>Andrew Klavan has written a great piece in the current issue of City Journal that really nails some of the differences between left and right, which is in the same vein as a couple of my posts from earlier in the year.
The thing I like best about being a conservative is that I don’t have to lie. I don’t have to pretend that men and women are the same. I don’t have to declare that failed or oppressive cultures are as good as mine. I don’t have to say that everyone’s special or that the rich cause poverty or that all religions are a path to God. I don’t have to claim that a bad writer like Alice Walker is a good one or that a good writer like Toni Morrison is a great one. I don’t have to pretend that Islam means peace.
Alright. Show’s over. Sums up everything in one short sentence. There’s more? Great!
Of course, like everything, this candor has its price. A politics that depends on honesty will be, by nature, often impolite. Good manners and hypocrisy are intimately intertwined, and so conservatives, with their gimlet-eyed view of the world, are always susceptible to charges of incivility. It’s not really nice, you know, to describe things as they are.
Don’t hurt people’s feelings. Don’t judge people. Don’t deny the self esteem movement.
This is leftism’s great strength: it’s all white lies. That’s its only advantage, as far as I can tell. None of its programs actually works, after all. From statism and income redistribution to liberalized criminal laws and multiculturalism, from its assault on religion to its redefinition of family, leftist policies have made the common life worse wherever they’re installed. But because it depends on—indeed is defined by—describing the human condition inaccurately, leftism is nothing if not polite. With its tortuous attempts to rename unpleasant facts out of existence—he’s not crippled, dear, he’s handicapped; it’s not a slum, it’s an inner city; it’s not surrender, it’s redeployment—leftism has outlived its own failure by hiding itself within the most labyrinthine construct of social delicacy since Victoria was queen.
I don’t think he goes hard enough when saying it’s all white lies. Cultural relativism and political correctness are a black cloud in the sky of Western civilization.
This is no small thing. To rewrite the rules of courteous behavior is to wield enormous power. I see it in Southern California, in the bleeding heart of leftism, where I live. I’ve been banned from my monthly poker game, lost tennis partners, lost friends—not because I’m belligerent but because I’ve wondered aloud if the people shouldn’t be allowed to make their own abortion laws, say, or if the world might not be a better place without the UN.
If you’re getting banned from poker games and losing friends for suggesting that the world might be a better place without the UN then you really are hanging around in some desperate company.
It’s a rotten feeling. I sometimes think that I’d rather be deemed evil than a boor. Wickedness has some flair to it, even a whiff of radicalism. If you molest a child, there’s always a chance that you can get the ACLU to defend you as a cultural innovator. But if you make a remark at table about the destructive social effects of broken homes and then discover that your dinner partner is a divorcée — trust me, you feel like a real louse. It’s manners, not morals, that lay the borderlines of our behavior.
This, I believe, is the reason conservative politicians so often lose their nerve, why they back down in debate even when they’re clearly right. No one wants to be condemned as a brute — especially not conservatives, who still retain some vague memory of how worthy it is to be a lady or gentleman.
And because we’ve allowed leftists to define the language of political good manners—don’t say women are less scientific; don’t remark that black people bear the same responsibility for their actions as whites; don’t point out that the gunman was a Muslim, it’s not nice—the sort of person willing to speak the truth isn’t always the sort of person you want to be seen with. It sometimes takes, I mean, a Rush Limbaugh or a Sean Hannity to withstand the obloquy attached to stating the facts of the matter. If these people in their public personae seem harsh to more genteel conservatives, it may be because it requires that extra dollop of aggression to shatter the silence created by the Left’s increasingly elaborate sensitivities.
Still, mannerly as we would rather be, truth-telling continues to be both compelling and ultimately satisfying. There is, after all, something greater than courtesy. “Firmness in the right,” Lincoln called it, “as God gives us to see the right.” We find ourselves at a precarious moment in an endeavor of great importance: namely, the preservation of Western rationalism and liberty. It does mankind no good to allow so magnificent an enterprise to slip away merely for fear of saying the wrong thing.
