Saturday, June 27, 2009

If Only Obama Had Been President 20 to 30 Years Ago, Michael Jackson Might Still Be Alive Today

Well, that's not exactly what one of the numerous "experts" said on the iTélé television channel during the non-stop discussions of Michael Jackson's life, career, and legacy, but it came pretty close… (In any case, it's interesting that the co-author of The History of Rock Music seems unaware of the likes of Diana Ross, Prince, James Brown, Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Paul Robeson, etc, etc, etc…)

What François Jouffa, co-author of Histoire du rock, said exactly on Friday while discussing the skin bleaching that Michael Jackson allegedly kept undergoing (along with his multiple facelifts) is that: now that Barack Obama is president and that an African-American is finally in the White House, were Michael Jackson young today, he would not need to (suggestion: an inescapable necessity in the United States, professionally as well as psychologically) change his face in order to blend in with the majority of the American population…

Aid 101

A bit of unsolicited advice to any budding aid professionals out there: when it comes to efforts aimed at reducing the suffering associated with true poverty, never assume the goal is to actually reduce the suffering associated with true poverty:

Efforts to make newer and more costly vaccines widely available to the poorest in Africa are being hampered by a long-standing system that makes vaccines affordable to middle-income Latin American countries.

The revolving fund, which began in 1979, negotiates substantial discounts with manufacturers on prices in richer countries, offering in exchange significant volumes, predictable demand and funding.

However, it includes a clause demanding that the vaccines are made available at the "lowest possible price" charged anywhere in the world, making it impossible for producers to propose still lower prices to poorer countries.
No doubt that meetings will be held and powerpoints will be delivered....

Friday, June 26, 2009

French Shrinks Suggest That Murder of Newborns Is OK If the Child Was Never Recognized As Such

After Véronique Courjault's "escape" with eight years behind bars for killing three newborns (her own) over a period of four years — which amounts to less than three years per murder — Pascal-Henri Keller mentions an (ahem) interesting theory in Le Monde that psychiatrists have developed.

For a woman to become a mother, says the Poitiers teacher in psychopathology, she must talk about motherhood; unless the content of a pregnant woman's belly has been named by her as a child, it can remain, in her mind, no more than a simple body growth. (The subtitle of the article in the dead tree version is Un enfant n'existe que s'il est nommé — A child exists only if he as been identified.) A human being alone has the responsibility of naming her descendant so that he may live. Without a word accompanying the pregnancy, the child may die, simply because, psychically, he never existed for anybody.
…pour qu'une femme devienne mère, il lui faut en parler. L'unanimité de ces experts a quelque chose de solennel : ils affirment que, à défaut d'être nommé, le contenu d'un ventre de femme enceinte peut demeurer, pour elle, une simple excroissance corporelle. Pas un enfant à naître. S'il en était besoin, cette découverte pourrait, à elle seule, répondre à la question posée par le titre du livre récent d'Yves Christen L'animal est-il une personne ? (Flammarion, 538 p., 24 euros). La réponse est non. Seul, l'être humain détient cette responsabilité effarante : nommer sa descendance pour qu'elle vive. Sans parole accompagnant sa gestation, le petit d'homme peut mourir, simplement de n'avoir jamais existé psychiquement pour personne.

The bloom is off, official

What happend to the spirit of Siegessäule?

We Are Creating Artificial Earthquakes, But Hey! At Least… We're Respecting Mother Nature and Saving the Planet

James Glanz has an article on geothermal energy and how its "potential as a clean energy source has raised huge hopes, [with] its advocates [believing] it could put a significant dent in American dependence on fossil fuels — potentially supplying roughly 15 percent of the nation’s electricity by 2030." Well, it would seem that there is a drawback or two (not that, of course, creating artificial earthquakes and endangering people matters much in the glorious fight to fight against the evils of oil and save the planet).
Markus O. Häring, a former oilman, was a hero in [Basel, a Swiss city of medieval cathedrals and intense environmental passion,] three years ago, all because he had drilled a hole three miles deep near the corner of Neuhaus Street and Shafer Lane. …

He was prospecting for a vast source of clean, renewable energy that seemed straight out of a Jules Verne novel: the heat simmering within the earth’s bedrock. All seemed to be going well — until Dec. 8, 2006, when the project set off an earthquake, shaking and damaging buildings and terrifying many…

Hastily shut down, Mr. Häring’s project was soon forgotten by nearly everyone outside Switzerland. As early as this week, though, an American start-up company, AltaRock Energy, will begin using nearly the same method to drill deep into ground laced with fault lines in an area two hours’ drive north of San Francisco.

Residents of the region, which straddles Lake and Sonoma Counties, have already been protesting swarms of smaller earthquakes set off by a less geologically invasive set of energy projects there. AltaRock officials said that they chose the spot in part because the history of mostly small quakes reassured them that the risks were limited. … AltaRock maintains that it will steer clear of large faults and that it can operate safely.

But in a report on seismic impact that AltaRock was required to file, the company failed to mention that the Basel program was shut down because of the earthquake it caused. AltaRock claimed it was uncertain that the project had caused the quake, even though Swiss government seismologists and officials on the Basel project agreed that it did. Nor did AltaRock mention the thousands of smaller earthquakes induced by the Basel project that continued for months after it shut down.

The California project is the first of dozens that could be operating in the United States in the next several years, driven by a push to cut emissions of heat-trapping gases and the Obama administration’s support for renewable energy.

Twisted knickers

Seems as though über taxaholic Richard Murphy is getting a bit of his own medicine:

I thought I’d rummage around the web site of the Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation to see what the only university department in the country whose dedication to free thinking and open questioning has led to it banning my attendance at its conferences might be up to.
For Murphy to be whinging about being banned is a bit rich as it is he who bans all dissent on his own website. Then again, since when do craven leftists actually practice what they preach?

If only all politicians were as boring as the Dutch

There certainly won't be any screaming headlines and gnashing of teeth as a result of the other Telegraaf's version of expense account fiddling by the political class in Holland:

Porn movies, mortgages and dog food. In Britain, the often outrageous expenses claimed by members of parliament have caused a huge scandal, led to several top resignations and seriously undermined public trust in British politicians.

