20080726

France heart Obama

In Germany the giga rock concert given to the people of the World, in "Sarkozie" the somber threat addressed to the rulers of Iran. Hope for the doves on one hand, dope for the hawks on the other... in the process Barack Obama even manages to claim the Reagan Democrats heritage.

France's love story with Obama is first the end of a hate story with Bush. We like his balanced views and sound approach of international politics. We like the way he sets people in motion in a positive way. And yes, we wish we had such a charismatic politician making it to the top job from our own minorities.

France is a melting pot. Both a former colonial superpower and the victim of countless invasions, a crossroads where 60 million people live and 75 million people pass by every year, the place where Europe's biggest Muslim minority and Europe's biggest Jewish minority used to live peacefully together until
George W. Bush decided to give fundamentalism a worldwide boost.

Race is not an issue in France since raising the issue is almost forbidden : all databases have to be declared to an independent council (the CNIL), and keeping data related to race is illegal. So there are no official statistics regarding minorities, and everyday discrimination cannot be easily exposed. Even the HALDE (a post-2005 authority against discriminations) doesn't mention "race" in its website's keywords : "physical appearance", "genetic characteristics" and "origin" (circumnavigation if I ever saw one).

Everybody knows there is a problem. The only institution reflecting France's diversity remains the national soccer team, and the media and politics are still 99.999% white. Following the 2005 riots, Chirac urged the media to change this and there has been some improvement (anyway from scratch there wasn't any other way than upwards). Sarkozy's Ministry of Justice happens to be a woman with a dual French-Moroccan nationality (Rachida Dati), but there again, a tree doesn't make a forest. Political parties are guilty too : if minority talents are not given any opportunity, France is already dramatically lagging behind most countries when it comes to giving women electable spots.

France has been waiting for a "French Kennedy" for 40 years - to no avail. But a President Obama could certainly help the self proclaimed "country of Human Rights" to be at last true to its values of "liberte, egalite, fraternite".

20080718

The McCainistan War

"I know how to win wars".

Don't bother checking the facts. John McCain never won any war.

Actually, he is losing one.

This is a civil war opposing a respected soldier and fundamentalists of the worst kind (the Christian equivalent to Talibans - they don't stone women but carpet bomb their own people with Weapons of Mass Disinformation*).

This war is staged in Maccainistan, an old country which survived violent attacks (torture from VCs, smear campaign from GWB / KR...) and is now fighting for its own survival.

Fundamentalists seem to be winning this war : they killed the maverick who could have defeated them 8 years ago, and the old man who replaced him is doing everything he can to please them.

Maccainistan is already broken in at least two parts : one one side, dry lands where only memories of glory can grow - on the other, vast puppy fields, ready to make America even more dependent on fantasies of peace, democracy, and freedom, while pushing it deeper in war, theocracy, and submission.



* as usual, see "Universal Declaration of Independence from fundamentalism"

20080717

The Talk of the Toon

What game are Advanced Publications playing ?
"Hussein" painted as a Muslim and Michelle as a terrorist, congratulating each other by a fireplace where the US flag is burning under the portrait of Osama bin Laden... I'm sure this brilliant piece of NYC humor will make people laugh in Colorado Springs, CO, but is this caricature really supposed to help the Obamas take over the White House ?*

I'm not sure The New Yorker are supporting Obama as frankly as they did for Kerry 4 years ago. Kerry as a IRA fighter or worse, a "cheese eating surrender monkey" (the Simpsons / FOX cute name for Frenchman back in 2003) ? Oh my, that would have raised some eyebrows at the Club.
This would be satire if there were some distance to it. Like O'Reilly holding this cover and saying "while we're at it why not add a suicide belt for Michelle ?"
The editor's answers don't hold a second :
"Satire is part of what we do, and it is meant to bring things out into the open, to hold up a mirror to prejudice, the hateful, and the absurd. And that's the spirit of this cover." The editor noted that the magazine includes two "very serious" articles about Obama -- a commentary and a 15,000-word reporting piece on the candidate's political education and rise in Chicago. (see
AFP)
Seriously, everybody knows the power of image. The impact of one caricature relayed everywhere is ten billion times stronger than 15,000 words only a few will go through.
And regarding the people holding this "mirror" : I'm not a constant New Yorker reader but if I were I don't know how I'd take it.
Letters to the editor are probably going to outscore 15,000 words...



* not to mention help American Muslims be at last treated like other US citizens (as Juan Cole pointed out, "virtually no one is talking about how demeaning it is of American Muslims" - 20080715 in "Obama Caricature Offensive to Muslims").

20080714

The Silence of the Lambs (War in Iraq and US networks)

The surge is working. Iraq is not an issue for November elections. Everything is fine, go back to sleep and don't forget to cast a Republican ballot later this year.

Now more about the coming war between Iran and Israel*, brought to you by the dream team that delivered "Shock and Awe" to your doorsteps (by the way... ' want some more yellow ribbons to decorate your front yard ? hurry up and enjoy our special pre-foreclosure rebates).

