Saturday, October 01, 2005

A Difference in Noise Levels

When a French accident inquiry concluded in December that the prime cause of the fatal July 2000 crash of a Concorde jetliner near Paris was a titanium strip which had fallen off a US Continental Airlines plane on to the runway, the French media kicked up a huge fuss.

Now that a former head of the Concorde division at France's Aerospatiale has been placed under judicial investigation over the same issue, the commotion in the French press is far less loud and replete with far more, shall we say, nuance…

President Royal?

…when [Ségolène] Royal, 52, said last week that she was considering running for president in 2007, she unleashed an onslaught of attacks and ridicule from her own camp
writes Katrin Bennhold as the International Herald Tribune considers a French equivalent of a 2008 Hillary Clinton-Condi Rice race.
"Who will look after the children?" scoffed Laurent Fabius, a former prime minister with presidential ambitions himself. "The presidential race is not a beauty contest," sniffed Jack Lang, a former education and culture minister, who also wants to run in 2007.

In her sunswept office on the third floor of the Parliament building this week, Royal struck a defiant tone.

"With comments like that they only disqualify themselves and hurt their own credibility," she said, flashing a combative smile. "If, in 2007, I am the best placed to win for my camp, I should run."

Then her face turned somber. If she had been black and a man, she said, "They would never have dared to say these things. Am I not allowed to talk about this possibility just because I am a woman?"

… The squabbling over Royal's potential candidacy highlights the internal rivalries in a party still reeling from its humiliating defeat in the last presidential election, in 2002 [check out this up-to-date web page here], and the divisive referendum on the European constitution in May. But it also speaks loudly about attitudes toward women among leading members of the French political class.

It was telling that the only politician publicly defending Royal's presidential bid was Roselyne Bachelot, a lawmaker from the governing center-right party.

More than two centuries after the French revolution, women are conspicuously absent from the top echelons of political life in the country.

… Oddly, given the description by the sociologist Janine Mossuz-Lavau of French politics as "one big male club," Royal may face an adversary from a different party but the same sex. Michèle Alliot-Marie, the ambitious defense minister, published a book with her vision of France's future this week — and said she planned to play "a frontline role in the presidential election in 2007."

Thursday, September 29, 2005

While Hired to Make Powdered Milk for Iraqi Children, French Arms Company Built a Chemical Weapons Factory for Saddam

Michel Josserand was fired from Thalès (formerly Thomson) in 2004
explains Hervé to non-French speakers as he comments a TF1 news article.
He now accuses his former company of having installed a vast corruption system in France and abroad. He talks about a Thalès lawyer who validated a vast bribery system in a lot of countries. "There are 2 kind of countries: those where bribery is unavoidable (Africa, Korea, Greece, Italy) and those where you can do business without tampering (several European countries, North America, Australia, NZ). And France? It depends on local and national political interests."

In foreign countries, he relates Operation Miksa, a bribery system in order to deliver security devices to Saudi Arabia. But this system was diverted in order to deliver chemical weapons to Saddam as Iraq suffered the UN the embargo of Oil-for-food program.

According to Weaselistan, the opposition to Iraq liberation was, as Shiraq said, "because a good friend has to tell when you're wrong. There are no WMD..." etc.

Banana Republic? Who said Banana Republic?! I want names!

Here is an excerpt from the the TF1 article:
A l'étranger, il cite l'opération Miksa de fournitures de matériels de sécurité à l'Arabie Saoudite, "un pays où il n'est pas possible de faire des affaires autrement" que par le recours aux montages financiers et aux intermédiaires, soutient-il. Michel Josserand soutient que son ancien employeur [fabricant d'éléments de bombes à fragmentation] "a détourné le programme en livrant des munitions chimiques" à Saddam Hussein alors que l'Irak était soumis à un embargo décrété par l'ONU dans le cadre de l'opération "Pétrole contre nourriture".
Meanwhile, Gérard Davet and Fabrice Lhomme write in Le Monde that
M. Josserand, qui a aussi dénoncé une fraude aux fonds européens, un contrat suspect passé avec la direction générale de l'armement (DGA) et des malversations dans le cadre de programmes d'aide au développement au Cambodge et au Togo, affirme également que Thales a contourné l'embargo onusien pour livrer du matériel militaire à Saddam Hussein. Le groupe, via sa filiale THEC, aurait permis au régime irakien de s'approvisionner en armes chimiques à la fin des années 1990.
As for a factory officially designed to make powdered milk for Iraqi children, it really served to build chemical weapons for the Ba'ath party.

Now what is it, among other things, that members of French society (at all levels, from top leaders to common citizens) have been bashing America and/or members of the Bush administration for all along?

