Sunday, April 21, 2019


Gerard Araud outgoing French ambassador to the United States compared in his "political testament" the Trump administration to the court of Louis XIV. He called the American president "whimsical, unpredictable and uninformed", all things the king was not.

Paradoxically this statement is at the same time unfair for the Sun King and flattering for Trump, who is usually put in the company of Brecht's Arturo Ui and the Sopranos. The ambassador just proved that wit is not always the best of recommendations.

Louis XIV never reclaimed the mantle of virtue (but with his last mistress).  In building Versailles he finalized a sophisticated coup, obliging nobility to live in and finance the golden cage which became their prison. The Trump White House looks like a small bathroom for too many users.

Besides, if Trump is an obese psychopath, Louis was a strategic thinker, familiar with the maps, the intentions and the vanities. L'etat c'est moi,  and so was his court, in his image.

The ambassador might have been too elliptic for his own good.

Friday, April 19, 2019


Robert S. Mueller III's report reads like a compendium of all lies and dirt of Trump & Co. weaponized to sabotage scrutiny in the links between Trump campaign officials and individuals tied to the Russian government. The special counsel stayed clear of explicit charges but declined to exonerate the president.

The report reads like a scenario for a Goodfellas remake. The many circles of kin, underlings and minions are a Dante-like inferno. It can happen that the worse behavior might still obey to more tragic or even noble beginnings. Here, all is vulgar, selfish, pedestrian. We are in some Camorra plot with the usual executioners, fixers and serial crooks. Trump is just an illiterate Don, too busy trying to erase his sins to find time for fulfilling the duties of the presidency. Hence under his watch, the USA, the first power, is in free fall.

The cynics will argue that the president won. They might have a point, since the Democrats don't know what to do and since the Republicans have lost their moral compass. Trump will certainly continue on his rampage. His Helsinki meeting with Putin was worse than the historical demonized Munich 1938 conference and there will be more. Normally, the proven numerous Russian interference in the US elections should have led to diplomatic demarches, counter-measures and outright official condemnation. Instead, America behaves like a Russian protectorate!

As much as the president acts servile to Putin (and hostile to allies), he is demanding total execution of his impulses from his entourage. The former felt often obliged to overturn motu proprio the blatant illegal actions they were supposed to carry out. Only in his attorney general was he able to find the "lapdog" he craved. William P. Barr has indeed created a Francois Truffaut-like Nuit Americaine, some alternative artificial verso for too coarse recto. In this comedy of errors, he is Trump's convenient fool.

The future will be a continued funeral procession, mourning the corpse of yesterday's American dream. No eclipse lasts forever though. Unfortunately, this vary dark era will be hard to lift, since these monstrous times are immune to a Parsifal moment of grace and atonement. Goliath is proven hard to kill and David is hard to find.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019


L'incendie qui a ravage Notre Dame a paradoxalement ravive une conscience culturelle collective europeenne. Le "chez les autres" est devenu un "chez nous". L'autre paradoxe etant que le vieux continent devenu majoritairement laic n'a pas hesite a reclamer sa memoire, meme quand les anges et les rois sont devenus muets.

Le drame francais est devenu un remords europeen. La reflexion sur ce qui rassemble et  sur ce qui differencie l'Europe des "autres" a arrete, le temps d'une emotion, la montee des aberrations. Certes les cendres n'auront pas ete deblayees avant que les injures ne recommencent a chasser les larmes.

En tout cas le comportement francais devant le spectacle d'une civilisation en peril etait eloquent. La preuve vient une nouvelle fois d'etre donnee que "les voix du silence" portent loin. L'Europe ne s'y est pas trompee. Cette metaphore gothique, en flammes, a embrase tout un continent et elle l'a oblige a prendre peur devant l'immensite de tout ce qu'il risque de perdre.

Il manque Rodin pour isoler dans le marbre ou la pierre les gestes que l'emotion nous a fait decouvrir.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019


While the Republicans resemble a remake of Cocoon, a geriatric gathering of tired, angry men (mostly), the Democrats sometimes look like an unruly school trip of undisciplined youngsters.

The GOP has bec0me a Stalinist leftover. Nancy Pelosi, for her part, has her hands full trying to navigate the stormy  impatience of a few and the shared priorities of most. The need to rally around a candidate who will be best suited to confront the Trump machine will certainly come at a price. The more intellectual, purist wing in the Democratic party might have to reign in creativity for the benefit of reality. The (too) many candidates (minus Biden yet) cover all directions and nuances.

Lately, Pete Buttigieg has made a remarkable impact, less because he is openly gay than because he is well-spoken, well- versed and because he connects with the intellectual, moral malaise which has taken hold of large parts of the country. Trump's strategy of taking the news cycle hostage starts to show signs of fatigue. Americans have overdosed on lies and vulgar invectives. Buttigieg brings an air of controlled intelligence in this political unpleasant theatre. It is too early to analyze in more detail his views, which remain for the most part unknown. His demeanor, youth and ease do seduce. The platform is a work in progress. Only Kamala Harris shares with him, for now, an appeal which is equally "embracing". Older Democrats have more elaborated proposals but the country needs more therapy than surgery.

Buttigieg's chances look slim, but he probably can count on a favorable "return of investment" for his political future in the long run. It is dubious that he might be considered for a running mate slot, for fear that he might become a possible distraction.  But count on the Republicans to unleash an arsenal of duplicities and dirt whoever the Democrats nominate. This ugliest of periods in American history since the Civil War will end or be prolonged in another napalm chaos. There are good men and women who can reconnect the country with its better angels. Pete Buttigieg is a breath of fresh ideas ... Vive la difference!  Suddenly Republicans and many Democrats look out of touch!

