Friday, February 29, 2008

Le Monde Chat

I will be changing hats on Wednesday to comment on American politics for a French audience, courtesy of Le Monde.

Delinquency to Insecurity

Luc Bonner has a very interesting review of Laurent Bonelli's La France a peur: Une histoire sociale de l'insécurité. In particular, he traces the inflection of political discourse about crime signaled by the shift from talk about "delinquency" to talk about "insecurity." There was no hint of "insecurity" in Mitterrand's "lettre à tous les Français" of 1988, but by 1995 "garantir la sécurité" had become a key plank in Lionel Jospin's platform.

Local Government in France has a special section devoted to local government in France.

Kouchner to UN?

Boz at Sarkozy the American reports the rumor that Bernard Kouchner will leave his post as foreign minister after the municipal elections in March and move to the UN, where he will replace Jean-Marie Guéhenno as head of peacekeeping operations.

Say It Ain't So

Marion Cotillard, who just won an Oscar for her portrayal of Piaf, seems to be an eager subscriber to conspiratorial explanations of 9/11, à la Thierry Meyssan. This celebrity gossip would hardly be worth reporting if it weren't a sign that the dumbfounding popularity of Meyssan's nonsense in France hasn't yet dissipated.

Literary Sociability in France

This is off the topic of French politics, but FP contributor and long-time reader Greg Brown has written a book entitled Literary Sociability and Literary Property in France, 1775-1793: Beaumarchais, the Société des Auteurs Dramatiques and the Comédie Française, of which an appreciative review appeared today. I thought it was worth a mention.

Clearstream Report

MediaPart has an extensive analysis of the police judiciaire report on the Clearstream affair. Although the report is very tough on Villepin, the article notes that "many ... in judicial circles" are skeptical of the logic of the case and do not believe that there is sufficient evidence to send the former prime minister to trial.

Purchasing Power

The French worry about pouvoir d'achat. The rest of the world worries about wages and prices. Check out the above graph of recent movements in commodity prices (courtesy James Hamilton, click to enlarge). The index is fixed at January 1 = 100. That's right: in under two months, prices on these basic commodities have jumped from 6.5 percent for zinc (annualized 39 pct.) to 46 percent for wheat (annualized you don't want to think about).

Meanwhile, Christine Lagarde has gone shopping at Carrefour, and inspectors are compiling lists of shelf prices. The French government wants people to believe that it's doing something about purchasing power, but in light of what's happening in the commodities markets, these steps are risible. Shouldn't someone be explaining this to the public? Someone besides bloggers, that is.