In the Netherlands so far, a pair of sunglasses, a rented tuxedo and a ticket for a play about dementia are among the most exorbitant expenses uncovered in an investigation by the newspaper De Telegraaf.
Oh to have such boring politicos.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Lincoln's General Observation About Folks Who Have No Vices

Regarding the scandals surrounding Republican Sen. John Ensign of Nevada and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, it's time to remember the words of the Republican Party's very first president.

Abraham Lincoln liked to quote a Kentucky acquaintance of his:
It's been my experience that folks who have no vices have generally very few virtues

Other than THAT, all is well......

Discerning concernment

An open wiki for NP readers.

One word sticks out when reading/hearing/discussing issues of the day with our betters, concern.

There is always some variant of "concern" attached to why the individual must surrender their liberties for the betterment of the collective we. A touching, yet nauseating, trait amongst the more learned classes which seek to snuff out the individual in favour of the "people".

Use the comment section and list some of your favourite "concerns".

Regrettably concerned
Urgently concerned
Highly concerned


Hello! McFly!

Further to the point of having no respect for any election that doesn’t provide them with the same status as a soft dictatorship loved by “the masses”, the European socialists continue to demand a right to be obeyed:

Socialists and Greens in the European Parliament have expressed anger at what they say is the "indecent haste" with which governments are trying to get European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso reappointed for a second term.

Martin Schulz, head of the group, said EU leaders' decision on Thursday (18 June) to politically endorse Mr Barroso was a "political, legal and institutional outrage."
Which is his way of saying “I know we lost, but submit to us anyway!”
Daniel Cohn-Bendit, leader of the Greens, accused member states of "steam-rolling tactics" over the issue.
Dude: first off, put down the bong, and second of all, you lost. That means you aren’t in charge.

Voters? Remember them? Get it?

Daily translation

An easy one.

The original:

Regulators in Europe want better privacy protection by Facebook Inc., Twitter and similar social networks, fearing information about people could be misused.
The translation:

On-line social networking is a growth industry. How can we find some way to control and/or milk euros out of these companies? We can use the old "concerned over privacy concerns" double-speak as the tried and true killer app entrée.

Money for nothing and your cheques for free

Filed under, "discussions with everyday Belgians":

Everyone in my mother's village (located in Wallonia) is out of a job and receiving benefits. All along working on the side tax-free .... and I have to pay for this with my taxes!
Yes my dear, that is what we have been talking about all these years. Eventually the other guy's money does indeed run out.

Newton meets the Apple

There is no right to a free lunch. There is no right to common sense:

The European Union's blind hatred of Microsoft looks to have backfired bigtime and millions of European users looking to upgrade to Windows 7 will now have to reinstall all their programs and data rather than a doing a simple upgrade from Vista.

As a result of the EU's antitrust action - taken on the pretext of offering users more choice - Microsoft plans to ship special European variants of its new OS, scheduled for launch in October. The E version of Win7 has IE8 stripped out, while the N version contains neither IE8 nor Windows Media Player.

But because the upgrade path from Vista to the E or the N versions of Windows 7 won't support an in-place upgrade, users will be forced to do a clean install, having backed up all their files and settings and reinstalling applications afterwards.
All done in the name of your protection mind you.....

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A free pass away from the front: a caricature of a NATO future split into boom-boom for the Americans and handing out bonbons for the Europeans

For the first time in years, said one of those attending [the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Oslo in May], Denis MacShane, a Labor member of Parliament and a former minister of state for Europe in the British government, no Europeans got their heads banged “for not dying and refusing to pull their weight.”
This prompts John Vinocur to ask:
Could that be, he was asked, because the war in Afghanistan was now fully, nonblushingly America’s, even Obama’s?

“Right on the button,” Mr. MacShane said. “The tactics and materiel and commanding general are changing. The emphasis is on special operations. The Americans just don’t need it anymore, this other long battle persuading the Germans, Spanish and Italians to get out and fight.”

Another official, from Continental Europe, requesting anonymity, said he considered the circumstances ones that brush the quasi-historical: in his view, the United States has de facto abandoned the idea of asking Europe to go to war while the administration re-Americanizes the conflict in Afghanistan.

… Pierre Lellouche, who is special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan for President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and who is a former president of NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly, has offered a very critical view of the International Security Assistance Force.

In “L’allié Indocile,” his book about France’s return to NATO’s operational command, he writes that the system for allied engagement in Afghanistan gave individual participant countries “the freedom not to fight and not to make war.”

According to Mr. Lellouche, these countries’ caveats — like fliers’ being restricted from medical evacuation missions after dark, or trainers’ being barred from accompanying their Afghan trainees into combat zones — has meant a “striking” division of labor between the soldiers who are “‘bureaucrats’ forbidden to leave their bases and bunkers” and the “combatants” (think of the British, Canadians, Dutch, Danes and French among the non-Americans).

Mr. Gates and Mr. Obama — the president seemed concerned about these circumstances during his election campaign — now appear to have rationalized them.

I was told by a Brussels diplomat that Vice President Joseph Biden actually informed NATO representatives in February that their countries were not going to be asked for what they couldn’t deliver.

It was, in substance, a free pass away from the front.

… After the president’s trip to a NATO summit in April, a participant close to the U.S. military wondered aloud at a symposium on European-American cooperation if “military-to-military relations are being undermined by the distinction between those who fight and those who don’t?”

For sure, the military missions in support of civilian development and training are central to restoring order in Afghanistan. And indeed America’s experience in Iraq and greater technical capabilities were elements prompting the administration to seize control of the war effort. But a system with high- and low-risk armies legitimizes a caricature of a NATO future split into boom-boom for the Americans and handing out bonbons for the Europeans.
Dj’ever Wonder?....

Ever wonder just why it is that the names of many of these pan-European-Parliament-funkadelic political parties sound so much like third world terrorist “liberation” organizations.

