A View From Paris

November 8, 2005

An excellent piece by Michel Gurfinkiel in the New York Sun considers a) why the French government waited so long to get a grip on the riots; b) whether they are racially inspired, and c) what the consequences will be.

His answers are a) politics and ignorance; b) racial; and c) the French will turn against the un-assimilated.

Here’s an abridged version (my subheads).

Why The Delay?

The first question one must ask is why the French government, admittedly one of the strongest and most centralized in the world, and certainly in Europe, did not consider imposing some measure of martial law in the violence-ridden areas much earlier.

One reason for the government’s procrastination has been that in a crisis scenario, much depends on the president, Jacques Chirac, and he suffered a minor stroke several weeks ago. Another reason is that both Mr. Chirac and his heir apparent, Mr. Villepin, were not entirely unhappy about the rioting, at least in its first stage, since it was a blow to their political rival within the conservative camp, the minister of the interior, Nicolas Sarkozy.

The temptation to sack Mr. Sarkozy – as a token of appeasement – may have loomed over them for several days at least. Moreover, Messrs. Chirac and Villepin have built their political identity on a Gaullist pro-Arab and pro-Islamic stand that became fully apparent three years ago, when France distanced itself from America in respect of Iraq.

They may expect to harvest a large “immigrant vote” in the coming presidential and parliamentary elections, in 2007, and be reluctant to jeopardize it by taking an aggressive law and order line now.

Still, more factors may have played as well. The government may have been genuinely surprised and intimidated. It is one thing to know in theory that France has undergone major ethnic changes over the past 30 years and another thing altogether to confront a mass ethnic insurgency.

It is estimated that 35% of all French inhabitants under 20, and 50% of all inhabitants in the major urban centers, belong to the ethnic minorities. Islam alone may claim respectively 30% and 45%. Since war is essentially the business of youths, the combatant ratio in any ethnic war may thus be one to one.

Poverty or Ethnic?

Which brings us to a second question: How ethnic is the present violence in France? Liberal commentators, both in France and abroad, tend to say that poverty and unemployment, rather than race or religion, are the driving force behind the riots.

The fact also remains, according to many witnesses, that the rioters torch only “white” cars, meaning white owned cars, and spare “Islamic” or “black” ones. One way to discriminate between them is to look for ethnic signs like a sticker with Koranic verses or a picture of the Kaaba in Mekka or a stylized map of Africa.

Long Term Impact?

A third and last question is what impact this unprecedented ordeal is likely to have on France and Europe? One would reasonably expect the French government to restore its grip over the country. What matters, however, is the long-term outcome.

My guess is that the crisis will not be so easily forgotten or washed away among the “non-ethnic” citizens, including those of alien stock who have fully integrated into the French society as it is.

Rejection of Islam and of North African, Black African, and Middle Eastern immigration may increase dramatically. And the prospect of Turkey acceding to the European Union may get even dimmer.

Rejection of new immigrants would be a good start, but they still have to deal with the 6 million Muslims already there.

Prince Charles Speaks

November 8, 2005

Charles has issued his call for the US to Do Something about global warming. He’s a good man, but needs help with his presentation – it’s impossible to figure out what he thinks is wrong and what he wants the US to do about it.

Speaking in San Francisco:

“We simply cannot go on as we are,” he told guests at the De Young Museum in San Francisco Bay.

Why not? people are getting richer & living longer, the world is cleaner and there hasn’t been a major war for 60 years.

“An important first step will be to stop arguing about how we got into this situation, or indeed, about whether the situation exists at all, and start thinking creatively about what we need to do to start putting things right before it is too late.

Yipes! If the situation (I’m guessing he means global warming) doesn’t exist then there’s nothing to “put right”.

And if it does exist, then we absolutely need to understand how we got into it – if it’s part of the solar cycle then shutting down our power plants won’t help.

Finally his call for “we” to start thinking creatively is really irritating – he means “you”, the US.

Still, Camilla sounds a splendid person and hopefully she’ll help him sharpen up his speeches.

Deceive Me Twice…

November 8, 2005

Most US newspapers are heavily biased to the left and their circulation is falling fast as readers get more truthful data from the Internet and cable news.

The story:

Average weekday circulation at U.S. newspapers fell 2.6 percent during the six month-period ending in September in the latest sign of trouble in the newspaper business, an industry group reported Monday.

Sunday circulation also fell 3.1 percent at newspapers reporting to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, according to an analysis of the data by the Newspaper Association of America.

The declines show an acceleration of a years-long trend of falling circulation at daily newspapers as more people, especially young adults, turn to the Internet for news and as newspapers cut back on less profitable circulation.

In the previous six-month reporting period ending in March, weekday circulation fell 1.9 percent at U.S. daily newspapers and Sunday circulation fell 2.5 percent.

Circulation has been steadily declining at newspapers for several years as readers look to other media such as cable TV and the Internet for news.

The only three national papers are holding up.

Gannett Co.’s USA Today, the largest-selling daily, slipped 0.6 percent from the same period a year ago to 2,296,335; The Wall Street Journal, published by Dow Jones & Co., fell 1.1 percent to 2,083,660; and The New York Times Co.’s flagship paper rose 0.5 percent to 1,126,190.

Combined with Fox News overtaking the TV news networks, this is looking bad for the US lefty elite.

Its Official: Riots Hurt The Euro

November 8, 2005

A recent post that argued that exchange rates are driven more by markets’ assessment of political stability than by fiscal and monetary factors. Here’s some support from Bloomberg.

Nov. 8 (Bloomberg) — The euro may weaken for a fourth day against the dollar in Asia on concern rioting that has escalated in France over the past week is spreading to Germany.

Social disorder may damp economic growth and deter investment in euro-denominated assets. The riots, which entered their 11th night, mark the longest stretch of urban violence in Europe’s second-largest economy since the student uprising in 1968.

“The riots are spreading across France, bringing about huge adverse effects on the euro,” said Michiyoshi Kato, a vice president of foreign exchange sales in Tokyo at Mizuho Corporate Bank Ltd., a unit of Japan’s second-biggest lender by assets. “Acts of violence will surely continue to weigh on the euro.”