Saturday, May 22, 2010

Blög of Note

There’s schnitzelling, and then there’s schnitzelling. Me, I prefer to call the country in question the Berlin Currywurst Republic.

To wit, this rather common sense answer to volcanic interruption:

Maybe it's time to reconsider the blimp.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Manchurian Candidates

The world remains inexplicably indifferent and uncurious about the deadliest ideology in history.
Writes Claire Berlinski in this quarter’s City Journal.
the word “Nazi” is synonymous with evil. It is widely understood that the Nazis’ ideology—nationalism, anti-Semitism, the autarkic ethnic state, the Führer principle—led directly to the furnaces of Auschwitz. It is not nearly as well understood that Communism led just as inexorably, everywhere on the globe where it was applied, to starvation, torture, and slave-labor camps. Nor is it widely acknowledged that Communism was responsible for the deaths of some 150 million human beings during the twentieth century.
And yet it continues to be idolized as a better way of life for the slef-perceived powerless individual, the very people chopped up in its’ machine. Setting aside the aging handful of hardcore proponents of Communist Socialism who actually lived under it, the common bond of its’ present-day proponents are an ignorance of it’s crimes, ignorance of the homogeneity and narrowness it requires to sustain it, and a literature based entirely outside of the experience of real, living Socialism.

Take as an example some of the bright lights of Europe, held up as potential “states-persons”, and their pasts, which are nearly as ugly as the passivated third world leaders that the KGB and Stasi were turning to their purposes. In the last of the cold-war missile treaty efforts, some of them are transparently going to bat for the Soviets, out of either ideology or programmed hatred of their own society.
Kinnock was vice president of the European Commission from 1999 to 2004, and his wife, Glenys, is now Britain’s minister for Europe. Gerard Batten, a member of the UK Independence Party, has noted the significance of the episode. “If the report given to Mr. Gorbachev is true, it means that Lord Kinnock approached one of Britain’s enemies in order to seek approval regarding his party’s defense policy and, had he been elected, Britain’s defense policy,” Batten said to the European Parliament in 2009. “If this report is true, then Lord Kinnock would be guilty of treason.”

Similarly, Baroness Catherine Ashton, who is now the European Union’s foreign minister, was treasurer of Britain’s Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament from 1980 to 1982. The papers offer evidence that this organization received “unidentified income” from the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Stroilov’s papers suggest as well that the government of the current Spanish EU commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, Joaquín Almunia, enthusiastically supported the Soviet project of gradually unifying Germany and Europe into a socialist “common European home” and strongly opposed the independence of the Baltic states and then of Ukraine.
Even the Vice President of the United States isn’t immune to it.
Perhaps it doesn’t surprise you to read that prominent European politicians held these views. But why doesn’t it? It is impossible to imagine that figures who had enjoyed such close ties to the Nazi Party—or, for that matter, to the Ku Klux Klan or to South Africa’s apartheid regime—would enjoy top positions in Europe today. The rules are different, apparently, for Communist fellow travelers. “We now have the EU unelected socialist party running Europe,” Stroilov said to me. “Bet the KGB can’t believe it.”
I’ll bet that the inheritors of the monomaniacal statist Fascist and Marxism can, when the see this dance again: the early, heady days of economic and social tumult that put well localized and scrappy ideologues in power for decades, soberly rationalizing the social needs to use the state’s power to contain the will of the individual.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


It is all fun and games until you are ripped to shreds on an exploding TGV, other than that the New York Times raves:

Long before the festival opened, this 5 hour, 33 minute movie about the Venezuelan-born terrorist, international man of mystery and brutishly committed ladies man, Ilich Ramírez Sánchez – i.e., Carlos the Jackal – was a must see. The movie, which screened just once and out of competition, is scheduled to play on French television this week. It is likely to pop up in the United States this fall at the New York Film Festival before it plays on-demand and in good old-fashioned theaters.
Bring on the gush:
Opening in the early 1970s, and hop-scotching across assorted hot spots from London to Libya for the next 10 years, “Carlos” is itself something of a heroic endeavor...

A media star from almost the beginning of his blood-splattered career, Carlos has long served as one of pop culture’s brand-name villains...

When he wasn’t globetrotting, he was surfing the sheets, bedding different comradely chicks...

And if Carlos is essentially uninteresting – it’s his violence and the veneer of sexiness that violence can bring with it that makes him a star – it’s because Mr. Assayas has worked hard to create a new kind of movie terrorist. With his beard, beret and black leather jacket, the young Carlos is a militant pin-up...

