Sunday, July 31, 2011

To Each Présidentiable, His Own Think Tank

From Mediapart:

A l'orée d'une nouvelle campagne présidentielle, il n'y a ainsi désormais guère de figure politique importante qui ne veuille disposer de son propre club de réflexion. Répondre à gauche, de François Hollande, La Forge de Benoît Hamon, le Cercle 21 de Manuel Valls, Des idées et des rêvesd'Arnaud Montebourg, et bien sûr Désirs d'avenir, de Ségolène Royal... du côté du PS. Génération France de Jean-François Copé, France9, de François Fillon, Droite sociale de Laurent Wauquiez, les Progressistesd'Eric Besson, le Club 89 de Benoît Apparu... du côté de l'UMP.
The model here is Sarkozy, who with characteristic modesty claimed to have won the presidency by winning "the battle of ideas," following a strategy first outlined by ... the Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Le Pen Contre Le Pen

Jean-Marie Le Pen is doing his best to counter the supposed transformation of the Front National desired and to some extent achieved by his daughter. Yesterday he blamed the massacre in Norway on "multicultural elites" that failed to respond with appropriate force to "the colonization of Europe" by Muslims. The party's official position had previously been to condemn the massacre unequivocally and to express solidarity with the people of Norway. But Le Pen père seems unwilling to disassociate himself from violence in what he considers to be the righteous cause of Islamophobia, even if he calls the agent of that violence "fou."

There's no point trying to parse J.-M. Le Pen's precise intent. What his words reveal is a state of mind that is no doubt widely shared on the extreme right but that a younger generation has learned to veil more skillfully than the always disinhibited Jean-Marie, whose inveterate taste for provocation is now abetted by a semi-senile crumbling of the garde-fous that would normally prevent a politician, even of the extreme right, from associating himself with a mass murderer of children.

Polls earlier this year had shown Marine Le Pen with remarkably high first-round scores in a variety of cas de figure. Her numbers had already subsided somewhat before her father's outburst. One can hope that they will subside further in the wake of this latest verbal atrocity by the honorary president of her party.

Front de Gauche in les Quartiers Popu'

Mediapart has an interesting piece ($) on political activity by minority community organizers in a suburb of Montpellier. The leader is one Mohammed Bouklit, and after considering an alliance with EELV, he rejected it on the grounds that the Greens may be good for this sort of thing elsewhere but in Montpellier they are "too bobo." So he is now working with the Front de Gauche, despite Mélenchon's fierce commitment to "une république laïque" and rejection of "communautarisme." This is the kind of alliance that could eventually shake things up on the left by tapping into a population that has hitherto largely abstained from voting:

Bouklit a décidé de prendre le mouvement rassembleur à la gauche du PS au mot. «Le Front de gauche c'est quoi?, explique-t-il. Un cartel de trois partis ayant vocation à s'élargir et appelant à la constitution d'assemblées citoyennes. Eh bien nous, elle est déjà constituée. Donc on veut participer à cette recomposition de la gauche. Nous, on veut plus de gauche dans les quartiers.» Conscient de devoir montrer patte blanche, ou du moins «patte laïque», il estime aussi que «la volonté d'ethnicisation entretient la ghettoïsation et le clientélisme» et pense que «le communautarisme nuit aux revendications, car elles se heurtent d'emblée à une rhétorique accusatoire. Même si on n'a aucune leçon à recevoir, et que personne n'a à nous dire qui on est, ni ce qu'on doit penser». Désireux de dépasser «les débats caricaturaux et simplistes», il dit aussi croire «aux vertus de l'éducation populaire, et au fait que le printemps arabe est en train de jouer sur les consciences. Comme un contrechoc des civilisations».

Friday, July 29, 2011

"Golden Rule" vs "Socialist Austerity"

Pierre Moscovici, who is "coordinating" François Hollande's campaign, opposes Sarkozy's "golden rule" (a foolish and misguided balanced budget amendment to the constitution) but insists that the PS will reduce the deficit to the Maastricht limit of 3% by 2013 if elected in 2012.

Moscovici : un déficit à 3% dès 2013

by Europe1fr

Virage sécuritaire

It's been a year since President Sarkozy made his "tough on crime" speech in Grenoble? What's happened since then? Not much, according to Rue89. As so often in the Sarkozy presidency, rhetorical aggression provoked a heated initial response, but neither rhetoric nor response amounted to much in concrete terms, and the country is left pretty much where it was, increasing cynicism among both supporters of the president and the opposition.


The investigators seem to be convinced that 3 pilots with more than 20,000 hours total flying time failed to recognize a stall and responded in precisely the wrong way to the situation. They recommend revised training procedures:

The report itself stops short of any final conclusions, which are not expected to be made public until early next year. But initial findings highlighted by investigators indicate that the two co-pilots in the cockpit at the time the plane ran into trouble had never been trained to fly the aircraft in manual mode, nor had they been instructed how to promptly recognize and respond to a malfunction of their speed sensors at high altitude — both crucial skills that experts say should have helped them to avert disaster.
The report nevertheless fails to address the central mystery of the event: how, despite the persistent sounding of the stall warning alarm, none of the pilots thought "stall" or suggested that the pilot in command drop the nose:

As abruptly as the plane climbed — at 7,000 feet per minute, more than twice the rate at take-off — its recorded speed declined, dropping almost instantaneously from 275 knots to 60 knots, the minimum valid velocity recognized by the plane’s computers.
A stall warning sounded twice. The pilots tried several times to call the captain back from his rest area. However, the investigators noted, “neither of the pilots made any reference to the stall warning” — a departure from standard industry procedures. “Neither of the pilots formally identified the stall situation,” they added.
About a minute later, the captain returned to the cockpit. The plane’s airspeed readings continued to fluctuate wildly. Meanwhile, its nose was pointing upward from the airstream at about 16 degrees — far beyond the maximum angle of around 5 degrees that is considered to be safe at high altitudes, where the air is thin.
But the pilots could not know this, the report said, because that information — known as the angle of attack — is not directly displayed in the cockpit.
As the plane plunged toward the sea at vertical speed of nearly 11,000 feet per minute, its angle of attack continued to increase, at one point exceeding 40 degrees.
Investigators recommended Friday that air safety regulators worldwide consider requiring jet manufacturers to include an angle of attack indicator “directly accessible to pilots.”

More About Diallo

From Christopher Dickey:

Diallo then applied for assistance from the widely respected International Rescue Committee, which helped her to get her job at the Sofitel laundry. She soon moved up to the maid service. But that created new problems for her in her Muslim community, according to several elders who spoke with Newsweek/The Daily Beast. Working as a hotel maid was seen as demeaning, and also as the kind of job that puts a properly modest Muslim woman in too close proximity to unknown men. That she often declined to wear the Muslim headscarf known as the hijab also brought criticism. Among conservative Muslims, the fact of her employment as a maid alone could be enough for her to be branded a prostitute.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Rebel Military Chief Killed in Libya

Under suspicious circumstances. Usual suspects rounded up.

Oneiric Oenophilia

From Mediapart:
A bottle of 1811 Yquem was sold by the Antique Wine Company at a private sale at the Ritz in London for £75,000 to French collector Christian Vanneque, former head sommelier of the Michelin-starred restaurant La Tour d'Argent restaurant in Paris.
He is now the owner of the SIP Sunset Grill in Bali, Indonesia, which opens this September.
The bottle will go on display there in a bullet-proof, temperature and hydrometrically controlled case.

However, it will only remain there for six years before Vanneque drinks it with his family to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his starting work in Paris. He has apparently already decided on a menu to go with it.

Vanneque called his purchase his little "folie" but insisted that it really was for drinking and would never be for sale again, "even if a wealthy Chinese gentleman or a rich man from the Middle East offers to buy it," he said afterwards.

