February 01, 2007

Stupid Americans

If only Americans were as smart and sophisticated as people in Europe, then we would see the brilliance in this statement from French President Jacques Chirac:

French President Jacques Chirac said in an interview with three newspapers that Iran's possession of a nuclear bomb would not be "very dangerous" and that if it used the weapon on Israel, Teheran would be immediately "razed.," (Article)

Let's see. Iran's possession of a nuclear bomb would not be very dangerous? Using it on Israel isn't dangerous? Why are we so stupid not to have seen that?! Wait. I bet that a threat of some U.N. resolutions has Iran as scared as Saddam Hussein was by similar threats. No problem!

(Oh, and Chirac's statement expresses his true views, as he made it when he thought he was off the record, so don't even bring up his next-day political back-tracking.)

We can always count on Europe to look down on us and to make us look stupid. Right? Yeah.


Iran President Vows to Push Nuke Program Feb 1, 7:26 PM

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad launched anniversary celebrations Thursday for Iran's Islamic Revolution with a defiant promise to push ahead with the country's controversial nuclear program. The Iranian leader said his government is determined to continue with its nuclear program, despite U.N. Security Council sanctions imposed over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, a process that can produce fuel to generate electricity or for the fissile core of an atomic bomb.

Looks like the U.N. has them them right where they want them.

Posted by Woody M. at 07:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 22, 2007

Switzerland's Immigration Problem

For all of our rich readers, you know who you are, and those who think that only the U.S. has an immigration problem....

Switzerland Considers Tax Increases to Stop Influx of Rich Foreigners

Switzerland, which has attracted millionaires from Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad to ex-Formula One champion Michael Schumacher, may raise taxes on rich foreigners after French singer Johnny Hallyday's move to the Alpine nation sparked criticism on both sides of the Franco-Swiss border.

On Jan. 9, Leuthard launched a Swiss debate by saying the current system was discriminatory.... Montebourg stepped up the tone...by saying ``the paradise for the financial aristocracy in Switzerland'' was ``hell for all working people.''

Maybe Switzerland needs a border wall along the Alps to keep those rich people from sneaking across. They're making harder to find a good place to stash away milllions of dollars. But, I'll trade our immigration problem for theirs.

From TaxProf Blog

Posted by Woody M. at 07:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 02, 2007

Big Government Knows No Bounds

Here's another case of big government headed by liberals who are determined to make eveyone conform to their standards no matter how ridiculous the rules and no matter how ridiculous the penalties. It's "we know what's best so you better do what we say or else." Here's part of the article on that with its comments:

EU stealing the crown of the great British pint

For more than 300 years, the stamp of the crown on top of a pub glass has stood as a guarantee that it is big enough to deliver a full pint. But this British tradition has now fallen victim to the extension of the EU's tentacles into national life....

Critics fear the loss of the crown will be followed by the loss of the pint itself, with British drinkers being required to switch to continental metric measures.

Consequently, the new glasses now appearing in British pubs and bars carry a CE mark - which, in French, stands for ‘European Conformity'.

Already greengrocers have been hauled before the courts for refusing to abide by EU rules that fresh produce must now be sold in kilos and grams, rather than pounds and ounces.

Yeah. Let's keep those grocers and tavern owners in place, especially since all of the big problems in Europe have been solved. What would we do without the left telling us how to live? With the Democrats taking over Congress this week, we might expect the same attitudes being expanded over U.S. citizens.

And of great concern, will this step change the focal point of "beer goggles?" Maybe the metric pub glasses could make even liberals look attractive--but, it might take a few more drinks.

Posted by Woody M. at 01:30 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

December 16, 2006

"What If's" on WWII and Iraq

In a recent comment, G.M. mentioned a post by Assistant Village Idiot, a regular and appreciated commenter on this site. (AVI doesn't mention the name of the village where he is the assistant, but let's hope that it's not the same village that Hillary Clinton wants to raise our kids.) But, to the point, AVI's post was "Change One Thing in WWII to improve the outcome." It makes for interesting thought and allows us to ask a lot of "what if's".