Whenever a conservative makes some moral transgression be it Don Imus’ nitwit comment recently or Ann Coulter’s ‘fag’ joke or some senator visiting a prostitute there’s a veritable cosmic shower of leftist comets that come their way. When Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson or Bill Clinton or a host of other left wing ‘icons’ or associates do the same thing then they get a free pass. It must be because they’re part of a victim group. Of course.
Does the left ever recognise the irony of these attacks? That they hold conservatives to a higher moral standard than themselves?
Klavan is dead right. The thing I like best about being a conservative is that I don’t have to lie.
>Most of you should by now have worked out that I have a low opinion of France, which I deem to be the World’s Worst Country. As a colonial power they oversaw the abject destruction of nearly every society in their empire. The debacle of Vietnam came about due to their miserable incompetence. As one of the Big Three of the EU they’ve used that power to extort unconscionable agriculture deals from politically weaker states, which is what’s been propping up their dodgy economy for the last 10 or so years. As a member of the Security Council they’ve ensured that anything that makes the US look good is vetoed, or horribly hamstrung so it can’t be effective, in spite of its moral correctness such as was the case with Bosnia, Rwanda, Iraq and Somalia. As an ally they’ve proved feckless at best and treacherous at worst. As a direct enemy they’ve proved to have no spine or moral conviction. It’s a pity that they weren’t on the other side during the last two world wars. Would have made our task much easier.
As reported by the BBC:
Many French people say they are anti globalisation, but paradoxically France has launched dozens of world beating brands and grown rich on free trade.
Lucky for France that there are still a few realists in the place who understand how the world works, have embraced globalisation and reaped the rewards that are used to pay for the majority of cocooned from reality, nanny state no-hopers.
A poll recently conducted by an American university sent shock waves through the Finance Ministry in Paris. Researchers found that only just over a third of French people think a free market economy is the best system to develop the country.
Most of us would think that the shock waves are due to the figure being so low. Au contraire, mon ami. Surely it was because the figure was at least triple what they expected? The result was so good that it probably caused much celebration within the Finance Ministry whose management immediately broke out cheese and wine and took the rest of the day off. And why not? After all, it was 10AM.
By way of contrast, the survey found that a majority of citizens in 19 other countries were in favour of the free market, including 65% of Germans, 59% of Italians, 66% of the British and 74% of the Chinese. Even the Russians, many of whom have suffered in a painful transition to a market economy, were more favourable at 43%.
What the heck do the other 35% of Germans, 41% of Italians etc want? A closed market? Do 34% of Britons really want to go back to the pre-Thatcher days when union chaos was tearing the fabric of society asunder? It goes without saying that today’s enviro-religious Brown Shirts are 100% in the camp of non-free trade. Didn’t any of them take a look at how bad the environment was in the state-controlled Soviet Union? Best not to let facts get in the way of fanaticism, n’est ce pas?
In a bar outside the National Library in Paris, I met two students, Laurent and Florence who told me globalisation is “scandalous” because it often means French jobs are lost to poorer countries with lower wages and harsher working conditions.
“I think globalisation today is the modern equivalent of the slave trade across the Atlantic Ocean,” says Laurent. “I am for human globalisation, but I am against the capitalist economic system and I think we need to make capitalism history.”
When people say that education needs to return to a focus on the three Rs – reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic – can I be so bold as to add a fourth R? Reality. Or Rationality. Economics should be a mandatory subject for all middle school students; then they might not have such a pathetic insight into how the world works. The movement of jobs overseas ensures lower prices for products in France benefiting those at the lowest socio-economic level. It also leaves more money in the wallets and purses of the better-to-do, increasing their purchasing power which has a direct positive consequence on local employment. However, the most profoundly positive effect is on those people to whose countries the jobs have moved. Why not ask them whether they’d prefer to work in those supposed ‘sweatshops’? The elephant in the room with this argument is that they have a higher annual pay rate than the average of the countries they’re in. Laurent and Florence need a good, solid arse-kicking if you ask me. Make capitalism history but promote human globalisation equals socialism. And hasn’t that been such a stunning success? What is truly “scandalous” is that these two fois-gras fattened French phonies could care less about the well-being of the supposedly oppressed foreign worker.
