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November 08, 2005

Comments

And I have mixed feelings because I consider the few nights that I have spent in jail as instructive, whereas if I had gone to prison that would have been a bad thing.

and then there are crimes when people intentionally harm other people or destroy their property.

Like....the American Revolution?

I would like to recommend this article, that provides what I think is a good decent outline of "where these riots came from"

As riots go, these aren't bad. Nowhere near previous champions, but the game's not over yet.

I didn't mean to start a pile on with DaveC over defining riots and such and it's a bit unfair to pick on him for trying to make a distinction between appropriate (but potentially unlawful) protests and riots.

And as for rioting causes, it is possible that the violence and destruction of the French revolution may have been caused by ergotism, though that may be a fuzzy liberal thing to blame it on a plant toxin rather than on people.

I guess, DaveC, that you never read that Neiwert piece on the Toledo riots? Eh, more's the pity.

You may also not like my conclusion that one of the main root causes of Islamist terrorism is the lack of freedom and democracy in Muslim-majority countries.

Excuse me while I dig out from under the great heap of straw you just dumped on top of me. How predictably wingerish of you, Charles. You're ready for Fox News, now.

And in any event, it isn't difficult to muster empirical support for the proposition that political repression triggers resistance, the form of which may be particular to the society in which it arises. The causal link between government assistance to the poor and urban unrest seems a little less plainly evident to me.

The causal link between government assistance to the poor and urban unrest seems a little less plainly evident to me.

The causal link is young men hanging around unemployed, with nothing to do. Sure, they could spontaneously break into doo-wop singing, which I favor, or teh hip-hop rapping which I don't like so much, but often the result is nefarious, criminal behavior.

spartikus has pretty cool links, for a Canadian. Vacation tip for Yanks looking for cheap family camping vaction: Gatineau Park outside of Ottawa is very nice, and you can visit Ottawa and the cool museum in Hull, plus do Montreal as a day trip. Although I do have to say those Moose Crossing signs on the highway kind of freaked me out, driving back at night. When I saw the multimedia show at the Parliament building, it was French night, so I couldn't understand it enough to shout "That's a bunch of liberal pap" at the right moments.

LJ, Ergotamine kind of works for cluster headaches (a distant memory which I wouldn't wish on anybody) and there are other ergot derivatives which are also interesting.

The causal link between government assistance to the poor and urban unrest seems a little less plainly evident to me.

But the causal link between extensive unemployment and urban unrest is fairly self-evident.

Isn't it even the slightest bit possible that the French government's policies, including the creation of a massive welfare state, just might be contributing to high unemployment rates - and thus to the current unrest?

I sometimes get the impression that most people here don't so much disagree with the substance of Charles' ideas, so much as they do with the way he presents them.

Whoops, DaveC beat me to it.

it's a bit unfair to pick on him for trying to make a distinction between appropriate (but potentially unlawful) protests and riots.

When my son went off to protest injustice that happened two decades ago my advice was "Well, don't do anything stupid.", which he did not except for missing classes.

Bored young men on the dole may be a contributing condition, but does the welfare state actually cause the problem of rioting? I hear nothing but ideologically-rooted conjecture on that point.

We're all just engaging in ideologically-rooted conjecture. Who knows, maybe those rioters got infected with that rage-virus from 28 Days Later, but since they're French they just burn cars instead of eating people. ;)

But the causal link between extensive unemployment and urban unrest is fairly self-evident.

Wouldn't the absence of rioting during the Great Depression suggest that it is not causal, but an additive factor? You did have the Bonus Army, and the rioting in places such as Detroit and and but these were based on specific greviances rather than simply extensive unemployment.

3rdGorchBro: Isn't it even the slightest bit possible that the French government's policies, including the creation of a massive welfare state, just might be contributing to high unemployment rates - and thus to the current unrest?

Well, if your standard of evidence is "even the slightest bit possible", yes, it is. It's also the slightest bit possible that it's the fear of avian flu, or the US invasion of Iraq, or the sunspot cycle, that's fuelling the current unrest.

Is it actually likely?

No.

An effective welfare system that supports people in and out of work does not have a high correlation with periods of urban unrest: you can spot check this for yourself by checking out where and when major riots happen, and seeing for yourself if they tend to happen in countries with a decent welfare system, or if they're likely to happen anywhere there is institutionalised injustice.

Further, there are a whole bunch of more likely causes for this particular unrest - not least, as someone else pointed out up the line, institutionalised racism masquerading as egalitarianism. ("You can all be equal with the rest of us - so long as you behave just like us.")

This doesn't seem all that complicated to me. Unemployment + injustice = urban disturbance. Either alone is much less likely to be the cause, but it seems to me that adequately compensated unemployment is much less likely to cause urban unrest in the absence of injustice than injustice in the absence of adequately compensated unemployment.

