frankilin roosevelt

It's not about being liberal or conservative anymore y'all. That is a hype offered by the fascist whores who want to confuse the people with lies while they turn this country into an aristocratic police state. Some people will say anything to attain power and money. There is no such thing as the Liberal Media, but the Corporate media is very real.

Check out my old  Voice of the People page.

Gino Napoli
San Francisco, California
High School Math Teacher

Loyalty without truth
is a trail to tyranny.

a middle-aged
George Washington

1601 POSTS

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Monday, 14 November 2005 at 20h 51m 9s

Manipulating Intelligence

Thanks to Kevin Drumm. [SOURCE]

MANIPULATING INTELLIGENCE....Did the Bush administration mislead the country during the runup to the Iraq war? It's true that they turned out to be wrong about a great many things, but that doesn't answer the question. It merely begs it. Were they sincerely wrong, or did they intentionally manipulate the intelligence they presented to the public in order to mask known weaknesses in their case?

The case for manipulation is pretty strong. It relies on several things, but I think the most important of them has been the discovery that the administration deliberately suppressed dissenting views on some of the most important pieces of evidence that they used to bolster their case for war. For future reference, here's a list of five key dissents about administration claims, all of which were circulated before the war but kept under wraps until after the war:

The Claim: Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, an al-Qaeda prisoner captured in 2001, was the source of intelligence that Saddam Hussein had trained al-Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons. This information was used extensively by Colin Powell in his February 2003 speech to the UN.

What We Know Now: Al-Libi's information was obtained under torture. Link. As early as February 2002, the Defense Intelligence Agency circulated a report, labeled DITSUM No. 044-02, saying that it was "likely this individual is intentionally misleading the debriefers." Link. This assessment was hidden from the public until after the war.

The Claim: An Iraqi defector codenamed "Curveball" was the source of reporting that Saddam Hussein had built a fleet of mobile biowarfare labs. Curveball's claims of mobile bio labs were repeated by many administration figures during the runup to war.

What We Know Now: The only American agent to actually meet with Curveball before the war warned that he appeared to be an alcoholic and was unreliable. However, his superior in the CIA told him it was best to keep quiet about this: "Let's keep in mind the fact that this war's going to happen regardless of what Curveball said or didn't say, and the powers that be probably aren't terribly interested in whether Curveball knows what he's talking about." L ink. This dissent was not made public until 2004, in a response to the SSCI report that was written by Senator Dianne Feinstein. Link.

The Claim: Iraq had purchased thousands of aluminum tubes to act as centrifuges for the creation of bomb grade uranium. Dick Cheney said they were "irrefutable evidence" of an Iraqi nuclear program and George Bush cited them in his 2003 State of the Union address.

What We Know Now: Centrifuge experts at the Oak Ridge Office of the Department of Energy had concluded long before the war that the tubes were unsuitable for centrifuge work and were probably meant for use in artillery rockets. The State Department concurred. Link. Both of these dissents were omitted from the CIA's declassified National Intelligence Estimate, released on October 4, 2002. Link. They were subsequently made public after the war, on July 18, 2003. Link.

The Claim: Saddam Hussein attempted to purchase uranium yellowcake from Africa as part of his attempt to reconstitute his nuclear program. President Bush cited this publicly in his 2003 State of the Union address.

What We Know Now: The primary piece of evidence for this claim was a document showing that Iraq had signed a contract to buy yellowcake from Niger. However, the CIA specifically told the White House in October 2002 that the "reporting was weak" and that they disagreed with the British about the reliability of this intelligence. Link . At the same time, the State Department wrote that the documents were "completely implausible." Link.

Three months later, in January 2003, Alan Foley, head of the CIA's counterproliferation effort, tried to persuade the White House not to include the claim in the SOTU because the information wasn't solid enough, but was overruled. Link. Five weeks later, the documents were conclusively shown to be forgeries. Link. In July 2003, after the war had ended, CIA Director George Tenet admitted publicly that that the claim should never have been made. Link.

