Monday, May 28, 2007


The word is a powerful one. It’s an invocation. Of happiness, of sadness, of nostalgia, of fury, of fear.

Of sorrow.

On Saturday, officials zoomed on the road to get to the American Military Cemetery next to my home. In May, the time of remembrance comes, again and again. For people who do not know, who forget, they’re just a convoy of vehicles guarded by police in motorbike that open the road for them. They’re just an anomaly to watch as they drive past, braking to get a better look at them, endangering the traffic in the other lanes as they do so. To me, who once stole inside the great cemetery as a little kid to spy on the ceremonies held there, it’s a time and place for serenity.

A time and a place of green and white.

Of centuries-old trees, beautiful and strong.

Of snow-white crosses, spreading as far as a child’s eye can see.

So numerous the little girl I was couldn’t count them.

I could just tell that there were many of them. A great many of them.

And beneath them, I learnt, people were buried. Young and old, people from the US, who came to fight the evil of Hitler’s war in the second world war. People who came from their faraway land to battle it out against a terrible enemy. People who suffered, feared, bled. And died. For those, there was no careful plan, no well-thought out strategy aimed more at keeping the USSR out of Eruope than at liberating it from the German invasion, no delicate timing. These people were told they’d be fighting against evil, to help people win free, and have a chance at peace and democracy. And they came. And they gave their lives. And my grandparents, and my parents, were free.

Today, the sad melody of trumpets again resounded in the cool air of morning, as the dead were saluted. It had rained. As it had rained on Saturday, and as it always rains on that day. As if the sky itself were shedding tears.

At least, all those people didn’t die in vain. Freedom and peace exist in Europe. But elsewhere…

Memories is also an invocation of deep anger.

When Georges W Bush dares to speak for all those who died, as if he had any right to do so. When he dares to try and recuperate the deaths of all those he sent to be butchered in Iraq for nothing, and to weave their deaths with that of all those who fought during World War II. No, it’s not the same. No, the Iraq war isn’t a just war, one that led to peace and freedom, to democracy. The Iraq war is nothing but a vast fraud, a hijacking of purpose by the great economical interests of the US. It has brought nothing but pain and death and blood to the Iraqi people. It has destroyed anything they had. It has made their situation worse, and condemned them to darkness for many, many years without a single flame of hope.

And it has killed many young people from the US who believed the lie that they would be greeted as saviors and bringers of freedom. Instead, they have been nothing but bringers of chaos and grief, and they have died for nothing.

An invocation of refusal.

In Spain, the right has won the local elections, placing it in good position to win the legislative elections which will be held next year. Have people learnt nothing? Are theys o fickle that the smallest contrary breeze will push them back into the arms of the worst rigid religious extremists? Of populists with a not even hidden nostalgia for Franco? For fascism and dictatorship?

I watch the news, and I keep telling myself that this is just a nightmare gone wild. That it can’t be happening all at once.

Perhaps people are blind. Perhaps they are fools. Perhaps they are cowards who turn the way the wind blows the strongest. Perhaps their hearts are as weak and fickle as their minds are dull. Or perhaps, their memories keep failing them.

I do not know.

All I know is that when the heart-wrenching song of trumpets resounds in the air from beyond the high trees, I see all the white crosses in my mind. In my little girl’s memories.

And I remember.

And my heart doesn’t waver, no matter what populists or sirens may say.

Friday, May 18, 2007

True Lies

Behold, disbelieving world, the new French government is born! A new way of doing politics, of leading the country by uniting the best people from every political horizon!

Behold in awe and wonder, and thank the Blessed Great Leader Sarkozy for His Infinite Wisdom and Magnanimity!

Errr…no, really, who do they think they’re kidding?

Overture to the different horizons of French politics, overture and a hand held out to former foes in a oh so touching gathering of the best talents to “save the country” and “carry out the difficult reforms”? Yeah, sure. So, who do we have here?

Eric Besson, once Socialist (maybe still even has his membership in order), once co-writer of a long essay demonstrating how Nicolas Sarkozy represents a danger for France and Europe, turned new best friend of said Sarkozy after he realized his personal ambitions and views wouldn’t be all listened to and agreed to by Segolene Royal. Yes, Eric Besson, the man who knifed his candidate in the back in the middle of the campaign and started on demolition rampage, stomping on his own beliefs and spitting on the words honor and loyalty.