I'm not sure how much of a drag on French growth the welfare system really is. That's a much more complicated question than simply comparing tax rates and unemployment rates with the US, or some other country.

Do European welfare states draw immigrants from the Third World? I would guess that they do. So there's a sense that the welfare state is a contributing factor. So is WWII. And the Roman conquest. But if you really want to figure out what it's about, it seems to me that you have to start with injustice: they're not rioting because they have too much money, but because they are accorded too little respect.

An effective welfare system that supports people in and out of work does not have a high correlation with periods of urban unrest

Well like I said, I'm not suggesting that the French welfare state is a direct cause of the riots. Nor am I suggesting that a return to robber-baron capitalism and Dickensian-era social welfare policies is the solution to the problem of unemployment.

But I think most people would rather have a real job than a nanny government that feeds, houses, and clothes them while treating them like children. To the extent that massive government expenditures on the welfare state have inhibited economic policies that would promote job creation, I think the welfare state is partially to blame for the conditions that spawned the riots. In fact, I would say that the French people probably use the existence of this cradle-to-grave welfare as a salve to their conscience for not allowing real opportunity for immigrants to participate in their society.

All the usual caveats apply - IANA economist or an expert on France. Just an anonymous Internet commenter with an inflated opinion of my own wisdom.

Had I know there was a hidden clause there saying 'but this in no way qualifies me to pontificate about the South', I would have been a lot less upset.

What a completely absurd statement. There is no rule that prohibits anyone from talking or writing about an issue even such a person is not an expert on the subject. I claimed experience of the American South, not expertise. You are once again applying your own hypocritical double standards to people you disagree with.

I'll just have to keep in mind that when you present your experiences, you aren't claiming that this experience informs your opinions, but rather the opposite, that your opinions inform your experience.

Ding ding ding. Another misimpression. Perhaps I should conjure up an award for this now common event.

3rdGorchBro: But I think most people would rather have a real job than a nanny government that feeds, houses, and clothes them while treating them like children.

I think most people would rather have a real job: but most people would also rather have the security of knowing that if they lose their job, they won't be left to die of hunger, or exposure, or go naked. Being supported in hard times by your government is not being treated like a child.

. To the extent that massive government expenditures on the welfare state have inhibited economic policies that would promote job creation, I think the welfare state is partially to blame for the conditions that spawned the riots.

That's an interesting hypothesis, but first you'd have to show that welfare spending inhibits job creation.

In fact, I would say that the French people probably use the existence of this cradle-to-grave welfare as a salve to their conscience for not allowing real opportunity for immigrants to participate in their society.

This shows, if you'll forgive me saying so, a real misunderstanding of the feeling in European countries about a reliable welfare system. We do not regard cradle-to-grave welfare as a means of disposing of unwanted people without jobs, but as a civic responsibility: it is simply accepted that a civilised country will provide for its citizens at need. From an outsider's viewpoint the strangest thing about the US's welfare system is the assumption that people mustn't be allowed to get anything for free unless they'll die if they don't have it* - with the result that you get far less effective spending, because rather than people getting what they need when they need it, you get people doing without untill they really need it and it's far, far more expensive. From the mass disorganization of Katrina to the ongoing crisis of how people without health insurance get health care, the US does provide for people in need - but more expensively and less effectively that similiar systems in European countries.

Which is not to say that the problems of racism towards immigrants and asylum seekers, especially towards Muslim immigrants and asylum seekers, isn't a major problem in France, and in the UK, too. It is. But the welfare system is not the cause or the salve for racism towards strangers.

*I'm aware that this terribly brief summary does not do the complications of the US welfare system justice, okay?

Bored young men on the dole may be a contributing condition, but does the welfare state actually cause the problem of rioting?

I don't think anyone knows what precisely sets the Beast off, and I would be suspicious of anyone who claims otherwise. Sometimes it's one especially heinous act. Sometimes it's one heinous or not so heinous act that sets loose the tensions created by underlying problems. And sometimes, it's just something in the air.

The only "major riot" my city has had in modern times is when our hockey team lost Game 7 in the Stanley Cup. Was the Canadian welfare state to blame? Possibly. Or possibly there were a lot of disappointed drunk people in a concentrated space.

CC
Do European welfare states draw immigrants from the Third World? I would guess that they do.

There was an essay that I liked quite a bit at Arts and letters, I think that noted that Spain was building a wall to prevent people from entering from Morocco into the Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta (This isn't the essay, but a descriptive article)

The essay finished by noting that while the rhetoric of equality has flourished in Europe and the West, things will not get better until the gap between the third world and the first world is at least made smaller (the essay stated it much better than that, but you get my drift)

A counter argument would be that this is happening only in France, and not all over Europe, but France has had (because of Algerian independence) this problem the longest. The presence of 2nd and now 3rd generation Algerians who are French citizens, but are still discriminated against provides a catalyst for these riots.