Monday, April 15, 2019


Notre Dame is on fire... Europe's heart is endangered. These flames  are too close to the collective shared memory of all Europeans and of the world at large. There is no refuge from this horrendous assault on one of the ultimate repositories of spiritual solace. These holy stones are crying...

Saturday, April 13, 2019


The Israeli P.M. did it again. He won, by a slim majority. The political machine worked and Israel proved yet again that democracy--albeit far from perfect--is a reliable model in a region in permanent chaos.

Netanyahu is a formidable politician, not to everybody's taste. The man is more than the sum of his antecedents (some traumatic, some dubious). He could still make a historical choice for peace--a difficult, existential decision--or he might continue on a path of irreductibles. The many aberrations in the Arab world and among the Palestinians, as well as the divisions in Israeli society create a climate of overall frustration. Until now the P.M. has chosen for a hard line which follows the Trump scenario that is currently overruling any form of decency. It is not too late to change course.

Israel often acts in a simplistic mindset. It tends to consider any disagreement with its policies as some form or other of anti- semitism. The former is a growing creepy problem indeed, unfortunately, but to equalize criticism of certain policies and decisions with anti-Jewish prejudice is totally unfair. That Likud sees in Trump and American evangelicals the gatekeepers of a better and larger tomorrow is more than an irony, it's an aberration.

Jarred Kushner should come up with his proposals for a durable arrangement between Israel and the Palestinians. One should remain open-minded in this regard. Steps towards peace or rapprochement have followed stranger paths:  Kissinger, Sadat/Golda Meir, Oslo, Camp David, Madrid, Rabin. Let us not forget that Netanyahu who was feted in the Trump White House last week is the same man who was blackballed by James Baker in the past. It looks as if the Middle East, unfortunate mother of too many religions, is also the cause for too many reversals of fortune and power.

The region as a whole is often existentially unattractive. Iran is taken hostage by a hellish regime, while its arch enemy Saudi Arabia continues on its gold plated path of Trump-like vanities. Egypt might be a gift of the Nile but it is cursed by the military, after having been knocked out by the Muslim Brotherhood. Libya, Sudan and Algeria are in various forms of limbo. Turkey looks stuck in yet another "city versus countryside paradigm". Only Israel navigates with flair but it is not out of danger: the sacred and the profane cohabit with more reciprocal loathing than sympathy. There is a world in between the Israel laboratory of arts, fashion, architecture and development and its conservative religious anti-thesis.

Unfortunately the former famous Arabists in the State Department are gone. The American envoy in Jerusalem has the profile that fits in the closed minds of the current amateurs who are in charge in Washington. The former role of the Quartet or the EU is a thing of the past...Remember the MENA hype? Russia is the cynical alternative, waiting until America loses its "indispensability" for good. Other takers, there are not. Meanwhile, the Palestinians are waiting for their own Balfour declaration, which they don't really need.  After all they are home, too.

Friday, April 5, 2019


Jean Genet argued that if one knows the end of a story beforehand, the story stops being an intellectual adventure, becoming a ride on public transport instead. The fate of the Trump administration's accelerating descent into hell is likewise a story pre-ordained. When not stuck in his lies, the president continues on his warpath against America's institutions. He plans now to nominate Herman Cain, pizza magnate, to the board of the Federal Reserve. Yet again an executioner joins others (William Barr, Ben Carson, Rick Perry & Co) in their killing spree of the departments that are under their Kevorkian-like care.

Trump keeps busy attacking the living (Joe Biden) and the dead (John McCain, Barbara Bush).

I wish the Democrats would stop lamenting and invest in premium TV and media time to air reruns of Trump's Access Hollywood sex rant. It is time for the fools and the evangelicals to come to terms with the vulgar toxic reality of their choice. Republicans would not hesitate if they had such material in their hands. What stops Democrats?

Monday, April 1, 2019


This long winter of discontent in America feels like a nightmare. The bad is turning into worse and the occupants of this shredded lot feel often, rightly so, that there is no end in sight.

The United States has already entered the 2020 presidential elections cycle, like Alice down the rabbit-hole. The field of Democratic candidates looks like the Queen's croquet-ground. Nevertheless, there exist more reasons to rejoice than to lament. Contrasting with the old grey nasty men on the Republican side, the Democrats entered in a refreshing Vivaldi's spring- feeling movement, with candidates who are smart and who might prove to be savvy. Kamala Harris, Beto O'Rourke, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders inter alios, are worth listening to. Pete Buttigieg, the Wonderboy, acts and sounds already like a William Pitt, the younger. The generational/gender arc is absolutely astonishing.  Of course, the Democrats had better beware of their own righteous dysfunctional cacophony if they want to win the battle against the Republican panzers. The current pathological attacks against Vice-President Joe Biden verge on the hysterical.

In the last week Trump overplayed and overreacted, getting too close to erasing the last fibers of decorum left in his mantle. His "base" sticks with him a la folie but the rest of the country might want to return to normal if the brew becomes too toxic. If he were to close the southern border, he might as well commit political suicide. The Democrats would be too dumb if they offered the president the type of "distraction" they must beware of at all cost. Unfortunately, the best deck of cards requires to rest in the hands of the sophisticated player.

So, if they have the strategic guts, the Democrats have the "men and women power" to correct the trajectory of this American drama and go for the reset. This will require that the various pretenders choose reason over barbed indignation, that they close ranks at the end, espouse the rational and do not get lost in acrimonious sentimentality. Werther never ran for office  after all !