Saturday, August 30, 2014

The wise, disinterested experts of the regulatory state will deliver progress for our own good, whether we understand it or not

Government requires trust. Government by progressives, however, demands such inordinate amounts of trust that the demand itself should provoke distrust. Progressivism can be distilled into two words: “Trust us.”
Thus writes George Will (thanks to Instapundit and Ed Driscoll).
The antecedent of the pronoun is: The wise, disinterested experts through whom the vast powers of the regulatory state’s executive branch will deliver progress for our own good, as the executive branch understands this, whether we understand it or not. Lois Lerner is the scowling face of this state, which has earned Americans’ distrust. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

From now on France can forget recovery, forget unemployment, it’s all about politicians’ egos

Monday, Stephen Clarke heard that Arnaud Montebourg, the economy minister, has resigned;
it turns out that he has been saying a bit too loudly that he doesn’t agree with the government’s economic policies (a bit rich from the man who accepted the job of conceiving and implementing them, one might think) and that he has been “resigned”. In fact the PM Manuel Valls has decided that he’s had enough of sniping ministers and has announced to President Hollande that his government has resigned, which simply means that he is going to have a massive ministerial reshuffle.

Montebourg wasn’t the first by any means to start openly criticizing Francois Hollande. The knives are out. A former ecology minister Cecile Duflot has just ripped into him in a book. Other left-wing figures having been queuing up to distance themselves from Hollande.

It’s no coincidence, of course. The politicians are well aware that ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy is preparing his comeback, and that the Socialists need someone strong, and new, to stand against him. They’re all thinking “pourquoi pas moi?” This naturally involves forgetting that the elections are three years away and that France needs to be governed in the meantime.

Three years till presidential elections, and the campaign is under way. From now on the country can forget recovery, forget unemployment, it’s all about politicians’ egos. As if it was ever any different.

From now on, I predict non-stop rumours about who wants to run for President, a glut of new parties, and endless speeches about how moi and only moi can save the country – despite the fact that all I’ve done for the past three years is sit back and criticise.

Oh joy …

The BBC reports that a
central aim of his latest reshuffle is to replace those left-wing critics [Arnaud Montebourg (L), Benoit Hamon (C) and Aurelie Filippetti (R)] with more sympathetic minds, and give President Hollande's economic drive a boost.

Key among the new appointments announced on Tuesday is a fresh face in government. Emmanuel Macron is a former banker and economic adviser to the president who now takes up the job of economy minister.

His key selling point is that he shares the president's pro-business, centre-right vision - unlike his predecessor.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

White Americans avoid speaking the truth aloud for reasons of racial guilt and black Americans avoid saying it for reasons of racial solidarity, but no one is really fooled

The tragic death of Michael Brown, an eighteen year old black man, at the hands of the police, has sparked days of rioting and looting in Ferguson, Missouri. His community rallied around him from the start, telling reporters that Mike Brown was a great kid who was shot down “like an animal” because of his race.
Thus writes Benny Huang.
Unfortunately, the portrait they painted of the gentle giant wasn’t entirely accurate.

 … The version of the story that portrays Brown as a hapless victim of racism and police brutality is quickly unraveling. He was not shot in the back as Brown’s friend Dorian Johnson, a witness to the killing (and accomplice to the robbery), claims. Nor was he shot for jaywalking as ludicrous early reports indicated. Brown robbed a store then attempted to take a police officer’s gun, presumably to shoot him with it.
Either Brown’s die-hard supporters are truly mistaken about what happened on August 9th or else they know that the story is a concoction and they just don’t care.
The Michael Brown case is starting to look a lot like a warmed over version of the Duke lacrosse case, the Trayvon Martin case, and the Tawana Brawley case. In other words, a rush to judgment has resulted in a lynch mob mentality.

Yet I suspect that most black Americans know, in their heart of hearts, that the fictional narrative being foisted upon the nation is a sham. The black citizens of Ferguson are doing what blacks tend to do whenever a racial controversy erupts—presenting a united front to the outside world. It’s a form of tribalism that would rightly be called racism if white people did it, which they occasionally do.

No one knows better than black Americans that there’s something amiss in black America. They know that black-on-black crime is a far greater threat than the supposedly racist cops who patrol their streets and that their values and priorities are out of whack, yet they prefer to discuss these matters when only black ears are listening.

 … A code of silence dictates that black criticisms of black behavior be kept in-house. If outsiders were to overhear them admitting that blacks need to straighten up and fly right they might take it as confirmation that “the system” is not broken; black culture is. “Racists” might exploit that.

