Paris: highs in the mid-50’s, good wine, and something more

November 28th, 2015


France stepped up already-heavy security in Paris Saturday as more than 140 world leaders are set to descend on the French capital for climate talks that will bring a massive police presence and extensive traffic restrictions. Stores in the greater Paris region have been ordered to pull from their shelves gas cylinders, domestic solvents and firecrackers as part of security measures that will also include shutting down major traffic arteries around the capital for two days and stricter border controls. France has barred almost 1,000 people from entering the country since the Nov. 13 terror attacks.

From Sunday afternoon through late Monday, the highways leading north and south out of Paris will be shut to normal traffic, as will a northern stretch of the “peripherique,” the road that circles the city. Major boulevards will be closed, while truck traffic in the Paris region will be banned. The police have asked Parisians not to use their cars and to avoid public transport Sunday and Monday. The sale of inflammable substances in stores in and around the capital is banned through Dec. 13. France has mobilized 2,800 police to guard the site of the talks. Nearly 15,000 police and customs officials are manning the borders, Cazeneuve said. He has previously described an “unprecedented” number of mobile police ready to respond to threats.

There are 40,000 delegates expected, including government negotiators, city mayors, business people, and representatives of civil society.

How do you spell boondoggle? What a sick joke. India wants $2.5 trillion to play along, while China opens a new coal powerplant every week or so. The latter is good news in our opinion. We want more CO2 in the air; it’s cold out!

Entirely predictable results

November 28th, 2015

(1) Larry Elder has been writing and talking about the predictably negative results of affirmative action for decades now, and what does he get for his efforts? Derision, often. (Lloyd Marcus has some somewhat related thoughts on Ben Carson.) (2) With regard to the current migrant crisis and the establishment’s desired course of action, Thomas Lifson and Andy McCarthy cover the ground well. We’d add that mixing the sufficiency and supremacy of a 7th century book with lousy empirical results in the real world is a recipe for disaster. In each of the 2 cases above, refusal to face facts and deal with the underlying problems just creates greater problems, and often, greater denial.

Tragically, the people who wind up feeling and thinking like victims are in a certain sense victims — but of the so-called “compassionate.” We see the results playing out in ugly ways today.

China military restructuring

November 27th, 2015

Bloomberg. Interesting. No comment on the story that ought to be no comment but has a zillion commenters who know little to nothing. Minor update: if this is true, isn’t the NYT guilty of some sort of micro-aggression?

Turkey Day

November 26th, 2015

New Yorker:

The connection between warming temperatures and the cycle of Syrian violence is, by now, uncontroversial…this tragedy should inspire an urgent push to lower emissions as rapidly and deeply as possible, including strong support for developing countries to leapfrog to renewable energy, creating much-needed jobs and economic opportunities in the process. That kind of bold climate transition is our only hope of preventing a future in which, as a recent paper in the journal Nature Climate Change put it, large areas of the Middle East will, by the end of the century, “experience temperature levels that are intolerable to humans.”

But even this is not enough. The deepest emission reductions can only prevent climate change from getting far worse. They can’t stop the warming that has already arrived, nor the warming that is locked in as a result of the fossil fuels we have already burned. So there is a critical piece missing from our climate conversation: the need to quickly lower atmospheric CO2 levels from the current four hundred parts per million to the upper limit of what is not considered dangerous: three hundred and fifty parts per million.

The implications of a failure to bring carbon down to safer levels go well beyond amplifying catastrophes like Syria’s historic drought. The last time atmospheric CO2 was this high, global sea levels were at least six metres higher. We find ourselves confronted with ice-sheet disintegration that, in some susceptible areas, already appears unstoppable. In the currently overloaded CO2 climate, it’s just a matter of time until hundreds of millions of people will be displaced from coastal regions, their agricultural lands and groundwater destroyed by saltwater intrusion from sea rise. Among the most vulnerable areas are broad swaths of South and Southeast Asia—which include some of the world’s biggest cities, from Shanghai to Jakarta—along with a number of coastal African and Latin American countries, such as Nigeria, Brazil, and Egypt.

A climate summit taking place against the backdrop of climate-fuelled violence and migration can only be relevant if its central goal is the creation of conditions for lasting peace. That would mean making legally enforceable commitments to leave the vast majority of known fossil-fuel reserves in the ground. It would also mean delivering real financing to developing countries to cope with the impacts of climate change, and recognizing the full rights of climate migrants to move to safer ground.