In Mr. Assayas’s telling, Carlos was also a macho bully for whom weapons, especially guns, weren’t just tools of the terrorist trade. They are also representations of his penis – true Freudian fetishes — a concept that Mr. Assayas literalizes in an ugly-gripping sex scene involving Carlos, one of his writhing conquests and an apparent live (unexploded) grenade...

I’m still not sure what I think of all the groovy music – but that’s what second viewings are for...

"Filmmaking Is Muzzled in Iran and in the United States": French Newspaper Compares Polanski's Case with That of Jailed Iranian Dissident Director

Free Panahi and Polanski! shouts Franck Nouchi in Le Monde. At the Cannes Film Festival this May, an empty chair has been visible among the seated jury members throughout the festival, symbolizing the absence of jury member Jafar Panahi, the Iranian film director who is probably in a Tehran jail — for having made a documentary on Iran's post-electoral events.

But there is another major director missing in the Cannes seaside resort, adds Franck Nouchi (Roman Polanski is still held in his chalet in Switzerland, after all). And the conclusion, for the Le Monde writer — the very same who couldn't bring himself to say that the Soviet Union was behind of the Katyn massacre — is that
In Iran and in the United States, for reasons which admittedly are totally different, film-making is thus muzzled. … if today, Panahi and Polanski's freedom is so shackled today, it is because of what they are: first-rate artists.
That's right: the reason that Panahi is muzzled (in a Tehran jail) is because he is a first-rate artist. And the reason that Polanski is muzzled (in a Swiss chalet) is because he is a first-rate artist!

To their credit, several Le Monde readers denounce the article (using repeatedly, among others, the expressions false "amalgam" and "simplifications"), with one reader stating that "Mélanger la prison d'Evin à Théhéran où on peut craindre le pire et celle du chalet de Gstaad en Suisse, me paraît une 'offense' à Jafar Panahi." and another reacting thus:
Il faut être bourré de mépris et de certitudes pour comparer quelqu'un condamné dans une dictature pour avoir osé s'exprimer, et quelqu'un à qui une démocratie reproche d'avoir abusé de son statut pour s'envoyer des petites filles. Utiliser l'un pour dédouaner l'autre est scandaleux, et sera inefficace.

The Benign Stupidity of the World’s Navel

Economics is a social science. Aptitude in the understanding of economic matters requires a kind of facility with understanding human behavior, and divorcing oneself of the arrogance of imagining whatever forms of utopian arbitrary simplism should be forced on the society at large.

I think you know what world view that's referring to. They see the world in class warfare terms, but say that they're for everyone's dignity, social justice, etc.

So it comes at no surprise to discover that in that social science, conservatives and libertarians show an exemplary understanding of economics compared to leftists, whatever their level of education:

Based on a Zogby International online survey of 4,835 American adults, Columbia University psychologist Zeljka Buturovic and George Mason University economist Dan Klein find that economic enlightenment is not correlated to going to college.

They also find that it is the highest among those self-identifying “conservative” and “libertarian,” and descends through “moderate,” “liberal,” and “progressive.” Other variables include party affiliation, religious participation, union membership, NASCAR fandom, and Wal-Mart patronage.
Yes, those barbarian mouth-breathers who are fans of NASCAR and lower themselves to step into a Wal-Mart.
Even with the caveats in mind, however, the results are important. They indicate that, for people inclined to take such a survey, basic economic enlightenment is not correlated with going to college.
Or to put the motives of the state-centrism of the left, we have this old European saying consistent with the center-to-far left’s social and economic world view:
“Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato”

“Everything for the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.”

- some minion of Mussolini

Which is also why engaging with the ideas of the structurally more “progressive” social attitudes, politics, and polity of Europe reminds me of trying to talk to a class of dull-eyed, predictable adolescents. Some staring off into space, a few picking their noses, one or two of them staring at your crotch, but all of them prone to destroy something sooner or later based on single-mindedness, and a lack of personal moderation. Such is the state of those you’ll be sure to see protesting in the European streets in the coming year over matters of economy, wages, services, and entitlements.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Here it is again, The German Question

The German Question is back, ponders John Vinocur.
In fact, it’s German Questions, plural, and fateful enough for Europe and the euro’s future to merit the capital letters.

…The German Question these days has other, considerably more biting formulations. Ulrich Beck, a sociologist at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich and the London School of Economics, offered two.

“Does Germany consider that the time has come to defend itself against Europe’s excessive clutches — the German model of success against its jealous European neighbors?” he asked. And: “Has the united Europe referred to in the German Constitution’s preamble stopped being the lodestar of the Germans’ vision of themselves and German politics?”

