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Stiff Upper Lip?


One of the proudest boasts (albeit one that is a little tatty round the edges in the aftermath of Diana-wake) of the Brits is our stiff upper lip, that legendary sense of calm in the midst of crisis. Writing in today’s Sunday Telegraph, David Thomas takes a look at this phenomenon. His less than flattering conclusion:

“Maybe we are not so phlegmatic, after all. Maybe we are exhausted by the weight of our own history. Maybe, like our cheese-eating fellow-Europeans, we have become unwilling or unable to meet threats head-on, and defeat them. And that is where the advantage swings to America. You could say they panic – although it is only fair to point out that mockery of the Homeland Security department’s advice was at least as scathing in Middle America as it was in Middle England. But one could also say that Americans come from a culture which still believes in taking action.

If Americans think they are going to be gassed, they buy gas-masks. If they think they might go thirsty, they buy water. And if they think their country has deadly enemies, they expect their President – whoever he is – to find the person and blow that sucker away.

British phlegm is the response of a nation that has lost the capacity to mould events, and decides, instead, to endure them. Americans may not have so much phlegm. But they do have stealth bombers, aircraft carriers, and the 101st Airborne Division. And who needs phlegm when you’ve got all that on your side?”

Happy Birthday


Today is the Heritage Foundation’s 30th birthday.


Old Media Miss The Story, Again


My latest media analysis column for the Rocky Mountain News examines how newspapers overlooked two stories which have been well-reported by Internet media: the Franco-German cover-up of their role in helping Saddam acquire illegal WMDs, and the celebrations of some Arabs about the Columbia tragedy. I also examine polling about gay rights, and whether it’s “McCarthyism” to call a Communist a “Communist.” Finally, I retract my earlier statement that ANSWER/WWP are “Stalinist.” Hardline revolutionary Communist, yes; Stalinist, no.

Web Briefing: August 31, 2014

I Don’t Understand The Parisians



And One More Thing


Every time I shovel the driveway, I think about what the global-warming worrywarts were telling us not long ago: This is supposed to be the hottest year on record.

My Suv Problem -- and Ours


Just returned from Mass, which is usually standing-room only but today was close to empty because of all the snow. The only reason we made it was because of our SUV’s 4-wheel drive. In fact, the only vehicles in the parking lot were SUVs and pick-ups. It made me think of all the people who say SUVs are pointless, and how wrong they are. The snow’s still coming down and we’re not going out again unless it’s really important, like a kid with a gash in the head (as happened a couple of months ago). If we do venture forth, we’ll need our SUV once more, and we’ll get where we need to go. Thank goodness for these great vehicles.



Tariq Aziz, the valet for mass-murderer Saddam Hussein, continues to play the Catholic Church for fools. He’s now gone to the tomb of St. Francis of Assisi to pray for peace. This is shameful beyond words. One is reminded of the immortal line sung by the late Joe Strummer: “If Adolf Hitler flew in today/They’d send a limousine anyway.”

The Anti-War Streets


So I had to be on the streets around Grand Central late this afternoon, as the demonstration was breaking up. Now, I grant that there are morally serious people against the war. I just didn’t see any of them today. This is what I saw: a child whose parents hung a poster around her neck that read: MORE CANDY AND ICE CREAM/LESS WAR AND BIGOTRY. I’m not making that up. I also saw this slogan on a poster: THE IRAQI PEOPLE NEED OUR LOVE, NOT OUR BOMBS. Ooh yeah, and mean people suck.

I also saw a woman carrying a poster that had an image of President Bush with a Hitler mustache drawn on. I nearly lost it over that. What kind of decent person would have anything to do with a movement that likened the President of the United States to a genocidal mass murderer? Just to see them walking the street is to put oneself in touch with one’s inner Teamster.

By the way, one of four lesbians I stood with as they tried to cross the street said, “It didn’t snow today. Goddess was with us!” It was that kind of day in New York.

Talleyrand Translated


OK, OK. Numerous people have written in to complain about my failure to provide a translation of those words by Talleyrand. Je m’excuse. I was lulled into linguistic insensitivity by the virtuosity of all the Corner readers who tackled the translation challenge posed by those cheese-eating surrender monkeys (recent efforts have included Greek, Hawaiian, Esperanto, Hebrew, Persian and a blatantly faked ur-language).

Anyway, Talleyrand’s phrase (“Ils n’ont rien appris, ni rien oublié.”) translates as “they have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing”, appropriate words to read in conjunction with de Villepin’s remarks about “an old country that does not forget”.