Laurent’s aversion to the market might sound extreme, yet it’s not untypical in a country that fielded one Communist and three Trotskyite presidential candidates.
Quite a few on the French right too are suspicious of free enterprise.
If the French right is suspicious of free enterprise then that tells you where their right is in the global scale of things. Sounds like what we call left wing here in Australia.
These attitudes have troubled Finance Minister Thierry Breton so much that he has decided to create a new organisation to make his fellow citizens more market friendly. It has got a distinctively Gallic name: Codice, or the Council for the Diffusion of Economic Culture.
The answer to troubling issues? More government organisations! Now why didn’t I think of that? There I was thinking that lower taxes and flexible labour rules did the trick. Thanks, Thierry, for the enlightenment.
Patrick Fauconnier, who edits a business magazine, is one of the Council’s members. He describes the findings of the American poll as “serious and traumatic”.
He says that the idea that profit is somehow unclean has its roots in French Catholicism and that business acumen is undervalued in French society.
“The brightest kids are encouraged to become engineers or lawyers or doctors. You only go into business as a last resort”.
Let me think about that. Kids only go into business as a last resort (sounds like the Left’s opinion of those that enter the military). Those kids run businesses that are so successful they make up one-third of Europe’s top 100 companies and keep the rest of France afloat. Seems like a recipe for disaster to me. And what notable successes have French engineers, lawyers or doctors achieved in the last twenty years other than managing to sew a dead person’s hand onto a patient that had lost theirs?
Fauconnier tells me he has come up with a formula to encapsulate the views of the average Frenchman.
“Economy equals enterprise, enterprise equals CEO (chief executive), CEO equals profit and profit equals exploitation.”
The main task of Codice, he says, is to educate French citizens about the way the economy works so they are better informed and less hostile. The council plans a slick new website, pamphlets and campaigns in universities and schools.
That ought to do it! Particularly the slick website. The chances of a French university allowing a campaign supporting free enterprise is about as likely as their promoting military service as an honourable profession.
Training journalists, says Fauconnier, is vital because economic stories are often covered in a one-sided way on French TV.
Everything is covered in a one-sided way on French TV. That’s why they’re so ignorant. Imagine if they knew the reality of what they did in Rwanda?
“When a factory closes or sheds jobs, for example, there are lots of emotional interviews with angry workers, but rarely any analysis of the reasons behind the company’s decision.”
In some ways, anti business attitudes are baffling, given that French multinationals are conquering world markets with everything from shampoo to nuclear power.
The French may moan about cheap, foreign imports undercutting their products, or jobs moving to China, but they seem to forget that their very own hypermarket, Carrefour, is the world’s second largest retailer after Wal-Mart, and is making huge profits in China.
But even France’s most successful firms cannot count on the affection of the public, says leading sociologist Gerard Mermet.
“Many people don’t have a positive view of these flourishing enterprises. They wonder if they have stayed French or whether they have turned into these awful multi nationals who play the perverse and dangerous game of globalisation.”
Globalisation is ‘perverse and dangerous’? I assume they think that global socialism is benign and harmless. No doubt that Carrefour is as widely criticised as Wal-Mart for its negative work practices, use of sweatshop labour et blah.
To some extent, such misgivings are understandable since nowadays French multinationals create most of their jobs abroad. That is partly because many business people say it is easier to operate overseas than in France.
Traitors! Monsieur Robespierre. The guillotine. At once!
Francoise Holder, who co-heads the Paul chain of bakeries, is one of the country’s top businesswomen.
She won’t co-head much at all, including her torso, once Robespierre is finished with her.
She complains about high corporate taxes in France and about the 35 hour week, which she says “unleashed a hurricane or tsunami” on working culture in France.
“The main obstacles we’ve come up against over the last 20 years, it’s true, are in France rather than abroad. We have franchises in faraway places like Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia or Japan and we can find good managers there who are willing to work hard and so have been very successful.”
It is worth remembering though that French labour productivity is still the highest in Europe and France has more foreign direct investment than anywhere in Europe except the UK.
While that’s true, and would come as a surprise to the Germans, productivity is based on a per hour measurement and a 35 hour working week, which people adhere to religiously, means that the French economy wallows in stagnation.