Diallo's Version of the Phone Call

DSK's accuser, Nafissatou Diallo, denies that she raised the issue of obtaining money from DSK in a phone call to her imprisoned friend. It was he who mentioned money, she says, and she replied that this was a matter for her lawyers. Furthermore, she described the encounter as one of forced oral sex.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Anti-Semitism in France?

Robert Zaretsky uses the recent polemic between Alain Finkielkraut on one side and Alain Badiou and Eric Hazan on the other as an occasion to revisit the history of French intellectual constructions of anti-Semitism. I use the word "constructions" deliberately, because the relation of these evolving polemics to the underlying reality is an elusive and much-debated topic. Those who have followed this story over the years won't learn anything new from Zaretsky's essay, but to those who haven't, this is a valuable recap and introduction.

Here's the TV debate to which Zaretsky refers:

Lifted from Comments: Stamping Out "Immigrant Music"

MYOS sends the following alarming bit of news:

It's not related to debt and unemployment but it's interesting nevertheless:
a "député" wants to control "types of music by bands whose members are of immigrant origin".

I thought it was a joke because it's offensive on so many levels, but it's not. And he's not FN-related, apparently. I'm wondering what's keeping him from joining?

Speaking of Debts and Deficits

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Harmonic Convergence: Europe and the US

Paul Krugman notes that employment-to-population rations for the US and Europe have converged since the crisis: "America now has European levels of joblessness without a European safety net."

Monday, July 25, 2011

Justice? A Quaint Idea in Our Brave New World

DSK's alleged victim, Nafissatou Diallo (I can now use her name, since she has chosen to reveal her identity to the public), appeared for the first time on American television this morning. The quaint idea that guilt or innocence in a criminal case should be decided on the basis of evidence presented in a court of law in accordance with rules of procedure and under the supervision of a judge apparently belongs to another era. In both France and the United States, alleged victims have hired attorneys versed in the ways of the media, who have advised their clients to seek retribution (I don't think the word "justice" can apply without due process of law) in the media. Both lawyers know that their clients stand little chance of prevailing in criminal court: in New York because the witness's integrity is open to challenge, in Paris because the allegation is too old, the only corroborating evidence comes from the account that the alleged victim herself offered to others, and the allegation will probably be reclassified from attempted rape to sexual assault, on which the statute of limitations has run.

So as a matter of law, DSK will probably emerge unscathed, though still subject to civil suits for damages. His reputation is in tatters, but as numerous precedents (Clinton, Spitzer, Vitter, etc.) show, careers can flourish even without reputation. Initially, one might have hoped that the DSK affair would change attitudes in France about sexual harassment and relations between men and women in general, but that may be wishful thinking.

Perhaps the willingness of the alleged victims to publicize their grievances marks a step forward for women: Why should we hide? they may be saying. There is no shame in what (allegedly) happened to us; the shame is that the (alleged) perpetrator may get away with it. And yet, and yet ... the impatience with the inevitably slow process of justice, the procedural obstacles in the way of a full hearing, and the inherent difficulty of proof in this kind of case have driven these women to heed the advice of attorneys whose motives are certainly not unmixed, and this inevitably raises suspicions about the potential for manipulation.

Neither case is over yet, but both have already left a decidedly unpleasant taste. The false immediacy and transparency of television will have drawn yet another veil over already murky details, and in the absence of a trial to impose some kind of order on the facts and accountability on the witnesses, we are now left with a simulacrum of justice in which PoMo theorists will find confirmation of their darkest suspicions. Truth beyond a reasonable doubt has become a myth in which only the credulous believe--an ancestral memory, like the story of Romulus and Remus, or Washington and the cherry tree. Vengeance via media is so much more satisfying, and potentially lucrative.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

"The Maid" Speaks


Ship Sinks, Rats Flee

DSK's publicist, Stéphane Fouks, has apparently pitched his services to Jean-Louis Borloo. From a sinking ship to another that is still in dry dock might not seem like the smartest move, but I guess the possibilities are limited.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Another View of the Greek Settlement


Banon Portrait

The Times portrays Tristane Banon. The money quote is buried at the end of the story:

“She is soft and charming,” the friend said, but she “is also tough” and can be difficult. “In her case with Mr. Strauss-Kahn, she turned everybody against her, including those who worked with her,” the friend said.

ECB: "We Got What We Wanted"

On its face, the EU summit agreement to salvage Greece and save the euro would seem to mark a loss for the ECB, which had adamantly opposed partial default on Greece's sovereign debt. But this Times story portrays ECB officials as having got what they wanted. Of course everyone is spinning the agreement to accentuate the positive from his or her point of view, and a good agreement is one in which everyone gets something. But all parties have an incentive to play down whatever it was they had to give up to get that bit of positive, and the price that will have to be paid is buried in a welter of technical details that leave the identity of the ultimate burden-bearers difficult to unravel. I'm sure we'll be hearing more in the coming weeks. What no one got is what is arguably needed: a Eurobond and a transnational fiscal authority to manage its issuance and collect taxes to service it.

Despite the incense that has been burned to the idea of yet another instance of "progress in crisis" toward a truly federal European Union, I see no evidence of a more coherent future: just another patchwork solution, and yet another pseudo-independent, unaccountable institution that Sarkozy has taken to calling the "European Monetary Fund," as though being in such wretched shape as to require a "permanent emergency organization" at one's disposal were something to boast about. And the Fonds Européen de Stabilité Financière lacks the independence of the real IMF, at least when the IMF was intervening in emerging rather than developed economies. The FESF, for better or for worse, will be a highly political rather than technocratic institution (some will find that heartening) yet an almost completely opaque one. But this is standard operating procedure for the EU, and it affords European leaders a margin of maneuver that they have come to value, indeed find indispensable.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Deal II

FT Alphaville has a go at interpreting the terms of the Greek debt settlement. Although it appears to be written in English, it might as well have been written in Greek--or Chinese. For instance:

Now, Greece itself funds the purchasing of the collateral. This is a highly significant point. Nomura’s Nick Firoozye calculated on Friday that around €38bn of collateral will be needed, and thus added to Greek gross debt. There are features in the offer which also reduce gross debt, in the discount bonds we’re about to get on to, and a separate bond buyback. But not by enough.

OOOK ... the Greek debt burden is alleviated by adding 38 billion to the Greek debt burden. Right. By comparison, the US debt ceiling negotiations look almost transparent.

UPDATE: Jean Quatremer, eschewing the financial intricacies, takes the optimistic view that a major political step has been taken toward a more federal EU. I'm not at all sure that this is correct, but only time will tell.

Quite a Yarn

This one's made for TV: the wife of a lesser light of the Right, Christian Honoré, thinks that Jean-François Copé has taken out a contract on her husband but wants to get rid of him even sooner so asks his bodyguard, who has become her copain, to find her a hired gun. He may (or may not) have asked his pal, who works for the DST, to do the job. But the woman still can't wait and plans to do it on her own. She gets cold feet, however, while lurking in the yard. Meanwhile, her husband has spotted a prowler and calls the cops, who arrest her. The three alleged co-conspirators are now in prison.

And my question is, Why does a guy who is only a municipal councilor in Valenton and a parliamentary assistant to a UMP senator get a bodyguard and an official car? I thought Sarko was trying to cut down on government expenses. Looks like a bit of fat in the budget to me.

Rogoff is not convinced

Ken Rogoff on the EU summit results:

Les dirigeants européens n'ont pas évoqué clairement le dispositif concernant le Portugal ou l'Irlande. Jusqu'où peut-on soutenir l'Italie ? Quel est l'avenir de l'euro ? Va-t-on créer une union fiscale ? Toutes ces questions sont sans réponse. Ce qui a été dit et fait n'est qu'un pas de plus, le minimum pour éviter un effondrement imminent.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Justice Breyer to Speak in French Tomorrow at Harvard Law School

Parlez-vous français? U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will speak in French with members of Tunisian civil society and legal community about the U.S. Constitution and its role in our democratic system. Watch a live stream of this web conference between Washington, DC and Tunis tomorrow, July 22, at 12:00pm EDT (16:00 GMT) right here on our Facebook page. Click on the “Live Events” tab to the left to tune in!
You can watch the speech live here.

