elusive. It’s not something you can sell the film rights for —there are no aliens vaporizing the White House, as in Independence Day; no God- zilla rampaging down Fifth Avenue and hurling the Empire State Building into the East River. No bangs, just the whimper of the same old same old civilizational ennui, as it gradually dawns that Admiral Yamamoto’s sleeping giant may be merely a supersized version of Monty Python’s dead parrot.The trick to devolving any society into that of a oafish welfare state is to make sure that no-one asks that question, no-one wonders who’s authority something really belongs under, and no-one sees past the benefit they can take from the rest of society. In short, it’s how you decimate the self-selected American model in favor of one imposed on us in an underhanded manner from without.
Paul A. Rahe’s new book on the subject is called Soft Despotism, Democracy’s Drift, which nicely captures how soothing and beguiling the process is. Today, the animating principles of the American idea are entirely absent from public discourse. To the new Administration, American exceptionalism means an exceptional effort to harness an exceptionally big government in the cause of exceptionally massive spending. The can-do spirit means Ty’Sheoma Bethea can do with some government money: A high-school student in Dillon, South Carolina, Miss Bethea wrote to the President to ask him to do something about the peeling paint in her classroom. He read the letter out approvingly in a televised address to Congress. Imagine if Miss Bethea gets her way, and the national bureaucracy in Washington becomes responsible for grade- school paint jobs from Maine to Hawaii. What size of government would be required for such a project? And is it compatible with a constitutional republic?
It’s way was one where one does not permit the citizen to consult citizen. The idea is to pretend that government has consulted the citizen when it really hasn’t.
“It does not tyrannize, it gets in the way.” The all-pervasive micro-regulatory state “enervates,” but nicely, gradually, so after a while you don’t even notice. And in exchange for liberty it offers security: the “right” to health care; the “right” to housing; the “right” to a job—although who needs that once you’ve got all the others? The proposed European Constitution extends the laundry list: the constitutional right to clean water and environmental protection. Every right you could ever want, except the right to be free from undue intrusions by the state. M. Giscard d’Estaing, the former French president and chairman of the European constitutional convention, told me at the time that he had bought a copy of the U.S. Constitution at a bookstore in Washington and carried it around with him in his pocket. Try doing that with his Euro-constitution, and you’ll be walking with a limp after ten minutes and calling for a sedan chair after twenty: As Professor Rahe notes, it’s 450 pages long. And, when your “constitution” is that big, imagine how swollen the attendant bureaucracy and regulation is. The author points out that, in France, “80 per cent of the legislation passed by the National Assembly in Paris originates in Brussels”—that is, at the European Union’s civil service. Who drafts it? Who approves it? Who do you call to complain? Who do you run against and in what election? And where do you go to escape it?Nonetheless, I wouldn’t fear too much of a “progressive” retort to Rahe’s survey of our philosophical heritage. Not only are there too many large words in it, there are too many big, uncorruptable ideas that are to clear and meaningful to be bogged down with the emotionalized detritus of the class warfare politics that bear little resemblance to what the label promises: take up the banner of the left and you will find yourself with the same oppression as the worst sorts of monarchy. Fall for the pretend-concern about people, and you will find yourself without rights as an individual.
Thus, Tocqueville’s great insight—that what prevents the “state popular” from declining into a “state despotic” is the strength of the intermediary institutions between the sovereign and the individual. The French revolution abolished everything and subordinated all institutions to the rule of central authority. The New World was more fortunate: “The principle and lifeblood of American liberty” was, according to Tocqueville, municipal independence. “With the state government, they had limited contact; with the national government, they had almost none,” writes Professor Rahe:The strange thing is that this model of a liberation movement is precisely the opposite of what even revolutionary liberation movements appear to want even today. If they aren’t misrepresenting those goals, they’re demonstrating just how little they understand liberty to begin with. It all seems to comes down to trying to rename you avarice for centralizing power in an all-powerful state, as liberation. It’s as hideous and anti-intellectual an inversion as you’ll ever find.
In New England, their world was the township; in the South, it was the county; and elsewhere it was one or the other or both… . Self-government was the liberty that they had fought the War of Independence to retain, and this was a liberty that in considerable measure Americans in the age of Andrew Jackson still enjoyed.