For Philippe Bloch, who set up a French chain of coffee shops, the main problem is over-zealous employment legislation. He protests that the Code du Travail, the book of labour laws, which runs to 2800 pages, is “bigger than the Bible”.
Sick of state meddling, he says he may start his next venture in America.
A Frenchman saying he’s going to set up business in America is like Kim Philby moving to the Soviet Union. Monsieur Robespierre! The guillotine! Again!
“I’m not quite sure I want to re-invest the same amount of energy and effort and money in an economy that does not want me to create jobs. I think France has the unemployment it deserves, France has chosen unemployment. We have chosen to pay jobless people benefits to keep the peace.”
“France has chosen unemployment.” What a terrifically insightful statement.
But after the 2005 riots in many French suburbs, that peace is looking shaky.
Not to mention the 700+ suburbs that are no-go zones for non-Muslims or the 112 cars burned every night by these supposedly peaceful, grateful immigrants.
France has an increasingly divided society. It is not just the gulf between those with secure jobs and the unemployed. The country is also on the brink of a war between the generations, according to Bernard Spitz, a former government advisor.
The premise of his latest book, Papy Krach, is that in the next 30 years the number of pensioners will double, but there will be even fewer people in work to support them. He thinks young people are being held to ransom by the ageing baby boomers and that they may refuse to foot the bill.
“Three quarters of young people believe, in France, that they are going to live less well than their parents.
“How can you expect a society to be dynamic, entrepreneurial and optimistic if they feel they are going to live worse in the future?”
They won’t just refuse to pay. They’ll leave. Simple as that. Many countries in Europe now have net positive emigration rates as people flee the high-taxation, no reward for effort, socialist spending regimes that also allow unfettered immigration while clamping down on freedom of speech and association. Europe’s loss is our gain. Even if they do speak French and smell of garlic. At least they recognise the value of work. With luck, they’ll also recognise the value of values.
>From his bio page: Russell Morris is one of Australia’s most enduring singers. A major pop star in the late ’60s, he went on to become one of the country’s first singer/songwriters. Both ends of his career feature predominantly in the soundtrack to the movie The Dish.
Morris’ career started in September 1966 with the formation of the Melbourne group Somebody’s Image, which rose to prominence with a local hit version of the Joe South song “Hush.” Morris was convinced to leave Somebody’s Image for a solo career. His manager/producer, local music identity Ian Meldrum, spent unprecedented hours and money to create a seven-minute production extravaganza around a song called “The Real Thing.” Once the result was released to shocked radio programmers who had never been asked to play such a long Australian single before, it was up to Morris’ personality, singing, and performing talents to make the record work. It reached Australia’s number one spot in June 1969. Without any promotional support from Morris, “The Real Thing” reached number one in Chicago, Houston, and New York.
Here’s The Real Thing with a made for MTV video. It’s a great tune.
>Support for the War On Terror has been divided pretty much along political lines since it first started. The bit I can’t understand is why there’s so much support for war in Afghanistan and not Iraq given we’re fighting the same people. It may not have started out that way but that’s the situation we face now so surely the goal needs to be to defeat Al Qaeda and its supporters wherever they are?
Justification by the Left for war in Afghanistan is based on the fact that it’s where the Taliban and Al Qaeda were based, using it as a training ground for terrorists. On that basis shouldn’t we also be in Warizistan, northern Pakistan, which has effectively been annexed by the Taliban and Al Qaeda as their new base? When Germany invaded France, took over the country and fought Allied troops does it mean that we’re not allowed to take unilateral action against the German homeland?
The National Review Online has some interesting polling results in recent days. For example:
- According to a recent USA Today/Gallup poll, 61% of Americans oppose “denying the funding needed to send any additional U.S. troops to Iraq,” and opposition is up from 58% in February. (3/23-25, 2007).
- A Bloomberg poll reveals 61% of Americans believe withholding funding for the war is a bad idea, while only 28% believe it is a good idea (3/3-11, 2007).
- A recent Public Opinion Strategies (POS) poll found that 56% of registered voters favor fully funding the war in Iraq, with more voters strongly favoring funding (40%) than totally opposing it (38%); (3/25-27, 2007).
