You are currently browsing the daily archive for May 30, 2011.

Or brioche, as Marie Antoinette actually phrased it.

The Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK) story gets more interesting as it reveals the engrenages — wheels within wheels — of his personal, political and professional network.  Socialists represent the little guy?  Hmm — don’t be too sure.

I’ve written before that a general election will take place in France in 2012 and that DSK was the hope of the Parti Socialiste (PS).  Now, unless something incredible happens, he’s out of the frame and the PS are back to square one with the usual ho-hum selection of possible candidates for the upcoming primaries: Martine Aubry, Ségolène Royal and her ex, François Hollande.

But this will be no ordinary presidential campaign.  Already, the fabric of the PS and their media water-carriers is starting to unravel.  I share the following with you in order that you can see how a variety of people sharing the same political point of view — even if they are unknown to you — are closely linked together.  It’s something we don’t see unfold every day.  Certainly, someone in the US could perform the same public service for their own presidential elections next year in revealing the true connections between the Democrats and the mainstream media.

The beginning of the end for the French Left?

Late last week, two media stories surfaced.  One concerned veteran newsreader and broadcaster Christine Ockrent, who resigned under a cloud from France 24. The other story was that the founder and weekly contributor to Marianne, Jean-Francois Kahn (no relation to DSK), announced his retirement from the journalistic sphere.  (I’ll believe it when I see it.)  The reason is that he dismissed the DSK debacle on television as un troussage de domestiqueTroussage means ‘getting one’s kit off’ and domestique is, as you would imagine, a domestic servant, a housemaid.  The offices of the left-leaning magazine were buzzing with questions to such as an extent that the newsmagazine’s co-founder and publisher, Maurice Szafran, sent around an email to say that JFK, as he is known in France, would be retiring with the next edition of the magazine (so, by the time you read this).

When the staff on the magazine you founded start wondering about your phraseology, it’s probably time to put your pen and paper down.  Female staff in particular, reports say, found the remark not only sexist but demeaning.  They also thought it flippant and condescending, as if what allegedly happened at the Sofitel was a farcical romp.

French people generally found it a poor turn of phrase, saying that JFK should have thought a bit more before speaking in a television interview.  One woman wrote in to one of the newspapers to say (paraphrased), ‘The word domestique has very real — and negative — connotations for me.  My mother worked in service when I was a little girl.  The family that employed her always referred to her dismissively as “la domestique”.  I was never known by name but as the “daughter of la domestique“.’

PS and French media connections

But there may be a reason he expressed himself in such a manner.  JFK’s wife, Rachel Kahn, a television producer for France2, is a longtime friend of DSK’s wife, career journalist Anne Sinclair.  They got to know each other when Ms Sinclair and JFK were both working for Europe1. Another longtime close friend of Ms Sinclair’s is feminist philosopher Elisabeth Badinter, wife of Robert Badinter, PS senator for Hauts-de-Seine (near Paris) and former Minister of Justice under the late François Mitterand.  Mme Badinter’s father, Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet, founded the global advertising and communications company Publicis Groupe in 1926.  Mme Badinter has featured regularly in JFK’s Marianne, most recently in a profile of France’s greatest contemporary intellectuals (2011).

Rachel Kahn and Elisabeth Badinter were both witnesses at the marriage of Anne Sinclair and Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Robert Badinter is part of the World Justice Project, working globally with other Honorary Chairs, such as President Jimmy Carter, Madeleine Albright, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Bishop Desmond Tutu, among others from around the world concerned with ‘justice’ and ‘rights’ for ‘opportunity and equity’According to French Wikipedia, he supports the worldwide decriminalisation of homosexuality.

Jean-François Kahn, founder of the now defunct newsweekly l’Evenement de Jeudi, was a member of the French Communist Party for two years in his youth.  Since then, although left-of-centre, he has adopted a variety of socio-political positions which defies putting him into any one category.  As a case in point, he endorsed centrist candidate François Bayrou in the 2007 elections instead of the Socialist self-styled madonna Ségolène Royal.  One thing is certain: he vehemently opposes Nicolas Sarkozy and has done so since he founded Marianne in 1997.

