Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Ham Sandwich: Proof of France’s inherent conservatism

What’s in a French sandwich? asks Stephen Clarke.
 … on my way to London on the train, I was reading a fascinating French article about a study that purports to measure the cost of living in various towns and cities in France by comparing the price of a staple food: le jambon-beurre, or ham sandwich [a length of baguette filled with butter and a slice or two of ham].

 … The most surprising thing about the study, though, was the revelation that of the 2.19 billion sandwiches sold in France in 2014 (by my calculation that’s about 43 sandwiches per French person in possession of teeth), a whopping 58 per cent of them were “au jambon“. That’s not just a popular sandwich – it’s a totalitarian régime. Of the other 42 per cent I’d be willing to bet that another 30 per cent are “mixte” which usually means jambon-fromage. And then at least 10 will be fromage (usually gruyère) or saucisson (salami).

 … The sandwich statistic is, I think, yet more proof of France’s inherent conservatism. Give your average Parisian the chance to open up a sandwich shop and they’ll opt to go the way of the 58 per cent. (I say average because there are of course some people who go crazy and open bagel shops, pitta parlours, smoked fish stores and even gluten-free havens). Give your average Londoner the same opportunity and watch out for flying halloumi.

There is nothing wrong with this, by the look of things. The French truly love their jambon-beurre, and we all love France for its eternal Frenchness.  I’m the same when it comes to beer. I want beer that tastes of beer. Start wafting fruit juice or honey or chocolate anywhere near a beer barrel, as many people are doing these days, and I will howl with outrage. To each their own conservatism.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Following the Charlie Hebdo Massacre, the Le Pens' Front National Is Back in the News

Marine Le Pen … who campaigns on an anti-immigration and anti-European platform, is increasingly seen as a serious presidential candidate in the 2017 elections
writes Susan Dominus in a lengthy New York Times Magazine piece…
 … a recent poll found that if Le Pen ran for president now, she would finish ahead of all presumed contenders, including Nicolas Sarkozy, a conservative former president of France, and François Hollande, the current Socialist president. Much of her party’s support comes from regions far from Paris, in areas gutted by deindustrialization or in tiny towns struggling with budget cuts and trying to keep traditional village life going
There are many who find good things to say about France's Front National — notably the party's attempt to get rid, or to diminish the number, of the repressive and extortionate radars ubiquitous on all the country's highways — but just because the party is said to be a part of the right should not let people forget such things as the fact that Marine Le Pen is a critic of the free market and an interventionist in favor of a strong state (like all the other politicians) — having indeed said that "Obama is way to the right of us” (!) — and that France ought to "turn its back" on the American "hyper-power" and "turn towards Russia" and its leader, Vladimir Putin.

Indeed, the New York Times' Susan Dominus writes that
Both anti-establishment and populist, the National Front has cast itself as a party for the little people, with a mix of proposals that confound current American notions of right and left. Its platform calls for the preservation of local services, protectionist trade policies and higher taxes on the rich…

Vincent Pons, a French academic [and] a campaign expert — a company he founded provides technological support to candidates — reminded me how difficult it is to map basic American assumptions onto the French political landscape. “In France, officially, we don’t have race,” he said; it is illegal, for example, to ask about race or religion on any government form. “We just pretend that race does not matter, but it’s this crazy thing — of course it matters,” he said. “There are no statistics, so you can make no policy around it. But even if you tried, you’d be accused of making too much of race.”
Dans l'émission Toutes Les France sur la chaîne France Ô, Erwan Lecoeur et François Durpaire débattent Alexandre Del Valle et Jean Robin sur le sujet "FN et Pouvoir (Si Loin, Si Proche)". Ce dernier, éditeur d'Enquête & Débat, essaie de dénoncer la censure généralisée.

Toutes les France 1ère (dernière?) télé Jean Robin par enquete-debat

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Supporting School Choice is Being “Pro-Children”

As strange as it may sound, Carine Martinez-Gouhier informs us — over at the Bell Towers — that Texas, in spite of its libertarian credentials, is singularly lacking in school choice.
In 2015, the State of Texas is the envy of the rest of the United States. Thanks to its low taxes, a relatively small regulatory system, a limited government, Texas created more than 450,000 in 2014, the highest net nonfarm job growth in the nation. The Texas Model is thriving. The freer the markets, the more options people have for jobs, for products and services, and for opportunities.