The amazing part is that they apparently actually believe this dreck. We want more CO2; it’s cold out! HT: PL

Possibly related: some things are beyond parody. And finally, for a little R&R if you have some time on your hands, there’s John McWhorter on the English language, Mary Beard discussing SPQR, and a brief bit of fun.

And Abe Lincoln.

Time to be short industrial commodities

November 25th, 2015


Cracks in the dam

November 25th, 2015

Roger Simon:

obviously, you have to destroy ISIS military and totally. But that, as I indicated, is only temporary. Beyond that, we have to launch a major ideological war. This will take allies in the Islamic world like Egypt’s al-Sisi, a man who says Islam needs reform but whom, not surprisingly, our president disdains.

Sharia law should be outlawed in the United States and in as many Western countries as possible since it is in direct contradistinction to Western values in its misogyny and homophobia. Those from the Islamic world who seek to immigrate should be required to take classes explaining our values and why Sharia is unacceptable to us. Otherwise they should not be admitted. This may not work, but it is a start.

Above all, we must be honest with Muslims that their religion in its current form is unacceptable. We cannot exist in a world where religion dominates society to the extent that there are no Jews and hardly any Christians living in the Arab or Persian countries anymore. American leaders don’t have to threaten violence to make this clear. They have to state it clearly to the Islamic world, especially to Saudi Arabia and Iran. Instead of Obama’s approach, which was to apologize to Muslims, we must be honest with them. They live, for the most part, in intolerant and primitive societies that endanger humanity. We must stop lying. They will not change until we do.

Bernie Sanders: “the fight against ISIS is a struggle for the soul of Islam, and countering violent extremism and destroying ISIS must be done primarily by Muslim nations.” We don’t know if he means it in anything but a pro forma way, but he’s been highly critical of Saudi Arabia, which is rare enough for a politician. If he means it, will he get the Trump / Carson treatment?

It’s 14 years since 9/11. Bush did no one any favors with his Islam is peace shtick, though it was perhaps understandable at the time. In these long years since 2001, we’ve learned that Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries kill people who leave the religion. We’ve learned that Iran kills gays. We’ve learned that sharia is an empirical disaster that suffuses everyday life in ways unimaginable to the West. The good news today is that ISIS is so over-the-top that the unsayable has begun to become sayable.

OTOH we could always try insanity.

Macro and Micro again

November 24th, 2015


Southern Turkey — Dua had only been working for two months with the Khansaa Brigade, the all-female morality police of the Islamic State, when her friends were brought to the station to be whipped. The police had hauled in two women she had known since childhood, a mother and her teenage daughter, both distraught. Their abayas, flowing black robes, had been deemed too form-fitting.

When the mother saw Dua, she rushed over and begged her to intercede. The room felt stuffy as Dua weighed what to do. “Their abayas really were very tight. I told her it was their own fault; they had come out wearing the wrong thing,” she said. “They were unhappy with that.”

Dua sat back down and watched as the other officers took the women into a back room to be whipped. When they removed their face-concealing niqabs, her friends were also found to be wearing makeup. It was 20 lashes for the abaya offense, five for the makeup, and another five for not being meek enough when detained. Their cries began ringing out.

The three Syrian women interviewed for this article, all former members of the Islamic State morality police who escaped to Turkey this year, met with a reporter. The names Aws, Dua and Asma are pseudonyms used for their protection, but they fully identified themselves and their family connections. Their accounts of working for the Islamic State, of their lives and of events in Raqqa, Syria, in recent years were consistent with one another and with interviews and accounts of other former and current residents of Raqqa.

In the short time since she had joined the Khansaa Brigade in her hometown, Raqqa, in northern Syria, the morality force had grown more harsh. Mandatory abayas and niqabs were still new for many women in the weeks after the jihadists of the Islamic State had purged the city of competing militants and taken over. At first, the brigade was told to give the community a chance to adapt, and clothing offenses brought small fines. After too many young women became repeat offenders, however, paying the fines without changing their behavior, the soft approach was out. Now it was whipping — and now it was her friends being punished.