A Federation of Euro-harmony filled by ultra-nationalist xenophobes is almost too droll a jest. My favourite of these new national parties is Ataka, which is a Bulgarian word meaning—oh, go on, take a wild guess. That’s right: “Attack.” What a splendidly butch name. The Attack party was formed from last year’s merger of the Bulgarian National Patriotic Party, the Union of Patriotic Forces and the National Movement for the Salvation of the Fatherland, and in nothing flat managed to get 13 per cent of the vote.

Like Attack, many of these lively additions to the political scene favour party emblems that slyly evoke swastikas while bending the prongs in different directions just enough to maintain deniability. Other than that, they don’t have a lot in common with their colleagues in the no-bloc bloc. I don’t just mean in the sense that the leader of the Slovak National Party said a couple of years back, “Let’s all get in tanks and go and flatten Budapest,” which presumably is not a policy position the Hungarian nationalists in Jobbik would endorse. But there are broader differences, too. The SNP is antipathetic to homosexuals, whereas Krisztina Morvai, the attractive blonde Jobbik member just elected to the Euro-parliament, is a former winner of the Freddie Mercury Prize for raising AIDS awareness. I can’t be the only political analyst who wishes that, instead of a victory speech last Sunday, Doktor Morvai had stood on the table in black tights and bellowed out, “We Are The Champions.”

Like our chums at Canada’s “human rights” commissions, Doktor Morvai is a “human rights” activist—and, indeed, a former delegate to the UN Women’s Rights Committee. One thing a woman has a right to is an uncircumcised penis. In the course of her successful election campaign, the good doctor told Hungarian Jews to “go back to playing with their tiny little circumcised tails.” I don’t know what Krisztina has against circumcised penises, but it’s probably not her pelvis.
Obviously cultural sensitivity is their strong suit, and given that you don’t have to come from the often ethically nebulous former east to tout your ideas as “human rights”, we’re sure to see a pan-European culture emerge from this, their common “humanity”, which has always and still is, little more than something that someone finally found a big and serious-sounding word for: ethnic cleansing.

Either way, the names of these freaky love-collectives reminds me of the array of set-ups that would claim responsibility if a bomb went off in west Beirut in 1977. What they have in common is that they’re made up on the fly, and are only there to conceal identities, and seek public attention.

You’ve come a long way, baby!

Either way, the results are in, and the cultural sophisticates of the political class have made their mark: you can choose things that either sound like badly armed revolutionary movements trapped in a jungle somewhere, or socialist “ugly, toothless, inebriated mob” exploitation outfits from a century ago.

America's Presence on Kirghistan's Manas Base to Continue, Thanks in Part to France

Instrumental in changing the mind of the Kirghistan government and keeping its Manas outpost in American hands, according to Le Monde's Natalie Nougayrède, was France.
Mais un acteur relativement inattendu a aussi joué un rôle. La France menait, en effet, ces derniers jours, une mission de bons offices en Asie centrale. L'émissaire spécial de Nicolas Sarkozy pour l'Afghanistan et le Pakistan, Pierre Lellouche, qui effectue une tournée dans la région, s'était entretenu dimanche avec le président kirghize. Les consultations étaient également étroites avec le représentant spécial de M. Obama pour l'"AfPak", Richard Holbrooke.

Les Kirghizes semblaient sensibles à une implication européenne. La France est, pour sa part, concernée au premier chef par le sort de Manas, puisqu'elle entretient depuis 2001 sur cette base un détachement (33 militaires aujourd'hui) chargé d'assurer les opérations d'un avion ravitailleur C-135 soutenant l'ensemble des bombardiers et des appareils de renseignements survolant en permanence le théâtre des opérations en Afghanistan.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Reason Why the French and the Europeans Can Give All Manner of Lessons to the Yanks Is That Their Own Racist Events Are Officially Ignored

Why is there — allegedly — so much racism in America as compared to other countries? Why do other countries feel so confident in giving lessons on racism to Americans? As we have said before, a large part of the reason is because other nations' shameful incidents (racist or other) are, deliberately or otherwise, consciously or unconsciously, belittled, ignored, and/or forgotten — often with official backing.

Witness the Béatrice Gurrey article in Le Monde about the May 1967 events in Guadeloupe which have been buried under 40 years of silence (and which was illustrated in Le Monde by a map of… neighboring Martinique):

Cet après-midi du vendredi 26 mai [1967], Hubert Jasor se pointe sur la darse [de Pointe-à-Pitre, en Guadeloupe]. Un bâtiment de la marine nationale est au mouillage, les marins en ville. Un matelot blanc est pris à partie par la foule, Jasor s'interpose, une balle lui frôle la nuque. Puis il est blessé par le coup de crosse d'un gendarme. Recousu à l'hôpital Ricou, le libraire rentre chez lui, quand une patrouille de "képis rouges" l'arrête. L'insulte. Emmené dans la cour de la sous-préfecture, il y est battu comme plâtre.

Caché sous des corps inertes, Hubert Jasor entend ces mots qui le glacent : "Les morts, on les fout à la darse ou à la Gabarre" — le pont qui sépare Grande-Terre de Basse-Terre. Vers 4 heures du matin, reconnu par les forces de l'ordre, il échappe à son calvaire. Conduit à la gendarmerie, il entend des têtes cogner contre les murs, lors d'interrogatoires où les aveux pleuvent à la vitesse des coups. "Ils l'ont arrêté puis l'ont jeté devant la maison", raconte son fils.

Depuis des heures déjà, la situation a dégénéré en une violence incontrôlable. Une phrase, que son auteur présumé jure ne jamais avoir prononcée, a fait en un éclair le tour des manifestants et déclenché l'émeute, en tout début d'après-midi : "Quand les nègres auront faim, ils se remettront au travail." Georges Brizard, le président du syndicat des entrepreneurs du bâtiment, patron de la Socotra, l'aurait prononcée.

…Devant les CRS, les jeunes voient rouge. Des barrages sont érigés partout, des voitures incendiées, le supermarché Unimag, au bout de la rue Frébault, pillé, les pierres volent. Et surtout, l'armurerie Boyer, rue Delgrès, en centre-ville, a été dévalisée. Noir ou Blanc, il ne fait pas bon être dans les rues.