Why, yes, Eric Besson is certainly a great symbol of overture and gathering of talent. After all, betrayal and mediocrity are qualities which demand constant and hard work. In that regard, Eric Besson meets all the criteria set by the Blessed Leader to enter the new French government.

Bernard Kouchner, supposedly once Socialist (it’s unclear whether he truly ever had a correct membership in the Socialist party, even though he did profit immensely from said party’s help and assistance). The good old French doctor, co-founder of Doctor Without Broders, an icon in the French group mind, the image of generosity and willingness to act to right all of the world’s many wrongs, at last discards the last shreds of his mask of holiness.

Bernard Kouchner, the whining, egocentric, narcissistic and ambitious high society man who kept complaining that the Socialist party mistreated him and in short forced him to choose Sarkozy who suddenly became “the one person willing to listen and do something”. Never mind that during the campaign the same Kouchner denounced the danger that the Holy Father of the Nation represents, that Kouchner pointed out, correctly so, that Sarkozy is much more dangerous than Le Pen, because he uses all the far-right themes and populism, with the added bonus of a veneer of political correctness inherited from the old political party he has hijacked from its true reason for being.

Bernard Kouchner, the man the Socialist party so mistreated that he was a minister of François Mitterrand’s government for ten years! Bernard Kouchner, one of the high bourgeoisie, with all the wealth, estates and all that go with it. Boy, if only I could be mistreated like this, I’d beg to get more of the same! Bernard Kouchner, the man whose ideas have always lied to the right in social and economical matters, and who used the Socialist party until he saw it would no longer serve his own personal ambitions.

Bernard Kouchner, the man who loves the US at least as much as Sarkozy does, and who was in favor of the horrible fiasco also known as the Iraq War, which has plunged that poor country and its citizens down the abyss of a bloody civil war to which nobody can see any kind of end in sight—unless one counts prospering as a training ground for terrorists and maybe yet another new Islamic Republic that will stone women back into the age of barbarism.

Bernard Kouchner, the icon. Not of generosity and willingness to right the world’s wrongs, but the true icon of self-serving people who lead their lives with the sole obsession of furthering their own personal agendas. Well, at least it’s out in the open, and I, for one, believe it’s a good thing. And, again, Bernard Kouchner is indeed a very fitting choice for Sarkozy’s new government.

I will spare you the analysis of the rest of the great people part of the brand new government. There are other new Sarkozy-converts to name here, such as one who was among François Bayrou’s closest friends and who betrayed him four days ago for a position in the government.

So, what conclusion can we draw concerning this new government?

Overture? Sham and lie for the gullible.

Surprising? Not one bit.

This government is a gross assembling of Sarkozy’s all times faithfuls, of egocentric and ambitious personalities with a talent for betrayal and a total lack of honor or loyalty—qualities that Nicolas Sarkozy holds in high regard and has demonstrated all along his own political career. The much publicized “overture”, nothing more than a transparent maneuver to kill François Bayrou’s courageous attempt to build a new political movement at the center of the French political chessboard.

Make no mistake: this government’s self-proclaimed overture is nothing else than an attempt to annihilate anyone or anything that might stand in its way. In the short run, the aim is to impose Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP as the sole party on the right side of the political landscape. In the long run, it’s the very clear threat of building a party that would be the sole political organization to exist in what would no longer be a democracy.

Overture? No. A locking down and strangling maneuver to smother nuance and have the absolute control over France.

This is not fiction.

It’s reality.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Bad Trip

My head hurts, I feel sick, and I can both taste and feel bile rise up my throat. Yes, just like one does after a really bad hangover and rotten weed.

So Nicolas Sarkozy has been elected president. And the participation was a record. People voted en masse for this election. That is democracy. So much for the intelligence and the capacity of analysis of the average Joe and Jane.

I still feel as if this was a bad trip of sorts. As if somehow I was going to wake up and it had all been a nightmare. But...well, I know it's not.