The Claim: Saddam Hussein was developing long range aerial drones capable of attacking the continental United States with chemical or biological weapons. President Bush made this claim in a speech in October 2002 and Colin Powell repeated it during his speech to the UN in February 2003.

What We Know Now: The Iraqi drones had nowhere near the range to reach the United States, and Air Force experts also doubted that they were designed to deliver WMD. However, their dissent was left out of the October 2002 NIE and wasn't made public until July 2003. Link.

This is not a comprehensive list ....

One final word on this: the issue here is not who was right and who was wrong, or even whether the overall weight of the evidence was sufficient to justify the war. It would have been perfectly reasonable for the White House to present all the evidence pro and con and then use that evidence to make the strongest possible case for war. But that's not what they did. Instead, they suppressed any evidence that might have thrown doubt on their arguments, making it impossible for the public to evaluate what they were saying. In fact, by abusing the classification process to keep these dissents secret, they even made it impossible for senators who knew the truth to say anything about it in public.

This is not the way to market a war. It's certainly not the way to market a war that requires long term support from citizens in a democracy. But that's how they marketed it anyway.

Sunday, 13 November 2005 at 0h 42m 15s

Lies and a shameful President

Bush's agenda is to destroy democracy in the United States, and use the backdrop of war to conceal his real motives. Remember now, he's a war prezident who hit the "trifecta."


There never was any WMD.

American troops have used weapons of mass destruction called "White Phosphorus" and Napalm against the Iraqi resistance. Do we go to war against WMD, only to use it ourselves against the "enemy" that is supposed to have WMD?

Saddam got his original chemical weapons in the 1980's from United State defense contractors with the connivance of the Reagan administration. Donald Rumsfeld himself made a trip over to see Saddam in 1988 to conclude the deals.

President Bush used false evidence about Saddam's nuclear capabilities, and mentioned Nigerian yellowcake purchases that he knew was based on forged evidence. He sent then Secretary of Defense Colin Powell to utter more lies to the United Nations about "mobile" chemical trailers and aluminum tubes for centrifuges, that were known falsehoods within the intelligence community. This is why Colin Powell recently admittedly that his moment before the UN was most shameful experience in his life. But that's what Bush does Colin you fool. He uses people and then spits them out like an old beer can.

Ahmed Chalabi is a known liar, who fled Jordan during the 1980's in the trunk of a car because he was defrauding the Bank he was heading. He was the head of a front organization in the United States during the 1990's called the Iraqi National Congress which got federal funds in order to exist. Yep, gotta fat 100,000 dollar salary from Uncle Sam so's he can make up shit and pretend that he is a real rebel leader like Gandhi, Ho Chi Minh, or (even) George Washington. Chalabi's lies were used by the administration to justify the invasion of Iraq, because he was originally supposed to be installed as the mafioso leader of a newly reborn Iraq, until he got caught funneling money to various political organzations and had to flee to ... Iran. Meanwhile, ex-CIA point man Ilyad Allawi is now the next installation of freedom. But fear not, Chalabi still flies back to the US to meet with administration leaders so they can discuss his next assignment.

Excuse me ... Bush pulled out the inspectors 3 weeks before they were finished and had a faked news conference in the Azore Islands declaring he was invading anyway. He never went back to the UN after the results of the inspection like Bush said he would do. Bush is now currently lying about this, saying that Saddam never let the inspectors in, or that he had no choice. He had a choice, and that choice was always to invade Iraq no matter what. Stop "playing politics" and "re-writing history" Mr. President.

The Bush administration refused to listen to the military planners and the intelligence that wasn't doctored if it disagreed with Ahmed Chalabi's rosy scenario's. No planning was ever done, and as a result the troops did not have supplies and the proper organization to conduct a professional operation. But hey, what's wrong with Halliburton contractors dispatching rotten food when soldiers can eat some food the Italians shared with them and American corporations can make billions of profits?

