“Moscow closer to Paris thanks to rail,” thus Gazeta Wyborcza welcomes a plan of opening a new railway connection between Moscow and Berlin via Poland with the prospect of extending it to Paris as of 2012. The official launch of the project is scheduled for June at Third Forum of the Russian and Polish Regions to be held in the Russian capital. Russian Railways (RZD) aims at cutting the trip to Berlin (currently about 27 hours) by two hours by the end of 2011 and by another eight in 2013 when a high speed line is to link Moscow and Berlin.
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Turns Out America's Demonized Militia System Is Not So Bad As It Is Adopted by the French on the Riviera
While the French excoriate Americans for their guns and for the crimes in their "uncivilized" society and for having something as uncouth as militias, men both young and old keep getting gunned down in places such as Marseille.
And now, even the French are starting to look at militias, in places such as the Riviera and in the Paris suburbs. (All the while, denying the French versions being "real" militias and waxing anxious about «balances» (informants — citizens warning the police about possible crimes are thought of as stool pigeons?!) while continuing to denigrate America's militia system as being the descendants of the South's slave patrols.) The money quote:
«Ce sont des citoyens vigilants et solidaires qui relèvent déjà le courrier de leurs voisins en vacances, ouvrent leurs volets le matin… On ne leur demande pas de faire de la délation, mais simplement de signaler aux forces de police, qui ne peuvent pas être partout, des faits inhabituels.»
Friday, May 11, 2012
Iran Backed Socialist in French Vote: “Hollande’s victory will bring NUANCES to EU's strong approach”
In the run-up to the French presidential election, the Iranian newspaper Tehran Emrooz wrote that “emphasis must be given to the advantages of a victory by François Hollande”writes John Vinocur, the most conservative commentator working for the New York Times, who also broaches the subject of renegotiating the E.U.’s debt and deficit consolidation program ("You can take it to the bank that the Europeans will come together (belatedly and insufficiently) on producing some growth-related measures without tearing up their austerity compact").
“A victory will lead to a softening of Paris’ policies toward Iran,” [the Iranians' matter-of-fact, non-hysterical editorial] said. “France under Sarkozy was the strong voice in the European Union against Iran. Hollande’s victory will bring nuances to this approach.”
That’s bang-on correct about Sarkozy.
He was the hand holding the prod that pushed Europe toward enacting sanctions on Iranian oil scheduled to take effect July 1. And he took pride in policies repeatedly jabbing at what France maintained were the Obama administration’s illusions and foot-dragging concerning Iran’s drive for nuclear weapons.
While Sarkozy was president, a bipartisan French National Assembly report took a shot at President Obama for frittering away a whole year in the nuclear countdown with his failed “outstretched hand” initiative. The French proposed an Iran oil embargo at the United Nations only to have it shelved for a softer, embargo-less American proposal.
No country had a tougher stance. France believed that the best way to head off an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear sites was by intensifying sanctions, wary diplomacy, and an unyielding interpretation of the constraints placed by the U.N. Security Council on the mullahs’ atomic ambitions.
But what about Hollande?
Will there be nuances in his approach — exactly what the Iranian commentary expected to see — that dilute the hard French line on nonproliferation and sanctions?
… Jean-Yves Le Drian, who is apparently Hollande’s choice as defense minister, told small groups in Washington more than a month ago that a Socialist presidency would mean no basic change in French Iran policy.
But this week, I spoke to a man who had just talked to Hollande about Iran. My friend’s unequivocal impression was that the Socialist president will be closer to Obama’s line than Sarkozy’s.
Thursday, May 10, 2012
"Je veillerai à affirmer l'indépendance de la France sans compliquer la tâche de Barack Obama."
I will ensure that the independence of France is affirmed, in a way that does not complicate the task of Barack Obamavows the Socialist president elect of France.
Not the task of the United States, mind you.
Not the task of the United States proper.
The task of the United States insofar as it is led by a fellow leftist.
