Saturday, January 12, 2008

Another Proud Example of That “More Socialism Makes for Better People” Argument

And I guess They Think Oceania Will Last 1000 Years Too

In the European war of attrition against the world’s working poor, they also seem to have found the killer app of obstructive protectionism.

Mr Sarkozy urged Brussels to discuss the implications of "unfair competition" by firms outside the EU, which do not have to abide by strict European standards on CO2 emissions.
By taxing goods from counter-revolutionary non-signers of Kyoto.

But hey, don’t feel bad. It will have to stop once they realize that it will only accelerate their own decline faster than it would that of the world’s blue collar manufacturing labor, and their delusions about the United States that it’s meant to abuse.

Nonetheless, “sane provincials” are striking back at this lunacy.
Bucharest on 21 December filed a complaint at the European Court of Justice against a commission decision to slash its 2008-2018 emissions by 20.7 percent and lower its 2007 ceiling by 10 percent.

The move follows similar court action against Brussels by several other member states.

Friday, January 11, 2008

L'ancien FARC déteste qu'on le mette dans le même sac que les "paramilitaires démobilisés"

What with the appearance of an in-depth article about the FARC guerillas (in which the "good" members of Colombia's rebellion, true believers they, are contrasted with the evil mercenary rightists who double as… drug addicts.), the NP post on Colombia's rebellion and hostages has been updated

When the Saber-Rattling is the Mullahs', It Is Made Light of by Le Monde's Pancho

What would happen if Dubya made what could be called threatening, provocative measures (in the Arabian Sea or elsewhere)? Remember his simply mentioning the Axis of Evil? Wouldn't there be outrage? The left, American and European (not least Pancho himself) would go berserk.

As it happens, t'is Tehran doing the saber-rattling (and much more seriously than just in speeches). And when it's Iran's mullahs doing so, it is considered nothing to be afraid of, it is made light of, almost like a game; au contraire: it's nothing worse than tweaking the nose of the abominable hyperpower…

Readers' Comments on's Articles Are Worth Close to Zilch and Will Vanish After a Couple of Days

Apparently, Le Monde's editors have decided that subscribers' comments on certain articles should disappear, totally and without trace, as the article enters its paying mode after a couple of days.

Not that previously, readers had been especially well-treated in the matter — they were (and still are) allowed a limit of two reactions per article with a limit of 500 characters each! Now even those crumbs are to be taken away (after a few days) as the — separate — URL page(s) for readers' opinions, notes, kudos, and/or criticism vanish once the article is no longer free. In other words, only the deeply profound words of Le Monde's wiser-than-thou journalists will remain; the contributions, important or otherwise, of readers will not.

Giddy Up!

Nifty blogatrice Karin from Germany posts on a Frenchman who’s been Svaned.

Today I met – hold your breath – a pro-American French. Yes, this species exists! He even told me that there is pro-American literature in France. He wrote the titles down for me on a little piece of paper (3.3 x 4.7 in). Well, what would you have expected?
And for some absurd reason I’ve spent the better part of a lifetime trying to figure out: it was also probably graph paper.

Man the Barricades! The Investors are Coming !

If anxious EUvians see all economics as warfare, their attempts at “going asymmetrical” are becoming hilarious:

French president Nicolas Sarkozy said he wants state-owned bank Caisse des Depots et Consignations (CDC) to form part of the defence of French companies in the face of attacks by speculative funds.

'In the face of the increasing power of extremely aggressive speculative funds and sovereign funds which do not obey economic logic (France is taking) the political and strategic choice to protect its companies, to give them the means to defend and develop themselves,' Sarkozy said.

'We are going to make the Caisse des Depots a tool in this policy of defence and the promotion of economic interests essential to the nation.'
While their coddled national champions are free to seek investment in foreign companies, not to mention pillaging the third world, as fair game.

Obviously pandering to the public, I don’t think Sarko quite gets that investment from abroad might be a good thing, and money might stop pouring into their little economic booby-hatch of a country.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

If Hillary wins, Americans are racist. If Obama wins, Americans are sexist.

Those naive Europeans and their obsession with American electoral politics.

