Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Bearded Clam Speaketh

“We believe that atomic energy is a blessing given by God,”

- Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

French Intervention Better

• Alain Juppé: We are ready!

In contrast with his cartoons on UN intervention — with its smiles, bon enfant-ness, and joy incarnate — and on U.S. intervention — with its hatred, death, and destruction (See UN Intervention Good, U.S. intervention Bad) — Plantu's cartoon on French intervention is something between the two (the French fighter is more realistic than the UN plane but with less focus than the U.S. plane on its killing capacities, while its pilot's neutral expression avoids the evil look of his American counterpart) and thus reflects, sans doute, the golden middle road.

What does the French cartoon symbolize but a policy that — naturellement — is inherently sober, somber, lucide, eminently responsible?…

Austria is not exclusively made up of tolerance romantics; there are also people sick and tired of the one-way street tolerance babble

is not exclusively made up of tolerance romantics
News Real blog quoted Ewald Stadler as saying (danke zu Ben), as the BZÖ parliamentarian addressed the Turkish ambassador as well as members of "the governing coalition, with your romantics of tolerance and ‘devotion’ to human rights."
There are also people sick and tired of the one-way street tolerance babble.

Friday, March 18, 2011

UN Intervention Good,
U.S. Intervention Bad

Compare Plantu's March 18, 2011, cartoon regarding Libya to his cartoon regarding Iraq of exactly seven years earlier (March 19, 2004)… See any difference?
In case it needs to be spelled out:
• U.S. intervention (notice the focus on the (realistically-drawn) plane's undercarriage and its bombs as well as the hatred in the pilot's face) brings death and destruction, killing innocents (one of whom is holding a sign with the pacifists' dove symbol) and terrorists alike, and results only in weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth;
• while UN intervention (notice the focus on the plane's body — with its far more cartoonish rendering and its pacifist UN logo along with its refraining from dropping any bombs at all — as well as the good spirits on that pilot's face) brings but smiles, joy, and profound happiness, and — get this — doesn't even kill bad guys (Muammar Qaddafi), but only cuts the (evil capitalist oil) legs from under them…

UN Intervention Good,
U.S. Intervention Bad,
French Intervention Better

When the Shinkansen Hits the Fan

What to make of a society that can build robots that play the violin, but not one that can take the place of a man climbing into a reactor chamber? The answer from Germans is always the same: panic.

No, Germany doesn’t get hit by earthquakes. But it regularly gets hit by seismic waves of extreme and indulgent panic like the one that has just rolled over the country shortly after the monster quake hit Japan.
Otherwise Geiger counters are selling like bad ideas in the land that coined and added to its' wildly successful imports, the term angst.
The German news folks have all hightailed it down south to Osaka and are reporting from there (or maybe they’re in Taiwan by now).

Their rescue teams have headed back to Germany after declaring that there is no one left in Japan to be rescued.

Qaddafi in June 2008: Hints That He and Other "Arabs and Africans Are Involved" in Contribution Drives for Obama's Presidential Campaign

Is it possible that Obama's reluctance to interfere in the Libyan crisis has something to do with secrets?
asks fellow blogger Damien, for reasons that will soon become clear…

Instapundit quotes Foreign Policy's Joshua Keating as reporting on the Qaddafi régime's response to the French government's recognition of Libya's rebel forces.
Saif al-Islam: “Sarkozy must first give back the money he took from Libya to finance his electoral campaign. We funded it and we have all the details and are ready to reveal everything. The first thing we want this clown to do is to give the money back to the Libyan people.”
If Muammar Qaddafi used his oil revenues to help finance a candidate in a French election, overtly or covertly, what are the chances that he at least tried doing something similar regarding an election campaign taking place inside the world's superpower? Today, that is little more than speculation…

