Showing posts with label François Hollande. Show all posts
Showing posts with label François Hollande. Show all posts

Monday, May 26, 2014

Political catastrophe


The great ship France seems to have collided with something big and nasty. On the radar screen, it looks like this:


Outside, everything appears to be eerily calm, although a thick fog hides the horizon. No shouting. No cries. No panic. Curious leaflets, washed off the vessel in distress, are floating on the still waters.


Suddenly I heard beautiful music wafting across to us. It was slow and solemn, and seemed to last forever.


The captain, appearing briefly on the bow, astonished us all by crying out, as if in a terrible nightmare: “Full steam ahead!”



Commenting upon the short and uninspiring performance of François Hollande at the start of this evening’s TV news, a journalist evoked a leader who has “run out of cartridges”, meaning that the French president has no more solutions to propose to his disillusioned citizens. I’m wondering what kind of ammunition the journalist had in mind when she decided to use this metaphor. Cartridges for an offensive firearm? Or a defensive weapon? Or rather for a harmless gun of the kind that's used to fire smoky distress signals from the deck of a sinking vessel?

Monday, January 13, 2014

She-wolf of France

Up until recently, the principal subject of discussion in France was the sad state of the nation and the apparent failure of François Hollande and his Socialist government in the economic domain. Then an amazing affair was created out of the blue by the French chief of police, Manuel Valls, seen here in a Jewish context.


Valls finally succeeded in censuring the black-skinned French anti-Zionist comedian Dieudonné, whose presentations were promptly outlawed through draconian laws and methods that would be surely unthinkable in many English-speaking nations (such as the USA, the UK, Canada and Australia).


All this agitation was taking place just a few days ago, and dominating the media in France. Then, in the space of a few hours, everything changed. Overnight (literally), a new affair eclipsed the old ones. The world learned with amazement that stealthy ScooterMan had been sighted in the middle of the night, at an out-of-bounds location not far away from the Elysées Palace, and that paperazzi photos would be appearing in a French magazine the following morning.


The next day, we were bombarded with images of a new glamor couple: the French president and a beautiful actress, Julie Gayet.


Now, I wish to make a humble and totally irrelevant personal statement concerning this lady. A few years ago, I was stunned by her portrayal of Isabella, the She-wolf of France [1295-1358], wife of the gay king Edward II of England, in the TV series entitled Les Rois maudits (The Accursed Kings).


At that time, I was unearthing genealogical links between the Skeffingtons and the Plantagenet monarchs. For a few days, my mind was filled with the crazy idea that maybe this mysterious creature named Julie Gayet—who struck me as one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen—might be an ancestor of mine. [Since those days of fanciful thinking, I've become aware that my authentic Skeffington ancestors had branched away earlier on, at the Tudor epoch, from those who would get mixed up with the Plantagenet monarchy. In any case, the real Isabella may have been less beauteous than her modern representation.]

Today, in any case, when I hear that Julie Gayet has apparently been swept off her feet by ScooterMan, I feel strangely relieved, for I see retrospectively that she was never really a make-believe creature associated with my imaginary past, but merely a modern and perfectly normal French woman, attracted by a quite normal French president. The following American cartoon provides a good summary of the situation:


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Bastille blues

In his wonderful book entitled Jerusalem, City of Mirrors (1989), the late Amos Elon [1926-2009] spoke of a mysterious affliction referred to as the Jerusalem syndrome. Affecting American Protestant males, almost exclusively, this torment causes them to take off their clothes, evolve into a state of crazy ecstasy, and preach nonsensical prophecies to passers-by on street corners. After a few days in hospital, victims recover their normal behavior as calm tourists in the Holy City, and they even feel good about their traumatic experience. Psychiatrists explain that victims of this affliction arrive in Jerusalem with a preconceived but totally false vision of the place, which they've always imagined as a gentle and harmonious Holyland: a pastel-hued picture from a children's book.


When such a visitor discovers the stark present-day Jerusalem, and finds it totally unlike his vision, his convictions are shattered traumatically... and his subsequent reactions and behavior express his momentary desire to be born again (naked, of course) into a reassuring but make-believe Christian context.

Here in France, a similar kind of affliction—which I designate as the Bastille blues—affects certain local intellectuals.


Typical signs of this disturbance are a sudden obsession that we might be on the eve of a replay (with variations, naturally) of the French Revolution of 1789. Victims of the affliction start to be hallucinated by visions of rioting, smoke and flames, destruction, bayonets, gunshots, guillotines... but they generally keep their clothes on. In May 1968, the youth of France were totally intoxicated by a severe case of Bastille blues.


