Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Short Film to Sell France to Foreign Investors

80% of the French are happy to wake up and go to work in the morning?!
asks Carine incredulously of a Publicis short selling France to investors.
Yeah right.

Le film de Publicis pour attirer les... par Challenges

Friday, July 19, 2013

France's New Marianne Stamp Inspired by Topless Feminist Who Hacked Down a Christian Cross with a Chainsaw

A postage stamp depicting France's cultural symbol Marianne has touched off a flurry of controversy 
writes Reuters (merci à Duncan),
after one of its creators revealed it was inspired by a topless feminist activist who hacked down a Christian cross in Kiev last year with a chainsaw.

The new stamp depicts a youthful Marianne, a symbol of the French republic,   wearing a Phrygian conical cap but does not show her topless. It was unveiled by President Francois Hollande on Sunday as part of Bastille Day celebrations. 

Photographer and designer Olivier Ciappa said on his Twitter account that he was inspired by a number of women but most of all by Inna Shevchenko, a veteran member of the Femen group of feminist activists, which often stages bare-breasted protests.
"Feminism is an integral part of the values (of the French Republic). And Marianne, at the time of the revolution, was bare-breasted, so why not pay homage to this fabulous Femen," he said in an op-ed piece on the Huffington Post website.
Later, France 24 made an update to its story, reporting namely that
Inna Shevchenko, the leader of topless feminist group Femen and one of the inspirations for the new stamp depicting Marianne, the feminine symbol of France, has created a mini-storm with a tweet slamming Ramadan and Islam in general.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Who knew that American college students are required to surrender the Bill of Rights at the campus gates?

Until a month ago, I would have expressed unqualified support for Title IX and for the Violence Against Women Act
 writes Judith E Grossman, a feminist who has "marched at the barricades, subscribed to Ms. magazine, and knocked on many a door in support of progressive candidates committed to women's rights."
But that was before my son, a senior at a small liberal-arts college in New England, was charged—by an ex-girlfriend—with alleged acts of "nonconsensual sex" that supposedly occurred during the course of their relationship a few years earlier.

What followed was a nightmare—a fall through Alice's looking-glass into a world that I could not possibly have believed existed, least of all behind the ivy-covered walls thought to protect an ostensible dedication to enlightenment and intellectual betterment.

 … like the proverbial 800-pound gorilla, the tribunal
does pretty much whatever it wants, showing scant regard for fundamental fairness, due process of law, and the well-established rules and procedures that have evolved under the Constitution for citizens' protection. Who knew that American college students are required to surrender the Bill of Rights at the campus gates?

My son was given written notice of the charges against him, in the form of a letter from the campus Title IX officer. But instead of affording him the right to be fully informed, the separately listed allegations were a barrage of vague statements, rendering any defense virtually impossible. The letter lacked even the most basic information about the acts alleged to have happened years before. Nor were the allegations supported by any evidence other than the word of the ex-girlfriend.

 … While my son was instructed by the committee not to "discuss this matter" with any potential witnesses, these witnesses against him were not identified to him, nor was he allowed to confront or question either them or his accuser.

 …  Across the country and with increasing frequency, innocent victims of impossible-to-substantiate charges are afforded scant rights to fundamental fairness and find themselves entrapped in a widening web of this latest surge in political correctness. Few have a lawyer for a mother, and many may not know about the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which assisted me in my research.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Young Charismatic Leader Rose Up, Talking of Hope and Change…

Rafael Cruz, the father of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, invigorated the crowd during [the] FreedomWorks Free the People event. Describing his own personal journey escaping Cuba and working hard to build a life for himself in the U.S., the elder Cruz noted comparisons that he believes exist between Fidel Castro’s governance and President Barack Obama’s executive actions. Upon rising to power, he said that Castro, like Obama, spoke about hope and change. While the message sounded good at the time, it didn’t take long for socialism to take root in his home country. And he paid the price.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The unspoken commandment when it comes to sex in America: thou shalt never blame the woman

… men have become second-class citizens
writes Suzanne Venker (thanks to Instapundit).
The most obvious proof is male bashing in the media. It is rampant and irrefutable. From sit-coms and commercials that portray dad as an idiot to biased news reports about the state of American men, males are pounced on left and right. And that’s just the beginning.

The war on men actually begins in grade school, where boys are at a distinct disadvantage. Not only are curriculums centered on girls’, rather than boys,’ interests, the emphasis in these grades is on sitting still at a desk.