The Deal


Filipetti-Mansouret e-mails

Details of e-mails between Aurélie Filipetti and Anne Mansouret have leaked:

Mansouret told Filipetti, then still a member of the Greens, that her daughter was going to file charges against DSK. Then Filipetti replied:

«Le peu que j'ai vu me montre à quel point le personnage est dangereux pour les femmes.» «Votre fille et vous pouvez compter sur mon soutien si besoin», ajoute-t-elle. Puis, à l'attention de Tristane Banon et de sa volonté de se tourner vers la justice: «Transmettez-lui mes félicitations.»
Le 26 décembre, dans un nouvel échange de courriers électroniques, Aurélie Filippetti, sollicitée par Anne Mansouret en quête d'un autre avocat pour sa fille, adresse avec amabilité quelques conseils: «Je pense qu'il est important pour elle de porter plainte, car cela transférera sa culpabilité sur lui et non plus sur elle.» «En outre, précise-t-elle encore, c'est aussi bénéfique pour d'autres femmes qui éventuellement pourraient être victimes du satyre.» C'est alors qu'elle livre une part de sa propre histoire, qui offre des similitudes avec celle de Tristane Banon: «Pour ma part, il m'avait invité à prendre un café pour discuter, à cette fameuse adresse. J'en avais parlé à un copain qui m'a mise en garde en m'interdisant pratiquement de m'y rendre. (…) Mais peut-être d'autres filles ont-elles été victimes des mêmes pratiques et peut-être parleront-elles.» Plus tard, elle recommandera à la mère de Tristane Banon le nom d'un conseil qu'elle juge de confiance.

Krugman: Europe Is Blowing It

Sounds awful:

The Telegraph has a leaked draft of the eurozone rescue plan for Greece. The financial engineering is Rube Goldbergish and unconvincing. But here’s what leaped out at me:
9. All euro area Member States will adhere strictly to the agreed fiscal targets, improve competitiveness and address macro-economic imbalances. Deficits in all countries except those under a programme will be brought below 3% by 2013 at the latest.
OK, so we’re going to demand harsh austerity in the debt-crisis countries; and meanwhile, we’re also going to have austerity in the non-debt-crisis countries.
Plus, the ECB is raising rates.
So demand will be depressed in both crisis and non-crisis economies; this will lead to a vigorous recovery through … what?
The Serious People are determined to destroy all the advanced economies in the name of prudence.

More from Tyler Cowen, who concludes by saying that it's time to play Brahms' German Requiem.

More positive view here.

Brigitte Guillemette's Story

Brigitte Guillemette is DSK's second wife and the godmother of his French accuser, Tristane Banon. Her version of the relationship between herself and Anne Mansouret and her daughter and Tristane Banon is very different from the version given by Mansouret and Banon. The two older women were not close friends, according to Guillemette, and she is Banon's "godmother" only because she was asked to accept as a favor to Mansouret, who claimed not to know any other baptized Catholics. Banon, moreover, barely knew Camille, the daughter of DSK and Guillemette, when she announced that Camille's father had attempted to rape her. Indeed, she had only two contacts with Camille, and it's not clear whether both or only the second occurred after the alleged attack, which Banon revealed during the second meeting. (Parenthetically, I find it quite strange that a woman who had been attacked by DSK would seek out his daughter, whom she barely knew, to inform her of her father's assault.) All of this is quite far from the account we had been hitherto given of the relationships among the four women.

There is also this curious passage in Guillemette's account: "J’ai rencontré Anne Mansoureh-Riahi (c’est ainsi qu’elle se présentait à l’époque) ..." Are we to infer that Mansouret changed her name to one that is "more French?" Mansouret was born in Iran. So the subtext of Guillemette's story is that she was doing a favor for an Iranian woman she barely knew and who knew no baptized Catholics capable of serving as godmother to her daughter (who was 18 at the time of her baptism).

DSK Accuser May File Charges in France

DSK's New York accuser may file rape charges against him in France, since French penal law "is applicable to crimes and misdemeanors committed by French citizens outside the territory of the Republic." One begins to see a legal strategy behind the sudden alliance of lawyers Thompson and Koubbi. The latter had initially refused to combine the two cases, but a concerted strategy would keep charges against DSK alive in France even if Banon's accusation is reclassified as sexual assault rather than rape and therefore dismissed because the statute of limitations has run out. With criminal charges still pending, then, no matter what happens in New York on the Sofitel case and Paris on the Banon case, both lawyers will have more leverage in pressing DSK for a civil--read financial--settlement.

Aubry Ahead in Deputy Support

Martine Aubry has the support of 45.1% of Socialist deputies, compared with only 27% for Hollande.

Greek Default Envisioned

Sarkozy and Merkel held an all-nighter last night, and the upshot seems to be that a partial Greek default is no longer off the table. This implies that private banks will have to accept substantial losses on their holdings of Greek sovereign debt, and issuers of credit default swaps on the defaulting debt will be obliged to pay. Such a move will no doubt be accompanied by a Eurozone guarantee of future Greek borrowing, to ensure that Greece is not frozen out of credit markets. With such a guarantee, Greece might be able to borrow at lower rates, which would be a major step toward putting the country in a position where it might conceivably be able to pay off its debts without further austerity measures, which would strain the political system to the breaking point. So, this time--after a tenth European summit to deal with the Greek crisis--it might just work. But no numbers have yet been released, and arithmetic matters. And to date, the Euromeisters have not demonstrated much of a gift for arithmetic.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Banon's Lawyer Sees Vance

Tristane Banon's attorney David Koubbi met with Cyrus Vance yesterday in the company of Kenneth Thompson, who represents DSK's NY accuser. This after Koubbi said that Banon would have nothing to do with the New York case.

More on the Banon case here.

UPDATE: Banon will be called to testify in New York.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

How Many More?

So, now we learn that Anne Mansouret, Tristane Banon's mother, also had a sexual encounter with DSK, "consensual," she says, but "clearly brutal":

Lors de son audition, la mère a confié aux enquêteurs ce qu'elle n'avait jamais dévoilé, et notamment pas à sa fille: elle a eu une relation sexuelle avec l'ex-patron du FMI. Une relation consentie mais clairement brutale, selon ses dires, qui se serait déroulée dans un bureau de l'OCDE, à Paris -où DSK avait été nommé, en 2000, conseiller spécial du secrétaire général de l'organisation. Un acte qu'elle n'a jamais voulu renouveler. Anne Mansouret était alors l'amie de Brigitte Guillemette, ex-femme de DSK et mère de Camille Strauss-Kahn, qui se trouvait être aussi la marraine de Tristane.

Comportement déplacé
Pourquoi avoir gardé le silence si longtemps, durant huit ans, sur cet épisode? Anne Mansouret dit avoir longuement réfléchi ces deux derniers mois. Si elle a voulu apporter ce témoignage, à l'appui de la plainte de sa fille, c'est pour battre en brèche le portrait de Dominique Strauss-Kahn dépeint par ses amis. "Séducteur invétéré", "homme à femmes", oui; capable de violence, non, impensable. A 65 ans, après une vie amoureuse bien remplie et trois maris, Anne Mansouret décrit au contraire DSK comme un prédateur qui cherche non pas à plaire mais à prendre, se comportant avec l'"obscénité d'un soudard". D'après elle, chez DSK, le besoin sexuel déclenche un processus de domination.

