Saturday, February 06, 2010

"More Like a Monarchy Than a Republic": Whatever Is Wrong with America's University System, Says One French VP, It Is Less Unequal Than France's

Contrary to what Frenchmen are taught to believe, says Gilbert Béréziat in Philippe Jacqué's Le Monde article (as he answers a typical America-bashing question, "Le système universitaire est-il en train de s'américaniser et de nous obliger à nous endetter pour payer les études de nos enfants?"), "the American university system is less unequal than ours is."

Generally, the vice-président aux relations internationales de l'université Pierre et Marie Curie blasts away at simplifications and political correctness. Moreover, we learn (from an answer to a question mentioning the fact that "un bon nombre d'étudiant en fac sont là un peu par défaut, ou parce qu'ils ont été mal orientés") that
Le système français est incroyable, puisque les élèves les plus doués pour les sciences sont orientés vers des filières de management, de business, etc., et que les filières scientifiques, conduisant à la recherche, manquent de candidats.
As for a student at the London School of Economics, who bemoans the fact that she had to leave Paris because the human sciences that she wanted to study is not offered in France, Gilbert Béréziat replies that in France
on est plutôt dans une monarchie que dans un système républicain.
In addition, he says (sounding almost like one of those hated Anglo-Saxons!),
Je pense qu'à l'âge de 17-18 ans, les élèves doivent s'épanouir, et pas être formatés.
Moreover, the vice-président says (in his last answer) that it is precisely because the university is free, that there is little sense of belonging, and that a network of alumni never forms.
Il nous faut … recréer un réseau d'anciens de l'université, qui n'existe pas en France. Et d'une certaine manière, cela nous ramène à la question de départ : l'université étant gratuite, le sentiment d'appartenance à cette université est faible.
La cérise sur le gâteau :
sous couvert d'égalitarisme, en réalité, l'Etat subventionne les études de tout le monde mais, comme nous savons très bien que les couches les moins favorisées accèdent le plus difficilement à l'enseignement supérieur et acquittent l'impôt sous forme de taxe (TVA), puisqu'en France l'impôt direct ne représente pas les revenus principaux de l'Etat, sans trop de risque de se tromper, on peut dire qu'en France les moins favorisés financent les études des plus favorisés.

“This is a Waste of my Time”

The EU, it seems, is just a mashed potato circuit that ends up getting the rest of the world caught up in their internal bickering and excessive vacation calendars.

Obama's Madrid snub exposes 'excessive' EU summitry
It couldn’t be any clearer, and yet “excessive” is still in quotes.
"At this point, Obama told his aides: 'This is a waste of my time'," Missiroli said, adding that the potential for sequels is still there, coupled, most probably, with "possible confusion" surrounding the preparation of the summit.
”Possible”? How about absolute confusion, as in “this is a waste of my time”? I guess multilateralism means never having to pick up a phone when a fleet of airliners and a staff of thousands will do.
"The agenda of leaders is packed with summits. Maybe focusing on fewer summits with more substance and more continuity in foreign relations in-between summits is the way ahead," Missiroli suggested.
Gee, you know maybe that would be a good idea.
Bruce Jackson, an American political strategist, told an event in the European Parliament today (2 February). “There are currently six different EU presidents, the rotating EU presidency president [José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero], Mr Barroso, Mrs Ashton, plus Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy, who also aim to be EU presidents,” he added.
Better still, if the White House waits it out, the 6 month term of that complete loon will have passed without him infecting American policy any more than it already has been.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Danish Troops Storm Ship Captured by Somali Pirates

Danish special forces have stormed a ship captured by Somali pirates, reports Danish Yank, and freed 25 crew members.
…it was the first time a warship had intervened after pirates boarded a vessel.

Troops in inflatable dinghies moved in after a distress signal from the Antigua and Barbuda-flagged Ariella.
Update: "Denmark over the past few years has been increasing an emphasis on its special forces," writes Sharon Weinberger, "which consist of the Jægerkorpset, an Army unit similar to British commandos, and the Frømandskorpset, the rough equivalent of U.S. Navy SEALs. Not only have they grown their ranks; they are seeking action as well."
"Events happen rapidly in our field, and if we are to measure up to the best special forces out there, it doesn't do any good if we only train," the special forces corps chief, Lt. Col. Henrik Friis, said in 2005, according to the trade publication Defense News. "We need to get out and complete some missions."

Hunting Blacks in Calabria: Why Have 1,500 Africans Been Terrorized, Then Driven Away with Pickaxe Handles and Buckshot?

Pourquoi, dans un pays qui a vu émigrer 27 millions de ses habitants à travers le monde, 1 500 Africains ont-ils été terrorisés puis chassés à coups de chevrotine et de manches de pioche ?
Le Monde features a full-page article by Philippe Ridet on racism in a small Calabrian town.
En deux jours de violences, Rosarno est devenue le symbole de l'infiltration mafieuse dans l'agriculture locale, de l'intolérance à l'égard des étrangers, d'une forme d'esclavage moderne et de l'impuissance de l'Etat. Président de la République, premier ministre, parlementaires défilent en Calabre.

… il a fallu un article du quotidien du Vatican, L'Osservatore Romano, le 11 janvier, pour mettre les pieds dans le plat : "Non seulement écoeurants, les épisodes de racisme dont la presse se fait l'écho nous ramènent à la haine muette et sauvage envers une autre couleur de peau que nous croyions avoir dépassée (...). Nous n'avons jamais brillé par notre sens de l'ouverture, nous Italiens du Nord au Sud."

Le Monde has a separate article on the Vatican's condemnation of Italian racism. Meanwhile, Alain Morice answers the questions of Claire Ané and Veilleur de Jour adds that
Le climat de haine raciste ne cesse de s’amplifier en Italie. “La situation se dégrade. Tous les jours, un noir se fait tabasser. On ne peut pas continuer comme ça”, explique à Ann-Sophie Legge, Gian Antonio Stella, journaliste spécialisé dans les mouvements de droite et auteur du livre “Nègres, tapettes, youpins & co. L’éternelle guerre contre l’autre”, paru début décembre (“Negri, froci, giudei & Co. — L’eterna guerra contro l’altro”).
Philippe Ridet continues:
Dans la ville de Romeo et Juliette, les immigrés représentent 13 % de la population. Ils sont devenus invisibles, relégués dans les quartiers périphériques. … Le donneur de travail n'embauche jamais deux fois de suite les mêmes immigrés, de peur d'être reconnu et dénoncé. "Il vous arrive d'avoir des bons contacts avec eux ?", demande-t-on. "Ils nous prennent pour travailler, pas pour prendre de nos nouvelles", cingle Michel Djibo, un Ivoirien.