John Vinocur goes on to discuss the subject with four Germans "who represent deep political engagement in an integrated Europe" — former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt; Joschka Fischer, former foreign minister, Greens party chief and urban street fighter; Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, a Christian Democrat and former chief of staff to Chancellor Helmut Kohl; and Hans-Ulrich Klose, the Foreign Ministry’s coordinator for German-American cooperation and a former Social Democratic leader of the Bundestag’s Foreign Relations Committee.

For them, doubts among its friends about Germany’s solidarity, accelerated since the beginning of the recession by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s perceived Germany First reflexes, can’t be a comfortable notion.

…A darker view came from Mr. Beck in an essay titled “German euro-nationalism.”

He sees a new kind of German economic unilateralism replacing its old multilateral creed. He believes an “intellectual nationalism” now exists in Germany that bridges right-left party definitions.

He wrote, “Chancellor Merkel has employed the European currency crisis to set the euro-zone’s financial policy switches in the direction of a German Europe.”

This, Mr. Beck argues, is a “Germany that no longer personifies the most European of Europeans. Rather, it is one that downplays its European duties and ties. It’s a Germany that has dredged up Europe’s German Question.”

John Vinocur concludes:

Clearly, Germany has changed from the country that, in exchange for German reunification, bartered away the Deutsche mark and the Bundesbank’s roles as de facto European reserve currency and Europe’s monetary arbiter.

The new, most pertinent German Question flows from this reality: How can the rest of the Europeans manage an unabashedly self-interested Germany — normal is what it’s called here — that they hardly imagined would emerge from the deal they signed in 1992 as the Maastricht Treaty.

Because they didn’t make the Sale, -

EU Observer: EU skeptical about Iran nuclear deal

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

It Takes a Village Leftist... rationalize this stuff:

"It would be good...if (Obama) could be dictator for a few years because he could do a lot of good things quickly," [Woody] Allen is quoted as saying.
he told the Spanish-language magazine La Vanguardia in his understated, quasi-Oedipal manner.

Delving into the history of the 20th century, not to mention the history of his erstwhile co-religionists, that sure he’ll be satisfied by the fact that the cattle cars will run on time.

Postcards from Pétainistan


Seventy years ago, the Nazis conquered France. Since then, the country has changed less than you might think.
Plus ça change, plus c'est la meme chose"
And yet, despite all these changes, certain things about French society have remained remarkably constant since the blitzkrieg, particularly in comparison with the United States. Most important, the French state retains an outsize role in society. In a tradition of dirigisme (from the verb "to direct") that stretches back to the Old Regime, the state encases markets in thick webs of regulations while itself managing health care, most major cultural institutions, and most education from preschool to postdoctoral. When President Nicolas Sarkozy took office in 2007, conservative American observers hoped he would emulate Margaret Thatcher and slash the state sector. But despite some tentative reforms, the state's authority remains largely unshaken (government expenditures consistently account for more than 50 percent of GDP, compared with barely 36 percent in the United States before the recession). And as in 1940, the most attractive career track for smart, ambitious students is the elite civil service. As a French friend once put it to me, "Most of my classmates would rather become assistant secretary of agriculture than start"
Plus ultra.
And both in 1940 and today, immigration has been the occasion for furious outbursts of prejudice and agonized debates about "French identity." In 1940 the worst outbursts were directed at the Jews, and they set the stage for the anti-Semitic policies of the collaborationist Vichy government, which willingly sent 76,000 French Jews to their deaths in the Nazi extermination camps.

- Shookran to Pat “Panopticon” Patterson

Monday, May 17, 2010

What is not the decisive issue in evaluating the Iraq invasion and what is

Judging by the dominant reaction of the British press, [the sole function of the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war] is to prove what we all know to be true: that the invasion was immoral and Tony Blair is to blame
writes Nigel Biggar in the Financial Times. Currently in the process of writing a book on the ethics of war, he is the regius professor of moral and pastoral theology at the University of Oxford.
The surfeit of moral certainty among the commentators is suspect; the zealous clarity of their moral waters needs muddying.

For sure, the invasion and occupation of Iraq was morally flawed. The US administration's motivation was hubristic and preparation for postwar reconstruction was woefully inadequate. Yet most just wars are flawed. Take the war against Nazi Germany. The RAF's indiscriminate bombing of German cities was largely driven by "Bomber" Harris's vengeful hatred. While the destruction of Hitler's hegemony was very good, the entrenchment of Stalin's was very bad. Any complex human enterprise will involve moral flaws. What needs determining is whether and how these undermine its justice as a whole.