Monday, July 18, 2011

DSK's Ex-Wife Reportedly Denies Banon's Version

Brigitte Guillemette, the ex-wife of DSK and godmother of Tristane Banon, his French accuser, has reportedly denied the version of events given by Banon and her mother, Anne Mansouret:

Citée comme témoin à plusieurs reprises par Anne Mansouret lors de l'audition de cette dernière du 13 juillet dernier, Brigitte Guillemette a démenti totalement la version donnée par la mère de Tristane Banon. L'ex-femme de DSK a affirmé aux enquêteurs qu'elle n'avait jamais servi d'intermédiaire entre Tristane Banon et son mari à l'époque des faits.
"Tous les éléments cités par Anne Mansouret qui pouvaient accréditer la véracité de la tentative de viol ont été démentis par l'intéressée", affirme un enquêteur. Brigitte Guillemette a déclaré qu'elle n'avait jamais reçu d'appel de la mère de Tristane Banon. C'est au contraire elle qui a pris contact avec Anne Mansouret pour faire cesser la rumeur. Conversation qui s'est déroulée devant témoin, a-t-elle répété aux policiers. Anne Mansouret avait évoqué une conversation avec DSK au cours de laquelle celui-ci aurait reconnu "avoir pété un câble". L'ex-épouse n'a pas confirmé cette déclaration.

Topsy-Turvy World

Aubry and Hollande have finally clashed over an issue: Which of them is the more devoted to austerity? With unemployment at 9.2%, one might have expected one of them to take the view that putting people to work should be the immediate priority, with deficit reduction relegated to some point in the future. But both appear to wish to portray themselves as "responsible" stewards of the economy rather than champions of the unemployed. Is this because the unemployed don't vote or contribute to campaign war chests? Or have both leading Socialists retreated to the criteria of the Maastricht treaty, which has demonstrated its inadequacy in so many ways, as a way of demonstrating their reliability and soundness as fiscal managers?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Outa here!

I'm on an island for a few days with limited Internet, so blogging will be light, and comment moderation may be slow.


French feminism is making progress. Elaine Sciolino thinks Frenchwomen ought to thank DSK for thatL
As the Strauss-Kahn saga moves into its third month, many women are demanding to be heard, while many men are losing interest. Suddenly, issues like rape, incest and sexual harassment have been worthy of debate. Forty feminist organizations met at a conference in the Paris suburb of Évry and pledged to make the war against rape their main cause in the coming year.

 But the groups that have come in for greater press attention since the DSK affair had been organizing quietly for some time. Without this preparation, they wouldn't have been able to capitalize on the opportunity. Dominique Méda in Le Monde:

D. M. : Cette affaire a mis en lumière la vigueur du féminisme français, la diversité et le renouvellement de ses leaders (en particulier la forte présence des jeunes générations) mais aussi de ses combats et de ses modes d'action. Elle a permis de mettre le projecteur sur des sujets et des associations qui font un travail très important, habituellement trop peu relayé par les médias.
L'association La Barbe existe depuis 2008, Osez le féminisme depuis 2009, le Laboratoire de l'égalité depuis 2010, et on ne les avait pas entendues sur les grands médias jusqu'à présent !
La Barbe dénonce la présence exclusivement masculine dans de nombreux lieux de pouvoir et de débat ; Osez le féminisme aborde des sujets qui vont de l'égalité professionnelle aux violences faites aux femmes ; le Laboratoire de l'égalité, auquel je participe, attire l'attention sur l'égalité professionnelle et est intervenu sur tous les sujets susceptibles d'avoir une influence sur cette question : réforme des retraites, congé parental, temps partiel, service public de la petite enfance, rythmes scolaires... Ces mouvements s'occupent des vrais sujets et ne font pas que réagir à des coups médiatiques comme l'affaire Strauss-Kahn.


Eva Joly's criticism of yesterday's military parade (see previous post) has provoked a curious tempest. Already, even before her remarks, some were criticizing her accent.

Aujourd’hui, des orthophonistes spécialisés sont tout à fait capables de gommer presqu’intégralement un accent trop prononcé en quelques semaines, au pire quelques mois. N’est-ce pas montrer du respect à ce peuple dont on sollicite les suffrages que de se mettre dans les meilleures conditions d’être compris par lui ?

Luc Rosenzweig wrote these words as the son of an immigrant who was ridiculed by his French friends for his Teutonic accent. Philippe Bilger shows less comprehension:

Parce que je ne rêve pas, comme elle, d'une présidence "des accents et du sang mêlé" - quel conformisme rentable !- pas plus qu'ambiguë dans ses choix, ses fonctions ici ou là et ses inclinations, qu'on ne vienne pas m'opposer que je serais un suppôt du racisme. Je ne fantasme sur aucune pureté française. Je n'ai pas le moindre goût pour les expulsions gratuites. Je ne veux pas vider la France de ceux qui l'aiment et la respectent. Les étrangers, de quelque nationalité qu'ils soient, nous honorent grâce à leur présence quand ils honorent la France et ses valeurs. Je me contente seulement d'aspirer à un président de la République qui serait français sans équivoque ni confusion et dont la première mesure ne serait pas de porter atteinte à une date, à un symbole, à l'histoire de notre pays. (italics added)

Taking Bilger at his word, I won't tax him with "racism" or even "xenophobia." He has expressed a version of patriotism, as has Rosenzweig. But Tocqueville offers another possibility:

Another, more rational form of patriotism also exists: it is less generous, less ardent perhaps, but more fruitful and durable. This second form of patriotism is born of enlightenment. It develops with the aid of laws, grows with the exercise of rights, and eventually comes to be bound up in a way with personal interest. People understand how their country’s well-being influences their own. They know that the law allows them to contribute to that well-being, and they take an interest in their country’s prosperity, initially as something useful to them but later as their own handiwork.

In the life of a nation, however, there may come a time when ancient customs are transformed, mores decay, faiths are shaken, memories lose their prestige, but enlightenment has yet to complete its work and political rights remain insecure or limited. At such times the only light in which men can see their country is a feeble and dubious one. Patriotic feeling no longer attaches to the soil, which to the people who live on it has become mere inanimate earth; or to ancestral customs, which they have learned to see as confining; or to religion, of which they are skeptical; or to the laws, which they do not make; or to the lawmaker, whom they fear and despise. Hence they cannot see their country anywhere, in either its proper guise or any other, and they withdraw into narrow, unenlightened selfishness. They have escaped prejudice but not yet embraced the empire of reason. Lacking both the instinctive patriotism of monarchy and the considered patriotism of a republic, they find themselves stuck somewhere between the two, surrounded by confusion and misery. (Democracy in America, I.2.6)

Bilger, I think, longs for "the instinctive patriotism of monarchy," while Rosenzweig looks back to "the considered patriotism of a republic," which, in its idealized version, would have made room for his father, a refugee from Nazi Germany, but which in fact insisted on a linguistic assimilation that took a generation to achieve. France is now trying to find its way forward with a substantial number of citizens in its midst who do not meet all the old criteria of assimilation (they speak with accents, they do not necessarily hide their non-majoritarian religious practices, they have their own "ancestral customs," and they do not "love the soil" because they live in cities). But their hosts are really no more certain than are the newcomers of what their patriotic sentiments actually attach to, because, as Tocqueville says, they, too, lack both "the instinctive patriotism" whose social basis no longer exists and "the considered patriotism of a republic" whose founding myths no longer coincide sufficiently with the social texture of today's society. So we see, around innocuous remarks like Joly's about yesterday's parade, a momentary bristling of emotions that always lie just below the surface.

But what, really, is the point of Bilger's comment? How can Joly's remarks be said to "porter atteinte à un symbole de notre pays?" Isn't every symbol of a country there to be interpreted? Aren't symbols always contested? Isn't that the lesson of the thousands of pages of Les Lieux de mémoire? And why should the taking of the Bastille by the people in a popular insurrection be represented by a military parade in which the forces of the state play the starring role? Isn't that, too, a debatable representation of l'histoire de notre pays? Why shouldn't the people be included as well among the marchers--which, after all, was all that Joly was suggesting, not that the military be excluded?