But recall the transparency problems regarding how the Barack Obama campaign got its contributions and the fog surrounding whom exactly he got his money from (sounds kinda like the unions' way of raising funds), including from foreigners living abroad… To return to the accusations against France, Foreign Policy's Joshua Keating states, rightly, that
Saif isn't exactly brimming with credibility at this point, but this isn't the first time these sorts of accusations have been made against Sarkozy. … It will be interesting to see if Saif can back up his big accusations.
In the wake of the toppling of the Afghanistan and Iraq régimes, how far-fetched is it for people in some quarters of the world to prefer to have a man (or a woman) in the White House who would be less a Bush or a Reagan or a McCain (or a Palin) and more a head of state in the Jimmy Carter mold, such as the Democrats' Obama, who would indeed go on to prove, once he was in the Oval Office, to be less of a Commander-in-Chief than an Apologizer-in-Chief

And, as it turns out, there is more than a little evidence to back up the speculation: back in June 2008, E-nough's Damien reported on a speech (broadcast and translated by Memritv), which was held by none other than the "Brotherly Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya". (We will look away from Gaddafi's birther credentials, even though from his perspective, calling Obama a Kenyan, an African, and/or a Muslim is hardly a smear — far from it.)
There are elections in America now. Along came a black citizen of Kenyan African origins, a Muslim, who had studied in an Islamic school in Indonesia. His name is Obama. All the people in the Arab and Islamic world and in Africa applauded this man. They welcomed him and prayed for him and for his success, and they may have even been involved in legitimate contribution campaigns to enable him to win the American presidency.

“We’ve got to ask young Arabs to extend their hands” to their Iranian counterparts challenging the mullahs, says Bernard Kouchner

Through three months of Arab revolt against autocratic leaders, it’s become commonplace to say that the only clear strategic winner from the changes so far is Iran
writes John Vinocur in the International Herald Tribune, as the Islamic Republic is
supposedly picking up windfall political fruit as if sitting in an armchair.

Condensed, the argument goes like this: There has been only profit for Iran from the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, who represented an Arab bulwark against Tehran’s nuclear weapons ambitions and the mullahs’ allies, Hezbollah and Hamas. Conversely, and beyond its hopes for democracy in the Middle East, the United States and some of its Western friends have reaped potential grief in the destabilization their old regional power relationships.

On the ides of March 2011, that assessment appears incomplete and almost mild. Rather, there’s a developing sense of foreboding.

Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi has increasingly real chances of putting down the rebellion against him in Libya. Before his boss could try to paper over what he said last week, James R. Clapper Jr., President Barack Obama’s director of national intelligence, testified before Congress that the dictator’s forces “will prevail” in the long term.

Apart from twisting the neck of the theories of inexorable popular rage certain to engulf all the region’s tyrants (Just you wait, Tehran!), this shard of very possible truth places the West’s hesitant, stuttering position on Libya parallel to its halting response to the threat of Iranian nukes — and reassures Iran’s leaders of their wisdom in moving to crush their own protesters.

A second naïve premise is also collapsing.

It was the Pollyanna-ish (and calming) assumption of some analysts that while pocketing the disarray from the Arab upheaval, Iran was too clever to meddle in creating more of it. Now, for the first time, we’re told this isn’t so.

… [The] account of active Iranian troublemaking in Bahrain, a country of basic strategic importance to America, is significant. Add to that a surge of new notions of Western impotence — plus an emboldened Iran — if the Libyan colonel prevails.

And this: Last month, Britain provided a new urgency in the assessment of Iran’s nuclear weapons timetable. Defense Minister Liam Fox has said “it is entirely possible” that Iran could produce a nuke in 2012.

So what to do? No decisive response on Iran, the ultimate Middle Eastern issue, is coming from Western capitals.

Their lack of focus on it, their nervousness about linking the Arab revolts with Iran through urging young Arab democracies to back Iran’s protest movement, is striking.

…This generalized timidity is not escaping attention. Bernard Kouchner, the former French foreign minister, put his finger on it in a conversation last week.

