Thursday, May 03, 2012

The Cartoon is Hilarious in Retrospect

Ah, a damsel with a fortress Europe on her head. Like a cherished children’s book, there is such hopefulness to be found in this pile of Plantu dating from 1998:
” ... Let’s hope no-one sticks anything in the spokes ... ”
You might want to make a note that the worry-laden crown looking on features a distressed looking Helmut Kohl with a sapling coming out of the top of his head.

Pinning Down the Master of Evasion, French Socialist François Hollande

…if Hollande wins, the French will have chosen a man at ease with generalities who aspires to be “willful” and “dignified,” a symbol of “brotherhood” and “bringing people together”
writes John Vinocur in his International Herald Tribune column, which opens with
one of those rare political moments when the campaign-screech and repetitive mumbling stopped.

Last week, a French television interviewer asked François Hollande, the favorite to win France’s presidential election on Sunday, if he thought there were too many foreigners in France. Simple question, and one central to a campaign where extremists of the right and left won 30 percent of the votes in a first-round ballot.

Yet Hollande would not answer yes or no. He reached for legalisms instead.

The journalist poked again: “Why this tendency to evade things? What’s your profound conviction? You aren’t telling us.” More references followed from Hollande involving the status of legal foreign residents and the possible expulsion of illegals.

The interviewer insisted: “Deep inside, what’s your conviction?”

“I’m not a commentator on public life,” Hollande replied. “I am the next president of France.”

… As standard-bearer of a program of “change” — his own watchword Hollande doesn’t offer explicit and decisive plans for reforms in French economic and civic life, remains silent about the pain and disruption that would come with any serious structural changes, and relies on the lingering unpopularity of President Nicolas Sarkozy to put the Socialists in office.

Evasive? Think of this: Here is a self-described Man of the Left who, with a pol’s calculation, refuses to say on national television that no, France doesn’t have too many foreigners. Sarkozy, at least, has risked claiming the opposite.

Instead, to deal with the rubbed-raw issues of Muslim immigration and integration, Hollande flees anything that sounds like a call for an affirmative action program.

His friends say charm and amiability are at the center of Hollande’s character. His political enemies argue he is an eternal maneuverer, more calculating than courageous. And, indeed, the Socialist candidate stepped around any word of criticism for the left-wing extremist Jean-Luc Mélenchon when he compared Sarkozy to Vichy’s pro-Nazi collaborators.

Even Hollande’s eldest son Thomas, a lawyer, has described his father’s personality as “elusive.”

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

France election: Sarkozy and Hollande trade insults

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his challenger Francois Hollande have traded insults in their only TV debate of the election campaign
writes the BBC which has a video excerpt of the debate, which Le Monde calls a tie.

Personally, I think Sarkozy did better than Hollande, who hardly looked presidential with his incessant interruptions, but it's certain that it may not matter in the final analysis, i.e., on Sunday.
The president called Mr Hollande a "little slanderer", while his rival said Mr Sarkozy shirked responsibility.

Mr Sarkozy defended his record and said he had kept France out of recession. But Mr Hollande said France was going through a "serious crisis" and was struggling with slow growth.

The vote takes place on Sunday.

The BBC's Gavin Hewitt says it was a long, bad-tempered debate that left the impression that neither candidate liked each other.

There were plenty of angry exchanges, with both candidates accusing each other of lying.

A Hateful, Needy Beast in a Sheepskin Bra

It’s a Sign

In fact it’s proof that the entire issue is not real, and it starts with political beggars throwing out unsupported facts.
Women are far more likely than men to die in natural disasters, so they can also be expected to suffer more from the effects of climate change.
Which is the usual way of saying “subsidize something I want, or I’ll stamp my feet.” It also comes with anomalous, convenient examples being used to imply that whatever sentiment they hold magically becomes scientific fact:
Today, on the other hand, the challenge of climate change and that of justice and equality for women are intrinsically linked. We can't propose efficient and innovative solutions if we don't widen our field of vision.
And what do they want? Subsidized intercontinental travel, of course – and not by balloon or foot:
The report proposes concrete measures aimed at including more women in Europe's climate diplomacy such as a quota for a minimum of 40% women in delegations. We should also encourage a greater opening of technical, political and financial bodies. In addition we ask that during the evaluation phase or launch of projects data is systematically collected and broken down by sex.
Not to mention, the opportunity for them to be allowed to financially strangulate whatever fashionable non-issue there is out there.

Concider the reasoning: in an environment where they ALREADY get head-of-the-line treatment to enter the sciences (but don’t to the degree men do,) they want more help, and yet these impoverished victims of non-study also want more of a say in technically based solutions.

You capiche?

The recent level of Sarkophobia in the French media is unprecedented

The Economist's Élysée blog has a post on The rise of Sarkophobia:
Nicolas Sarkozy chase [of] the National Front vote ahead of Sunday’s second round … is unpleasant and divisive stuff, even if, arithmetically, Mr Sarkozy has nowhere else than the National Front to go for votes. But to jump from this to a comparison with Marshall Pétain, France’s collaborationist leader during the second world war, shows just how unrestrained the anti-Sarkozy feeling among some people has become. L’Humanité, a communist daily whose influence is greater than its 51,000 circulation would suggest, last week ran a cover likening Mr Sarkozy to Pétain … Jean-Luc Mélenchon has accused Mr Sarkozy of using language “directly taken from the collaboration” with Vichy France.