As America's Democrats say that the French and Greek election results are good for the party; as the New York Times says that François Hollande's Socialist economic polices are likely a “better fit” for the U.S. economic positions of the Obama White House (merci à Hervé), laying out how "the Socialist and Barack Obama are ideologically linked"; and as François Hollande himself says his election must be welcomed by people all over the continent, the president-elect makes clear in Corine Lesnes's article on his interview with Slate.fr that he is allied with the United States only insofar as the superpower is led by a fellow leftist, not by a Romney, a Gingrich, a McCain, a Palin, or a Bush (perhaps not even a Clinton).
François Hollande has promised to remove French troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2012, a year ahead of Nicolas Sarkozy's schedule, and insofar as France's new president is know in America at all, UC Berkeley's Jonah Levy informs us that he is considered anti-American by even the Obama White House.
LA PROMESSE AFGHANE
Le premier sujet qui les préoccupe est l'Afghanistan. Selon un haut responsable, la Maison Blanche a bien compris que, deux semaines après avoir été élu, François Hollande peut difficilement renoncer à sa promesse de retirer les troupes combattantes à la fin de l'année. Elle a aussi entendu le message que le candidat avait fait passer, avant même le premier tour, et qu'il a répété dans son entretien à Slate.fr : "Je veillerai à affirmer l'indépendance de la France sans compliquer la tâche de Barack Obama."
Il n'empêche. Pour Marvin Kalb, de la Brookings Institution, autre cercle de réflexion, c'est un "mauvais signal" en direction des alliés qui seront tentés d'accélérer eux aussi le calendrier. "Comme nous l'avons appris au Vietnam, quand un camp commence à se retirer du combat, il perd du pouvoir dans la négociation", estime-t-il. Jonah Levy pense lui aussi que "c'est un geste embarrassant pour le gouvernement Obama. Et il est perçu comme anti-américain".
South Carolina a Better Place for Building Cars, Says Michelin, Than Even Mexico With Its Cheap Labor
Les Nippons (Toyota, Honda, Nissan) s'y installèrent les premiers [en Caroline du Sud, "un Etat américain peu connu pour ses performances industrielles"], suivis des Sud-Coréens (Hyundai, KIA). Désormais, les Allemands y mènent grand train. Certes, ils partent du bas comme tout nouvel arrivant, mais leur progression impressionne : d'avril 2011 à avril 2012, alors que la part de marché américaine de General Motors et Ford a de nouveau commencé de régresser, Volkswagen y a progressé de 28 % (de 2,5 % à 3,2 % du total), Mercedes de 23 %, BMW de 12,5 %.South Carolina has become such an attractive place to build automobiles, writes Sylvain Cypel, that Michelin chose the Palmetto State over a site in Mexico, a country that one might think would have cheaper labor and therefore be more attractive for businesses.
“In the future, climate change will hold ready for Germany more sun and severe storms in the summer and intense rainfall in mild winters.”Whatever you say, sparky.
Wednesday, May 09, 2012
To Understand Liberal Issues Like Gay Marriage Correctly, It Is Vital to Get the Basic Premises Right
Sorry, but I still don’t see what divorce and unwed motherhood have to do with gay marriage. It’s mostly straight people who are doing the divorcing and unwed mothering.1) John Stossel doesn't seem to realize it, but when he mentions "alimony, child support", "divorce and unwed motherhood" as well as "straight people" — along with comments such as "I don’t care if there are three fathers and six mothers [if] it’s a stable relationship and the kids are connected with their parents" — he is answering his own question (notwithstanding the fact that the libertarian does not seem to be noticing all the ways in which judges, lawyers, divorce industry experts, and other government bureaucrats and parasites have managed to infiltrate themselves inside what was once called the sacrosanct family unit — check out Stephen Baskerville to see how bad that problem is).