The military protected one agency building in Baghdad from looting. One and only one. The Ministry of Oil building. Looting occurred everywhere else, including the Ministry of Nuclear Science and the Museum of Baghdad. Ammunition dumps were left unguarded all the way up to Baghdad so the American cameras could make up a news bit about Iraq being free in less than 3 weeks. All that ammo eventually got filched and is now being used by the "insurgents." And hey Wait just one minute, wasn't the war about "Saddam's Nuclear Arsenal" and the military doesn't have a plan to guard the ministry of Nuclear Science or the ammo dumps? Are they really this incompetent, or was this only the first indication of what the real intentions were?

Keep in mind that the invading troops were not provided with chemical weapons gear. If the administration (especially Donald Rumsfeld) really believed that Saddam had WMD, wouldn't it make sense to have the god damn gear -- just in case!!! Are they really this incompetent, or was this yet another indication of what the real intentions were?

Bush himself declared in his speech the night before the invasion :

And now I have a message for the Iraqi people. Do not destroy oil wells.

Yep, do not destroy oil wells was the message for the Iraqi people. Sounds more like a threat. He could have said that America was not invading Iraq, but was only intervening to establish a free society. He could have reassured the Iraqi's that his intentions were good. But no. That's not what he said is it?

Funny how Saddam's old torture prison Abu Ghraib, is currently being used in similar ways. That's because they invaded to take control, establish a front government and intall a secret police network to kill political opponents and union leaders. That's what happened in nearby Iran when the Shah was put up by and earlier gang of thugs during the 60s and 70s, much like Saddam was also abetted during the 1980s. If we were really trying to create democracy in the middle east -- rather than rigged plebiscites called "elections" -- take a look around at the nearby states. All of them are either dictatorships or royalist oligarchies. Why would we enlist autocrats and dictators in the fight to install "freedom" in the Middle East? Would bank robbers gladly work with the chief of police , unless the chief was on the take?

Instead of freedom however, the Iraqi's get "shock and awe" because apparently we have to kill and bomb them so that they can be free.

Tax cuts for the wealthyduring time of war, when we have to borrow from the Saudi's, Indians, and China with interest? Do you give a rich investor $100,000 so he can hire 9 men for $10,000 and keep $10,000 for himself, or do you just give the whole 100,000 to the 10 men without the "benevolence" of the boss man handing out the cash. But isn't it a big assumption that the boss man will split the take 1 to 9? This is what the fools who hawk "trickle-down" economics ignore -- that it is god damn wasteful because the rich just get richer. Even if a few jobs do get created in the process, more jobs get created when more people have more money because the economy is demand driven. Giving fat cats and corporations extra cash so they can make more and sell more completely obviates the reality that you can't sell more products to people who have less money.

Massive corruption and incompetence in the contracting process. American corporations are favored, friends of the lobbyist network get lucrative contracts as "consultants", even though hiring Iraqi's would not only be cheaper, but also more effective -- especially when the unemployment rate in Iraq is between 40 and 60 percent.

Why did Paul Bremer replace Jay Garner during the first 4 months? Garner wanted to pull out as soon as possible. Bremer went on to write the Iraqi constitution and build a political base of repression, while overseeing 14 permanent bases on Iraqi soil. Do you invade a country to make it a democracy, only to write the constitution and then install 14 permanent bases?

If we really are fighting them over there so they won't fight us here, who is they? Would they be the 100,000 Iraqi people who inadvertantly died? Should the non-terrorists respect the United States when US forces completely destroy their country in the name of defeating the terrorists?

If we are really fighting a war on terror, then why did the administration destroy the very CIA operation that was investigating the funding of the terrorist networks and nuclear proliferation? This was the operation that involved Valerie Plame, in case you didn't know.