Sortir, avoir des contacts avec la population ? Trop risqué. Trop humiliant aussi. "Dans les bars, si on commande un café, il nous est servi dans un gobelet en plastique. Comme si on avait la maladie." Mamadou, Ivoirien, a des larmes plein les yeux : "La vie est trop difficile ici. Il faut un papier avant de pouvoir commencer à vivre, à travailler, à trouver un logement. Les Noirs vivent mal, mal, très mal. On est malheureux, emprisonnés. Les Italiens nous considèrent comme des chiens. Non, même pas. Les animaux sont mieux traités que nous."

Gian Luca Castaldi, qui gère ce centre d'accueil, tente une explication : "Ce n'est pas forcément du racisme de la part des Italiens, mais de l'envie. Pour un jeune du coin, le maximum de l'ambition sociale est d'obtenir une indemnité de chômage. Ils voient arriver des types qui ont risqué leur vie pour faire des boulots dont eux ne veulent même pas. Au fond, ils envient leur courage."

Réduits à une forme d'esclavage, ces immigrés n'ont pas choisi l'Italie par hasard. Des secteurs entiers de l'économie, le bâtiment et l'agriculture, reposent sur l'exploitation des clandestins. Moins ils sont en règle, plus ils sont malléables et corvéables. … La situation ne fait qu'empirer. …

Directeur de l'institut d'études sociales Cencis, qui ausculte depuis plus de quarante ans la vie des Italiens, le sociologue Giuseppe de Rita assure, lui, que "les Italiens ne sont pas plus racistes que le reste des Européens confrontés à l'immigration, mais sont habités d'un sentiment de supériorité". "Les Napolitains, explique-t-il, ont essayé de rouler les Américains quand ils les ont libérés en 1943. Les Italiens s'imaginent toujours plus forts que les derniers arrivés."

Interestingly, Gian Luca Castaldi says that the treatment of blacks is not necessarily racism, but may rather be envy: Italian youth, whose top social ambition is to get welfare benefits, "see these guys arriving who have risked their lives to do jobs that they [the Italians] don't even want. In the final analysis, they envy their courage."

Dieudonné is a Bearded Clam

The former used car salesman, former mediocre comedian, and all-around lover of jack-booted thugs is in Iran to partake in the celebration of their revolution that installed their theocracy.

Maybe he’s hoping to see a homophobic judicial lynching or something.

Dieudonné is in Tehran again. This time, it’s not to seek the release of Clotilde Reiss, but to talk about movies along with some French friends who accompanied him. It means letting go in public on the theme of Jewish villains without risking a fine. It’s an ode to indifference in all its forms.

For years during the anniversary of the Islamic revolution, the mullahs' regime organize days of Fajr (“dawn” in Arabic) that the Iranians call the days of ZAJR or torture. Thy hold a film festival in this 10 day period. The Fajr Film Festival has honored the greatest filmmakers of the regime, and those foreigners pretending to be dissident artists.


He called Sarkozy a dictator, but can’t see the one standing next to him.

Now now, settle down....

At this point .........

The Dutch environment minister, Jaqueline Cramer, on Wednesday demanded a thorough investigation into the 2007 report by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change after a Dutch magazine uncovered it incorrectly states 55 percent of the country lies below sea level. The the Dutch national bureau for environmental analysis has taken responsibility for the incorrect figure cited by the IPCC. Only 26 percent of the Netherlands is really below sea level.
Is it fair to ask for someone to reference something (anything?) in the IPCCs 2007 report which is actually accurate? We will even settle for a reference which is maybe somewhat possibly close to being almost usually accurate, occasionally.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Dissecting Some of the Questions that Daily Kos Asked Self-Identifed Republicans

The Daily Kos poll of Self-Identified Republicans seems to be creating quite a stir — "The results are nothing short of startling" exclaims Markos Moulitsas Zúñiga (better known as Kos) — especially given the fact that the questions seem straight-forward.

But the Research 2000 for Daily Kos questions (1/20-31) to Self-identified Republicans (MoE 2%) are not as straight-forward as they look at first sight, and how you phrase a question can bring a vast variety in the answers. (For instance, there is a difference between asking "Do you think Bush was right to start a(n illegal) war?", "Do you think the U.S. Army was right to invade (Saddam Hussein's) Iraq?", and "Do you think the United States was right to overthrow a dictator (who had killed 300,000 of his fellow citizens)?" Note that each question changes even more by simply adding — or, alternatively, removing — the respective phrase in parentheses.)

As I will be pointing out below, the main problem here is with either-or questions in which neither option is entirely satisfactory. The answers therefore help Kos make those questioned look ridiculous. Often, by voicing a question stating the exact opposite of what the original question is saying, you sense the problem with that original question — since the (unmentioned) alternative is unpalatable, or even more unpalatable, the person questioned has little choice but to accept the question, incongruous as it may be. As a matter of fact, I have reason to believe that in any case, these questions were reframed after they were asked in order to make Republicans look ridiculous — make them look more Taliban-like — but since I have no proof of this, I do not dwell into the issue. The conclusion (as I write later on): If you really want to get to know the population or a segment thereof (rather than make a caricature of them), it makes more sense to frame your queries as if they were multiple-choice questions.
As I've mentioned before, I'm putting the finishing touches on my new book, American Taliban, which catalogues the ways in which modern-day conservatives share the same agenda as radical Jihadists in the Islamic world.
As Ann Althouse states, "It turns out this poll was designed to help him with that theory." ("As far as Research2000 is concerned," according to a commentator on Althouse's post, "they had Coakley over Brown 49-41 on January 14th. So they were wrong by 13 points 5 days before that election.")
Should Barack Obama be impeached, or not?