3GB
I would say that the French people probably use the existence of this cradle-to-grave welfare as a salve to their conscience for not allowing real opportunity for immigrants to participate in their society.

If this is the case (and it may be) it is a peculiar sort of salve, because the whole notion of dirigism has been questioned. So, if it is a salve, then it is an apparently disposable one that is assumed to have done its job. This PDF points out that the reduction in dirigism has been accompanied by greater state intervention into the labour market. However, because the youths have been left out of the labor market, state intervention has left them in the cold.

The only "major riot" my city has had in modern times is when our hockey team lost Game 7 in the Stanley Cup. Was the Canadian welfare state to blame? Possibly. Or possibly there were a lot of disappointed drunk people in a concentrated space.

Spartikus,
If you are talking about the Richard riots, wasn't the main cause that Clarence Campbell suspended Maurice Richard for the Stanley Cup, a suspension which many French Canadians took as racism?

At any rate, this list of riots should provide grist for the mill.

and Chas
Ding ding ding. Another misimpression. Perhaps I should conjure up an award for this now common event.

Instead of conjuring up awards, if you'd rather join in an actual discussion, you are welcome to jump in. Or you might wish to consider why so many of us fall prey to these misimpressions when you write.

The United States will spend some money on you if you go to prison...the American prison system IS part of social welfare.

Or possibly there were a lot of disappointed drunk people in a concentrated space.

I'd submit that "a lot" and "drunk" are probably both more important than "disappointed". But then, who knows?

It was Vancouver in 1994, and the death toll from that is, I believe, currently equal with the French riots. ie. 1 death.

Consumption of alcohol was no doubt a significant factor, but then there are high concentrations of drunk people every day in locations around the world and there aren't any riots. The Public Inquiry certainly pointed to that, and to the fact that moving crowds are better behaved than stationary crowds, and this crowd wasn't allowed to move - a mistake on the police's fault.

Not that this relates to France. It just seems that predicting the behaviour of a population is much like predicting the behaviour of an animal. Sure, there are some actions you can do that will result in expected behaviour. If you poke the lion with a stick repeatedly, you're probably going to piss off the lion. Or you might not be doing anything, and it just happens that today is the day the lion has had enough of being in a cage.

Thanks lj, for demonstating how to in a polite manner to distortions of your statements (especially your 10:55 PM post from yesterday). May they become a role model.

Spartikus: There were zero deaths, to my recollection. One severe brain injury from a rubber bullet fired by police, and a number of lesser injuries.

And there has been at least one or two other riots in Vancouver in modern times. The Gastown Riot of '71, for example, although that was more the police that were doing the rioting. Also the riot at the Hyatt and the recent Guns and Roses riot. Oh, and the Rolling Stones riot.

Actually, there's been rather a lot, enough subject matter for a book: Reading The Riot Act: A Brief History Of Riots In Vancouver

BTW, Spartikus, any relation to Vancouver's Sparticus Books?

Oops, really screwed that post up. Let's try again.

-------------------

Spartikus: It was Vancouver in 1994, and the death toll from that is, I believe, currently equal with the French riots. ie. 1 death.

There were zero deaths, to my recollection. One severe brain injury from a rubber bullet fired by police, and a number of lesser injuries.

And there has been at least one or two other riots in Vancouver in modern times. The Gastown Riot of '71, for example, although that was more the police that were doing the rioting. Also the riot at the Hyatt and the recent Guns and Roses riot. Oh, and the Rolling Stones riot.

Actually, there's been rather a lot, enough subject matter for a book: Reading The Riot Act: A Brief History Of Riots In Vancouver

BTW, Spartikus, any relation to Vancouver's Sparticus Books?

Oh yeah...the "Gee, Axel Rose really is a flake" Riot.

I forgot about the Riot at the Hyatt. It wasn't much of a riot, though. Now that my memory's been tweaked, some co-workers were at the frontline, so to speak, and gave a hilarious account of befuddled cops and overacting protestors.

No relation to Sparticus Books.

Don't forget APEC and good old Sgt. Pepper. I was in Vancouver for that one -- hardly one of Chrétien's finer moments.

My favorite was the Vancouver Post Office riot.

Given the casualty report, the story would go nowhere. And this thread may have terminated long ago. So it must be the hundreds of cars that are torched nightly that draws our attention.
An extended Halloween Party forchrisake.
Is that it? No, its the uprising of an underclass that escaped our attention --the national media/press attention. A surprise that shocked most of us and makes us nervous about our media's competency and the possibility that these riots could happen in other European countries.
Maybe even Canada.
Maybe even right here in River City.
Fine then. I'm not going to trust my travel agent to route me through Danger Zones. I can always stay home and wait till the smoke clears.

Instead of conjuring up awards, if you'd rather join in an actual discussion, you are welcome to jump in.