Talleyrand’s original comments, of course, referred to aristocrats forced to flee France in the early years of the French revolution. They are a reminder that while France may be an “old country”, the structure of its government is relatively novel. Despite a tricky patch in the early 1860s the US has operated under the same system since 1788, a time when France was still a monarchy. As a reader points out, since then, France has restored its monarchy once, been an empire twice, and a republic five times.

“Peace” Protesters


On the local news tonight, the police commissioner of New York reported a one police officer and horse both beated and kicked in the head by protesters. And so that’s just peace for dictators?

The Second Time as Farce


Unlike the Hungarian gentleman I referred to earlier, these folk appear to have no knowledge of history. Either that, or they are world-class satirists.

Guns For Peace


Demonstrators have (the Washington Post reports) been out in Baghdad too, marching for, er, peace, Saddam-style:

“In Baghdad, tens of thousands of Iraqis, many carrying Kalashnikov assault rifles, demonstrated to support Saddam Hussein and denounce the United States. “Our swords are out of their sheaths, ready for battle,” read one of hundreds of banners carried by marchers along Palestine Street, a broad Baghdad avenue.”

Memories From Europe


One immaculately dressed old man, watching the proceedings from his wheelchair, was not impressed. “Neville Chamberlain,” he announced to no one in particular, “peace in our time,” he jeered at the demonstrators.

Intrigued, I went over – it’s not often you hear the names of mid-twentieth century Tory prime ministers being shouted out in a Manhattan street. The heckler turned out to be Hungarian, a survivor of that other Europe’s hideous past. “I’ve seen this, I’ve seen this before” he explained, “the Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia. You can’t negotiate with Saddam. You can only negotiate with real countries, with Canada, with Mexico. Not with Saddam. You can’t negotiate with a cockroach.”

Tell that to the French.

Poster Boys - and Girls


Most of the other placards were predictable – many variations on the familiar ‘no blood for oil’ blather, and the usual attacks on Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney. Some demonstrators were calling for a ‘free Palestine’, but none, so far as I could see, for a free Iraq.

Amongst the better efforts: “Fuggedaboudid – Brooklyn for peace”, “duct tape for peace” and, in a nod to today’s weather, “freezing my ass off for peace”. More mysteriously, “Lisa is against the war!” and so are the “Women in Black.”

Women in black? If they were searching for aliens, they wouldn’t have had to look far. At 11.30 this morning “Raelians for peace” could be found at 52nd and 3rd.

Left Turn


Large crowds in the neighborhood, but from the vantage point of a dense mass of people jam-packed in Second Avenue in the high 50s, it was quite impossible to say how many. Trying to get anywhere near the ‘official’ demonstration site on 49th Street and First Avenue was beyond me and, it seemed, many others.

Plenty of ANSWER banners and, in a surprising echo of countless demonstrations in the UK, placards bearing the logo of the Socialist Worker Party – stalwarts of Britain’s hard left happenings for decades.

Also there for the picking, leaflets from the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement. Their “vital Marxist-Leninist-Maoist viewpoint?”

“There is growing anger, rebellion and resistance around the world – and this is excellent!”

France Loves Tyrants


Zimbabwe News reprints an article from the Guardian detailing how France is unilaterally undermining the European Union’s attempt to put pressure on Robert Mugabe. The French policy can’t be explained as stemming from anti-Americanism, since the U.S. is uninvolved. France is not merely an old country, it is senile.

Popular Front


If there’s one thing that the French can agree on it’s their dislike of America. In anticipating today’s demonstrations in France the Financial Times notes that “members of Mr. Le Pen’s National Front are also expected to join the protests alongside Greens, Socialists and the three main trade union federations.”

Souvenirs De Paris


Dominique de Villepin was proud yesterday to say that the stance he was taking in the UN came from “an ‘old country’, France, from a continent that has known war, occupation, barbarity; an old country that does not forget.”

Speaking of the French ruling class of an earlier time, Talleyrand, a somewhat shrewder French diplomat, put it rather better:

“Ils n’ont rien appris, ni rien oublié.”

That is, clearly, still true. Or as the French like to say:

“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”



To say that all today’s anti-war protestors have an agenda far removed from the ‘peace’ that they proclaim would, of course, be unfair. Still, it says something that the first two demonstrators I saw this morning (I live not far from where the New York City protest is scheduled to take place) were two tatty ageing veterans of the 1960s both wearing tatty ageing symbols of that era’s carnage chic – badges honoring Che Guevara.

On second thoughts, this was, perhaps, only appropriate. Guevara was a warmonger and a terrorist and he was, it has to be admitted, rather popular with the French.

Doggone Joe



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