“Economic growth imposes a hectic form of life, producing overwork, stress, nervous depression, cardiovascular disease and… the development of cancer"

In France and Germany, students are being forced to undergo a dangerous indoctrination. Taught that economic principles such as capitalism, free markets, and entrepreneurship are savage, unhealthy, and immoral, these children are raised on a diet of prejudice and bias. Rooting it out may determine whether Europe’s economies prosper or continue to be left behind.
Thus begins Stefan Theil's article in Foreign Policy (merci à RV). Makes you wonder, isn't it about time those oafish, clueless Americans start listening to the brilliant ideas of those more-lucid-than-thou products of the Europe's avant-garde educational system?

“Economic growth imposes a hectic form of life, producing overwork, stress, nervous depression, cardiovascular disease and, according to some, even the development of cancer,” asserts the three-volume Histoire du XXe siècle, a set of texts memorized by countless French high school students as they prepare for entrance exams to Sciences Po and other prestigious French universities. The past 20 years have “doubled wealth, doubled unemployment, poverty, and exclusion, whose ill effects constitute the background for a profound social malaise,” the text continues. Because the 21st century begins with “an awareness of the limits to growth and the risks posed to humanity [by economic growth],” any future prosperity “depends on the regulation of capitalism on a planetary scale.” Capitalism itself is described at various points in the text as “brutal,” “savage,” “neoliberal,” and “American.” This agitprop was published in 2005, not in 1972.

…French students … do not learn economics so much as a very specific, highly biased discourse about economics. When they graduate, they may not know much about supply and demand, or about the workings of a corporation. Instead, they will likely know inside-out the evils of “la McDonaldisation du monde” and the benefits of a “Tobin tax” on the movement of global capital. This kind of anticapitalist, antiglobalization discourse isn’t just the product of a few aging 1968ers writing for Le Monde Diplomatique; it is required learning in today’s French schools.

…Equally popular in Germany today are student workbooks on globalization. One such workbook includes sections headed “The Revival of Manchester Capitalism,” “The Brazilianization of Europe,” and “The Return of the Dark Ages.” India and China are successful, the book explains, because they have large, state-owned sectors and practice protectionism, while the societies with the freest markets lie in impoverished sub-Saharan Africa. Like many French and German books, this text suggests students learn more by contacting the antiglobalization group Attac, best known for organizing messy protests at the annual G-8 summits.

One might expect Europeans to view the world through a slightly left-of-center, social-democratic lens. The surprise is the intensity and depth of the anti-market bias being taught in Europe’s schools. Students learn that private companies destroy jobs while government policy creates them. Employers exploit while the state protects. Free markets offer chaos while government regulation brings order. Globalization is destructive, if not catastrophic. Business is a zero-sum game, the source of a litany of modern social problems.

…A likely alternative scenario may be that the changes wrought by globalization will awaken deeply held resentment against capitalism and, in many countries from Europe to Latin America, provide a fertile ground for populists and demagogues, a trend that is already manifesting itself in the sudden rise of many leftist movements today.
Investor's Business Daily writes that the
European Union, created to be an economic giant, will never fulfill its goal — not as long as two of its biggest economies continue to demonize capitalism and the free market.
More on Training a Generation of Anti-Americans and on The Opinions of 11-Year-Olds

"ne pas voter pour la beurette"

In a Le Monde article by Jean-Michel Normand, we learn more about the French, and especially about those Frenchmen (i.e., the left and, more specifically, the Socialist Party) who are constantly giving lessons on race relations to the Americans.
Certains de ces ["candidats issus de la diversité"], bien qu'enracinés de longue date, n'en sont pas moins confrontés aux réticences, voire à l'hostilité, des instances locales ou départementales du Parti socialiste. Le premier secrétaire, François Hollande, l'a reconnu : ces engagements, qui ne se sont encore que partiellement concrétisés, confirment l'existence, au sein du parti, de "certains préjugés, réticences et frilosités".

…Le parcours de M. Mammeri au sein du PS aura été moins aisé qu'il y paraît. "Tant que je me contentais de coller des affiches, tout allait pour le mieux mais, une fois devenu candidat, les choses se sont gâtées. L'appareil du parti n'a jamais cherché à me nuire ; c'est au niveau local que j'ai parfois été malmené", témoigne M. Mammeri, navré de devoir faire avec "cette vieille phobie de l'étranger qui étreint une partie du microcosme".

