Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Ghosts of World War II

"The haunting collection of images shows what it would look like if the ghosts of World War II returned to our streets" writes The Daily Mail's Emma Reynolds (merci à Hervé) of some "remarkable pictures [which] overlay modern scenes from France with atmospheric photographs taken in the same place during the war. "Historical expert Jo Teeuwisse, from Amsterdam, began the project after finding 300 old negatives at a flea market in her home city depicting familiar places in a very different context." Check out the other pictures

Friday, October 26, 2012

Obama pursued a 1-dimensional presidency based on the flawed assumption that his personal charisma would be enough to bring about the change he sought

The Washington Times brings it all together:

Barack Obama’s closing argument for his re-election requires a declaration of faith. “I believe in you,” he told a crowd of supporters Wednesday. “I need you to keep believing in me.” Regrettably, four years of failure leave precious little to believe in.

Mr. Obama’s economic record has been about as bad as it could possibly be. In his first budget proposal, he promised the economy would be growing at a brisk 6.3 percent by 2012. Instead, it’s limping along at just over 1 percent. He promised that the federal deficit would be carved down to $581 billion. Instead, it has ballooned beyond $1 trillion. In 2009, he promised that if his budget-busting stimulus plan were passed, unemployment would be around 5.5 percent by now. Instead, the official rate is nearly 8 percent. Poverty has increased; the number of long-term unemployed has increased; there are millions more discouraged workers; food stamp use has surged; gas prices are up and family incomes are down. A second term would be no different.

Mr. Obama has not shown mastery of the high office he has attained. He enjoys its perks — lavishly — but eschews the hard work that goes with the job. He pursued a one-dimensional presidency based on the flawed assumption that his personal charisma would be enough to bring about the change he sought. Charisma is fleeting, but the problems are enduring. Mr. Obama was out of his depth, with nothing to fall back on but blaming others for his failures.

The future would simply be more of the same in a second term. Mr. Obama’s slogan is “Forward,” but he does not know where he is going. There are many options for moving the country ahead, but Mr. Obama knows only one way: an overweening, blind faith in government as the solution to all the nation’s problems. Mr. Obama speaks of “economic patriotism,” but he is talking about neither sound economics nor anything patriotic.

The next four years will require someone skilled in the art of the deal. The incoming Congress will almost certainly be Republican in one or two houses. Under any likely election scenario, the Senate minority is going to be large enough to block all progress in the absence of presidential leadership. Mr. Obama has never been very good at bipartisanship, despite his statements to the contrary. He showed that in 2009 when Republicans attempted to offer input on the near-$1 trillion stimulus plan. Mr. Obama gave them a curt two-word dismissal: “I won.” At a time when a more magnanimous leader would offer a conciliatory gesture, Mr. Obama chose a display of arrogance. Since then, whenever he has been presented with the opportunity to reach out his hand, he has presented a clenched fist. He has offered no compromises, choosing instead to find devious means of circumventing Congress and imposing his will by fiat. America does not need another term of gridlock, but re-electing Mr. Obama will guarantee it.

The American people have no obligation to devote another four years of their lives to a man who has failed them. The country deserves better. By all means, America must move forward, but the country will not get there with Mr. Obama. Believe it.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Débat sur l'avenir et sur l'identité même de l'Amérique

L'avenir de l'Amérique, les élections U.S., et l'identité même de la république américaine débattus par un conservateur et une gauchiste

During an intense one-hour debate on the la Locale TV station, with UNESCO's Beseat Kiflé Sélassié moderating, Erik Svane and Ellen Kountz of the Obama à la carte blog discussed everything from the 2012 elections, Mitt Romney, and Barack Obama, to Alexis de Tocqueville, federalism/decentralization, and the very identity of America, as well as the country's future…

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The EU Stepping In Against Putin’s Russian Bullying Which Flourished Thanks to Lack of Countermeasures From Obama White House?