I said yesterday that I thought Joly's remark was impolitic. Evidently I was right. Nevertheless, I feel called upon to defend her from the criticism that because she speaks with an accent, she has no right to an opinion about the interpretation of national symbols. Like her critic Bilger, she spent her career in the judicial system of her adopted country and devoted herself to exposing some of the corruption of its political system. That service to France is as honorable as any soldier's service, and to say that is to take nothing away from the soldiers, six of whom died this week in Afghanistan. But let's be clear about what patriotism is and what it is not: in a republic of laws, the mission of the military is to defend justice, not to promote conquest. A judge has every right to speak out on Bastille Day and deserves as much respect and attention, I would think, as bearded legionnaires and picturesque Polynesians.

UPDATE: Fillon piles on, from Abidjan:

Depuis Abidjan, où il est en voyage officiel, le premier ministre a dénoncé vendredi la proposition de la candidate écologiste de supprimer le défilé militaire du 14-Juillet. "Cette dame n'a pas une culture très ancienne des traditions françaises, des valeurs françaises, de l'histoire française", a-t-il déclaré lors d'une conférence de presse. (AFP)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Raining on the Parade

Eva Joly doesn't like the Bastille Day parade:

"J'ai rêvé que nous puissions remplacer ce défilé (militaire) par un défilé citoyen où nous verrions les enfants des écoles, où nous verrions les étudiants, où nous verrions aussi les seniors défiler dans le bonheur d'être ensemble, de fêter les valeurs qui nous réunissent", a déclaré Mme Joly à l'AFP, en marge d'un rassemblement pour les valeurs de la République.
Yeah, well, I'm kinda with you on that, Eva, but when you're running to be commander-in-chief, it's probably better to keep such sentiments to yourself. Will this be Eva's bravitude moment?

Judt Colloquium in Paris

Eric Alterman recaps the recent Paris colloquium in honor Tony Judt. Among other things, this from Pierre Rosanvallon:

The French historian Pierre Rosanvallon noted that “it is here that the anti-immigration argument gets its force. On the left the view is one of nostalgia. An extremely weak response to a strong attack and it’s hard to see how it can survive the argument ‘the immigrants are stealing the welfare state.’” This story can be told almost anywhere in Europe and increasingly applies as well to the United States.

14 juillet Haka!

Hey, this is awesome (and don't miss Sarkozy's facial expressions):

(h/t Arun K.)


Another French soldier was killed in Afghanistan today, bringing the toll to 6 in days. Coming immediately after Sarkozy's visit to Afghanistan and at the moment of France's national holiday, these losses send a message that is the opposite of the president's. Sarkozy insisted that one "must know how to end a war," that the time to end it had come, but that France would exit on its own timetable, with dignity, and only when "the mission is accomplished." But the message that the insurgents have tried to send over the past few days is that the mission is never accomplished in this kind of war.

Meanwhile, political attention has shifted to Libya, where progress is more tangible. The National Assembly voted a couple of days ago to grant its formal approval to the effort, with the Socialists on board. France has already spent €150 million on the effort.

Fête nationale

Happy Bastille Day! I will be celebrating later today at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, where the French consul is hosting a Bastille Day Bash. Hope to see some of you there.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tristane Banon Interview

The Maid's "Fiancé" Talks to the Daily Beast

The Daily Beast has interviewed the man linked to DSK's accuser. It was his telephone call to her that helped to undermine her credibility. His further remarks may only further undermine her story. Contrary to initial reports, the two are apparently not married. He describes himself as her "fiancé," but she may be only one of several "fiancées." And his answers to reporters' questions are in some respects inconsistent with known facts.

Aubry and Hollande Organize

Martine Aubry and François Hollande have chosen different styles for organizing their campaigns. Ex-Strauss-Kahnians are prominent in Hollande's team.

Anne Lauvergeon to Become Chair of Libé

Anne Lauvergeon, former head of Areva, forced out by Sarkozy, will become chair of the board of Libération.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New Comment Policy

Henceforth all blog comments will be moderated. Comments will not appear until I approve them. Approval will be granted if three conditions are observed:

1. Temperate language must be used.
2. No personal attacks on individuals will be tolerated.
3. Comments should be related to the content of the blog.

Thank you.

Immigration Is Down

Immigration is down, but Sarkozy's policies have nothing to do with it.

An OECD report shows that immigration into OECD countries is down an average of 7% owing to the global economic downturn. (h/t Mediapart)

Italy, US: Republicans Fiddle while Rome Burns

So it's no longer just the PIGS:

Still, if the crisis were to take hold in Italy, the problems for the euro union would dwarf all others to date. European banks have total claims and potential exposures of 998.7 billion euros to Italy, more than six times the 162.4 billion euro exposure they have to Greece, according to Barclays Capital. European banks have 774 billion euros of exposure to Spain and 534 billion euros of exposure to Ireland.
In the United States, banks are also more exposed to Italy than to any other euro zone country, to the tune of 269 billion euros, according to Barclays. American banks’ next biggest exposure is to Spain, with total claims estimated at 179 billion euros.
But at the end of the day, “If Italy goes, it’s no longer a domino,” said Mr. Gros, the analyst in Brussels. “It’s a brick.”

Aubry-Hollande, Hollande-Aubry

So, yesterday Hollande was up in the polls, today it's Aubry. With left sympathizers. Hollande leads with "all the French." Whatever. I'd bet most of the people polled would be hard pressed to name any significant programmatic differences between the two. Of course, a presidential preference is a visceral as well as a programmatic choice. And when it comes to the gut, Aubry and Hollande seem to be running about neck and neck. It would have been interesting to see how either fared against DSK, but now we'll never know. Take your pick. It seems as though it will be one of these two.

Juppé: Libya in Contacts with France

I didn't even report Saïf Qaddafi's boast yesterday that Libya was "in negotiation" with France, because I thought he was bluffing. But now Alain Juppé has confirmed that there are contacts between the Libyan regime and his ministry with an eye to Qaddafi's departure. And the Libyan prime minister is prepared to negotiate with the rebels without Qaddafi. Sounds like victory is nigh. Bastille Day would be a fine time to announce a breakthrough, don't you think? Coup de comm', anyone?

UPDATE: Jean Daniel's thoughts. He also speaks of a Bastille Day announcement!

A summary of the war so far.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Do Bayrou and Le Pen Draw on the Same Pool of Voters?

Frédéric Lefebvre-Naré asks the question and uses his statistical skills to answer it in the negative:

J'ai vu ressurgir sur Facebook aujourd'hui une vieille idée typiquement colombano-minco-UMPS, selon laquelle le vote Bayrou et le vote Le Pen puiseraient à un même réservoir électoral, celui du "ni ni" (populiste, démago-râleur, etc.).
J'attends depuis de longues années de voir cette assertion étayée...
...Mais en tant que statisticien, je peux verser quelques éléments publics au débat.
[for graphics, see original post]
Le vote Bayrou a évolué de façon tout à fait indépendante du vote Le Pen ; le vote Bayrou a concurrencé le vote Royal en début et fin de période ; le plus fort transfert semble avoir été, fin février-début mars[1], du vote Sarkozy vers le vote Bayrou.
Si, bien sûr, les chiffres des sondeurs méritent la moindre crédibilité. Mais sur quelles autres sources se fondent ceux qui parlent de perméabilité entre les électorats nationaliste et démocrate ?

La Droite popu'

The UMP has its own internal Front National, la Droite popu', which shares the sense of humor of the Le Pen family. It organized a "sausage and red wine" celebration of Bastille Day. No offense, of course. The good-hearted fellows of the DP simply wanted to poke fun at the political correctness of certain compatriots:

Nota Bene: Lionnel Luca, contacté ce matin sans succès, a rappelé Droites extrêmes le 11 juillet en début d'après midi. Le député des Alpes-Maritimes, a assuré, hilare, que"c'était un canular". "Quel pays! Mais on s'en fout de ça! C'est le plus beau piège de l'été (...) pour être sûr que l'on parle de nous, a-t-il continué. Si on ne peut plus parler de saucisson et de pinard, sans être taxé de fascisme...On a voulu apporter chacun ses spécialités et les députés du Rhône ont proposé de la charcuterie et du vin, voila."
Se défendant de toutes accointances avec le Bloc identitaire, M. Luca a tenu à rappeler qu'il avait été "le seul élu de Nice à [s']opposer publiquement aux soupes au cochon pour les SDF" organisées par les identitaires.

