Monday, September 12, 2011

Institutional Redesign

Dani Rodrik sees a need for institutional redesign to save the Eurozone and the EU.

Sarkozy on Bourgi

President Sarkozy awarded Robert Bourgi the Legion of Honor, although he knew at the time, by the admission of both Bourgi and Claude Guéant, that Bourgi, his friend of 24 years, had allgedly been involved in passing illegal funds to President Chirac:

Je sais, cher Robert, pouvoir continuer à compter sur ta participation à la politique étrangère de la France, avec efficacité et discrétion. Je sais que, sur ce terrain de l'efficacité et de la discrétion, tu as eu le meilleur des professeurs et que tu n'es pas homme à oublier les conseils de celui qui te conseillais jadis, de “rester à l'ombre, pour ne pas attraper de coup de soleil”. Sous le chaud soleil africain, ce n'est pas une vaine précaution ? Jacques Foccart avait bien raison.

Enfin, permettez-moi d'avoir un propos plus personnel. Ce qui nous unit Robert et moi, c'est une amitié de 24 ans, depuis que nous nous sommes rencontrés au RPR en 1983. Gaullistes, nous l'étions tous les deux passionnément. Toi, tu étais un grand connaisseur de l'âme africaine et tu portais déjà cette affection pour l'Afrique qui t'anime toujours. Moi, je n'étais alors que le très jeune responsable des jeunes RPR.

Explosion at French nuclear plant

Une explosion sur le site nucléaire de Marcoule pourrait entraîner des fuites radioactives

Un four a explosé lundi 12 septembre sur le site nucléaire de Marcoule (Gard), faisant un mort et plusieurs blessés. L'accident pourrait entraîner un risque de fuite radioactive, ont indiqué les pompiers et la préfecture. (AFP)

"That egomaniac"

Jacqueline Kennedy on the General:

Charles DeGaulle, the French president, is “that egomaniac.” 

Perhaps this was revenge for de Gaulle's reported quip at their first meeting. Seated next to le grand Charles at a state dinner, Jackie, née Bouvier, is supposed to have said, in her best schoolgirl French, "Mes ancêtres étaient français, mon général." To which de Gaulle allegedly replied: "Les miens aussi."

May I add that I met Mrs. Onassis in 1990, when I won a prize for translating a book about the French Revolution. She was among the guests at the prize dinner. She was working at the time as a book editor in Manhattan, and we talked about her latest project, a book about orthodox religious icons in the Slavic countries. She was charming and intelligent, or so it seemed to my awestruck self during our two-minute conversation. I remember as a child being quite enamored of her.

And despite all that, she preferred Malraux to me:

She calls André Malraux, the French novelist, “the most fascinating man I’ve ever talked to.”

Corruption Past, Present, and Future

So, Robert Bourgi has accused Chirac and Villepin of receiving suitcases full of cash from African potentates, and Chirac and Villepin have accused Bourgi of defamation. Bernard Girard speculates that a fratricidal war of corruption revelations may have broken out within the UMP. And that the recent revelations about Takkiedine, a Sarkozy financier, may have come from Qaddafi, making good on his threat to expose his corrupt financing of Sarkozy's campaign. Who knows? Bourgi's motivation is quite puzzling. We may never get to the bottom of it. But the clouds hanging over the right--with the Chirac trial under way, a decision in the Clearstream case expected on Wednesday, Mediapart's series on Takkiedine, and the lingering Woerth-Bettencourt affair--are thicker than the DSK cloud hanging over the PS.

Unfortunately, all of this scandalousness only reinforces the cry from the extremes: tous pourris. If French banks are now downgraded, as Moody's is threatening to do, and the euro crisis deepens, the atmosphere could quickly turn from threatening to calamitous.