Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mélenchon Is Rude

I'm sorry, but this diatribe from Mélenchon is completely uncalled for. He may not care for Le Parisien, but the journalist is doing his job. He's a worker, for crying out loud, and Mélenchon, for all his eloquence, is a brute. It's shameful to treat anyone this way, and if Sarkozy did it, Mélenchon would be the first to flay him for it. I do not like this man, and if I thought he had any chance of winning the presidency, I would be alarmed. As it is, I think it's regrettable that he now represents the left of the left.


Mélenchon: Les journalistes sont de "petites... by ecoledejournalisme

"We will win, Barack, you and me."

Sarkozy invites the cameras in to witness his conversation with Barack Obama (il le tutoie!), and it's not clear that Obama is aware that he is being used as a campaign prop, since the cameras are immediately ushered out as Obama shifts to a discussion of Iran and other urgent matters not fit for public airing. It would be shocking if Obama was not told what was going on. (h/t JV)


Inequality in Education

This is not news, to be sure, but it's always interesting to be reminded that despite the Republic's ostensible commitment to equality, spending on education varies widely with location:
Même si la situation est ancienne, le gouvernement n'a aucun intérêt à laisser sortir ces comparaisons, qui montrent qu'en 2010 l'Etat a dépensé 47 % de plus pour former un élève parisien que pour former un banlieusard de Créteil ou de Versailles. 51 % de plus pour former un Parisien qu'un Niçois... Il est décrit, noir sur blanc, comment sous couvert d'une éducation censée offrir à tous la même chose, voire donner plus à ceux qui ont moins, l'école française entérine des situations acquises qui sont profondément injustes. Paris a des enseignants expérimentés, une offre de formation bien plus large que d'autres académies et, même si son taux d'encadrement n'est pas plus élevé, cela privilégie le Parisien.

Hollande Will Not Negotiate with Mélenchon

François Hollande says that he won't negotiate with Mélenchon between rounds 1 and 2 of the presidential elections. Well, of course not. He's getting all of Mélenchon's votes anyway, but he's been losing ground in the "report des voix" among Bayrou voter, now divided 36/33/31 among Hollande, Sarkozy, and abstention, compared with 44/32/24 2 weeks ago. Is this a sign that Sarkozy's rhetoric--"it's me or chaos," an echo of the 1981 rightist chant "it's Giscard or Russian tanks in the place de la Concorde"--is actually having an effect?

In any case, Hollande seems to be gaining in second-round support from Le Pen voters. A bit strange, given the tepid campaign that Hollande has run. I hesitate to make large generalizations on the basis of error-prone and perhaps inaccurate polling, but could it be that these shifts show that when push comes to shove, Bayrou's supporters have their hearts on the right, even if it means reverting to Sarkozy, while working-class voters who have been drawn to Le Pen still remain moored to the left when it comes to the ultimate choice?

Of course the real question--and what may be giving Bayrou voters pause--is the negotiations that will take place before and during the legislative elections, not between rounds of the presidential. Mélenchon's PCF backers will want some concrete gains in the way of legislative seats and the financial support that goes with them. So they'll be pushing for an accommodation, and Hollande will want as large a majority as he can muster, so he'll be inclined to seek their support wherever it can help.

Raymond Aubrac, 1914-2012

Raymond Aubrac, whose name is synonymous with the French resistance, died yesterday at 98. What I didn't know about him is that he spent a year at my alma mater, MIT.

Mr. Aubrac was born Raymond Samuel on July 31, 1914, to shopkeepers in Vesoul, France. He studied engineering and law in France and received a scholarship to continue his studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard for a year.
One should also be aware of the "counter-myth" concerning Aubrac's role in the Resistance and its aftermath. I will probably be dead before the true story of the high politics of the Resistance is fully sorted out, but there are many points that remain murky. Younger readers may also be interested to learn of Raymond Aubrac's role in the Vietnam War peace negotiations, in which he served as a "back channel" between Henry Kissinger and Ho Chi Minh.

Lauvergeon's Revenge

Anne Lauvergeon, who was ousted from her post as head of the nuclear giant Areva by President Sarkozy, discusses his major errors in an astonishing interview (h/t Bernard Girard). This passage, in which Lauvergeon discusses the folly of Sarkozy's plan to sell a nuclear reactor to Libya, particularly caught my eye:

Qu'avez-vous dit au président lors de ce fameux rendez-vous?
D'abord, que je lui reconnaissais une vraie intuition sur le nucléaire... Mais qu'il avait commis cinq erreurs graves. La première, c'est d'avoir voulu fusionner Areva et Alstom pour le compte de Bouygues. Il ne l'a finalement pas fait, mais le suspense a duré un an et demi et a suffi à brouiller l'image de notre stratégie et à provoquer la sortie de Siemens, une catastrophe économique et un impair géopolitique... Deuxième erreur, avoir créé, avec la commission Roussely, une opération détestable pour l'image internationale de la filière nucléaire française. Pendant ce temps, notre augmentation de capital était à nouveau suspendue. Troisièmement, la nomination de Proglio. Quatrième erreur, il a laissé s'organiser un système de clan, de bandes et de prébendes. Ce système a fait la promotion d'un nucléaire bas de gamme à l'international et proposé de transférer nos droits de propriété intellectuelle mondiaux aux... Chinois, et de vendre du nucléaire à des pays où ce n'est pas raisonnable.
A qui précisément?
Par exemple au colonel Kadhafi. Nous jouions à fronts renversés: moi, qui aurais dû pousser à la vente, je m'y opposais vigoureusement, et l'Etat, censé être plus responsable, soutenait cette folie. Imaginez, si on l'avait fait, de quoi nous aurions l'air maintenant ! La vente de nucléaire s'accompagne de la création d'une autorité de sûreté capable d'arrêter la centrale en cas de problème. Or, dans un tel régime, un président de l'autorité de sûreté qui n'obéit pas est au mieux jeté en prison, au pire exécuté ! Pourtant, quelle insistance ! A l'été 2010, j'ai encore eu, à l'Elysée, une séance à ce sujet avec Claude Guéant et Henri Proglio...