Yes 39
No 32
Not Sure 29

For what? Who the heck knows.
The exact reverse of this question might sound something like "Has Barack Obama done nothing wrong — not a single thing — has he, in fact, been right on the money every time during his first year in the White House?" Now, this may come as a surprise for America's (and the planet's) blame-America-firsters, but for one thing a number of people do not think the nation's commander-in-chief should act as the nation's apologist-in-chief (for instance bowing to foreign monarchs). For another, some of us remember Obama's wanting (or, rather, his followers wanting) to change the U.S. Constitution so that he could be reelected endlessly, winning more than two elections (apparently — in the best of worlds — ending up as president-for-life). How about the attempts to take over one sixth of the economy and to ram that law through Congress — and down the American people's collective throats — with no input from the opposition, from the American people, and, indeed, from his own party members (this, in direct contradiction — I mention this for all the people who love the idea of impeaching an American president for his alleged lies — of his campaign promises concerning CSPAN's cameras)?

And how about Obama's wars on Fox News and talk radio, along with changes to the FCC rules which would make it harder for the latter to survive, which, even if his followers lap it up, strikes some of us as an attack on the First Amendment? Those may or may not warrant impeachment per se, but certainly it makes it understandable that some people think that those acts should be opposed with the (legal) weapons at hand… (PS: for those who think that conservatives' domination of the airwaves is truly a travesty, please realize that it is a reaction to liberal domination of the newspapers and to liberal domination of the TV networks…)
Do you think Barack Obama is a socialist?

Yes 63
No 21
Not Sure 16

That's the power of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, after one year of relentlessly claiming Obama is the second coming of Lenin ... and Hitler!
If anybody has made anybody seem like the second coming of Hitler, it isn't the Republicans with Obama; it is the Democrats (and their like-minded European brethren) with George W Bush.

More to the point, the reason Kos can make Republicans seem lame-brained here is because the question, "Do you think Barack Obama is a socialist?", makes it sound like people are being asked if they think the most preeminent member of America's Democratic Party is (really or otherwise) a full-fledged, card-carrying member of a totally different party (the Socialist Party) — "the second coming of Lenin", in Kos's leering words — but when you think about it (the obverse question would be "Do you think Barack Obama is not a socialist at all?"), isn't the underlying question, obviously — the one that people are indeed answering — has Barack Obama behaved, is he behaving (at least part of the time), like a socialist would?

How wrong (or how allegedly lame-brained) is it (for "homegrown teabaggers" or others) to refer to a man as a socialist when that man has taken over General Motors — whether or not you agree with that — and who has attempted— again, whether or not you agree with that — to take over a sixth of the economy? During which time, he and the Socialist — sorry, the Democratic — heads of the House and the Senate (remember when they passed the stimulus bill with no input from either the opposing party or the members of their own party?) tried to get the whole deal decided behind closed doors with a handful of actors, acting almost as if the country were a one-party state. (To return to the previous question, how inane does the threat of impeachment become in this case?) Notice that I haven't even mentioned Obama's support for (or lack of a stand against) known socialist strongmen such as the Castro brothers, Hugo Chávez, and their like-minded brethren…

"Given what their base demands, and this poll illustrates them perfectly, it's no wonder the GOP is the party of no" writes Kos, and he's damn right: when we see all these takeover attempts, we do say No — and we do so proudly — and we want our elected representatives to say No. "No" is not — necessarily — a sign of virulence and resentment: "No" can be a sign of logic, of common sense, and of (rightful) resistance.
Do you believe Barack Obama was born in the United States, or not?

Yes 42
No 36
Not Sure 22

We still have over a half of Republicans who don't think Obama was born in the US or think it's a matter open to debate.
It may well be that most of the writings concerning the wherabouts of Obama's birth sound delusional, but, as far as I can tell, James L Lambert's arguments are far from nonsensical… There are two problems with the alleged deluded "Birther" conspiracy that are overseen by Kos (and everywhere else). They are, first, that the real, original "long" birth certificate never seems to have materialized (the certificate of live birth being, and please correct me if I'm mistaken, a recent production); second, that to believe that an American citizen born to a foreign father who lived much of his childhood abroad may indeed have been born in a foreign country is not that far-fetched.

[Update: Not until April 2011 did the White House finally release Barack Obama's original birth certificate.]

Indeed, the difference between the Truthers and the Birthers is that in the first case, we are being asked to believe that 1) hundreds, if not thousands, of government officials were approached with a view to conspire to kill thousands of their fellow citizens, all (or most) of them innocent civilians, that 2) hundreds, if not thousands, of government officials agreed (apparently without a moment of hesitation) to conspire to murder thousands of innocent civilians, and that 3) none of these hundreds (thousands) of government officials has ever had a single, even fleeting feeling of remorse, or let the cat out of the bag, say while having too much to drink (no remorse?) during a Saturday outing to a local bar.

In the second case, we do not even have a conspiracy, but basically one single man telling a falsehood — although it might even be termed a lie of omission — a lie about what offhand is a personal matter, but has turned into the only thing (allegedly) keeping him from power (Update: The New York Times' Double Standard on Conspiracy Theories).

Most damning of all, when you pause to think of it, the castigators' proof — if it can be called that — all lies in one fact (beyond the recently released certificate of live birth): and that fact is that Obama is a man, a person whose word should never be doubted, who is capable of no lying, no evil, no chicanery. If he tells you that, say, he is a Christian, then how dare you deny he is a religious man?! How dare you imply that he is a Muslim?! How dare you state he is a socialist?!

The person who ridicules the "Birther" theory as inane has no more proof than the born-in-Hawaii skeptic of where Obama was actually born [or didn't have any more proof until over two years into Obama's presidency]: his only argument only argument — beyond the fact that the certificate of live birth and the newspaper clipping are incontrovertible proof that are not, can not be, fakes, bureaucratic mistakes, or misinterpretations — is the indisputable "truth" that Obama is someone whose honesty should not — should never — be questioned. (Whether in regards to his private life or to his political plans for America's future.)
[Update: As it happens, we would learn in 2012 (over four years after Obama was first a candidate and over three years after he entered the White House) that a "New Book Raises Questions About Obama's Memoir" (The New York Times' Michael Shear) and that, indeed, it turns out that Obama's memories were a "fantasy (like most of the President's own memoir)" (The Daily Mail). Adds Toby Harnden: "'Barack Obama: The Story' by David Maraniss catalogues dozens of instances in which Obama deviated significantly from the truth in his book 'Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance'. The 641-page book punctures the carefully-crafted narrative of Obama’s life."]