Hooray for the European Union — in spite of a Nobel Peace Prize awarded largely on the basis of wishful thinking — for taking an important, tough-minded step, avoided by NATO and the United States [i.e., Barack Obama].  
Thus writes John Vinocur, the most conservative commentator working for the New York Times, in the International Herald Tribune.
The bold moment came last month when the European Commission opened an antitrust investigation against Gazprom, the Russian national gas monopoly which furnishes about 25 percent of Europe’s energy imports, for unfair pricing and blocking diversification of supply concerning eight E.U. members from the old Soviet bloc. 

Out of character for an organization once described by Jean-Pierre Jouyet, a former French minister for Europe and France’s former chief financial market supervisor, as dominated by a culture of connivance? I’d like to believe it matters little whether the European Union is being consecrated, even counter-instinctively, as a grand peacemaker, if it is really drawing lines that make clear where its tolerance stops and trouble for transgressors begins

The European pursuit of Gazprom as an energy bully has particular resonance because it comes at a time when Vladimir Putin’s Russia is supplying Syria with arms and support in the U.N. Security Council, renouncing a pact with the United States providing nuclear safeguards, ordering the closure of Unicef’s Russian office, and directing the U.S. Agency for International Development to halt its operations in Russia — all without the United States taking countermeasures

The E.U. investigation K.O.’s the argument that only born-again cold warriors regard Putin’s actions as serious, strategic problems for the West (starting with a significant measure of Russian control over E.U. and European NATO members’ energy supply). 

The investigation contains an additional message: the European Union’s willingness to challenge Putin’s attempt to play off wealthy Western Europe against poorer Eastern members by offering price flexibility to France and Germany while treating a Poland, a Bulgaria, or an Estonia as if they still fell under the Brezhnev Doctrine. That was the Soviet Union’s notion of its immediate neighbors’ limited sovereignty, reiterated by former president Dmitri Medvedev after Russian troops entered Georgia in 2008. 

Now Moscow, a new member of the World Trade Organization, has issued a decree barring “strategic” enterprises like Gazprom from divulging any information to foreign regulators. 

… just weeks after Barack Obama’s inauguration … NATO was never seriously pressed to pick up the ball. Kurt Volker, the U.S. ambassador to NATO at the time, said the initial American warnings about the energy squeeze involved “smart people who were operating on auto-pilot. Then Obama’s reset kicked in.” 

At its extreme, that meant the United States publicly saying it would not pursue linkage in its Russian policy — telling Putin, in effect, he could do as he pleased, with no price to pay. The E.U. Commission, all the same, has signaled that its limits have been overrun. 

Süddeutsche Zeitung, a leading left-of-center voice, called the investigation a brave strike and “the start of a battle against the power of Russia’s raw materials empire.” And the E.U.’s commissioner for energy, Günther Oettinger, a German conservative, has branded those energy reserves “Putin’s new Red Army,” and criticized Angela Merkel’s announced retreat from atomic energy as increasing Europe’s dependency on Gazprom as a supplier.

… As for Barack Obama, he cannot politically manage a shift in tone on Putin’s Russia with only weeks to go in the U.S. presidential campaign. But with Putin acting aggressively and unrelentingly, the president, if re-elected, could well find it necessary to speak out on the significant deterioration of Russia’s sense of responsibility, and stand up with protesting Russians the next time they fill Moscow’s streets.
Related: Moscow's current tone is "reminiscent of Soviet days"; If anyone is stuck in the Cold War mentality, it is the Russians

Os relatos sobre minha morte são muito exagerados

The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated
A Brazilian man gave his relatives the shock of their lives when he turned up at his own wake at his mother's home.
The family was gathered around a coffin thought to contain 41-year-old car washer Gilberto Araujo when he appeared, causing some people to faint and others to flee in fear.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

MSNBC Explained

In 1960, East German propagandist Albert Norden came as close as one can to describe the motives of the un-free press, whose many noble-sounded stated motives sound an awful lot like the noble-sounded stated motives of the left-leaning press in the United States and western Europe:
Still, that is only a part of the function of journalism in the German Democratic Republic. Its primary mission is to build the enthusiasm of its readers, listeners and viewers for the noble cause of socialism, and to explain to them the laws of historical development in our day. More than that, as the Politbüro of the ZK of the SED said in its decision on press matters of 29 April 1959, the task is “not only to influence and change thoughts, but simultaneously actions in every area of the socialist transformation. . . Each editorial staff should therefore strive to initiate its own actions in the political economic and cultural spheres.”
Or to paraphrase what I heard one AP manager, who looked too young to know better about the lies people tell themselves, say on a cigarette break: “I’m here to make a difference, not just report the news. I want to transform society”.