  • For not putting (enough) faith in the United Nations, in multilateralism, and in the international community
  • For imposing an embargo which, in and of itself (no other possibile causes, such as a régime involved in the murder of hundreds of thousands of its own people [and whose ministry of information (sic), incidentally, released the information in the last part of the present sentence]), caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children (thank god for European-built factories designed to make, among other things, powdered milk for Iraqi children)
  • For believing (how silly they are, what treacherous liars they are) that Saddam was involved with weapons of mass destruction (such as chemical weapons)
That is what members of the French élite said, praising the nation's inborn lucidité as well as its natural propensity for peace (indeed, castigating the war for being about hidden interests while lauding themselves for principles of the highest, and the most praiseworthy, order), and that is what members of the society parroted, celebrating Dominique de Villepin and often adding comments such as
Je n'aime pas Chirac, mais au moins il a eu les couilles de tenir tête à Deubeliou
Ignoring the facts that their leaders did not similarly have the balls to resist (i.e., they kowtowed to) the Beijing dictatorship (the matter of resistance was never raised, let alone entertained) and that their fellow principled pacifists have been trying to trying to resume weapon sales to same (having, truth to tell, no interest in opposing China at all) — is it unfair to say that "les Français ont tenu tête aux Américains but they gave head to the Chinese"? — the French (of all levels, from top leaders to common citizens) will dismiss this as très certainement a deplorable matter but one which should not put the basic tenets of their country's policy into doubt.

And their response (their automatic response, unfortunately) to this news item will be silence or character assassination (why are you putting so much importance in this matter?) or how the sins of Uncle Sam are, in any case (and always), worse.

And then they wonder why we don't believe that it's all (and only) about Bush and that the double standards can hardly be indicative of anything but anti-Americanism.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Mothers in America

This Is Garbage

Almost everything that has worked in the recovery operation along the U.S. Gulf Coast has been military and National Guard
writes David Warren from the Great White North.
Within a few days, under several commands, finally consolidated under the remarkable Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, it was once again the U.S. military, efficiently cobbling together a recovery operation on a scale beyond the capacity of any other earthly institution.

We hardly have a military up here. We have elected one feckless government after another, who have cut corners until there is nothing substantial left. We don't have the ability even to transport and equip our few soldiers. Should disaster strike at home, on a big scale, we become a Third World country. At which point, our national smugness is of no avail.

From Democrats and the American Left -- the U.S. equivalent to the people who run Canada [and France and Germany and the EU] -- we are still hearing that the disaster in New Orleans showed a heartless, white Republican America had abandoned its underclass.

This is garbage. The great majority of those not evacuated lived in assisted housing, receive food stamps and prescription medicine and government support through many other programmes. Many have, all their lives, expected someone to lift them to safety, sans input from themselves. And the demagogic mayor they elected left, quite literally, hundreds of transit and school buses parked in rows to be lost in the flood, that could have driven them out of town.

His Master's Voice

Al-Qaeda claims they didn't lose their number 2 honcho in Iraq so the AFP treats Al-Qaeda like any other news 'source' and relays the information. They're just doing their job propping up the morale of the boys in the 19th arrondissement of Paris. LCI French cable TV news ran the headline across the bottom of the screen all morning making sure the news got out to anxious French youth.


If you choose a peaceful outlook and opt for respect and dialog and do not join in the attack of atrocious dictatorships foreign regimes, your nationals won't get kidnapped, your metros won't get bombed, your spies won't come to harm, and generally your country won't be attacked

That's how to avoid (merci à hervé) becoming enemy nº 1

How Many Markers for the Other Side?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Nos très sincères condoléances à tous les fwançais membres de la filière du 19ème arrondissement

Et qu'ils connaissent TOUS le même sort d'ici peu.

"A Weakened Man" to Be Tried By a "Judicial UFO"

Tonight, Arte is broadcasting a "documentary" portraying Saddam Hussein as a victim, ridiculing the "kangaroo" court that will try him, and pouring scorn on the American "occupiers" and on any and all Iraqis who have worked with them (as I had predicted).

After starting out with the usual hems and haws in the very first sentences of his article in Le Monde's TV guide (of course the "vast majority of Iraqis" agree that the "ignoble and bloody character … deserves the rope or the shooting squad 1,000 times over"), Patrice Claude tempers the description with the information that Iraqis are

