Saturday, April 15, 2006

Anyone who conducts an argument by appealing to authority is not using his intelligence; he is just using his memory

Today is the birthday of Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), the Italian artist, writer, inventor, and philosopher who said:
Although nature commences with reason and ends in experience it is necessary for us to do the opposite, that is to commence with experience and from this to proceed to investigate the reason.

Anyone who conducts an argument by appealing to authority is not using his intelligence; he is just using his memory.

As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well spent brings happy death.

Common Sense is that which judges the things given to it by other senses.

Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen.

Experience does not err. Only your judgments err by expecting from her what is not in her power.

For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.

He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast.

Human subtlety will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple or more direct than does Nature, because in her inventions, nothing is lacking and nothing is superfluous.

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing.
Knowing is not enough; we must apply.
Being willing is not enough; we must do.

I have offended God and mankind because my work didn't reach the quality it should have.

"Patience serves as a protection against wrongs as clothes do against cold. For if you put on more clothes as the cold increases, it will have no power to hurt you. So in like manner you must grow in patience when you meet with great wrongs, and they will then be powerless to vex your mind.

Ever feel like you been cheated?

La monnaie de singe songe perd de son éclat. Zeropeans start to ask some hard questions about the Euro.

Money quote: It's like a central banker saying his own currency is overvalued.

Foreign investors in Fwance beware

From now on you will have to deal with hysterical French députés hunger striking their way into the headlines. The Japanese company victim of this kamikaze style attack, Toyal, issued a statement declaring that they have lost all confidence in France. The company, which was planning to build a new factory in a different region of France (this wasn't even a case of the company wanting to leave the country), now states that those plans are a no-go. It looks like that new project will be developed in a country with a saner political and economic climate. In the meantime, the company has been paid off by Chiraq-Villepin-Sarko-et al. to keep their existing site. Can France get any more pathetic?

Encore un pédaloïde hysterique qui a ses règles

Don't count on this getting any play in Fwance

The Euston Manifesto. Especially the part about anti-Americanism. Recent events have demonstrated that the French Left is more and more fascinated by the use of extreme violence. With French media about to launch a psychedelic 70's fad of Mesrine worship fueled by cinema and TV agitprop, we can soon expect a resurgence of Action Directe type groups.

La pièce de Genet Les Paravents retirée

Great moments in French history. Jean Genet, le pédaloïde facho, retreats in the face of the offensive launched by Occident.

That's what happens when you give these people a job

Ce sont les choses qui arrivent quand on embauche de la sale racaille.

They'll take their act to Sarcelles

On the road again.

Avec retransmission en direct à Sarcelles

The Iranian regime, fishing for support among Zeropean bureaucrappers in Brussels and Strasbourg, has found a celebrity guest in the person of Dieudonné. The French gag man has been invited to the Palestinian support conference currently underway in Tehran. The event is shaping up to be one more holocaust denial funfest. Roger Garaudy and the double talking two-faced Tariq Ramadan are also tipped to be attendees. Garaudy, French writer found guilty of holocaust denial in 1998, had his fine paid for, at least in part, by the Iranian government.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Bending Over to Fascist Types — Literally

Qu'en est-il du militant des années 1960 et 1970 ? Jean Genet, et c'est son droit, a défendu les Palestiniens d'une manière originale. Il a loué la beauté de leur errance, il a laissé planer l'équivoque sur l'opportunité de leur succès, il a ouvertement désapprouvé leurs revendications. Si Genet défend les Palestiniens (ainsi que les indépendantistes algériens et les Noirs américains), ce n'est pas parce qu'il adhère pleinement à leur combat ou que leur cause serait intrinsèquement "juste" ; c'est avant tout parce qu'il hait l'Occident, sa placide démocratie, l'ordre des Blancs et des juifs. La dimension érotique est elle aussi capitale : Genet chante en des termes presque identiques les caïds de Mettray au verbe haut, les SS tout feu tout flamme, les miliciens de 16 ans à la mitraillette en bandoulière, les Black Panthers insolents et les fedayins "si jeunes et si beaux".
It turns out one that one of the élite's favorite literary phenomenons of the post-war period secretly (and not so secretly) admired the Nazis — even if they would have forced him to wear a pink triangle and likely gassed him. His "enrollment in causes led to his defending the Third World, pederasts, Proletarians, prisoners, Palestinians, and (black) Panthers, although it seems the "cursed man at the margins" did so mainly because he thought they were …cute (the Fedayeen were "so young and so beautiful"), a "view" he even holds about about SS officers.

In fact, Genet — whose work is "gangrened by fascism and yet touching" — was "the apostle of evil and its servants, from informers to terrorists, through trators, child killers, kamikazes, and Nazis." Even the man who exposed Jean Genet, Ivan Jablonka, seems in the final analysis (and the final paragraph), to be taken in by him. Come to think about it, Genet's attitude hardly seems that unusual, does it? It begs the question: is this the type of European that Washington should listen to before taking international decisions?

Socialism’s Grim Fairy Tale

La cigale et la fourmi - The cicada and the ant


La fourmi travaille dur tout l'été dans la canicule.
Elle construit sa maison et prépare ses provisions pour l'hiver.
La cigale pense que la fourmi est stupide, elle rit, danse et joue tout l'été. Une fois l'hiver venu, la fourmi est au chaud et bien nourrie. La cigale grelottante de froid n'a ni nourriture ni abri et meurt de froid.
The ant works hard all summer in the heat. She builds her house and prepares provisions for the winter. The cicada thinks that the ant is stupid, and laughs, dances and plays all summer long. Once winter arrives, the ant is warm, cozy in her home and well fed. The cicada has neither food nor shelter and freezes to death.


