Thursday, February 24, 2011

Jet Set

I prefer to reserve my quarrels with statesmen for loftier matters than their spending a little too much of the state's money on themselves. Who hasn't splurged for a drink or a steak on the boss's dime from time to time? But there's that old adage about Caesar's wife. It also applies to Caesar's "collaborateur": turns out that François Fillon has been flying the company jet back to the Sarthe rather than put up with all of an hour and 20 minutes on a TGV. "A question of security," says the PM's office. Yes, indeed, but in these austere times we all make little trade-offs, and the PM might brave the terrifying dangers of travel by TGV (remember those "terrorists" who were snagging overhead power cables a while back?) in order to save the state a substantial pile of deniers publics. Heck, we once had a governor of Massachusetts who rode the subway to work, cheek by jowl with all the muggers, drug peddlers, and winos. And Fillon was supposed to be the sober and frugal steward of the state's treasure, unlike his bling-bling boss. Just goes to show, you can't judge by appearances.

Hide that Butcher's Hook

After hanging Dominique de Villepin from un croc de boucher, as promised, Nicolas Sarkozy is now meeting with the former prime minister at the Élysée. Only yesterday Villepin splashily resigned from the UMP, saying that it no longer embodied "the values of General de Gaulle." This meeting has occasioned much glee in the commentariat. Among the many ironies of the encounter, as Thierry Desjardins notes, is the fact that France desperately needs a new foreign minister right now, since MAM is totally discredited. And as Dominique Moïsi wrote in Libé on Monday, one of the failings of Sarko's foreign policy has been the incapacity of his two foreign ministers, Kouchner, and Alliot-Marie. Villepin would be a good replacement, and one that Sarkozy might even be desperate enough to swallow, despite the mutual hatred between the two men, but what is the likelihood that Villepin would jump aboard a sinking ship? So what alternative does Sarkozy have? Juppé? Borloo? Raffarin? Or l'ouverture: Védrine? Of course, he'd first have to fire MAM, and we know he isn't very good at firing people--but it must be said, MAM has given him ample cause. In her case, it wouldn't take Donald Trump to say, "You're fired!" Still, with billions of euros of high-tech sales to Gaddafi evaporating before our eyes and a major French oil and gas supplier in danger of descending into anarchy, the foreign policy shop needs beefing up. The president needs to make a move soon, and surely by now it must be obvious to everyone, even at the Élysée, that the presidency of the G20 is not going to do a damn thing to save the sinking Sarkozy.

What Women Study in France

Percentage of female students in various disciplines and programs:

La part des filles filière par filière :
Ecoles paramédicales                                                                     83%
Ecoles sociales                                                                                80%
Langues (licence)                                                                             74%
Lettres-SHS (licence)                                                                       71%
Ecoles littéraires et journalisme                                            69%
Médecine (premier cycle)                                                      66%
Droit-sciences politiques (licence)                                        65%
Université                                                                 59,2%
ENSEMBLE                                                              56%
Ecoles d’architecture                                                53%
BTS                                                                           50,8%
Management                                      48%
Classes préparatoires                    42,7%
DUT                                                   40,3%
Sciences                                            39%
Ecoles d’ingénieurs                        25,5%