First of all, no one is preventing two people from living together and from loving each other and from "commit[ting] to a life partner", and to a certain extent, nobody ever has. The gay sense of victimization throughout the centuries has been exaggerated, certainly this past century or two. In its obituaries of the 19th century, for instance, The Times of London would note that a certain person had been a "lifelong bachelor", and everyone understood what the newspaper meant by that.
So is there still a good reason to prevent gays from marrying? Well, the problem is — and I think that, upon thought, many a gay person would not disagree with me here (in fact, I believe that a gay person — a Log Cabin Republican? — could have written this post in the exact words I did) — not that gays want to get married, but what had to happen for them to want to get married in the first place…
For lifelong love, yes, and for tenderness and sweet nothings, yes, for lust for lean or muscular bodies, certainly, but for the desire of nuptials and a life spent together as "husband" and "wife" in a single bourgeois-type home, not really (or they are few and far between or with a touch of a smirk attached).
These calls came about only after — and only because of — the decline of traditional marriage (agreed, between straight people) along with the advent of open marriages and no-fault divorce. In other words, the desire of gays, male or female, for the "benefits" of matrimony only came about after, and only came about because, feminists and leftists dumbed those "benefits" down by making it OK to divorce on a whim and by making it alright to commit (what is now considered passé to be called) adultery.
Again — tell me if I'm wrong, but gayness has mostly to do, rightly or wrongly, with lust (and I mean that in a neutral way, neither in a positive nor in a negative sense), which is the same that we feel (or some of us feel) for a member of the opposite sex. Now, many heterosexuals are attracted to "hot chicks" (guys) and "hot bods" (gals), which is normal and neither good or bad, but our grandfathers and our grandmothers would have told us (or they would have told our fathers and our mothers) that marrying someone, solely or mainly, because of lust (say, a "bad boy" or a "trophy wife") was not necessarily a good idea. Get rid of your lust first (whether for same-sex partners or partners of the opposite sex), get it out of your system, if necessary, and then marry; but do not marry (solely) because of the lust and/or do not lust for others once the wedding is consummated…
Certainly, marriage due to lust, or with widespread lust remaining in the "hearts" (and in the loins), was commonly understood not to be a good idea until the feminists and their allies on the left brought us open marriages and no-fault divorce. The same can be said for gay marriage, and the calls for gay marriage, like the tendency for quickie marriages between heterosexuals, would start vanishing when and if (as soon as, in fact) the legal underpinnings as well as the cultural support for open marriages and/or for no-fault divorce came to an end.
2) Now, from a libertarian perspective, Amy D asks:
Why should the government have a bloody thing to say about marriage other than recognizing the legal contract issues?The answer has been given in Harry Jaffa's A New Birth of Freedom: Marriage came before society; the advent of married couples came before the advent of individuals organizing themselves into societies; the one led to the other. All of the left's theses in the past century or so are basically based on the premise that society, and government, came before, and/or is superior to, marriage and that the bonding of two (necessarily clueless) people (of different sex or of the same sex) is hardly more important than — it is but one more issue for the state (for government) to solve — fixing the roads or organizing society's defense. Therefore, the raison d'état predominates, and a (married) couple, like an individual, exists to serve the raison d'état. And if the government decides to "make" individuals, say, "tolerant" — if only to make those who govern look good by making them feel like the heroic defenders of the (allegedly) downtrodden — then that is how those individuals should act…
You other conservatives say you want smaller government with less intrusiveness....would this not be the way to go?
What Jaffa states eloquently is that originally, society did not "create" matrimony; the fact of matrimony was what led to the creation of societies — and of governments. There is no mention of gay rights whatsoever in any of his books (that I remember), but the following premises will give you an idea of why details such as gay marriage cannot be seen without getting the premises correct and why, in conclusion, strong marriages (necessarily between a man and a woman) are important.
Individual rights become valuable only insofar as they result in a good society — a society in which man's moral and intellectual virtues can find their fullest measure of opportunity. There is in Jefferson none of that radical individualism that sees the rights of the individual transcending and opposing the moral demands of a good society. The opposition between the demands of society and the rights of the individual, so familiar in our time, arose only as those rights were no longer understood to be natural rights subject to the natural law.
