Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Geographical Analysis of the Regionals

A number of interesting points in this analysis of the regionals, culminating in this observation:

Bien sûr, l’analyse demanderait à être (r)affinée – et je ne doute pas qu’elle le soit par l’un ou l’autre collègue-, mais la majorité de l’homme qui a fait le « bouclier fiscal » semble bien avoir une géographie des plus rationnelles. Celle-ci correspond en bonne partie à celle des contribuables soumis à l’ISF (à l’exclusion des deux départements alsaciens et du Cantal). Bref, N. Sarkozy peut se féliciter que le cœur de sa base électorale, la plus aisée  à tout prendre, ait eu  tout de même de la reconnaissance à l’égard de la politique menée depuis 2007. Il est alors assez logique que le remaniement ministériel donne des satisfactions à celui qui incarne au gouvernement une ligne résolument libérale, Eric Woerth, à charge pour lui de finir le travail entre autres sur le dossier des retraites.

On Woerth, see here.

Moderation in All Things

I used to bridle when a French friend derided what he took to be American political correctness. Some of our verbal contortions were indeed absurd, but on the whole the effort to châtier notre langue reflected a healthy awareness of the manifold ways in which, in a multicultural society, one can give offense without meaning to. France seems to be discovering this as well. First, Le Figaro has sacked Eric Zemmour for saying that most French drug dealers are black or Arab, and second, Stéphane Guillon's latest excess--mocking Eric Besson's physical appearance by way of animal similes that harked back to the bad old days of Je suis partout! and other publications of that ilk--has made many people uncomfortable, even if it has also drawn support from others who believe that satire has the right to do as it pleases.

Of course it would be unfortunate if the government forced Guillon off the air. The offense here is against taste rather than truth. Perhaps Guillon will learn that satire is an art that requires knowing "jusqu'où on peut aller trop loin," to quote Jean Cocteau, who also crossed certain lines of propriety in his day. Taste is a delicate thing, but so is free speech, and there is inevitably tension between the two. I have to contend with it even here on the blog. I don't censor comments, even those I consider mean-spirited, ill-informed, or racist. Fortunately, offensive comments are relatively rare. I wish they didn't exist, but I agree with Justice Holmes that when it comes to offensive ideas, it's best to expose them to the air and allow them to deflate.

Carbon Tax Abandoned

François Fillon has announced the abandonment of the carbon tax. RIP. It was always a risk for Sarkozy. He took it, perhaps because he believed in it, perhaps because he thought it would divide the opposition. In the end, it divided his own party, and the success of Europe Écologie could not be allowed to go unpunished. And he got nothing for it internationally, either. Copenhagen was the handwriting on the wall. In the current mood of non-cooperation, the tax became an easy target for its enemies. A shame.