Opinion | Ukraine’s Leader Has Jumped Into Trump’s Trap – By Sylvie Kauffmann – The New York Times

By 

Ms. Kauffmann is the editorial director of Le Monde.

CreditCreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

“For some Europeans, the most embarrassing revelation of the now very public phone conversation between Donald Trump and Ukraine’s president on July 25 was not the attempt by Mr. Trump to interfere in the judiciary system of a foreign country for his own political benefit. Nothing the American president does could surprise any longer.

What they found particularly disappointing, instead, was the servility with which his young counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, sought to ingratiate himself with Mr. Trump, pretending that he had won the Ukrainian presidency by imitating him, claiming to have appointed a new prosecutor general who would be “100 percent my person,” and happily joining in the Euro-bashing that has become one of Mr. Trump’s trademarks.

Masks were falling off. So this popular maverick comedian turned real-life politician after playing one in a TV series, this promising reformer that President Emmanuel Macron of France had hosted at the Élysée even before he was elected, was in fact another spineless, unprepared leader jumping into President Trump’s every trap.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Macron have been wise enough not to comment on this pathetic turn of events. Privately, French diplomats insist that Paris still actively supports Mr. Zelensky — even more so in light of the American meltdown. What is at stake in Ukraine for the European Union is far too important, and the risk of seeing Mr. Trump’s dirty work derail laborious efforts to reform that post-Soviet country far too real.”

David Lindsay: Here is the perfect antidote to Rachel Maddow, who spent way to much time the other night on the Inspector General’s calling 8 house committees for an emergency meeting, to get rubbish about conspiracy theories put together by non other than Rudy Guiliani.

Here are the top two comments I endorsed:

P. Bourke

Excellent article. It helped me realize that in reading the transcript of Trump’s phone call with President Zelensky, it’s worth noting what was not in the transcript, and not just the criminality so clearly in evidence. There was not even the briefest discussion of Ukraine’s economic or military situation or any other item of substance, and this at a very fraught time in the history of the Ukraine, as well as in the US-Russian relationship. Such dereliction of duty by an American president should itself be cause for impeachment.

2 Replies210 Recommended

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Bruce Rozenblit commented 2 hours ago

Bruce Rozenblit
Kansas City, MO

This essay underscores the absolute essential nature of globalism and diplomacy. It reveals what happens if amateurs are placed in charge of highly specialized and professional administrative positions. When the Trumpist path is taken, everything falls apart. We are falling apart. The United Kingdom is falling apart. And now, Ukraine in falling apart. All of this ensuing chaos is to the benefit of Putin. Putin is waging a war of chaos and disfunction against the West. The more disorganized the West becomes (Brexit), the more turmoil inside our governments (Trump’s war on our institutions and public meritocracy), the more friction between allies (Trump’s ever expanding trade wars with our closest allies), the lesser the threat the West presents to him and the stronger Russia becomes. Trump, with his attempt to extort political assistance from Ukraine, plays right into Putin’s hand. Trump, whether he realizes it or not, is Putin’s puppet. The EU has been trying to pull Ukraine into the West’s sphere of influence and rule of law through increased trade. Trump is doing the complete opposite. He is using tariffs as weapon to isolate and turn all against all. This new trade war with the EU, which has just started, has the potential to be devastating, both economically and strategically. It will cost consumers plenty, reduce trade and slow down the global economy, which is already slowing down from tariffs on China. Putin couldn’t be happier.

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Opinion | The World Grows More Dangerous by the Day – By François Delattre – The New York Times

By François Delattre

Mr. Delattre is France’s ambassador to the United Nations.

François Delattre speaking at an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting on Syria at the U.N. headquarters in New York, last year.CreditEduardo Munoz/Reuters

“My experience at the United Nations Security Council over the last five years has led me to see a harsh truth: The world is growing more dangerous and less predictable by the day. While the tectonic plates of power are shifting under our feet, driven in no small part by the combined effects of a technology revolution and the rise of China, we are also witnessing the return of heightened competition among the major powers.

We are now in a new world disorder. The three main safety mechanisms are no longer functioning: no more American power willing to be the last-resort enforcer of international order; no solid system of international governance; and, most troubling, no real concert of nations able to re-establish common ground.

As I prepare to return to Paris after almost 20 years as a diplomat in North America, nearly half of them serving consecutively as France’s ambassador to the United States and to the United Nations, I feel the need to share these personal conclusions. The situation today is objectively dangerous. Each serious international crisis has the potential to spin out of control. That is what we saw happen in Syria and what we need to prevent with Iran and North Korea, and in the South China Sea.