The mother and daughter came to Dua’s parents’ house afterward, furious with her and venting their anger at the Islamic State. “They said they hated it and wished it had never come to Raqqa,” Dua said. She pleaded with them, explaining that as a young and new member of the Khansaa Brigade, there was nothing she could have done. But a lifelong friendship, with shared holiday gatherings and birthday parties, was suddenly broken. “After that day, they hated me, too,” she said. “They never came to our house again.”

Dua’s second cousin Aws also worked for the brigade. Not long after Dua’s friends were whipped, Aws saw fighters brutally lashing a man in Muhammad Square. The man, about 70, frail and with white hair, had been heard cursing God. As a crowd gathered, the fighters dragged him into the public square and whipped him after he fell to his knees. “He cried the whole time,” Aws said. “It was lucky for him that he had cursed Allah, because Allah shows mercy. If he’d cursed the Prophet, they would have killed him.”

Things could be worse of course; they might have to take classes at Columbia (ah, college life). Thankfully, most people are spared that trauma. In other news, ISIS is going to get a powerful rebuke in a couple of weeks. Roger Kimball quotes The River War. Thomas Sowell reflects on the several uses of language. Mark Steyn points out once again the incredible corruption in the media. John Hinderaker does the same; this would be boring if it wasn’t so appalling. This guy Kessler is at minimum a fool; cf CNN.

Markets will fluctuate

November 23rd, 2015

Bloomberg offers a potpourri of views on China:

Tepper, the billionaire owner of Appaloosa Management, said last week at the Robin Hood Investor’s Conference that the Chinese yuan is massively overvalued and needs to fall further. His comments follow similar forecasts from some of the biggest hedge fund managers, including Crispin Odey, founder of the $12 billion Odey Asset Management, who predicts China will devalue the yuan by at least 30 percent.

Hedge fund holdings of some of the largest U.S.-listed Chinese companies have dropped in the past six months. The funds owned about 8 percent of reported U.S.-traded shares of Baidu Inc. at the end of the third quarter, according to regulatory filings. That’s down from about 13 percent in the first quarter. Fund ownership of International Ltd. sunk to roughly 16 percent from 25 percent in the period, and it declined to approximately 22 percent from 44 percent at Inc.

China’s economic growth goal of 6.5 percent for the next five years won’t be met unless the yuan falls at least 8 percent versus the dollar by the end of 2016, Royal Bank of Canada and Rabobank Groep said.

Burbank, the founder of $4.4 billion Passport, told investors in an Oct. 30 letter to beware of a China-led shakeout. The world may be heading into “a global downturn that leaves no region safe, including the United States,” he wrote. If economic conditions worsen in China, particularly with nonperforming loans, it could mean the end of the dollar peg for the yuan, lower interest rates and the liquidation of risk assets around the world, he said.

Elliott Management’s Paul Singer also warned about global contagion from China’s decline. Singer told investors in an October letter that emerging market countries are “choking” on U.S. dollar-denominated debt that was extended due to low interest rates and monetary stimulus. He said many emerging economies, which are in recession, are “scared to death” about even a 25 basis-point increase in U.S. interest rates.

Whether China has the means to spur growth is a question for Burbank, who says that will be “enormously difficult” to pull off. “We don’t think a trillion dollar stimulus like the one initiated in 2009 is likely in the cards again for China,” he wrote. “Investors should prepare for a worsening global economic environment and the potential for recessions in both the U.S. and globally.”

This chart would seem consistent with bearish sentiments on growth:

Historical Copper Prices - Copper Price History Chart

Unrelated: Tom Maguire knocks the cover off the ball. And here’s the winner of Dumb of the Day. And our excrable colleges create sad, self-fulfilling prophesies.

Cause, meet Effect

November 22nd, 2015

Taken from the Ottawa Sun about its university:

Student leaders have pulled the mat out from 60 University of Ottawa students, ending a free on-campus yoga class over fears the teachings could be seen as a form of “cultural appropriation.”

Staff at the Centre for Students with Disabilities believe that “while yoga is a really great idea and accessible and great for students, there are cultural issues of implication involved in the practice.”

The centre official argues since many of those cultures “have experienced oppression, cultural genocide and diasporas due to colonialism and western supremacy, we need to be mindful of this and how we express ourselves while practising yoga.”