And the "terrorists" that attacked on September 11th were all Saudi's or Egyptians with Saudi passports allowed into the United States without any oversight. Then all the Saudi's were allowed to leave without any interrogation by September 13th on planes. When the FBI was investigating the "WAMY" charity network, the Bush administration stopped the investigation because the bin laden family was involved. Brother Marvin Bush was in charge of an obscure Security Consulting firm that handled the security operations at the World Trade Center 6 months prior to 9-11. The same company also handled the airport in NYC. Strange coincidence indeed. The company was eventually bought out and dissolved by another firm in 2002.

My Conclusion: The terrorists are in the White House. The Bush gang has been good friends with the Saudi monarchy and the bin laden's since the 1950's. It's called Real politik. Install dictators and monarchists to repress dissent over the resource allocations, and use them as handlers for covert operations. For instance : Why was the Pakistani minister of Intelligence operations wiring money to Atta 2 days before September 11th ?

Saturday, 12 November 2005 at 1h 52m 1s

Good kitty, gone bad

Friday, 11 November 2005 at 2h 41m 36s

Here comes the propaganda machine

Thanks to the awesome .

Top White House officials say they're developing a "campaign-style" strategy in response to increasing Democratic allegations that the Bush administration twisted intelligence to make its case for war. White House aides, who agreed to speak to CNN only on the condition of anonymity, said they hoped to increase what they called their "hit back" in coming days.

White House to Hit Back at Democrats
November 8, 2005

The seven tapes were already in Sirica's hands, and it was only a matter of time before they would become public at a trial. Haig wanted to blunt the impact of their disclosure in any way he could, to seize the issue on the President's terms. The preferable course was for Nixon to make a speech of contrition -- accept responsibility for past mistakes, acknowledge the abuses documented in the tapes, pledge a bright future. But Nixon could never undertake an act of public confession. He was too proud, it would break him. Haig knew Kissinger had already suggested something like that. Ziegler had rejected the notion, saying "Contrition is bullshit.".

Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein
The Final Days

Friday, 11 November 2005 at 2h 6m 48s

Another point about Alito

From Americablog, blogger John in D.C.

...CNN's legal affairs expert, Jeffrey Toobin, just said that there does seem to be a distinction between what Alito said he'd do and what he actually did, Tobin then seriously misstated the entire problem.

Toobin said there are two issues here:

1. Whether it's prohibited for Alito to participate in a specific case; and

2. Whether there was some sort of computer glitch in the clerk's office that failed to notify Alito that he should have recused himself in the case.

But Toobin's description of the issues is missing the most important issue.

The issue here isn't whether Alito was or wasn't required, under court rules, to recuse himself from these cases. The issue is that Alito promised, seemingly under oath, NOT to hear these cases, period - but then went ahead and heard them anyway. That's a lie. It's also possibly perjury. And at the very least, it suggests he intentionally misled the Senate Judiciary Committee ON THREE SEPARATE OCCASIONS in order to get confirmed.

As for Toobin's second argument, that the reason the case came to Alito was perhaps a computer glitch, again that's not the issue. The question is not HOW the cases came to Alito, the question is WHY Alito didn't recuse himself, as promised under oath, AFTER the cases came to him, regardless of how they came to him.

In the Vanguard case, Alito went out of his way to argue that there was no reason he should have to recuse himself. Not only does that negate the computer glitch argument - it doesn't matter how Alito got the case, he was perfectly happy KEEPING the case and argued that he should keep the case. But what's more, Alito actually had the nerve to argue that there was no reason to recuse himself from this case when there was a very good reason - he had previously promised to recuse himself, under oath.

Again, it's nice to split hairs about whether Alito was "legally" required to recuse himself under court rules dealing with conflicts of interest, etc., but that's not the issue here. The issue is that Alito promised, we assume under oath, to recuse himself in order to convince Senators to confirm him. Then after Alito got confirmed - bam! - he turned around and broke his promise, and hear the case anyway. And not just once, but three times.

The man is a liar, quite possibly a perjurer, and at the very least he's someone with a proven track record of saying anything to Senators in order to be confirmed. There is now no reason any Senator should vote for Alito based on any testimony

By the way, Toobin is a hack. He writes books about political events that seem to be unbiased and thorough to the non-expert, but which somehow skip over major relevant portions of those events and focus on largely inconsequential portions of the same events.