In the absence of a functioning multilateral system, the world tends to devolve into spheres of influence; that leads of confrontation, as European history has shown too many times. The risk is even greater when geopolitical divides are superimposed on the technological battle between American- and Chinese-led digital worlds.”

David Lindsay: Thank you Fracois Delattre.

How long until Trump leaves

Time until trump leaves office. 590. days. : 02. hours. : 59. minutes. : 54. seconds. 

How long has Trumpbeen President? 870. days.

Opinion | Macron Puts Germany on Trial – By Sylvie Kauffmann – The New York Times

Sylvie Kauffmann

By Sylvie Kauffmann

Ms. Kauffmann is the editorial director of Le Monde.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Emmanuel Macron of France last month in Berlin, where he criticized German policies in unusually blunt terms.CreditAbdulhamid Hosbas/Anadolu Agency, via Getty Images

“PARIS — Two days after he took office as France’s president, Emmanuel Macron flew to Berlin. It was May 16, 2017, and France and Germany needed a reset. Joined at the hip, the two nations cannot make Europe work if they don’t work together. Mr. Macron had been elected to transform France, and he was convinced that real change in his country would happen only through better European integration.

Hope was in the air as the young, ambitious but untested French president met Angela Merkel, the stern three-term German chancellor. Ms. Merkel quoted the German poet Hermann Hesse: “A magic dwells in each beginning.” Ever the realist, however, she cautiously added, “Charm lasts only if there are results.”

Two years on, the results are nowhere to be seen and the charm has given way to exasperation. When Ms. Merkel and Mr. Macron met on the sidelines of a Berlin summit on the western Balkans, on April 29, their talk was kept to a strict minimum — 15 minutes. Asked at a news conference about the French-German relationship four days earlier, Mr. Macron answered in unusually blunt terms. He openly admitted for the first time that France disagreed with Germany on Brexit strategy, energy policy, climate change, trade negotiations with the United States — and the list could have been longer. Though he chose to stop there, he vowed to voice his differences firmly for the sake, he said, of “fruitful confrontations.”

Mr. Macron went on to suggest that “the German growth model has perhaps run its course.” In his view, Germany, having made belt-tightening reforms that were right for its own economy, had fully benefited from the imbalances created within the eurozone; especially hard hit were the Southern economies like Spain, Greece and Italy, for which austerity was bitter and destabilizing. These imbalances have worsened, Mr. Macron pointed out, and they now “run counter to the social project” he supports.”

Macron- Confronting Yellow Vest Protests in France- Promises Relief – The New York Times

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By Alissa J. Rubin
Dec. 10, 2018

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PARIS — Faced with violent protests and calls for his resignation, President Emmanuel Macron of France said Monday that he had heard the anger of the many whose economic suffering has burst into the open in recent weeks and that he would take immediate steps to relieve their hardship.

Mr. Macron’s mea culpa on national television signaled a remarkable step back from his ambitions to reshape France’s economy and become the European Union’s foremost leader. For now, his chief goal is shoring up his own political support in France.

He announced tax cuts and income increases for the struggling middle class and working poor, vowing to raise the pay of workers earning the minimum wage. He promised to listen to the voices of the country, to its small-town mayors and its working people.

“There is anger, anger and indignation that many French share,” he said in 13-minute prerecorded speech from the Elysée, the presidential palace.

via Macron, Confronting Yellow Vest Protests in France, Promises Relief – The New York Times

David Lindsay:  Yes, good article. Here is the top commnent I endorse:

HeyNorris
Paris, France
Times Pick

While I thoroughly admire the French passion for protest – as opposed to American lethargy – I have a growing desire to ship the entire lot of the “gilets jaunes” crowd to America so they can experience firsthand what it’s like to live without guaranteed health care, job protection, and to fully enjoy their two-week annual paid vacation, while their tax dollars go to fund a bloated military as they dodge potholes driving over teetering bridges. It’s true that in France we are over-taxed, but there’s a serious lack of appreciation of what those taxes buy: see above. As a 12 year resident of France transplanted from NYC, I’m constantly telling my French friends “you don’t know how good you have it”. Macron made a series of concrete pledges that will give tangible relief to France’s most vulnerable and will strain an already overburdened treasury. Yet the verdict is already in: too little, too late. That’s because what the anger is *really* about is the repeal of the ISF, a truly regressive *annual* tax on net worth (not income!) over €1.3 million which has sent French capital fleeing to Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Monaco. Every wealthy French person I know “lives” in these jurisdictions. Macron’s courageous repeal of this ridiculous tax (Piketty is wrong on this, it will repatriate billions), could be his undoing. If it is, we will know that even a thoughtful, socially conscious nation like France can be infected by the small-mindedness that put Trump in power.