…Self-realization was in fact the only correlate of the new atheism. As there could no longer be any distinction between man and God, which distinction is as fundamental to the Declaration of Independence as to the Bible, there could be no distinction between base and noble desires. All desires were understood to be created equal, since all desires were seen as originating in that highest of all authorities, the self-creating self.
…fathers as well as mothers usually prefer the preservation of their young to their own individual preservation. It follows from this that among humans it is the family, rather than the individual, that seeks survival…
…it is human families or their representatives, rather than "abstract" human individuals, who found or institute political communities…
…Only as one understands the priority of the partnership of male and female in the generation, nurture, and education of the young can one understand the relationship of individuality to community in the political order…
Marriage is … in its origin a contract of natural law … It is the parent, and not the child of society; the source of civility and a sort of seminary of the republic.Update 2: Ed Morrissey:
Marriage has always been a forward-looking institution aimed at protecting and nurturing the next generation of children, not a love license for the adults of the presentUpdate 3: Canada's Precedent in Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage:
… marriage and family become mere adjuncts of the state after the removal of the de facto conditions that make the traditional family a pre-political institution in the first place. No longer is family something that, in the words of Douglas Farrow, “precedes and exceeds the state.” No longer is the family a hedge against the totalitarian aspirations of the state because no longer is the family prior to the state.Update 4: 5 Gay Marriage Myths:
It is those who oppose same-sex marriage who are the true champions of liberty. Indeed, if gay “marriage” is ever legalized, it is likely to result in unprecedented restrictions on freedom of speech and even thought.
In Europe, the access of all citizens to health services remains a challengeFigures in two tables from the OECD and from EU-SILC compare the numbers of people dissatisfied with their health care experiences, the poorest 20% per country on the left-hand side and the richest 20% on the right. Only to a die-hard liberal should it come as a surprise that the poor are far less satisfied with their health care services than the rich, and that in every country in the EU (three members of whom have dissatisfaction totals exceed 10%).
People are dissatisfied because of irritants such as distance and/or a lack of transport means (purple) or such as excess waiting periods (red). But throughout the EU, the main complaint for the poor concerns costs that are too high (orange).
Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Monday, May 07, 2012
To quote Victor Davis Hanson (thanks to Instapundit):
In 2005, Paul Krugman was writing why Bush’s spending was going to crash the economy; in 2012, Paul Krugman is writing why Obama’s far greater deficit spending, on top of Bush’s debts, is not going to crash the economy, given that we need to borrow far more than our paltry $3 or $4 billion a day.Meanwhile, Le Monde posts a table with the details of which segments of the French population voted for whom on Sunday.
Sunday, May 06, 2012
Personally, Hollande and Valérie Trierweller boarded one of the Falcon 900s, but some people have been asking why the president-elect isn't taking a Mirage to arrive more quickly in Paris — where he is supposed to join the festivities on the Place de la République.
Meanwhile French socialists on TV shows are echoing Hollande's conviction that all around the EU, Europeans embattled by the EU's austerity measures are overjoyed that France elected a socialist president.
I didn't expect François Hollande to sound arrogant in his speech, but apparently, in true Obama fashion, a leftist cannot help thinking that only he has all the answers and that only he responds to all peoples' expectations everywhere.
"J'ai évoqué tout au long de ces derniers mois le rêve français. Il est notre histoire, notre avenir. Il s'appelle le progrès. Ce rêve français que vous partagez tous, donner à nos enfants une vie meilleure que la nôtre. C'est ce rêve français que j'ai décidé d'accomplir. (...) Je mesure aussi que l'Europe nous regarde. Je suis sûr que, dans bien des pays européens, les résultats ont été un soulagement, un espoir. (...) L'austérité ne pouvait plus être une fatalité : c'est un aussi une mission qui est la mienne, la croissance, l'emploi, l'avenir."The president-elect — who campaigned on the promise of spending more and who, 30 minutes ago, stated forcefully that he was a "socialist" — said that he expects much of Europe to "breathe a sigh of relief" in view of his election to the French presidency and that the European Union will not be all about austerity from now on.