When you think about it, it might be less worrying that some do not believe Obama was born in the United States (because of the circumstances linked to his entire childhood, much of it abroad) than that some are utterly convinced he must be born in the United States (because the Chicago pol is allegedly a sainted figure who can do, who can say no evil, who is incapable of lying or of falsifying documents). Again, remember the desires of some of his followers who want(ed) the constitution to be changed, only so Obama could win one election after another and end up, in one way or another and in the best of all possible outcomes, as (de facto if not de jure) president-for-life?
Do you believe Barack Obama wants the terrorists to win?

Yes 24
No 43
Not Sure 33

Not just a quarter of Republicans believe this ludicrous premise, but another third think it's a matter open to debate. How do you negotiate with a party whose rank and file are that divorced from reality?
Again, there is a difference between "Do you believe Barack Obama wants the terrorists to win?" and "Do you believe Barack Obama wants the United States to win?" — or, alternatively, asking "Do you believe Barack Obama wants the terrorists to lose?" or "Do you believe Barack Obama wants the United States to lose?" Barack Obama has said several times that in this new, reset world of ours, there should be no losers and winners (or words to that effect), he has pointed out the many times the United States has allegedly been wrong (while making all due apologies), and, especially, he has been (or seemed) more concerned with giving Miranda rights rather than to learn more about the thugs planning (further) terrorist attacks.

Alright, answering Yes to "Do you believe Barack Obama wants the terrorists to win?" may seem far-fetched, but if it seems that he himself, BHO, would answer No to that question (or to "Do you believe Barack Obama wants the United States to lose?"), think of the opposing question — isn't it true that there are indications that BHO would not want to answer Yes to either "Do you believe Barack Obama wants the United States to win?" or "Do you believe Barack Obama wants the terrorists to lose?"
Do you believe ACORN stole the 2008 election?

Yes 21
No 24
Not Sure 55

One in five Republicans think ACORN is so powerful as to magically make 10 million votes appear. Another 55 are open to the theory. In other words, just 24 percent of Republicans have an even passing relationship with reality.
This is called Kos's grotesque caricature weapon. Check the opposite question: "Do you believe that ACORN is an entirely honest organization which is deserving of the utmost trust?" Or how about this one: "Do you think ACORN played no tricks during the 2008 elections?" Those options we do not have, nor do we have (in a MCQ format) the option simply to say that ACORN cheated, without perhaps without going so far as having the ability to turn the election one way or the other. Answering No on that question therefore becomes akin to saying ACORN is honest and deserving of trust, and that is not something many people think or want to say… And so Kos feels he is allowed to caricature the results in a ridiculous way ("One in five Republicans think ACORN is so powerful as to magically make 10 million votes appear").

Furthermore, nobody believes ACORN uses (or tries to use) magic (if only!). And, in any case, it's not a matter of either stealing as many as 10 million votes or even of stealing the nationwide election. All you need are (some of) the borderline states. For example, I think a number of people could easily make the case that if not ACORN, then Soros' Secretary of State Project, stole (or was instrumental in stealing) the Minnesota senate election, a theft which required no more than a few hundred fake or dead voter names and which brought enough power to Obama's party for it to act like a one-party state and do what it wanted (at least for a few months)…
Do you believe Sarah Palin is more qualified to be President than Barack Obama?

Yes 53
No 14
Not Sure 33

Sigh...
Guess what, Kos. We also think Scott Brown more qualified to be president of the United States! (Not to mention Mitt Romney, Bobby Jindal, and even… John McCain.) For one thing, Sarah Palin was mayor of a town and governor of a state (which she became in spite of her party machine) for a couple of years; how that makes one many times less (or more) qualified than head of a community organization and in the national senate (with the backing of his party machine), also for a couple of years, is beyond a few of us.

For another, Sarah Palin would likely not have tried to take over General Motors and one sixth of the economy (as Don Surber says, "she would not have wasted $787 billion on a stimulus that tanked the economy"), and she would not even have thought of reading the Christmas Day bomber his Miranda rights and putting the mastermind behind 911 on trial in Manhattan. Well, even if you disagree with any of those, that should make you understand why Palin seems more qualified to be President of the United States than Barack Obama in many of our minds. Note that the "sigh" rests on little else than, again, the uncontested "fact" that the grotesque caricature of Sarah Palin can only be real and that BHO is this holier-than-thou human being whose potential for leadership is self-evident and uncontested.
Do you believe Barack Obama is a racist who hates White people?

Yes 31
No 36
Not Sure 33

I bet more people think Obama is racist, but were too afraid to tell a live operator the truth.
Again, think of the exact opposite of this question — in this case, "Do you believe Barack Obama is an unbiased uniter who loves white people?" — to see how the question is distorted. It is highly unlikely that most people — even Democrats — would answer Yes to the entire revised question. Even Democrats who might — who probably would — gladly say Yes to the first part of the revised question, would have trouble with the second part, sensing it goes too far. (This question is one of several that makes me believe that the questions have been changed since they were asked in order to make Republicans look more "Taliban-like" but, since I have no proof for that, assume that the question was asked as written here.)

There is more than a little evidence to believe that, for reasons good or bad, Obama is — to some extent — resentful of white America, not least his autobiographies, the "damn America" comment of his (former?) spiritual guide, and his "stupid" white policemen quote. Imagine a person being asked the (original) question above; if she answers No, she is effectively answering Yes to the revised question ("do you believe Barack Obama is an unbiased uniter who adores white people?"). If you do not believe the latter, you are in a dilemma in answering the original question and remaining honest.

What all this shows is that if you really want to get to know the population or a segment thereof (rather than make a caricature of them), it makes more sense to frame your queries in multiple-choice question format.
Do you believe your state should secede from the United States?