submerged in the chaos of a brutal military occupation, of a barbaric state of terrorism, and of a coming bloody civil war.
(This state of affairs, by contrast, was neither barbaric nor bloody nor a state of chaos.) By the fourth sentence Claude (who wears his initials well) is in full BUT mode and will continue that way for the next page and a half, saying basically (if not outright) that, as bad as Saddam was, his dictatorship was nothing in comparison with the terrible injustices and the mess created by the Americans. (In that the article is in full symbiosis with the independent daily's usual Iraq coverage.)
Except for a handful of irreductible "Saddamists", and part of his enlarged family, the tyrant's announced death will disturb noone. Many, however, will feel a profound sadness [une immense tristesse] regarding the coming kangaroo trial
(Note that the all-wise, paternalistic French are still speaking for the Iraqis, as France 2 did after Saddam's arrest, when it said that his treatment amounted to a humiliation for every Iraqi citizen.) While Americans are referred to as "the occupier"; while various Iraqis (Ahmad Chalabi, Iyad Allawi) are referred to by such descriptions as "a 'client' of the CIA" and "another patented Iraqi 'client' of the CIA"; while the 2003 invasion is presented as "illegal … in view of international law", we are informed that the trial to take place "won't be any less so".

Kofi Annan is praised for refusing to let the UN's "judicial experts legitimize the all too 'special' court" and scorn is heaped on the Bush administration for not sending the prisoner to that "indisputable international" court in the Hague ("whose very existence it still is fighting", obviously another infamy).

Indeed, we are informed that the Iraqi court planning to try Saddam is "that judicial UFO"; that its 49 members are filled with politicians and with lawyers "often" (nice specifics, n'est-ce pas?) without the necessary experience, some of whom, "in their career", have had "the experience of a theft, maybe of a murder" (more nice specifics); and that it is preparing a "ridiculous spectacle" (spectacle grand-guignolesque), in "the shadows" of which Americans (who "neither speak nor read Arabic") are depicted as pulling all the strings in secret. ("But they are the true masters of the trial".)

The Jean-Pierre Krief "documentary" continues with a long line of legal experts, American and other (Cherif Bassiouni, Michael Scharf), who cast doubt and/or scorn upon the proceedings. (The legal line of "indisputable masters of international law" who got together to form and advise the court after Kofi's refusal do not seem to realize, Claude intones, that after 30 years of dictatorship, the "Iraqi judicial system … has lost the habit of justice and lost any spirit of independence". Good thing they have a French member of the élite to tell them that.)

By the last column, Claude has managed to find a character to show some empathy with: This man is now "a weakened man. At 69, the former dictator seems resigned". One thing the reporter seems to find impressive is "Saddam Hussein's surprising combativity", pointing out that "the former dictator has a law degree" and "he knows how to fight".

The bottom line? Once more, French people claim the objectivity and the lucidity and the amplified "vigilance" and the appropriate distance ("un étonnant travail de mise à distance", crows Catherine Humblot) to be able to judge and to condemn and to paternalize.

Oh, one more thing: a disgusted Claude says that one reason that the trial is to take place in Iraq is that "America's new Iraqi allies" did not want their dirty laundry unfolded in the Hague or in front of the world's cameras.

Of course, not a word about food-for-oil or France's participation in the greatest scam of all time. In fact… hmmmm… Mightn't this be a reason that the French-and-German-state-owned TV channel, in conjunction with France's independent newspaper, is pulling out all the stops to demonize the Americans and the Iraqi democrats? That is not anything the average Frenchman will think much about when faced with so much evidence of Yankee knavery…

Update: Nostalgia for a poor old man named Hussein (the documentary described)

Giving up the ghost

The "powers that be were" declare European construction dead in its tracks and Barroso throws a shitload of Eurotrash into the crapper. European Soft Power (©Emmanuel Todd) on full display in all its impressive glory.

University presidents' first allegiance ought to be to honesty and truth, not campus orthodoxy masquerading as intellectual bravery

…we have lost sight of what university presidents are supposed to be
writes Victor Davis Hanson.
Their first allegiance ought to be to honesty and truth, not campus orthodoxy masquerading as intellectual bravery amid a supposedly reactionary society. …

The signs of erosion on our campuses are undeniable, whether we examine declining test scores, spiraling costs, or college graduates' ignorance of basic facts and ideas. In response, our academic leadership is not talking about a more competitive curriculum, higher standards of academic accomplishment, or the critical need freely to debate important issues. Instead, it remains obsessed with a racial, ideological, and sexual spoils system called "diversity." Even as the airline industry was deregulated in the 1970s, and Wall Street now has come under long-overdue scrutiny, it is time for Americans, if we are to ensure our privileged future, to re-examine our era's politicized university.

"It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds"

Today is the birthday of Samuel Adams (1722-1803), the founding father who said
He who is void of virtuous attachments in private life is, or very soon will be, void of all regard for his country. There is seldom an instance of a man guilty of betraying his country, who had not before lost the feeling of moral obligations in his private connections.

How strangely will the Tools of a Tyrant pervert the plain Meaning of Words!

It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds.

Mankind are governed more by their feelings than by reason.

The Constitution shall never be construed... to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.

The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on Earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but only to have the law of nature for his rule.