Now, a lot of people are asking "what if's" about the war in Iraq, and we have recently seen the results of the Iraq Study Group, which told us what it believes that we should be doing in that area of the world. The connection with AVI's post is that we may be asking a lot of "what if's" about Iraq in the future, just as we have with WWII, depending upon whether or not we accept the recommendations of this committee--and, many of those questions and answers could be similar.

Newt Gingrich, my former congressman, is a former history professor, and he has created interesting assessments in two articles of the group's recommendations and ties them into the response to World War II to deal with Hitler. After you read AVI's post, go to Newt's and see if we have learned anything from history.

The Baker-Hamilton Report: A Prescription for Surrender
by Newt Gingrinch 12/11/2006

The release of the report confirms a Washington establishment desire to avoid conflict and confrontation by "doing a deal." In the 1930s, that model was called appeasement, not realism, and it led to a disaster. Today, we need a Churchill not a Chamberlain policy for the Middle East.


Overview of the Iraq Study Group Report
by Newt Gingrinch 12/11/2006

Two weeks ago I outlined in the Winning the Future newsletter Eleven Key Tests for the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group report. I asked whether the report would make a real contribution in helping us win the war against the Fanatic wing of Islam, or whether it was simply going to be one more establishment effort to hide defeat so the American political system can resume its comfortable insider games without having to solve real problems in the larger world.

Here are the 11 key tests from two weeks ago and a brief assessment for how the ISG’s published report stacks up: (go to article)

Of course, this discusses future courses, which should be our focus. If you want to do "Monday morning quarterbacking" on Iraq, you can find plenty of that on the left-wing blogs, if you can stand them.

So, based upon where we are and what we have learned from history, what should be our future policies and actions in the mideast? I don't want a lot of "what if's" years from now. I want us to win this war and to do it right. How can we best do that? Who will be right?

Posted by Woody M. at 07:10 PM | Comments (22) | TrackBack (0)

October 25, 2006

Did Europe Ever Like America?

I shrug off Europe's criticism of the U.S., simply because I know that Europeans do it in great part because they are envious of us; plus, they do it so much that their criticism has lost its effect--at least, with rational people. What do I care what they think, as we have a lot better batting average than do they. However, I read something the other day that led me to realize that this disdain (maybe a better word than hate) started long ago.

Go back to Colonial America. Because of an abundance of wood from land clearing, settlers often constructed zig-zag fences, which were sturdy but might require almost eight-thousand logs per mile. That was considered wasteful by European standards, where they had earlier stripped their forests.

Here's where I realized that Europe's disdain for America existed long ago. I went on to read that a London newspaper in 1780 discussed America's "mania for enclosure" and went on to say, "The stripping of forests to build fortifications around personal property is a perfect example of the way those people in the New World live and think." How petty, and I suppose that our claim to independence didn't endear us to them, either.

Not much as changed in Europe's petty attacks against us today, and the descendants of "those people" in the U.S. still do things the way we want--because we can, and it's what's best for us.

So, the next time that you hear, "In Europe they do it a better way" or "America is always wrong," don't worry or give in to it. It's their problem--not ours. Be proud that our system is successful and that we live in a land that has become the envy of the world.

I think I'll go build a zig zag fence, because it seems right at this time.

Posted by Woody M. at 09:30 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

July 23, 2006

Don't You Know the French Are Mad

Congratulations to Floyd Landis and good for the U.S.

American Floyd Landis has won the Tour de France here following the 20th and final stage to succeed compatriot Lance Armstrong.

Think that the French will start trying to smear him, now? I gotta love it.

Posted by Woody M. at 04:20 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

May 07, 2006

Jean-François Revel: A Good Frenchman Passes On

It's too bad that the greatness of some people are discovered after they have passed on--but, it is the living who often lose out rather than the deceased. Such is the case with my personal regret for not having learned more about French philospher Jean-François Revel, who recently died. Making a living and raising a family took precedence over getting to better understand and appreciate this man who had a positive influence on President Ronald Reagan. Revel was a French leftist, but with a realistic and kind view of America, which brought him disdain from his peers. That gave him two qualities that I admire--discernment for the truth and the courage to stand up for what's right.