Maurice Szafran was a director of JFK’s l’Evenement de Jeudi before co-founding Marianne with him. JFK appointed him editor-in-chief, a position he held until 2008, when JFK put him in charge of the magazine as a whole.  Marianne‘s positions are very much pro-immigration, anti-UMP (Conservative party) and supportive of French agriculture — Périco Légasse‘s food columns are always worthwhile. In all fairness, they do feature a number of articles on discrimination against Christians, particularly in North Africa. The magazine supports left-wing politics, although they do not hesitate to criticise the PS. This year, they have been shouting out against the party’s ‘lack of vision for 2012’.  They also quote frequently from online sites such as Rue89 and former Le Monde editor-in-chief Edwy Plenel’s Mediapart.

Edwy Plenel features frequently as a guest editorial writer for Marianne.  Overseas readers of his work might not know that his father was deputy administrator for Martinique and a fierce anti-colonialist.  The young Plenel arrived in Paris in 1970 and joined the Communist Revolutionary League (LCR).  He began his journalistic career by writing for their weekly publication, Rouge [Red]. After completing his obligatory military service, he distanced himself from the LCR and took up mainstream journalism at Le Monde.  In 2003, he would preside over record sales for the newspaper, which went from strength to strength for the next few years. He left the paper in 2007 and began Mediapart the following year.

In late 2010, Maurice Szafran welcomed left-leaning journalist Jacques Julliard to Marianne. Szafran praised him as being an admirable man of the Left.  Julliard had just left Le Nouvel Observateur over editorial differences. Back in his university days, Julliard had actively participated in France’s May 1968 student demonstrations.  He still admires the work of Antonio Gramsci, among others.  However, a point in Julliard’s favour is a condemnation of Christian persecution:

If fundamentalist Christians had bombed a mosque or a synagogue, we would all be in the streets talking about it for years. Right now, there is actually an underestimate of persecution — there is no other word — of Christians around the world who are victims.

A new Left — and a new electorate

While Julliard was a regular editorial writer at Le Nouvel Obs, he also pursued independent projects.  One of these was the now-defunct magazine Intervention — leftists do love that word — in 1982.  Julliard was one of the intellectuals associated with what is known in France as la deuxième gauche, ‘the second [read ‘new’] Left’. This movement germinated in the late 1950s but only began picking up steam after the May 1968 demonstrations. Michel Rocard was one of the emerging PS stars who championed la deuxième gauche, which de-emphasises Marxism in favour of more communitarian solutions to socio-political issues.

Julliard’s Intervention magazine supported la deuxième gauche and Rocard’s perspectives. Remember also that Julliard founded the publication shortly after François Mitterand — PS — became PresidentRocard was beginning one of three ministerial positions in Mitterand’s government, which would culminate with his serving as Prime Minister from 1988 to 1991.

A young lecturer at a teachers training college (Ecole normale d’instituteurs) and United Socialist Party (PSU) militant by the name of Joël Roman was a regular contributor to Julliard’s Intervention.  Roman became increasingly interested in the role of media, the French principle of laïcité (secularism) and immigration.  He is a co-founder of the think tank / movement Sauvons l’Europe (Let’s Save Europe).  Sauvons l’Europe, created in 2005, is part of the 21st century phase of the deuxième gaucheIt involves Greens, Muslims and Socialists working together for ‘human development’.

Therefore, gone are the days when Socialists represented the working man.  For the past few years, the new Socialists have courted young immigrants and have created a meme around disenchantment, disenfranchisement and discrimination.  A May 25, 2011 broadcast of a programme on France Culture featured a debate between Roman and author Malika Sorel who is strongly opposed to the leftist approach to immigration.  Roman says some very strange things in the debate, e.g. ‘Immigration stopped in the mid-1970s’.  (I studied in France between 1977 and 1978 — I can tell you it was just starting in earnest then with young men from North Africa, already evident in most of France’s cities. They were all quite friendly — it was work and an adventure for the ones I met.  The benefits culture hadn’t started yet nor had bringing over one’s family.)  Roman wants more immigration, as much as possible: ‘It’s good for development’.  Never mind the working stiff Socialist voter who’s looking for a job when factories and businesses are closing or laying off hundreds of people.  Where are they going to go?  Where are their children going to work? How are any of them going to live?  What will they live on? But, Roman’s through with them — he’s after the new arrivals.  Never mind the French or immigrants who arrived in the 1970s.