Lovers of paralysis unite!

To give you a sense of just how vulgar the press is, take a look at the AFP picture below compete with “road bumps” sign, along with the wishful thinking of the BBC which kept calling it narrow, even when the CDU/CSU had a 10 point lead:

Never mind the convenient misogyny that leftist will permit themselves when they aren’t badgering people for being sexist, the amazingly hateful sticker stuck on the Merkel posters says “Honecker’s Revenge”, referring to the East German Communist dictator Erich Honecker.

Amazing – a glimmer of hope for personal freedom on the right being compared to Honecker who led the repressive state that the far left still admires. Not only is the beeb with their ideas of harmless fun, going to feign shock soon. The domestic press is sure to look back on their history of accuracy, reporting of a Schröder on the ‘comeback trail’ or possibly pretend it never happened.

You see, kidnapping in the name of demanding more socialism is okay, but boobs in the Bundestag isn’t, at least when they aren’t the chattel property of the leftist politics. With roots like this, what do you expect? That they’ll live by their painful whinging?

But the view that people will believe anything has migrated elsewhere as well. Here we find the battle cry of the weasel - inventing issues and ignoring real ones, and thinking the public is dumb enough to eat up any platform that will propogate the laziness gene. A typical turn is the call for deeee-luxe leftism for almost everyone – the ones who want to be more equal than others. Same old schtick: everything in life is FREE FREE FREE, and no-one really needs to work!

On to the German media, the provisional wing of the SPD, even on DW-World broadcasting to non voters the desk anchor for their special election night newscast was decked out in a red (SPD) dress, while two of the reporters "on the scene" were wearing red ties. Does this even ring a bell with them? I also wonder if even the outliers on the left, the Greens and Die Linke/PSD find this DDR era SED behaviour odd in any way...

The Ugly Tone of Gratuitous Contempt

Some French commentators have been dismayed by the tone of the media coverage concerning the destruction across the Atlantic
writes Sebastian Rotella in the L.A. Times (merci a Duff).
Some prominent people in the French press and politics, they believe, have eagerly turned the catastrophe into an all-purpose symbol of American ills, real or imagined.

"If the United States didn't exist, it would have to be invented so that elsewhere we can reassure ourselves, as if to better hide our own defects and incoherencies," warned a recent editorial in Le Figaro newspaper. "It's easy to ramble on about the decline of the American empire. Some even see the difficulties encountered by the U.S. as the work of a vengeful hand from the beyond…. Derision and demonizing are out of place."

The extensive coverage has tended to paint the picture of a superpower brought down by economic inequality, racial conflict and neglectful government. A recent Nouvel Observateur cover summed up this stark view: "America Stripped Naked: The cyclone reveals the wounds of the every-man-for-himself society."

Marianne, a left-leaning newsmagazine, declared: "The American giant folds beneath the weight of its failures and struggles to enforce an order that it wanted to impose on the world."

Marianne's take typified the profound disdain for President Bush in evidence here. A special issue titled "The Fall of the Pyromaniac Fireman" blamed Bush for a planetary flash fire of crises — from Iraq to global warming — that, in the magazine's view, discredit an entire free-market-driven, militaristic "Anglo-Saxon model" of governance.

In the newspaper Liberation, Gerard Dupuy accused the Bush administration of "contempt for victims who without a doubt were doubly at fault for being both poor and black." He concluded that the neoconservative "crusade," which was "already mired in the Mesopotamian marshes" of Iraq, had "foundered in the Louisiana bayou."

The U.S. media has also been tough on the administration for its response to the hurricane. But the invective here has been particularly harsh and grows partly out of an "old anti-American undercurrent reawakened by the war in Iraq," columnist Laurent Joffrin wrote in Nouvel Observateur.

In the past, the anger about Iraq sometimes distorted reality, some analysts say. In 2003, author Alain [Hertoghe] undertook a day-by-day analysis of French media accounts of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and compiled his findings in a book titled "The War of Outrages." His study focused exclusively on the three-week invasion, not the unproven prior allegations about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction or the insurgency that began after Saddam Hussein fell.

Herthogue [sic] asserted that the French media consistently, and erroneously, gave the impression that the military operation was about to collapse even as tanks rumbled into Baghdad.

French criticism of the Katrina crisis also shows fundamental differences in the role of the state in France and the U.S.

The French national government controls everything from law enforcement to healthcare to transportation. City and regional officials have more limited powers and duties than their U.S. counterparts, especially when it comes to disaster response. So New Orleans' woes appear to confirm suspicions that Washington leaves Americans at the mercy of the forces of nature as well as markets.

Some pundits predict that Americans will now want a more muscular, "French" approach to government. But others suggest that it's best not to point fingers. They recall the heat wave two years ago that killed about 15,000 people in France.