La fourmi travaille dur tout l'été dans la canicule. Elle construit sa maison et prépare ses provisions pour l'hiver. La cigale pense que la fourmi est stupide, elle ri, danse et joue tout l'été. Une fois l'hiver venu, la fourmi est au chaud et bien nourrie.
La cigale grelottante de froid organise une conférence de presse et demande pourquoi la fourmi a le droit d'être au chaud et bien nourrie tandis que les autres moins chanceux comme elle ont froid et faim.
La télévision organise des émissions en direct qui montrent la cigale grelottante de froid et qui passent des extraits vidéo de la fourmi bien au chaud dans sa maison confortable avec une table pleine de provisions.
Les Français sont frappés que, dans un pays si riche, on laisse souffrir cette pauvre cigale tandis que d'autres vivent dans l'abondance. Les associations contre la pauvreté manifestent devant la maison de la fourmi. Les journalistes organisent des interviews demandant pourquoi la fourmi est devenue riche sur le dos de la cigale et interpellent le gouvernement pour augmenter les impôts de la fourmi afin qu'elle paie "sa juste part".

En réponse aux sondages, le gouvernement rédige une loi sur l'égalité économique et une loi (rétroactive) d'anti-discrimination. Les impôts de la fourmi sont augmentés et la fourmi reçoit aussi une amendée pour ne pas avoir embauché la cigale comme aide.

La maison de la fourmi est préemptée par les autorités car la fourmi n'a pas assez d'argent pour payer son amende et ses impôts. La fourmi quitte la France pour s'installer avec succès en Suisse. La télévision fait un reportage sur la cigale maintenant engraissée. Elle est en train de finir les dernières provisions de la fourmi bien que le printemps soit encore loin.
L'ancienne maison de la fourmi, devenue logement social pour la cigale, se détériore car cette dernière n'a rien fait pour l'entretenir. Des reproches sont faits au gouvernement pour le manque de moyens. Une commission d'enquete est mise en place, ce qui costera 10 millions d'euros. La cigale meurt d'une overdose.

Libération et L'Humanité commentent l'échec du gouvernement redresser sérieusement le problème des inégalités sociales. La maison est squattée par un gang d'araignées immigrées. Le gouvernement se félicite de la diversité multiculturelle de la France. Les araignées organisent un trafic de marijuana et terrorisent la communauté.
The ant works hard all summer in the heat. She builds her house and prepares provisions for the winter. The cicada thinks that the ant is stupid, and laughs, dances and plays all summer long. Once winter arrives, the ant is warm, cozy in her home and well fed. The freezing cicada organizes a press conference and asks why the ant has the right to the heat and to be well nourished while the others less lucky as her are cold and hungry.

The television networks organize broadcasts which show the cicada suffering in the cold and cuts to the video of the ant in her warm, comfortable little home, her table full with provision.
The French are struck that, in such a rich country, one allowsthis poor cicada to suffer while others live in abundance. Anti-poverty organizations demonstrate in front of the ant’s house. Journalists organize interviews asking why the ant became rich on the back of the cicada and challenge the government to increase ant’s taxes so that she pays her "fair share".

In response to a poll, the government writes an economic equality law and a (retroactive) law on anti-discrimination. The taxes of the ant are increased and the ant receives also a reprimand for not having helped the cicada.

The house of the ant is repossessed by authorities because the ant can’t pay her fines and taxes. The ant leaves France to settle successfully in Switzerland.
The television networks report on the now fat cicada. He’s finishing the last of the ant’s provisions although spring is still far off. The ant’s old house become social housing for the cicada, decaying for lack of maintenance. Appeals are made to the government due to the lack of means. A commission is set up, which will comit 10 million euros. The cicada dies of an overdose.

Libération and L'Humanité comment on the government’s failure to take seriously the problem of social inequality. A gang of immigrant spiders are them found squatting the house. The government is pleased with this display of multicultural diversity in France. The spiders start trafficking marijuana and terrorize the community.

With thanks to Anna.

Cinéastes fwançais culturellement évolués montrent aux américains simplistes de quoi il retourne en matière du 7ème art

What if France's greatest Elvis impersonator had never existed?

Things will have to get a lot worse before they get better

There is one depressingly certain way to remedy the failings in the core European countries: to bring on a more serious economic crisis. This week will surely have brought that a lot closer.

Blackmail politics

French député Jean Lassalle has stopped his hunger strike after the Japanese company Toyal agreed to keep a factory in his circonsription. So after strikes, usury tax rates, irate workers, and crippling bureaucracy -- foreign companies operating in France will have to put up with hunger strikes by French politicians. Can bomb belts be far off?

"Go sell peanuts in the Métro"

Can anyone — an American or a European or a third-party national — imagine going to a football game (or a basketball game!) in the United States, and having the black players submitted to a litany of racial insults?

Strangely enough — given the Europeans' propensity to giving the Yanks lessons on solidarity, harmony (racial, social, and otherwise), and "humanistic" ties between men of all colrs and creeds — that is far from unheard at European football (i.e., soccer) games. Reporting from Paris is Jerome Pugmire:

Warming up on the sidelines, a black player jogs toward fans at the Parc des Princes soccer stadium. As he gets closer, a barrage of monkey chants explodes — "OOOH! OOOH! OOOH!" — and racist insults fill the air.

Such scenes are increasingly common at the home stadium of Paris Saint-Germain, or PSG, one of France's top soccer teams. And they stain elite soccer leagues elsewhere in Europe, raising fears a global sport that calls itself "the beautiful game" is getting uglier.

…Soccer, with its many black stars, should be a showcase of multiracial harmony — especially in France, which draws heavily on talent from its former African colonies.

Instead, brawling soccer fans have emerged as the extreme fringe of a deeply troubled France — one whose problems include grappling with stiffening resistance to immigration. After the riots that engulfed immigrant-dominated French suburbs last year, beer-fueled racism in soccer has taken on an even more menacing tinge.

Unlike soccer hooliganism elsewhere, in which the antagonists are fans of rival teams, the clashes outside Parc des Princes are largely between fans rooting for the same team — PSG.…

PSG, where George Weah of Liberia and Ronaldinho of Brazil once displayed their magic, is not alone in facing racist outrages.

In Spain, Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o of Cameroon threatened to walk off the field after Zaragoza fans subjected him to monkey chants in February. In Italy, right-wing fans have displayed Nazi and fascist symbols and anti-Semitic banners at Rome's Stadio Olimpico.

