Friday, December 18, 2009


"C'est catastrophique pour le climat et pour la gouvernance mondiale."

Télézapping : C'est la cata... la catastrophe
by lemondefr

UPDATE: OK, maybe not a catastrophe, just a wet squib.

Lamont and Laurent on Discrimination

Michèle Lamont and Eloi Laurent write:

Study after study after study shows that discrimination against minorities is massive in the labor market, in the workplace, in dealing with the police, in gaining access to nightclubs, etc. French anti-segregation and anti-discrimination policies are simply not working, and no amount of grand rhetoric about “national identity” can change that.
The felicity of the French model, so often contrasted with the American one, has always been the inclusion of the downtrodden through active state intervention. It’s time for this grand nation to revisit its social contract.

Compassionate Conservatism Comes to France

Jean-François Copé, who thinks about becoming president whether he's shaving, showering, or moonlighting in corporate law, is thinking of taking up the "compassionate conservatism" theme. Apparently he's under the impression that it was invented by the British Tories. Or maybe he just wants everyone to forget that it was George W. Bush's campaign theme in 2000: that worked out well, didn't it?

Copé's operative word is fraternité. This is just a variation on the theme of "politics of presence." See my previous post, with its reference to Pierre Rosanvallon's discussion.

Chirac Mis en Examen

Jacques Chirac has been mis en examen by Judge Jacques Gazeaux. For those not versed in French legal niceties:

En France, la mise en examen (terme juridique remplaçant inculpation depuis 1993) est une compétence exclusive du juge d'instruction. Elle vise la personne contre laquelle il existe des indices graves ou[1] concordants rendant vraisemblable qu'elle ait pu participer, comme auteur ou complice, à la commission d'une infraction (article 80-1 du code de procédure pénale[2]). Si tel n'est pas le cas, une personne peut être placée sous le statut de témoin assisté.

Fair Play

The UMP really ought to consider nominating footballer Nicolas Anelka to run EPAD or something. He shares the party's view of le bouclier fiscal:

"When you have lived and played abroad, you can never come back to France," he said. "France has a problem with money...
"In Spain and in England, people have big cars and do not hide them. The French hide what they own... That's not my mentality. When you're a football player and you have dreamed of buying a beautiful car, a beautiful house, you do it."
He was asked if he missed anything about France. "Nothing. You can't do what you like in France. I don't want to play football and pay 50 percent tax on what I earn. If some people are shocked, too bad. France is a hypocrite country."

The Litigious French

It is a common refrain in France that America is a litigious society, but rarely if ever* does an elected official in the US sue another elected official for name-calling, as Eric Besson has now done:

Eric Besson a décidé de porter plainte contre Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, membre de la direction du PS, et Gérard Mordillat, romancier et cinéaste.

If only Obama could sue all the Republicans who have compared him to Hitler and Stalin for advocating health care reform. Camba merely likened Besson to Pierre Laval, who really isn't in the same league with those two.

* True, William Westmoreland sued CBS for libel, but he wasn't elected.

No Insider Trading at EADS

After a lengthy investigation, the AMF has cleared 17 EADS employees of insider trading charges. The "moralization of capitalism" has its limits:

“It’s a major failure, and it puts the AMF in a difficult spot” said Stéphane Bonifassi, a lawyer in Paris who specializes in financial crimes, referring to the regulator by its French initials. “It raises the question whether, when it comes to insider trading, we are not very efficient in Europe about sanctions.”

Sarkozy of the North

President Sarkozy is treating Copenhagen as he has treated other international forums, as a good place to make headlines back home. "We are not here for a colloquium on the climate," he proclaimed. "We are here to make decisions." But this characteristic bit of Sarkozian rhetoric--the false dichotomization of talk and action, the personalization of the latter, the implication that heads of state are free to act at will, heedless of all prior constraints and competing interests, which must inevitably bow before their supreme arbitrages--is unlikely to impress China or the United States, which are at loggerheads over the issue of "measurement, verification, and reporting."

If Sarkozy has anything to offer on this score, he has kept it to himself. But by presenting himself as the Green Paladin, he "triangulates" the Socialists, caught between the UMP, which under Sarko has wrapped itself in the ecological mantle, and Europe Écologie, which has emerged as the environmental party to be reckoned with on the left. Needling Obama adds icing to the cake, and if the Copenhagen talks fail, Sarkozy has already designated his scapegoat. It's all working out rather nicely, even the joint arrival of Sarkozy and Merkel, who walked down the ecological aisle together, letting bygones be bygones.

As the neocons used to say, America is Mars, Europe is Venus, and apparently green politics is just a continuation of war and peace by other means. China, meanwhile, insists on remaining inscrutable--and jealous of its sovereignty. In post-sovereign Europe this smacks of archaism, whereas in imperial America it is perceived as a threat.