Moscow's current tone is "reminiscent of Soviet days"; If anyone is stuck in the Cold War mentality, it is the Russians

Within hours of Barack Obama's stating, during the third election debate, that we were no longer living in Cold War times — all the while accusing Mitt Romney of wanting to take us from smart diplomacy back to the 1980s (ah! the Reagan years!) in an era when everything is hunky-dory with the Russians — the New York Times publishes a report from Moscow that states, and indeed does so quite explicitly, that if anyone is living with a Cold War mentality, it is the Russians.

And to ignore "Russia’s progressively colder statements toward the United States", along with the deteriorating state of human rights, is to believe in the left's fairy tales — indeed, the same fairy tales that the left circulated during the Cold War years and which led a Ted Kennedy then to offer the Kremlin help to counter Reagan's policies or a Barack Obama now to promise more flexibility with Putin after winning the election.

Published in the International Herald Tribune under the title Legislators in Russia Conjure Up an Evil U.S., Ellen Barry's article informs us that
During a day of old-school America-bashing in the Russian Parliament on Monday, a series of lawmakers took the podium to catalog rights violations perpetrated by Americans over the years, including waterboarding, Ku Klux Klan lynchings and the abuse of children adopted from Russia.

Monday’s parliamentary hearing, titled “On Problems in the Observation of Human Rights by the United States of America,” was the first of its kind since the breakup of the Soviet Union, and comes as Russia’s leaders employ progressively colder statements toward the United States.

Monday’s hearings were reminiscent of Soviet days, when the Young Communist League organized rallies in support of Angela Davis, the radical activist.

“Since 1987, we really had major movement forward, and these propagandistic cold war stereotypes very quickly collapsed,” said Sergei M. Rogov, director of the Institute for the U.S. and Canadian Studies. “Now sometimes I have the perception that like Rip van Winkle, I am waking up and it is Reagan and Andropov.”

… Aleksei K. Pushkov, the head of the State Duma’s foreign affairs committee, said debates about human rights have become “a constant feature” of Russia’s relations with the West since the fall of Communism, and that Russia would no longer listen passively. He said Russia had “spoiled the Americans” by remaining silent on their human rights violations for 20 years. 

“Yeltsin wanted to make Clinton laugh, and he laughed at all of us,” Mr. Pushkov said of the relationship between Presidents Bill Clinton and Boris N. Yeltsin. “We wanted to win their trust and approval, and they became used to this, so today, when we speak of flagrant violations of human rights in the U.S.A., they are experiencing shock — that we dare to do this. But we are one of the leading countries of the world, and we have the right to do this.” 

… As lawmakers filed out of the hearing, some marveled at the shift in the political atmosphere. Vyacheslav N. Tetyotkin, a deputy from the Communist Party, said such a hearing would have been “unthinkable” two years ago, when United Russia, the governing party, sought to prevent legislators from other parties from making statements unfriendly toward the United States.

… A poll released in September by the Levada Center, a Moscow-based polling agency, showed positive feelings toward the United States had fallen from 67 percent a year ago to 46 percent today

"You're just a gullible fool!" Conrad Black Gives Us a Lesson on How a Conservative Should Interact with the MSM

Love him or hate him, Conrad Black gives us — as well as Newsnight's Jeremy Paxman — a lesson on how a conservative, or how any person, really, should interact with members of the mainstream media (quotes appear in order of — shall we say? — potency and not in the order they were delivered).

