Posts Tagged ‘France’

Establishment’s Macron wins the French election

May 8, 2017

Emmanuel Macron, elected President of France yesterday with two-thirds of the vote, is a product of that country’s educational and financial establishment.

He will have an opportunity in the next five years to vindicate the establishment, by showing that it is possible to turn around the economy without changing France’s political or economic structure or withdrawing from the European Union.

Emmanuel Macron

I don’t expect that to happen.   First, he has not yet consolidated his power.  As President, he will be in charge of French foreign and military policy.    Domestic policy will be the responsibility of the Prime Minister, who is appointed by the President with the consent of the National Assembly.

The National Assembly will be elected June 11 and 18.   If Macron’s newly formed En Marche (On the Move) movement wins a majority, his power will be complete.   If not, the National Assembly may force him to accept a Prime Minister of a different party.

The President is something like a corporation’s chief executive officer and the Prime Minister is something like its chief operating officer.   If the CEO and COO were not in agreement and the CEO couldn’t remove him, then the CEO does not have the full powers of a CEO

Second, even if Macron’s power is complete, what solutions does he have to offer?   He campaigned on the basis of generalities and a winning personality, much like Barack Obama in the USA in 2008 and Justin Trudeau in Canada in 2015.

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Neoliberalism vs. nationalism in France

April 24, 2017

The French election on Sunday narrowed the field to two candidates—Emmanuel Macron, a neoliberal defender of globalization, and Marine Le Pen, a blood-and-soil nationalist, in the run-off election May 7.

Macron is an Obama-like outsider, who offers a vaguely-defined hope and change and, in fact, was endorsed by Barack Obama, but who actually represents France’s financial establishment.

Le Pen is usually described as the “far right” candidate.  She promises to protect France from what she calls the twin threats of globalization and Islam.

But she also is in favor of locking in France’s 35-hour work week, lowering the retirement age to 60, bolstering public services and reducing income taxes on low-income workers

Macron is in favor of flexibility on the 35-hour work week, industry deregulation, reduction of government spending and cutting corporate taxes.  So which is the right-winger?

He favors CETA—the Canadian-European Free Trade Agreement—which, like NAFTA and the defunct proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, would restrict business regulation in the name of protecting free trade.  So who is the left-winger here?

Le Pen would replace the Euro with a “nouveau franc,” reestablish border controls and repeal certain European Union laws.  If the EU refused to cooperate, she would call for a referendum on whether France should secede.  If the French voted to stay in the EU, she would resign.

Macron wants to strengthen the Euro and France’s ties with the EU.   He generally favors current French policy on immigration.  Le Pen would restrict immigration to 10,000 persons a year and kick out all unauthorized immigrants, as well as all Muslims on terrorist watch lists.

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Yorktown 1781: Glory to the French

July 1, 2015
Lord Cornwallis surrenders to French and Americans at Yorktown

Lord Cornwallis surrenders to French and Americans at Yorktown

As we Americans prepare to celebrate Independence Day, it is worth remembering that we didn’t win our freedom all by ourselves.

And when an American mouths off about French military history, he’s not just being ignorant, he’s being ungrateful.  I was raised to think ungrateful people were trash.

When I say ungrateful, I’m talking about the American Revolution.   If you’re a true American patriot, then this is the war that matters.  Hell, most of you probably couldn’t name three major battles from it, but try going back to when you read Johnny Tremaine in fourth grade and you might recall a little place called Yorktown, Virginia, where we bottled up Cornwallis’s army, forced the Brits’ surrender and pretty much won the war.

Well, news flash: “we” didn’t win that battle, any more than the Northern Alliance conquered the Taliban.  The French army and navy won Yorktown for us.  Americans didn’t have the materiel or the training to mount a combined operation like that, with naval blockade and land siege.  It was the French artillery forces and military engineers who ran the siege, and at sea it was a French admiral, de Grasse, who kicked the shit out of the British navy when they tried to break the siege.

Long before that, in fact as soon as we showed the Brits at Saratoga that we could win once in a while, they started pouring in huge shipments of everything from cannon to uniforms.  We’d never have got near Yorktown if it wasn’t for massive French aid.

So how come you bastards don’t mention Yorktown in your cheap webpages?  I’ll tell you why: because you’re too ignorant to know about it and too dishonest to mention it if you did.

via Gary Brecher – The eXiled.

Expressed a bit harshly, but true.

His whole article, which is about French military history, is worth reading.

LINK

The War Nerd: Glory to the French by Gary Brecher for The eXiled.