But some black players say the atmosphere at Parc des Princes has become intolerable.

"I'd have to think twice before setting foot there again," Senegal-born Patrick Vieira, a midfielder for the French national team, said.

During one match, a fan yelled at PSG midfielder Vikash Dhorasoo, a France international midfielder of Indian origin, "Go sell peanuts in the Métro." It was among the least offensive shouts in a tirade of vulgar epithets for blacks.

As the 2006 World Cup draws closer, we have more examples of European sportsmanship and sophistication from Spain.

We should be very grateful for the Europeans on this planet. If it weren't for them, we would not realize to what extent America is a racist country and culture. (As I have personally had the blessed opportunity to discover several times.) It is true that places like Europe (indeed, any place that is not the U.S.), and above all France, serve as a real model of racial integration and harmony that the oafish Yanks should emulate, if only they shared the Europeans' capacity of reasoning and their sense of sophistication.

In fact, a big part of the Euros' argument is that they complain that people (Americans or "un-lucid" Europeans) are generalizing in an unfair way; if only those people would understand the exact of the problem, they would see (somehow) that racism (or anti-semitism or whatever form it takes) is not that big of a problem; or it is a problem, but they are doing their best to fight it.

Not a bad argument; unfortunately, when it comes to examples (large or small, and real or imainged) of racism in America, such considerations are swept aside in favor of …generalisations, scorn, and disgust with American racism. In fact… this brings us to the most important point about European racism. Indeed, as we ponder the words of Martin Luther King Jr, pause to reflect on the fact that the most offensive, the most revolting, and the most dangerous part of European racism has not been treated above.

And that is anti-Americanism.

As eminent British historian Paul Johnson has written,

anti-Americanism is a function of cultural racism. … The view is that sophisticated, civilized Europe has nothing to learn from "adolescent" America. … This cultural racism is particularly directed at the supposedly "know-nothing" President George W. Bush and his "gung ho" Texas background. The European intelligentsia gets its notion of America chiefly from Hollywood, TV soaps like Dallas and fiction. Few of them have any experience of America, outside of three or four big cities. Middle America is unexplored territory. The fact that the U.S. has proved a highly efficient crucible for melding different peoples into a human sum greater than its constituent parts is seen as a misfortune in Europe because it produces a cultural stew that lacks purity of any kind and is therefore at the mercy of commercial forces.

European elites tend to look at Americans as a subcivilized mass, whose function is to be obedient consumers in a system run by big business. The role of competition in U.S. economic life — and in every other aspect of life — is ignored, because competition is something Continental Europeans like to keep to a minimum and under careful control. … Although Americans are seen as highly materialistic consumers, they are also despised and feared for their spiritual interests, their participation in religious worship and their subscription to creeds of morality. Europeans see no inconsistency in their condemnation of the U.S. for being at one and the same time paganly unethical and morally zealous.

The truth is, any accusation that comes to hand is used without scruple by the Old World intelligentsia. Anti-Americanism is factually absurd, contradictory, racist, crude, childish, self-defeating and, at bottom, nonsensical.

In that respect, the Euros' haughty view of "adolescent" Americans (aka their "American friends", which is more like the neighborhood's dopey American teens) is little better than the cry, "Go sell peanuts in the Métro." In fact, it is just as bad or worse. Read Johnson's entire text…

¡No Pasarán!


Latin America Tilting to the Left

While Paulo A. Paranagua features an article on Latin America's drift to the left, while Annie Gasnier reflects on Lula's chances for re-election in Brazil, and while Joëlle Stolz wonders what will happen if Amlo wins Mexico's election in July, Le Monde editorializes on the differences between the Chávez model and the Lula model. (Incidentally, note that the French, who are always up in arms about the correct use of their language, notably the accents — they made a huge stink when they discovered that accents weren't going to be used in the (American-invented) web's URL addresses — don't seem to give much of a hoot when it comes to Spanish diacritical marks.)
Entre Hugo Chavez et Lula da Silva, deux gauches s'opposent. L'une propose un discours radical aux accents populistes et avance des solutions nationalistes. L'autre, centriste, prône une politique budgétaire orthodoxe afin d'attirer les capitaux et cherche à insérer l'économie dans la mondialisation.
Meanwhile, an IHT reader (Katherine Warman Stamford of Connecticut) replies to Juan Forero's mainly-hagiographic NYT article on Venezuela, recent visitors to which are seeking "a taste of revolution".
Regarding the report "Caracas calling: A new mecca for the left" (March 22): What about the obvious questions? Where is that $60 billion plus of government-owned oil money going? It now takes more than two hours — without rush-hour traffic — on perilous roads to get into Caracas from the airport because the bridge is down. Households below the poverty line haven't changed. For fear of robbery, drivers do not stop at red lights . Where is the evidence that the Chávez model is working?

The Type of People with Different Ideas You Want to Talk to and Meet with to Bring Change to the World (Oh, and Do Business With Too, Of Course)

"David Rockefeller n'a jamais rencontré un dictateur qu'il n'ait pas trouvé sympathique", disaient, au temps de la guerre froide, ceux qui lui reprochaient ses contacts avec les dirigeants de régimes non démocratiques, de Castro et Boumediène à Pinochet et Botha en passant par Saddam Hussein, sans oublier les maîtres communistes de l'Union soviétique et de la Chine.
Not until the end of his laudatory article on David Rockefeller does Patrick Jarreau admit that the "modest" writer of his 588-page memoirs founder may have detractors in America. Needless to say, he immediately dissolves the criticism with a Rockfeller (sic) quote, a self-serving excuse that the Europeans have conveniently used many times in the past. (Having just as conveniently done away with the type of criticism that isn't to its taste, Le Monde immediately puts it out of its mind and reverts to a state of being impressed that the grand-son of the founder of Standard Oil is the type of man to have been received "by Nasser, by Faisal, by Krushchev, or by Zhu En-Lai".)
"J'ai toujours jugé utile de rencontrer des gens qui ont des idées différentes des vôtres, se justifie-t-il. C'est la meilleure manière d'amener des changements dans le monde."