The recent level of Sarkophobia in the French media is unprecedented. L’Express has compiled a series of anti-Sarkozy front pages that makes this point visually. Among them you can find stories about Mr Sarkozy entitled “The Yob of the Republic”, or “The Shame of the Fifth Republic” (both from Marianne).

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

The End of McDonald's-Bashing? "In the Hands of French Chefs, the Hamburger Has Become Haute Couture"

More and more, the French are coming to see the light (this in the country that is the second-largest market for the McDonald's chain), and are discovering that the hamburger and that the cheeseburger are (dramatic pause) … tasty! Not only that, it turns out that fast food isn't even (get this) bad, nutritionally speaking, that is. More and more restaurants in Paris are serving hamburgers and cheeseburgers, writes Camille Labro in Le Monde, and in the hands of French chefs, the burger is becoming a delicacy.

As I have written,
Il est vrai que les Américains sont allés plus loin que n'importe qui d'autre, que n'importe quel autre peuple, et qu'ils ont inventé le summum de la gastronomie mondiale, jamais égalée sur cinq continents… Je parle évidemment de ce plat somptueux, de ce plat ô combien divin, qu'on connait sous le nom du… CHEESEBURGER !
Camille Labro in Le Monde:
"LORSQUE JE ME SUIS INSTALLÉE À PARIS il y a huit ans, j'avais honte de notre culture culinaire telle qu'elle était représentée ici", raconte Meg Zimbeck, la fondatrice du site Internet gastronomique Paris by Mouth. Mais cette époque où la cuisine made in US était regardée avec dégoût semble révolue.
"Aujourd'hui, je suis ravie de voir que les bons produits et les mets typiquement américains sont devenus branchés !", poursuite cette Américaine installée dans la capitale. Car s'il existe à Paris quelques ancestraux QG d'expatriés cultivant la tradition américaine (Joe Allen, Breakfast in America, PDG), c'est aujourd'hui une véritable déferlante de goûts et d'inspirations yankee qui s'abat sur la capitale.

A commencer, bien sûr, par le burger, revisité à toutes les sauces et selon des codes gourmets qui l'éloignent de plus en plus de la sphère de la malbouffe. "Outre-Atlantique, les chefs ont compris depuis longtemps l'attrait "gastronomique" du burger, souligne le blogueur et auteur culinaire américain David Lebovitz. Car un bon burger, c'est très bon. A New York, le chef français Daniel Boulud fut l'un des premiers à faire un burger deluxe, garni de foie gras et de lamelles de truffe, facturé aux alentours de 30 dollars." A Paris, Yannick Alléno au Meurice, puis Jean-François Piège au Thoumieux lui ont emboîté le pas. Viandes d'exception, pains briochés et buns maison, fromages AOC, oignons caramélisés, sauces subtiles et prix adéquats... Entre les mains des chefs étoilés français, le burger est devenu haute couture.
… Au Beef Club, le dernier lieu créé par le trio de l'Experimental Cocktail Club, le restaurant a été conçu sur le modèle du steakhouse anglo-saxon. "Ce que nous aimons dans l'ambiance brasserie façon US, c'est le côté décomplexé, explique Olivier Bon, un des associés. On est là pour se faire plaisir, sans aucune limite, manger des viandes épaisses, partager plein d'accompagnements ou de gros desserts... L'idée est de se réapproprier les classiques, mais aussi l'esprit américain." Peu à peu, les modes de consommation du repas se diversifient, s'éloignant des codes français traditionnels et du sempiternel entrée-plat-dessert. "Ce qui est excitant, renchérit Meg Zimbeck, c'est que les esprits s'ouvrent, et l'on a de plus en plus d'options. On peut manger au bar, commander des petites portions, à différentes heures de la journée, acheter à emporter, avec un sens du service de plus en plus développé. ça aussi, c'est très américain."

Today is the 1st of May

It is a day once broadly understood as being a day to celebrate the end of the winter doldrums and the coming of a green and fertile season. It has always been a day reserved for the joy of children.

That is, until it was coopted by selfish, leftist grown-ups and turned into a Commie-Douchebag-palooza.

Monday, April 30, 2012

"Undocumented Worker": The Left's Preferred Expression for "Illegal Alien" Is False and Misleading

Opening with the words, "The Battle of the English Language continues", and with help from Bill O'Reilly, Professor Jacobson points out that it is nonsense to refer to the expression "illegal alien" as racist, since the expression applies as much to the red-haired Irishman with pasty skin as to the dark-haired Mexican with olive skin (gracias para Instapundit).

It turns out that that the preferred expression of the Applied Research Center (and its spokeswoman, Mónica Novoa) is no better.

Indeed, "undocumented worker" is worse. It is false and it is misleading.