• Let me tell you something!
• Oh God! I am going to throw up!
• Will you stop this bourgeois priggishness?!
• That is what you are waxing so sanctimonious about!
• You're a fool! You're just a gullible fool! You're a priggish, gullible, British, fool!
• If I were you, I'd be careful of being a gullible rubber stamp to that crooked […] system
• I am proud of […] actually being able to endure a discussion like this without getting up and smashing your face in — which is what most people would do!
Conrad Black, once one of the most powerful men in the media, has been talking to the BBC's Newsnight following his release from a Miami prison in May. Having served just over three years for defrauding investors, he told interviewer Jeremy Paxman he was "proud" of the way he had handled his trial and imprisonment.
Update: Cheers to Instapundit for the link, mate!

By all means (as Jason notes), do not just read the quotes above, but watch — and listen to — the video!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Live-Blogging the Foreign Policy Debate

Conclusion: Mitt got some good stuff in,
but I wish he had done more…

10:33 the torch of freedom, the hope of the Earth

10:30 Mention the microphone episode, Mitt!

10:28 Schieffer seems to have let the debate take off without his interference

"I certainly don't want to go back to the policies of the past four years" !

Romney: "It's someone else's"
= Obama's "someone else built that"
Sorry it was lost under the brouhaha

10:25 Laughing Barry

10:24 Smiling Barry

10:21 Obama is tweaking Romney's nose

10:18 Shieffer tried to mark a point for Obama,
but Romney handled it masterfully 

10:17 Wish Romney's staff had read the Instapundit post
concerning the three points he needed to make…

10:16 Now Obama is marking points, doing the economic stuff…

10:15 Romney has come out with some good zingers,
but still he could do more

10:13 Obama wants "a free market system"?!
How about one for the United States?…

10:09 Did Schieffer just say "Obama Bin Laden"?

10:02 Romney: Bring up the fact
that Obama held a speech the very same day,
before the papers found in Bin Laden's home
could be studied and acted upon

9:59 Romney jumping in,
taking over from MSM member Schieffer;
"I see our influence receding…
in part… in part…"

9:58 Obama is still not looking Romney in the eyes…

9:57 "By the way, you skipped Israel"
"By the way, they noticed you skipped Israel"

9:55 …except you didn't do anything about it…

9:53 "every fact-checker, journalist has said it's not true"
Is that your only reply to apology tour?!

9:52 Finally! Chávez, Kim Jong Il, Castro, Iran, apology tour

9:48 "I will not only stand culturally with Israel, but also militarily"
— made same notice as that in my 9:44 comment

9:47 Romney "When I am President of the United States"!!

9:46 Hope Romney will mention Obama's leaking of secrets

9:44 "America will stand with Israel"
does not — necessarily — mean the U.S. military will intervene

9:43 "horses and bayonets"? lame

9:39 Wish Romney would say, simply:
the military is the department of the federal government,
and a health system — and education — are the department of the individual state

9:38 Now Bob Schieffer is interrupting

9:38 "You got that fact wrong"

9:37 Barack O Interruption; Tch tch…

9:30 Hmm… Both men seem less aggressive than during the second speech

9:28 Good; Romney speech taking in the economy

9:25 I hope Romney compares Obama's Egypt to Carter's Iran

9:16 Whenever Obama talks about "nation-building" at home,
Romney needs to point out that nation-building means government intervention,
and that Americans do not need nation-building, 
they need for government to stop interfering and setting up obstacles
(not foreign policy — I know)

9:15 Good Obama point on Israel (although hardly true)

9:13 not "flexibility" with Russia — "more backbone"
But Romney needs to point out that this was said in secret, 
behind the backs of the American people!!

9:12 "Attacking me is not an agenda" Bingo!

9:10 "all over the map"
Obama is doing pretty good, so far
— let's wait for Romney's rebuttal

9:09 "We don't want another Iraq, We don't want another Afghanistan"
Good quip by Romney

9:08 Obama is starting out pretty well, I hate to say

9:06 "Al Qaeda's core leadership has been decimated" Core?!

9:05 PM "I congratulate the president on killing Osama Bin Laden" Good
+ "We can't kill our way of this mess"

No Pasarán will be blogging the third presidential debate in this space (starting at 3 in the morning Paris time)…

IdeOlogy Masquerading as Foreign Policy: What Romney Must Point Out in the Third Debate

I think Romney did as well as could be expected in the second debate — although I keep wanting him to bring up the Russian microphone episode, along with Barack Obama's dissing of Russia and China's foes, Lech Walesa and the Dalai Lama — both of whom happen to be fellow Nobel Peace Prize recipients. (I mentioned all of the above several weeks ago during my televised debate with a member of the mainstream media — Newsweek's Paris Bureau Chief, no less.)