The more things change, the more intractable some trends seem

Two years ago today in ¡No Pasaràn! Douglas exhibited shock, and Jonathan was all over Africa like white on rice.

One year ago, Erik noted the fortitude of Danes, W was keeping an eye on touchy-feely twits, and apart from the fact that I was pondering Hizballah’s uncooperative nature and backwardness, I was still not funny.

Les bien pensants were still lamenting the rejection of the EU Constitution, and W. was still asking himself what it was all for to begin with.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Against it before they were for it.

It begs the question would this dial-a-mob march against Iran nuclear weapons program, or against stopping it?
CND opposes both the use of force against Iran and any acquisition of nuclear weapons capabilities by Iran. Bellicose statements from the US and Israel have not helped to defuse the situation; on the contrary, they have increased political posturing on both sides and have proven counterproductive in resolving the issues.

[ ... ]

CND supports the efforts of the EU-3 to reach a mutually acceptable agreement on Iran’s enrichment of uranium and their nuclear power programme. We believe that the IAEA can serve as an effective safeguard to ensure Iran’s adherence to its obligations as a Non-Nuclear Weapons State (NNWS) under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). CND encourages all concerned parties to participate in good faith in negotiations to resolve this issue peacefully and expediently, and to support the IAEA in the work that it does.

According to the NPT, all nations have the right to a peaceful nuclear energy programme, and CND therefore respects Iran’s right to a peaceful civilian nuclear programme.

Except at home.

A bad comedian with even worse timing

In light of the playing out of recent events, where’s that threat of nuclear retaliation now?

19 January 2006:
«As I emphasized immediately after the attacks of 11 September 2001, nuclear deterrence is not intended to deter fanatical terrorists. Yet, the leaders of States who would use terrorist means against us, as well as those who would consider using, in one way or another, weapons of mass destruction, must understand that they would lay themselves open to a firm and adapted response on our part.»
Or was it intended for domestic consumption only? He would never stoop that low, would he? How do you think that statement would fly yesterday or today? He's likely be howled at that their program is a peaceful energy program replete with butterflies, sunflowers, and the like.

The Ostrich Seems to be Native to Western Europe

Aren’t they just da bomb?Iran’s nukepalooza didn’t appear in today’s Al-Jazeera sur Seine as it did yesterday. However what we DO see today is a story of nearly twice its’ length warning the right-thinking and tut-tutting set that Washington’s military option continues to progress. Reports include, (surprise, surprise) a further obsession with a cabal in Washington, since this is the only thought the writer seems capable of:

The military option against Iran, long time considered not very practical, is now being openly considered in Washington. Those who did not believe in it changed their minds. "Until now, I had attributed these assumptions of using a military strike to bloggers or conspiracy theorists”, the expert Joseph Cirincione said a few days ago. “Now, my working hypothesis is that certain members of the administration, whose vice-president (Dick Cheney), decided that the preferable option is to strike Iran to destabilize the regime."

«L'option militaire contre l'Iran, longtemps jugée peu praticable, est désormais ouvertement envisagée à Washington. Ceux qui n'y croyaient pas ont changé d'avis. "Jusqu'à présent, j'avais mis ces hypothèses de frappes militaires sur le compte de blogueurs ou d'adeptes des théories de la conspiration, expliquait, il y a quelques jours, l'expert Joseph Cirincione. Maintenant, mon hypothèse de travail est que certains membres de l'administration, dont le vice-président (Dick Cheney), ont décidé que l'option préférable est de frapper l'Iran, ce qui déstabilisera le régime."»
The irony is that the missiles that Iran has been pursuing make western Europe (and Le Monde’s precious dwindling readership) the juiciest and most dramatic target, or the best threat at the very least, since the fallout will never reach their equally oppressive aspirant buds, front operations, and proxies.

So while the campaign to be called nether Mme. or Melle. continues 30 years after the rest of the western world already had it, reason is kept at bay and the sharks continue to circle.

Fetishizing the lifestyle issues has never worked with recent arrivals from the 9th century. The immigrants who attacked in London, and many of the others that have been picked up in the mean time know what to say to get a nod out of an authority figure. They don’t care if you want to relive the golden 3-day epoch of Woodstock, they want your stuff, peeps. You umbrella, your washing machine, that nice phone, and maybe even your little sister if she can swing a mop.

Frankly Stanley, I sink Der Kompressor kennot safe us dis time.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Press undermining their own product with spin

It looks like it’s back to the bad old days of Italian politics, where all the characters seem to come from Central Casting, and governments stood for a few months at a time. Chaos, it seems is still entertaining. Were it not for advanced age and memory, no-one would realize that by reading the news. In fact the absence of another comparative in political affairs is waiting in the wings for the press to form an opinion. Served better by an even shorter public memory – the yawning gap between the treatment of Al Gore’s loss with the recent Italian election.

I still wonder if Spiegel, Stern, Le Monde, Libération and the rest of the ‘braintrust’ will lose their dookie as they did over what was actually Al Gore’s attempt to steal the 2000 US election by getting shadowy extremists to stuff ballot boxes and having people examining “hanging chads” as if some holes punched in a piece of paper are more noble than others? What? They only found fault in the parties with one sort of political view? How could that be?

The vision is uncritical, selective, and leaves enough information out to eventually make a pasivated consumer of news ignorant.

Much as the predictably biased BBC is promoting a forthcoming uncritical documentary about Ollanta Humala, calling him as others have: a “nationalist,” suddenly has nothing bad to say about national exceptionalism as long as it’s red, or the fact that multilateralism is way-laid by it. Certain military men in politics are also suddenly immune to scrutiny as well.

Bilateralism in relations, apparently are suddenly quite okay when it’s with Fidel or Chavez. Improbably, in a near non-sequitur BBC Radio is pimping the damn thing, calling it “marching to a new beat” or a “new global economy” or somesuch, drooling all over the great unknown element in Peru which they hope will start singing the Internationale for them.