Acting student federation president Romeo Ahimakin said the student federation put the yoga session on hiatus while they consult with students “to make it better, more accessible and more inclusive to certain groups of people that feel left out in yoga-like spaces.”

Student leaders debated rebranding the program, but stumbled over how the French translation for “mindful stretching” would appear on a promotional poster, and eventually decided to suspend the program. Student federation official Julie Seguin sympathized with Scharf over e-mail, defending the use of the term “yoga.”

Meanwhile, in the US, from a PhD student at NYU (HT: Clarice):

White chefs create “Asian-inspired” dishes. When going out to eat, I notice many “Asian-fusion” themed restaurants where chefs combine all the countries and flavors in the vast and diverse continent of Asia and throw them together.

Often, when we talk about “ethnic” food, we’re not referring to French, German, or Italian cuisine, and definitely not those Ikea Swedish meatballs. Usually, we’re talking about Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, Ethiopian, and Mexican food –places where food is cooked by the “brownest” people.

Vietnam had been occupied by China for a thousand years and then colonized by France. This period of colonization is also what led to things like banh mi (sandwiches) and banh ex (crepes). The use of spam in different parts of Asia and the Pacific Islands, like spam musabi or spam in hot pot, are a direct result of US colonization.

When food gets disconnected from the communities and places it’s from, people can easily start forgetting and ignoring historical and ongoing oppression faced by those communities. America has corporatized “Middle Eastern food” like hummus and falafel, and some people might live by halal food carts, but not understand or address the ongoing Islamophobia in the US.

Folks might love Mexican food, but not care about different issues such as labor equity and immigration policy that impact members from that community. There are also really hurtful stereotypes connected to food where people of color get reduced to the food they eat or are called things like smelly.

Quinoa, which is native to Bolivia is now too expensive for communities there. Last year, Whole Foods declared collard greens the “new kale.” Coconuts have now been packaged as high end, luxury water. Tofu, soy, and tempeh are now staples at organic, healthy food markets. This is food gentrification, where communities can no longer afford their own cuisines.

Meanwhile, what’s happening at the headquarters of both the EU and NATO? BBC:

Brussels will stay on the highest level of terror alert, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel says, amid a manhunt for suspects linked to the Paris attacks. Schools, universities and the metro in the Belgian capital will remain closed on Monday, Mr Michel said. Brussels has been on lockdown all weekend, as police search for suspected Paris attacker Salah Abdeslam. Islamic State militants, some of whom were from Brussels, killed 130 people in Paris on 13 November.

How about the Middle East:

Hadar Bucharis of Safed, a city in northern Israel, was stabbed on Sunday afternoon at the Gush Etzion Junction, near the West Bank settlement of Alon Shvut. She was declared dead at a Jerusalem hospital.

The assailant, identified by the Shin Bet security service as Wissam Tawabte, 34, was shot and killed by troops at the scene. Tawabte, a Palestinian from the nearby village of Beit Fajjar, did not have a previous terror history, according to the Shin Bet.

At the same junction three days earlier, American yeshiva student Ezra Schwartz and two others were killed in a shooting attack, reportedly by Palestinian gunmen. Other deadly terror attacks have taken place at the junction in recent months.

Earlier Sunday, a Palestinian taxi driver attempted to run over a group of Israelis at a junction near the West Bank settlement of Kfar Adumim, the Israel Defense Forces said. Unsuccessful in his attempts, he exited his vehicle and tried to stab Israelis at the junction. The attacker, identified as a resident of a Palestinian village near Ramallah, was shot and killed by a civilian at the scene, according to the IDF.

That morning, a 16-year-old Palestinian girl from Nablus allegedly attempted to stab an Israeli near the West Bank settlement of Ariel. An Israeli civilian who witnessed the attack ran over the girl, then shot her dead, according to reports. The Israeli media identified the civilian as Gershon Mesika, a settler leader who is the former head of the Samaria Regional Council.

On Saturday evening, a Palestinian man from a village near Hebron in the West Bank allegedly stabbed four people in front of a sports stadium in the southern Israeli city of Kiryat Gat, including a 13-year-old girl.