Indeed, what I really want the governor to do is tie the individual in with the general, and that means not only emphasizing the Benghazi debacle for the catastrophe it truly is, but tying an individual event like the Libyan attack in with Obama's foreign policy in general — to show it is not an isolated event but inherent in Obama's world view — as well as tying foreign policy (in general) in with economic policy. In other words, a winning strategy for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan would not simply be attacking specifics, but also pointing out the underlying patterns.

From bumps on the road on the issue of economic recovery to bumps in the road in America's Mideast policy through four Americans getting killed being not optimal and blocking out any noise regarding Israel and Iran: All those quotes — especially the first two — ought to be put together in one nation-wide ad. And how about America being able to “absorb” another 9/11-sized attack? (See also Dick Durbin.) That choice of phrases show how unconcerned the Chicago politician really is about anything not linked to himself and to his leftist ideology and, indeed, how cold-hearted, as Ed Driscoll puts it, Barack Hussein Obama turns out to be.

You would not know it if you read the mainstream media, but far from rescuing the United States (or its reputation) from George W Bush's "disastrous" foreign policy and thus being the embodiment of Smart Diplomacy, Barack Obama's antics (or refraining from acting), have managed to snub one ally after another, time and again, from the British to the French, from the Poles to the East Europeans in general, and even from the Scandinavians to America's immediate neighbors, Canada and Mexico.

This goes from the dramatic (Fast and Furious or switching support from Britain on the Falklands issue in favor of Argentina (while erroneously calling the Malvinas the Maldives)) to (what would seem to be) the trivial, such as petty refusals to make any kind of effort to be original (and thus respectful) when dealing with foreign leaders; petty refusals to offer gifts of any consequence to such dignitaries as Britain's prime minister or to the country's Queen; and petty refusals, while on official (!) visits in foreign capitals, to even attend dinners with the countries' respective leaders, such as the President of France and the King of Norway. Needless to say, we all remember that Obama also refrained from meeting with a single world leader — going on The View and on Letterman was more important — during the September United Nations conference.

What all this amounts to is obvious egotism while refusing to take the office of president of the United States seriously (beyond the left's own ideas of how to use it) and refusing to do the very basics (and not even unpleasant basics at that (double-date dinner in Paree with Carla Bruni and her husband?)) of one's duty as leader of the free world.

Of course, this all puts the left's world view on display (something Mitt Romney must pound home during the next debate and over the next couple of weeks): Obama and the left must not submit to reality (yes, America has enemies, yes, diplomacy requires treating foreign dignitaries with basic courtesy, and no, you are deferential to noone — certainly not monarchs and autocrats and foes); reality must submit to Obama's leftist (and self-serving) view.

Because, in addition to all the above snubs (to America's friends), Smart Diplomacy means that Obama has sucked up to Moscow and Beijing, along with régimes like Tehran's and that of Caracas. The Apologizer-in-Chief has been deferential — whether to autocrats like Saudi kings or to America's enemies. Because it turns out that in the leftists' fairy tale world, there are no enemies. At least, not as foreign nations; a criminal band like Al Qaeda, perhaps… But the Soviets, sorry the Russians, are not enemies — never have been, really — nor are the Chinese; after all, all of us on this planet are brothers under the skin. As are Iran's mullahs. And Hugo Chávez. Who can all live together, quite diplomatically — just like we all do among suit-wearing dipomats in the hallowed halls inside the United Nations

With the much-vaunted Reset touted so much, (pacifist) ideology has been triumphant to the detriment of reality, with Obama making showing "space" and "flexibility" for concessions to Putin and Medvedev, showing little interest in the human rights situation in Russia and basically ignoring such things as the Russian spy scandal and the Viktor Bout case as well as a NATO member selling sensitive military technology to the Kremlin — never mind arms sales to China.