Fortunately, the summer holiday season arrived just in same to save the nation from descending into total anarchy. And afterwards, everybody felt so much the better for having let off so much steam... much like a patient emerging from an attack of the Jerusalem syndrome.

A few days ago, I was intrigued to discover that a prominent French journalist, Franz-Olivier Giesbert, was apparently suffering from a massive onslaught of Bastille blues.


In his role as chief of the weekly magazine Le Point, he has written an editorial suggesting that France is bogged down in a pre-revolutionary quagmire.


Click here to access the French article. Not surprisingly,  64-year-old "FOG" (the acronym has become Giesbert's nickname)—born in Washington, and impregnated with Franco-American culture—backed up his claim by evoking the works of the celebrated viscount Alexis de Tocqueville [1805-1859]: in particular, his masterly analysis of the events and climate of 1789, The Old Regime and the Revolution, which describes the French people's appalling erosion of confidence in their monarchy.


Today, it's a fact that the Cahuzac affair [click here to see my recent blog article entitled Champion liars] has had a disastrous effect upon the waning respect of French citizens for their political leaders. Has modern France truly lost hope in its destiny? Is one half of the nation ready to cut the heads off the other half? Have the French become totally pessimistic and cynical? What has gone wrong?

Basic differences between American and French attitudes to economic progress are illustrated by a humorous anecdote concerning the reaction of onlookers towards a prosperous fellow who drives by in a luxury automobile. A typical American might ask himself: "What can I do in order to buy myself a car like that?" A typical Frenchman would complain: "Why doesn't that wealthy weasel drive a worn-out jalopy like the rest of us?" In the above article, FOG evokes the metaphor of François Hollande scooting around on an antiquated Vespa, while some of his acquaintances drive Ferraris. This image of an old-fashioned president, no longer on the same wavelength as progressive citizens, is made explicit in the cover of the current issue of FOG's weekly.


The rhetorical question "Pépère, est-il à la hauteur ?" could be translated as follows: "Can Grandpa still handle things?" Many citizens are starting to consider that the answer to that disturbing question might indeed be negative. But maybe, hopefully, there are plausible remedies that would fall short of a bloody revolution.

BREAKING NEWS: The Bastille blues theme has become quite explicit in the cover of the latest issue of the weekly:

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

From here to Timbuktu

When I was a kid in Waterview (South Grafton), my parents had the habit of using the hackneyed expression "from here to Timbuktu" to designate a distant place. So, I grew up imagining that Timbuktu was a mythical place on the edge of the planet Earth, where the waters of the oceans descended into a terrifying infinite abyss.


From a technocratic viewpoint, it goes without saying that vessels of this kind would be a fabulous place to house religious fanatics.

Today, I'm thrilled to learn that our French forces have chased away Islamic invaders and liberated the town in Mali whose name in French is Tombouctou.


Up until recently, few observers—even among his supporters (such as me)—would have imagined our French president François Hollande as a military chief. Fortunately, in the case of the following encounter, he had noticed that the French soldiers in front of him were wearing unusual uniforms.


As for the rest of military operations in Mali, most observers in France and throughout the world are steadfastly behind the French president.

SAD FOOTNOTE TO HISTORY: In the abominable style of mindless morons with their backs to the wall, the Islamic barbarians flamed priceless ancient documents at the Ahmed Baba Institute on the eve of their withdrawal, leaving only ashes.

— photo 29 January 2013. AFP/Eric Feferberg.

There can be no discussion with such individuals, who deserve to be captured and housed in vessels of the kind seen in my top illustration.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

New woman taking care of French president

It's hard to keep up with all the president's women. The Tweeter presence of their most prominent member, Valérie Trierweiler, was notorious. I have no idea of the name and identity of this latest individual, but she certainly seems to be in intimate contact with François Hollande, brushing dust off his elegant suit (with its Légion d'Honneur button) before the start of a new presidential work-day.


Apparently this attractive young blonde lady is English, in spite of her French-sounding title: Madame Tussaud.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

British trick

There are rumors that Her Majesty's Guards are recruiting certain exceptional sportsmen with the aim of putting together a top-level basketball team, in the hope of challenging the USA.


Meanwhile, the Coldstream Guards hit upon the diabolical scheme of using one of their top basketball-players (whose identity cannot be determined, since his eyes are hidden behind the rim of his busby) in order to humiliate an unpopular foreign visitor—the perfectly normal president François Hollande—by making him look like a dwarf.