I’m sure they’ll bring it to air as soon as they can find an opinion to prop it up with.

By it’s very nature a nutty little cartel of Marxists is isolationist if anything, and it damn well not be something you cal call "global", because, you know, most of us, including the Chinese, might not like it. What then would an ‘anti-globalized’ united world do other than disband itself, anyway?

Does the selectiveness of investigation such as we see with the BBC suggest that we might have a choice? More than anything what is evident is the naïvité and lack of professionalism evident in that form of activist-journalism. It’s hatred of people’s ability to make choices that they wouldn’t make for themselves is evident, as is their ignorance of the complexity of the world.

The hills are alive with the sound of Geiger counters

Good luck. I hope you think that pussy-footing worked.

Oil-for-Food Articles in French Media Fraught With Excuses, Justification, High-Falutin' Principles, and the Best of Intentions

It is with a dubious voice that Le Monde ends an editorial on the latest developments in France's involvement in the oil-for-food scandal with a complaint by French officials that "the accusations of corruption are nothing more than an attempt to 'soil' the reputation of France's diplomacy". But in the meantime, the newspaper of reference has also stated that the
623 pages of the "Volcker report" … offer a damning read for all those who had placed their faith in the transparency and the efficiency of UN institutions. They are even more disappointing for those who wanted to see in France's decisions, when she appealed for an adjustment of the sanctions and against the outbreak of the Iraq war in 2003, nothing but a model of diplomacy based on a certain conception of morality.
Now, we all know what the independent daily would have said had revelations of the type erupted about an American administration. There, the French paper would not have wasted one nano-second in coming straight out and snorting that Bush (or whoever) was a hypocrite, a liar, a crook, scoffing or laughing at the Americans' pretensions, and castigating America's administration, the American government, and/or American society. With its own government (and with the United Nations), however (what a change!), check out the reluctance: it brings up emotions and regrets, it reminds its readers (and itself) of the high-falutin' principles involved, and it ardently wishes that its childhood beliefs could be preserved.

Believe it or not, it gets worse — with the investigation the independent daily commissioned its own reporters to carry out.

How do you start out on a French article dealing with France's involvement in the oil-for-food scandal? If you are Gérard Davet and Natalie Nougayrède, you evoke 30 years of faithful ties and bring in a touching scene full of pathos between Iraq's Tarek Aziz and Frenchman Serge Boidevaix as the sounds of war draw closer.

"What can France do?" I.e., to avoid war. The Iraqi says nothing. Tears well in his eyes. "He already knew the dice were cast", Mr Boidevaix would later confide.
The Le Monde article goes on to quote Boidevaix (who is still président of the Chambre de commerce franco-arabe) blaming the UN system, freeing a French prisoner from Abu Ghraib, reminiscing about "secular Iraq of the '70s and '80s, a country in full expansion!", and opposing the Americans' embargo "from conviction". Just look at the busy man's activities:
He speaks at symposiums in Paris, visits the Baghdad fair, appears at the Baghdad Conference, which groups anti-embargo militants.
Just to make sure readers understand that the French are particular about principles, Le Monde notes that the Quai d'Orsay sent Boidevaix a letter in September 2001 (did the letter come before or after the WTC attacks, and is it in any way related to the attacks? probably not, but the article doesn't say) asking him "not to stray from the code of ethics" and to be vigilant regarding "the separation of the political and the private spheres". (Imagine the snorts and mockery had a similar State Department letter turned up regarding Enron or Halliburton.)

The article points out that there are three categories of "friends of Saddam": idéologues, affairistes, and militants-affairistes. Ideologues and militants had, or have, at least partly good intentions, and are therefore owed a measure of redemption (hence the entire tone of this article and Le Monde's coverage in general), while hucksters and wheeler-dealers (affairistes) are nothing but dirty capitalist pigs (of the, need we mention it, American-type style). In fact, expecially redeeming is the fact that "militants" "militated" against the (American-organised) embargo.

Regarding Boidevaix, at least, French citizens can feel proud that he is an ideologue. Not so with Jean-Bernard Mérimée, who (I can hardly believe I am reading this), "contrary to Serge Boidevaix, has never made an effort to publicly defend the policy of France in the Iraqi crisis"!

Regarding the other individuals in the French networks of oil-for-food, more emotion is brought up (something that is not done for Russia, whereas a piece on Total conveniently ends with a quote from one of the French company's officials). Listen to this dramatic development:

On November 7, 2005, at dawn, the life of Michel Grimard was turned upside down. The investigators of Judge Courroye call on that member of the Gaullist circle at his home in Paris. A former member of the RPR's Conseil National, a former organizer, in the 1990s, of French parliamentarians' trips to Baghdad, Mr. Grimard is incarcerated. "I who in my life have met with heads of state, including de Gaulle," he remembers with emotion, "suddenly I was being treated like a common punk!"
After learning more details about the "small man with a worried face, animator of the Mouvement Chrétien Ve République", who has known Tarek Aziz "for 30 years" and who, in "the galaxy of the France-Iraq networks, is one of the militants", we are introduced to a woman of principle.
The France-Iraq networks are something that Roselyne Bachelot has known, but she has never touched any oil bonds. The former minister, a European deputy, made several trips to Baghdad during the embargo. "I never accepted meeting Saddam Hussein, even though the Iraqis often suggested doing so, for the photo op", she points out. During the 1990s, Jacques Chirac had asked her to take the presidency of the groupe d'études France-Iraq in the Assemblée Nationale. She was a militant against the sanctions; and she was fond of Tarek Aziz — an "agreeable and open" man.
At this point in the article, we finally learn (albeit indirectly) what everybody has known all along. And what in fact Frenchmen of all types — politicians, journalists, editorial-writers, common citizens, bloggers, message-writers — fret and rail about (such as on this blog) as foreigners' "anti-French" attempts "to 'soil' the reputation of France's diplomacy".
For her, contrary to the assurances of the foreign affairs ministry, Serge Boidevaix was "obviously in contact", during these years, with the French authorities: "He was part of 'the family'. I know how things work."
One might think that any article with the least bit of honesty — and any article on a similar scandal taking place in America or anywhere abroad) would have ended with that quote. That is forgetting that the independent newspaper is perhaps not as independent as it makes out to be. In fact, the emotions and the scapegoating get better:
Gilles Munier, 61, is an Iraq enthusiast who lives in Rennes. He says that his universe — that of a "certain French policy toward the Arab world" — has collapsed. The victim, in his mind, of American and Israeli acts.
Surreal enough for you? But never fear: this brave militant, Secrétaire général of the Associations des amitiés franco-irakiennes (which he founded in 1986), is down but not out.
His troubles have not dissuaded him from militing, even today, in favor of France's ties with Arab regimes, notably that of the Syrian Bachar Al-Assad. This affable character assiduously attended the Baghdad Conferences organised by Tarek Aziz twice a year, to bring together the Iraq support groups from Europe, Russia, India, or Latin America.
(Speaking of Europe's support groups, listen to the noble principles of Hans Van Sponeck, a German colleague of Munier, Boidevaix, Bachelot, Grimard's.)
Gilles Munier, who in the past has helped French MPs and journalists travel to Baghdad, is adamant about his good faith. All the money that the Aredio and Taurus brokerage companies did not end up in his pocket, he says, but served to finance his association's activities. The purchase of advertising space (notably in Le Monde, in january 2001), the organisation of symposiums, the shipping of humanitarian aid to Iraq, trips to Baghdad. Thus,
i.e., in those banal and (in the final analysis) non-threatening ways,
did the Saddam Hussein government
i.e., the despotic government whose atrocities we are never reminded of (all we hear about is the "agreeable and open" Iraqi official whose eyes "well up" with tears)
finance the networks that supported it in France
i.e., that supported Saddam's régime with nothing more threatening than the organisation of symposiums, the shipping of humanitarian aid to Iraq, trips to Baghdad, symposiums in Paris, the Baghdad fair, the Baghdad Conference, etc…

A Guy with a Lot to Say

La Minute du Sablier (A Moment in the Hourglass,) an Online Journal interviews Paris based author and blogger in the new media Erik Svane on the subject of anti-Americanism.

Click image above for video.

Link above also found through Resiliance TV.

If you don’t yet know him yet, you should. In addition to being an all-around good egg, he also has a vivid sense of humor, and I keep thinking that his next book should be Churchillian in scale and called "A History of the English Speaking Germans".

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Funnier than bad art.

Ze Anglofritz potkaßt.

Liberty, Equality, Muddling 24/7

Liberté, Égalité, Merdouille.

"There have, I suppose, been other peoples in other places who yearned for a life of mediocrity. But leave it to the French to make a revolution in its name."

Du plomb dans l'aile

Remember when Airbus was supposed to be well on the way to crushing Boeing? That kind of fluff was thrown around back when the hilarious Lisbon economic reform agenda was all the rage.

Qu'il crève, la gueule ouverte

French député using hunger strike as blackmail to prevent a company from conducting business as usual.

We’re all definitely in the wrong racket

The British designer Jasper Morrison designed The Crate, as a replica of the wine crate where he stashes books and magazines beside the bed in his Paris apartment. "The old crate was so perfect for its purpose," observes Morrison, "that it seemed pointless to try to invent something better." Jasper Morrison, "The Crate" for Established and Sons production.
Ya gotta love the hutzpah! Joking aside, Morrison’s work is beautiful and very honest. Further work from the Milan Furniture Fair can be seen in the same IHT slideshow.

Old Europe

Coalition of the willing withering.

Old Europe

Same old, same old. Chocolate soldiers. Fudgepackers.

Gone are the days of tearing down the system; now is the time to burn a car for better dental benefits

The funny part of France's latest round of riots is what they're rioting about
muses Jonah Goldberg.
These rabid rebels smashing their way through people and property alike, shouting revolutionary slogans and playing Robespierre in a FCUK hoodie are demanding ... continued job security with paid vacations. Gone are the days of tearing down the system. Now is the time to burn a car for better dental benefits.
Bernard-Henri Lévy has more. Speaking of (worldwide) victimitis, Rich Tucker adds that
…there are many things Americans do that are offensive to Muslims. Ocean City, Md., with its women in bikinis is clearly offensive -- but are we as a society ready to demand that all women wear burkas to the beach?
Effort never killed anybody, but… (tak til Joe)

Update (merci à Thorvald): Charles Krauthammer has more on Liberty, Equality, Mediocrity: The
new act of revolutionary creativity [is] a very long way from liberty, equality, fraternity. The spirit of this revolution is embodied most perfectly in the slogan on many placards: CONTRE LA PRÉCARITÉ, or "Against Precariousness." The precariousness of being subject to being fired. The precariousness of the untenured life, even if the work is boring and the boss no longer wants you. And ultimately, the precariousness of life itself, any weakening of the government guarantee of safety, conformity, regularity.

That is something very new. And it is not just a long way from the ideals of 1789. It is the very antithesis. It represents an escape from freedom, a demand for an arbitrary powerful state in whose bosom you can settle for life.

…And these young rioters want to keep things just that way--to rely not just on their advantages of class, education and ethnicity but also on an absolute guarantee from the state that their very first job will be for life, with no one to challenge them for it.

…Against precariousness? That is perhaps to be expected in a country where 76% of 15-to-30-year-olds say they aspire to civil service jobs from which it's almost impossible to be fired. This flight from risk is not just a sign of civilizational senescence. It is a parody of the welfare state. Yes, the old should be protected from precariousness because they are exhausted; the sick, because they are too weak. But privileged students under the age of 26? They cannot endure 24 months of precariousness at the prime of life, the height of their energy?

War has been Declared

And you are the enemy.

Ezra Levant, Canadian conservative, contributor to the Shotgun group blog, and all-around trouble maker has a book out. Its all about the fun do-gooders dont want you to have.

- Drive an SUV? Smoke the occasional cigar? Eat fast food? Not for long, you don't--not if the new Prohibitionists have their way.
- They'll berate you, tax you and sue you, all the while telling you it's for your own good.
You could call it perhaps more fun than should be allowed.