Tell you what, LJ, I'll stop conjuring up awards when you stop playing Trivial Pursuit on current events. Deal? Conversations happen much easier when you ask questions rather than make spurious pronouncements about what you think my positions and opinions are.

Tell you what, LJ, I'll stop conjuring up awards when you stop playing Trivial Pursuit on current events. Deal?

Any response I would make would be overly rude and harsh. I would only point out that I have made no "spurious pronouncements" about your positions and opinions because on this matter, it is difficult to discern what you are arguing. I have merely asked if you are aware of certain facts. You claim that you are and you have written about Sarkovsky on multiple occasions. Those who read can decide for themselves if you are being truthful, as it is not at all apparent to me.

I starting venting here and then took it to my jackmormon.blogspot space.

Briefly: it ain't about Islam.

OK, LJ, let's recap:

At 6:50, I wrote: "I understand that you're down on Sarkozy. As for me, I'm reserving judgment, but I like his politics better than Chirac and de Villepin, notwithstanding the "scum" comments."

At 8:04, you came across as an intellectual snob, reflexively making a huge and unfounded and, yes, spurious projection that I am ignorant of Sarkozy and his history, sniffing dismissively: *sigh morphs into extreme embarassment for Chas* Your comments about Chirac, Villepin, and Sarko suggest that you have no understanding of the French political scene. I'm not claiming that I am expert, but Sarko's politics are an extension of Chirac and Villepin's (they are in the same party) and what they are concerned about is Sarko's popularity, not his politics. You were aware that Sarko was romantically linked to Chirac's daughter at one time and was often discussed as the 'protege' of Chirac, but now is Chirac's main challenger? Even if you didn't know, a little reading might clue you into some of the non-political dimensions of this.

Now, I'm not sure how this contradicted my earlier statement, not that it stopped you from undertaking your preening, self-important lecture. FTR, I had earlier read the very MSNBC and BBC pieces you linked to, but not the one from Atlantic Monthly, but the AM piece clearly shows that Sarkozy's positions are strikingly different from Chirac/Villepin, thus affirming my original sentence. Note also that you didn't ask or inquire as to what issues Sarkozy held that I agreed with. Rather, you went straight to prejudgment and prejudice. What's more, the AM piece directly conflicts with your statement that "Sarko's politics are an extension of Chirac and Villepin's". Yet I am the rube, no?

At 8:39, I wrote: "I'm aware of Sarkozy, his history, his onetime position as Chirac's protege and his break with Chirac. I've written about the man at least a couple of times and am aware of the political differences he has with the French president, particularly as it pertains to terrorism, the WAMI and immigration. Your comment suggests another one of a seemingly endless series of misimpressions, LJ."

At 8:53, you started going into Trivial Pursuit mode, avoiding the issue I initially raised and tried to apply the LJ global test, i.e., I question whether this person is worthy of this discussion because I'm persuaded (in my own mind) that he doesn't contain a sufficient plethora of knowledge (according to my own threshhold): I'm trying not to be snarky, but links to previous posted materials would serve to correct misimpressions or even stop them from arising in the first place. If you are posting to somewhere other than RS, Tacitus, or here, I would certainly appreciate a pointer.

At 9:49, not desiring to be your dogsbody, but still trying to further things along, I gave you a link and a credible source for the link. This would have been the perfect opportunity to actually get into the subject of Sarkozy and his positions, perhaps starting with this sentence excerpted from the link:

While Chirac is a neo-Gaullist who has hitched the French star to Germany, Sarkozy "argues that France can no longer rely on the Franco-German motor and needs to cultivate a group of six that also includes Britain, Spain, Italy and Poland. Atlantic-minded, he urges a milder approach to America. He advocates an overhaul of the French social model, pushing for less state regulation and a more flexible labour market; his inspirations are Britain and Spain, not moribund Germany. He considers that the French model of integration has failed French Muslims, and argues for American-style social engineering to help minorities advance. In short, where Mr Chirac urges caution and conservatism, Mr Sarkozy presses for modernisation and change."
But instead of engaging, you punted. I also wrote the following: "A French conservative is not a British conservative is not an American conservative, so when you tell me that Chirac and Sarkozy are conservatives, it says very little." That was in error and I apologize for that.

At 10:55, you moved the goalposts: I lurk at Tacitus, and I don't believe I have seen anything else about Sarkozy from you. I realize that it is not the easiest thing to find stuff on Tacitus, but a one paragraph post that simply rehashes the points of a Economist article does not really enlighten me about your held opinions on Sarko. I certainly am not demanding that you do research on Tacitus for me, but I find myself strangely unconvinced about your knowledge and expertise on the French political scene.

So at first, I was supposed to tell you what I knew about Sarkozy, and now I'm supposed to enlighten? What's next, a puppet show? I fully agreed with the content of The Economist article, which was why I added so little content of my own to the post. That's kind of how it works with blogs. If you link to it, that means you accept the content unless otherwise stated or otherwise qualified.