He said, “We’ve got to ask young Arabs to extend their hands” to their Iranian counterparts challenging the mullahs. “The French government should propose it. The question of Iran and the Arab revolt has not been joined as one.”

… Senator John Kyl … accused the administration of failing to go beyond “the first grade” level in assisting the Iranian opposition in the manner the United States had helped Poland’s Solidarity protesters in the years before the fall of the Berlin Wall.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Plantu Likens the Le Pens' Front National Threat to America's 911 Tragedy

Another subject that Plantu reminisced about in Le Monde Magazine was the recent poll that gave the Front National's Marine Le Pen a commanding lead regarding voting intentions in the presidential contest next year. This reminded Plantu, of course, of 2002, when, to everybody's consternation, Marine's father (Jean-Marie Le Pen) beat the socialists' Lionel Jospin (then France's incumbent prime minister) for the run-off in the second round against incumbent President Jacques Chirac.

Of notice, however, has been Plantu's tendency over the years to use the 9-11 disaster to illustrate all kinds of alleged tragedies (both in America and elsewhere), and thus diminish the importance of the American deaths on that date…

From our Bulging Never-ending Fake Crisis File

Tsunamis and reactor failures be damned!

Bee crisis could define 21st century.
An international panel of scientists found that more than a dozen factors, ranging from insecticides that damage a bee's memory to climate change...
In other words, the suspects with the highest propensity of getting the study's author either a) props or 2) moolah. Cabbage. Jack. Bling-bling.

Elsewhere, in the excuse and catalyst vehilce department:

Globe and Mail
If certain agricultural practices and public policies are changed, says Marie-Pierre Chauzat, one of the report’s lead researchers, a full-scale bee crisis can be averted.

Middle class fad for bee keeping sees doubling in number of hives
It's right up ther with the middle-class habit of getting passionate about 'crices' one only understands how to ritually imbibe in by reading the right papers.

Joining the Debate on French TV Regarding Peter King's Islamist Hearings

Jeudi dernier, j'étais parmi les intervenants dans le débat de France 24 sur les "hearings" de Peter King à Washington sur le terrorisme islamique…

Il va de soi qu'on a accusé les Américains (ou les conservateurs) d'être des Islamophobes…

Etats-Unis : un autre débat sur l'Islam
(Partie 1 et Partie 2)
Un vent d'islamophobie est-il en train de souffler sur les Etats-Unis ? Une audition est prévue aujourd'hui au Congrès sur l'ampleur de la radicalisation au sein de la communauté musulmane américaine. Cette radicalisation, est-ce une réalité ? Comment vivent les musulmans aux Etats-Unis ? Pourquoi ce débat aujourd'hui. Débattre sur l'Islam serait devenue une tendance, une mode ?

• Erik SVANE, Républicain et auteur de La Bannière Etalée
• Chip SEWARD, Membre du Bureau, Democrats Abroad France
• François DURPAIRE, Historien à l’Université Paris 1 La Sorbonne et co-auteur de « L’Amérique d’Obama »
• Tariq RAMADAN, Professeur d’Etudes Islamiques, Saint-Anthony’s College (Oxford) (par Skype de Dubaï)

Emission préparée par Yi Song et Perrine Desplats

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Island of Despair

More from Plantu on Japan…

25 Years Later, Plantu Declares That the War-Monger Ronald Reagan Was Right

Every week, Le Monde Magazine gives Plantu a whole page upon which the Le Monde cartoonist can cover a current issue by reminiscing about the given subject and illustrating it with a handful of cartoons he has devoted to the matter in question over the years — or, indeed, over the decades…

The uprising in Libya gave Plantu the idea to choose Moammar Gadhafi, which brought him back to the 1980s and the conflict which opposed the "Messenger of the Desert" to Ronald Reagan (in the wake of Libya's involvement in the bombing of a Berlin discotheque attended by American servicemen)… Declareth Plantu:
They cannot say that they hadn't been warned, long ago, that Colonel Qaddafi was a tyrant and an international terrorist. On several occasions, American president Ronald Reagan warned the Europeans who… already then… preferred to close their eyes [literally: to look at their shoes].
Well, that's swell — maybe, in 2028 (if he's still around), Plantu will have a page in Le Monde Magazine (if it's still around) on how George W Bush was right to take on the Taliban and Saddam Hussein and how the Europeans were wrong to keep their eyes closed.