I don't have time today to do the subject justice, so be sure to go to the sites linked below and read what this recently deceased philospher came to learn and write about America. All quotes are excerpted, but I encourage you to read the entire link for each.

Jean-François Revel (© 2006 Telegraph Group Limited)

Jean-François Revel, who died on Saturday aged 82, was almost unique among French philosophers in being a champion of economic liberalism and an outspoken critic of the anti-Americanism of European intellectuals - particularly French ones.

On his visit to the States, Revel had been "astonished by evidence that everything Europeans were saying about the US was false"; and most of his book consisted of a heavily sarcastic point-by-point rebuttal of the knee-jerk, anti-American prejudices of the day. Europe's loss of leadership during the post-war era, in his opinion, had led to an irrational envy and resentment.

A definitive proof of the irrational origins of anti-American sentiment, he suggested, was to be found in the way in which critics often reproached the United States for some shortcoming, and then for its opposite.

"Without Marx or Jesus" became a best-seller in France and in the United States, but won almost universally hostile reviews from European critics. Revel's Swedish publisher was unable to get a single television interview for him, despite impressive sales; in Finland he was confronted on television by two "intellectuals" - one from Romania, the other from Poland; his Greek publisher composed a preface in which he begged his compatriots' pardon for having published the book.

Refusing to be daunted, Revel returned to the charge in "L'Obsession anti-americaine. Son fonctionnement, ses causes, ses inconsequences" (2003), in which he directed his heavy sarcasm at European intellectuals who claimed that America had brought the 9/11 terrorist attacks on itself and blamed her for impoverishing the developing world through globalisation. Slogans such as "No to terrorism. No to war", Revel wrote, were "about as intelligent as 'No to illness. No to medicine'."

But much of Revel's anger was directed at his fellow countrymen: "We French have had little to say against Saddam Hussein, Muammar Qaddafi, Kim Jong Il, Fidel Castro, Robert Mugabe, the imams of the Islamic Republic of Iran, or the bosses of China and Vietnam. We reserve our admonitions and our contempt and our attacks for Ronald Reagan and George W Bush."

Here are other links to help you appreciate this man and to help us better understand the frustrations that we continue to have with the left today. This first one is excellent.

In defense of the Stars and Stripes (© 2004 John Parker)
BOOK REVIEW: Anti-Americanism by Jean-Francois Revel

Many of Revel's observations about the anti-Americans, such as their amazingly recent advocacy (in many cases) of totalitarian communism, or the fact that many intellectuals in failed societies have sought to blame the US scapegoat instead of engaging in self-criticism, have been made before by other writers. He is at his most original, however, when analyzing the cultists' psychological motivations; for example, contrasting the motives of the anti-American left with the anti-American right. To wit, the left essentially regards the United States as a devil figure, one that it has clung to all the more tightly in the years since its former deity, Marxist collectivism, collapsed in an abyss of poverty and repression. The right, by contrast, resents the United States as a pretender to the throne of global leadership that rightfully belongs to Europe - conveniently ignoring the fact that World Wars I and II, communist ideology, and socialist-influenced economic policies, which are, in actuality, the main factors that resulted in US ascension, all originated entirely in Europe.

This article offers a lesson for the future of democracy.

Why Do Europeans Hate America? Jean-Francois Revel Explains by: Albert Mohler (© 11/11/2003 CrossWalk.com) [LINK FIXED]

"Democracy may, after all, turn out to have been a historical accident, a brief parenthesis that is closing before our eyes." With those words, French philosopher Jean-Francois Revel sounded an alarm as the ramparts of democratic conviction were under attack by the political left. Revel, one of the most important conservative thinkers in France, saw European intellectuals and the political left in America undermining the very foundations of democracy.