At 11:34 and somewhat irritated, I wrote: "Whatever. I never claimed to be an expert on the American South either."

At 12:17, more misimpression by you: I'll just have to keep in mind that when you present your experiences, you aren't claiming that this experience informs your opinions, but rather the opposite, that your opinions inform your experience. Good thing to know.

At 11:09, I responded, further expressing my irritation.

At 11:56, apparently unaware of your own attempts to not have a discussion, you wrote: Instead of conjuring up awards, if you'd rather join in an actual discussion, you are welcome to jump in. Or you might wish to consider why so many of us fall prey to these misimpressions when you write.

As far as misimpressions go, I'm not sure that "so many" commenters have them them of me. In this post, it was basically you and stickler. What is clear is that you consistently have the most misimpressions of my positions than anyone else. By far. Multiple times on practically every thread. Yet I'm the one who needs to examine himself. Right. To be charitable, pot and kettle.

At 7:43, I responded with a suggestion that we make a deal.

At 8:42, you took umbrage.

Let's be clear. If there is an issue in which you thought I was wrong or mistaken, I would surely have liked to have heard about it, and then we could have had a conversation. What I don't take to is an anonymous blogger who prejudged another person's breadth of knowledge, based on zero evidence I might add, and go through a patronizing sermon about what and how much should be known about a certain French guy.

But instead of a conversation, you decided to go Quiz Show, which basically is an attempt to end a discussion, not continue it, the thinking being (as it comes across to me): "Charles does not possess the knowledge to discuss these issues with a smart and educated man like me, therefore, there is no point in further back-and-forth because he is below me and not capable of edifying repartee". If I am mistakenly misinterpreting your line of thought, then mea culpa. I should also note that I am the only person on these boards where you apply your LJSAT tests, and it's a dirty form of argument. If you have an quibble with my position, then address the position, don't adopt this effete, winning-through-intimidation, ivory tower, faux intellectual bullsh*t that you're attempting to pass off. You might able to bully your students with this intellectually dishonest sleight-of-hand, but not with me.

Chas,

You gave your take, here's mine

While waiting for an answer to a question about semantics (and please note, rather than suggesting that this could be evidence of a bias on your part, I simply asked for a clarification), I pointed to a the Ireland blog post that, though it took issue with some of your assertions, was not labeled as a challenge. You make an offhand comment that suggests you didn't understand what Ireland was saying (that this is about socialism) I suggest that this is wrong here. You, on what appears to be a cursory reading of Ireland's previous post, claim that Ireland's adulation of Vidal means that you can read his take on the rioting springing from his beliefs in socialism and then assume that making some references to Sarkozy would make it seem as if you actually had a handle on things. I am not to impressed by such argumentation and also take issue with the notion that Chirac/Villepin's politics are totally different from Sarkozy's, in terms that were too strong, for which I immediately apologized

You continue to imply a vast store of knowledge on France and accuse me of misimpressions. I ask if you have any links to other writings of yours that would give me a better view of your expertise. Your response is to a one paragraph Tacitus post on an Economist article rehashing points in a way makes it clear you don't take into account the Economist biases or audience. You follow this up by claiming a lack of knowledge on my part, suggesting that I don't know the difference between the various flavors of conservatism worldwide, which I pointed out here.

Rather than correct your mistatement, you then go back to a 2 month old discussion about your knowledge of New Orleans and the South. Suggesting that you never said you were an expert on the American South in a thread 2 months afterwards might seem like a confession to you, but it just shows how full of BS you were then.

The conversation moves on without you to a discussion of unemployment as a condition for riots, but you drop in again to redirect the conversation to a discussion of misimpressions, which seems to be a fixation of yours. I respond rather dismissively, in large part because there is no actual content to respond to. I then get accused of playing Trivial Pursuit and I respond by asking readers to refer to your previous comments. Which brings us to your response.

Let me make clear what I have been politely trying to avoid saying. I believe that you like to imply you have considered a range of facts when you actually haven't and, when called on it, attempt to get your way out by changing the subject, or, if that doesn't work, just making s**t up.

The bluster that you have summoned up in this thread is the bullying that is going on, and trying to suggest that I am the bully is simply trying to play the victim. Just as your Katrina commentary spoke of a lack on knowledge about New Orleans, your lack of knowledge about France betrays you.

Couple that with the fact that you drop in to defend youself rather than engaging in the thread you start is precisely the reason why I think you need to be asked to step down here. An absence of knowledge is a correctable thing, the pervasive presence of bias in the face of presented facts (like 'Chirac and Sarkozy are members of the same party') is, barring a sudden falling of the scales from your eyes, insurmountable.