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Le "geste" des FARC confirme les relations étroites entre Hugo Chavez et les rebelles, qui disposent de centaines de camps de repli au Venezuela

In a Le Monde article, the former head of the AFP in Colombia and Venezuela, Jacques Thomet, comes clean.
En Colombie, Ingrid [Betancourt] n'a jamais été que l'un des 3 000 Colombiens aux mains des rebelles, et nul n'ignore qu'elle s'était jetée dans la gueule du loup en refusant d'obéir aux objurgations des services secrets de son pays qui l'avaient incitée, en vain, à ne pas poursuivre son chemin vers le repaire de la guérilla le 23 février 2002 (je garde par-devers moi un document secret qui le prouve). L'intervention publique de Jacques Chirac en sa faveur, sous la pression de Dominique de Villepin, a réussi à déformer la vision des médias français sur la tragédie colombienne. La scène y a longtemps opposé un méchant, Alvaro Uribe, à une guérilla "romantique" méprisée par le chef de l'Etat. Dans cette intrigue répétée sans relâche par la famille Betancourt, le président colombien endossait le rôle d'accusé.
Par ailleurs, le
"geste" des FARC [la promesse de libérer de trois otages] confirme les relations étroites entre Hugo Chavez et les rebelles, qui disposent de centaines de camps de repli au Venezuela sur les 2 300 km de frontière commune entre les deux pays.

Un véritable cirque médiatique est alors monté par le président vénézuélien, avec la complicité d'une sénatrice colombienne d'extrême gauche, Piedad Cordoba, [mais la] désillusion est totale … La fourberie des FARC a renforcé Alvaro Uribe, déstabilisé Hugo Chavez - muet depuis ces révélations - et, hélas, ridiculisé tous les pays qui avaient oublié d'imiter Ulysse en ne se faisant pas attacher au mât pour échapper à l'appel de sirènes encore plus dangereuses que dans la mythologie : la sanglante guérilla colombienne.

Update: Marie Delcas has an in-depth article about the FARC guerillas. Needless to say, the "good" guerillas, true believers they, are contrasted with the evil mercenary rightists who double as… drug addicts.
[Un ancien combattant] ne regrette ni ses années de guérilla ni sa décision de déserter. Mais il déteste qu'on le mette dans le même sac que les "paramilitaires démobilisés", ces membres des milices d'extrême droite qui ont abandonné la lutte armée dans le cadre d'un programme gouvernemental – "Des mercenaires qui ont fait la guerre pour du fric et qui se droguent. Nous, on y croyait à la révolution."
What's more, avant-garde lucid people will understand that, in the final analysis, there ain't much to fear from Manuel Marulanda's guerillas, those poor "sons of farmers":
Les combattants ne combattent guère. Ils se lèvent à 4 h 30 du matin. La journée passe entre exercices physiques, organisation de la garde, le bain dans le cours d'eau le plus proche, les corvées, l'instruction militaire ou les cours de marxisme. Les repas sont faits de riz, de lentilles et de haricots rouges. A 19 heures, tout le monde dort, hormis la garde.
And in the field, at least, they were respected, while in (capitalist) society, they are nothing.
"Mais dans le maquis on était respecté, dans la vie civile on n'est rien", résume Atahualpa.
Only at the very end do we get a couple of paragraphs about the drug trafficking that nourishes the movement. The very last sentence (La guerre n'est pas gagnée, mais les FARC ont depuis longtemps perdu) again suggests pity for the movement, suggesting in turn that the anyone who opposes it (the army, the rightists, the Americans, i.e., all the usual scoundrels) are unfair and blinded to continue to use violence on them.

Six weeks later, Marie Delcas is still at it, with more articles on 60 years of guerilla warfare and describing (i.e., accusing) the conservative government (of the 1940s) alone of "repression without mercy", the (today's) government's war on the guerillas as "without mercy", a government response to a attack by the principled guerillas (the "FARCs remain anchored in the misery of the rural world") as "the pretext for a brutal intervention", and the country's "social injustice" as "screaming out", as well as voicing her consternation at the continuing "popularity of President Alvaro Uribe".