The incredibly weird US focus on PC self-flagellation, erasing history in service to the crybullies’ Utopia, and other micro nonsense has paved the way for the Trumpster, as Roger Simon notes. Even as CNN maliciously alters videos of him, the guy doubles down. Now he’ll bring back waterboarding and have surveillance of certain mosques. Stay tuned. He’s driving the corrupt media berserk, which is kind of his hole card.

Charles Moore has a thoughtful piece on the two roads that have now diverged so wide; the bit about his conversation at lunch illustrates things succinctly.

Upside down world

November 21st, 2015

John Hinderaker has a good piece summarizing the wackiness of the government’s aggressively saying and doing things which are unpopular with large majorities of Americans. It’s the unholy trinity of nuttiness. We simply don’t get this. Wretchard takes a stab at an analysis, which ventures a bit into psychology, but we’re not entirely convinced. There must be a strategy; otherwise why keep violating the first rule of holes? (Mark Steyn observes that whatever this dementia is, it’s broadly international in nature. Frightening.) Oh yes, that Paris guy from last week made a lot of videos in Syria. He’s very comfortable around dead people.

We take back some of the above. Delusional could be an adequate explanation.

What’s Plan B?

November 20th, 2015

It’s only a matter of time before some version of Paris happens in the US. We are told that there is a very visible police presence right now in Manhattan, but how long can that go on? But we continue to hear rubbish from the usual sources, as they deride those who want to put the brakes on importing people who can’t be checked out in advance. So our question is: what’s Plan B? What will these people say when the opposite of their fantasy world happens? As we said below, we think PC is in the middle of jumping the shark bigtime, and we don’t think MSM cover is likely to keep working. So what’s Plan B for these people?

Fool’s Paradise

November 19th, 2015

That is the world of predictions. However, we’ll take a shot. We think there probably will be an alumni backlash that will manifest in substantially decreased gifts to the schools with the most foolishness going on. We also think there’s a major political rebranding in process. The left has been extraordinarily successful in branding their opponents as possessed of evil and retrograde beliefs. Check out this nonsense and that one for minor examples. Taking a look at the near future, it seems close to a certainty that really bad things are going to happen close to home. Both PC and the obsession with micro -this and -that are likely to take a big hit. What comes after is unknown.

This and that

November 18th, 2015

Some thoughts on how ISIS got so far so fast. Related: we kept troops in Japan and Germany after WWII and they didn’t want to be there. Related: our thoughts on the Berlin Airlift. (For a change of pace, don’t read this if you don’t want to be depressed.) Hey, who knew so many in the US had been arrested on ISIS related matters? Maybe some more links later.

Cognitive dissonance

November 17th, 2015

A senior US gov official:

There’s something different about what happened from Charlie Hebdo, and I think everybody would feel that. There was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of – not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, okay, they’re really angry because of this and that. This Friday was absolutely indiscriminate. It wasn’t to aggrieve one particular sense of wrong. It was to terrorize people. It was to attack everything that we do stand for. That’s not an exaggeration.

It was to assault all sense of nationhood and nation-state and rule of law and decency, dignity, and just put fear into the community and say, “Here we are.” And for what? What’s the platform? What’s the grievance? That we’re not who they are? They kill people because of who they are and they kill people because of what they believe. And it’s indiscriminate. They kill Shia. They kill Yezidis. They kill Christians. They kill Druze. They kill Ismaili. They kill anybody who isn’t them and doesn’t pledge to be that.

And they carry with them the greatest public display of misogyny that I’ve ever seen, not to mention a false claim regarding Islam. It has nothing to do with Islam; it has everything to do with criminality, with terror, with abuse, with psychopathism – I mean, you name it.

And that’s why when some people – I even had a member of my own family email me and say, “More bombs aren’t the solution,” they said. Well, in principle, no. In principle, if you can educate and change people and provide jobs and make a difference if that’s what they want, sure. But in this case, that’s not what’s happening. This is just raw terror to set up a caliphate to expand and expand and spread one notion of how you live and who you have to be.

That is the antithesis of everything that brought our countries together – why Lafayette came to America to help us find liberty, and all of the evolutions of the struggles of France, the governments, to find the liberte, egalite, fraternite, and make it real in life every day. And all of that peacefulness was shattered in the span of an hour-plus on Friday night when people were going about their normal business. And they purposefully chose a concert, chose restaurants, chose places where people engage in social dialogue and exchange, and they object to that too.

