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French Presidential Campaign: Part 2
by Nidra Poller
Part I is here.
The Interior Minister sniffles, Valls gives Macron a peck on the cheek, France 2 throws Fillon into the lion's den, a book spills the beans on Hollande... And: whither the Jewish vote
The last time we saw acting Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux he was at Orly airport, solemnly declaring the "suspect had tried but failed" to get the soldier's gun. This was followed shortly by a photo in the Figaro of the dead suspect lying on the floor with the Famas assault rifle still slung across his chest. Deliberately misleading? Honestly misinformed? No one seemed to care publicly. But LeRoux was forced to resign last week...for a different reason.
How, in the absence of any discernible competence, did the deputy get to be Interior Minister? Musical chairs. François Hollande waited to the last minute to announce he would not be running for re-election, Prime Minister Manuel Valls could finally resign and throw his hat into the Primary ring, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve was bumped up to the PM slot, and Le Roux became a low-key Interior Minister in the twilight Hollande government.
Last week Le Roux went out in a sniffle. Looking like the fall guy meant to knock over François Fillon. Deputy Le Roux hired his teenage daughters as parliamentary assistants over a 7-year period with 24 different temporary contracts for a total salary of €55,000. Cross-checkers produced damning evidence. Not only were the teenies overpaid, they were apparently moonlighting for their father while simultaneously holding other jobs, studying, traveling, etc. Of course le Roux was allowed to deny any wrongdoing before resigning. The Greek chorus media chanted "Le Roux resigned why not Fillon?"
Valls pecks Macron on the cheek.
Defeated in the primaries, the former PM, who has shown integrity and valor in some of the worst moments of jihad violence, had nowhere to go. He could not decently respect the good sport promise to defend the victor, Benoît Hamon, one of the "frondeurs," an informal caucus of far Left deputies that persistently hounded the Hollande-Valls government. Hamon's last ditch socialism is outplayed by Jean-Luc Mélenchon's eloquent extravagance. The centerpiece of Hamon's primary campaign was a shiny universal salary promise, based on a post-employment theory: in our modern economy, jobs don't need people, people don't need jobs, so the government will give them salaries and their purchasing power will boost the economy. No one ever asked him why a small businessman or a CEO would work days, nights and weekends to produce the wealth that would be distributed like Care packages.
Hamon had gadflied the socialist party; Mélenchon opted out years ago and created a far Left conglomerate that repeatedly splinters and regroups. Today he runs on his personal ticket -La France Insoumise. The "insoumise [= that does not submit] has nothing to do with the Islamic concept of submission; it's about the 99% not submitting to the 1%. Reeking of authenticity, dressed in corduroy casual, the earthy showman makes outworn class struggle rhetoric seem new. But pollsters say he gets only 13% of the working class vote, with 51% going to Marine Le Pen. Mélenchon delights in punishing the privileged classes. Under his regime, doctors won't be allowed to apply surcharges (paid, it should be noted, by the patient). The GP that takes €50 for a consultation today would have to be satisfied with the health system rate of €25. (
Mélenchon's solution for world peace is to exit NATO and the "logic of war." The people's army he intends to create by reestablishing the draft is more a public works project than a defense measure. Awkward attempts by Hamon to create a united Left by swallowing up Mélenchon's candidacy have failed miserably, as Mélenchon's fortunes rise and Hamon's sink
Valls pecks Macron on the cheek
Manuel Valls, the unashamed Social Democrat announced he will vote for Emmanuel Macron on the 1st round. Yes but Emmanuel Macron, who served as Minister of the Economy in the Valls government, wants to be the new face, the new way, the new name, the very image of the never-before- better -than- ever. Not old Socialist Party wine in trendy new bottles! In a press conference hastily organized on the eve of Valls's announcement, Macron gave En Marche a St. Paul touch: Neither Jew nor Greek, neither Socialist nor Républicain and not even Modem; the multitudes that came to him must drop their former affiliations and become En Marcheurs. No matter how many ministers, deputies, advisors and supporters of the outgoing team join En Marche, including Hollande waiting in the wings, they'll give up their labels and abandon hopes of cushy jobs in Macron's Brand New World.