Yes 23
No 58
Not Sure 19

42 percent of Republicans aren't really patriotic. They pretend to love America only when they approve of the president. These traitors don't believe in democracy, in our nation's founding ideals, or in our flag. To them, those colors run. They are cowards.
What rot! First of all, notice that if anyone is saying anything far-fetched, it is Kos — who is effectively (read his comment again) equating opposition to Obama to being unpatriotic, traitorous, and cowardly. And the way for Kos to frame this is to say that Republicans (pretend to) love America "only when they approve of" who is in the White House, when in fact they are saying — as I have noted in the "socialist" and "impeachment" questions above — that they (might) no longer want to be part of a union if and when the government (never mind if the person in the White House is a Democrat or a Republican) threatens to take too much power…

Let's use our rule again: think of what the opposite question would sound like — "Do you believe your state should remain in the United States?" Your reaction would be, "What is this pollster talking about? Nothing of the sort is going on, why does she bring this up?" You don't have too much time, you have been talking — even if you answered No to all the questions so far — about Obama and socialism and (allegedly) impeachable offenses and presidents who (may) hate you for your race, and now you are asked: "Do you believe your state should secede from the United States?" Obviously, your answer has to do with the loss of liberty from the federal government (real or otherwise) — the feds' treason (so to speak), if anybody's — and not an absence (far from it) of patriotism.
Note, secession sentiment is MUCH stronger in the South than elsewhere -- 33 percent want out, compared to just 52 percent who want to stay. In the Northeast, "just" 10 percent want out, in the Midwest, its 18 percent, and in the West, it's 16 percent. Can we cram them all into the Texas Panhandle, create the state of Dumbfuckistan, and build a wall around them to keep them from coming into America illegally?
Notice how Kos reveals his (Stalinist?) masses-hoarding desires, allegedly uneducated masses for which the gulag-admirer (?) has nothing but contempt. The point with secession, Kos, would be to prevent contemptuous Koses like yourself from carrying out your emprison-'em-all-or-throw-'em-all-out desires.
Should Congress make it easier for workers to form and join labor unions?

Yes 7
No 68
Not Sure 25
No comments here: Notice how Kos refrains from addressing an issue that he knows will hardly prove popular (more power to the unions!). Again, think of what goes unmentioned: imagine if this question had been framed using the controversial card check objective, labor's desire to dump secret ballots, and other bullying tactics — which was/is undoubtedly on most people's minds.
Would you favor or oppose giving illegal immigrants now living in the United States the right to live here legally if they pay a fine and learn English?

Favor 26
Oppose 59
Not Sure 15
Again, Kos refrains from comment. But the reason behind this answer, I surmise, is that once illegal immigrants are in, they've already broken the law — and should not be rewarded from so doing.
Do you support the death penalty?

Yes 91
No 4
Not Sure 5
Again, no comment from Kos.
Should openly gay men and women be allowed to serve in the military?

Yes 26
No 55
Not Sure 19

Should same sex couples be allowed to marry?

Yes 7
No 77
Not Sure 16

Should gay couples receive any state or federal benefits?

Yes 11
No 68
Not Sure 21

Should openly gay men and women be allowed to teach in public schools?

Yes 8
No 73
Not Sure 19

Oof. That's some serious neanderthal action going on. Gays can't serve their country, teach children, get married, or even have civil unions. That's the GOP agenda for gays, which makes the existence of the Log Cabin Republicans that much more of a mystery.
A lot could be said on all of these questions. Note that what to a leftist is simply a "gay man or woman" (like a woman per se or an African-American or an Asian) is to many other people a "gay activist" and yes, it's true that we believe (and we have good reason to) that activism (homosexual or other) gets in the way, among other places, in schools and in the military. Moreover, a number of us believe that activists often mix rights up with privileges.

But to take only the last matter, the question "Should openly gay men and women be allowed to teach in public schools?" sounds innocuous until you realize that, in many minds (and not just in Republicans'), schools are failing, people feel that it is scandalous that there no longer is a concerted effort to teach the 3 R's (readin', writin', and arithmetic), and indeed they have in their stead brought in leftist social goals, not least of which is homosexual proselytizing, as in the mandatory reading of the book Heather Has Two Mommies and as with what has led to the ongoing scandal of Kevin Jennings. It's nor unfair here to say that the question that people heard was, "Should gay activists be allowed to teach in public schools (in which case the follow-up question becomes, to teach the 3 R's or to teach the GLSEN agenda)?"

Now, I will not judge here to what extent it is true that Obama's openly gay Safe School (sic) Czar is a member of NAMBLA and to what extent it is true that he really has held classes in which he has taught schoolkids about fisting although it seems an undeniable fact that he once failed to protect a 15-year-old from a child predator — all I can say is that parents have a right not to like what they read about Jennings and they have a right to think that all this social activism and all these agendas (whatever the cause, gay or any other, and whether they can be termed extremist or not) are not what schools are about, not primarily and not even secondarily. To quote Matt:
I agree that every child should be valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation and that there should be no bullying in the schools, period. However, I do not feel that the schools should be promoting a gay lifestyle and or any particular lifestyle. They should stick to teaching the fundamentals of Reading, Writing, Math, Science, and History.
Think about it this way: "Should openly Muslim men and women be allowed to teach in public schools?" Most people, Republican or otherwise, would say yes (even on army bases), I believe, as long as we are pretty much sure they do teach reading (and not the Koran), they do teach writing (and not jihad), and they do teach arithmetic (and not about the 72 virgins that believers will get as a reward for killing infidels).
Should sex education be taught in the public schools?

Yes 42
No 51
Not Sure 7

Should public school students be taught that the book of Genesis in the Bible explains how God created the world?