But Jeffrey Toobin is the expert the television audience gets. Not someone with more knowledge, and more integrity like University of Michigan History professor Juan Cole -- or Princeton economics professor Paul Krugman -- or .... Who the hell is Jeffrey Toobin? Whoa, a journalist ... yeah, well judge thee by the traces of thine works.

Mr. Toobin, how could you write a whole 250 page book about the 2000 Florida election and write only 2 weak sentences about the Felon lists and the entire history of DBA- Choicepoint contracts and the three (yes, three) judicial decisions which informed Governor Jeb Bush that the way that Felon lists were being collected were unconstitutional. And the two sentences themselves stated that Mr. Toobin held these events to be of dubious value.

In addition, Mr. Toobin neglected to mention the role John Roberts played in the White House legal team. He did not even mention the fact that staffers were flown to West Palm Beach on Enron jets to fake a citizens' protest. And Mr. Toobin, your take on the ruling by the supreme court was benign to the point of distraction. You completely obfuscate the event with your book-wide theme that the Gore team was inferior to the legal team of Bush because the Bush team went on the attack from day one.

My God lad, the Court came in and stopped the law from taking effect, completely ignoring the despicable obstruction by the Rethuglican's (real Republican's would never act as such). As I've said in a recent post, the court could have made many rulings -- one that could have validated the sanctity of the vote, even to the point of ordering a new vote. Ordering a new vote is not without precident (albeit not at the Presidential level) -- but that is not what happened now, is it Mr. Toobin. And not a word too that Antonin Scalia and Judge Thomas had ties to the Bush campaign (family members working for the administration -- Scalia's son even got appointed to head the government agency that overseas OSHA regulations, and not without a righteous criticism).

So what is your real purpose Mr. Toobin?

CNN's legal affairs expert, Jeffrey Toobin

Friday, 11 November 2005 at 2h 16m 26s

Daddy, I want my lollipop

This comes from the Anchorage News. [SOURCE]

It concerns the dropping of drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge from the Budget in the hopes that the Budget could pass the House. Accordingly ...

More than 20 Republicans have told the House leadership they would not vote for the budget unless they were assured ANWR won't be added into the final House- Senate compromise, the Washington Post reported Thursday. ...

ANWR is just one of many controversies in the bill, which aims to save $54 billion over five year by reducing programs like Medicaid, food stamps, student loans and child support enforcement.

House Budget Committee Chairman Jim Nussle, R-Iowa, said it's incorrect to call these "cuts." They are small reductions in the growth of government programs, he told the House Rules Committee Wednesday night.

Rep. James McGovern said the reductions will cut services for poor people at a time when need is growing. About 300,000 people will lose eligibility for food stamps, he said.

"To say that these aren't cuts is to imply that somehow . real people aren't going to get hurt," he said. "Well, if this budget moves forward as its currently written, real people will get hurt."

Nussle said the Democrats are doing nothing to improve the situation.

"Where's your plan?" Nussle demanded. "Where's your plan for the people who need this help?"

I love that last bit by lame ole Jim Nussle. How many ideas and alternative policy choices do those who oppose this have to say before politicians like Jim Nussle can stop playing games about how they are deaf to everything but their own one track mind. Howard Dean had plenty of ideas he shared during his run for Presidency. He still shares his ideas. Everyday in fact, but alas, what voices does the "liberal media" put on the air everyday. And hacks like Nussle know this. He preys on the ignorance of the television addicts who get their news completely from television.

(Note to reader -- it's called research. You can't expect info to come to you. And don't expect the information that does will be the truth.)

Current ideas Mr. Nussle can't hear: Reform the tax code. Enforce the tax laws. Revoke the tax cuts for the wealthy. That's three alone that various different Democrats and opposition Republican's have offered. But when you mention those ideas to the men whose voices appear in the media (like Nussle) they find some problem with the idea.

