Friday, March 6, 2009

Sarko Punts on Balladur Reforms

The Balladur commission submitted its report (which you can find here, summary here), and Sarko promptly punted it to Fillon, who's supposed to report back some day about progress in "building a consensus," that is, cooling the hot tempers that flared as the report's contents were leaked. Sarko attributes it all to the "conservatism" of local pols, and no doubt there's a lot of it, but one of the peculiarities of the French political structure is the way in which national power is built on local baronies. In addition, the Socialist lock on most big cities and regions is the major check on presidential power in a period when the president's party has an absolute majority in the National Assembly. Tampering with the bottom of the pyramid thus threatens the balance of power at the top, and nobody knows where such things, once begun, will end. So the inefficiencies remain, despite the opportunity offered by the crisis to get something done. One has the impression that this reform was one of those ideas that work well in a campaign but are hard to translate into practical results.

Change of Address

The occupant of 93, rue Lauriston in the 16e wants to change the address to 91bis, and the political leadership of the swank district is in disarray. Claude Goasguen, the mayor, says he "doesn't know what to think."

Why? 93, rue Lauriston was Gestapo HQ during the Occupation, as all readers of Patrick Modiano know. The Franco-Arab Chamber of Commerce, which now occupies the site, doesn't like the association. Hence the request to change the name.


France has invaded the United States. Bernard-Henri Lévy has decided to spend six months a year here.

What did we do to deserve this? Oh, yeah--we fomented a banking crisis that has plunged the entire world into depression. Still, this retaliation seems to punish the innocent along with the guilty.

And how about that sign?