Terra Nova think tank, DSK and the PS

Carrying on this theme is another influential think tank, Terra Nova. Although founded recently — in 2008 — it, too, is an offshoot of Michel Rocard’s deuxième gauche. In fact, Rocard has a key position in Terra Nova, as one of its co-presidents, along with founder Olivier Ferrand.  Olivier Ferrand is a civil servant, born in 1960.  Too young to enjoy May 1968 and radical leftist organisations, his generation opted for more conventional routes.  Ferrand went for Establishment education and credentials.  He is a former student at the well-renowned Sciences Po (Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris) and one of the most famous grandes écoles, ENA (Ecole Nationale d’Administration), whose graduates are referred to as énarques.

Ferrand has had a career one can only wish for. He began his career in the French Treasury where he participated in international negotiations involving the G7, the OECD and the IMF.  After this time, he was a general delegate to another think tank, one founded by DSK and Michel Rocard, called ‘A Gauche, en Europe’ (To the Left, in Europe’).  Therefore, Ferrand is (very) far removed from a working-class, grass roots ethic which used to be part and parcel of the PS.

But, that’s not a problem.  A number of cutting-edge companies have donated money to Terra Nova, among them are Microsoft, Total, SAP, RTE, Euro RSCG and Capgemini.

I left Capgemini — one of the world’s top 10 management consulting groups — until the end of that list, because we have yet another connection to explore here.  Paul Hermelin heads Capgemini. Years before that he served as a Cabinet Director for DSK under Prime Minister Lionel Jospin (PS) Hermelin is also a local Socialist councillor for Avignon! The wonderful world of connections!  We’ll come to Euro RSCG in a little while.

Bye bye, workers — take care!

Ferrand’s education and career are not even remotely linked with France as an historic, European nation.  He has been steeped in globalism and a worldview which encompasses sophisticated, financial and economic considerations.  He is concerned, no doubt, with the flow of money, markets and people.  As far as he is concerned, we’re no doubt just atoms or warm bodies.  Meanwhile, French people and immigrants who have been in France for a number of years are apoplectic: their future is ruined by a tanking economy and job losses. But Terra Nova has nothing — nothing at all — to offer them.

As evidence, see this interview from May 13, 2011, in Le Point (emphases mine):

Le Point: Your [Terra Nova] report suggests that the Left must modify its electoral strategy for 2012 by no longer depending on the working and middle classes for support.  Is this a wind-up?

Olivier Ferrand: No! We’re basing it on factual studies in France and in nine other countries (Germany, the UK, The Netherlands, Sweden, Hungary, Australia, Canada, the US) … The electoral base has changed …  Under Mitterand, the working classes were united by values, they no longer are. The left’s electoral base — its heart — was the working class.  It no longer is.

Le Point: What happened?

Ferrand: … The Left evolved with the impact of May ’68 and progressively adopted open values on sexual mores, the family, immigration, national identity and diversity On the other hand, the working class retreated and became insular, having been worked over by the [economic] crisis and the fear of [losing their position as a social class], which has sent the FN [Front National] into hysteria. But a new electoral base has emerged, linked to open cultural values, [those which are] positive, tolerant, about solidarity, optimism, a hopeful future and comprised of young people, poorer working class areas, minorities and women.  This is the France of tomorrow.  They are outside of society … 

Wow — if that isn’t straight out of the Marxist / Fabian / Gramscian combined playbook!  Jackpot!  Banco!

At the end of the interview, the paper asks about DSK:

Le Point: In any event, we know you support Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Ferrand: Terra Nova is a collective structure which works together with Socialist leaders and the Left, with Europe Ecologie and the PS … Terra Nova supports no candidate, we’re not a political party and I’m not a spokesperson for DSK. 

Nonetheless, it is thought that Terra Nova and DSK were working together with a view toward his candidacy.

Worringly, Terra Nova not only want to court a new electorate, they plan on changing a free, democratic and fair way of selecting candidates and voting!  The following appeared on their site on April 21, 2011:

‘Our electoral system is ageing badly. Its faults are becoming more and more visible’, Olivier Ferrand assures us.

Among these faults are ‘baroque candidacy rules’, ‘archaic’ … campaigns and ‘debatable’ financing.

