Saturday, November 21, 2015

PS risen from the dead?

I normally avoid blogging about polls. but this one catches the eye, no doubt more than it should. Regionals: FN 27, PS 26, LR-UDI-MoDem 25. OK, the bad news is that the FN is still out in front, and the race is, as the phrase goes, "a statistical dead heat." But the PS had been taken for dead, and now here it is back in the running. How did that happen? A consequence of Nov. 13? Fear of a Le Pen juggernaut? Revulsion of center-rightists against the Le Penisation of nearly all the leading Republican figures other than Juppé?

Or just bad polling? The polls in recent elections in many countries have been way off the mark. Deep currents are roiling electorates everywhere, and in France the currents are deeper and more contradictory than most, with the latest atrocity only stirring the witches' brew even more. It would take a fool or a seer to offer an explanation of these numbers, so I simply present them for your consideration.

The Best Piece Yet Written on the Paris Attacks

Adam Shatz writes brilliantly and penetratingly about apocalyptic violence in Europe.

Monday, November 16, 2015

My first comment on the Terror

I promised to write something about Friday the Thirteenth, but people have offered to pay for my thoughts, so I haven't given them away this time. You can read a piece of my mind here.

Saturday, November 14, 2015


I am in NYC without a keyboard. Will write about yesterday's tragedy when I return. I hope all of my parisian readers are OK. In solidarity, vive la France, vive la République !

Friday, November 13, 2015

Guéant Convicted

Claude Guéant, once Nicolas Sarkozy's right-hand man and interior minister, has been convicted of misuse of public funds and given a suspended sentence of two years. But France is so inured to corruption in high places that no one is really shocked by the pettiness and venality of people entrusted with enforcing its laws. And like other ministerial criminals, he will do no jail time, despite being called the "instigator" of a scheme to defraud the public treasury. Perhaps he considers the blot on his reputation a small price to pay for the years of comfort his peculation afforded him. Of course he still faces charges in connection with alleged fraud in a sale of paintings, so perhaps he won't escape real punishment altogether.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Tax Man and the Media

It's no secret that the French news media are subsidized. "General-interest newspapers" ranging from Le Monde to Humanité receive tax breaks that help keep them afloat. For exact figures on the size of these subsidies, you can refer to Julia Cagé's Sauver les médias (Harvard will publish my English translation next year). But it seems that the authorities are reluctant to extend this advantage to the new online media, at least in the cases of Médiapart and Arrêt sur images. 

Now, it may be simply that the tax authorities and legislators are slow to catch up with the changing realities of the media and the increased importance of online versus print. Or--a more sinister interpretation--it may be that the authorities are reluctant to support iconoclastic and critical news outlets that often take the lead in exposing government malfeasance, as Médiapart did when it broke the story of Jérôme Cahuzac's tax cheating or beat the drums regarding campaign finance law violations by the UMP and/or Nicolas Sarkozy. Are we witnessing backwardness of retribution? Hard to say, but in either case the consequences could be serious.

Médiapart is inviting concerned citizens to help by contributing money to keep it in business. If you're interested, you can use the site I did. But be forewarned: the form insists on knowing your country of residence and will accept only "France" as an answer, and when I clicked to pay, I immediately received an e-mail from my bank suggesting that someone might be misusing my credit card. But my contribution appears to have gone through.