Update 2: Laurent Artur du Plessis adds:
Cette libération a fait le jeu d’Hugo Chavez et des FARC. Le président vénézuélien a été à l’origine de cette opération, menée en collaboration avec Bogota et le Comité international de la Croix Rouge (CICR) dans la jungle colombienne. Il en a aussitôt entrepris l’exploitation politique, demandant le retrait des FARC – et de l’ELN (Armée de libération nationale – guévariste) – de la liste des groupes terroristes dans laquelle les États-Unis et l’Europe les ont insérées en 2005.

…En outre, la guérilla n’a guère envie de se départir d’Ingrid Betancourt : sans elle, elle retournera à l’oubli. Chavez, dont le projet de réforme constitutionnelle a été rejeté par 51 % des électeurs le 2 décembre dernier, utilise la libération des otages pour faire oublier ses échecs de politique intérieure.
Meanwhile, Nicolas Joxe strikes back at Jacques Thomet with multiple references to paramilitary rightists to which article Pablo Paisa replies (emphasis mine):
Joxe a raison d'évoquer le problème des paramilitaires mais il omet, ou nie, l'essentiel: Alvaro Uribe, avec le soutien de la vaste majorité des Colombiens, refuse toute concession politique aussi bien aux paramilitaires qu'aux FARC. S'il devait changer cette position, en réponse aux hallucinations de Chavez (improbable) ou à toute pression française, le résultat serait une tragédie pour la Colombie... et le courage de tous les otages n'aurait servi à rien.
And Denis L summarizes Joxe's piece (the Arte "documentary" director seems to be related to former interior/defense minister Pierre Joxe) as follows:
Des rumeurs (une vieille fiche de l'espionnage US, citée par un antiaméricain obsessionnel comme N. Joxe, c'est savoureux), des amalgames, la culpabilité par association familiale (un genre particulièrement nauséabond, qui m'autorise à faire observer que chez les Joxe, l'américanophobie frise la tare). Les faits: la Justice arrête des alliés de M. Uribe: quel meilleur brevet d'Etat de droit? Courage, M.Uribe (trop blanc et anticommuniste pour nos Médias), ne cédez rien aux preneurs d'otages!
Update 3: Following Joxe's article, Colombia's ambassador to Paris, Fernando Cepeda Ulloa, weighs in:
Alvaro Uribe, dans président de la Colombie depuis le 7 août 2002, un criminel ? Un politicien ayant des liens avec le "paramilitarisme" et les mafias ? Quelle ironie ! Quelle injustice et quelle incroyable et inadmissible déformation de la vérité !

Le président Uribe a été lui-même victime d'actes criminels. Son père fut assassiné par les FARC. Son frère, blessé par les FARC. Et lui-même a été la cible de plusieurs attentats auxquels il a échappé par miracle.

Le président Uribe a extradé vers les Etats-Unis plus de 700 criminels, qui, eux, oui, avaient des liens avec les mafias. Et parmi eux, deux membres des FARC qui sont jugés en ce moment dans ce pays pour trafic de drogue.

Le président Uribe a traqué sans répit les "paramilitaires". Pour la première fois, le gouvernement colombien a abattu au combat plus de 1 500 membres des groupes "paramilitaires", du jamais-vu dans les administrations précédentes.

Grâce au processus de paix et à la loi "justice et paix", 31 671 membres des groupes "paramilitaires" d'extrême droite et plus de 10 000 membres des guérillas ont à présent posé les armes et se sont réintégrés dans la société (...). Grâce au soutien du gouvernement, la Cour suprême de justice a reçu tous les moyens techniques et économiques afin de mener les enquêtes et collecter les preuves suffisantes pour émettre des mandats d'arrestation visant les hommes politiques liés aux groupes "paramilitaires".

Les crimes attribués aux membres du Congrès actuellement détenus ont été commis avant l'arrivée au pouvoir de ce gouvernement.

A Nation Asks with Bated Breath: Who Fingered Rashida ?

Severed finger mailed to French justice minister. Rubber glove at eleven. We now return you to your scheduled program.

- Thanky thanky to ¡No Pasarán! reader Shy Guy.

Welcome to readers of Jules Crittenden’s excellent Forward Movement blog. Take off your PPE, put your feet up, and stay awhile.

I hate You, Don’t Leave Me.

EUvians ask: where is the love?