…Le jeune Jasor a raccompagné chez lui l'un de ses copains du lycée Carnot pour le protéger, car il a la peau si claire qu'il pourrait passer pour un Blanc. Au retour, il observe, médusé, une femme noire, assez sophistiquée, que l'on questionne méchamment sur un barrage : "Tu es noire ou tu es blanche ?" Elle : "Je n'ai pas à répondre à cette question." Alors que son véhicule est secoué de plus en plus fort, elle se met à pleurer et dit en créole : "Zot pa ka voué an nwé ?" ("Vous ne voyez pas que je suis noire ?")

…Des gendarmes mobiles arrêtent son ID 19. "J'ai fait l'Algérie : ces gars étaient dopés au vin rouge et au bismuth. Ils sautillaient sur place en disant : "On va tirer."" L'enseignant assure que certains d'entre eux parlaient mal le français, des légionnaires. On lui intime l'ordre de descendre de voiture. "Le couvre-feu, on s'en fout. On a ordre de tirer sur les nègres comme sur des lapins." Il est aligné contre un mur quand arrive une Jeep de gendarmes, avec un chef de détachement. Les hommes baissent tout de suite leur arme.

…La chasse à l'homme a commencé. Dès le 26 mai au soir, à 18 h 45, le préfet envoie un long télégramme au ministre, qui mentionne notamment ceci : "Ai ordonné arrestation principaux meneurs dont TOMICHE, secrétaire syndical employé de commerce et récemment exclu du comité central du Parti communiste STOP." Sur une radio amateur, Paul Tomiche capte les ondes de la police : il faut amener le propriétaire de "l'Opel Corsa 77 MV, Max, Victorine, mort ou vif à Petit Papa" (la gendarmerie de Petit-Pérou). Sa voiture. Il se cache à Bergevin, puis beaucoup plus loin, à Petit-Canal. Coupe sa barbe. Part au Moule. L'Etincelle, l'organe du PCG, titrera : "Les aventuriers ont pris la fuite." Il sera arrêté et fera onze mois de prison. … Depuis 1967, aucun CRS n'a remis les pieds dans l'île.
As Béatrice Gurrey's companion article (40 years of silence and still no exact figures on the losses), points out, the toll of the dead varies from 7 to 87.
Dès 1967, le bilan officiel de sept morts, après les émeutes de Pointe-à-Pitre des 26 et 27 mai, a été contesté. Lors du procès des indépendantistes, en 1968, à la Cour de sûreté de l'Etat, leur défense, et notamment Me Henri Leclerc, souligne que le nombre de morts est beaucoup plus important que celui annoncé par le préfet Pierre Bolotte. Jusqu'au 14 mars 1985, où, sur RFO Guadeloupe, le secrétaire d'Etat aux DOM-TOM, Georges Lemoine, mentionne 87 morts. "Cela nous avait tous surpris. A l'époque, on parlait d'une quarantaine de morts, sans que cela ait été vérifié", se souvient l'historien Jean-Pierre Sainton, auteur avec Raymond Gama du premier ouvrage sur la question Mé 67 (Société guadeloupéenne d'édition et de diffusion, 1985, épuisé).
"Le nombre, je ne pense pas l'avoir inventé. On a dû me faire des notes. Mais je n'ai pas le souvenir des documents sur lesquels ils s'appuyaient", dit aujourd'hui M. Lemoine, 75 ans.

…aucune réaction au ministère de l'intérieur et de l'outre-mer de Michèle Alliot-Marie, malgré des demandes répétées. Les archives sensibles de l'armée sont couvertes par la confidentialité pendant cinquante ans, sauf dérogation. … Beaucoup d'archives ont disparu. Jean Chomereau-Lamotte, reporter et photographe, raconte : "Le commissaire Canales, sa spécialité, c'était de venir après chaque manif pour exiger les clichés des photographes de France-Antilles. Cela a failli faire plusieurs fois un clash au journal."
The final paragraphs contains an ultraconfidential government note on influencing opinion that should interest Americans (and others) curious about France's near-unanimous opposition to Bush and to the Iraq war:
Celles du préfet Bolotte, en revanche, ont pu être consultées par Jean-Pierre Sainton (fils du Dr Pierre Sainton, fondateur du GONG), avant d'être retirées de l'accès public. Elles montrent un préfet très politique, qui reçoit des instructions précises du gouvernement. Ainsi cette note ultraconfidentielle du 2 mai 1966 qu'on lui recommande de détruire : "En Guadeloupe, votre politique doit tendre d'une part à dresser l'un contre l'autre le communisme et l'autonomisme et, d'autre part, à séparer les socialistes en deux formations, le parti socialiste gaulliste et le parti socialiste classique ; les tenants du premier bénéficiant de votre appui, les autres étant livrés à leur impuissance."

Le docteur Guy Dramort, 86 ans, anesthésiste à l'ancien hôpital Ricou, veut bien raconter qu'il a travaillé toute la nuit du vendredi 26 au samedi 27 mai, mais pas davantage : "Pourquoi remuer tout cela ?" Parce que, comme le dit Raymond Gama : "Fé mémwa maché, Fé konsyans vansé." Faire marcher la mémoire, c'est faire avancer la conscience.

Trying to Come Up with a Professional Code of Ethics for French Journalism

In an interview with Le Monde's Xavier Ternisien, Bruno Frappat (formerly of La Croix and Le Monde) explains how he has set up a group that is trying to write a professional code of ethics for French journalists.
La crise de confiance est-elle si grave que cela ? La presse est-elle si mauvaise ?

Une étude un peu sérieuse des journaux d'aujourd'hui comparés à ceux de l'entre-deux-guerres ou de l'immédiat après-guerre tournerait à l'avantage de la presse contemporaine. A la Libération, ils étaient plus nombreux, mais fortement idéologisés, et l'information y était noyée dans le commentaire. La nouveauté, c'est la pluralité des médias. Le discrédit de la presse est souvent lié à celui d'un média dominant. Vous pouvez faire tous les bons papiers que vous voulez, si, par ailleurs, sur une chaîne de télévision de grande audience, un journaliste réalise une fausse interview, cela rejaillira sur l'ensemble de la profession. Je demande que l'on ne pratique pas l'amalgame avec les médias.