Finally, while I don't know you from Adam, your invocation that this is "effete, winning-through-intimidation, ivory tower, faux intellectual bullsh*t" suggests you have quite a few unresolved issues in dealing with people disagreeing with you. You are right that this is the sort of discussion that goes on in the ivory tower, but if you believe that this kind of discussion is 'effete', don't go to grad school and try this, because in addition to getting the sort of dissection here, you would be told in no uncertain terms that you lack the intellectual firepower to discuss these issues and you should reconsider your future plans.

I would suggest that you read jackmormon's blog post on the French riots that she noted, but I don't believe that you can suitably engage on subjects without letting your biases decide what your opinion should be and I certainly don't want you fouling someone else's nest.

Is that clear enough for you, Charles? Or should I add footnotes?

Okay, the above exchange is a little silly, and maybe if I'd had internet before last night, "Hating on CB" could've maybe deflected some of it. But let me clear up one point of contention in the above.

While it is true that Sarkozy is in de Villepin and Chirac's party, he is talking up a very, very different strategy of governance. There are real policy differences between Sarkozy and Chirac/de Villepin, both on the domestic and international levels. I don't understand why Chirac doesn't just throw him out of his government, although he has tried to move him to less prominent roles. Sarkozy is more like an American-style conservative than anything the French have probably ever seen, while Chirac is a slimy, corrupt statist, and de Villepin is an aristocratic Gaullist. Same party, very different political outcomes.

Sarkozy, if elected President next year, will probably shake up the system radically, and I don't think in a good way. My French leftist friends have contempt for Chirac, but they're really worried about Sarkozy.

"What I don't take to is an anonymous blogger...."

LJ, like most folks here who keep a consistent identity, is pseudonymous, not anonymous. There's a fairly significant difference. HTH.

Chas,
I not only want to reiterate my apology of 8:17, but also apologize for losing my temper above. My understanding of the Sarko situation is that Chirac edged him out when he got too popular, but when Chirac blew the Constitutional question vote, he had to turn to Sarko and reappoint him Minister of the Interior while allowing him to remain head of the party because he is the only charismatic figure in that party. I tend to think that both he and Chirac are not principled politicians unless the principal is to figure out how to have their foot on the opponent's neck. There has been much blogospheric speculation that Chirac/Villepin hung Sarko out to dry in order to weaken him. You feel that this is due to principled policy differences, I think that if they were dealt each other's hands, they would have no problem in the opposite role. But that is my opinion and there is no reason that I should be upset that you don't hold it.

One more small point, jackmormon's post is on her blog, not on the HonCB blog. I do not yet have the ironic self detachment to post to the latter.

Again, my apologies for losing my temper. As Gary points out, I'm pseudonymous, not anonymous. The email I use here is a bit flakey (it's a free service out of Thailand), but if you want to discuss something offlist, throw up a bat signal and I will get in touch.

Charles: What is clear is that you consistently have the most misimpressions of my positions than anyone else. By far. Multiple times on practically every thread.

That's really not true, Charles. I usually agree with liberal japonicus's assessments of your positions - and think that lj expresses them more articulately and more politely than I would be able to. I get angry with you: lj just dissects you, politely, accurately, and thoroughly. I don't bother to post "me too!" comments or "nice work", but I certainly think lj does excellent work on your posts and comments - more excellent than I think the subject material deserves.

Yet I'm the one who needs to examine himself.

Well, yes, you do. But if you were capable of that, we'd have seen some signs of it by now.

Jes,
Respectfully, don't toss gas on this fire. I think it's important to move on. Thanks.

You can move on: I can move on: Charles Bird is evidently not about to move on. Still, no doubt you're right.

I pointed to a the Ireland blog post that, though it took issue with some of your assertions, was not labeled as a challenge.

I didn't consider your link to Ireland a challenge, LJ.

You make an offhand comment that suggests you didn't understand what Ireland was saying (that this is about socialism) I suggest that this is wrong here.

My offhand comment: "I have no French, but it looks like Direland's solution is that there is not enough socialism, or just not quite the right kind."

There is quite a bit of socialism--defined as the government owning or controlling the means of production--in France, particularly since over half of the GDP is consumed by public expenditure (cite). I didn't take issue with Ireland's assessment of how the problem came to be, which he blames on the "industrial policy of the French state" and racism, among other things. I did take issue with this sentence: "Budget cuts for social programs plus more repression is a prescription for more violence." I do agree that "more repression" is not a solution, but more spending on social programs, i.e., more government outlays and a larger welfare state, are not solutions to a situation where there are deep and structural economic shortcomings in France, in my opinion. This was what I meant in my "offhand comment".

You continue to imply a vast store of knowledge on France and accuse me of misimpressions.

I implied nothing of the sort. I expressly stated that I was an aware of Sarkozy and his history. Tell me on what planet where being "aware of Sarkozy" = "vast store of knowledge on France".

I ask if you have any links to other writings of yours that would give me a better view of your expertise.