Le vent en poupe

The Socialists have a strong wind at their backs according to the latest polls (h/t Robert D.). François Hollande was looking confident last night on France2, and well he might, since he has put some daylight between himself and Aubry. Still, it's a long way to the elections, and a 60% Socialist vote  in the second round would be quite stunning--hence to be taken with a large grain of salt.

It's also significant that 63% of respondents would not want to see DSK named prime minister. The charges in New York have taken their toll, despite the more vociferous outcries of some of DSK's defenders. The French now know too much about him. Guilt or innocence is no longer the issue; it's character, and there has been a sharp turn against DSK since mid-May.

Legal Issues Raised by Aubry Slurs

Discussed here. Of particular interest:

Quant au blogueur, il est assimilé à l'éditeur d'un service de communication au public. Les juges considèrent qu'il est responsable non seulement des propos, mais aussi des commentaires postés par des tiers sur son blog.
Of course, this is French law, inapplicable here in the US, but it does seem a bit excessive to hold bloggers responsible for what their commenters say. There are plenty of comments to this blog that I would have deleted had I been worried about legal reponsibility for the commenter's remarks.

In any case, I have no interest in relaying the derogatory statements about which Aubry has complained. Those who are interested can read them elsewhere. But this preisdential campaign, still only in its infancy, promises to be a nasty one.

Mediapart Bombshell

Mediapart has begun publishing a series of articles that detail close ties between Franco-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine and numerous leading UMP figures, including Brice Hortefeux, Thierry Gaubert, Claude Guéant, and party head Jean-François Copé, as well as Dominique Desseigne, the owner of Fouquet's, where Sarkozy celebrated his 2007 election victory. Various notes appear to link Takieddine to Sarkozy's policy of reconciliation with the Qaddafi regime (until recently) and with the Karachigate affair.

Will Sarkozy be able to keep the lid on this affair? Or will it explode in the middle of the campaign season? Stay tuned. This could be the UMP equivalent of Sofitelgate.

P.S. I particularly relish the picture of Copé in Takieddine's absolutely divine swimming pool. Not to be missed if you have a Mediapart subscription.

Le Monde story here.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Constitutionalizing Social Partner Negotiations

I said the other day that Bernard Girard had persuaded me that I was misinterpreting François Hollande's somewhat cryptic remarks about "constitutionalizing negotiations between the social partners." This was really in the tradition of French social democracy, the argument went. So I decided to move on.

But now I learn from Jean-Luc Mélenchon's blog (the amount this man manages to write while running for president is astonishing, and I have no doubt that he writes it all himself, for better and for worse) that Hollande's remarks found two supporters I wasn't previously aware of: Alain Madelin, the ultraliberal, and Laurence Parisot, the head of the MEDEF. The plot thickens. What's more, according to Mélenchon, Hollande has ignored several invitations to debate the issue and clarify his position.

En fait le plus étrange dans cette affaire c’est l’attitude de François Hollande après que deux personnes ont répondu à son texte. Quelle attitude ? Il ne dit rien, ne contacte personne, n’écrit rien de plus. Bref, un petit prout et puis s’en va. Ce n’est pas du mépris, juste de la gaminerie. Il avance ses idées comme ses blagues. Rien de constant, et mépris amusé pour tous. S’intéresse-t-il seulement à son idée ? Ou bien n’est-elle là que pour dire « je me suis exprimé ». C’est à croire qu’il n’a pas écrit lui-même son texte. Car qui a souffert à écrire compact sur des sujets aussi complexe ne lâche pas prise si facilement que le fait François Hollande. Croyez-moi. J’ai passé une soirée à écrire ma réponse.
I will return to this issue as I learn more. As Mélenchon says, it isn't a small matter, and the support of Madelin and Parisot has me wondering what's up. But at this point, I don't know enough to say.

The substance of Mélenchon's critique of Hollande is here.

Eloi Laurent, "Social-Ecologie"

Another book by a friend, Éloi Laurent, Social-Écologie, is reviewed by This one is a must-read!

Fumaroli, "When the World Spoke French"

Richard Howard, the dean of American translators of French, renders Fumaroli's When the World Spoke French into English. Reviewed here.

A Randy Fellow Indeed

According to The New York Times, DSK invited two hotel employees to visit his suite. Both declined. As previously reported another woman did visit him after 1 AM (allegedly). Is "reckless" too harsh a word?

Clueless Aubry

Really, now: it was not even two weeks ago that Martine Aubry launched her manifesto on digital policy, but now here she is revealing herself to be totally clueless about the Internet:

"Facebook et Twitter, j'ai horreur de ça... C'est typique de cette société où chacun pense à son nombril... Et puis tous ces faux amis... Ce n'est pas mon truc d'expliquer mes états d'âme. La vie, c'est aussi être libre de regarder autour de soi..." (h/t Guy Birenbaum)
If only she had said something about Facebook's privacy issues or about Internet security--something that showed she had the slightest idea what she was talking about. And then, to make matters worse, she repeats the conventional wisdom of the "social media revolution":

Pour autant, Aubry promet qu'elle sait que les réseaux sociaux ont "pu être utiles, pendant les révolutions arabes, par exemple"
But she evidently hasn't been keeping up with the news:

Mais les choses se gâtent dans la phase II de la révolution. Là, le parti va l'emporter sur le portable. Très vite, "les réseaux verticaux vont reprendre le dessus sur les réseaux horizontaux", dit Alain Navarro, ancien chef du bureau de l'Agence France-Presse au Caire et l'un des journalistes français les plus pertinents sur le Proche-Orient.
Le tyran renversé, il faut aller aux élections, avoir un programme, des chefs, des candidats, des locaux, des journaux, etc. L'organisation reprend ses droits. Les vieilles structures de la militance, celles du parti traditionnel, du syndicat, bref les "réseaux verticaux", en jargon sociologique, retrouvent leur pertinence.
A president really should have a more catholic curiosity about the world we live in.

"Un Juif Improbable"

Reviewed by Sylvie Kauffmann. Dominique Moïsi is a friend. Read his latest book, an autobiography (I haven't yet, but I will).

Former DSK Supporters Alienated

One-third of voters who supported DSK before his arrest would not do so now, even if the charges are dismissed. Many, women in particular, are repelled by what they have learned about his sexual behavior. Others are disturbed by what they have learned about his lavish spending.

Intellectuals for Aubry

Fifty intellectuals sign a petition in favor of Aubry.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Immigration: The UMP Needs to Poach FN Voters

No surprise: the UMP wants to look tough. It's election season. Of course, attacking dual nationality might alienate voters living abroad, many of whom have two passports, so they're backing off on that. But refusing to regularize the status of anyone who has entered illegally? Polls well on the right, so go for it.

Like Button

I've added a Facebook "like" button below the posts. Please feel free to click if you like a post and are on Facebook, as this will advertise it to all of your friends.

By the way, has anybody tried Google+?

I'm Quoted in Le Monde

Here, extensively. I don't appreciate the last line, however, which is preceded by a quote taken out of context. What I said was that having sex (if there was indeed sex) with an unknown woman in a hotel room is an imprudent thing for a man who aspires to be president to do. If his reputation is ruined, he might ask himself whether he oughtn't to have been more cautious, especially since he thought there were people out to get him.

The reason I add the caveat "if there was indeed sex" is that I have begun to be extremely skeptical about what we actually know. To my knowledge, all reports of DNA evidence, medical evidence, and physical evidence have thus far been attributed to unnamed sources or issued by the accuser's attorney. I do not know if anything, including the supposed DNA evidence, which is crucial, has been confirmed by the police or prosecutor. Until then, I think we had best go back to assuming that we know nothing, really. The accuser may be unreliable, but so may all the news reports.