Le Monde Blasts Dr Strangelove's Guinea Pigs

Why would an article (by Fabienne Lips-Dumas) from the avant-garde quarterly XXI be republished in Le Monde? Because it equates American cold warriors as Doctor Strangelove…
Les scientifiques américains, emmenés par Edward Teller, le docteur Folamour du laboratoire Lawrence Livermore National, creuset de la recherche nucléaire, brûlaient de connaître la force de leur bombe H. Elle leur fera peur. Castle Bravo reste la bombe la plus puissante qu'ils aient jamais osé tester.
A lot of irony surrounds the phrase used by the army, "For the good of mankind", and the realities of the Cold War and of the world, then and now, are uniformly repressed in order to depict the Americans as nothing less than evil, bellicose warmongers…

The Narcissism of Minor Critics: Why Americans and Europeans are not that Alike

European obsessions with the US aren't just mixed up, but feed an unhelthy resentment of the rest of humanity. Peter Baldwin writing in Prospect magazine sums up some of the lunacy of the endless list of rotating European complaints about the USA, Americans, and anything that remotely reminds them of the United States, that fills in the gaps in so many empty heads.

It is universally observed that America is an economically more unequal society than Europe, with greater stratification between rich and poor. Much of this is true. Income is more disproportionately distributed in the US than in western Europe. In 1998, for example, the richest 1 per cent of Americans took home 14 per cent of total income, while in Sweden the figure was only about 6 per cent. Wealth concentration is another matter, however. The richest 1 per cent of Americans owned about 21 per cent of all wealth in 2000. Some European nations have higher concentrations than that. In Sweden—despite that nation’s egalitarian reputation—the figure is 21 per cent, exactly the same as for the Americans.
Which means that at some point, that tired old saw will be abandoned. Either way, it’s just a mathematical parlor trick of comparing the assets of the rich to the mean and arbitrarily constructing a political class called poverty, where the fate of the worst off in society is actually ignored. The most amusing part of this is that if the top 1% of the population’s wealth rose appreciably, and the other 98% of the population had their wealth reduced to the bottom 1%, poverty would be technically eliminated. Purpose of this mathematical construct? To construct specious arguments, just like the trite complaint above that has America as the evil antithesis of Scandinavia’s saintly and solidaristic uniformity of wealth and social sameness. The only relief it provides is to the challenged egos of emotional adolescents looking for something outside of fortress Europe to hate.
True, public social spending in America—that is, monies channelled through the state—is low compared to many European countries. But other avenues of redistribution are equally important: voluntary efforts, private but statutorily encouraged benefits (like employee health insurance) and taxes. Given all of these, the American welfare state is more extensive than is often realised: the total social policy effort made in the US falls precisely at the centre of the European scale.
In other words, we have solved the problem that Europeans fight over with one another, but that’s not to be ever understood in that way, because in general, the point of most European criticism of America is not to shed light on what they can do better in the society where they live and vote, but evading any need to self evaluate based on who they can hate more than their own political systems or other European societies.
Moreover, Europe’s various cultures are ones still steeped in the lore of national stereotypes and quite happy to wring whatever elixir can be had from them. Who can forget Edith Cresson, Mitterrand’s prime minister, convinced that no Frenchman was gay, while the English were all limp-wristed poofs? Or consider the extent to which no Europeans, however otherwise politically correct, can be shaken in their conviction that the Roma really are shifty and thieving. Having a transatlantic whipping boy is convenient and serves politically useful purposes, especially if there is little else that you can agree on. The purveyors of anti-Americanism in Europe appear to have rediscovered the truism that nothing unites like a common enemy.
This is basically how it’s worked, both in present dynamic of the EU evolving into some kind of nation-state and historically. The concencus view is that Americans are detestable, everything that reminds them of us is detestable, and yet as things change in Europe for the better, it’s almost always a case of mimicking the American social or economic model that provides that betterment. So the same bunch of psychiatrically unsound critics gather up another set of issues to beat on for another decade.
Simone de Beauvoir was convinced that Americans do not need to read because they do not think. Thinking is hard to quantify; reading less so. And Americans, it turns out, do read. The percentage of illiterate Americans is average by European standards. There are more newspapers per head in the US than anywhere in Europe outside Scandinavia, Switzerland and Luxembourg. The long tradition of well-funded public libraries in the US means that the average American reader is better supplied with library books than his peers in Germany, Britain, France, Holland, Austria and all the Mediterranean nations. They also make better use of these public library books than most Europeans. The average American borrowed more library books in 2001 than their peers in Germany, Austria, Norway, Ireland, Luxembourg, France and throughout the Mediterranean. Not content with borrowing, Americans also buy more books per head than any Europeans for whom we have numbers. And they write more books per capita than most Europeans too.
You’ll recall that 20 years ago we were Nazis and idiots for being health nuts and obsessed with exercise. Once that or any other cultural phenomenon gets adopted, anything else to complain about will do, even if it the inverse of what was apparently yesterday’s of next week’s stunningly huge sin that will sink civilization.
But what about other aspects of the social environment? In ecological terms, America is thought to be a wastrel. Big cars, big houses, long commutes, cold winters, hot summers, profligate habits: such perceptions of the country have combined with the Bush administration’s cosy relationship with the oil industry and its refusal to sign the Kyoto Protocol to paint the nation as an environmental black hole. Once again, the numbers tell a somewhat different story.