USA's top 3 networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) each devoted an average 60 weekday minutes of Iraq war coverage over the first half of 2008. That's 20 seconds per day, compared to 1 mn in 2007**.

And what 20 seconds ! The propaganda can be summed up with : "Mission Almost Accomplished", democracy is catching, thugs are losing the battle, and if you read through these few lines you can almost believe our boys will get the heck outta there sooner than expected.


Before the 100 years mentioned by John McCain anyway - this guy has lost his bearings and is confusing with the age of his great-grandson. But it doesn't matter for the GOP : Iraq remains a key electoral issue but Mac is tied with Obama (43% each according to Gallup**). If news reports were more accurate, I guess he would be lagging behind by 20 points or more.

If you are in the US and under the spell of those Weapons of Mass Disinformation, please read such articles as "Reporters Say Networks Put Wars on Back Burner" from the NYT***. Or if you want to watch actual news, tune in to Global Pulse's video on LinkTV (including the refreshing no bull...t interview of CBS News' Lara Logan by Jon Stewart)**** :




* see see "Iran : who wants war and why" (20070925)
** Gallup "Obama Has Edge on Key Election Issues" (20080624)
** "Reporters Say Networks Put Wars on Back Burner" (NYT 20080623)

*** "War isn't news anymore ?" (Global Pulse 20080626 on LinkTV), relayed by the CMD (20080706)



20080711

This is not a financial crisis

This is not a financial crisis but a crisis of finance.
This is not an economic crisis but a crisis of economics.
This is not a strategic crisis but a crisis of strategy.


Listening to Henry Paulson or Ben Bernanke is quite depressing. Not because of the news they carry but because of their absolute lack of vision. Along with the crowd, they postponed the realization of the crisis* in a comical state of denial : look back at the past year and tell me what's been said and done. A total waste of time and money, which will make reforms even costlier. And we are far from having seen it all (ie masses of small stock exchange gamblers in China, real estate bubble in Korea, global wake-up call for "real economy"...).

I haven't heard of any strategic measure for years and key decision makers are only talking about tactics. Yes, there are rumors of a reform in the monitoring and the regulation, but I'm not certain this casting is up to the task. Especially since such rumors started years ago.

A consensus will eventually emerge from a free market to a fair market**, but no one is actually tackling the issue. The world leaders have other fishes to fry... starting with our planet : the G8 members unanimously decided to start curbing their CO2 dogs circa 2050, when Dubai have the same chances of hosting the Winter Olympic Games as Sapporo.

Think tanks ? They are basically lobbying groups. And right now, conservative think tanks are focusing on how to ignite a war in Iran**... while left now, liberal think tanks are focusing on how to impeach Rove / Cheney / Dubya (too little, 4 years too late).

Analysts ? Even the few independent ones are struggling for relevance.

The thing is capitalism died when the Soviet Union collapsed : deprived of the last supervillain, Superman grew lazier and fatter, forgot how to fly and used his X-ray vision only for despisable reasons. Meanwhile, John and Jane Smith became the new superheroes. Because all of a sudden, superpowers became mainstream : the web abruptly shrunk all time-, distance-, and information-gaps, putting them on par with the best financial gurus*. Overwhelmingly, "commoners" have swarmed all the "expert"'s favorite spots. There are no more safe havens, nor profitable niche markets, even off market (stock exchanges have lost their status of key indicators, bubbles also struck the private equity arenas...). There is no speed limit, only a succession of bubbles in an ocean of microbubbles.

Posting 10-20% yields makes a living, not a life. And finance as the aim of the game is over.

Winning against misery, that's a life. Not to be confused with winning against poverty : what is the point in making hundreds of million people pass a certain revenue threshold if you confront them with new unbearable challenges ?

Winning against underdevelopment, that's a life. Not to be confused with posting high GNP growth. Think supranational, smart infrastructures, pooling limited ressources and sharing world class education and health care experts.

Winning against desertification, that's a life. But the sound, microcultural, African way... not to be confused with the suicidal, Dubai way (earning big on desert lands in the short term, losing bigger in the long term).

Luxury is about doing whatever you want whenever you want with whomever you want. Not about purchasing when you can what everybody wants.

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* and the reality of the ineluctable recession (see "The end of financial safe havens" - 20070303)

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* see "Mondialisation : du "free market" au "fair market" (20070726) and the utterly awful self-translation below :

"Globalization is first about incredible shrinking gaps that used to be key in economics : gaps in time, space, level of information... the sector which used to benefit the most from those gaps logically dominated the last few years. But finance is meeting a crisis. Not a financial crisis, but a crisis of finance as the aim of the game.

Speculation thrives upon gaps in time, space and knowledge, and speculators are among the first to embrace innovations in transports or communications, but such tools have become commodities and the number of speculators exploded. Nowadays, the bulk of speculators are non-experts, like those Chinese pensioners sipping tea and chit chatting in now countless shareholders parlors. In this new Far East like everywhere across the World, speculative niches pop up and pop out one by one, and experts can't find any safe spot to plant their tents. The loss of influence of traditional stock exchanges and the Gold Rush for private equities illustrate as much the aversion for irrationality and the need to de-virtualize economics. But even at that level, frontiers are melting and bubbles are inflating.