Because at the time, of course, all was different: notice Plantu's eternal saliva drop from Reagan's mouth showing how the drooliong president is old and senile. Notice also how the April 1986 cartoon (bottom left) depicts the war-mongering American (from whose aircraft-carrier-like head of hair a fighter takes off) and the war-mongering sheik flank the worried peace-loving (and innocent-looking) European in-between them.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Maybe the Japanese disaster is not the right occasion to complain about Plantu, but what with his combining of the words Chernobyl and Nippon (Japanese), it is the second time in two days that he can hardly be said to shine by his originality…

If the death penalty does deter, then the two sides in the argument over the death penalty have similar moral problems

In a dispassionate study in which he invokes common sense, Jim Miller reviews the decades-old "academic debate over whether the death penalty deters murders."
Simplifying greatly, you could say that the early part of that debate was dominated by sociologists who found no deterrent effect, and the latter part has been dominated by economists, who have found that every execution deters a number of murders, with most studies finding that it deters between 5 and 15 murders.
In an earlier study on the subject of the death penalty and deterrence (where we learn for instance that one "common mistake is to compare states with death penalty laws to states without them", ignoring "the fact that the states with the laws do not always impose the death penalty"), Jim Miller used the case of BTK serial killer Dennis Rader as an illustration.
If the death penalty does deter, then the two sides in the argument over the death penalty have similar moral problems. Supporters of the death penalty must admit that it is possible that some innocents will be executed. Opponents of the death penalty must admit that it is possible that, without the death penalty, more innocents will murdered than would be murdered otherwise. (And each side tends to believe that what is possible never happens, or almost never happens.)

Paris Sera Toujours Paris

For those of you getting sentimental for the city of lights, art, fashion, etc., etc.™®©, ¡No Pasarán! Brings you truth in advertising.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Plantu and Japan's Tsunami

After a week of absence, Plantu returns to the fold (although his cartoon is basically the same Hokusai spin-off as the Kap cartoon that Le Monde printed the previous issue)…

No, it's not true that Europe does not have the death penalty because its systems are more insulated from populist impulses than the U.S. government

Regarding the death penalty, already (more than) a decade ago (thanks to Jim Miller), Josh Marshall had this to say:
You seldom hear conservatives note, disapprovingly, that "America is the only industrialized country in the world that doesn't have X." It's not hard to figure out why, since X usually involves European (or Canadian or Japanese) big government.
But liberals sometimes imagine that America's peculiar lack of, say, nationalized health care, tough gun control, decent child care, widespread mass transport, or substantial arts funding is a sign of political underdevelopment. And so they bemoan America's uniqueness.

Particularly on the death penalty … The flood of capital punishment horror stories … has left anti-death-penalty liberals more convinced than ever that, on this issue at least, American political culture is inferior to its counterparts across the Atlantic.

If only it were that simple. It's true that all of America's G-7 partners, save Japan, have abolished capital punishment, but the reason isn't, as death-penalty opponents usually assume, that their populations eschew vengeance. In fact, opinion polls show that Europeans and Canadians crave executions almost as much as their American counterparts do. It's just that their politicians don't listen to them. In other words, if these countries' political cultures are morally superior to America's, it's because they're less democratic.

…Differences in the way survey questions are framed complicate direct comparisons with Europe. …you find very few European countries where the public clearly opposes it, and there are a number where support is very strong. … There is barely a country in Europe where the death penalty was abolished in response to public opinion rather than in spite of it.