So this is not a situation where we have a choice. We have been at war with these guys since last year. President Obama said that very clearly. And every single country – not just in the region, but around the world – is opposed to what they are doing to the norms of human behavior and the standards by which we try to live.

So we are engaged in a struggle here – struggle of a generation. Every generation is given a test, I think. Through the 20th century we saw global wars and nation-states fighting each other. Today the challenge, even though we have differences with nation-states – Ukraine, Iran, different things that are happening – we’re not choosing to randomly go to war. We’re trying to avoid it. We’re trying to find a better path. But it’s non-state actors – individuals, lone wolves and groups, small groups – and if somebody is willing to die – if you want to go die on any given day, unfortunately, you can take some people with you.

So our challenge is to stop the immediate threat, obviously, and destroy it, while we eliminate the people going into the pool by providing those other options – by reaching them before they’re radicalized; by getting people to see there is better governance, there are better opportunities. And globally, we have a lot of work to do that. That’s what’s brought all of you into this place, into this business of diplomacy, of caring and trying to take America’s values and help to spread them around the world.

But we don’t force them on people. We give people a choice. Everybody has their choice. We offer them because we believe it’s the best way to provide security, the best way to provide opportunity, and the best way to respect individual rights and the ability of any individual to be able to choose for themselves who they want to be and what they want to be, without disturbing other people, and certainly without killing.

This is beginning to get really weird. This guy sees the reality but can’t bring himself to accept it. No doubt the senior Saudi and Iranian and maybe even Afghani officials he has dinner with have their suits made by Gieves and Hawkes and consider the 1929 Chateau Latour to have been the best Bordeaux ever bottled. No doubt they discuss global warming and the foreign worthies pretend to care. But it is not out of the mainstream to hang gays in Iran and execute apostates in Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan. Surah 2:256 was superseded fella; time to get a grip and face things the way they really are for tens, if not hundreds, of millions of people.

That’s Entertainment!

November 16th, 2015

Missouri, Yale, Amherst, lots of others, now Kansas. Did you know that A&E has a musical special this week. Guess what it’s about. Hint: it will be followed by discussions involving “Charleston, Baltimore, Chicago and Ferguson.” Hmmm. A&E. Its Brand Identity: A&E is Real Life. Drama. Isn’t A&E owned by Comcast? Comcast? Oh yes, that Comcast. Probably just a coincidence.

Depressing…….and not

November 16th, 2015

Polling data. Theological debates. Unfashionable discussions of possible cause and effect relationships on campus. And if that’s not enough, there are other possible reasons for college antics. But here’s something that’s upbeat, and it even has a soundtrack.

Dishonorable mention, and a few other things

November 15th, 2015

That would be Wall Street, which was mentioned 43 times, 4x higher than you-know-what. Also curious re war was the “500,000 who came home with P.T.S.D. and traumatic brain injury.” Since there were 200,000 or so soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2008 (see p.8), brain injury perhaps takes on a new meaning. Possible further evidence: “climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism. And if we do not get our act together and listen to what the scientists say you’re gonna see countries all over the world – this is what the C.I.A. says, they’re gonna be struggling over limited amounts of water, limited amounts of land to grow their crops. And you’re gonna see all kinds of international conflict.” A 40 year old Lawrence Welk show was on another station; it was more interesting than the above.

Curious targeting

November 15th, 2015

From Fusion, a JV of Disney/ABC and Univision:

The attacks were concentrated in the center of Paris, on the Right Bank. These are places and streets that burst with life on a Friday evening. It is where young and hip Parisians gather to drink and socialize. Le Carillon, La Belle Equipe, Le Petit Cambodge: these are ordinary neighborhood joints where you meet your buddies for a quick “demi” of watery French beer or a snack before going out somewhere else.

I know these places well. This is where I meet up with my old friends whenever I go to Paris. In the early 90s, I saw Prince playing an aftershow at the Bataclan — now a venue which will forever be associated with tragedy and death. This is not the side of Paris seen by tourists or business travelers; rather, it’s an area where actual Parisians and people from the banlieues hang out and mix together. They might have gentrified, yet these neighborhoods have retained their proletarian and ethnically-mixed flavor.