European institutions suffered a big loss of trust among EU citizens in the last six months, despite citizens' support for EU membership reaching the highest in over a decade, according to a Eurobarometer poll published on Tuesday.
Maybe familiarity breeds contempt, or is it something else? Could this be a cyclical expression of the lot that licks the boot that kicks them?
Sebastian Kurpas from the Centre for European Policy Studies labelled the results "remarkable", but had no explanation for this outcome, in particular when bearing in mind that the German EU Presidency, which ended in June 2007, was widely seen as a success.
Actually I find it hugely unremarkable considering the imperial nature of what’s going on. The territory of the realm is expanding through bribery and economic intimidation. After all, can you imagine Romania asking itself what its’ prospects would look like were it to ‘go it alone’ adjacent to a giant economic zone that they would be otherwise restricted from trading with under a tariff regime?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Un "Maudit Français": "I shouldn't say this but I find the Quebeckers very… Anglo-Saxon" admits Françoise, as though this was the worst kind of insult

Benajamin Duffy's Québec adventure (more global warming in the region's "legendary harsh winters") makes for a hyperlink in the Wall Street Journal, no less.

The bitterness of the many disappointed French immigrants who had seen Canada through rose-tinted glasses
is palpable. Quebec is described as a matriarchal society ("Feministan") with failing infrastructures ("Kebekistan"). The Quebeckers are described as "intolerant racists" who speak an outdated and incorrect language, bask in their own ignorance and suffer from an inferiority complex that results in a loathing of "maudits Français" ("damned French").
…A Frenchman who has been living in Quebec for 11 years but now plans to leave, Yann complains among other things that he was not made aware of the appalling quality of health care [something Michael Moore failed to see while making Sicko, apparently]. "Sometimes you have to wait a whole day to see a doctor. Patients even have to wait on stretchers in the corridors, resources are so limited," he explains.
…Another element plays a part in the return rate: the culture shock. Their common language means that the French are unprepared for this. Many expect to find "an acre of France in America" rather than "America in French." And even then, it's not the same French. Johanna admits she still uses typical Quebecker expressions months after her return to France.
Language is only one aspect of the cultural divide faced by the French immigrant. The basic cultural precepts are also unique. "I know I shouldn't say this but I find the Quebeckers very… Anglo-Saxon," admits Françoise, as though this was the worst kind of insult. With their more right-wing economic vision, a culinary approach that is a long way from its French origins and policies based on individual freedom, the Quebeckers are first and foremost North-Americans.
Et oui nous disons "Les maudits Français" et vous que dites vous des Québécois...

Nous on dit ça pour rire, en France je me suis fait poser des questions sérieuses du genre "L'hiver à Mtl tu vas travailler en motoneige?" ou "Ça doit pas etre marrant d'aller dehors à -50 pour aller au WC?" ou encore "Vous dormez en habit de ski la nuit car des maisons en bois ça doit pas être chaud?", "Tu dois bien chanter?", "Tu connais Céline Dion?", "Ça doit être stressant de pas pouvoir sortir pendant des jours à cause d'une tempête de neige", et j'en ai tout une liste complète comme ça... Pendant 4 ans presque à tout les jours on m'a étiquetté comme ça... Ils sont hypochrites avec tout le monde...

C'est p-t pas nous traiter de con mais c'est vraiment nous prendre pour des cons...

Super, on vit dans des cabanes en bois au travers des orignaux avec nos bécosses dans cour en plein Montréal... Et malgré tout ça on arrive à faire un emission de TV qu'on entend parler jusqu'en France... WOW pour des bûcherons je nous trouve très forts...

C'est quand même bizarre que beaucoup de Français s'installent ici au Québec alors que les Québécois qui expérimentent la vie en France revient presque tous au Québec... P-t parce que même au bout de plusieurs années là-bas on se fait encore dire tout les jours "Ha vous etes Canadien!"... Non mais on peut pas vivre tout simplement sa petit vie comme tout le monde mais non... Quand t'es arabe t'es çi, quand t'es noir t'es ça, quand t'es Canadien t'es bucheron, ect... A part etre Francais pur laine pas moyen de vivre une vie tranquille normal... Toujours un commentaire par çi, un commentaire par là, un critique par çi, un exagération par là... En passant j'ai beaucoup beaucoup beaucoup voyagé dans le monde et nous ne sommes pas les seuls à dire "Maudit Français"... Hi hi hi

L'Irak n'a-t-il aucune dette envers la France ?