It's not that the Democrats have no ideas, Mr. Hackster Jimothy Nussle. It's that you are arrogant and would rather play politics than honestly attempt to address the nation's problems. Your own reckless ideas however must be perceived for the makeup you put on the pig.

It's a pig. You are a pig too, Mr. Nussle, a virulent, shameless pig. Which is why Tom Delay appointed you to your current position in the first place.

House Budget Committee Chairman Jim Nussle (R-Iowa.)

Friday, 11 November 2005 at 1h 4m 13s

It's not about Journalistic rights, Judith

It is about being a dishonest political hack.

This comes from Atrios. [SOURCE]

Adam Clymer, retired political correspondent for the Times, recalls an episode during the 1988 presidential campaign, when Miller was deputy Washington bureau chief.

Then the political editor based in New York, Clymer was awakened just after midnight one morning by a call from Miller, he says. She was demanding that a story about Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis be pulled from the paper.

The story was too soft, she complained -- and said Lee Atwater, the political strategist for Vice President George H.W. Bush, believed it was soft as well. Clymer said he was stunned to realize that Atwater apparently had either seen the story or been told about it before publication. He and Miller argued, he recalls, and he ultimately hung up on her, twice.

When she was the deputy Washington bureau chief she was taking stories about the Democratic candidate and showing them to the opposition before they were published.

Thursday, 10 November 2005 at 3h 58m 31s

Reason versus faith

"You cannot reason a person out of a position that they did not first reason themselves into."

-- Jonathan Swift

Thursday, 10 November 2005 at 0h 35m 13s

The Problem with Frenchness

This is a great post by Juan Cole. The piece so definitively explains the situation in France that I am reproducing the entire post on my own blog. The hard-link at is here.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005
-- by Juan Cole

The Problem with Frenchness

Readers have asked me for comment about the riots in France that have now provoked emergency laws and a curfew. What I would rather comment on, however, is the myths that have governed many rightwing American comments on the tragic events. Actually, I can only think that the disturbances must produce a huge ice cream headache for the dittoheads. French of European heritage pitted against French of African and North African heritage? How could they ever pick a side?

I should begin by saying how much these events sadden me and fill me with anguish. I grew up in part in France (7 years of my childhood in two different periods) and have long been in love with the place, and the people. We visited this past June for a magical week. And, of course, I've been to Morocco and Tunisia and Senegal, and so have a sense of the other side in all this; I rather like all those places, too. How sad, to see all this violence and rancor. I hope Paris and France more generally can get through these tough times and begin working on the underlying problems soon. At this time of a crisis in globalization in the wake of the Cold War, we need Paris to be a dynamic exemplar of problem-solving on this front.

The French have determinedly avoided multiculturalism or affirmative action. They have insisted that everyone is French together and on a "color-blind" set of policies. "Color-blind" policies based on "merit" always seem to benefit some groups more than others, despite a rhetoric of equality and achievement. In order to resolve the problems they face, the French will have to come to terms with the multi-cultural character of contemporary society. And they will have to find ways of actively sharing jobs with minority populations, who often suffer from an unemployment rate as high as 40 percent (i.e. Iraq).

Mark Steyn of the Chicago Sun-Times commits most of the gross errors, factual and ethical, that characterize the discourse of the Right in the US on such matters.

For instance, Steyn complains that the rioters have been referred to as "French youths."

''French youths,'' huh? You mean Pierre and Jacques and Marcel and Alphonse? Granted that most of the "youths" are technically citizens of the French Republic, it doesn't take much time in les banlieus of Paris to discover that the rioters do not think of their primary identity as ''French'': They're young men from North Africa growing ever more estranged from the broader community with each passing year and wedded ever more intensely to an assertive Muslim identity more implacable than anything you're likely to find in the Middle East. After four somnolent years, it turns out finally that there really is an explosive ''Arab street,'' but it's in Clichy-sous-Bois.