Back in the good old days when Nicolas Sarkozy was president, his buddy David Cameron didn't need to use this kind of nasty trick.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Big day in the USA

Between Barack Obama and François Hollande, an introductory exchange of a few words on the theme of US cheeseburgers and French fries might have been interpreted as a lighthearted evocation of the recently-adopted diet of our new French president, who used to be quite a plump little man.

photo pool/AFP — Philippe Wojazer

Ah, if only international diplomacy could be determined solely by smiles!

Apparently Barack Obama told François Hollande that he wasn't obliged to stand out in the "crowd" of G8 members by continuing to wear a necktie. Hollande explained that the necktie was purely for the French media. Are we really as formal as that in old-fashioned France? It's a fact that one of our new ministers, Cécile Duflot (chief of the Greens), was the object of certain criticism when she turned up in jeans, on Thursday, for the first ministerial meeting at the Elysée Palace.


The following White House photo highlights the rapid ascension of François Hollande into the sacrosanct courtyard of the great:


It makes me feel good to see France represented at last, within this assembly, by a fine solid left-wing Frenchman such as François Hollande... as opposed to our recent tiny twitcher, Nicolas Sarkozy.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Socialism is not a dirty word

We've all heard that black is beautiful. It's time now, for the Anglo-Saxon world, to learn that socialism is not a dirty word. Here in France, in a perfectly democratic manner, socialism has become our political credo.


It would be unimaginable that two great defenders of human values such as Barack Obama and François Hollande might not become instant friends, on the same wavelength.

Meanwhile, idiots in my native Antipodes might continue to believe that socialism is the political philosophy behind the welfare state, which encourages so-called bludgers, as opposed to early birds and hard workers who strive mindlessly for decades to amass the tiny nest egg that will take care of their old days. In this perspective, my impression of Aussie "political philosophy" has not changed over the half-century since I left my native land. It's hopelessly dumb!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Day of socialist symbols

I was thrilled by yesterday's presidential happenings. To start the ball rolling at the Elysée Palace, viewers saw Nicolas Sarkozy wearing high heels like those on cowboy boots, producing the impression that he was as tall as his wife Carla Bruni, not to mention the new president. Since Sarkozy always walks with the gait of a roughrider who has just picked himself up after being thrown off a rodeo buckjumper, the global effect was comical.

After the inaugural ceremony, François Hollande was driven up the Champs-Elysées in an open-top Citroën described as hybrid (running simultaneously on conventional fuel and electricity). For the rain gods hovering over the City of Light, this was too good an opportunity to miss. Viewers had excellent closeup views of the wetness extending over the head and shoulders of the newly-elected president. When he got out of his Citroën to "reanimate" the flame above the tomb of the Unknown Warrior under the Arc de Triomphe (technically, it's simply a matter of opening a gas valve to multiply the volume of the flame), Hollande was clearly soaked.

The electoral slogan of François Hollande was "Change is for now". Yesterday, back at the presidential palace, change #1 concerned Hollande's soaked clothes. When he reappeared at a small lunch table in the company of former Socialist prime ministers (Pierre Mauroy, Edith CressonLaurent Fabius and Lionel Jospin), Hollande was dry as a bone.

The first of three major afternoon rendezvous, all highly symbolic, was a wreath-laying ceremony at the foot of the statue of Jules Ferry in the Tuileries park between the Place de la Concorde and the Louvre.

Jules Ferry [1832-1893]

All French children are told that Ferry was the man who invented the republican concept of free and obligatory schooling. Since Hollande has insisted constantly that French youth and education are pillars of his political aspirations, his oration at this place had a high symbolic value. And the rain gods were kind to the mob of school kids who were there to greet the new president.

The second rendezvous, in the Latin Quarter, concerned the great Marie Curie, who might be thought of as the instigator of France's future prowess in the domain of nuclear engineering.

Marie Curie [1867-1934]

At this point in space and time, while Hollande was wandering around alongside the medical research institute, the rain and hail gods decided to get back into action... while crowds of joyous technicians looked down upon the scene from the dry shelter of their laboratories. Change #2, at the town hall in Paris: once again, it was a matter of changing Hollande's soaked clothes.

A marvelous complicity existed between the new president and the Socialist mayor Bertrand Delanoë, not to mention the crowd of guests invited along to a reception in the vast hall of the Hôtel de Ville. It might be said that delivering an oration in the heart of Paris, inspired by the history of the great city, is an easy task, because there are so many colorful and dramatics themes that can be introduced. It was also an emotional operation. I had the impression that many onlookers were rubbing tears out of their reddened eyes. Me too, for that matter.

François Hollande had already set out towards Germany in a presidential jet when the storm gods intervened once again. The plane was struck by lightning. So, change #3 involved returning to the military airfield on the outskirts of Paris and changing planes.