In that tragedy, many elderly people perished in hospitals and nursing homes that lacked air conditioning. Thousands of corpses were discovered in sweltering apartments as the death toll escalated and French leaders, as well as some relatives of the dead, were criticized for remaining on summer vacation.

"The denigrators have rushed to condemn the 'American model,' " wrote Ivan Rioufol in Le Figaro. "But have they looked at the state of their own country? The Third World, exposed in the [American] South, exists in French housing projects…. The indifference to the marooned corpses recalls the 15,000 elderly, dead and abandoned in the 2003 heat wave…. It's indecent to suggest, in this jubilation at describing a humiliated superpower, that France would have fared better."

In a recent letter to this newspaper's Paris Bureau from the southwestern town of Frejus, a retired contractor named Cesar Orefice complained that the media coverage of Katrina had been "absurdly triumphant" and gleefully anti-American.

It "leaves me disillusioned, overwhelmed, heartbroken by the simplistic anti-Americanism served to us like a dish a thousand times warmed-over," wrote Orefice, 71. "We talk about these events essentially to criticize with a few accompanying giggles the incapacity of the American administration to react…. I wonder what efficiency we would have seen if a city like Lille, Lyon or Bordeaux had been wiped off the map."

Read also Nidra Poller's France Passes Judgment on Katrina (thanks to e-nough):
As for George Bush, who should have been there while the wind was tearing the place apart, and should have shipped in the troops if he hadn’t already sent them to make trouble in Iraq, [and should have refrained from shipping in the troops instead of rescue personnel,] and shouldn’t have come to Biloxi when the real mess was in New Orleans, and has a nerve coming to New Orleans, not once but three times, just to get his picture taken. With Blacks! As if everyone didn’t know that the reason the hurricane hit New Orleans is because America is a racist, capitalist, warrior state.

French viewers (and radio listeners, and newspaper and magazine readers) were invited to tisk tisk and cluck cluck over this stuck-up country that thinks it’s rich and high tech, and can’t even eradicate poverty or protect itself from a “cyclone.” Why do French media want to call our hurricanes “cyclones”? It’s just one more item in a long list of distortions designed to misappropriate our reality. By depriving the hurricane of its specificity, you deprive the experience of its high-end intensity, you bring it down to size, to French size, to the size of things that any person in his right mind should know how to handle.

Nidra Poller then shows a typical example of the double standards existing in French society:
A terrible airplane crash killed 152 Martinique-French citizens recently. Overall coverage of the accident, the aftermath, the grieving relatives, the touching ceremonies came close to the time subsequently devoted to Katrina. The difference is stunning.

… press coverage focused on sorrow. Beautiful dignified sorrow: a priest crying as he read out the names of the victims, children crying for their parents, brothers crying for their sisters, the entire island of Martinique crying for its loved ones, and tears welling up in the eyes of a lovely French newscaster snug in the studio, reporting on the events. No indignation against the travel agency that booked seats on the rotten airline. No outrage at government agencies that are supposed to regulate air safety. No rebukes against French society that is failing citizens on more than one count. And of course no one asking President Chirac to resign because he couldn’t bring a planeload of Martiniquais back from Panama.

He did go to the memorial service. But that’s another story.

The gratuitous contempt for the victims of Katrina has no better comparison than the obsessive, hypocritical, vomiting contempt for Jews…in France…in the 1930s. The words slime and sleaze are appropriate to this particular kind of hatred that covers everything, sticks to the smallest detail, can’t be removed. Not one word, not one image of Katrina was fair and honest. Whatever the subject — the damage, the overwhelming logistical problems, the inadequate responses, the time elapsed, the number of victims — it had to be nasty, virulently anti-American, pointedly anti-Bush. But not in the way of political rivals, even low down cheating rivals. No, in the way of Jew-haters. A hatred that comes from deep dark sources.

…To sum it up, Katrina, seen from over here, was not a natural disaster. It was a pre-programmed event and, as it happens, a test case of American ineptitude. As a result, any American claim to world leadership is automatically rejected. Further, if one had any doubts about the wisdom of Bush’s intervention in Iraq, it is now clear that it was a disaster. He should have intervened in the weather instead of fooling around in distant countries and creating terrorism out of whole cloth. Any one in his right mind would have known that this cyclone would destroy the levees, that the levees should have been reinforced, that the population should have been evacuated under the personal direction of the US president, that people who wanted to stay should have been provided with all the necessities, that Biloxi was right next to New Orleans, that no one should be poor in fair weather and all the more so in foul and doubly so if they are poor and black. When white rescue workers come to the aid of poor black victims it proves that the United States is racist all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

What more do you need?