"Democracy tends to ignore, even deny, threats to its existence because it loathes doing what is needed to counter them," explained Revel. "It awakens only when the danger becomes deadly, imminent, evident. By then, either there is too little time left for it to save itself, or the price of survival has become crushingly high."

Revel's prescient warning to the European Left should also serve to educate thoughtful Americans about the challenge we face in Europe, which may be as daunting a challenge as that posed by Islamic terrorism. Something sick lies at the heart of Western civilization. The democracies that will surely perish will be those who cannot tell the difference between good and evil, survival and ruin, freedom and tyranny. Or, perhaps more to the point, the greatest danger faced by democracy are those who deny that there is any real difference after all.

And, be sure to check this one out--particularly near the end where Revel dscribes why many of us on the right automatically throw out any arguments from the left. Do I ever identify with this.

Europe's Anti-American Obsession
By Jean-Francois Revel (In the American Enterprise - December, 2003)

What picture of American society is likely to be imprinted on the consciousness of average Europeans? Given what they read or hear every day from intellectuals and politicians, they can hardly have any choice in the unpleasant particulars, especially if they happen to be French. The picture repeatedly sketched for them is as follows:

American society is entirely ruled by money. No other value, whether familial, moral, religious, civic, cultural, professional, or ethical has any potency in itself. Everything in America is a commodity, regarded and used exclusively for its material value. A person is judged solely by the worth of his bank account. Every U.S. President has been in the pockets of the oil companies, the military-industrial complex, the agricultural lobby, or the financial manipulators of Wall Street. America is the "jungle" par excellence of out-of-control, "savage" capitalism, where the rich are always becoming richer and fewer, while the poor are becoming poorer and more numerous. Poverty is the dominant social reality....

...The great irony of this anti-American obsession is that it aggravates the evil that it aims to extirpate, namely the go it-alone impulse famously ascribed to the U.S. By criticizing the Americans whatever they do, on every occasion--even when they are completely right--Europeans (we are not alone in this, but we lead the dance) compel Americans to disregard our objections--even when we are right. The American reflex, conditioned by the constant avalanche of anathemas coming at them, causes them to keep thinking: "They're always blaming us, so why consult them at all? We already know they'll vilify us."

And so America's enemies and allies alike, valuing animosity toward the U.S. over influence on her, condemn themselves to impotence. In the process they strengthen the American superpower.

Does Jean-François Revel express some of your views in these writings? He does mine, and, while I regret not knowing more about him before, I'm glad that I do now, as he helps me to understand and explain to others my feelings and positions about the left and, on a more positive view, my views on America. I hope that you found this interesting and that you will do more research yourself on Jean-François Revel and his writings.

Posted by Woody M. at 03:20 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

May 03, 2006

Let's Be Like France! Yeah, right.

I'm often told by leftists that everything is better in France and Europe in general than in the U.S. Judge for yourself. We would want this? The left is often arrogant and more often wrong.

Hope for France?

Resistance to reform has been cemented in many Western European countries as a consequence of the political rhetoric for decades. If people have been listening to the same thing over and over again, they will start to believe it: "The European Social Model is superior both when it comes to economic efficiency and social justice," is the ruling mantra. Recent campaigns on that theme - and against others such as the US - make the problem even worse.

The model perpetuates itself. Government agencies that have been created to centrally plan parts of society and people's lives will do all they can to show they are still necessary. And when a majority of the adult population - the voters - are dependent on the state for their income and welfare, they will act to preserve the system. The insiders will try to protect what they believe is a privileged position.

Posted by Woody M. at 12:02 AM | Comments (3)

April 04, 2006

The French, The Left and Idiocy

A curiosity has arisen, why have the left in this country abandoned the ideals of leftism and begun to profile those of different races/cultures?

"What's that," you say, "the left is profiling?"

Yep, it began with the insistance that Dubai Ports NOT be allowed to operate shipping in ports (they were never going to be in charge of security). In essence, the left (and too damn many on the right) said, in essence, "Whoa now!" We can't have a bunch of Arabs controling our port security and business; never mind that as I said port security would still be the responsibility of the United States and never mind that Dubai Ports has been operating other US ports for years with no problems what so ever and never mind that Dubai has been our partner in the war on terror. Nope, not that bunch of Arabs.

