Tuesday, April 24, 2007

J'aime Sego

The most unpredictable of French presidential campaigns (as some have called it) is winding down to a very predictable conclusion. After eliminating all secondary candidates, Nicolas Sarkozy and Segolene Royal will sprint to win a run-off election in two weeks. And Sarko is almost certain to win since the sum of the French leftist, Socialist, Communist, neo-lefto-righto-crypto-islamo-anti-syndicalist-trotskyite-anti-semitic and environmental vote is still less than 50% of the total electorate.

That’s good news for France, but sad news for me because I really like Segolene. I think she’s incredibly attractive.

I’m sure some will cringe because the only nice things I have to say about the female candidate in this race have to do with her physical appearance. But I’m not being sexist. I don’t like her politics and I don’t understand what she’s saying.

I have no doubt that what her critics say is true . . . she’s inarticulate, unprepared, unimaginative, and an unreconstructed lefty. The only thing she has going for her are her looks and that’s saying a heck of lot in her case . . . Sego’s got it going on!

Look at her in this TV interview in 1992. Don’t listen to her blab on about some environmental ruse for expanding the nanny state . . . just look at her wrap her lips around those hard to pronounce French words with her summer tan and rich “royal” blue get-up.

She’s wonderful. She reminds me of all the things I like about the French. First of all, they don’t hide behind irony like Americans do. When they run a woman for President it’s a real woman! She’s not trying to act like a man. And if she is, she’s entirely unconvincing.

She may be trying to rally the working class aganist moneyed interests but she looks like a million bucks while she's doing it.

Plus, the French have more authentic unselfconscious sense of style than Americans will ever have. Just look at this studio set up for a candidate interview on television. This is from the En Aparte program on Canal+

Can you imagine some slob like Dennis Kucinich delivering a coherent sentence on a set like that? He’d be sitting there with a salesman’s grin looking around for the camera with the little red light on it and scratching himself through the shiny fabric of his cheap suit.

Stick Sego on that couch and she looks terrific from every angle.

Again, I don’t care what she’s saying. She’s probably proposing diplomatic pressure against the Taliban regime in Kabul or a guaranteed income for middle-aged university students but she says it with extraordinary loveliness.

And loveliness is a quality entirely lacking in American politics (with the exception of John Edwards).

I was lucky to be in Paris in 1981 when Francois Mitterrand was elected President of the Republic and saw many spontaneous displays of un-ironic style and patriotic loveliless.

On election night crowds overwhelmed the Metro and commandeered the trains to Place de le Bastille chanting “Voila Gagne!”

A few days later Mitterrand rode stone-faced up the Champs Elysees past cheering crowds while standing in the back of a modified Citroen DS with a chrome handhold for processional occasions. (This was a few weeks before the attempted assassinations of President Reagan and Pope John Paul II and so probably the last time that presidential DS was used.)

After laying a wreath at the Arc de Triumph, Mitterand paid his respects to famous Frogs of the past in the Pantheon. He roamed the halls alone with fixed television cameras broadcasting his progress simultaneously to the nation.

Effortlessly stylish. Emotionally patriotic without cheap sentimentality. It allmost makes me want to dig into a pate sandwich and a Kronenbourg right now.

Sego is bound to lose this next round but she and her innate Frenchiness has certainly brightened my springtime.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Join the Navy and See Asia!

Seems harmless enough.

Spiffy Japanese sailors manning destroyers and submarines under a rising sun battle flag. Don’t worry, that’s not a dive bomber . . . just a rescue aircraft. And that jaunty scarf? Pretty sure it doesn’t say Divine Wind or anything like that. It’s all about a threatening as a Power Rangers preview (and possible directed by the same regie du cinema).

Still, why does the sight of Japanese people in military uniforms give me the willies?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Inexplicable Tuesday Video

What's Become of England?

John Darbyshire writes in the New English Review about Britain’s Iranian hostage crisis and laments the passing of English patriotism. He reminds us of a very different time when a young private, John Moyse, was captured in China during the Opium Wars around 1850. His captors demanded that “kowtow” or submit to their authority. He refused saying he would never bow to any Chinaman and was promptly hacked to pieces.

The incident was celebrated in the poem, “The Private of the Buffs,”

Yes, honor calls!—with strength like steel
He put the vision by.
Let dusky Indians whine and kneel;
An English lad must die.
And thus, with eyes that would not shrink,
With knee to man unbent,
Unfaltering on its dreadful brink,
To his red grave he went.

Vain, mightiest fleets, of iron fram’d;
Vain, those all-shattering guns;
Unless proud England keep, untam’d,
The strong heart of her sons.
So, let his name through Europe ring—
A man of mean estate,
Who died, as firm as Sparta’s king,
Because his soul was great.

Back then, it was a soldier’s duty to die for his country. Today, the Iranians are going to have to launch a dedicated TV channel to keep up with all the confessions they’ve coaxed out of the British sailors and Marines they’ve captured.

What did the Iranians do to persuade Seaman Faye Turney to pose with a headscarf while captive? Not much probably. And imagine the outrage if a Western country had captured a female Muslim and broadcast her image on Al Jazeera while wearing a low cut blouse. Of course, a Western country would never do such a thing nor, for that matter, have Westerners be all that outraged at the sight of one of their own submitting to a headscarf.

The British captives all too accurately reflect the values of their civilian cohorts. Rather than defend Britain’s honor to the death – which is why one used to join the military – these soldiers are hoping to get home with their lives and nothing more. Will they be shamed when they return? It doesn’t seem to matter to them.

Is there anything worth dying for anymore? Our enemies understand this better than we do. How often does some Islamist fanatic boast about loving death more than infidels love life? Invariably, this death-loving jihadist is alive and kicking when he says this which should undercut his argument significantly. What I think he means is that, as fanatic as he is, at least there’s something in his world worth dying for. And I for one am all in favor of helping him on his way.

But for the non-fanatics, there seems little worth risking your neck. This line of reasoning quickly translates into action with self-fulfilling consequences. When you enter a conflict with an exit strategy you will end up executing that strategy. When you enter a conflict with defeat on your mind, you will be defeated.

The British/Iranian incident is a perfect example of this. The division between territorial waters is ambiguous business on the high seas. And when there is a war taking place, you’d be wise to build in an extra measure of safety. So isn’t it a little reckless to intervene in a war and capture military personnel if the border you’re honoring is literally fluid? And wouldn’t then the Iranians be as much at fault as the British, if not more so?

Then why is the benefit of the doubt awarded to the Iranians and not the British? Because the West is desperately looking for a way to lose.

And why, as Mark Steyn points out, if the British are part of a U.N. sanctioned coalition prosecuting a U.N. operation . . . why isn’t the U.N. demanding the release of the British captives?

Most importantly, the British did not resist capture presumably out of fear of provoking an international incident. Why weren’t the Iranians inhibited by this same fear? What will instill in them a healthy fear of future international incidents?

Sadly, an English lad must die one way or another if this episode is to conclude honorably. Fifteen now or perhaps fifteen hundred later. Because as the poem says, the mightiest fleets and those all shattering guns are all in vain unless proud England keeps untamed the strong hearts of her sons.

UPDATE: War Is an Ugly Thing. But Not the Ugliest of Things.