Comedian Bill Cosby was chided in 2004 for his remarks at an NAACP function marking the fiftieth anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. The thrust of his remarks was that black Americans should forgo any celebration about how far they’ve come since the fifties and sixties because blacks themselves have largely squandered the gains they struggled for. The black community needs to do some soul-searching about what really ails them—white racism or black attitudes and habits? 
While most black leaders found Bill Cosby’s remarks abrasive, some admitted that they sometimes say the same things to black audiences. Cosby’s transgression was to air the black community’s “dirty laundry” for the whole world to see. In fairness to Cosby, he didn’t know his comments would leak to the media. He believed he was speaking entre nous.
Cosby has responded on several occasions to accusations of airing dirty laundry.   “When you go looking for the dirty laundry, I would appreciate it if you would direct your attention to a school where there is, for sure, a fifty per cent dropout rate among black males. And don’t forget the guards, the ones that have to check for the guns and the knives. Shhhh.This will be our personal little black secret.”  What Cosby meant is that black delinquency and underachievement is the worst kept secret in the world. Hiding the problems isn’t working because anyone with eyes can see them. White Americans avoid speaking the truth aloud for reasons of racial guilt and black Americans avoid saying it for reasons of racial solidarity, but no one is really fooled.

Monday, August 25, 2014

French-Speaking History Professor: Say No to Pro-Russian Propaganda and Do Not Engage in Moral Relativism

Depuis le début de la crise ukrainienne, un discours structuré de défense systématique des actions de la Russie est très dynamique sur les réseaux sociaux, dans des médias officiels russes publiés en français et leurs relais d’opinion en France. Il relève d’une propagande qui joue habilement sur un aspect commun à plusieurs cultures politiques françaises, l’anti-impérialisme, lui permettant de trouver un écho dans des milieux politiques variés. 
In the face of what he calls all the pro-Russian propaganda present in France, Olivier Schmitt has decided to protest in Le Monde:

 … le relativisme moral est mal placé. D’un côté, une démocratie dont les dirigeants sont régulièrement renouvelés, les soldats sanctionnés lorsqu’ils violent le droit international humanitaire, qui dispose d’une presse libre et reconnaît les droits des minorités.

De l’autre, un Etat autoritaire, dont la brutalité des troupes s’exerce en Tchétchénie, en Géorgie et en Ukraine, où les homosexuels sont pourchassés et la liberté d’expression un concept oublié. Personne ne dit que les Etats-Unis sont parfaits, mais créer une équivalence morale entre les deux pays relève de la cécité ou de la complicité.

Vladimir Poutine veut être entouré d’Etats vassalisés – auxquels il dénie donc la souveraineté qu’il prétend défendre par ailleurs – et, obnubilé par son maintien au pouvoir, ne peut pas concevoir qu’une révolution telle que le soulèvement de Maïdan à Kiev ne soit pas forcément un complot américain.

L’exploitation habile par la propagande russe de divers aspects de l’anti-impérialisme commun à plusieurs courants politiques français fausse ainsi la perception d’une politique russe particulièrement inquiétante pour la sécurité de l’Europe et de la France.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Almost impossible for anyone to set up their own business in France because the administrative costs are so high

The French economy is not in a great place right now
writes Mark Johnson,
but my heart still sinks when I see that yet another local business has closed down in the nearby towns round my part of rural France.
Recently, I noticed that the local kitchen and bathroom business in the enclave of Savigné had shut its doors for good. To be honest, I wasn’t surprised, they’d once quoted me €28,500 for two bathroom renovations.

An English expat friend, who owns a beautiful seven bedroom chateau in the Limousin, collapsed in fits of laughter at that quote, saying he’d managed to install five luxury bathrooms for less than €12,000.

But, while President Hollande dithers over how to get the nation back on its economic feet, business owners, employees and their suppliers are counting the cost in real terms of a country that refuses to modernise and create opportunities for the next generation of local entrepreneurs.

This is nothing new of course. Years ago, when I lived in the thriving Arabian emirate of Dubai, I met loads of young French folk who had forsaken their homeland for a nation that would encourage entrepreneurialism and reward their hard work.

One French friend said that it was almost impossible for anyone to set up their own business in France because the administrative costs are so high that you need to already have a fortune in order to get going. Even today, there’s a pile of government regulations and a raft of taxes to pay before you even serve your first customer. “That’s why so many people in France work for the government,” she said.