Opinion | Macron’s Moment of Truth – By Sylvie Kauffmann – The New York Times

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By Sylvie Kauffmann
Ms. Kauffmann is the editorial director of Le Monde.

Dec. 6, 2018

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President Emmanuel Macron, center, inspecting the damage from protests over a planned fuel tax increase in Paris this month.CreditCreditEtienne Laurent/EPA, via Shutterstock
“PARIS — He was the savior of Europe. A 39-year-old maverick who rescued France from the populist tide, the newcomer who crushed his far-right opponent Marine Le Pen in a TV debate on the eve of a presidential election. The leader who would make liberal democracy great again. The visionary who had a plan to jump start the European Union. A 21st-century John Kennedy. Some joked that he could walk on water.

That was 2017. Eighteen months into his presidential term, Emmanuel Macron, faced with an uprising by a leaderless army of working poor in yellow vests and by violence unseen since the student riots of May 1968, is struggling to take back control of his country. The charismatic young president was jeered by protesters who tried to chase his car this week when he visited a public building set afire by rioters in Le Puy-en-Velay, in south-central France. “Macron, démission” — “Macron, resign” — has become the rallying cry of these modern-day sans-culottes, whose anger is directed at him, personally.

In a rare show of humility, Mr. Macron admitted a month ago that he had “failed to reconcile the people with its leaders.” Little did he suspect that the anger would turn into hatred, of the kind thrown in the face of dictators by the Arab Spring. As a fourth Saturday of protests looms, in spite of an olive branch offered by the government, nobody can predict whether this revolt will eventually give way to dialogue or degenerate into an even more profound and dangerous crisis.

What went wrong? Two sets of factors have come into play. One is not specific to France: an insurrectional wave that is now a familiar feature of Western democracies shaken by the disruptions of globalization, the aftermath of the 2008 economic crisis and the inability of our traditional political parties to adjust to these new challenges. Brexit, Donald Trump’s election, an emergence of the far right in Germany and a victory of anti-system parties in Italy — all, though less violent, are part of the same dynamics. Emmanuel Macron was initially seen as a bulwark against this trend. More determined than his predecessors, he would reform France with a progressive agenda that would do away with the injustices of the old world.”

via Opinion | Macron’s Moment of Truth – The New York Times

I love this piece by Silvie Kauffmann, but I found a comment which has a different view, which I also endorsed. It it difficult, to like two views that seem opposed to each other.

Guillaume
Times Pick

Emmanuel Macron has clearly miscalculated. He’s doing exactly what he said he would during the campaign. The carbon tax was also on most parties’ platform (especially on the left). However that was not enough for France to accept it. He may have thought he should cram as many reforms as he could early in his mandate. But he will have to change his plans.

For the past 20 years, all French governments have tried to reform but had to back down because of protests. The irony is that Ms. Kauffmann and her fellow French journalists bear a lot of responsibility.

Where in Le Monde columns can one read that France has not had a balanced budget since 1974? That government spending in France measured as the percentage of GDP is the highest in the western world? That public social spending is the highest in the OECD? That the income inequality is not that high and has been stable for 20 years? French people don’t understand the need for reforms and how urgent they are. The only things they hear from journalists is that Macron cares only about the rich and there is money in France and you just have to take it.

The truth is that the only way to maintain the generous French welfare state is to balance the budget and broaden the tax base by reducing unemployment and fostering economic growth. Ms. Kauffman should make that case.

Emmanuel Macron’s Unwanted New Title: ‘President of the Rich’ – By Adam Nossiter – NYT

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By Adam Nossiter
Nov. 1, 2017

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“PARIS — From the all-powerful president with the infallible touch, Emmanuel Macron has become the “president of the rich,” an elitist dispensing fiscal goodies to the wealthy. At least that is what parliamentarians, some economists, television interviewers and newspapers have been calling him in recent weeks.

Barely six months into his presidency, Mr. Macron has been brought down from the heights to places many French are deeply suspicious of: the corporate suite and the banker’s office. Over and over that unflattering label — “president of the rich” — has been affixed to the young leader.

“You are committing violence with your policy. It’s you that are going after the poor to give to the rich!” thundered François Ruffin, a firebrand of the leftist France Unbowed party.