For François Hollande, if not for France, what a great day of change!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Adieu, Sarko

If you happened to be calling upon the French version of Google yesterday, their delightful doodle would have informed you that some kind of electoral event was taking place in France.


And the cover of this morning's Libération would have revealed that an exceptionally normal fellow named François Hollande (yes, these days, being "normal" can, in certain circumstances, be quite exceptional) got elected as the president of the French Republic.


This morning's media reveal the parts of France that are red (leftist) and those that are blue (rightist).


My Isère department (green dot) is part of the red meat in a sandwich between a pack of northern right-wing neighbors (Lyon, Rhône-Alpes, Savoie and Jura) and the lowlands of Provence to the south. It's nice to see that the highlands around Grenoble, and then the vast Alpine territories extending south-east to Italy, are resolutely red.

Future historians are likely to conclude that the Sarkozian episode in France was the outcome of some kind of a political misunderstanding. But the fact that half of France still considers that he was the right man in the right place suggests that our judgment is basically flawed.

Meanwhile, I'm touched by the photo of the victory embrace of the new president and his former wife, Ségolène Royal.


We're all a little sad to think that Ségolène herself was quite close to presidential victory just 5 years ago. Inevitably, many of us will now see Ségolène (a lovely but naive person) as a kind of "shadow first lady".

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Voices from the Socialist past

Throughout the coming week, we can expect some spectacular fireworks (akin to the final five minutes in a yet-undecided rugby match) as Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande move towards the final moment of truth, next Sunday.


Their forthcoming TV debate will be followed by everybody in France. I don't imagine that there'll be a "winner" and a "loser", unless one of the candidates has a fit of madness... which is a perfectly serious possibility that must not be excluded a priori. And, even if one guy succeeded in knocking out his opponent, I'm not sure that this would change French voting opinion enormously. I believe that most people have already made up their minds, and it's Bye-bye Nicolas (along with your glitzy watches, your charming kids and your top-model wife).

The only thing I regret profoundly in the inevitable impending victory of the left is that Sarko was an adept of cycling, whereas Hollande is a dull soccer guy. OK, I'm a cycling snob, but I find it hard to imagine the president François Hollande watching with enthusiasm (necessary madness) a mythical ascension of the Ventoux. Unless Hollande can do something about this weakness (maybe there are training courses in this domain), his incapacity to go crazy about pairs of wheels on mountain slopes could well turn out to be a significant political handicap.

Meanwhile, we've just heard Dominique Strauss-Kahn informing us that his affair in Manhattan was some kind of Sarkozian setup.


Frankly, for the moment, I can't figure out why DSK chose the present crucial moment (between the two rounds of the presidential elections) to make this disturbing revelation. Is there method in his madness? For the moment, it's impossible to say... But who gives a fuck (apart from DSK, who's apparently good at giving that kind of thing)?

As for the opinions of the former presidential candidate Lionel Jospin, they're easier to understand.


Jospin claims that Sarko was using "the weapon of lies" in suggesting that 700 Muslim mosques in France had proclaimed that their flock should vote for François Hollande. Personally, I've never found it difficult to believe, nor even alarming, that Sarko and his friends might be tempted, from time to time, to play around with the truth.

I'm not saying that being a socialist in France today is a permanent cure against telling political lies... but it seems to help at times.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Final word, first word


Click here to see this final word—of a rather personal nature—that François Hollande offers his supporters on the eve of the first round of the presidential elections. Let us hope that this final word will in fact be the first word of a new era in France.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Change is now

François Hollande has just released his official electoral video for the presidential campaign.


A constantly reoccurring concept is égalité (equality): the middle term in the motto of the French Republic.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Nice couples, nice tax

These days, people who hear of the Sarkozy couple would have normally imagined this duo:

There's an offspring. The extreme right-wing politician Marine Le Pen was offended by the fact that the given name of Sarko's child, Giulia, is not pure dyed-in-the-wool French. But this will surely not give rise to a revolution.

Meanwhile, the major couple in the news is the Merkozy duo:

And a little bit of the Obamazy duo:

The couple strolled together in the rain, at Cannes, in front of musicians of the French Foreign Legion.

Then, on the Friday evening TV news, Obama heaped praise upon the French president for his rôle in the current Greek crisis.

I've never been a fan of Nicolas Sarkozy, but I've admired his tenacity in dealing with this affair… even though nobody is convinced yet that all the basic problems have been solved.

Governments of progressive societies need lots of finance to improve the situation of their citizens, and it's obtained through taxation. To my mind, Sarkozy is on the right track when he advocates a Tobin tax on financial transactions. I would imagine that François Hollande, our likely next president, would also strive to install this good tax.