That whiff of authenticity is part of the neighborhood’s attraction for Parisian Bobos, as they call themselves. The banlieues are the cities and housing projects surrounding Paris, where most of the French youth of immigrant descent live (contrary to popular imagination, the banlieues are far from desolate ghettos, “no-go zones” or breeding grounds for jihadists: they are difficult yet vibrant and dynamic places).

This is the land of hipster socialists. These neighborhoods recently elected a female socialist mayor, as well as a slew of Green Party candidates, even as the rest of the country voted for the more conservative and anti-immigration parties on the Right.

The attackers, whomever they may be and whatever their motives, went after the heart of progressive Paris. They did not attack the more touristy Champs-Elysées or Notre Dame, or the more bourgeois and conservative left bank, where most of the government ministries are located.

That message is reinforced by the site of the other attack, the Stade de France. That particular stadium is one of the few places where the promise of a more integrated France is realized, if only intermittently. The French soccer team, known as “Les Bleus,” is the paragon of the ‘black-blanc-beur’ ideal (black, white, arab). The national team is republican meritocracy in action, and it works. The Stade de France is where a French team led by the Algerian-Frenchman Zinedine Zidane won the greatest trophy in sports, the FIFA World Cup, in 1998.

Tonight’s attacks show the same uncanny sense of symbolism as the January massacres. They targeted neighborhoods where people are more inclined to be tolerant, liberal and progressive. And they targeted the greatest monument to France’s multi-ethnic, pluralistic success: the hallowed ground of the Stade de France.

It was easy to understand the rationale of going after Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish deli. We’re not sure what going after these young people means. (We now understand via the comments, and it’s a sensible strategy at a superficial level but it could backfire bigtime. Let’s hope so.)

Two roads diverged

November 15th, 2015


The dilemma the West now faces is that it cannot survive on the basis of the platform which its elites have carefully constructed since WW2. They are being beaten to death with their own lofty statements. They must either continue to uphold the vision of open borders, multiculturalism, declining birthrates, unilateral disarmament and a growing state sector at all costs — in other words continue on the road to suicide — or retreat. As recent events at American campuses have shown, when faced with the choice of saving the Left and saving the actual world, the odds are that “the world” goes over the side first.

In attempting to survive on its own terms, the Left will tear itself apart. In its agony it will destroy much else. It may be that Europe will rediscover its culture; it is possible it will develop the will to defend itself; it is conceivable it will hold off extreme fascist movements; it could even plausibly reconstruct its demography. But it cannot do this without an upheaval that will leave nothing unscathed. The good news is that the West must soon squarely face choices it has been avoiding until now. The bad news is that nothing will escape unscathed.

Radical Islamism’s greatest challenge is it that ruthlessly exposes a fatal flaw which has existed in the ideology of the West for the last 70 years. It is representative of a question that won’t go away. Can it face the facts just as they are and think its way out of a jam? What Samantha Power called the Problem from Hell is really the Kobayashi Maru test of European civilization. Faced with a no-win situation, will the West find a path through?

The answer, as in most cases in history, is “maybe.” Maybe if we get it right, if we think out of the box, if we are lucky then perhaps we will survive. In a world accustomed to “safe spaces” and guarantees, this may seem unsatisfactory. But each past generation was offered no more than this, from the hunter gatherers who ventured out of Africa to the fighter pilots of the Battle of Britain. That is all that is on offer. Take the maybe or walk away empty handed.

The biggest psychological barrier that the current orthodoxy has to overcome is the realization that humanity is actually free. Nothing is written, especially not the PC text. But you must face the facts, no matter the trigger, no matter the micro-aggression. One thing for sure, the West will fail surely and the world descend into chaos if we continue as before. If one thing is plainly evident, it is that the same old, same old isn’t going to work.

Frankly, we don’t know how Europe can deal with a demographic problem this large (10% or more Muslims in France and 751 Zones Urbaines Sensibiles) without terrible disruptions and violence. Ten years ago there was rioting and torching of thousands of cars, and that has continued. This was the kind of sanitized reporting you got back then from the AFP: “On Thursday gangs of youths from Paris’s high-immigration suburbs smashed windows.” Now it appears that the authorities’ old solution — looking the other way — is done. What comes next?

Even Pee Wee could figure this one out

November 15th, 2015

Point A. Point B. Even Pee Wee could figure this one out.