France is jailing people for the crime of irony

January 21, 2015

charlie-hebdo-cest-de-la-merdeA 16-year-old French high school student was taken into custody last Thursday for posting a cartoon on his Facebook page “representing a person holding the magazine Charlie Hebdo, being hit by bullets and accompanied by an ‘ironic’ comment.”

French newspapers haven’t reprinted the cartoon, but the description fits the cartoon above, which was taken from the Facebook page of the French comedian Dieudonne.  He has been arrested meanwhile for a different comment he made on his Facebook page.

The caption reads “Charlie Hebdo is crap.  It doesn’t stop bullets.”

The irony in the cartoon is that the Charlie Hebdo magazine is the July, 2013, issue, whose cover mocks Egyptian protesters who were killed in Cairo.  The Hebdo cover caption reads “The Koran is crap.  It doesn’t stop bullets.”

charlie-hebdo-le-coran-cest-de-la-merde

I think mocking the victims of murder is in bad taste in both cases, but bad taste shouldn’t be a crime.  I don’t think of any principle that forbids the one cartoon and tolerates the other.

In France, there are fences around free speech.  It is illegal to deny that the Nazi Holocaust of the Jews occurred or that the Turkish massacre of the Armenians occurred.  It is illegal to incite racial hatred or to glorify terrorism.

Anti-semitism is considered a form of racial hatred, I suppose because Jews are an ethnic group as well as a religion.

A Charlie Hebdo staff member, Maurice Sinet, was fired in 2009 for mocking Jean Sarkozy, the son of France’s president, who was rumored (falsely) to be converting to Judaism after marrying a wealthy Jewish heiress.  Sinet also was charged with “inciting racial hatred.”  He was acquitted of that charge and also won damages for wrongful dismissal.

But blasphemy is permitted, so attacks on Christians and Muslims are all right, as are attacks on French politicians and bankers.

I don’t think that the peaceful expression of any opinion should be suppressed by the government.  Forbidding people to deny that the Holocaust occurred, for example, will only make people wonder what facts the government is afraid to let them learn.  The best cure for falsehood is truth, and that can best be accomplished be free and open debate.

LINKS

France begins jailing people for making ironic comments by Ali Abudimah for the Electronic Intifada.  This is where I found the cartoons.

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Censorship in the name of free speech

January 16, 2015

direct-deaths-multi1Source: Costs of War.

In response to the Charlie Hebdo attacks, France has ordered prosecutors to crack down in hate speech, anti-Semitism and glorification of terrorism.

A French comedian has been arrested for a Facebook post that allegedly condones the Charlie Hebdo attack.   France is said to be considering its own version of the USA Patriot Act.

par8067258Vandals are throwing dead pigs into mosques and firebombing mosques in Paris.

And here in the USA, the debate over the Senate torture report has vanished from the headlines.  That is very convenient.

There are hundreds of thousands of dead civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan who had as much right to live their lives in peace as the Charlie Hebdo editors.  It is hard to keep more than a couple of important questions in mind at the same time.

I don’t like the humor in Charlie Hebdo, any more than I liked the humor in Hustler magazine in the USA.  That doesn’t make the Hebdo murders any less a crime, any more than the 1978 of Hustler publisher Larry Flynt, which left him in a wheelchair for life, was any less a crime.

I’ll give the writers and editors of Charlie Hebdo, and also Larry Flynt, credit for one thing.  They have the courage of their scurrilous convictions, and they are intellectually consistent.

That’s more than can be said for politicians and journalists who, in the name of defending the rights of Charlie Hebdo, violate the rights of everyone else.

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Different laws for different religions?

January 12, 2015

In colonial Maryland, relations between Catholics and Protestants were so tense that there were laws that defined an insult to either religion as a breach of the peace.

In the Ottoman Empire, people of different religions lived side-by-side in peace for centuries, all governed by their own religious laws and leaders, subject only to paying taxes to their Turkish rulers.

Dmitry Orlov thinks that such arrangements are the key to peace in countries in which Muslims and non-Muslims live together.

The only solution I see is a duopoly, where Moslems and non-Moslems run their respective segments of society according to different sets of rules.

Some rules they must have in common, such as a ban on incendiary, extremist speech. The prohibition against “shouting fire in a crowded theater” applies to such arrangements.

Vladimir_Putin_and_Gusman_hazrat_IzhakovExamples of such arrangements being successful include the Republic of Tatarstan (Russian Federation) where Orthodox Christianity and (majority) Islam coexist peacefully, and mixed marriages can offer a choice of religions to the children they produce.

Another example is the Republic of Chechnya (also Russian Federation) which, having fought a bloody separatist conflict financed by the Saudis and the US, can now successfully combat Islamic terrorism on its own, without involving federal authorities.