Yet, there is something that the Lone Star State surprisingly falls short on: school choice.
And why should one be in favor (anywhere — in Texas, in another State, or abroad) of amplifying choice? asks Carine in another post. Because Supporting School Choice is Being “Pro-Children”.  At
Archbishop Carroll High School, a catholic private high school [in Washington, DC, we] saw students that were eager to participate, with teachers walking around the classroom. Clearly teachers are, as we would often hear, “in front of their students” and not behind their desk. The average class size is 20-24 with an 11 to 1 student/teacher ratio. Students [76% of whom describe themselves as African-American] were amazingly focused. No computer, or tablet are used: the Principal explained that they chose not to use new technologies systematically, but are open to let student use their computer or tablet if they wish.
Read the whole thing to learn about Carine's visit to Achievement Prep (also in Washington, DC) and Founders Classical Academy (in Texas).
If such stories, featured for everyone to see in documentaries such as Waiting for Superman, or The Ticket, are not enough to make the case for school choice, it is hard to know what is.
But what exactly was it that made this French immigrant better understand the whole debate? Carine lists Five Themes (click the link)…

Monday, March 16, 2015

“Fake but accurate” seems to be the liberals' guiding philosophy—usually cultivated at the expense of actual people, their lives, and their reputations

“Hands up, don’t shoot!”—the rallying cry of the Ferguson protestors (or rioters, in some cases)—was always a fiction, the Department of Justice admitted last week.
Thus does Benny Huang begin his acid trip (sic) Inside the Leftist Mind: The Primacy of Narrative Over Facts.
Michael Brown’s hands were not up and he was not attempting to surrender when Officer Darren Wilson killed him in self-defense.

That Eric Holder is finally admitting this, five months after autopsy results indicated that Brown’s hands must have been at his side, is progress, I suppose. But don’t expect too much from the attorney general too quickly. Baby steps. Despite admitting that there’s no evidence that Officer Wilson did anything wrong, Holder still wants us to contemplate why so many people believed the lie. “It remains not only valid – but essential – to question how such a strong alternative version of events was able to take hold so swiftly, and be accepted so readily,” he said.

Holder’s clear implication is that the lie could only have gotten legs if it had the ring of authenticity in the ears of Ferguson’s black citizens. So even though it’s not technically true, let’s all pretend that it speaks to the larger truth that white cops routinely gun down defenseless black males for sport.
Which they don’t. In this great big country we live in, liberals have tried and failed to evidence even one example of cops wantonly murdering unarmed blacks out of racist motives.

 … What Holder is trying to say is that even though the “alternative version of events” has been thoroughly debunked, the narrative lives on. It always does. 
The primacy of narrative over facts is perhaps the greatest enigma of the leftist mind. “Fake but accurate” seems to be their guiding philosophy, as evidenced by the 2004 Rathergate scandal. Seemingly intelligent people really believe that it doesn’t matter that Matthew Shepard wasn’t the victim of a “homophobic” hate crime because surely someone else was. The same people also find it immaterial that Crystal Mangum wasn’t actually raped by three Duke lacrosse players because white men have been raping black women since slave times.

In place of facts they prefer compelling narrative, usually cultivated at the expense of actual people, their lives and reputations. The now utterly debunked UVA rape story that Rolling Stone ran in November is an excellent example. Reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely failed to conduct even the most basic fact checking; in fact, she promised not to contact the accused rapists as a condition of getting her exclusive interview with “Jackie,” the alleged victim, who turned out to be a fraud.

 … This tendency to elevate the narrative over the facts is not a new feature of the Left. Consider Ray Mungo, the radical 1960s journalist and co-founder of the Liberation New Service, a wire service for the underground press. Mungo admitted in his 1970 memoir, Famous Long Ago, “Facts are less important than truth and the two are far from equivalent, you see; for cold facts are nearly always boring and may even distort the truth, but Truth is the highest achievement of human expression.”

 … What liberals fail to realize is that their narrative, if it is to be worth anything, must be supported by facts. Like a house standing on a crumbling foundation, their larger, capital-T Truth cannot remain upright while its foundation of smaller truths—what used to be called “facts”—dissipates. But alas, for liberals, it can. A myriad of concrete examples can turn out to be bogus and their narrative will still hold, because they “know” they are correct in the abstract. In their own minds, they are still right even when they’re wrong, and truthful even when they’re lying.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Global Warming? 30 Years Ago, It Was the Ice Age We Were Supposed to Fear

Remember When the Media Was Terrified of the Coming Ice Age? asks Onan Coca regarding the global warming scare.

I know; it's almost as if one might be allowed to think that our self-described élites are not the purveyors of wisdom but little more than simple drama queens. !