…Arguments about a war's disproportion are often intractable. If one assumes the Iraq war was unjust, then no civilian deaths were worth it. Yet in affirming the justice of the war against Hitler we imply it was worth the deaths of 30m civilians. The loss of 150,000 civilians therefore does not, of itself, make the Iraq war unjust. The invasion would be harder to defend were the country's new regime to fail. But that has not happened yet, and those critics who care more for Iraqis than they hate the former US and UK leaders George W. Bush and Mr Blair will hope it never does.

…If determining the Iraq war's proportionality is difficult, maybe determining its legality is easier. It would seem so … But such condemnations can only be opinions, since international law can be variously interpreted. However, even if we grant that the invasion was illegal, we still have to grapple with the fact that so was Nato's 1999 intervention in Kosovo, which is now widely regarded as legitimate. The implication? That legality is not the final word.

Current international law is morally problematic. … The decisive issue in evaluating the Iraq invasion is not whether it was morally flawed or disproportionate or illegal, but whether it was really necessary to stop or prevent a sufficiently great evil.

No one disputes that Saddam Hussein's regime was grossly atrocious. … Critics of the invasion would presumably not tolerate such a regime in their own backyard; and an effective international policing authority would have changed it. Is the coalition to be condemned for filling the vacuum? Yes, there have been similar vacuums that it (and others) have failed to fill — Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Darfur. But is it not better to be inconsistently responsible than consistently irresponsible?

Now add the concern about weapons of mass destruction. This was sufficiently grave to rouse the UN to litter the period 1991-2003 with 17 resolutions calling on Saddam to disarm permanently. … there was good reason to withhold benefit of doubt and to suppose that it was developing WMDs. It was not just Messrs Bush and Blair who supposed this. So did Jacques Chirac, then French president, and Hans Blix, the UN's chief weapons inspector.

We now know this reasonable supposition was mistaken and that the problem was less urgent than it appeared. But it was still urgent. Saddam was intent on acquiring nuclear weapons and support for containment was dissolving.

Related: Exaggerated claims, substandard research, and a disservice to truth (shookhran to MadiMaxi): ORB's "million Iraqi deaths" survey seriously flawed, new study shows.
Conflict Deaths in Iraq: A Methodological Critique of the ORB Survey Estimate” by Michael Spagat and Josh Dougherty, just published in Survey Research Methods, describes in detail how the ORB poll is riddled with critical inconsistencies and methodological shortcomings.

Like a “Diverse” Baader-Meinhof Gang

On first glance, the report in the popular German tabloid Bild could have seemed like a bad joke. “Guantánamo Detainees Slated to Go to Hamburg,”
Reports John Rosenthal.
Three terror detainees may soon be sent to the city that gave us Mohamed Atta.
A wire piece from dpa emphasized:
Hamburg’s “cosmopolitan,” “multi-ethnic,” “anything-goes” character.
As long as anything goes - there - if they plan on being that stupid.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

L’érotisme du grand soir

The French language blog I Like Your Style has an interesting article on allure of violence of the “peacy-peace” left.

Three dead, three bank employees, who were the salesmen of the great Satan Capital anyway, for €1000 per month’s salary, the bastards! Oh, they would have liked to hang a banker, cigar and all, but none to be had for lefty, so they went for the small fish in the meantime. In the mean time we continue to tolerate the boy, since he’s just letting off a little steam. He avails himself well, the leftist anarchist parasite sponging off of the state. The three bank employees [who died in Athens], paid taxes, in fact paid the anarchist leftist’s welfare, and would spit in their mouthes, except when he went to cash his welfare check at the bank, again and again.

The small left-wing anarchist, hears stuff on TV, talks with his lousy little anarchist buddies again, and gets as excited as usual - except that here, they knew there would be cameras, so they was no risk, and they could then disappear. The little anarchist knew it was safe to toss a few molotov cocktails, and lets off a little steam, knowing it might guarantee him his welfare a little longer, paid by bank employees. So the little anarchist drank a few beers, lit some firecrackers, put on his ugliest black clothes, as usual, and he threw a few cocktails at the riot police, the bastards! How dare they! He knows that the riot police are instructed to do nothing, because the slightest scratch on the little leftist will permit looting, killing, and fires, with the approval of the TV and leftist journalists worldwide, with downstream and the cheers of the protesters,
”The justice of the left,” one of the comments say quite cogently, “is always about vengeance.”

What Freedoms Are You Talking About, Mr. Reagan?

I never knew what freedom was until I saw you lose yours, Ronald Reagan said, quoting a Soviet major he once played in a TV play (gracias por Virginia Margarita).