Russia is now a dual Christian/Islamic federation; if current demographic trends continue, then at some point it will become an Islamic/Christian federation. So be it. If peace is maintained, nobody will notice or care.

France can embrace the same choice, forming Les Républiques Françaises, and probably will, because what choice does it have—other than losing the war?

via ClubOrlov.

A thoughtful proposal, but I have problems with it—even assuming that dual law works as well in Tatarstan and Chechnya as Orlov thinks it does.

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Behind the terrorist murder of French satirists

January 8, 2015

par8067258What was the motive for the murder of the staff of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine that sometimes mocked Islam and caricatured the prophet Mohammad?

Was it outrage by Muslims at mockery of their religion?  Or was it a tactical move, intended to provoke a general crackdown on Muslims in France and thereby help recruiting for Al Qaeda?  The killings had the earmarks of a professional hit job, so I think the latter is highly likely.

There is an old saying that evil came into the world not with the first murder, nor when the people executed the first murderer, but when the people executed an innocent person because he was of the same tribe as a murderer.  Let’s not succumb to that evil.

It should go without saying, but I say it anyway, that these killers should be hunted down and punished, and that free countries should not back down on their commitment to free speech in the face of violence.

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Sharpening Contradictions: Why al-Qaeda attacked satirists in Paris by Juan Cole on Informed Comment.

Who profits from killing Charlie? by Pepe Escobar for Asia Times Online.

Taboos Against Blasphemy Are Normal by Razib Khan for the Unz Review.

Print the Cartoons, Show the Movie by Peter Beinart for The Atlantic.

In the Wake of Charlie Hebdo, Free Speech Does Not Mean Freedom From Criticism by Jacob Canfield for The Hooded Utilitarian.  [Added 1/9/2015]

Don’t mourn – neutralize by David P. Goldman for Asia Times Online. [Added 1/9/2015]

In the light of Charlie Hebdo, are some lives worth more than others? by Ian Welsh.  [Added 1/9/2015]

 

What kind of a socialist is Strauss-Kahn?

May 28, 2011

Before his arrest in New York City on charges of attempted rape of a hotel maid, Dominique Strauss-Kahn was considered the front-runner for the Socialist Party’s nomination for President of France.

Socialism historically has been a movement against economic injustice and in favor of greater economic equality.  Socialists claim to represent workers in their struggle against the economic elite.  How does Strauss-Kahn fit into this historic tradition?

Strauss-Kahn entering friend's Porsche

According to Forbes magazine, Strauss-Kahn’s lawyer said his bank balance is in the “low seven figures.”  He was paid roughly $420,000 as managing director of the International Monetary Fund, and got an additional $75,000 to maintain a style of life appropriate to his position.  He and his third wife, Anne Sinclair, an heiress and TV personality, have economic assets estimated by Forbes as worth $100 million to $200 million. Most of this is the art collection of Sinclair’s grandfather Paul Rosenberg, an art dealer who represented Picasso, Matisse and Braque.  This estimate does not include more than $90 million worth of art she’s sold over the years.

Strauss-Kahn and his wife live well.  He and Sinclair own a house in the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C. (which is headquarters of the IMF), not one but two luxury apartments in Paris, and a traditional Moroccan house in Marrakesh.  The houses have a combined value of $15 million, according to Forbes.

Strauss-Kahn’s wealth is small change compared to the wealth of the world’s billionaires, but it is a lot by most people’s standards.  Political opponents call him a “caviar socialist.”  There was an uproar when he was photographed getting into a friend’s $140,000 Porsche earlier this year.

He and his wife of course have a right to spend their money as they choose.  The question is whether someone who is (literally) wedded to great wealth can understand and champion the interests of working people.  His record in French politics and as managing director of the IMF help provide answers to that question.

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Fracking the French

February 21, 2011

Toreador Resources Corp. shale oil exploration sites

The French government is considering allowing hydraulic fracturing for shale oil in a geological formation called the Paris Basin, an 87,000-square-mile agricultural region east of the city of Paris.  Environmental groups in France as just as opposed to hydrofracking as environmental groups here in upstate New York.  A report by the French government is due out in mid-April.

Click on Why oil firms eye bucolic France for an article by Anita Elash in the Christian Science Monitor.

Click on Hunting French sale oil for an update by Reuters.

Click on Hydrofracking and carbon caps for my earlier post on the hydrofracking controversy in upstate New York, which includes charts and videos explaining what hydraulic fracturing is and how it works.

Click on Hydraulic fracturing wiki for Wikipedia’s explanation and background information.