Since the article is behind the paywall, apparently, I'm pasting it here:

NEW YORK CORRESPONDANT - La lettre de lecteur, signée Richard Friedman, est parue mercredi 6 juillet dans le New York Times"Je n'ai jamais été aussi fier d'être Américain que depuis l'affaire Dominique Strauss-Kahn, lit-on. Dans quel autre pays une employée d'hôtel immigrée accusant de grave délit sexuel l'un des hommes les plus puissants au monde aurait-elle été autant prise au sérieux ? (...)S'il se retrouve être la victime, bien sûr nous lui devrons des excuses. Mais nous n'avons pas à nous excuser de nous être préoccupés des droits d'une femme pauvre autant que de ceux d'un homme puissant."Lettre symptomatique : au-delà de ce que les Américains nomment la self righteousness, ce sentiment très répandu d'être toujours dans son bon droit, une majorité d'entre eux considère que la justice de leur pays n'a pas dysfonctionné dans l'affaire DSK.
Certes, des éléments de critique émergent. Le point le plus controversé est le perp walk, cette humiliante présentation publique par la police d'un homme menotté et hagard alors qu'il n'est pas mis en accusation. Une "méthode écoeurante visant à présenter un coupable idéal à l'opinion", selon l'avocat Bradley Simon.
Mardi, le maire de New York, Michael Bloomberg, a donné son "point de vue personnel" : "J'ai toujours pensé que le perp walk dépasse les bornes." L'écrivain Michael Greenberg (auteur de Le jour où ma fille est devenue folle, Flammarion, 2010), résume ainsi une attitude fréquente : "Oui, nous autres Américains savons aussi être assez barbares", mais ce sort constitue "la règle commune, appliquée aux puissants comme aux quidams".
L'autre critique porte sur l'atteinte à la présomption d'innocence. Lorsqu'une affaire"tombe à l'eau, il reste une réputation ruinée. (...) C'est une catastrophe", lance Ruth Marcus, chroniqueuse du Washington Post. Mais ces propos détonnent dans l'espace intellectuel et médiatique américain.
La plupart des observateurs que Le Monde a interrogés adhèrent à l'idée résumée d'une formule lapidaire par l'éditorialiste du New York Times, Joe Nocera : "Je ne vois pas où (le procureur Cyrus) Vance a mal agi, au contraire."Pour résumer : il dispose de cinq jours pour faire valider un acte d'accusation sur des faits gravissimes s'ils sont avérés. La plaignante "n'a aucun antécédent. Son employeur se porte garant et des éléments médico-légaux existent". Dès lors, le procureur, sans tenir compte du statut de l'agresseur supposé, a "agi sans peur ni favoritisme. Eût-il fait l'inverse qu'il aurait violé tout ce en quoi nous croyons dans ce pays", défend l'éditorialiste.
Professeur au Centre d'études européennes de l'université Harvard, traducteur de Tocqueville, Arthur Goldhammer abonde dans son sens : "Même sans plainte contre lui, DSK était soupçonné d'avoir des antécédents. Or il allait quitter les Etats-Unis et aucun traité d'extradition n'existe entre nos pays. On ne peut rien reprocher au procureur.""Mieux, ajoute-t-il, comme l'exige la loi, c'est lui qui a informé la défense des évolutions de l'enquête favorables à son client." Pour presque tous nos interlocuteurs, cette précision démontre l'attention que la justice américaine porte au respect des droits de l'accusé.
Des voix discordantes estiment cependant que les motifs du procureur ont été moins nobles. Pour Stephen Holmes, du Centre de droit et de sécurité de l'université de New York (NYU), se vanter du respect des droits de l'individu "dans un pays qui a créé et maintenu Guantanamo est un peu étonnant".
"Aux Etats-Unis, dit-il, un procureur est d'abord un élu qui bénéficie d'un tremplin formidable pour une carrière politique. Pour se faire réélire, il doit montrer qu'il combat le crime. On ne compte plus les arrestations spectaculaires où, six mois plus tard, les poursuites sont abandonnées sans bruit. Avec l'affaire DSK, M. Vance renforçait son image de "défenseur des faibles". Une fois son témoin décrédibilisé, il a dû changer de stratégie."En revanche, la critique de la "presse de caniveau", ces quotidiens qui ont d'abord vilipendé DSK "le pervers" avant de s'attaquer à "la putain", en l'occurrence la femme de chambre guinéenne, Nafissatou Diallo, fait l'unanimité. Jonathan House, médecin et psychanalyste, traducteur du philosophe et psychanalyste Jean Laplanche, y voit le symptôme d'une société américaine "moins compréhensive vis-à-vis de l'ambiguïté et de la complexité que les sociétés européennes".
M. Goldhammer y ajoute le rôle, selon lui "calamiteux", des médias d'information en continu. "Ils doivent sans cesse donner du neuf. Cela crée un cirque qui entrave la bonne information." Là résiderait le mal. L'ancien président américain, "Thomas Jefferson, a écrit qu'à choisir entre un gouvernement et une presse libre, il opte pour la seconde ; et il ajoutait : "Y compris ses branches nauséabondes."" L'affaire DSK est aussi la énième déclinaison de l'affrontement entre présomption d'innocence et presse libre : chez nous, la seconde est mieux protégée. Et c'est ce que veut l'opinion", estime enfin Michael Greenberg.
Reste que, "in fine, le système judiciaire a très bien fonctionné", conclut Irene Finel-Honigman, professeur de finances à l'université Columbia, par ailleurs grande admiratrice de l'ancien directeur général du Fonds monétaire international. Dès lors, en l'absence de dysfonctionnement majeur, l'affaire "ne devrait pas laisser de trace marquante sur l'histoire juridique américaine".
A cette conviction répandue s'en ajoute une autre. "DSK a eu beaucoup de chance,juge M. Greenberg. Les faits criminels restent troublants, mais le procureur a dû faire très attention : l'homme est très connu, a de l'argent et dispose des meilleurs avocats. Un Noir pauvre aurait vu son défenseur lui dire : "Mieux vaut plaider coupable que risquer vingt-cinq ans de prison". Et il aurait accepté cinq ans à l'ombre", poursuit l'écrivain, qui a longtemps officié comme interprète d'espagnol au tribunal. "DSK, lui, n'aura passé que trois nuits en prison. Ce n'est pas cher payé."
Tanya Domi, directrice de la communication de l'université Columbia, partage cet état d'esprit : "Admettons qu'il n'y ait pas eu viol, que la femme l'ait piégé, ce qui est très loin d'être démontré. Comment un politicien aussi puissant peut-il se mettre en situation de se retrouver victime potentielle d'un chantage financier ? C'est faire preuve d'un jugement très pauvre."Le professeur Goldhammer ajoute : "DSK voit sa réputation ruinée ? Peut-être, mais il a été très imprudent. S'il entendait accéder aux plus hautes fonctions, alors il a mérité ce qui lui est arrivé." Ainsi va le regard sur la justice et le respect des droits individuels.Sylvain Cypel

Material Evidence in the Banon Case

There may be some:

L'avocat de Tristane Banon, Me David Koubbi, a assuré, jeudi 7 juillet, que la plainte déposée par sa cliente pour "tentative de viol" contre Dominique Strauss-Kahn repose sur des "éléments matériels", à savoir "des textos envoyés" et "des attestations". "Ce ne sera pas parole contre parole (...) De nombreuses personnes se tiennent à la disposition de la justice pour témoigner", a ajouté l'avocat, sans donner davantage de précisions.