The State of America's Race Relations and Its Lack of Social Harmony Are a Disgrace

Clueless and criminal Americans, give up your pretentions at solving the problems of your capitalist society…

Let France's lesson-givers take over the task…

More reasons to listen to the French…

A Fiasco in Denmark and a Total Rout in Italy and France

At the antiwar rally in Washington on Saturday, vast numbers of protesters from around the United States poured onto the lawns behind the White House, pointedly directing their anger at President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney
wrote the mainstream media in America.
Thousands of antiwar protesters also marched through London on Saturday to demand that Britain pull its troops out of Iraq. There were also smaller antiwar rallies in Copenhagen, Damascus, Helsinki, Paris, Rome and Seoul. In the United State [sic], antiwar marches were also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle.
Even Le Monde couldn't abide that one.
La mobilisation s'est en revanche soldée par un fiasco au Danemark, et une déroute totale en Italie et en France : de 1 500 à 2 000 personnes ont défilé contre la guerre dans les rues de Copenhague. 200 se sont rassemblées devant l'ambassade américaine à Rome. A Paris enfin, seulement une soixantaine de personnes étaient présentes sur la place de la Concorde, proche de la représentation américaine.
Incidentally, Corine Lesnes has a fawning article on Cindy Sheehan while Leef Smith and Jonathan Abel have an article on the war supporters' rally.
"I believe in what they're doing," Antia Grater said. "A man over there," she said gesturing, "has a sign that says 'Stop the War.' Well, that's what our troops are doing. They're stopping the war on terror at the source."

Monday, September 26, 2005

French literature 101: Strategic Yogurt Production as a plotline

This ridiculous piece of shit, titled "Pension Fund", appeared in today's Le Monde Al-Jazeera on the Seine and is supposedly inspired by the current Hewlett-Packard uproar. It could have just as easily been titled "Pay-as-you-go-pension-scheme" or better yet "French-politicians-riding-on-the-backs-of-taxpayers", but I digress. France's foaming-at-the-mouth hatred for the American pension fund system was illustrated by the success of 99F, novel written by Frédéric Beigbeder, which contains a scene where a Florida retiree is beaten to death by two French ad executives and an actress on location in Florida to shot a TV ad for Madone Yogurt (any similarity to the strategic yogurt production commissioned to Danone is completely coincidental).

-- WE SAVED YOUR ASS IN '44! MY HUSBAND DIED IN NORFUCKINGMANDY!! Look, jerk-off, the picture of MY HUSBAND who died in YOUR COUNTRY on D-DAY!!


-- Listen lady. Let's not throw our dead back and forth all night. That war, you waged it to export more Coca-Cola. IT'S COCA-COLA WHO KILLED YOUR HUSBAND! Me, my father committed suicide because he was fired by his company in order to boost profits. I found him hanged, you get it, bitch?

He was smacking her a bit too hard. The old bag was bleeding from the nose. I swear I tried to stop him but the alcohol had increased his strength.

He pummeled her with blows, aiming for her eyes with his fists, breaking a beer bottle across her nose, popping out her dentures and stuffing them up her pussy, anyway, let's just say that he decided to shorten a life that was already full of suffering, and in any case, a life that was almost finished. I guess you could call that a slip up. In any case, after five minutes (which is a long time - for example, a round in a boxing match is shorter) Mrs. Ward was no longer breathing and the room filled with the smell of shit. The Versace couch cover would have to go to the dry cleaner.

Note: Italics in English in the orignal text.



-- Ecoute, la Miss. On va pas se balancer nos morts à la figure toute la soirée. Cette guerre, vous ne l'avez faite que pour exporter Coca-Cola. IT'S COCA-COLA WHO KILLED YOUR HUSBAND! Moi, mon père s'est sucidé parce qu'on l'avait viré de sa boîte pour augmenter ses bénéfices. Je l'a retrouvé pendu, tu comprends ça, salope? YOU KILLED MY FATHER!

Il la giflait un peu trop. La vieille saignait du nez. Je vous jure que j'ai essayé de le retenir mais l'alcool décuplait ses forces.

Il la rouait de coups, visait les yeux avec ses poings, a cassé une boutelle de bière sur son nez, a fait sauter son dentier et l'a introduit dans sa chatte, enfin bon, nous pourrions aussi considerer qu'il décida d'abréger une existence pleine de souffrance, et, de toute façon, presque arrivée à son terme, mais il me semble qu'on peut aussi appeler cela un dérapage. Bref, au bout de cinq minutes (ce qui est très long - par exemple, un round de boxe dure moins longtemps), Mrs Ward ne respirait plus et une odeur de merde a envahi la pièce. La housse Versace serait bonne pour le pressing.