Emmanuel Macron's post-politics is enticing. Brimming over with boisterous benevolence for modern multicolor France, he promises success for one and all, with balanced doses of IT, startups, and social engineering. Problems aren't addressed-that creates anxiety-they're swooped into Bright New World projects that leap from the banlieue to the depressed hinterland and across the Mediterranean all the way to the Cape of Good Hope. His government will invest in ecology and all that's renewable, offer culture to the rich & poor, recycle the jobless with modern skills, solve conflict with love not hate, welcome immigration with hospitality not rejection of the Other. Cut & paste plagiarizer, Macron takes bits & pieces of Fillon's security measures...and then claims his rival doesn't have a program.
Fillon in the lion's den
The French must have a passion for politics because the media are serving it in an unending flow, to the exclusion of everything else happening in the outside world. The level of discourse varies but it is sometimes meaty and quite fascinating. Last week's Emission Politique (Political Broadcast) on the France 2 channel of al Dura blood libel fame was vicious. François Fillon was pummeled, speared, mocked, scorned, berated, wracked and cracked...no holds barred.
Journalists, specialists and invited guests did not act as individuals challenging a candidate; they were a mob unleashed on a caricature of guilt. Not a living breathing human being, not even a punching bag, François Fillon was a sheet of newspaper blackened with accusations, he was the front page of Le Canard Enchaîné. And they felt free to grind him into the muddy gutter.
Is he too corrupt to be president? No matter his program, his lucidity, his mastery of details and context, his experience and skills and, now, his exceptional resistance to low blows, no matter the expectations of the majority of voters that correspond to Fillon's offer, no matter the perception that the welfare and security of the nation depend on getting government out of the hands of François Hollande and his suite, is François Fillon so corrupt that he should have been dumped?
Deputies are allotted a budget to pay their assistants. There is no job description for parliamentary assistants. Unless I'm mistaken, this hasn't been an issue of public concern. Deputies also dispose of a "discretionary" fund that they use in their circumscriptions. Questions have been raised about petty favoritism and donations to shady associations linked to the underground economy and/or Islamic subversion. Hush money, so to speak, doled out in the interests of keeping the ‘hood quiet.
Le Canard Enchaîné managed in the space of a few hours to brand François Fillon with the scarlet letter of Corruption. Subsequent revelations piled on. Fillon, who cuts an elegant figure, had accepted the gift of two or more expensive tailor-made suits from a friend. Aha! Other devoted friends have given him expensive watches. But it was the initial thunderbolt that blasted his campaign. With rare exceptions, the media and pollsters relay the accusations, reinforce the guilty verdict without trial, and assume that Fillon will be eliminated on April 23rd.
François Fillon had the same budget as any other deputy. Along with more than a hundred of his fellow deputies, he chose to employ family members, his wife (1996-2013) and, briefly, his adult children. Whether they worked a little, very much, or not at all, the allotment didn't vary. If he had hired a stranger who did or didn't work, the budget wouldn't vary. Did Penelope Fillon deserve her €3,600 (net) monthly salary more or less than President Hollande's coiffeur who is paid €10,000 (gross) a month?
David Pujadas, host of Emission Politique, had no qualms about hitting François Fillon right between the eyes: "Do you like money?" he asked, maliciously. Does David Pujadas like money? Some sources say he earns €18,000 a month, others a more modest €12,000. A large percentage of French employees earn the minimum monthly wage of €1,143 net.
Economist François Lenglet came into the ring challenging Fillon on his economic program that "favors the wealthy." Graphic simulations of the candidate's tax cut showed benefits in the hundreds for low earners, in the thousands for high earners. "Are you a Marxist?" asked Fillon, and then went on to explain that heavy taxes account for the dearth of French investment capital, leaving companies in the hands of foreign pension funds and Qatari sovereign funds. (N.B. the same Lenglet is denounced by a Mélenchon supporter as a darling of the money grubbers!)
The lowest point of the low class broadcast was an obscene diatribe vomited onto Fillon by a mediocre writer whose name doesn't need to be mentioned.
Though it might matter, in the absolute, to know if François Fillon is more or less gluttonous for power, money, luxury goods and privileges than any or all of his fellow politicians, the real question is how did so much private information get into the public sphere at this crucial moment in the presidential campaign? The moralizing purificators that have been hammering away at the unspeakable scandal of a few bespoke suits are curiously indifferent to the perversion of the police, the judiciary and the media to destroy political rivals that imperils our democracy.
A book spills the beans on Hollande
Emission Politique coincided with the release of Bienvenu Place Beauvau, an exposé by one former and two current Canard Enchaîné journalists. Cutting through the tangled underbrush of nicknames, acronyms, anecdotes, rumors, bile, and citations from anonymous sources, I dimly perceive the intent to show that François Hollande was unfortunately unable to moralize the security and intelligence apparatus left by his predecessors. Incidentally, by amateurism rather than malice, President Hollande ended up using the police, the courts, and the media to hack away at his rivals.
