Saturday, January 04, 2014

Is life easy in the Land of the Free?

How easy is life in the Land of the Free, asks the Telegraph, especially from the British expat's perspective…

Friday, January 03, 2014

Dieudonné and His Inverted Nazi Salute, the Quenelle

Update: French comic Dieudonne 'must pay racism fines'
says French interior minister Manuel Valls.
France is, as we all know, a very polite nation … and … there are plenty of French ways to be polite to people and express your hope that they will enjoy a happy new year to come 
quips Stephen Clarke as he gives several examples in the Telegraph.
Strange, then, that a French footballer should ignore them all and express his joy at scoring a yuletide goal with an altogether different greeting. After Nicolas Anelka scored for his team West Brom, he made the sign known in France as the “quenelle”. For the non-gastronomic amongst you, a “quenelle” is a sort of sausage usually made from fish and breadcrumbs. The gesture itself is also a mixture – it’s half what the French call a “bras d’honneur” (an “arm of honour” – the “up yours” gesture made by thrusting one fist forward while clutching your inner elbow with the other), and half a downward Nazi salute. Anelka [performed] a very formal-looking “quenelle”, putting one hand at the top of his arm while extending that arm stiffly downwards. As anyone who has read about the story will know, the gesture was invented by a comedian called Dieudonné (ironically, “god-given”) who has recently made himself infamous thanks to his outrageously anti-Semitic comments (I wouldn’t call them jokes), including one about a journalist who dared to criticize him and who, in Dieudonné’s opinion, ought to have gone to the gas chamber. (Now you see why i don’t call them jokes).

Everyone in France knows about Dieudonné, and he has a cult following amongst the tiny minority who enjoy race-hate comments. There are doubtless a few youngsters who make his “quenelle” gesture out of ignorance, thinking that it’s purely anti-establishment, in the same way as the punks in the 1970s wore swastikas just to annoy their parents’ generations – they weren’t (usually) Nazis. The same presumably went for Prince Harry when he made his Nazi uniform party outfit gaffe. But an experienced international footballer who knows full well that the few seconds after a goal has been scored are the most filmed and photographed moments of a match? And who has been photographed with the originator of the gesture, joyfully performing a “quenelle” duet?

Say what you like about the average IQ of a Premier League footballer, if there’s one thing they understand it’s the media. They are all experts at promotion. Many of them make as much money being photographed as they do on the pitch. And Anelka’s gesture didn’t look as though it was being made in the grip of wild elation. He looked calm and collected. It looked to my, perhaps over-cynical, eyes that the gesture was a deliberate sign, aimed perhaps at certain sections of impressionable French youth, that it’s OK to say the kind of things that Dieudonné’s fans go along to hear.

It seems a shame, when the French put so much care into expressing the hope that everyone will enjoy each small segment of the day and night, as well as the different sections of the end of the year, that someone thinks it’s OK to send out a mass-media message that is exactly the opposite.
Nasri and Sakho make “Quenelle” gesture (0:45 from end)

How 'Quenelle' Salute Creator Dieudonne Built Bridge to Anti-Semitic Far Fight by Robert Zaretsky:
… the quenelle is the odd gesture — an extended right arm slanted towards the floor, the left arm stretched across the chest — for which Dieudonné claims paternity. The salute has blossomed both on-line and on soccer fields: a succession of French athletes from Tony Parker to Nicolas Anelka have performed the quenelle in order to signal their… well, their what?

This is where things get fuzzy.

Dieudonné insists the gesture is simply a French raspberry, aimed at “the system.” Obviously, this claim begs the question of its deeper significance for Dieudonné if the Jews, as he suggests, own and manipulate “the system.” It also ignores the context of the gesture — which many critics insist is an inverted Nazi salute — used by Dieudonné to punctuate his racist jibes and anti-Semitic innuendos. A number of athletes who replicated the gesture, ignorant of its import, seem sincerely angry to have been caught with their shorts down.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

"The Lesson That Mandiba Gave History": Le Monde's Nelson Mandela Tributes

Needless to say, Le Monde has been overflowing with Nelson Mandela tributes, from Plantu (with his black Madiba/white Madiba harmonious pairing) to readers such as Bruno Spagnulo on "the lesson he gave History"
 … de retour à mon domicile, j'apprends la triste nouvelle : Mandela n'est plus. Autour de ce symbole d'universel, d'unité et de pardon qui rassembla au-delà des couleurs de peau et des strates sociales, chacun évoquera sa mémoire, sa grandeur, son parcours. Cette leçon qu'il donna à l'Histoire, la marquant de son corps, de son esprit, en l'écrivant de ses actes.
Meanwhile, Guy Abeille writes
Aux Blancs de l'apartheid, et à tous les racistes, Mandela a dit : " Moi, dont vous êtes convaincus que je vous suis inférieur par nature, je vais vous montrer simplement, par mes actes, mes paroles, mon être, que je suis plus grand que vous, plus haut. " Ce qui fut fait. Il a dissous les imbéciles. La noblesse de cet homme a ennobli les hommes.

