28 Apr

Le Pen ultimate

A long interview done by Ha’aretz just before the results on last Sunday.
I’m sorry about the recent emphasis on French politics which is totally out of my usual focus, but don’t worry, it’ll be over by next Sunday. I have remnants of love for my country and its culture that I’ve been aware for a long time I’d have to let go. This election (or rather events around it, and what they tell about the hopeless state of the nation) is probably as good a time as ever to do so. I started writing a long, disillusioned rant about what France meant to my family and me, but I thought better of it and will spare you a bleak obituary.
Update (in French): Alexandre Adler: L’isolement croissant de la France.

28 Apr

Trouble on the Right

Daniel Cohen:

"Le Pen’s unexpected popularity emphasized the public’s sullen rejection of the Socialists’ agenda and placed his themes at the center of political debate […] All of Le Pen’s adversaries, in fact, have had difficulty finding effective ways to oppose him. His ridiculing of "the Gang of Four"

27 Apr

France, the banana republic so sure of its virtue

Just a reminder to put things into perspective. Where was the "republican front" and the authority of the State last month when CGT members (*) beat up people who tried to distribute free newspapers out of the control of their organization, and spilled the newspapers on the ground? The police didn’t do anything. Political leaders didn’t take a strong stance against this moblike behavior. Manifesters didn’t scream their anguish. Other newspapers spent more time explaining these free (as in beer) competitors were just tabloids that reprinted stories from press agencies (as if the incumbent media weren’t).
Credibility is apparently a foreign concept here in France, now more than ever.
(*) A communist syndicate.

27 Apr

Le Pen Fever

Jonah Goldberg:

"In other words, France is still a menagerie of lefty jackassery. Le Pen’s strong showing just increased the biodiversity a bit. "It’s not me who has become extreme right. It’s the whole of society which has become extreme left," Le Pen told the British magazine The Spectator. This made a big splash in Europe for some reason but, frankly, I’m at a total loss to see what’s so controversial about it."

The French media has been very keen on mentioning reports from the foreign press to underline that Le Pen’s score was a national shame that would tarnish our image for eons. But I didn’t see any mention of the various perspectives – mostly from the US – which held that, well, some people did vote for Le Pen, and that, maybe, there were actual reasons to explain that rise. But thanks to our enlightened elite, voters will come to their senses and Le Pen will be driven to oblivion on May 5. I’m wondering what explanation they’ll come up with if Le Pen gets 30%+ of votes.

27 Apr

Le Pen and les Probl

Thomas Pavel:

"Whether or not young women will one day be allowed to wear the veil in school, Islam in France is here to stay. Integration, however, doesn’t occur by itself. By depressing the economy and thus the demand for labor, the policies of the current government make it harder for immigrants to find work. Meanwhile the tolerance for violence and crime, particularly anti-Semitic incidents, invites the population to attribute these isolated acts to the Arab minority as a whole. Jacques Chirac might want to think about this."

There are polemics about islamic veils in school, but also about the curriculum itself. Some imams and parents want to forbid female children from some sports activities such as swimming. The answer to this is wishful thinking and "forceful" declarations against "communautarisme" that don’t translate into action.
As a side note, in The Song of Roland mentioned in the article, Roland’s brother-in-arm is named Olivier. My mother liked the name when she read it as a kid and decided she’d name her boy likewise. She always reminds me that was a long time before Olivier became a popular name (in fact, one of the names most given to French males in the early 70’s).
04/28/02 update: Liberte, Egalite, Judeophobie.

27 Apr

The Eurosnots learn nothing (thru

Mark Steyn:

"The presidential election was meant to be a contest between the supposedly conservative Chirac and his supposedly socialist Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin. In practice, this boils down to a candidate who’s left of right of left of centre, and a candidate who’s right of left of right of left of centre. Chirac and Jospin ran on identical platforms — they’re both in favour of high taxes, high unemployment and high crime. […] Europe’s ruling class has effortlessly refined Voltaire: I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death my right not to have to listen to you say it. […] In the two-party one-party states of Europe […]: If the political culture forbids respectable politicians from raising certain topics, then the electorate will turn to unrespectable politicians […] Le Pen is not an aberration but the logical consequence."

Wow, is this guy quotable! BTW, I just saw some demonstrators in downtown Bordeaux today. Bobo wannabes from the socialist party found no better allies to "defend democracy" than ATTAC members, LCR trotskyists and CNT anarcho-syndicalists. A red flag with a yellow hammer and sickle, as I just saw waved this afternoon, is such a wonderful symbol of Freedom and Republic. Poor France…

26 Apr

Google’s Gaffe

Paul Prescod:

"[A] Google API based on XML, HTTP and URIs can be simpler to use, more efficient, and more powerful. […] When Google exposes its service through SOAP, it is behind the Web because the object with the web URI is the SOAP component ("endpoint"), not the actual query results. I need to go through the component to get to the data, like making a phone call through an operator instead of dialing direct. But in the XML/HTTP/URI way of thinking, every possible query result has its own URI and thus is a first-class web data object."

23 Apr

Chirac rejects Le Pen debate

BBC:

"Mr Chirac however insisted that his decision was a principled one."

It still took him two days to come at such a conclusion, while his spokewoman Roselyne Bachelot said on Sunday night he "of course" would accept a TV debate. The backpedaling started yesterday, when Chirac’s crew members said he was the one to make the decision, but that it would fit in the "republican tradition." Then they suggested an "American style debate", where candidates, well, don’t debate face-to-face, but face a camera and answer the same questions one after the other (FWIW that’s never how it’s been done here.) I almost forgot to mention that Chirac refused to debate (on March 20) with a group of other candidates before the first round.
I’m used to a bit more accurate reporting from the BBC. Le Pen didn’t describe the Holocaust as a detail of history, he said "gas chambers are a detail of WWII history." No comment, my readers are grown-ups who don’t need my moral patronization – yes that’s a hint to the Socialists. I also don’t understand why the BBC chart doesn’t tell the far-left apart from the left.
Overall, self-appointed paragons of virtue, lesson-givers, and armchair defenders of freedom of all kinds display a strange lack of respect for the very democracy they claim to cherish. 31% of voters chose extremists, and all we get is finger-pointing between political parties and by the media. What will they all do about the situation that led 12 million people not to vote or vote blank, while another 9 million voted for left and right extremes? The demonstration that this country is a wreck is less in the high vote for Le Pen, than in the petty and contemptuous reactions of our pseudo-elite. At least Jospin left with some dignity, which however shouldn’t lead us to forget he blatantly lied about his Trostkyist past ("you must mistake me for my brother.")
Alain Madelin, a more or less "free market libertarian" that probably comes closest among French politicians to what people are used to in the anglosphere (as well as where I stand myself, though I don’t like the individual too much), got less than 4%, while the other 96% of voters chose various brands of statist candidates (ok, Bayrou might want a lighter state too.) It’s really high time that I voted with my feet (I’m working on it!)
For people who love maps, here’s how votes for the three top candidates are mapped on the territory. Older elections are featured here. Notice the use of the brown color on these ones, in case you didn’t understand already (I really love it when the media stop reporting the news and tell me what to think of it.)
04/24/02 update: La le