That was--and remains--an avoidance of what I actually wrote. My sentence: "I understand that you're down on Sarkozy. As for me, I'm reserving judgment, but I like his politics better than Chirac and de Villepin, notwithstanding the "scum" comments."

So far, you have not challenged the content of that sentence. Rather, you initially questioned my knowledge in an insulting fashion (which, yes, you apologized for the excessive "snarkiness"), and here you question the bias of The Economist. Your own link, which you approvingly cited, shows enough differences between Sarkozy and Chirac to render your sentence that "Sarko's politics are an extension of Chirac and Villepin's", shall we say, confusing to say the least. Now, if you really do have something which puts my initial comment to the test, please do so. So far, you have not.

Suggesting that you never said you were an expert on the American South in a thread 2 months afterwards might seem like a confession to you, but it just shows how full of BS you were then.

This is what I wrote back then: "A personal story. Back in the early 1980s, I had a summer job with a company that recruited college students to sell educational and religious books door-to-door. My territory was South Carolina, and I underwent a boot-camp, total-immersion experience in southern culture for a three-month period. The weather was brutally hot and humid compared to Seattle, a place where 80 degrees and 60% humidity is considered sweltering. I worked six days a week, twelve hours a day, visiting hundreds of families every month, in rural South Carolina from Greenwood down to Royston, Georgia. The visits were brief but more often than not, fairly deep (and sometimes intense) since we were talking about faith, their kids and their kids' educations and futures. By walking into peoples' living rooms and sitting at kitchen tables and talking about those things, I got invaluable glimpses into peoples' lives and saw plentiful, eye-opening helpings of southern American life."

Since I explained what happened during that three-month period and since I inserted it as a "personal story", the impression I was trying to leave was that my experiences well outpaced by brief time there, and that I gained a knowledge of the American South which might have taken several years under more ordinary circumstances. But instead of a discussion in that vein (or in practically any other vein for that matter), you went into Quiz Show mode back then as well as here. A hint. I don't know about you, but I don't claim expertise on any subject, except for certain real estate matters (where I have actually testified as an expert witness) and basketball. You're a self-identified expert in linguistics, so I won't question you on the finer points of language. In fact, I changed the verbiage in my post to differentiate rioters and protesters. So let's get beyond knowledge testing and actually converse.

Let me make clear what I have been politely trying to avoid saying. I believe that you like to imply you have considered a range of facts when you actually haven't and, when called on it, attempt to get your way out by changing the subject, or, if that doesn't work, just making s**t up.

Actually, I'm accusing you of trying to change the subject.

Finally, while I don't know you from Adam, your invocation that this is "effete, winning-through-intimidation, ivory tower, faux intellectual bullsh*t" suggests you have quite a few unresolved issues in dealing with people disagreeing with you.

The issue I have is with people with excessive arrogance, ego and a need to assert control.

LJ, like most folks here who keep a consistent identity, is pseudonymous, not anonymous. There's a fairly significant difference.

My apologies, Gary. LJ is pseudonymous, not anonymous. I'll try to keep that in mind in future exchanges.

Charles, I don't understand you. We seem to reach some agreement and you wade back in. I apologized for losing my temper and you requote part of what I apologized for. Why are you so concerned with debunking that comment, since it is water under the bridge?

As for this:

My sentence: "I understand that you're down on Sarkozy. As for me, I'm reserving judgment, but I like his politics better than Chirac and de Villepin, notwithstanding the "scum" comments."

So far, you have not challenged the content of that sentence.


Yes I have. I said that I do not believe that Chirac/Villepin's politics are all that different from Sarkozy's. Your sentence suggests that I am 'down' on Sarkozy, when I am not too fond of the entire UMP or the French centre-right. I was far too harsh in my comments for which I immediately apologized. But I have stated my opinion. If you would like to present an alternative reading, you are welcome to but that depends on you.

To repeat, I suggested that the dispute between the two men is personality driven, not policy driven, and it seems clear to me that Sarkozy is pulling far right votes in to isolate Chirac and his future opponent Villepin. That he is going to use his bradaggio against the rioters is evident by the fact that he has apparently purchased Google adwords as a platform to launch his campaign, from the same party that Chirac is a member of. If Chirac is edged out, it will be because he was outmanuvered, not because he and Sarko have policy differences.

As for your protestations of innocence concerning assertions, I don't believe that I am alone in suggesting that you imply it often. For example,

One other thing: A French conservative is not a British conservative is not an American conservative, so when you tell me that Chirac and Sarkozy are conservatives, it says very little.

This was in response to my pointing out that Sarko and Chirac are in the same party. changing that from point of fact to an unstated assumption that I was unaware of the differences is precisely the problem. One has to suspect that this is one of the reasons you toss out Karnaks like Mardi Gras beads and get so offended when you think someone does this. Healer, heal thyself.