© 2000 Editions Grasset -- copied without permission

If Slaughterhouses Had Glass Walls…

Saturday was the birthday of Linda Eastman McCartney (1942-1998), the US photographer and Beatle widow who said that
If slaughterhouses had glass walls the whole world would be vegetarian.
Of course, if Saddam's jails had had glass walls the whole world would have supported the war in Iraq, but that's not anything activists make much of these days, do they (and indeed, have they ever)?

The Flight Attendant Who Doesn't Like Violence

Saturday, I spoke to a French flight attendant. Quickly, the discussion turned to traveling, and then to America. Within a couple of seconds, she had to let the following slip in:
Ah, j'adore l'Amérique, mais pas leur président.
"Oh really", I asked disarmingly. "But the Iraqis, they like le président americain." Dubious look:
Ah ça j'en doute, avec tous leurs massacres!
Because I hear so many doubts and cynicism about the average Iraqi's point of view — due to the MSM press's usage of emotionally-charged words of the superlative kind, such as les massacres, le chaos, and l'horreur (and la misère as a description of America's capitalistic society in general), it is practically impossible to touch on positive aspects of the United States (and certainly on the presence of its troops in Iraq) in the country of le débat et le dialogue, without being treated to snickers, snorts, harrumphs, and eye-rolling — I have taken to carry a handful of copies of the Le Monde piece (unfortunately, a token article) in which its Baghdad correspondant, instead of relying on his media's usual emotionally-charged words, went around instead and questioned Iraqi citizens.

In his unguarded moment, not only did Rémy Ourdan report that the pretty much unanimous response to the invasion was that it was the best thing to happen to Iraq in the past 30 years, but Iraqi voices just as overwhelmingly heaped scorn upon the French position concerning their opposition to the American decision to invade (indirectly castigating the position of all "peace camp" members, the position of Bush's opponents, the film of Michael Moore, etc, etc, etc), in the process casting doubt on the true intentions of Paris (doubts of a kind usually reserved for Dubya).

When faced with cynics, I don't even bother arguing with them anymore. Instead of wasting my time, I just fish out a photocopy of Ourdan's article and hand it to them.

That's what I did Saturday with my flight attendant. Reading the title (La politique de la France reste très vivement critiquée par les Irakiens), she immediately said:

Oui, mais il y a d'autres opinions.
There may be other opinions, I replied, but there don't seem to be too many of them. "Presque impossible", I would say that's 95% of the general consensus, or above…

She looked it over quickly, saying

Yes, but it was a war for oil.
I asked, "Wasn't the position of the Saddam supporters equally based on oil?"

Hein? she went.

The people who were against the war, didn't they do it for Iraq's oil? And what's worse, for the oil of a dictator.

Suddenly the flight attendant said she had to go.

But take the article with you, I invited.

Ah non, je ne veux rien lire sur la violence.
She doesn't want to read anything about violence, she claimed, but
  1. the article is/was not about violence,
  2. she was the one who brought up the (general) subject, and (ergo:)
  3. apparently, violence as a subject is fine as long as it can be used to bash Bush and America and as long as it cannot, in any way, be turned against France and other humanist members of "the peace camp".
And I have not even started to address the fact that for the generous, tolerant, visionary, solidaristic bon vivants (for whom le débat et le dialogue is a matter of faith), the point of view of the Iraqis themselves — unless it happens to match that of France — does not seem to matter much…

What Was Iraq Like Before Americans Brought "Chaos", "Violence", and "Massacres"?

Ibrahim Idrissi has mixed feelings about the recent uproar caused by the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib under the US occupation
wrote Gert Van Langendonk in the The Daily Star in May 2004 as the reporter discussed what Iraq was like before Americans brought chaos, violence, and massacres.
"As a humanitarian organization, we oppose this," he says. "But these are soldiers who have come to Iraq to fight, not to be prison guards. It was to be expected. Of course, if there are innocent people in there ... it is possible, I guess, that some of them are innocent."

If Idrissi seems a bit callous about the fate of the Iraqis in US-run jails, he has probably earned the right to differ. He recalls a day in 1982, at the General Security prison in Baghdad:

"They called all the prisoners out to the courtyard for what they called a 'celebration.' We all knew what they meant by 'celebration.' All the prisoners were chained to a pipe that ran the length of the courtyard wall. One prisoner, Amer al-Tikriti, was called out. They said if he didn't tell them everything they wanted to know, they would show him torture like he had never seen. He merely told them he would show them patience like they had never seen."

"This is when they brought out his wife, who was five months pregnant. One of the guards said that if he refused to talk he would get 12 guards to rape his wife until she lost the baby. Amer said nothing. So they did. We were forced to watch. Whenever one of us cast down his eyes, they would beat us."

"Amer's wife didn't lose the baby. So the guard took a knife, cut her belly open and took the baby out with his hands. The woman and child died minutes later. Then the guard used the same knife to cut Amer's throat." There is a moment of silence. Then Idrissi says: "What we have seen about the recent abuse at Abu Ghraib is a joke to us."