We have seen many comparisons to America's 39th president. Indeed, Jimmy Carter similarly ignored the misdeeds of the West's traditional enemies, like the Soviets — who in fact, he (Carter) told us, were not our enemies (and whose misdeeds, if indeed they could so be called, were exaggerated) — in favor of weeding out horrific human rights offenders (real or alleged) among our allies (who in turn were not really our friends). Thirty years later, we — America, the world, and Iran's citizens — are still living with the results — which needless to say includes an Islamic Republic that is hostile to America and the West, a régime that sponsors terrorism while seeking nuclear warheads, and a government in Tehran that is more oppressive towards the Iranian people than the Shah ever was. (Sounds like something Obama may have duplicated in Egypt and perhaps in Libya…)

This is the leftist fairy tale: we are all friends and brothers under the skin, and given that "fact", if we (or if any of us) fail to see this in a fellow nation, the fault must lie not with their leaders but with us — or with those of us who see them as enemies, i.e., with conservatives. (Note: try taking the left's talking points to their logical conclusion…)

Thus, there is no real problem with Russia, China, Iran, or countries such as Venezuela, at least none that cannot be worked out by ever-deeper soul-searching — soul-searching on the American side, needless to say. This has led to what Frank Gaffney called the Obama doctrine:
• Abandoning our allies,
• emboldening our enemies,
• and diminishing our country

The only victories the Apologizer-in-Chief is concerned with is over America conservatives, over American military funds, and over the American Way of Life. In the Obama fairy tale (or, as even John Edwards (!) said in 2007, in his Never-Never Land), allies don't need defending and don't even need to be called allies, as we (and they) don't really have enemies (no one does); therefore enemies aren't really being emboldened (as there are no enemies for the Apologizer-in-Chief — who is therefore, and who as senator was in 2007, more than willing to meet with said (non-)enemies "without preconditions"), just encouraged to see us and everybody else in the avant-garde way that we now see them; and we aren't in need of standing out, before (non-existent) foes and friends, in view of the fact that in Obama's brave new world, "there are no senior or junior partners — we are simply partners."

And so a major French party's anti-Americanism is ignored, by the administration as well as by the mainstream media (!), as is the open letter to the administration of President Barack Obama from Central and Eastern Europe, signed by 22 intellectuals and former leaders from the region, including Vaclav Havel and Lech Walesa, who are feeling "they are getting whacked".

The pretense of this fairy tale reality has gone to such lengths as hastily sending Russian spies to Moscow without garnering information about the Kremlin's spy ring beforehand and hastily announcing the death of Osama Bin Laden on the same day he was gunned down, before the documents discovered at his Pakistan home could be studied, and acted upon, by intelligence officers — never mind the Russian mike episode. Apologies have gone out to the Arab world, as we all know, but how many people realize that they even went out, before the Arab Spring, to Libya's Muhammar Gaddafi?

And then we get Benghazi: there are no enemies — unless it is us, ergo the murder of the ambassador must be due to the Mohammed-insulting videotape. Any other interpretation, unless of course it is due to Western hatred of and bigotry towards Muslims, can only amount to shameful politicizing.

To conclude: Mitt Romney must base his arguments on simple descriptions on the underlying premises and patterns of the Barack Obama administration and the leftists who embody them.
A set of policies — foreign, domestic, and economic — based on leftist ideology, in other words, imaginary fairly tales
Imagining that no country, large or small, is in the final analysis a foe, to America or to any of its allies — who aren't really that close friends anyway — and no disaster during the term of a leftists is really that big of a disaster anyway
Anything going wrong in the world must somehow be the fault of America (or the West)
A refusal by Obama to take his office seriously
A lack of concern for anyone who doesn't support, directly or indirectly, his position and his (self-serving) world view or who can't be persuaded to jump on the bandwagon of supporters — for they can of course only be vile bigots and racists and other hatemongers.

Oh. And by the way — go see Dinesh D'Souza's Obama's America 2016.

Update — Also check out: Three crucial points that Mitt Romney must make

Update 2Five Things I Wish Mitt Romney Would Say in the Debate