"We recovered hundreds-of-thousands of bodies in mass graves across the country, many of which were dedicated to children three to six-years-old"

"My own region, Kurdistan, was decimated by Saddam,"
Qubad Talabani, son of Iraqi president Jalal Talabani, said as he reminded an American audience including W. Thomas Smith, Jr whom and what exactly the peace camp defended.
"He destroyed about 4,000 villages, killed about 200,000 people, and used chemical and biological weapons in over 250 incidences – primarily against civilians."

Prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, most Kurds believed themselves to be the only victims of Saddam’s brutality. "But when the regime fell, we realized that Iraqi Arabs were also victims," Talabani says. "We recovered hundreds-of-thousands of bodies in mass graves across the country, many of which were dedicated to children three to six-years-old. Most had been experimented on by the regime. I cannot describe the carnage and brutality in a way that you would be able to comprehend just how bad it really was." …

Despite problems stemming from fear and mistrust, Talabani is quick to point out the ongoing, and too-often underreported, positive developments in Iraq.

"Of the 18 different governorates [provinces] – similar to the states you have here in the U.S. – 13 or 14 of them are relatively calm and stable," he says. "People are going about their daily lives and trying to rebuild the country."

Robert Tracinski adds:
What no one seems prepared to acknowledge is that April 9, 2003, was the day we won the war in Iraq (though not, by any means, the broader War on Terrorism). It was the day we broke all militarily significant, large-scale resistance and established our ability to control Iraq militarily and establish a new government on our terms. No action by any enemy since then has reversed that victory.

And more: it was the day we crushed fascist Arab nationalism—an ideology that had already been weakened by the 1991 Gulf War, but which was terminally humiliated by the fall of Saddam. That was a big achievement, and it has now freed us to face the larger threat of totalitarian Islam—but the press has so magnified the pathetic terrorist insurgency in Iraq that they have almost made that victory disappear.

81, 76, 50, 49, 43, 25

What are these numbers? This week’s Powerball winners? A safe deposit combo? New numbers to torment those poor b*stards stranded on the island in Lost?
Election Analysis provides the answer.

Racism: a pathological tendency to interject race into situations where it is not relevant, merely for personal gain

Years ago, people who supported racial discrimination and racial segregation were called racists
writes Mike S Adams.
Today, people who are opposed to racial discrimination and racial segregation are called racists — at least they are on campuses all across America. If the diversity movement has accomplished anything at my university, it has been to teach young blacks to model themselves after members of the Ku Klux Klan and the John Birch Society.

But there is another rather obvious conclusion that comes from watching the “progress” made by the Offices of Campus Diversity in recent years. It is that these people are so arrogant as to presume that they may redefine racism whenever they see fit in order to garner support for whatever initiatives they deem fashionable at any given point in time.
Read Mike's definitions of racism and racist and who fits them.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Bill O'Reilly on the French way

Bill O'Reilly says he is not against France; the Fox News journalist is against France's leaders. (Notice how in the second hyperlink, contrary to the common wisdom, Fox gives the word to someone who is opposed to the network's ideology and a full-fledged debate ensues — thanks to Bertrand.)

Will Berlusconi Win After All?

Now where is that picture of Truman holding a newspaper saying "Dewey wins"?
Alors que les sondages sortie de urnes et les premières projections donnaient, lundi 10 avril, l'union de gauche conduite par Romano Prodi gagnante dans les deux chambres du Parlement, la tendance s'est inversée au profit des partisans de Silvio Berlusconi en fin de journée.
All day long Le Monde has been treating us to news breaks that Berlusconi is finished. Citing 50 to 54% for Prodi to 45 to 49% for Il Cavaliere, they've been writing things like (caps theirs) "A SECOND EXIT POLL CONFIRMS THE VICTORY OF THE LEFT". Now, to say the least, they are hedging their bets; in fact, they almost seem to be admitting that Prodi has lost and (is it really necessary for us to point this out?) they are already brandishing the spectre of cheating or a bug. Oh, so that (and that only) would explain a Berlusconi vittoria (and their own blindness).

Obsessed by their anti-Bush bias, not many people (outside Italy) listened to the International Herald Tribune's John Vinocur.

This episode shows the entire French political spectrum locking itself into the depressing cavern of Chirac's political creed

Well, if you can't get a job (or a training course) in France, you can always get one in Algeria.

Panorama, meanwhile, has fullscreen panoramas of the CPE demonstrations (listen to those lovely French songs).

As for Laurent Greilsamer, he quotes (without naming the journalist) John Vinocur's International Herald Tribune article in his history of "manifestations … made in France."

It so happens that John Vinocur had this to say today:
Jacques Chirac is discredited, Dominique de Villepin, too, and with them, it seems, a certain France that told the world it could avoid change and, as exceptionalist as ever, escape immobility's ridiculousness in the process.

Absurdity certainly has caught up with this routine. There's never been a more incongruous political crisis than the country's present misery about relaxing employment regulations for young people: scores of thousands of them - a poll shows 76 percent of the 15- to 24 year-old age group aspire to the privileges, early retirement and ironclad security of civil service jobs - demonstrating for social conservatism on the historical turf of new dawns and revolution.

And rarely has upheaval on the streets led to more ridiculous political repercussions. Here, it has exposed a president who tried to save face for his prime minister by signing a bill changing first-job rules, then explained incoherently that a second measure would soon nullify the original's provisions, and finally turned over the repair job to a rival, Nicolas Sarkozy, who both Chirac and Villepin have long hoped to crush.

For some, this is a hoot. But ridiculousness can be sad, or even ominous. That's the direction this episode points to for the future because it shows the entire French political spectrum locking itself into the depressing cavern of Chirac's political creed.

This article of faith insists that if France will sample the idea of reform, just tasting, it won't willingly swallow real social change. In terms of getting- elected politics, the Chirac precept says that only a presidential candidate who refuses to talk about the necessity of risk, or how France gains through a smaller nanny-state or a freer economy, can inspire enough French trust to win election.