Segolene Royal managed to gather more votes than any Socialist candidate before her, but she was defeated by the mobilisation of the right. The far-right eclectors massively voted for Sarkozy instead of abstaining as they usually do, as was to be expected. All the old, conservative people voted for Sarkozy, who managed to rally them with his simplistic arguments and solgans, and his grand speeches reminiscent of a dark past.

Some people on the left might be happy with this result. Mostly they will be those who believe in what is called "le grand soir", they believe in a revolution to come. A revolution, because in a possible scenario things will have become so bad, will have regressed so badly, that we'll have come back to the time, work and social conditions our forefathers knew in the 19th century. In that century where they were so enslaved, so mistreated that they had nothing more to lose, and found the strength to rise and revolt against those who oppressed them.

I do not wish for that. Revolutions are a messy business, full of noise, blood and chaos. I prefer smooth transitions, peaceful solutions. But it's true that with the likes of Nicolas Sarkozy, if he applies his campaign promises, he will bring us much quicker, and much closer to a point of no return, to the evening of that future revolution. Because there is only so much people can take. Because there is only so much people can lose.

And of course, Nicolas Sarkozy had a special place reserved in his grand victory speech for his pals in the US. If that doesn't tell you the kind of foreign policy he's gonna lead, fighting Tony Blair for the honor of being Georges W Bush's lapdog, I don't know what it means.

Ah well, looks like Sakorzy intends to keep his promises. You can't fault him for having been unclear on this. People elected him nonetheless.

Now they will have to assume their choice.

If I ever see or hear someone who voted for him whine that s/he's unhappy with things happening in France in the next five years, I will personnally skin that person alive. With a spoon.

Now it's time to say good bye for the day, and to prepare for the next hurdle: the legislative elections, both in France and in Belgium. Our darling moronic MR is ready to spring into Sarkozy's steps, cavorting around and yapping with overboard enthusiasm.

Now it's time to take a deep breath, and rise again.

Good night, and good luck.

And remember: "Never give up! Never surrender!"

Friday, May 04, 2007

Against All Odds

All French-able readers : read yesterday’s Le Monde’s editorial by Jean-Marie Colombani.

I don’t like bookmakers. I don’t like surveys. Both lie, both present a picture that is anything but the truth of what they claim to represent. Many surveys work on population samples that aren’t correctly balanced. Most surveys never, ever take into account people who do not have, say, a standard telephone line and only a mobile phone number. There are other examples. And of course, it’s well-known that people do not behave when answering to a survey’s questions, as they will when their time to really vote comes. The number of far-right voters are often underestimated because when questioned for a survey, they will not come out and say they intend to vote for a far-right party (yes, this kind of thing is fortunately still considered more than shameful in good old Europe).

So, when I look at the nice survey numbers that came out today and claim that Nicolas Sarkozy has reinforced his leadership position in the last days of the French presidential race, I sit back and smile. And I wait. I will wait until late at night Sunday, and the true results are released. Some people already rejoice. Some people already claim victory is won for the UMP and all is lost for the PS.

Let them.

They are wrong. Nothing is ever finished until the end line has been crossed. Nothing is ever won in advance. Nothing is ever certain, the more so when it comes to polls.

Nicolas Sarkozy is a liar. It has been demonstrated time and again. He lies when he claims that he will regulate the Euro rate and make it lower against the US dollar. He lies when he claims he has any kind of power over that. Nicolas Sarkozy lies when he spews out his simplistic slogan “Work more so you can earn more, and the jobless numbers will fall”. He plans to suppress all taxes on extra-hours and to get rid of all limitations on the number of extra-hours an employer can ask of his employees. This, he claims, will help companies and help the unemployment rate to drop.


Suppress all taxes on extra-hours, and get rid of all limitations, and you’ll get a very mathematical, very logical consequence: you will simply encourage employers to “request” that their employees work more and more extra-hours instead of hiring new employees. And one wonders, how will that help the unemployment rate…or perhaps one misunderstood, and the aim is to have that number of unemployed people rise?