Yes 77
No 15
Not Sure 8

In all of these questions, respondents from the South are slightly crazier, and those from the Northeast slightly less crazier, than the average. In these two questions, the differences are particularly exaggerated. In the South, the sex-ed question comes out 39-56, compared to 47-45 in the Northwest. For the creationism question, it's 82-9 in the South, compared to 70-23 in the Northwest.
"Less crazier"? First, this may come as a surprise to Kos, but humans have mated for tens of thousands of years (unless you accept the version that says humanity is 4,500 years old or so), and have done so without the need of teachers and schools (public or otherwise). This may also come as a(nother) surprise, but — again — some parents simply want the schools to teach, basically, the 3 R's and leave other things best done at home… Whatever you think about creationism and evolution, notice that in the second question, the parents are not asked whether public schools should teach creationism (or even if they should teach creationism alone, i.e., and nothing else) but whether they should teach what the Bible says — not an entirely indifferent matter.
Are marrigiages equal partnerships, or are men the leaders of their households?

Men 13
Equal 76
Not Sure 11

Should women work outside the home?

Yes 86
No 4
Not Sure 10

Should contraceptive use be outlawed?

Yes 31
No 56
Not Sure 13

Do you believe the birth control pill is abortion?

Yes 34
No 48
Not Sure 18

Do you consider abortion to be murder?

Yes 76
No 8
Not Sure 16

Over a third of Republicans believe the birth control pill is abortion, which explains why nearly a third of them want contraceptive use outlawed. This is so wingnutty, it's hardly believable. But it's true, just a bare majority oppose outlawing contraceptives.
Is it truly beyond argumentation to say that abortion is akin to murder? As usual, Kos makes no argument against another position. All he does is say it's wingnutty, it's unbelievable, it's non-progressive, it's reactionary, it's crazy, etc… He states the politically correct position and assumes that all others are nutty, adding — in shock — that the very fact that there are undecided votes is a scandalous travesty.
What we didn't ask was whether the 76 percent who consider abortion to be murder would advocate executions for women who have them. Since 91 percent of respondents support the death penalty.
This, again, is thinking that Republicans — that people in general — are robots (come to think of it, that does seem to be what many élites do happen to think, doesn't it?) who if they think one thing (A) must think another thing (B — but certainly not C) as well. For one thing, all murderers need not automatically be assigned the death penalty — it depends, or it may depend, on the circumstances — and the usual reason for standing for this position, in any case, comes not from a desire to punish a given woman but to prevent society — i.e., its doctors — from offering the procedure, and thus encourage the woman to change her behavior. (Note that I say this not as someone who believes sine qua non that abortion is murder but as someone who believes sine qua non that conservatives, of whatever bent, should not be grotesquely caricatured.)
Do you believe that the only way for an individual to go to heaven is though Jesus Christ, or can one make it to heaven through another faith?

Christ 67
Other 15
Not Sure 18

Two-thirds of Republicans assume anyone that is not a Christian is going to hell. It certainly makes it easier for them to dehumanize their enemies, either real or perceived.
Although that is hardly an unreasonable conclusion to make, notice that hell is not mentioned anywhere in the question, nor is any type of hellish (or devilish) language. Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but offhand, I think it is not unfair to say that Christians do not believe unbelievers should go to hell; they believe they will go to hell, which (they further believe) is nothing if not an unfortunate state of events. Offhand, Christians — certainly not, today's Christians — do not believe that they should help unbelievers go to hell, or act actively (and zealously) to send them there — which (are you listening, Kos?) is all the difference between Christians and conservatives on the one hand, and the Taliban and other members of militant Islam on the other.

And if anyone has been dehumanized, and demonized, these past years, these past decades — as enemies of (progressive) America, as enemies (real, not perceived) of the entire planet — it is America's Republicans and conservatives…

EU too Chaotic to Bother With

In a statement upon arrival in Damascus, Zapatero said "I carry a message of friendship to the Syrian people and leadership and a message of peace to the Middle East region".
15-October-2009: Zapmaster Flash visits a mosque in the aliberal, secretive, dictatorship of Syria – a nation that has brought no peace to anyone in its’ entire Ba’athist post-putsch existence. It’s government is dominated by a religious minority called the Alawites.
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero and Mr Obama are both expected to attend the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington on Thursday. But no bilateral meeting has been announced so far.

The informal event sees some 3,500 celebrities, businessmen, politicians and religious leaders get together in the US capital each year. It is organised by the Fellowship Foundation, a Christian fundamentalist pressure group.
Reaction: zilch, zippo, nada, bupkus.

04-February-2010: Zapatero to attend the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington in a desperate attempt to get Barack Obama’s attention. Reaction?:
Mr Zapatero, a centre-left secularist, has taken flak for his trip in Spanish media, with the El Pais daily calling his decision to attend the prayer event "shocking."
Shocked? At what? That he would sell his precious image as an inept, post-modern leftist for political access?

Something as benign as the National Prayer Breakfast will draw shock, but indulging an offshoot of Shia Islam that believes that women don’t have souls doesn’t. Great thinking, guys. At least you know where the culture’s outreach priorities are.
the ‘Socialist and Communist City Hall in Sevilla’ paid 21,000 € for ‘illegal Bolivians’ to travel to Madrid to vote for Evo Morales. The paper claims that those legal Bolivians who did not want to vote for him were excluded.
Outside of Spanish municipal authorities worshiping at the altar of 3rd world neo-marxism fantasies, the matter of fact reporting of that week managed to find this indulgence to a religion unworthy of being called “shocking” though:
Zapatero’s visit to Syria at the start of his Middle East tour brings some coverage. El Mundo has a photo of the Spanish Prime Minister putting on over-slippers to protect the floor of the Mosque.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Europeans "Shattered" by Obama's Indifference: "Bush Was Not the Problem, Obama Is Not the Solution"

How many times did we tell you — how many times did conservatives, Republicans — tell you, "No, it is not about Bush and, that, you will soon find out!"