This inside info confirms what we had deduced from the outside. Shortly after losing the 2012 race, Nicolas Sarkozy was hit with damning revelations and a series of thirteen or more lawsuits. Guilty, too, of liking money, Sarkozy was accused of squeezing millions from the trembling hand of heiress Liliane Bettencourt , engaging in shameful intercourse with Qatari think tanks, falsifying the accounts of his 2012 presidential campaign, peddling influence, and a variety of other crimes and misdemeanors. His phones were tapped, his confidential communications with his lawyer were tapped, he and his lawyer were pursued, investigated, searched & seized and, on one occasion, the ex-president was convoked by a judge in the middle of the night. So far every case has ended in acquittal.
I think it would be fair to say that Nicolas Sarkozy's chances of running for president in 2017 were destroyed. Manuel Valls, Hollande's PM and expected rival for the socialist nomination, was poked and pinched, bonked with nasty rumors, and thrown a variety of banana peels. And so on and so forth.
Paralyzing the lions with his steady gaze on that fateful Emission Politique evening, François Fillon accused President Hollande of orchestrating the campaign of delegitimization aimed at him since January. Shocking! The authors of the exposé don't know where to put themselves. Having convincingly described Hollande's machinations, they explicitly deny that Fillon is a victim of same. But a document I received last month describes in detail how the LR [Les Républicains] candidate was tracked, exposed, bagged and dragged through the media streets, victim of the exact procedures described in the book: secret information is sucked out of Tracfin, police searches & interrogations, wiretaps, etc. and funneled up to President Hollande; the police are used as henchmen, specific media chosen to disclose biased information and inquisitional secrets, handpicked judges are named to prosecute & persecute.
Top LR brass has combed through the exposé and reportedly found at least 40 infractions that they duly reported to the same authorities that launched the Fillon investigation. If these courts are truly the expression of a public demand for ethics in politics and not, as some might think, President Hollande's hatchet men, they will soon be announcing a slew of investigations.
Obviously relieved, Fillon vigorously pursues his campaign, buoyantly self-confident, focused on the issues. Traditional pollsters keep him at an anemic 19% 3rd place, in danger of being overtaken by Jean-Luc Mélenchon who's roaring down the fast track. And if it should turn out to be true, as the Right insists, that Macron is a Hollande remake, why not go for broke with a Mélenchon-Le Pen final round? Lawd have mercy! That feisty showman promised, in the 2012 legislative election, to drive the wicked witch into the ditch at Hénin-Beaumont. He lost. Marine Le Pen won.
Left-leaning Libération (owned by Macron backer, the French-Israeli cable & media mogul Patrick Drahi) snickers at the Filteris big data analysis results published by Right-oriented Valeurs Actuelles, consistently showing Fillon at the top of the heap. Proper pollsters, invited like yeast to raise the dough of big-audience political broadcasts, unanimously deny the possibility of a hidden Fillon vote. We do our polls via the Net, they say. No shaming face-to-face confrontation.
The shame, my friends, lies not in your pollsters.... Fillon voters chased away by the shock & awe campaign face their own conscience. Can they tell themselves "He cheated and now he's lying, he's guilty and claims to be innocent, I'm scrupulously honest and he accepts lavish presents, but I'm going to vote for him because he has the best program?" Yes, when push comes to shove, they will vote Fillon. Because they have nowhere else to go. Marine Le Pen? Why trust her to clean up the Islamization mess when Fillon has gone further than any candidate in diagnosis and treatment? He outlined his approach in Vaincre le totalitarisme islamique [Defeat totalitarian Islam]. He is competent, serious, level-headed, determined, and capable of governing. Marine-for-president straddles an antiquated isolationist welfare state economic program and an Islamo-neo Nazi back office. She is a decoy, a magnet for frustrations that would worsen if her program were ever applied. A Macron-Fillon runoff would be a logical confrontation of two distinctly different approaches to the life and death challenges of the 21st century.