Instead of France’s two-round voting — which I actually wish more countries would adopt — Ferrand proposes not a FPTP vote exactly, but a result based on what he calls

majority judgment

This appears to mean that the candidates winning the highest numbers of votes would be scrutinised by a panel which would then ‘grade’ or ‘mark’ each one in terms of overall ‘suitability’.  This would mean that someone like Marine Le Pen of the Front National would be prevented from winning, even if she had a majority of votes (and, this is highly doubtful and, no, she does not have my support).  A Le Pen victory, in Ferrand’s estimation, would be

a major democratic accident.

So, in order to combat such a scenario, he proposes something entirely undemocratic which goes against a one man-one vote democratic process done around the world.  Talk about moving backwards to feudal society.  And this is where immigrants from developing countries come in.  We see in Britain where ‘community leaders’ instruct families — especially women — how to vote and for whom to vote.  This is why Labour brought in postal ballots en masse.  I used to see these men outside my polling station when I lived in London.  They’re really intimidating, targeting certain immigrant women walking into the polling station.  Wow — if this is the type of society Ferrand envisages for France, he will have an electoral replacement before you can say ‘Sacre bleu!’

There is much more I can write on other personalities known not only in France but worldwide.  I’m afraid this will have to wait for the next instalment.

Meanwhile, who’s cleaning up after DSK?

In closing, here are a few more quick connections involving DSK.

The week of his arrest drove France crazy.  Not only are famous French people not handcuffed when arrested (it seems) but they are not allowed to be photographed in the ‘humiliating’ way that DSK was — what Americans refer to as the ‘perp walk’.  And, even if they were photographed like that, the papers would not be able to print the photos — if any of this had happened in France.  ‘After all, DSK is not a common criminal — he’s internationally famous!’  Hmm, you betcha.

So, communications firm Euro RSCG — donors to Terra Novahave been busy with damage limitation for DSK over the past week.  They apparently have sent or discussed talking points with major French media outlets, advising them as to what is off limits.  It seemed to work well early on, but the papers seem to have picked up steam again with DSK’s new digs.  Before we get to that, however, it’s worth noting that Euro RSCG do a lot of work for CAC 40 companies.  One of their clients is another Terra Nova donor, Capgemini (not a secret, you can see the firm’s name in fine print on their adverts). Furthermore, Euro RSCG also do PR work for Laurent Fabius, former Prime Minister (PS) between 1984 and 1986 under François Mitterand (PS).

Yet, in the US, DSK might use a CIA-related public relations firm, TD InternationalReuters reports:

A person familiar with the work TD International did for Strauss-Kahn in 2007 said his representatives consulted the firm informally after his arrest last Saturday and asked for advice related to his predicament.

If the firm at some point becomes formally involved in his defense, the source said, its role will be in helping other Strauss-Kahn advisors, including Paris-based public relations experts, engage in “crisis management.”

But the source, who asked for anonymity, said the firm had not been formally engaged. A lawyer for Strauss-Kahn did not respond to a request for comment …

A contract between TD International and Strauss-Kahn, dated July 18, 2007, shows he hired the firm to “conduct a specific public relations campaign” and “work is to begin immediately and continue until ascendancy of client to head of IMF” …

According to the source, TD International helped advise Strauss-Kahn on U.S. and international political maneuvering related to the choice of a new IMF chief …

The website describes the firm’s founder, William Green, as a former diplomat who is fluent in French and “participated in the management of the Anglo-American and U.S.-Canadian intelligence relationships when posted to Washington.”

The website identifies two other partners in the firm as former CIA officers.

Now, about the new digs. Faithful wife Anne Sinclair (why?) has found yet another property for him.  This one is even better than the place she wanted to rent before they ended up staying at the police ‘safe house’ near Wall Street.  Well, now they are in Tribeca (Lower Manhattan) — gentrified some 30 years ago — and property prices have gone up, up, up ever since.  You can see pictures below in an excellent French montage. The rent for this loft property is … $50,000 a month!

Hey, unemployed workers of France — eat cake! 

The centre slogan in the satirical mock-up of DSK’s new house (below) says, ‘Diversity for you, peace and quiet for us.’  Note ‘Journalists in the pocket’.

Let this be a lesson to all of us not to accept honeyed words at face value or to place too much faith in our elected officials and appointed ‘experts’. All is not what it seems.  And, yes, this does need exposure, especially for voters who are still sentimentally tied to left-wing parties.

Are the French angry?  Yes, many are.  Can you blame them?

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