Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Laurent on "The French Model"

Éloi Laurent reflects on France's "structural" strengths and weaknesses. In his view, it's l'imaginaire collectif that's lacking, and a static political discourse that has not kept up with structural changes.

A Flood of Stimulus

Keynes thought that the economy could be refloated by paying people to dig holes and fill them up again. Modern capitalists have a better solution: allow people to build in coastal flood plains, then rebuild with government assistance when the inevitable "hundred-year storm" comes and washes their homes away. That way you make money on both the building and the rebuilding. Will we ever learn who was paid off to allow construction in the Vendée despite warnings that it was folly?

Villepin's Fowl Play

For Marx it was "rural idiocy," but suddenly le monde rural is the latest in Parisian chic, and every Mme Verdurin wants un plouc to add color to her salon. Villepin has followed his former dircab Le Maire onto the floor of Le Salon de l'Agriculture, which has become contested terrain because Sarko turned up his nose at the idea of appearing on opening day. "C'est une magnifique poule soie !" Villepin, not hitherto known as a connoisseur of exotic fowl, exclaimed. I'm impressed. Sarkozy will attempt to reap what others have sown on closing day, but it looks as though he's going to have to pat a lot of bovine rump if he wants to win back the hearts of the peasantry.

More on the War of the Librarians

Jeanneney responds to Racine's attack: he did negotiate with Microsoft, he says, but broke off the talks because Microsoft's demands were excessive--comparable to Google's today.

Georgia, Georgia ... just an old sweet song ...

Nicolas Sarkozy's last great foreign policy triumph was saving Georgia from the Russian bear. But Georgia was so ... yesterday. Today's great foreign policy triumph is the rapprochement with Russia--and even Villepin is singing Sarko's praise. Of course there were a few cockroaches in the banquet soup:

In his banquet speech, Sarkozy reminded Medvedev of western worries about Russia. "Your attachment to the rule of law, to the respect for legality, for judicial security, for the defence of human rights greatly helps the rapprochement between our nations," he said.  

But there were no pointed references to beleaguered Chechens, plucky Georgians, murdered journalists, poisoned Ukrainians, natural gas blackmail, etc. etc. The villain of the piece is now Obama. It doesn't pay to snub Napoléon le Petit. After all, he can always pretend to be le grand Charles. Is it too soon to withdraw from NATO? I'm not sure that the French generals have had time to move into their new offices.

The Front National in the Regionals

The FN isn't what it used to be, but it still has some clout in three regions.