From the exceptional World Politics Review: In violation of the divine holy order of the UN Security Council’s resolution, the French government is continuing to resist Iraqi efforts to recover the financial assets of Saddam Hussein in France. According to George Malbrunot' recent investigative report in Le Figaro, some €23.48 million of Saddam's money remains blocked in French banks, withheld from the elected government of Iraq.

But perhaps the most startling revelation in the Malbrunot piece -- and the most relevant for American readers -- concerns the extent of Saddam's corporate holdings in France and, notably, in French publishing. Malbrunot writes:

Apart from the villa in Cannes and the assets frozen at the Banque de France, the Iraq of Saddam Hussein held shares in French companies via offshore corporations, based, notably, in Switzerland and Panama. One of these front corporations, Montana Management, held 8.4 percent of [the French publishing house] Hachette and 2.5 percent of [the French aeronautics and defense firm] Matra, prior to their fusion in Lagardère. The value of these shares is today estimated to be around €200 million. The former owner, Khalaf al-Dulaymi, a former Baath Party official close to Saddam Hussein, is supposed to have taken refuge in Jordan. . . . . Iraqi lawyers have demanded the seizure of the property of Dulaymi, who also possessed another front corporation named Midco, but Dulaymi has opposed the move.

Aérospatiale Matra was one of the founding members of the Franco-German aeronautics and defense consortium EADS, some 7.5 percent of whose shares continue to be controlled by Matra's parent company the Groupe Lagardère. The French publishing giant Hachette is likewise part of the Lagardère Group. In 2006, Hachette purchased Time Warner Books, thus becoming a major player also in American book publishing. Under its "Grand Central" imprint, the Hachette Book Group USA is the publisher, for instance, of comic Stephen Colbert's "I am America (And So Can You!)."
Which is about as humorless as anyone who read it twice, but that’s beside the point. Is this ideology at work, just the usual use of technicalities to grab a dead dictator’s loot, or an attempt to play ‘hide the weenie’ after Saddam’s connections came to be so widely known?

Of course a few commenter to the article in Le Figaro couldn’t just leave it at that, what with the conclusions and even the majority of comments showing some healthy anger at the amorality of holding back any funds from a post-dictatorial state in formation:
Tr.: Bravo to France

The international community recognised this Iraqi puppet regime under the American occupation, falsely sectarian regime that it is. As a product of the American occupation. This obscurantist criminal sectarian regime has no national or international legitimacy and death squads. Iraq is the most corrupt country in the world.
France should hold on to this money for the next Iraqi nationalist regime.
Why you do not reclaim it from others ?

from the Chinese or Dutch

Or Danes, or Belgians, or English, or Americans, or others

Or Saddam and Bush who declare war.
It hard not to laugh at the strange absence of any moral compass, what with those who depose dictators being no better than the dictator himself, or that the same lot yelled and screamed asking why they didn’t fight in Rwanda, when life showed them something that horrified them, as long as it’s always done by somebody else. It is, after all beneath the deep intellects who find “bravitude” in acting out a minor political vendetta on the new Iraqi government as a proxy for the hate-puppet they’ve been fixated on.

That must be when some of those drive-by commenters think of as blood and treasure.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Don't you Need Schade to have Schadenfreude?

l'empire américain est-il en train de s'effondrer ?
It seems to be making their nipples hard to think about the US unemployment rate "surrrrrging" to 5% while it's still only 2/3rds of the EU's earth-shattering "lookie-lookie-look-at-meeee!" 40 year record low of 7.5%. Europe hasn't seen a rate of 5% since the post-war years of manpower shrotages caused by huge number of dead.

In fact this lame blurb wants us to believe that the gap in figures between predictions and November US unemplyment data is "a deception". I suppose that if you think the world is static and the author is willing to discount the fact that European states constantly talk-up their futures and doctor their employment data, then, well, that's okay - for them, even if the euro-zone is still the OECD's sick man, weighing the aggregate rate of 5.5% with their 7.5% rate or able -bodied loafers. Come on, people... the world can't wait!