Well, here we go. Remember the number of articles bemoaning the fact that Europeans are stupefied by Bush's arrogance, or whatever (or words to that effect)? Well, now we get a huge front-page headline in Le Monde saying Europeans Shattered by Obama's Indifference (Les Européens ébranlés par l'indifférence d'Obama, the title changes in the internet version). Meanwhile, an editorial in Le Monde bemoans the fact that Europe has been snubbed — again (this time, it is Barack Obama's refusal to participate in José Luis Zapatero's USA-Europe summit). As for Arnaud Leparmentier and Corine Lesnes' article, it starts with these words:
Bush n'était pas le problème. Obama n'est pas la solution : un an après l'arrivée à la Maison Blanche d'un président démocrate, le désenchantement est réciproque de part et d'autre de l'Atlantique. Les alliés découvrent — si tant est qu'ils l'ignoraient — que les malentendus vont au-delà des personnes.
And later, we learn that
Après avoir dénoncé l'impérialisme de M. Bush, les Européens reprochent à M. Obama son impuissance. Il lui font grief de ne pas avoir été su faire plier la Chine lors du sommet de Copenhague sur la lutte contre le réchauffement climatique. "Nous avons surestimé sa marge de manoeuvre", explique un conseiller de l'exécutif français ; "Les Chinois avaient un faible en face d'eux", accuse un proche de M. Sarkozy.
Update: Merci, Monsieur Reynolds

And here, by popular demand, is the translation:
Bush was not the problem. Obama is not the solution: one year after the arrival at the White House of a Democratic president, disenchantment is mutual on either side of the Atlantic. The Allies are discovering — if indeed they were unaware of it before — that misunderstandings go beyond individuals.

Having denounced Mr. Bush's imperialism, Europeans are criticizing Mr. Obama for his impotence. They are complaining of his not being able to bend China at the Copenhagen summit on the fight against global warming. "We overestimated his room for maneuver," said adviser to the French executive; "The Chinese were facing a weakling", said a person close to Mr. Sarkozy in an accusing voice.
I have also been asked to provide the link for the recent BBC debate on Iraq, the War, Lies, Mass Graves, Saddam, Bush's Foreign Policy, and the (Alleged) Guilt of Tony Blair and George W Bush

Another update, from the New York Times' Steven Erlanger: "the palpable sense of insult among European officials" … "something they said that President George W. Bush would never have done."
American officials said that Mr. Obama felt that the previous major American-European summit meeting, last June in Prague, was a waste of time, and European Union officials said that the president even skipped a leaders’ lunch at the smaller European Union-United States meeting in Washington last November, sending Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. instead, something they said that President George W. Bush would never have done.

Hatred, Low Humor, and High Culture

Sure, this kind of hatred is found in every part of the world, but it’s only in certain places where it’s done with such enthusiasm and élan, and with such care taken to spelling and the details that are as Nazi-like as possible:

The desecration in a Strasbourg cemetery came as Jews marked the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz death camp, a symbol of the Holocaust, when the Nazis killed millions.

France's main Jewish organization, CRIF, said at least 18 tombstones at the Cronenbourg cemetery were found Wednesday marked with swastikas and 13 of them were overturned.

The CRIF's Marc Knobel said the inscription "juden raus" (Jews out) was found on one tomb.
Not sounding the least like it was done by immigrants or descendants thereof, it comes as somewhat of a surprise since it took place in Strasbourg, a city that has an odd historical relationship with religious minorities.

Odd, because this is the sort of history hardly a soul in Europe likes to recall. They prefer to scream about Americans, using examples as strange as Christopher Columbus, killing Native Americans. The origin or place of birth of these Americans is rarely thought about.

While Strasbourg is in present day France, it’s changed hands over and over. Family and place names speak to a majority German heritage with a French and Francofilic elite. Prior to the Nazis taking power in Germany, religious minorities in the area, including Alsace’s Jews, were under the greatest pressure when the Germans were not in charge, only getting some relief from the iron fist of one of Napoleon’s dictats.

We also find the puzzle of European culture in this as well. Over millennia in the Rhein river valley, which has a rather unique cultural outlook distinct from both of its’ neighbors, yet sides somehow are still taken to the extent that while language ghettos of a German variant in France, and French variant on the German side, not speaking your neighbors’ language is more the rule than the exception. Even to this day, one finds French fluency among young Germans (told as they are that it aids one in work, and is culturally appropriate), but hardly a soul across the river who made any effort to learn German. On two occasions, German and French persons discovered that their humble interlocutor and translator happened to be a Yanqui, also called an Ami.

Even the signs found in the main train station, even on the local and regional platforms, are not customized to the extent that they vary from the pattern of French first, English below in smaller type, and German blow that in even smaller type.

Regardless of how much one ‘celebrates diversity’ in that kind of place, the objects of an ugly mentality’s fixation remain an enemy in a sort of cold war of atmospheric cultural factionalism. It ranges from learned hate to miserable grumbling and self-pity, and it’s all very traditional – maybe even their version of the place ‘The Waltons’ keeps in US culture. So to find ‘Juden Raus’ graffiti on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, one should hardly be surprised.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Castanets and Clowns

Sorry to barge in like this, but I do have a question:

Next fall, how many universities will be changing their course offerings of "Climate Science 101" to "Climate Scientology 101"?

Keep on Truckin’ Schnitzeling



Remember: Jesus saves. Moses invests.

Racism Redux: Obama's Election Proves That Racism Is… STILL in Existence in the U.S. (And It Is Explosive!)


Philippe Bernard's full-page interview with a Harvard law professor (Randall Kennedy is — at least, according to Le Monde — "one of the most respected analysts on racial questions in the United States") brings the startling information that it turns out that the very fact that an African-American was elected president is proof that America is racist! (And indeed, the racial issue in America is "explosive"!)
Obama a-t-il permis l'émergence d'une "Amérique postraciale" ?

Bien sûr que non ! Pourquoi les gens ont-ils pleuré lorsque Obama a été élu ? La couleur de sa peau n'y était-elle pour rien ? Bien sûr que si ! Pourquoi le moment était-il si merveilleux ? Parce que beaucoup de gens pensaient qu'ils ne verraient jamais le jour où des Blancs voteraient pour un Noir. Si l'Amérique était postraciale, vous n'auriez jamais vu ça ! La race reste centrale dans la vie quotidienne des Américains. L'amitié, le mariage, les loisirs, le logement : rien n'y échappe.

"Why did people cry when Obama was elected?" Kennedy asks. "Why was that moment so marvelous? Because many people thought they would never see the day when whites would vote for a black man."

So that proves that America is not racist, right? Right?! Wrong! No, it proves America is racist, because if America were post-racial, we would never have seen those people shedding those tears!