"Je salue les forces politiques, le mouvement que j'ai dirigé. Je suis socialiste ! J'ai toujours voulu le rassemblement de la gauche, de tous les Républicains, mais aussi des humanistes qui ont permis la victoire ce soir. Enfin, je salue mon département de la Corrèze."Plus François Hollande said that five years from now, he will ask to be judged on whether he has held his promises on two main questions (two words which sound alike in French) — justice and youth — "justice" referring more to the notion of social "equality" than to that of "the law":
"Je demande à être jugé sur deux engagements majeurs : la justice, et la jeunesse. Chacun de mes choix, chacune de mes décisions, sera sur ces deux critères : est-ce juste, et est-ce pour la jeunesse ?"
Nous devons ce soir penser exclusivement à la grandeur de la France et au bonheur des Français. Je veux les remercier pour avoir présidé notre pays pendant cinq ans. Jamais je n'oublierai cet honneur. Dans la vie d'un homme, présider à la destinée de la France, c'est quelque chose que je ne pourrai jamais oublier, c'est un bonheur immense. J'y ai consacré toute mon énergie, j'ai essayé de faire au mieux."
… Je porte toutes les responsabilités de cette défaite. Je ne suis pas un homme qui n'assume pas ses responsabilités. Je suis le président, j'étais le chef, et, quand il y a une défaite, il faut en prendre les responsabilités. J'en tire toutes les responsabilités. Je veux vous dire les choses du fond de mon cœur. Y a trop de discours avec des mots prononcés qui ne veulent rien dire...
… Je veux remercier les millions de Français qui ont voté pour moi. Je n'ai pas ménagé ma peine. Mais je n'ai pas réussi à convaincre une majorité de Français. Vous m'avez aidé de manière extraordinaire. Ensemble, nous avons fait une campagne inoubliable, contre toutes les forces mobilisées contre nous.
… Une autre époque s'ouvre. Dans cette nouvelle époque, je resterai l'un des votres. Je partage vos idées, vos convictions. Ma place ne pourra plus être la même, après 35 ans de mandat politique. Après 10 ans, où chaque seconde je vis pour les plus hautes responsabiltiés gouvernementales. Après 5 ans passés à la tête, de l'Etat, mon engagement dans la vie de pays sera désormais différent. Jamais, chers compatriotes, je ne pourrai vous rendre ce que vous m'avez donné.
The news media in France are still under blackout orders for another hour and a half, until the presidential polls close at 8 pm French time, but it would seem, according to neighboring Belgium's La Libre Belgique, that Nicolas Sarkozy's party will hardly be holding their planned celebrations on the Place de la Condorde.
To understand the state of the right wing in France, start by considering the name of Nicolas Sarkozy’s political party, the country’s major conservative political force. Founded a decade ago by Jacques Chirac as the Union for the Presidential Majority, it is currently known as the Union for a Popular Movement (French acronym in both cases: UMP). It descends from another party, also founded by Chirac, in 1976, called the Rally for the Republic (RPR). The RPR in turn took the place of the Union of Democrats for the Republic (UDR), which was earlier known as the Union for the Defense of the Republic (UDR), the Union of Democrats for the Fifth Republic (UDVR), and the Union for the New Republic (UNR). That party was founded at the start of the Fifth Republic, in 1958, by supporters of Charles de Gaulle, who had previously led the Rally of the French People (RPF). Everything clear?
As this history might suggest, for the last half century the French right has suffered from something of an identity crisis. Now, especially if Sarkozy loses in this month’s presidential runoff, the right appears on the verge of imploding altogether and reassembling itself in a different form. And the worrisome result could be that a far-right grouping achieves major party status in the country for the first time since World War II.