We have arrived, massively jet lagged but otherwise fine. There is some interesting political news from
. The center-right party of Sarkozy that lost the Presidential election to the socialist François Hollande [the Union pour un Mouvement Populaire, or UMP] is engaged in a fratricidal split in some ways similar to what is brewing in the Republican Party at home. The conflict, according to Le Monde, is as much one of egos as of ideology. The two contestants for the leadership of the Party, Fillon and Copé, are supposed to represent the center-right [Fillon] and extreme right [Copé] wings, and there is talk of Fillon [who lost a recent vote] hiving off to form a new party, but nothing is clear at this point, save that the extreme right-wing Front National Party started forty years ago by Jean-Marie Le Pen and headed now by his daughter Marine, is surging in strength. The FN is usually described as fascist, and it is certainly the repository for strong anti-immigrant French sentiment, but if you read the long and detailed article on Marine Le Pen in Wikipedia, you will see that matters are rather complicated. The FN is very much unlike our own right wing, both because it is fiercely secular, not religious, and because it opposes the globalized capitalist world economy that our own right-wingers seem mindlessly to embrace. Paris
The other news, of course, is that Dominique Strauss-Kahn [DSK], whose sexual harassment of a hotel maid half a year ago cost him the directorship of the IMF and probably the French presidency, has now settled “amicably” the civil suit brought against him by the maid by paying her, according to reports, six million dollars of his wife’s fortune. You may recall that I sided with her from the very outset, despite the belief of some of my French friends that he had been set up. The tiny bit of evidence that convinced me was her claim that when he assaulted her and she resisted, he said “Don’t you know who I am?” That struck me as not at all something an immigrant African woman working as a maid would make up, and exactly what a man like DSK would say. I think the payment settles the question as to who was telling the truth.