Although oil use per capita is high in America, measured as a function of economic production (in other words, putting the input in relation to the output) it remains within European norms, and indeed lower than in Portugal, Greece, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Iceland. Between 1990 and 2002, America’s carbon dioxide output rose, but per unit of GDP it fell by 17 per cent—a greater reduction than in nine western European countries. In its output of renewable energy, the US is middle of the spectrum on all counts, whether biogas, solid biomass energy, geothermal or wind. Only Austria, Denmark, Italy and the Netherlands have higher levels of spending (public and private) on pollution abatement and control as a percentage of GDP than America. Despite the myths of a hyper-motorised nation, Americans own fewer passenger cars per head than the French, Austrians, Swiss, Germans, Luxembourgers and Italians. Per capita, Americans rely on their cars more than Europeans. But adjusting for the size of the country, automobile usage is lower only in Finland, Sweden and Greece. Similarly, Americans produce a lot of waste per head, though the Norwegians are worse, and the Irish and Danes are close competitors. But they recycle as well as the Finns and the French, and better than the British, Greeks and the Portuguese. Since 1990, Americans’ production of waste has scarcely gone up per capita, while in all European nations for which figures are available, there have been big increases—70 per cent in Spain, almost 60 per cent in Italy and over 30 per cent in Sweden.
But never mind that, so long as there’s a ‘them’ out there to resent they will, which in spite of that century long pattern, the retort to the occasional American who notices this obsession remain that it has ‘nothing to do with envy’, despite all evidence to the contrary.

But then again, there is always something else – some other ‘pull the ring and hear the doll talk’ argument that you hear right after it’s printed on an A4 homemade posterette taped to a lamppost.
And if we shift our focus to education, the contrasts across the Atlantic are, if anything, reversed. A higher percentage of Americans have graduated from university and from secondary school than in any European nation. America’s adults are, in this sense, better educated than Europe’s. And the US lavishes more money per child at all levels of education than any western European nation. Europeans often believe that good US schools are private and serve only an elite. Yet American education is, if anything, less privatised than most European systems.
And in spite of that, the American can expect to take flack from university students with no meaningful life experiences of their own, an absolute certainty in Marxism, and a bloodlust to smash anything conventional in their already theoretically superior social order. Yes, the trope even pervades the interpersonal level. Either that, or the whole mess grew out of the dyspeptic grumbling on the “European street”. For example, “The Americas” are a pair of continents, and among the million and one trained-in delusional arguments one gets verbally assaulted with by strangers is the “arrogance” of calling ourselves America. Name the countries on this bright blue ball of ours that have “America” in their name? The person setting the gotcha-trap for you will likely be silent or tell you “all of them”, in abject and smugly confident ignorance.

Then one should ask in reply why they call the EU ‘Europe’ all the time, even making ‘Europe’ the shorthand reference to that cartel in Brussels, when all of the European continent is NOT in the EU. At best you’ll get a dumb stare of a newly found crumb of awareness that civilization does not order itself around their fetishistic little arguments. But the mere fact that someone wants you to address their problem that they generated to begin with is pointless. It’s more or less like teaching a 6 year old a knock-knock joke, and having them repeat it until they fall asleep, the next 10 minutes offer the next request to have you duel with the next unfounded, ill-informed, and ignorant assumption where one little fact they like becomes the center of the next ‘theory’ about a population of 300 million people.

And on and on it goes without end. We will hear this kind of thing forever so long as people seek their own dignity in the cretinizing of others who seem successful. But remember, the criticism of the US are never about envy. Those lessons are simply being dispensed for our benefit based on the notion that a superior society (not simply one respecting different public choices) has an obligation to give.

Since it’s hard to tell if they are entertaining themselves in trying to verbally duel with you by degrading your country or the other way around, the only way to stop this is to just tell them that you don’t care that they think because the idea that they would take the same thing from a complete stranger in stride is completely implausible.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Non, c'est non !

One president has balls, says Fausta, who adds that she "can't imagine Obama doing this!" (Then, again, in the Apolgizer-in-Chief's simplistic fairy-tale world view, only — conservative — America and Westerners are ever the enemies of the world and ever need to be chastened and put straight…)

As Much of a Religious Charlatan as Ali Khamenei

Fearless leader is invoking scripture to rationalize taxation. George W. Bush, on the other hand would have been mercilessly pilloried for months for the mere use of the words “God” and “bible”.

An Ape and Not a Frenchman

While France delights in the nation of clueless retards and treacherous bigots finally managing to see the light and show themselves as open-minded™ and humanistic© as the lucid™ and tolerant© sages of France and the rest of Europe by electing a black man as president of their nation, a black football (soccer) player is thinking of leaving France and even of renouncing his nationality.
La France ? Il l'aime encore, mais Makam Traoré pense la quitter. Juste un temps, le temps d'oublier qu'il n'est pas un "sale singe", un "sale Nègre". Partir loin de son HLM de Chambéry (Savoie) pour retourner au bled, à Diataya, au Mali. Là-bas, sous le ciel de ses ancêtres, la "misère" adoucira, pense-t-il, sa douleur, celle qui le ronge jusqu'au plus profond de son ADN, celle qui l'empêche de dormir. Depuis cent vingt-huit jours, l'insomnie est devenue sa nouvelle compagne.
"Dirty Negro, shut yer mouth! Where do you think you are?!"