The Jewish vote
It shouldn't count for anything. But it does. Numerically insignificant, the Jewish vote weighs significantly in a democracy.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, according to a March 25, 2017 post on the Parole 2 Paix Ismael site, promises to recognize the Palestinian state, impose sanctions on Israel, and abrogate the Alliot-Marie decree recommending legal action against supporters of BDS. https://parole2paix.wordpress.com/2017/03/25/melenchon-va-sanctionner-israel-et-reconnaitre-letat-de-palestine/
The "Israel" wing of the socialist party has pulled out of Benoît Hamon's campaign because of his pro-BDS positions and advisors, including BDS activist Salah Amokrane and close associate Alexis Bachelay who declared that Israeli persecution of Palestinians is far worse than what the South African apartheid government did to Blacks. https://jssnews.com/2017/02/26/salah-amokrane-militant-bds-dans-le-conseil-de-gouvernance-de-benoit-hamon/
Emmanuel Macron's right hand man, Richard Ferrand, denies accusations (by a site reportedly aligned with the "Identitaire" movement) of supporting BDS. In fact, he gave a financial contribution to a regional branch of France Palestine Solidarité, an association that enthusiastically supports BDS. http://www.breizh-info.com/2017/03/24/65670/ferrand-macron-palestine-israel-boycott
François Fillon has ruffled feathers with his longstanding opposition to BDS. The BDS-allied BNC objects to his disapproval, claiming that BDS promotes "justice and universal rights." Hugh Fitzgerald expands on Fillon's forceful opposition to BDS and denunciation of the French votes in support of the UNESCO resolutions that deny the eternal bond between Judaism and Jerusalem. Contrary to the official French position, Fillon is opposed to international pressure for a solution to the conflict between "Israel and the ‘Palestinians'." https://bdsmovement.net/news/bnc-responds-french-prime-minister-bds-promotes-justice-and-universal-rights https://www.jihadwatch.org/2017/01/hugh-fitzgerald-introducing-francois-fillon-part-iii
According to the Animal politique collective, cited in Libération, Marine Le Pen, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, Jacques Chemiade, and Jean-Luc Mélenchon are unambiguously opposed to halal and kosher slaughter. Benoît Hamon hedges. Though Libération claims François Fillon, too, insists that the laws of the nation supersede religious laws [his position in 2012] he now favors derogation for halal and kosher slaughter.
Who are the CRIF's best friends?
I attended talks by two presidential candidates under the auspices of Les Amis du Crif, the event-organizing branch of the Jewish community umbrella organization. François Fillon received a standing ovation from a packed audience of 700, chanting in unison "Fillon president, Fillon president." Ten days later, Emmanuel Macron arrived a half hour late, the audience was restless, lukewarm, sometimes audibly in disagreement. Quite a few people left before the end. Fillon was relaxed, warm, and personable. Macron had none of the charisma he exhibits at rallies. Fillon was at home with this particular audience. Macron is more excited by the other diversity, the kind he celebrated from the top of his lungs at a recent rally in Marseille, shouting "This is France, these are the French," and then naming more than a dozen countries of origin, Algerians, Armenians, Comorians...through to Senegalese, Tunisians...
Much more could be said about their respective programs but I must conclude now, 3 hours before the chockfull debate on BFM TV featuring all 11 candidates. Yes, there are 11 candidates, most of them to the Left of Mélenchon. Readers will thank me for not reviewing the full spectrum!
NEWS OF THE DAY
Sunday April 1st: despite protests from a variety of individuals and organizations, and concerns expressed by Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, a "pro-Palestinian" demonstration was authorized at Place du Châtelet. The original BDS and anti-Semitic slogans-demanding separation of "CRIF and State"-were toned down but the message was clear. Approximately 200 people showed up. A counter-demonstration of some 100 Zionists was kept at a distance. No clashes were reported.
Photos at http://www.europalestine.com/spip.php?article12839
French Presidential Campaign Part 2 UPDATE
5 April 2017
I drop in to the Shir Hadash Bookstore on rue des Rosiers at the end of the day. Madame Magnichever comes in, pale and troubled, and whispers to me: "A dear friend... we've known her for 40 years...she was assassinated... an Islamist pushed her out the window."
Reports of the incident came out first in Jewish media, then it was picked up by a few two generalist sites: A Jewish woman in her mid-sixties was pushed out of a third (in U.S. 4th)-floor window by a 27 year-old Muslim neighbor who, according to some accounts, had recently become radicalized. He had frequent run-ins with the police for violence and "petty" crime. According to testimony of a neighbor who witnessed the crime, the assailant who shouted allahu akhbar as he pushed the victim out the window. He is in police custody, undergoing psychiatric examination. Police sources say he made "incoherent statements" (we've heard that before).
Detail will follow in Part 3 of the ongoing series.