In a new book on the president by Franz-Olivier Giesbert, François Fillon, a Sarkozy ally, describes Chirac as "a psycho-rigid person who's convinced that France cannot tolerate any major reform. This comes to the great irritation of the left which wanted the right to do the job before it returns to power."

The Doctor can’t mend a sore commentariat

I can never thank the fabulous Fausta enough for keeping an ear to the ground. From the Bad Hair blog, he find the new digs of a favorite columnist.

The only reason I can think of to link to Maclean’s is the appearance of Canadian warmonger and happy warrior Mark Steyn. Looking into the new wave of touchiness on the continent found in Clive Davis’ and Timothy Garton Ash’s new books exhibiting shock at American’s being fed up with Europeans, he points out:
If the best evidence of the pandemic of "anti-Europeanism in the United States" is a Canadian columnist writing for a Canadian newspaper (Jewish World Review is a plucky New York website that happened to reprint a piece of mine from the National Post), that would seem to be self-refuting. A European who wanders along to his local bookstore to sate his anti-Americanism will find a groaning smorgasbord of tracts catering to every taste, including the French bestseller that claims the plane that hit the Pentagon on 9/11 never existed. An American who strolls into Barnes and Noble to sate his anti-Europeanism will have to make do with a two-sentence quote by an obscure Canadian on page 243 of some book sternly warning of the rampant anti-Europeanism all around.

For many Europeans -- and Canadians -- the Stupid White Men school of anti-Americanism is a form of consolation: the Great Moron may be economically, militarily and culturally dominant but we can still jeer at what a bozo he is.
Readers of Lewis’ blog, (the three of you know who you are) will not find the arguments unfamiliar. The same catchphrases that made the rounds in the 1980s have reappeared – a “further divided society” which is less divided as it was two decades ago, the “climate of religion” tripe which used to be a “lack of tradition” argument when it used to be useful... It all looks too familiar, too repetitive, and too much like the sound of a child trying to tell you that the cat knocked the lamp off the table. In short, it’s overrought compared to the endless stream of bile transiting the ocean westward.

Steyn sets as a sort of datum two recently published books by Europhile Americans Bruce Bawer and Claire Berlinski. Let’s be clear about one thing – an American’s Europhila doesn’t lend the Center Of Gravity of Europe’s leftist public opinion any weight. Much as BHL is clear but critical about the US and about Americans, both Bawer and Berlinski are take to task by many for not being enraptured with Euro-thought, uniformly protective of it’s emotions as it is:
Both books are somewhat overwrought -- Berlinski dwells on her own relationship with some Muslim lad who later figured in Zadie Smith's hit novel White Teeth, and Bruce Bawer is reluctant to give up on the idea that a bisexual pothead hedonist utopia is a viable concept rather than, as it's proving in the Netherlands, a mere novelty interlude; his book might have been better called While Europe Slept Around.

Nonetheless, if Clive Davis thinks this is anti-Euro rotten fruit-pelting, that's more of a reflection on the complacency of the Continent's own commentariat. The difference between "anti-Americanism" and "anti-Europeanism" is obvious. In, say, 2025, America will be much as it is today -- big, powerful, albeit (to sophisticated Continentals) absurdly vulgar and provincial. But in 20 years' time Europe will be an economically moribund demographic basket case: 17 Continental nations have what's known as "lowest-low" fertility -- below 1.3 live births per woman -- from which no population has ever recovered.
So if merely pointing that out is Anti-Europeanism, what ISN’T? How exactly did the collective spine of a thousand year old culture get hauled off with the recycling so quickly? While some crudely suggest that the European yack-agencian is in need of a good schtupping, I’d suggest that what’s needed is for them to audit the lack of success in the ideas they champion, and the failure it’s brought those that are significantly poorer than they are.

"Statistics Are Like Bikinis; They Show a Lot, But They Hide the Essential"

I suspect members of the police are doing their job, and members of the press are not doing theirs.
As Villepin is forced to cave in on the CPE (to the benefit of Nicolas Sarkozy), we are treated by Robert Solé to letters to the editor of Le Monde, including that of a former pacifist demonstrator saying he believes the police is doing its job and castigating the press when it chooses to be lazy when confronted by police estimates versus demonstrators' (self-serving) estimates and when it chooses to simply calculate the average.
Ancien soixante-huitard, ayant beaucoup manifesté à Paris dans les années 1970, Yves Egal s'ennuyait plutôt lors des défilés. "Un jour, trouvant le temps long, raconte-t-il, j'ai remonté jusqu'à la tête de la manif, je me suis mis sur le bord du trottoir et j'ai compté. Surprise ! J'ai découvert que la tâche était assez facile. Les gens viennent aux manifs à plusieurs, voire en groupe, de la même usine, de la même faculté, du même lycée et ils restent plutôt ensemble. De plus, la marche oblige à maintenir une certaine distance entre les rangs. Il suffit de compter ceux-ci, quitte à modifier la moyenne quand ils s'éclaircissent."

Ce jour-là, l'étudiant en agronomie a compté 15 000 manifestants. La police les évaluait entre 15 et 20 000, tandis que les organisateurs multipliaient par trois. M. Egal a répété l'expérience plusieurs fois par la suite. "Depuis, écrit-il, je soupçonne la police de faire son travail... et les journalistes de ne pas le faire."

Faut-il demander aux reporters du Monde de procéder à leur propre comptage ? Des expériences ont été tentées naguère, avec des résultats plus ou moins concluants.

La vérité ne se trouve pas nécessairement à mi-chemin du chiffre de la police et de celui des organisateurs. Du journal, on attend une estimation, aussi proche que possible de la réalité.

Nul n'ignore cependant la valeur relative des chiffres. "Les statistiques, c'est comme les bikinis : ça montre beaucoup, mais ça cache l'essentiel", remarque Georges Fischer (courriel).
Meanwhile, Paul Magnette answers the questions of Thomas Ferenczi and Jean-Pierre Stroobants about France's role in the European Union.