Patrick Weil on UMP Immigration Policy


Le parti de M. Sarkozy semble vouloir faire de l'immigration un thème central de sa campagne présidentielle, indépendamment des résultats que cette politique a obtenus jusqu'à présent. Lors de la première convention de l'UMP sur ce thème en 2005, Nicolas Sarkozy avait promis "la rupture" avec une immigration "choisie". Il a fait croire qu'il pourrait remplacer l'immigration familiale ou d'asile par l'immigration de travail. Il a aussi promis une sélection des immigrés par quotas d'origine géographique, sur le modèle de la politique américaine de l'entre-deux-guerres, abandonnée depuis longtemps.
Il y a échoué. Pire, Claude Guéant s'est déclaré ouvertement hostile à une immigration du travail, rompant ainsi avec la politique qu'il avait lui-même mise en place. La convention de l'UMP n'a donc d'autre intérêt que de signaler la tension permanente qu'elle veut maintenir. Comme si l'UMP pensait qu'il fallait droguer l'opinion à ce sujet en lui fournissant une dose de substance, chaque semaine, différente.

Bad Grades for Interior

No wonder Claude Guéant needs heart surgery. The Cour des Comptes has just flunked the Ministry of the Interior (where Guéant was Sarko's chief of staff while Chirac was still president). Remember when ministers were going to be evaluated on the basis of quantitative results provided by American consulting firms? Yet here we have a quantitative evaluation by a respected arm of the French administration that is simply being brushed off by the current minister, who, by the way, will remain on the job, we are told, despite his bypass operation:

En préambule du document sans concession, rendu public aujourd'hui et que Le Figaro s'est procuré (cliquez ici pour lire l'ensemble du document), la Cour des Comptes estime que «face à la montée de la délinquance, les pouvoirs publics ont consacré des moyens croissants, budgétaires, technologiques et humains, aux politiques de sécurité publique. Les forces de police et de gendarmerie ont ainsi, durant la période 2003-2007, couverte par la loi d'orientation et de programmation (LOPSI) du 29 août 2002, bénéficié d'un renforcement de leurs crédits et de leurs effectifs pour accomplir leurs missions. Toutefois, les statistiques du ministère de l'Intérieur font apparaître que les résultats obtenus dans la lutte contre la délinquance ont été contrastés».
Au fil de 248 pages parfois rédigées au vitriol, le rapport de la Cour des comptes évoque tour à tour «l'accroissement limité du nombre de policiers», «un turn-over parfois très élevé», «l'organisation coûteuse du temps de travail des policiers», «une toujours faible présence sur la voie publique», des «réformes difficiles souvent inabouties», «la mise en place laborieuse de la police d'agglomération...»

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

DSK: Does the Time Line Make Sense?

Not according to this reconstruction.

Union Backs Maid

The union representing Sofitel workers, accused by the Post of culpable involvement in the case, has now replied to this charge:

And finally, late Tuesday night, Peter Ward, president of the union representing the accuser, issued a statement, throwing the union’s weight behind its member, and announcing, for the first time, that the woman at the center of the case was referred to the Sofitel, where the maid said the sexual assault took place, by the highly respected humanitarian organization, The International Rescue Committee.

Rebuttal Re Hollande

I've characterized François Hollande's recent proposals re more autonomy for the social partners in negotiations as a "neoliberal" version of social democracy. Bernard Girard vigorously disagrees, and he makes a good case. So I will pull in my horns pending further clarification from Hollande of what his program really is. Thus far, like Romain Pigenel, I've found the Socialist debate lackluster. I hope that there will be some more pointed exchanges between the candidates before October, and once the DSK ruckus fades from the front pages (may it please the gods).

French Law and DSK: An Excellent Analysis by Diner's Room

Jules of Diner's Room gives a quick but thorough lesson in French law concerning sexual assault and slanderous allegations. My layman's reading is that the charge of attempted rape is likely to be thrown out because, even on Banon's account, there was no attempted penetration, so the alleged acts, if they took place, should be classified as agression sexuelle, on which the statute of limitations has run. But the criminal charge could lay the basis for a later civil charge, which would still be receivable.

Second, it's not clear why DSK's lawyers filed a counter-charge of dénonciation calomnieuse rather than diffamation.

Not being an expert in French law, I may not have this exactly right, but I'm sure Jules will correct me if I've misrepresented him. In any case, I'm grateful for a very illuminating post.

Pigenel Asks: Where's the Campaign?

With characteristic astuteness, Romain Pigenel explains his disappointment with the Socialist campaign to date. It's not all DSK's fault.

The Guérini Affair

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Bio of Tristane Banon


John Bowen on the European Turn against Multiculturalism


One of the many signs of the rightward creep of Western European politics is the recent unison of voices denouncing multiculturalism. German Chancellor Angela Merkel led off last October by claiming that multiculturalism “has failed and failed utterly.” She was echoed in February by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron. All three were late to the game, though: for years, the Dutch far right has been bashing supposedly multicultural policies.

Cf. Mediapart's analysis ($) of Sarkozy's changed approach.

DSK Accuser Suing Post

DSK's accuser will sue the NY Post for alleging that she is a prostitute.

New Blog

Some friends of mine have started a new blog to which I want to call your attention: The Current Moment. Here is their mission statement:

The aim of the blog is to explore contemporary trends in political economy at the national, regional and global level. We hope the blog will serve as a useful resource for bringing together empirical material on current trends and for exploring their political consequences. In the longer term, we want to explore and perhaps go beyond some of the concepts like neoliberalism, globalization, and financialization that have been used to understand the developments of the past decades.We envisage the blog as a collective enterprise and would welcome anyone wishing to contribute posts.In the meantime, we look forward to engaging and debating with you via the blog.

Further Changes to the Maid's Story

Read it yourself. I don't know if this helps or hurts her veracity, but it is puzzling.

Isn't That Special? UMP Goes for "Social Democracy"

The UMP's 2012 presidential convention opens today, and, lo and behold, its theme will be "social democracy." I guess the idea was to muddy the waters and preempt any Socialist move to occupy the social democratic terrain by claiming "social democracy" for the Right. In the good old days, when "social democrat" was held to be synonymous with "social traitor" by the revolutionary Left, many on the left would have agreed. And indeed, definitional ambiguity is perhaps unavoidable here, since by US standards, the French right could in some respects be seen as social democratic by comparison even with the American left (owing to support for single-payer medical coverage, free higher education and day care, strict banking regulation, public ownership of key industrial firms, etc.). But still ... have you no shame, UMP? Have you no shame?

Is He Out or Not?

France2 reported last night that DSK had told "friends" he was out of the running for the French presidency, come what may in New York. Martine Aubry "discreetly" let it be known that DSK had told her the same thing. But Strauss-Kahnien Jean-Marie Le Guen "categorically denies that DSK could have said such a thing."

Business as usual chez les Socialistes.

Reformist Socialism

Histoire@Politique has a special issue devoted to the history of reformist socialism in France. Until recently, this was a neglected subject owing to suspicions attaching to the idea of reform (as opposed to revolution) on the left.

Rape Investigations in France

Rapes in France are handled by the Police Judiciaire, which has no equivalent of the NYPD Special Victims Unit but does have its own procedures and methods, detailed in this Mediapart article ($).

Journalism by Tristane Banon

Curious. It seems that Tristane Banon, DSK's French accuser, published a story in Atlantico last March about the difficulty of finding a "real man" in the 21st century. Atlantico, you will recall, is the magazine that published the pictures of DSK entering a Porsche in the week before his arrest and that was the first to receive news of his arrest in New York via a tweet from a young UMP militant who had a friend working at the Sofitel.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Tristane Banon Tells Her Story

Here. She's got her story down, as well she should, having told it now several times and fictionalized it in a novel, which she says is truer than the public accounts she gave in her own name. Is it true? I don't see how it can be proved. So what does she hope to achieve? Justice? Revenge? An end to DSK's political career? Money? Notoriety? Is it victim-blaming to ask these questions? Probably, but they need to be asked.

New York Magazine Article

New York Magazine asked me to sum up French DSK coverage. Regular blog readers won't learn anything new, but I'm pleased to share the limelight with Frank Rich, who has moved to NY Mag from The Times.