This paragraph is the biggest load of manure to hit the print media since Michael Brown (later of FEMA) and his Arabian Horse Society were profiled in Arabian Horse Times.

The French youth who are burning automobiles are as French as Jennifer Lopez and Christopher Walken are American. Perhaps the Steyns came before the Revolutionary War, but a very large number of us have not. The US brings 10 million immigrants every decade and one in 10 Americans is now foreign-born. Their children, born and bred here, have never known another home. All US citizens are Americans, including the present governor of California. "The immigrant" is always a political category. Proud Californio families (think "Zorro") who can trace themselves back to the 18th century Spanish empire in California are often coded as "Mexican immigrants" by "white" Californians whose parents were Okies.

A lot of the persons living in the urban outer cities (a better translation of cite than "suburb") are from subsaharan Africa. And there are lots of Eastern European immigrants. The riots were sparked by the deaths of African youths, not Muslims. Singling out the persons of Muslim heritage is just a form of bigotry. Moreover, French youth of European heritage rioted quite extensively in 1968. As they had in 1789. Rioting in the streets is not a foreign custom. It has a French genealogy and context.

The young people from North African societies such as Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia are mostly only nominal Muslims. They frequently do not speak much Arabic, and don't have "proper" French, either. They frequently do not know much about Islam and most of them certainly don't practice it-- much less being more virulent about it than Middle Easterners.

Aware of their in-between-ness, young persons of North African heritage in France developed a distinctive identity. They took the word Arabe and scrambled it to produce Beur (which sounds in French like the word for "butter"). Beur culture can be compared a bit to hip-hop as a form of urban expression of marginality and self-assertion in a racist society. It is mostly secular.

Another thing that is wrong with Steyn's execrable paragraph is that it assumes an echt "Frenchness" that is startling in a post-Holocaust thinker. There are no pure "nations" folks. I mean, first of all, what is now France had a lot of different populations in it even in the 18th century-- Bretons (Gaelic speakers), Basques, Alsatians (German speakers), Provencale people in the south, Jews, etc., etc. "Multi-culturalism" is not something new in Europe. What was new was the Romantic nationalist conviction that there are "pure" "nations" based on "blood." It was among the more monstrous mistakes in history. Of course if, according to this essentially racist way of thinking, there are "pure" nations that have Gypsies, Jews and others living among them, then the others might have to be "cleansed" to restore the "purity."

Yet another problem: France has for some time been a capitalist country with a relatively strong economy. Such economies attract workers. There have been massive labor immigration flows into France all along. In the early 20th century Poles came to work in the coal mines, and then more came in the inter- war period. By the beginning of the Great Depression, there were half a million Polish immigrants in France. Their numbers declined slightly in the next few years. There were even more Italians. There isn't anything peculiar about having large numbers of immigrants who came for work. And, few in France in the early 20th century thought that Poles were susceptible of integration into French society. Minister of the Interior Nicolas Sarkozy, who has made himself unpopular by exacerbating tensions with intemperate language, is the son of immigrants (I guess he does not count as "French" according to Steyn's criteria.)

Steyn wants to create a 1300-year struggle between Catholic France and the Muslims going back to Tours. This way of thinking is downright silly. France in the 19th century was a notorious ally of the Muslim Ottoman Empire, and fought alongside Muslims against the Christian Russians in the Crimean War. Among contemporary French, 40 percent do not even believe in God, and less than 20 percent go to mass at all regularly. Many of the French of non-European heritage are also not religious.

The French repaid the compliment of Tours by conquering much of the Middle East. Bonaparte aggressively and viciously invaded Egypt in 1798, but couldn't hold on there. But in 1830 the French invaded Algeria and incorporated it into France. Algeria was "French soil." They reduced the Algerian population (which they brutalized and exploited) to marginal people under the colonial thumb. The French government of Algeria allowed hundreds of thousands to perish of famine in the 1870s. After World War II, given low French birth rates and a dynamic capitalist economy, the French began importing Algerian menial labor. The resulting Beurs are no more incapable of "integrating" into France than the Poles or Jews were.