You can't win; I'm telling you, with those people, you can't win…

(And I predicted as much back in October 2008…)

Update: By the way, who are these Europeans who are trying to give lessons on racism to clueless Americans?

Another update: Tip of le chapeau to Monsieur Reynolds (and while you're here, check out our in-depth dissection of each of the Daily Kos poll's questions that purportedly "proves" the racism, the cluelessness, etc, of American conservatives)…

The McDonald's-French love affair: U.S. chain's 2nd-Largest Market Is France

France is now the second-biggest market for McDonald's
"Few companies have resisted the global recession like the fast-food chains," said Nicolas Herpin, a French sociologist studying consumption. "In France, people who never came to McDonald's before are now customers."

The American fast-food icon's success in France runs counter to pop-culture images of French "cuisine," and French demonstrators have attacked the Golden Arches as symbols of American-style capitalism.

Mr. Herpin said he thinks McDonald's has appeal in a country known for its love of good food because of its affordable prices and convenient service.

"The French used to come to cafes between meals to eat a hard-boiled egg. Now they eat a sandwich at McDonald's," he said.

Monday, February 01, 2010

The New Blood Libel

As if rendering aid were not enough, the common, base anti-Americanism one is used to coming from Le Monde is rising to exceed pre-Hopey-Changey levels. A piece in today’s Al Jazeera sur Seine alleges that a massive wave of butchery-like amputation is taking place in Haiti wherever Americans doctors have engaged in triage.

This blood libel comes from 3 French Doctors who make passing comments about how “they wouldn’t have to amputate in Paris”. In spite of the fact that they aren’t practicing emergency medicine in Paris, or Houston, or Atlanta, the Le Monde readership laps it up and comments rather orgasmically over the possibility of impugning Americans in any context possible:

Monstrous USA! Everything revolves around the war home now, their policies, neo-colonialism (Iraq / AfPak = 1.5 million dead), their invasions humanitarians, their budget (on credit from other countries) that goes to 60% in war industries and death, their imagination, their films! The France was right to challenge the invasion which is seen and sees the devastation! It must be able to say the U.S. is a threat to humanity (see also Copenhagen) as was the former USSR!
Yes indeed, those films caused this!
Terrifying. Between how Americans "judge" this population, and the 20,000 soldiers landed to occupy Haiti, colonialism looms on the horizon, not so different in form and in his "speech" that might have existed in the 19th century ...
Neo-colonialism? By whom, exactly? By Barack Obama? If that’s really the case, wouldn’t we be bringing in farmers by the boatload to ‘colonize’ their land? Apparently reality and logic aren’t much of an issue to these dramatic fantasists, even tangentially playing off another commenter calling what has taken place in Haiti “like a guillotine” and comparing American aid workers to pillaging rebel forces in Sierra Leone:
"Guillotine amputations” was a technique pioneered on a large-scale children's RUF rebels in Sierra Leone in the 90s. 20 000 civilians had been victimized ...
And so forth, as per the usual pedantic yadda, yadda, yadda we’ve grown to expect that a big chunk of the readership is incapable of any other sort of statement.

Overshadowing this kind of reporting that amounts to out-of-scale agitprop, is what those with a specialty in prosthesis are gauging what their planning efforts will require of them:
Estimates of new Haitian amputees reported in the international media the first weeks after the earthquake overstated the number by tens of thousands, Winfried Danke, executive director of Prosthetics Outreach Foundation, told Associated Content Thursday. Danke said the original estimates given news media by doctors working at the disaster scene, ranging from tens of thousands to 150,000, has been pared down to "several thousand," as reports are updated and analyzed. The number may be as low as 2,000.

While there will be less amputations stemming from the earthquake than originally predicted, meeting the need for prosthetics and rehabilitative services will be difficult. Haiti's prosthetics production capacity was almost wiped out by the earthquake.
No doubt were Le Monde’s readers to have heard of that, they would connect their own sad little imaginary dots, and assume that like ‘a war for oil’, the earthquake was somehow magically engineered by that evil Obama White House to create a dependant market for prosthetics.

Knowing that he was not operating in London, Doctors of the World’s Jacques Lorblanche indicated:
"We expect to perform around 400 amputations over the coming days"
Don’t worry, I’m sure that out there in the zeitgeist there’s another “organ harvesting” story in the works.

I Swear! We were just Balancing their Humours!

Funny how the normally enraged, all feverishly sweaty from rumor-laden accusations of Israel organ theft in Gaza, an old European blood-libel schtick that never seems to go away, are not even taking notice of involuntary Organ harvesting in Europe.

Marty is investigating claims that former KLA members were involved with the trafficking of organs harvested from imprisoned Serbs during the Kosovo conflict in 1999.

Marty’s visit is “secret and his agenda was not publicized”, reports say.

Also in Priština, EULEX spokesman Christophe Lamfalussy confirmed that Marty is in Kosovo and that we will be meeting with EULEX officials and officials of other organizations.
Will all KLA members who are non-muslims, or don’t go into a fit of mindless rage when they hear the word “Zion” please raised your hand. Anyone? Bueller?

The Council of Europe has sent Swiss investigative super gumshoe Dick “Dick” Marty to Kosovo in secret in the interest of transparency, and with no PR concerns.

After all, only the great Satan and the little Satan could possibly ever be involved in organ harvesting.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Eliard's D-Day Wish Come True



Hugues Eliard's Higgins Boat crashes through the waves off Ouistreham

Can’t Stand Your Own?

With a purponderence of eastern Europeans, Romanian prostitutes dominate. And don’t think that there aren’t too many weedy westerners who aren’t into that kind of thing.

Taking care of business has never been so foreign to western Europeans.

In most western countries, such as Denmark (65%), Finland (69%), Germany (65%), Greece (73%), Italy (90%), Spain (90%), Austria (78%), Belgium (60%), France (61%) and the Netherlands (60%), the vast majority of prostitutes are migrants.
But in economic terms, at least they’re keeping all the sex in the family:
The figures stand in contrast to 2006 when Russia and Ukraine topped the league table.
Why is EVerything a ‘league table’ with these mooks?