Plus, many schools have eliminated recess. Such an environment is unhealthy for boys, for they are active by nature and need to run around. And when they can’t sit still teachers and administrators often wrongly attribute their restlessness to ADD or ADHD. The message is clear: boys are just unruly girls.

Things are no better in college. There, young men face the perils of Title IX, the 1972 law designed to ban sex discrimination in all educational programs.

  … What was once viewed equal opportunity for women has become something else altogether: a demand for equal outcomes. Those are not the same thing at all.

 … men are in an impossible situation, for there’s an unspoken commandment when it comes to sex in America: thou shalt never blame the woman. If you’re a man who’s sexually involved with a woman and something goes wrong, it’s your fault. Simple as that.

Judith E. Grossman shed light on this phenomenon in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed. A former feminist, Grossman concedes that in the past she would have expressed “unqualified support” for policies such as Title IX. But that was before her son was charged with “nonconsensual sex” by a former girlfriend.
… When men become husbands and fathers, things get really bad. In family courts throughout America, men are routinely stripped of their rights and due process. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is easily used against them since its definition of violence is so broad that virtually any conflict between partners can be considered abuse. 
“If a woman gets angry for any reason, she can simply accuse a man and men are just assumed guilty in our society,” notes Dr. Helen Smith, author of the new book, "Men on Strike." This is particularly heinous since, as Smith adds, violence in domestic relations “is almost 50% from men and 50% from women.”

Shocked? If so, that’s in part because the media don’t believe men can be victims of domestic violence—so they don’t report it. They would rather feed off stories that paint women as victims. And in so doing, they’ve convinced America there’s a war on women.

Yet it is males who suffer in our society. From boyhood through adulthood, the White American Male must fight his way through a litany of taunts, assumptions and grievances about his very existence. His oppression is unlike anything American women have faced.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The more the divorced mother prevents the father's contact with their kids, the more child support she receives

Child support formulas are based on the ridiculous notion that a father would make those same sacrifices for an ex-wife who is living with her new husband or boyfriend and for children he never or seldom sees
writes Phyllis Schlafly.
Many fathers would happily do more to support their children if they got to see their kids more and were more engaged in their lives. But current child support laws have reverse incentives: the more the mother prevents such contact, the more child support she receives.

Child support is not even really child support because the mother has no obligation to spend the money on the kids, and faithful payment of child support does not buy the father time with his kids. The purpose of child support is to allow the mother to maintain a household and standard of living comparable to the father’s.

Because of perverse incentives, a so-called “no fault divorce” is often followed by a bitter child custody dispute with bogus allegations of domestic violence or child abuse, and the winner can get a huge child support windfall. Usually the family court judge cannot tell who is telling the truth.

Reform should eliminate these bad incentives. No parent should collect money for denying kids the opportunity to see the other parent, and payments should not exceed reasonable documented child expenses. If both parents are willing and able to manage joint child custody, there should be no necessity for child support payments. 

As annoying as the IRS is, it follows accounting rules and taxes only actual income. But a family court judge can ignore current income (or lack thereof) and instead calculate child support on past income or on imputed future income.

  … We can no longer ignore how taxpayers’ money is incentivizing divorce and creating children who never or seldom “engage” (Obama’s word) with their fathers. We can no longer ignore the government’s complicity in the predictable social costs that result from more than 17 million children growing up without their fathers. Fatherless boys and girls are much more likely to run away, abuse drugs, get pregnant, drop out of school, commit suicide, or end up in jail.

The root of the family court evil is the redefinition of a legal doctrine called the Best Interests of the Child. This phrase originally meant the presumption that courts should generally stay out of family decisions because, as the Supreme Court wrote in 1979, “natural bonds of affection lead parents to act in the best interests of their children.”

Some states say “best interests” and some say “best interest,” but it means the same thing. That’s just a buzzword to conceal the transfer of parental rights to judges.

This phrase is now used as an affirmative grant of power to family court judges to overrule parents on all child-related issues. Three things are wrong with the current interpretation of Best Interests of the Child.

First, it is contrary to the rule of law by giving judges extraordinary discretion to enforce their own prejudices and to micro-manage lives. They punish parents for things that were never written down as crimes or offenses.

Second, the “best interests” standard undermines parental rights. Instead of saying that parents are the final authorities, as the family unit was understood for centuries, it allows judges to make routine child-rearing decisions.