So it wasn't the Algerians who came and got France. France had come and gotten the Algerians, beginning with Charles X and then the July Monarchy. They settled a million rather rowdy French, Italians and Maltese in Algeria. These persons rioted a lot in the early 1960s as it became apparent that Algeria would get its independence (1962). In fact, European settler colonists or "immigrants" have caused far more trouble in the Middle East than vice versa.

The kind of riots we are seeing in France also have occurred in US cities (they sent Detroit into a tailspin from 1967). They are always produced by racial segregation, racist discrimination, spectacular unemployment, and lack of access to the mainstream economy. The problems were broached by award-winning French author Tahar Ben Jalloun in his French Hospitality decades ago.

(Americans who code themselves as "white" are often surprised to discover that "white people" created the inner cities here by zoning them for settlement by racial "minorities," excluding the minorities from the nicer parts of the cities and from suburbs. As late as the 1960s, many European-Americans were willing to sign a "covenant" not to sell their houses to an African-American, Chinese-American or a Jewish American. In fact, in the US, the suburbs were built, most often with de facto government subsidies in the form of highways and other perquisites, as an explicit means of racial segregation. Spatial segregation protected "white" businesses from competition from minority entrepreneurs, who couldn't open shops outside their ghettos. In France, government inputs were used to create "outer cities," but many of the same forces were at work.) The French do not have Jim Crow laws, but de facto residential segregation is a widespread and intractable problem.

The problem is economic and having to do with economic and residential exclusionism, not with an "unassimilable" "immigrant" minority. (The French authorites deported a lot of Poles in the 1930s for making trouble by trying to unionize and strike, on the grounds that they were an unassimilable Slavic minority.)

On the other hand, would it be possible for the French Muslim youth to be pushed toward religious extremism if the French government does not address the underlying problems. Sure. That was what I was alluding to in my posting last week.

The solution? Recognizing that "Frenchness" is not monochrome, that France is a tapestry of cultures and always has been, and that sometimes some threads of the tapestry need some extra attention if it is not to fray and come apart.

Tuesday, 8 November 2005 at 0h 20m 9s

An advertiser's nightmare.

I listen to the radio. I learn that I am holding back my money- making potential and should spend thirty-nine ninety-nine to release my subconscious fears that cause me to make less money. I discover that I have nagging fears about paying my five monthly bills, and should consider getting advice from the experts -- for only nine ninety-nine a month, and that's just pennies a day mind you. I'm not yet good enough, I don't look right, I'm not doing something correctly, but sure enough, for only a small fee, I'll get to be perfect and dandy.

When the courtesy calls come, I hang up the phone. When I get the endless mail concerning pre-approved debt, I toss the letters in the nearby trash can. Sometimes I'll talk to the Indian telephone worker calling from Bank of America to sell me Life Insurance, but only to ascertain from where on the global map the call is coming. I am 36 years old, and have no children or wife. Giving the bank more of my money so they can use it to play with securities and bonds is ridiculous. The only difference between Insurance and Ponzi schemes, is the size of the fund. They use your money to invest and play the stock market, with the understanding that the percentage of claims will always be less than the initial funds growth potential. However, the institutions often separate collection (sales) from investment (profit) to the extent that there is little communication between the 2 operations. And that is why insurance rates have skyrocketed over the last 4 years. We are paying higher premiums for their foolish stock-market escapades.

So when I discover via television advertising that Mr. Greybeard won't get the hottie, or, if the sexy momma likes me only when I use Gilette, you can still betcha I am not moving a millimeter at all to the nearby store. Nope, not at all. I know I'm missing out on all of what each and every one of the rehearsed roles say, but alas, I guess I'm just gonna buck the TV crowd nevertheless. I admit, I've always been a god damn independent, but what these people do is much worse -- they guilt trip you when you don't act like them. Or they try to. As far as I'm concerned, you can just be you, that's good enough for me.

Are these people really paid well to push this pap psyco-babble?