As I wrote exactly two years ago, it so happens that every illegal alien in America already does have papers.

To use the examples brought up by Professor Jacobson and Bill O'Reilly, every foreigner in America has documents.

Every Mexican has an identity card. (It is a Mexican identity card.)

Every Asian has papers. (Papers from his respective country in Asia.)

Every Russian has a passport. (It is a Russian passport.)

Every Irishman has documents. (They are Irish documents.)

And to bring the French left's similar use of sans-papiers into the equation, every Algerian has an identity card. (It is an Algerian identity card.)

(Of course, a given individual may have waylaid his papers, or left it home in Chihuahua — deliberately or otherwise — before crossing the Rio Grande, but that in no way invalidates the proposition that he is a person who indeed does have documents and who does indeed have the right to documents.)

The liberals' trick — a deliberate trick or an unconscious one (due to a lack of thought) — is to make Americans think that through some tragic and unforeseen disaster, not of their making — not of anyone's making, or any country's making — the illegal aliens (if you will pardon the expression) find themselves in some kind of Kafkaian legal limbo, a truly hellish situation where nobody has any way out, a situation that they could in fact easily get out of if only Americans decided to forgo their racist attitudes and become decent human beings and to hand those innocent victims the papers that they have been begging for and that all human beings, everywhere on this planet, deserve.

Wake-up call: You can call the fact that I am going to tell you
as being as heartless as you want, but it remains that
what I am going to tell you now happens to be an incontrovertible fact:
The Mexican citizen has a perfectly legal status.
That is, back in his home country.
So does the Asian, the Russian, the Algerian, and the Irishman.

Whoever said that a Mexican, an Irishman, an Algerian, a Russian, a Filipino deserve some type of American identity card — solely by virtue of their being in los Estados Unidos?! Any more that an American, a Dane, or a Frenchman would deserve a Mexican, an Irishman, an Algerian, a Russian papers simply by virtue of living in their countries — especially after breaking the law by crossing their borders stealthily and undetected?
Everybody has the right to papers, but everybody does not have the right to American papers!

Can the Childish Snickering Please Stop Now?

Europe faces Japan syndrome as credit demand implodes
While they spent years wishing America ill, with the uninformed calling economic any news they heard from the US being a sign of some form of “original sin” that was unique to us, all anybody really has to do in reply is to allow Europeans to do what they always do anyway and wreck human civilization with their bizarre self-indulgences.

Accusations of fascism and lying, incompetence and imbecility: France's nasty presidential campaign

With accusations of fascism and lying, incompetence and imbecility, the French presidential campaign has been one of the nastiest in memory
writes Steven Erlanger.
One legislator from the governing party even compared the partner of the Socialist challenger to a Rottweiler.

With only a week to go before incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy faces off against the favored candidate, the Socialist François Hollande, the insults are flying. Mr. Sarkozy is trying to make up the gap and win back the votes of the far-right National Front of Marine Le Pen, while Mr. Hollande is trying to stay above the fray with professions of national unity, letting his adjutants open fire on his behalf.

… Writing in Le Point, Pierre-Antoine Delhommais noted that Michel Serres had called this a campaign of “old grandpas.”
But if he were not measuring his words, Mr. Delhommais continued, he would have called it “a campaign of bitter old farts, uptight and hateful. It is truly time that it ends.”

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Freud: "Social justice means we deny ourselves many things so that others may have to do without them as well"

If it were learned that the car driven by the average American is 10 times more likely to burst into flames than the car driven by the richest 1%, what should the policy response be?
asks Holman Jenkins.
Should it be to mandate that cars driven by the rich burst into flames more often?

Income inequality is a strange obsession, at least to the extent the obsessives focus their policy responses on trying to adjust the condition of the top 1% rather than improving the opportunities of everyone else.

Income inequality could be a sign of real pathology in authoritarian societies where entrenched groups use government-granted privileges to protect themselves from competition. By and large, that's not the case in the U.S., where most see the market actually increasing the competitive advantages of the educated, skilled, hardworking and talented.

… For the record, so sensitive are the inequality generalizations to how you define income, and whether household size is taken into account, that the claimed shift toward greater inequality can be made easily to disappear, especially when consumption rather than income is measured.

… One can only wonder how much faster progress on tax reform or school choice would have been if the political capital devoted to income inequality had been devoted to fighting entrenched institutional resistance to useful reforms.

One factor is a certain human soul-sickness that's impossible to put a constructive gloss on. Why is the New York Times disproportionately given over to cataloging the consumption of the rich in a tone even more cringing for its pretending to be snarky? Why do some of our dreariest journalists spend all their time writing about Goldman Sachs, except to associate themselves with the status object they attack in order to raise their own status?

That goes doubly for the inequality obsessives. How society stimulates the creation and distribution of income is an important topic—so important that one could wish it were less infected with the pathology Freud diagnosed as "group spirit" and which he said was ultimately founded on envy.

As Freud put it, "Everyone must be the same and have the same. Social justice means we deny ourselves many things so that others may have to do without them as well."