Third, courts have no competence to determine a child’s best interests, so they rely on poorly trained evaluators who make unscientific recommendations about custody and visitation. There is rarely any evidence that a court-defined schedule is better than joint child custody.
Reform should get family courts out of the practice of pitting parents against each other, entertaining criminal accusations without evidence, assessing onerous support payments, sending dads to debtors’ prison, and appointing so-called “experts” to make parenting decisions. Instead, the courts should protect the rights of both parents.

Happy Bastille Day from Carine and Cats Chasing Chipmunks

Happy Bastille Day, shouts Carine of Books, Cupcakes, and Cats Chasing Chipmunks, a French expat of E-Nough fame having moved to New York with her equally French husband and their three French cats (but like many New Yorkers, they dream of Texas).

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Tocqueville warned against the government becoming "an immense tutelary power … with a network of small, complicated, painstaking, uniform rules"

In "Democracy in America," published in 1833, Alexis de Tocqueville marveled at the way Americans preferred voluntary association to government regulation
writes Niall Ferguson (thanks to Instapundit).

"The inhabitant of the United States," he wrote, "has only a defiant and restive regard for social authority and he appeals to it . . . only when he cannot do without it."

Unlike Frenchmen, he continued, who instinctively looked to the state to provide economic and social order, Americans relied on their own efforts. "In the United States, they associate for the goals of public security, of commerce and industry, of morality and religion. There is nothing the human will despairs of attaining by the free action of the collective power of individuals."

What especially amazed Tocqueville was the sheer range of nongovernmental organizations Americans formed: "Not only do they have commercial and industrial associations . . . but they also have a thousand other kinds: religious, moral, grave, futile, very general and very particular, immense and very small; Americans use associations to give fetes, to found seminaries, to build inns, to raise churches, to distribute books, to send missionaries to the antipodes; in this manner they create hospitals, prisons, schools."

Tocqueville would not recognize America today. Indeed, so completely has associational life collapsed, and so enormously has the state grown, that he would be forced to conclude that, at some point between 1833 and 2013, France must have conquered the United States.

 … Instead of joining together to get things done, Americans have increasingly become dependent on Washington. On foreign policy, it may still be true that Americans are from Mars and Europeans from Venus. But when it comes to domestic policy, we all now come from the same place: Planet Government.

As the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Clyde Wayne Crews shows in his invaluable annual survey of the federal regulatory state, we have become the regulation nation almost imperceptibly. Excluding blank pages, the 2012 Federal Register—the official directory of regulation—today runs to 78,961 pages. Back in 1986 it was 44,812 pages. In 1936 it was just 2,620.

True, our economy today is much larger than it was in 1936—around 12 times larger, allowing for inflation. But the Federal Register has grown by a factor of 30 in the same period.

 … The cost of all this, Mr. Crews estimates, is $1.8 trillion annually—that's on top of the federal government's $3.5 trillion in outlays, so it is equivalent to an invisible 65% surcharge on your federal taxes, or nearly 12% of GDP. Especially invidious is the fact that the costs of regulation for small businesses (those with fewer than 20 employees) are 36% higher per employee than they are for bigger firms.

… Obama occasionally pays lip service to the idea of tax reform. But nothing actually gets done and the Internal Revenue Service code (plus associated regulations) just keeps growing—it passed the nine-million-word mark back in 2005, according to the Tax Foundation, meaning nearly 19% more verbiage than 10 years before. While some taxes may have been cut in the intervening years, the tax code just kept growing.

I wonder if all this could have anything to do with the fact that we still have nearly 12 million people out of work, plus eight million working part-time jobs, five long years after the financial crisis began.

Genius that he was, Tocqueville saw this transformation of America coming. Toward the end of "Democracy in America" he warned against the government becoming "an immense tutelary power . . . absolute, detailed, regular . . . cover[ing] [society's] surface with a network of small, complicated, painstaking, uniform rules through which the most original minds and the most vigorous souls cannot clear a way."

Tocqueville also foresaw exactly how this regulatory state would suffocate the spirit of free enterprise: "It rarely forces one to act, but it constantly opposes itself to one's acting; it does not destroy, it prevents things from being born; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, dazes, and finally reduces [the] nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd."

Google USA and Google France on Their Respective National Holiday Commemorations — Spot the Difference

In France, at least, this is what Google's doodle looks like on Bastille Day.

Compare with Google USA's Fourth of July doodle — praised at the link for being so avant-garde as to be (wait for it) "uncontroversial."

Moreover, Google's dogs on a trip theme leads Chris Matyszczyk to mock Mitt Romney's dog-on-the-roof story (regarding a politician no longer in the national news) — all the while ignoring Barack Obama's dog-for-supper story (regarding a politician still very much in the national news).