Depuis qu'un autre joueur lui a "craché" à la figure "sale singe", "sale Nègre", le 25 janvier, lors d'un match de football de 2e division départementale dans l'Ain, Makam Traoré, 32 ans, n'arrive pas à se relever. Ce dimanche-là, le capitaine de l'équipe de Rossillon, qui compte, entre autres, sept Africains et deux Russes, se déplaçait à Lagnieu devant une trentaine de spectateurs.
"Be careful, we've put five of 'em [bullets?] in your ass, dirty Nigger, you ain't got nothing to say, you dirty ape!"
85e minute, 5 à 0 pour Lagnieu. Makam signale une faute à l'arbitre. Des personnes dans le public lancent : "Sale Nègre, ferme ta gueule ! Tu te crois où ?" Puis le capitaine jure qu'un joueur de Lagnieu, le numéro 13, lui aurait lâché : "Va doucement, on en a mis cinq dans votre cul, sale Nègre, t'as rien à dire, sale singe !"
Prior to this, Makam had never been insulted in this fashion before, he'd "only" [sic] been harassed by the police once and undergone incessant controls, and that while forebearing the stares in the streets of Chambéry when he goes for walks with his (white) wife.
"Et, depuis le procès, Makam ne va pas mieux", soupire sa conjointe, Kristel Favre-Rochey, 28 ans. "C'est dur. C'est la première fois que je le vois comme ça", poursuit-elle. Dans le passé, Makam ne s'était jamais fait insulter de cette manière, juste un harcèlement de la police, des contrôles incessants, des regards dans les rues de Chambéry quand le couple les arpente. "Je ne sais pas m'y prendre. On ne m'a jamais traitée de "sale Blanche"", raconte, démunie, Kristel.
He's bought a stuffed gorilla toy and takes it with him when he goes for walks. "I had to show people that I am nothing but an ape." … "An ape and not a Frenchman." France? He still loves it, but he's "disgusted" by it.
Depuis ce dimanche 25 janvier, Makam est détruit. Les huit jours d'arrêt maladie pour "syndrome dépressif" ne l'ont pas apaisé. "Je me sens sale, souffle-t-il, C'est comme si on m'avait violé : j'ai honte. Je n'ai plus envie de sortir avec ma famille." Il l'a fait, il y a quelques semaines. Dans une foire, il s'est acheté un... gorille en peluche et s'est baladé en ville avec. "Ben quoi ?, lance Makam. Il fallait bien montrer aux gens que je ne suis qu'un singe." Il s'arrête. Silence : "Un singe et pas un Français !" La France ? Il l'aime encore, mais il en est "dégoûté". Makam se demande s'il ne va pas renoncer à sa nationalité acquise en 2003 après dix ans de vie dans les Alpes.
He tried bringing his toy gorilla inside the courthouse and asked his lawyer if he could change his name to… "Dirty Negro."

…il lui a demandé s'il pouvait changer son nom en... "sale négro". Le footballeur a tenté d'apporter au tribunal sa peluche, son amie l'en a dissuadé. Makam est tout de même venu vêtu d'une chemise et d'un pantalon aux couleurs de l'Afrique.

"Grossir le trait est une réponse à l'agression, explique Patrick Lozès, président du Conseil représentatif des associations noires de France (CRAN). Ce "repli identitaire" est malheureusement une manière de se défendre." Pour Joëlle Bordet, psychosociologue, "il faut prendre en compte la fonction symbolique du terrain de foot, explique-t-elle. C'est une scène sociale où les joueurs doivent partager des valeurs, où toutes les défenses tombent, même là, on se fait rattraper." Pour cette spécialiste des préjugés, "le sport est le révélateur des rapports sociaux dans un pays de plus en plus violent et raciste".

"You can't fight the whites!" shouted his father, enraged by Makam's lawsuit. "You're in their home!"

Makam cherche des soutiens. Il a pu compter sur La Ligue contre le racisme et l'antisémitisme (Licra) — partie civile au procès — qui l'a pris en charge. Du côté de sa famille aussi, mais pas de son père, enragé par son action en justice. "Tu peux pas combattre les Blancs, ils sont chez eux !", lui a-t-il lancé. "C'est chez nous ici. Faut arrêter de subir !", a-t-il riposté.
Makam's African teamplayers are leaving the team. "Every Sunday it's the same thing…"
Ses coéquipiers africains, eux, larguent l'équipe. "Je les comprends, c'est tous les dimanches la même chose, s'attriste Myriam Maraud, la présidente du club de Rossillon. C'est lamentable d'en arriver là."
And why, after all that (interestingly, even Mustapha Kessous's sympathetic article seems to vehicle racism as it calls the black player by his first name alone throughout the text — this, however, is not totally uncommon with football players, whatever their color), are the French still lamenting Americans' (alleged) bigotry — while giving lessons in anti-racism to same? The very first comment from Le Monde's readers helps explain it:

Merci au "Monde" d'avoir révélé cette affaire, qu'aucun autre média n'a jamais évoqué.
This, of course — "this" being unpalatable news to the usual paeans to France's heroism undergoing (ahem) regulation and censorship (it's very similar to what happens with the American left (see, notably, points # 4 and 5) — which is why the French, and the Europeans generally, feel so close to America's Democrats) — is also why (the real reason why) certain French bloggers bar Americans and their sympathizers from commenting on their (high-falutin') websites on which they self-servingly (claim to) establish "a dialogue [sic] about our different perceptions of one another"…

Two other articles in Le Monde by Mustapha Kessous give further details of the lawsuit, including the accused's comparing his insulting Makam to his own hardships behind bars (Maxence Cavalcante is of Italian origin), that is of being … served spaghetti by the police, and — upon the judge denying any similarity in the two men's treatment — including his "reasoning" being (loudly) supported by shouts from the public. "C'est pareil !", a hurlé le public.

…le prévenu, Maxence Cavalcante, 23 ans, chauffeur livreur - qui l'aurait traité de "sale singe" et de "sale Nègre", lors d'un match de football de 2e division départementale dans l'Ain, le 25 janvier - loin de se laisser démonter par la cour et les médias, s'est rétracté et a dénoncé des aveux "extorqués" par la gendarmerie. "En garde à vue, les gendarmes m'ont dit que j'allais manger des pâtes parce que je suis Italien, ce n'est pas normal", a lancé M. Cavalcante. "Ce n'est pas la même chose que de se faire traiter de sale Nègre", a repris le président du tribunal, François-Xavier Manteau. "C'est pareil !", a hurlé le public.

"J'ai craqué quand j'ai entendu que Makam avait l'impression de voir des ennemis quand il croise des Blancs", souffle Kristel Favre-Rochey, la mère, blanche, de ses deux enfants.
The comments page allows for interesting commentary by Le Monde readers:
finalement pas si étonnant quand on connait les mentalités de la France profonde
And, as one of them points out:
Waouh! Le déchaînement de la haine racistophobe sur cette affaire a quelque chose de terrifiant. Quand on est instruit et de gauche, il est interdit de mépriser le peuple, ignorant et incorrect. Mais il est permis de hurler sur un de ses membres qui a cru qu'il avait le droit de traiter en égal (et par exemple d'insulter) quelqu'un qu'il est si gratifiant de protéger. La bigoterie, toujours.