…One day, they hope, the executioners will be put on trial. But most of all, they want recognition for what they, and thousands of others like them, have been through. And that people would stop saying "things were better under Saddam."

"Only criminals could say such a thing. The victims deserve better than this," Idrissi concludes.

Il ne manquait plus que ça

François Hollande, qui ne peut même pas être un couille-molle car il est eunuque, va nous balancer sa bonne femme dans les pattes.

HP contre les ripoux

First the Socialist mayor of Grenoble went begging in Palo Alto. Then Chiraq, with the few synapses he still has clicking, muttered something about calling in that ol' EU soft power (©Emmanuel Todd). Now Villepin is barking dark, ominous, and thoroughly empty declarations about demanding kickbacks from HP (Villepin a appris très jeune comment évoluer dans les histoires de bakchich). HP declares that it never received any French State aid and that it has paid 700 million euros in taxes extorsion money to boot. Mais l'administration fwançaise, dirigée par une fange mafieuse, qui n'a rien à envier aux triades, composée d'escrocs oisifs, use des pires mensonges. Les entreprises et les chefs d'entreprise sont systématiquement déclarés coupables de tous les maux de cette société gangrénée par cette sale caste de politicards, véritable association de malfaiteurs qui n'ont jamais travaillé un seul jour de leur vie pour gagner un salaire honnête, véritable meute de véhiculeurs du vide qui n'ont jamais rien créé de leur vivant.

Bush is was will be finished!

After heralding the arrival of Rita on American shores, Libération PropagandaStaffel buries a report on page 10 stating with regret that "the storm hit a sparsely populated region between Txas and Louisiana". Otherwise, that Bush would have been finished for sure!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Bush is finished!

Declares Le Monde Al-Jazeera on the Seine for the umpteenth time in the last two years. The French preSS is even less accurate that a broken clock.

Mocking American Neocons with the Communists

Alain Abellard has an article on Ted Stanger that suggests that the Paris-based American journalist can be expected to be harsh on his host country. As we have demonstrated before, that is false: His humourous reflections on France are nothing compared to his spite and his invective against Americans. The evidence that he is not, or is no longer, an objective non-partisan observer does not arrive before the last paragraph in Abellard's article:
Ses échanges avec Claude Cabanes, éditorialiste du quotidien L'Humanité, sont réglés comme une mécanique parfaite. Le libéral Yankee de l'Ohio et le communiste à l'accent du Sud-Ouest s'en donnent à coeur joie et accordent plus de plaisir aux mots qu'à leur propre pensée. Et dans ce domaine, Ted n'a aucune leçon à recevoir : il excelle dans la mauvaise foi et dans l'outrance.
And that's how life functions in France. You get together and join in in Yankee- (or Bush-)bashing, while allowing for all other tendances — no matter how Stalinist they may have been in the past — for nuanced discussons amongst themselves dans le respect et la bonne humeur

Shares in Danone: +30% since mid-July

The T-bones and the Irish whisky are on me. Hey, maybe Villepin can get these suckers some jobs propping up France's strategic yogurt production.

An ill wind from Germany

More like a whiff escaping from a rotting corpse. The Franco-German couple made-in-Hell is shaping up as Zeropa's black hole.

It is a blow to the EU because it means that both France and Germany -- its strongest members -- are now at risk of paralysis. Defeat in the constitutional vote stripped Jacques Chirac of credibility in Europe. Now Germany's voice will be muffled too. It is unclear who will be its next chancellor, which parties will form its new government and how stable it will be; but in any case, a weakened, introvert Germany seems even less likely than before to lead the EU forward. In a club of 25, of course, France and Germany cannot stitch up European policy as they used to. But it is still unusual, and worrying, when both seize up at once. Both are likely to grow more defensive, whether separately or in tandem. The EU will feel the creeping malaise.

Things could get worse. Over the next two years, the other two big economic powers in the euro area will also hold elections. Next up is Italy, where the leader of the movement challenging Silvio Berlusconi is a former EU commission president. This will tempt the prime minister to run as a Eurosceptic. If he were to win, the lesson from Germany and Italy would be that the key to electoral success in Europe lies either in stressing the need to "balance" reform (as Mr Schröder did) or in bashing the EU. That does not automatically mean the French, who vote for a president in 2007, will go down the same road. But their election campaign may well be fought on familiar (pro- or anti-reform) turf; after all, the referendum in France was dominated by talk of globalisation, economic stagnation and the "Anglo-Saxon" attitudes of the European Commission. Railing against the beasts from Brussels who are ruining our welfare states is becoming standard fare in election campaigns. In country after country, debate about reform is fractious; opposition to it is well galvanised.