Add to that the other announcement by Nicolas Sarkozy that he will reform the laws applying to social and job matters: that he will create a single sort of work contract, in which it will be possible to fire anyone without reason, with greatly reduced notice and redundancy payment. This, he has announced. Now, please combine this measure with the one announcing the extra-hours taxes suppression, and you will catch another of Mr Sarkozy’s lies: that everyone will be free to choose. Of course, you will be free to refuse to work extra-hours. With a quasi absence of trade union presence in the small and middle-sized private companies, you will say “no” to your boss, as will be your right, and he will fire you and replace you with someone who will comply, as will be his right.

And I will spare you the rest of the demonstration, and how admitting and finding it normal that people do not earn enough to live with a full-time job will eventually lead to the same shitty situation as in the US or the UK, where people are forced to work several jobs in order to pay their bills, if they’re not lucky enough to have a well-paid job.

Mr Sarkozy has done nothing but oppose people, turn them into enemies or adversaries. This is perfectly logical: he represents the right, and the oh so very moral values of the ultra-liberalism. Mr Sarkozy doesn’t give a damn about Europe, but he gives a great deal of consideration to the US, and to their current president: Georges W Bush. So much so that his staff negotiated during months in order to allow him to be invited to the White House, and to have a stool so he could stand at the same height as W in the famous picture all the media published. Of course, all these negociations took place while he was still Minister of Interior, thus on the State’s budget and the tax payers’ money. But hey, after all, it’s much more useful to use the people’s money for one’s own selfish agenda and ambitions than for the good of all citizens, right?

Mr Sarkozy loves the US so much that he has made a public apology for what he has the gall to call France’s "arrogance", thus humiliating France, and usurping a place and rights that were not his. Who is he, who does he think he is, to belittle France that way? To make judgements that go against his own government? What does it say about what he believes France should be for the US? Oh, not an equal, not a partner who can voice a clear disagreement. A faithful dog, rather, as the UK has been in the whole Iraqi fiasco. Well, that's showing his true stature, and it's not one worthy of becoming the next president of France, for sure!

And there are many other things that give one pause when considering the candidacy of Mr Sarkozy: his American vision for the economical and social solutions in the sense that all his measures are in favour of the upper social classes and will undeniably lead to a deepening of the inequalities between people. Others are his constant attacks on May 68, sign of a clear desire for an ideological revanche. What disturbs people is also the way he has to oppose “those who work” to “those who cheat” and all his suimplistic rhethoric of “black and white”. Mr Sarkozy doesn’t seem to know what grey is. In this, he’s much like his idol Georges W Bush. What appals people is his hyper-repressive vision of society, his challenges of justice decisions, which show a blatant disrespect for the independence of the Judicial power. His ties with the high and mighty in the media world are also in question: how can you be sure of the media’s independence, when you know that Mr Sarkozy is the godfather of the kid of the most powerful TV channel in France? When you know that Mr Sarkozy is a close friend of all the big bosses of the great names of newspapers publication?

Nicolas Sarkozy is dangerous. He is at heart someone who will divide, who will oppose and who will bring chaos, in small or great measures. He’s someone who wants to destroy, to unmake. He's someone who's so bent on projecting the image of one who loves France, that he'll make references to Christianity and happily trample down all the essential priinciples of secularism that are the foundation of France. A Christian's values are higher than an Atheist or an agnosticist, according to Mr Sarkozy.

Even worse, and reminiscent of the dark years that led from 1930 to 1940, Mr Sarkozy is someone who believes that your destiny is determined at birth, by the genes you inherited. He believes that you are born a pedophile, and he plans to have 2 years old kids tested to check if they’re not going to become delinquents. The Brave New World of Aldous Huxley isn’t so far away.

Segolene Royal wants to unite people, to bring them together, to spark discussion and debate. To put all the problems on the table and discuss them with everyone, to find solutions that everyone will adhere to.

Segolene Royal wants dialogue. She wants change and movement, pushed and supported by the support of everyone.

If only because of this, we must reveal the opinion surveys for what they are: lies. Every single vote does count. So go vote on Sunday.


Dare bet on Segolene Royal, on her project of reinventing France and a true dialogue between everyone so that all can benefit and go forward.

Dare. Vote.

Laugh in the face of the big media.

And remember, on the precipice of defeat, one gathers one's strength, and one defeats the enemy, even against impossible odds. Everything is possible, to the end.