Mr. Macron was guilty of a “heavy moral, economic, and historical sin,” the best-selling economist Thomas Piketty wrote in the newspaper Le Monde.”

via Emmanuel Macron’s Unwanted New Title: ‘President of the Rich’ – The New York Times

David Lindsay:

Macron has really fucked up, to use an old French expression. I have also read and posted the hyperlink to the article on the asset tax he reduced on the wealthiest individuals, as one of his first acts as prime minister. He really blew the visuals on that one, and then, apparently, he has never heard of making a gas tax either revenue neutral, or only to raise money for public transportation. If he continues to rule like a deaf emperor, he will fail, which is horrible, since we need his leadership now for fighting climate change, containing Russia, and hearding the cats of the free world during the great vacuum of Trumpism.

Opinion | France’s New Protest Movement Is Tailor Made for the Macron Era – By Agnès C. Poirier – The New York Times

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By Agnès C. Poirier
Ms. Poirier is a writer and political commentator.

Nov. 28, 2018

A member of the Gilets Jaunes, or Yellow Vests movement, at a protest against rising fuel taxes, on the Champs-Élysées in Paris on Saturday.
Credit
Michel Euler/Associated Press

PARIS — Familiar Parisian images are back in the news: black smoke billowing from makeshift barricades on the Champs-Élysées; cobblestones hurled at the police by protesters; the Arc de Triomphe disappearing behind a cloud of tear gas. But this time, the images feature something new: The protesters are wearing yellow, high-visibility vests.

They aren’t longhaired students or militant trade unionists or even angry farmers. They are unaffiliated with a political party and they come from a variety of class backgrounds. Leaderless, they have gathered thanks to social media and they have pointedly called themselves Gilets Jaunes, or Yellow Vests. They are shaking French politics to the core.

The movement began about a month ago, with groups of friends on Facebook complaining about an increase in diesel prices put in place by the government of President Emmanuel Macron to try to curb carbon emissions. Seemingly from nowhere, the disparate conversations converged on a date for action: Nov. 17. Hundreds of thousands would gather around the country to demonstrate against the fuel price hike, which they feel unfairly burdens the millions of people who live in small towns and the countryside, where they can’t get around by public transportation or electric scooters.

Their high-visibility yellow vests — which French drivers are legally required to keep in their vehicle to make sure they are seen on the side of the road if their car breaks down — identify them as car drivers rather than metro riders. But they also send a clear message: They want to be seen by their young president.

via Opinion | France’s New Protest Movement Is Tailor Made for the Macron Era – The New York Times

As Slums Teeter in Marseille- a Poverty Crisis Turns Deadly – By Adam Nossiter – The New York Times

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By Adam Nossiter
Nov. 19, 2018,     9 comments
“MARSEILLE, France — The red-helmeted marine firefighter was firm. “Right,” he told the anxious families gathered around him, “we’re closing up the building.”

Bewildered and frightened, they climbed the darkened, rickety staircase of their building on the Rue Jean Roque, past the chunks of missing plaster and thick lines of cracks, some big enough to put an arm into. On the firefighter’s orders, they gathered their belongings and then left, for the last time.

Their decrepit five-story apartment building, long ignored by city officials, was now deemed unsafe. Marseille city leaders, on the defensive after ignoring expert warnings, were racing to respond to a public outcry after two buildings collapsed this month, killing eight people.

Nervous officials have since evacuated 1,054 people, and counting, from 111 crumbling apartments in the heart of the ancient and dingy Mediterranean port. But a 2015 report written for France’s minister of housing found that 40,000 dwellings in Marseille were unsafe — which is 10 percent of all unsafe buildings in France, and affects 100,000 of the city’s inhabitants.”

via As Slums Teeter in Marseille, a Poverty Crisis Turns Deadly – The New York Times

The Movie Dunkirk is gripping- excellent- homework. by David Lindsay

Kathleen Schomaker and I went to see the movie Dunkirk, because after some research I discovered that it got a score of 94 at Metacric.com, and got some rave reviews, and it was not criticized for tampering with the history.

It was criticized for not saying more about the heroism of the French, who held the perimeter, keeping the Germans at bay for the 8 needed days, or the 2.5 million Indian soldiers that were in that British army, but, we thought the the film was excellent. It wasn’t fun, but gripping, and exhilarating. Not to be missed by anyone who loves small luxury yatchs. Think of it as valuable, unpleasant homework.

Macron’s Shaky Embrace of de Gaulle – by Robert Zaretski – NYT

“General de Villiers told the French media that Mr. Macron had promised he would fulfill his campaign pledge to increase military spending to 2 percent of G.D.P. from around 1.78 percent. And Mr. Macron has seemed sympathetic, making several visits with military personnel during his first days in office.”

This is strange, since France has agreed to pay 3% of its gdp for military as part of NATO.  This is one of Trump’s major complaints about the Europeans.