Xavier Gorce:

• Have you heard?
Nelson Mandela has died.

• Again?!

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

The light bulb ban provides a useful window into the mindset of liberals: the debate has nothing to do with which bulb is better, but rather who gets to decide

The bulb debate has become a flash point between conservatives and their progressive opponents
writes Benny Huang of the new law making it illegal to sell or import household bulbs that use more than forty watts and the incandescent light bulb accordingly dying an ignominious death after serving humanity well for fourteen decades. See also Tim Carney's Industry, not environmentalists, killed traditional bulbs (thanks to Instapundit; plus, thanks for the the link): "consumer choice is no good either for nanny-staters or companies seeking high profit margins."

Regardless of party affiliations, true conservatives have made the old fashioned light bulb—an unassuming household item—into a symbol for something much larger. But what, exactly? At the risk of sounding melodramatic, it has become symbolic of the fight between liberty and tyranny.

Liberals will of course scoff at the laughable notion of “light bulb tyranny” and accuse me of hyperventilating overreaction. That’s just liberals doing what they do best—pooh-poohing their opponents’ concerns as triflingly insignificant. Yet I suspect that even they understand that there’s a larger principle at stake here. Heaven knows that they have done everything in their power to thwart any attempt to derail the coming ban on incandescent bulbs. If the whole light bulb issue were insignificant they’d let conservatives win this battle and get on with the rest of their agenda: killing jobs and dumbing down education.

 The new bulbs are fine by me. … Given the choice, I would probably select the energy-saving model over the incandescent.

But I won’t have a choice starting on the first of the year, and that’s really the rub. There’s something very wrong with America when the federal government selects light bulbs for its citizens. The fight over illumination is about so much more than just light bulbs; it’s about governmental overreach.

The light bulb ban provides a useful window into the mindset of liberals. Here’s how they see the issue: energy-saving bulbs are better, therefore the others should be illegal. The pattern repeats itself in nearly every other realm: they determine the best policy, then impose it in a top down manner with no regard for states, localities, or individuals. Arguing with them about choice is futile because they cannot fathom the idea that the debate has nothing to do with which bulb is better, but rather who gets to decide.

 … I am willing to buy a light bulb that costs fifteen times more if it will last ten times longer and reduce my electricity bill. I just don’t like the government making that decision for everyone. It should leave well enough alone, allow both bulbs to peacefully coexist on shelves across America, and let consumers decide for themselves which one is best for them.

Why can’t the government do that? The answer is simple: because Americans might choose the wrong one!

Liberals’ famous reverence for choice arose only because they couldn’t bring themselves to utter the word ”abortion” in a debate that is clearly about that very thing. Consequently, the word “choice” has been used so frequently in reference to the gruesome procedure that it is now universally understood to mean abortion. When a reporter asks a politician where he stands on the issue of “choice” people understand without any further context what the reporter means. (Hint: not light bulbs.)

I’m pro-choice too; pro-light bulb choice, that is. Speaking for the pro-light bulb choice crowd, I would like to say that we don’t hate curly-Q’s. We simply want the federal government to circumscribe the scope of its legislation to its rightful enumerated powers spelled out in the Constitution. The light bulb ban clearly exceeds the federal government’s authority to regulate interstate trade, going so far as to regulate intrastate as well. We also want the government to stop forcing their preference on the rest of us. It’s not as if we’re asking them to legalize an act of horrific violence against a child, we just want to pick the bulb we like best. Is that too much to ask?

Yes, it is, because all of this choosing and self-determination might become contagious. People might start asking the government, particularly the federal government, to stop sticking its nose into all sorts of other issues that are none of their business. Excluding the government from such decisions would necessarily reduce its power. Those top-down solutions they fancy so much might become a rarity. They won’t stand for it.

Simplified Blogging

(merci à Carine)

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

In the Wake of the NYT's Benghazi Report: What, At This Point, the Newspaper of Record Must Be Hoping Will Not Happen

Stilton Jarlsberg's Hope'n'Change blog takes on the New York Crimes (thanks to Duncan):
After an in-depth 15 month investigation, the NY Times has issued a groundbreaking exclusive report that says the brutal terror attacks in Benghazi had nothing to do with Al Qaeda, nothing to do with the anniversary of 9/11, and were in fact caused by a spontaneous outpouring of anger over an anti-Islamic video which had been on Youtube for months without anyone paying attention to it.

In other words, the NY Times is printing complete and utter bullshit (more so than usual, even) for the sole purpose of jumpstarting the rehabilitation of Hillary "What does it matter?" Clinton just in time for the kickoff of her presidential run.

 … Despite their alleged 15 month investigation, the NY Times still hasn't been able to answer one of the most pressing questions about the horrific night: where was Obama and what (or who) was he doing instead of giving a rat's ass about a US Ambassador being sodomized and murdered?!
To which Duncan adds a Calvin & Hobbes cartoon by Watterson:
Don't forget to check out John Rosenthal's The Jihadist Plot
(The Untold Story of Al-Qaeda and the Libyan Rebellion)