Otherwise that sideshow of caring, "income inequality" so important to the romper room social thinkers of the continent would also align employment, and would require 4 million Americans to be put out of work to salve their guilt-ridden spirits. Fat chance. The next public obsession will bring out the old saw about the EU catching a cold when the US sneezes. This might have to do with the fact that even as adults they refuse to build up an immunity for themselves.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

If there was only a Convention on the Torture of Statistics

I really want to know how you can torture data that gets you from here:

EU global image improving, US fading
to here:
While it is now perceived as the world's number one superpower by 81 percent of the respondents, 61 percent think the US will still be top world player in 13 years time.
Terminally obsessed with Welmacht, the report is titled “Who Rules the World”. The title and its’ motives alone offer far more veracity than it’s contents or conclusions.
The US is still seen as the world's number one superpower, while the EU ranks fifth
This, after saying that they are behind Russia which has one third the population of the EU, and that unimpeachable Mother Theresa human-rights, China. Actually it should say that China and Russia’s global image is improving – displacing the EU, but that would be unthinkable. More amusing still is who they asked:
Respondents to the survey from within the EU are the most optimistic about the bloc's future as a global actor, with percentages ranging from 80 percent in Germany, to 70 percent (UK), and 38 percent (France).
And they go on to suggest that some Russians imagine themselves a power, and so forth. In other words, far from being a survey on others’ image of EUtopia, it’s a survey that tells you just how in love people are with their own countries, and how thoroughly they believe the image constructed by it. The only people convinced that the EU is a “global actor” for a positive future of humanity are Europeans who think that it acts at all. It doesn’t. It does comparatively little compared to its’ wealth and writes a exposé every time a sac of rice is sent to someone they’re using to prop of their image of themselves. They bury the fact that of the 8911 people in this survey, only 1000 are from the US and each nation polled in the EU, and the don’t innumerate any further. In terms of population, this over-represents Germany, France, and the UK by a factor of two over Russia, and more than four times over the US.

They also absurdly call respondents “the world population” when they refer to the entire sample which come from 9 countries, 3 of which are in the EU.

It is nonetheless quite revealing. In terms of perceptions of just who is a world power, it arrives to the conclusion that the only people in the world who believe the EU is a world power are Germans and Britons. It also absurdly asserts Germans and Britons believe the UN, which is a forum (used mainly for political grandstanding,) and not a state actor, is actually a "world power".

Were it a world power it might act effectively on its' mandate, and there would be no hunger or disease left in the world. But it isn't. It's an extranational not supranational player which they try enoble the EU with by association. In fact they flatly and falsely assume that the EU is a supranational entity when it is in reality just a nation (a region functioning under a body of binding laws) incomplete in its formation.

Cloying for both pity and for someone to lick their boot, the motives behind ginning up this kind of non-story, one need look no further than the following emotional set-up. In fact this survey by Bertelsmann Stiftung discussed with Josef Janning both seem unnaturally preoccupied with improving Europe’s image by trashing America’s. Instead of quoting Janning, I’d rather quote a blogger who puts the motives and the methodology into some perspective with an emotional hostage-taking of her own:
At this time of year Ms R normally wants to go all Eastern European, gaze out of the window and say things like,“The frosts are early this year, there will be no apples," whereupon someone will put their head in their hands, a grandmother will start to sob uncontrollably and a small, disturbingly happy child will play with a broken musical toy.

Thanks to a very good friend, Ms R won't be indulging in this somewhat Chekovian tableau. Oh no. For the next week Ms R will be living like an European aristocrat or at least the Eurotrash lover of a Hedge Funder.
Unlike the desperate beings at Bertelsmann she’s actually self-aware enough to know the difference between sarcasm and a lie. This leads me back to the study which is actually only about the EU.
Whereas the majority of the Japanese population are undecided when it comes to cooperation with Europe (though the vast majority of those who can make up their minds is in favour of greater cooperation), the British population is especially sceptical about greater cooperation with the EU–almost a third of the British are against it, and only 60 per cent are in favour of the idea.

The population of the U.S. thinks differently. Here 78 per cent are in favour of greater cooperation with Europe. However, an interpretation of the results needs to take into account the level of cooperation which already exists with any particular country.
In other words the more familiar any of the people question are likely to be involved with the EU, the LESS likely they are to like the idea of cooperation with them – which makes one woder about the puff-pieces put out in the press about it: where did they find anything in the poll supporting ANY of their conclusions?

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