An "elite" of experts kind of manages to survive : I call "instant players" these creatures fitted for life in unstable environments which roam more frequently on the Thames than the Yellow river. They are very good at burning : money, bridges between friends and reality, cocaine on spoons, and ultimately their own wings.

It's become obvious for a couple of years now : there is too much greedy money in too many hands for the suicidal rush to last much longer.

This young millenium is looking for clues at the root, browsing through pages written by great economists from past centuries. The answer won't come from Adam Smith or Karl Marx but somehow, for economics to restore its own dignity, it needs to review its fundamentals (capital, value, means and aims...) and go much further.

Many signs let us envision the emergence of a consensus on the diagnostic, similar to the one reached about global warming. Economics are about the impacts of human activity anyway, and theoretically they should take into account all environments, all ecosystems... not to mention the fact that there again, diversity and evolutivity are key to survival.

In economics like in environmental studies, major improvements are more likely to come from recent converts, those who resisted to evidences in order to maintain priviledges instead of embracing the future and its opportunities.

Most movements denouncing globalization are "against" and don't offer solutions. Alter-globalization activists often recommand the end of economics and thus the end of mankind, that global parasite which will kill the planet before it finds a new spot to colonize.

A consensus will emerge on more pragmatic basis : a market economy that would be open but regulated and based on mutual respect. A "fair market" rather than a "free market". A global market because globalization requires a global approach of our ecosystem as a whole, but we are far from there. And in this transitional period where free trade fanatics are pointed out, protectionism is back. Far beyond what is needed and sometimes a rather subtle way.

For instance, the Bush Administration are supposedly promoting free trade across the globe but their politics are basically multi-bilateral and self-centered, systematically blocking all multi-lateral attempts : after "less UN, more Coalition of the Willing", after "less Geneva, more Abu Ghraib", after "less Kyoto, more Alaska drilling", they delivered "less WTO, more FTAs". The said "Free Trade Agreements" being as "free trade" as the Patriot Act was "patriotic" : asymetrical, full of exceptions, and by nature protectionist, these FTAs can sound profitable for the States but only in the short term, and only for Dubya's base of "haves and have-mores".

Paradoxically, this strategy illustrates the negation of globalization because it means the refusal of a global approach to globalization. Drawing a parallel with today's crisis within each of the great monotheist religions (see "Universal Declaration of Independence from fundamentalism"), the wise thing to do is not to fuel extremists of all sides by accepting their fake "war of civilizations", but to respectfully reach beyond the frontiers and collaborate on what brings us together, and to be ready to make concessions in order to eradicate collectively the most fundamental injustices."


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** see "Iran : who wants war and why" - 20070925

20080703

The Case Against Barack Obama ? More propaganda from mud loving PIGs

Praise Muckety's Carol Eisenberg for her alert* regarding the publication this summer of a smear campaign book against Obama by the very publisher that spat "Unfit for command" four years ago in the face of John Kerry (John E. O'Neill's propaganda terror attack worked so well that a verb was made out of his "swift boat" tale).

It is precisely in order to protect his candidacy from this kind of lies that Barack Obama decided to optimize the size of his campaign war chest and the share devoted to the exposure of ultra-conservative propaganda.

"The Case Against Barack Obama" will be released in August, around the DNC Convention. Eisenberg gives useful insights about the ultra-conservative credentials of the people involved in the operation, starting with author David Freddoso.

Anyway, this terror attack is not exactly an undercover op. First, expect a nasty sales pitch on the cover of the book. And second, the publishers are proud to expose their own biases : Regnery Publishing Inc., self proclaimed "the nation’s leading conservative publisher" is a subsidiary of Eagle Publishing, Inc, self proclaimed "America's leading source of books and periodicals with a conservative, free-enterprise focus".

Equipped with a barf bag, I visited Regnery's page about their
Politically Incorrect Guide™ series, where history, science, politics, or social issues are boldly revisited : "Reach for a P.I.G. when you want to cut through the bull and get to the real truth—in all its politically incorrect glory!"

Well. You are not cutting through the bull... but drowning in a nauseating ocean of mud : revisionism, Intelligent Design, religious hatred, environmental nightmares... a "glorious", dream Amerika from a Bushite point of view, but one of the lowest circles of Hell for anybody else... probably the 8th, where according to Dante you would meet falsifiers and evil counselors... or the 9th, where you DO find those who betray their own countries, and also those who betray their own political parties (true Republicans wouldn't subscribe to such an un-American agenda - or would they** ?).

With such lawyers, The Case against Barack Obama doesn't stand a chance. American voters got fooled too many times by this kind of sordid tactics, and exposing those mud loving PIGs is the best way of helping the public understand who is standing where.




* "
Regnery to publish ‘Case Against Barack Obama’ in August" (20080624), perfectly relayed by the CMD the same day "The Swift Boating Begins in August".
** see "
Universal Declaration of Independence from Fundamentalism"
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