…Differences between European parliamentary government and the American separation-of-powers system also play a role. Parliamentary government may provide voters with more ideological variety, but it is much more resistant to political upstarts, outsiders, and the single-issue politics on which the death penalty thrives. In parliamentary systems, people tend to vote for parties, not individuals; and party committees choose which candidates stand for election. As a result, parties are less influenced by the odd new impulses that now and again bubble up from the electorate.

…Basically, then, Europe doesn't have the death penalty because its political systems are less democratic, or at least more insulated from populist impulses, than the U.S. government. And elites know it. Referring to France, a recent article in the UNESCO Courier noted that "action by courageous political leaders has been needed to overcome local public opinion that has remained mostly in favour of the death penalty."

…all over the industrialized world, it turns out that the men and women on the street like the death penalty. It's just that in Europe and Canada elites have exercised a kind of noblesse oblige. They've chosen a[n allegedly — ES] more civilized and humane political order over a fully popular and participatory one.

Stop Whining. You've Created your Own Worst Stereotypes.

Now iss de time on Schprockets venn ve tance.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Axis of Feeble

Someone finally gets it:
Castro's reforms envision a growing "non-state" retail and farming sector and more efficient state-run companies. They are expected to be approved at a Communist Party congress in April.

The massive lay-offs have reportedly come under fire during tens of thousands of meetings held across the island as a prelude to the congress.
The program is being described as a "reorganization" of the labor force because in theory laid-off workers are declared "available" and offered other jobs or they can lease fallow state land or become self-employed.
While others STILL don't get it:
Yet despite these failures of the EU project-greater prosperity, peace, and international influence through increased economic and political unification-many liberals in America continue to pursue policies, both domestic and foreign, that are moving the United States closer to the EU paradigm. Indeed, many on the Left approve of the European model as something to emulate. Partly, this reflects the place Europe has traditionally held in the imagination of some Americans. Like the Yankee ingénues in a Henry James novel, they have admired the Old World of sophistication, culture, and civilization that contrasts with the New World of crude, go-getting, frontier brashness. But these days, this admiration more fundamentally reflects the belief that Europe provides a more humane and sophisticated set of social and political values.
Elsewhere in Hypocracy Watch... Is there something to this humaneness-sophistication-superiority PR meme that I'm missing about globalization being an American invention, and being unthinkably bad?
Rumours that Renault is considering plans to delocalise production for some of the models made for its low-cost brand Dacia to Morocco have prompted concern in Romania. "Morocco threatens 'Romanian made' Dacia," headlines Gândul, which reports that there are two reasons why the carmaker could delocalise: first and foremost, "management's exasperation with union demands for annual bonuses of 700 lei (175 euros) and an extra of 500 lei (125 euros) per month;" and secondly, the poor state of Romanian road system, which has made it expensive to export cars from the country. Hourly rates of around five euros per hour that Renault could expect to pay in Tangier are considerably less than the 8 euros per hour it currently pays in Romania. However, the Bucharest daily notes that the plant in Mioveni was nonetheless responsible for 2.5 billion euros in exports in 2010, or 7% of Romania's export revenue. Gândul also points out that Dacia currently employes 150,000 people in Romania, of whom 20,000 work at Mioveni.
And you thought it was their superhuman intelligence, organizational skills, and engineering that made them what they are today.... I suggest that they import Wisconsin's Democrat societal-crash-test-dummies for a while. After all, they're using the rhetoric of unshod children starving in the street were it not for mommie's 6 hour a day, 10 month a year, $87K per year job which a trsined chimpanzee can do on auto-pilot.

A conservative is a liberal who just got mugged, and a liberal is a conservative who just got arrested

As a reader of The Economist puts it,
There is a straightforward reason as to why the baby-boomer generation is becoming more conservative (“As boomers wrinkle”, January 1st). As the old joke puts it, a conservative is a liberal who just got mugged, and a liberal is a conservative who just got arrested. As one ages, the likelihood of being mugged increases while the likelihood of being arrested decreases.

Frank Lowther
Los Angeles