- POS found also that a majority of voters (54%) oppose the Democrats imposing a reduction in troops below the level military commanders requested (3/25-27, 2007).
- A separate POS poll finds 57% of voters support staying in Iraq until the job is finished and “the Iraqi government can maintain control and provide security for its people.” And 59% of voters say pulling out of Iraq immediately would do more to harm America’s reputation in the world than staying until order is restored (35%); (2/5-7, 2007).
- A Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll show 69% of American voters trust military commanders more than members of Congress (18%) to decide when United States troops should leave Iraq. This includes 52% of Democrats, 69% of Independents and 88% of Republicans (3/27-28, 2007).
- According to a recent Pew Research survey, only 17% of Americans want an immediate withdrawal of troops (4/18-22, 2007). That same poll found a plurality of adults (45%) believe a terrorist attack against the United States is more likely if we withdraw our troops from Iraq while the “country remains unstable”
- Should a date for withdrawal be set, 70% of American believe it is likely that “insurgents will increase their attacks in Iraq” starting on that day. This is supported by 85% of Republicans, 71% of Independents and 60% of Democrats. (FOX News/Opinion Dynamics, 4/17-18, 2007).
- An LA Times/Bloomberg polls reveals that 50% of Americans say setting a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq “hurts” the troops, while only 27% believe it “helps” the troops (4/5-9, 2007).
Given the results of the above polls I have a question. How does it come about that after a prolonged bombardment by the mainstream media and other major institutions – education, unions and various churches – to portray the war as illegal, going badly, unwinnable and ‘lost’ that there is still majority support in the United States for sustaining the effort, not de-funding the troops and not announcing a date for withdrawal?
If you took this poll in Western Europe you’d get exactly the opposite result including in the UK. What does that tell us about those people? It’s certainly true that there’s no such thing as balanced reporting and in the UK the conservative message is carried by only a few Fleet Street papers. I’ve posted previously on how the US has paid for world peace and continues to pay. It’s ironic that the sense of security Europe has felt for the last 50 years which has lulled it into its current intellectually sophomoric state has been entirely due to the power of the United States. Instead of having to spend money on their military they’ve chosen to build the huge social programs that are in the process of bankrupting the place.
Obviously, it’s morally correct to stay in Iraq and ensure that the place is stabilised lest the lesson of Vietnam is repeated and millions are slaughtered. Why one side of politics can be so blind to this obvious truth is beyond reason.
>CNN is pretty much in lock-step with the rest of the left wing mainstream media and, therefore, it’s always a surprise when they put something to air that’s against what the Democrats are saying in Washington.
Michael Ware and Kyra Phillips, who both report from Iraq, talked to American Morning co-host Kiran Chetry.
As reported by Newsbusters in their article: CNN’s Ware: Troop Pullout Debate Is ‘Delusional,’ Would Hand Iraq to al Qaeda:
Left-wing blogs loved it when CNN’s Michael Ware rebuked Senator John McCain a few weeks ago, after McCain suggested he could safely walk through areas of Baghdad. But this morning on CNN, Ware took dead aim at Democratic schemes for pulling out of Iraq, saying that debating a U.S. troop withdrawal was “delusional” and such a step would amount to “giving Iraq to Iran…and al Qaeda. That’s who would own it.”
Ware also provided an interesting insight into how the battle in Iraq has shifted from Anbar province and Baghdad, areas where the U.S. has built up troop levels, to Diyala province, which he described as “the new frontline against al Qaeda.”
Apparently Ware has no doubt that al Qaeda has made Iraq a central front in their battle against the U.S., and that the U.S. pulling out would hand al Qaeda a huge victory.
Baghdad correspondent Ware was joined on Thursday’s CNN’s American Morning with Kyra Phillips, who has also been reporting from Iraq for the past several months. Both were in New York and talked to co-host Kiran Chetry during the program’s 8am EDT hour.
After Phillips talked about how U.S. General David Petraeus is “a straight shooter” who has admitted difficulty in some provinces in Iraq, Ware focused on the fighting northeast of Baghdad:
“Diyala is now the new frontline against al-Qaeda. I mean, to be honest, it’s a tragically bloody affair. The brigade that was there last year lost 19 troops in 12 months. The brigade there now has lost 50 in six months.