"Well," you say, "that's not really profiling now." Yes it is!

Now comes the left and the so called progressives doing it again. This time, in support of those poor benighted French student's from the Sorbonne and other institutes of higher education.

The issue is guaranteed jobs. In France, before Chirac signs the new CPE law or "contrat première embauche" (very loosely translated as "First Employment Contract") the old law said that once hired, you practically couldn't be fired. The result is that France is not able to compete in the world marketplace, unemployment routinely runs in excess of nine or ten percent and unemployment among immegrants to France is astronomical. Yet, here is the left supporting the students for the most part. One Michael Balter, an obviously very smart fellow, but a lefty none-the-less (by the way, I've read his book The Goddess And The Bull and it is pretty damn brilliant) has opined in Marc Cooper's Blog:

Readers of my comments in this space about last November's riots will recall that I usually approach these situations with mixed feelings. There is little doubt that the government's approach--creating jobs by making it easier for employers to exploit workers--is nothing more than a provocation in a country that prides itself on its social protections. Few people here look with admiration on the American model, in which employers have a nearly free hand in keeping wages, benefits, and employment protection to a minimum not only for young people but for a significant percentage of the nation's workforce. Wal-Mart would have a hard time making it in France, even if some Americans--usually the better off ones--think that workers should be grateful to have jobs at all.

On the other hand, as I have said before, the French model also leaves much to be desired. Certainly, job creation has to involve a lot more than pandering to the capitalist class's natural desire to increase its profits. And here is where the social protections, when interpreted rigidly--and that is exactly how most French unions do interpret them--often stand in the way. The French economy is stagnant and lacking in dynamism, and the unemployment figures--more than 10 percent amongst all workers and an average 22 percent among workers aged 15-24 years--are just one of the most important symptoms of this malaise.

Wow, acknowledges that something needs to be done but lables what seems to be a fairly good way to work in market forces as "...creating jobs by making it easier for employers to exploit workers..."

But, there is something left out of this equation. Last November we witnessed the rioting in France by a bunch of disaffected (mostly) Muslim youth and one of their major complaints was lack of opportunity/lack of jobs. Yet, here is the left supporting the Sorbonne Grads (I'm only using them for a foil if you happen to be a graduate of the Sorbonne) against Muslim youth who desperately need jobs if they are ever to assimilate. Though, personally I don't think that they will be allowed to, they just aren't "FRENCH" enough.

Then, you have institutions like New York University who won't allow cartoons of Muhammad to be shown in an open, public discussion of the riots sparked by the cartoons. Because the Muslims might riot! NYU's response to the kerfuffle? In part because:

(1) "NYU has to be concerned with its students' safety and well-being, which are among the factors that drove our decision in this matter."

(2) The decision was also based partly on NYU's "larger obligation as a university to the sensibilities of its students," many of whom are offended by the cartoons.

(3) As to the policy, "No-one's speech was curtailed." "If you read the policy, it talks about speakers' speech being curtailed, and to the best of my knowledge none of the speakers were the cartoons' authors."

So, three examples: 1) No Arabs can run the ports; 2) French Arab youth must remain unemployed and 3) Muslims are violent by nature and can't tolerate a bunch of damned cartoons.

Yeppers, looks like profiling by me!

UPDATE: USA Today has an interesting article regarding who is striking/rioting and why:

Chirac's compromise was not enough, said Claude Olivier, 20, who attends the University of Paris VI. "The idea of opening up jobs is good," he said. "There is so much unemployment among youth. And the idea of giving them trial periods, two years or one year, is good. But not for an employer to fire you at any time."

To let employers more easily fire workers adds to a sense of an uncertain future among young people, he said. "Not only are there not enough jobs, young people cannot afford a place to live or buy a car," he said. "There is no job security."

They seem to be saying "I really want that omlette (actually, I demand it), but please don't break any eggs!"

Posted by GM Roper at 08:09 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (2)

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