Lucidité: Plantu Has Got Capitalists and the Free Market All Figured Out

They were only ‘Not Following Orders’ Because there Weren’t any to Follow

The NuUrope mantra is: “of those little is expected, little will be returned.”

General Wolfgang Schneiderhahn, the general inspector of the Bundeswehr, told the German parliament that depite their positive contribution in Afghanistan, complaints from troops about their conditions were an "embarrassment".
Although it become rather easier to call it that if you redefine what people mean by a positive contribution. Afghanistan they are not allowed at the "sharp end" of fighting with the Taliban and Berlin is under constant pressure from America and Nato to send more manpower
Or at least be permitted by Berlin to do something about this ‘please align yourself with the weak horse’ argument that the Bundeswehr is forced to demonstrate.
In a typical example of the local Taliban's response to this pressure, groups of fighters drive through the area on motorcycles, wielding bazookas. The Bundeswehr responds by taking up pursuit. At some point, the Taliban fighters jump from the motorcycles and open fire on the Germans, who hold them at bay until Afghan security forces are able to arrive and defeat the Taliban fighters.

Can this be an argument to call for the withdrawal of the Bundeswehr?
Under the theory that their carrot has no stick and they are purposely made ineffectual by the hectoring lefty shills in the Green Party, yes. You would think that you might actually be able to find at least a tangential environmental argument where there was a carrot and stick involved to enliven the empty intellectual lives of a party founded entirely on things like recycling, instituting a newly appreciated poverty, and Atomkraft, Nein Danke! but I don’t.

It’s awfully hard to expect much from a force so thoroughly detested by its’ own population on fluffy and thoughtless grounds, and it’s even harder to expect them to not demand comforts knowing that they’re only use is to be a historically detached population’s political pincushion. If you want to get men killed in action, the mushy mass of the left and the puritanical Greens are going about it the right way: they are debasing the morale of their enemy, which in this case is their own military and any cartoon image that they think it represents, is associated with, or permits them to pitch a fit over.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

How will you Know if Things Really Start to Turn?

To know for sure, you will know when things are turning in Teheran when they turn in Isfahan and the like, especially with the police paramilitaries, and perhaps even the Revolutionary Guard or their official plain-clothed pinkertons decide to not turn on the demonstrators. More so if units join the demonstrators.

That aside, in the great land of passive-aggression (western Europe) there's another series of indicators. You will know that they are well and truly behind the removal of the pathetic mullocracy when they start to tell themselves that "America created Ahmedinejad."

Not that they would ever do anything about the situation other than their governments discussing trade sanctions only to reject them 5 weeks later in favor of peddling WMD precursers, and other humanitarian "necessities".

Gray + red = Brown Communist Cheat

(Gracias para François)

Ridding the Land of Thieves and Outlaws

(Merci à François)

New York Times Editors Find Spying "Romantic" and the Story of Traitors Spying on the United States a "Romance" That Reads "Like a Novel"

In the New York Times, Ginger Thompson's article is soberly titled Couple’s Capital Ties Said to Veil Spying for Cuba, but in its sister publication, the International Herald Tribune, Paris-based NYT editors correctly read (and share) the journalist's passions and rosy views (coupled with disdain for America's foreign policy) and retitled the article Romance of spying lured couple, subtitled it The government's case against the Myers reads in parts like a novel, and make their espionage for Fidel Castro sound like a personal path of self-discovery.
Together, Gwendolyn and Kendall Myers set out to give the second half of their lives new meaning. At first … they embraced a counterculture lifestyle, even growing marijuana in the basement. They marched for legalized abortion, promoted solar energy, and repaired relations with six children from previous marriages.
With phrases like "the thrill of espionage returned", the rest sounds adventuresome and even heroic.
When the wide-open spaces of the West quickly grew too small, the couple returned to Washington a year later, renewing their ties to the establishment that they had rejected.

…It appears that the Myerses were not motivated by money. The authorities said that other than being reimbursed for equipment, the couple were not paid for spying. On the contrary, according to the statements cited in the complaint, which one federal magistrate said made the case against the couple “insuperable,” the couple felt disdain for America’s foreign policy — Mr. Myers’s diary described watching the television news as a “radicalizing experience” — and a romanticized view of Cuba’s Communist government.
And, just months after Mr. Myers’s retirement supposedly ended the scheme, they hinted that spying provided adventure to what seemed to have otherwise been a relatively mundane life. “We really have missed you,” Mr. Myers said in April to the undercover F.B.I. agent who was posing as a Cuban intelligence official. “You, speaking collectively, have been a really important part of our lives, and we have felt incomplete.”

…A homemaker and a mother of four [as well as an aide to Senator James Abourezk, a South Dakota Democrat who was one of the leading proponents for ending the United States embargo against Cuba, Gwendolyn Steingraber] had been George McGovern’s anti-Vietnam War movement of the Democratic Party and began volunteering in political campaigns.

…Peter Stavrianos, another former colleague, added, “She was not remarkably different than dozens and dozens of other people that you ran across in the 1970s who were McGovernites that got into politics for reasons other than to make a lot of money.”

Mutual friends introduced Mr. Myers and Ms. Steingraber, who soon became inseparable.

“I have yet to meet a couple who are more in love than the two of them,” said Amanda Myers Klein, 40, Mr. Myers’s daughter. “They are beautiful together.”
You won't believe this, but the husband spying for Havana, who referred to Cuba as “home” and who was a university professor (!) working part-time as a teacher at the School for Advanced International Studies, once
worked on a biography of Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister, whom Mr. Myers admired for his policies [sic] toward the Nazis.

How European Leaders Use their Influence and Spend their Political Capital

By being #1 in the #2 business.

It’s an Algorithm not an Al Gore Rhythm

Where climate chagelists get the idea that they can control planetary temperatures though their spittle-laden verbal outrage and ignorance of scales, the natural science, and the very concept of what an order of magnitude looks like is simply beyond me. Maybe I just don’t the part where social justice is used to take the place of the science, but one thing I do know is what they haven’t yet found: there ain’t no fine-tuning knob on the sun.