“And you listen very carefully to what General Petraeus says, he says ‘This is what we would like to see, a representative government.’ When I was in Diyala province, I interviewed a two-star general on camera for CNN, and he admitted for the first time from anyone in the military that they’re now prepared to accept options other than democracy.
“Now this is what this war was sold to the American public on, yet they’re now saying democracy isn’t mandatory, it’s an option, and that they’re prepared to see a government that can protect itself, give services to its people, and it doesn’t have to be democratic. In fact, the general said, most of our allies in this region are not democratic. So that fundamentally addresses the root cause of why America says it went to war, and now the military is saying, well, we may not get there.”
Then, after talking about the difficulty of daily life in Iraq, Chetry asked the pair “would all of us, all the American troops pulling out, help the situation?”
Phillips and Ware both loudly protested: “Oh, no! No. No way!”
Phillips zeroed in on the problems a U.S. withdrawal would cause for the Iraqis: “It would be a disaster. I mean, I had a chance to sit down with the Minister of Defense, to General Petraeus, to Admiral Fallon, head of CENTCOM. I asked them all the question whether Iraqi or U.S. military — there is no way U.S. troops could pull out. It would be a disaster. They’re doing too much training, they’re helping the Iraqis not only with security, but trying to get the government up and running. I mean, this is a country of ‘Let’s Make a Deal,’ there’s so much corruption still. If the U.S. military left — they have rules of engagement, they have an idea, a focus. It would be a disaster.”
Ware agreed, but argued that winning the war was in America’s best interest: “Well, even more than that, if you just wanted to look at it in terms of purely American national interest, if U.S. troops leave now, you’re giving Iraq to Iran, a member of President Bush’s ‘Axis of Evil,’ and al Qaeda. That’s who will own it. And so, coming back now, I’m struck by the nature of the debate on Capitol Hill, how delusional it is. Whether you’re for this war, or against it; whether you’ve supported the way it’s been executed, or not; it doesn’t matter. You’ve broke it, you’ve got to fix it now. You can’t leave, or it’s going to come and blow back on America.”
Michael Ware is a noted critic of the administration. For him to be getting stuck into the Democratic Party confirms that their stance on the war is miles off target. He’s in Iraq. He can see the danger. They can’t.
>Here’s a great blog keeping track of who’s to blame for the Virginia Tech massacre.
Dennis Prager gets it right on the appalling Duke Lacrosse scandal.
American Thinker tells us about the trouble with Harry Reid.
Want to know about natural, and unnatural, disasters? Armageddon Online is the place for you.
Add Australian uber-blogger Tim Blair to your favourites for even more common sense from Down Under.
>Nothing to add to this one except that the scammers are baaaaad people, learned in fleecing the innocent and probably the black sheep of their families.
Thousands of Japanese have been swindled in a scam in which they were sold Australian and British sheep and told they were poodles.
Flocks of sheep were imported to Japan and then sold by a company called Poodles as Pets, marketed as fashionable accessories, available at $1,600 each.
That is a snip compared to a real poodle which retails for twice that much in Japan.
The scam was uncovered when Japanese moviestar Maiko Kawamaki went on a talk-show and wondered why her new pet would not bark or eat dog food.
She was crestfallen when told it was a sheep.
Then hundreds of other women got in touch with police to say they feared their new “poodle” was also a sheep.
One couple said they became suspicious when they took their “dog” to have its claws trimmed and were told it had hooves.
Japanese police believe there could be 2,000 people affected by the scam, which operated in Sapporo and capitalised on the fact that sheep are rare in Japan, so many do not know what they look like.
“We launched an investigation after we were made aware that a company were selling sheep as poodles,” Japanese police said, the The Sun reported.
“Sadly we think there is more than one company operating in this way.
“The sheep are believed to have been imported from overseas – Britain, Australia.”
Many of the sheep have now been donated to zoos and farms.
Update: Looks like this story is a hoax. Baaaaaad luck for whoever decided to run it in the mainstream media!