I have provided information and at least 5 links, I believe. For your part, you say

Your own link, which you approvingly cited, shows enough differences between Sarkozy and Chirac to render your sentence that "Sarko's politics are an extension of Chirac and Villepin's", shall we say, confusing to say the least.

Did you read what that article says?

This is one key to the Sarko phenomenon: the two men, political bedfellows and all-too-similar political animals, detest each other. The struggle between the ageing monarch and the hungry usurper, the most interesting drama in French politics today, is about to enter its final act.
(emp mine)

Perhaps you are thinking that Sarko's calls for 'positive discrimination' are true policy differences, but in light of phrases like

Sarko's supposed American-ness is about style as much as substance, of course.

The American label also sticks to Sarkozy because of family values - that is, the value he has placed on his family as a political tool.

Then came the presidential election of 1995, and Sarkozy's now notorious fall from grace. When polls showed prime minister Edouard Balladur beating Chirac, Sarkozy abandoned his political godfather and became Balladur's man. But Balladur imploded, and Chirac, in one of his mind-boggling comebacks, won the election, leaving Sarkozy to cross a vast political desert. No one in Chirac's family spoke to him for years afterward.

The emphases are all mine because I'm not sure that you noticed them the first time you read.

How exactly are these sorts of points 'policy differences'? Again, let me be direct and note that your biases seem to pre-determine what your opinion is.

LJ,
That's a strange article. An interesting one, but strange nonetheless. It seems to herald Sarkozy as a great "plausible reformer" while suggesting that perhaps the differences between Chirac and him are the magnified result of a wierd interpersonal dynamic. It could be read by a reasonable person to support either your or Charles's reading, I think.

The "political bedfellows" and "political animals" language is to me particularly vague. In the same party and similarly contentious in backrooms? They certainly have managed to make most of French politics of the last 4 years into their own private pissing-match, so they're well-suited for each other in at least one aspect.

(My favorite bit of the article was the young Sarkozy's completely bizarre applause line: "To be a young Gaullist is to be a revolutionary!" How very, um, counter-intuitive. And it's not a good sign that the article--intended for an American audience--passed over that line without comment.)

It could be read by a reasonable person to support either your or Charles's reading, I think.
Fair enough, and I will admit that everyone (and I hope I'm not slandering anyone here) has problems with their biases determining their viewpoint, and that goes for me as well. I again apologize to Charles for losing my temper, and suggest that discussing Sarkozy is not very important in the current scheme of things, especially with hilzoy and katherine's monumental work being at the front of the queue.

Why are you so concerned with debunking that comment, since it is water under the bridge?

Because that's what started all this, LJ, at least as far as I saw it.

How exactly are these sorts of points 'policy differences'?

Here:

You have to know the bad juju that attaches to any such talk outside the private sector in France to understand how radical Sarkozy can sound. When he proposes "positive discrimination" (that's French for affirmative action) to boost the chances of France's huge - and by US standards socially immobile - Muslim population, it is recognisably American talk. When he mocks the worst excesses of the French state, often in acid terms no other politician would dare employ - "The thirty-five-hour [work week] is unique to France; no one is going to steal the idea" - it is pounced on as "liberalisme". "Anglo-Saxon" free-marketism, American style, is still a fearsome ideology in many quarters of France. Rather than run from the label, Sarkozy embraces it: "Liberalism means pluralism. Anyone here want to go back to the days of only one kind of store with only one brand of product?" That there never were such days in France doesn't really matter.

Sarko's supposed American-ness is about style as much as substance, of course.

Emphasis mine, and slightly different from your emphasis. Sarkozy's positions are in direct conflict with the French establishment as embodied by Chirac. Since Sarkozy embraces "American-ness", it is a distinct divergence from Chirac and how he's running France. As I read the sentence, that divergence is both stylish AND substantive in nearly equal amounts. And here:

Where Chirac is an ardent Gaullist, Sarkozy is described as an "Atlanticist".

He talks a modestly free-market line and is often savage about the cuckoo-land of French labour law and even the sorry state of the French work ethic. These views may explain why, according to the rumour mills here, Sarkozy is beloved of the Bush administration - the kiss of death, of course, for a French politician.

If they are so much the same, why would Sarkozy be so beloved by the Bush admin, assuming the rumors to be true. I'm not discounting that part of their divergence is due to bitter personal animosity, but Sarkozy is also staking out distinctly different positions. Just like a Lieberman would have palpably different positions from a Howard Dean.

Because that's what started all this, LJ, at least as far as I saw it.

Jesus wept, Charles. The issue I have is with people with excessive arrogance, ego and a need to assert control. Do you actually read what you write?

Now you say
I'm not discounting that part of their divergence is due to bitter personal animosity.

I leave it as an exercise to the readers to determine why 'not discounting' placed at the end of this particular thread rather than when it was first raised may not be the most effective rhetorical strategy.

PS Using assumed rumors as evidence supporting your take is also not a rhetorical strategy.

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