French Politics

So Macron won!  Defeating that High Priestess of Fear, Marine Le Penn.  That’s what he called her during a debate.   Much of France seems to have embraced him.  Yet apparently many people abstained.  It’s certainly a crossroads fro France… and Europe.

I don’t totally understand the 5th Republic.  This constitution was written after the military coup in Algeria by de Gaulle.  During the 4th Republic there were 16 prime ministers between 1946 and 1958.  Whoa.  The 5th has been revised 24 times impacting 2/3 of its articles.  I don’t know if it started the two rounds of voting but it’s normal now.

And the results are in very fast.  The election was called for Macron at 8:04pm.  Most polls closed at 7, 8 in the cities.

And two weeks later, not 2.5 months, Macron is president.  That was Sunday.  The investiture is different from our Inauguration.  We have more pomp and circumstance.  But they have La Guarde Repubique on horseback.  They have Salon at the Elysees Palace.  We have a stand outside on the mall.

So here, Hollande was waiting at the Elysses Palais (their White House) for Macron.  Greeted him and they went upstairs for the “talk.”  Apparently to pass secrets…  I read Sarkozy and Hollande took 15 minutes – they dislikeeach other.  And then Hollande drives away.  Bye bye!  And Macron gets instructions abut the nuclear codes.

Then he walks down to the Reception room.  Ornate. Gold. Beautiful  Full of people.  And he stands there.  The president automatically becomes the Grand Maitre (Master) of the Legion of Honor and his chain is displayed and then Macron signs a certificate… making himself Grand Maitre I guess.  Then he stands while a guy talks to him.  No subtitles, but I could tell it was a retelling of the vote.  What he won in round one and then in round two.  So basically, he won.  And now he’s president.  I found out this guy was the President of the Conseil Constitutionnel.  OK.  No Supreme Court Justice.  No swearing in.  The French laughed at the idea of being sworn in … on a Bible?  Mais Non!  They are a secular nation…. That takes off every church holiday they can find as far as I see.

Today, Thursday, he has announced his cabinet.  Half female!  It also seems to be an interesting mélange of right and left.  Except nothing is simple in France.  And after this election, the usual suspects aren’t in the running.   In the past it was the Right – Sarkozy etc vs. the Socialists Hollande.  And neither made the last round.  In a way it’s a blank slate.

So what about the Assemblee Nationale?  That’s like our House, or Parliament.  Sort of.  Don’t hold me to that.

That election is June 11 and 18.  And Macron’s party is fielding candidates as I write.  So when you start a movement on the fly, you have to catch up quickly.

He called it En Marche.  I think of it – Let’s Move…. Moving forward…  Now it is La Republique En Marche.  I seem to be the only person who has noticed that the initials are the same as his…

Manuel Valls was the Prime Minister under Hollande.  He contacted REM and wanted to run for the Assemblee Nationale under that party.  Um.  No.  They were polite.  Said he didn’t meet the qualifications – was still a member of the Socialist party.  And HA!  Then the Socialist party tells him they don’t want him because he tried to support Macron.  Hoisted on his own petard.

So now we wait to see who’s elected and how well Macron is supported.

Funny note about Le Pen and Trump.  She traveled to the US earlier.  Seemed like she wanted to meet Trump.  Never heard it officially happened.   Trump made some comments over the months that implied she was following him.  Ah. NON.  She was explicit that her Front National party was doing all this long before Trump got into politics.  And, of course, she too likes Putin.

Let’s hope that the UK is smart enough to vote out Teresa May’s party in the coming election.  I have a friend in Brighton and have been reading more and more about their politics.  Shameful.

I am becoming much more of a socialist than I would ever have thought possible as I generally disliked government regulations while working in HR.  But how governments are treating people is shameful these days, in my humble opinion.

Settling in

Time is playing games again.  How long have I been here? I never left? Just got off the plane? Huh?

Officially I have been back two weeks in France and one week plus in my apartment.  And a lot has gotten done in that time.  Had the wonderful Monoprix delivery of all the heavy stuff.  And they have upgraded the service.  Now I get a text of when they should arrive and it links to a map so I can see where the truck is real time.  But don’t get your hopes up for a timely delivery – well, it was well within the promised time. But on the app it updated to how soon he would be here from his actual location.  And it didn’t refer to his own schedule and delivery plan.  No worries.  Overall, this is a good development.

I blogged one night last week coming back from a forum at the Columbia University Paris campus.  It was on the first 100 or so days with some well connected career foreign relations and press people.  My insights disappeared when I accidentally closed the Word Press app on my phone the next day.  Sufficed to say, Trump is an unfolding situation.

Personally, I am happy to see Macron.  And he has appointed his cabinet – half women btw.  The big election for the national Assembly is June 11 and 18.  Again two rounds.  Boy the transition was fast here!  Two weeks and Hollande is gone and Macron is on the job.

Weather is nuts.  60s then 80s then 60s again.  Started another 60s and rain cycle.  Actually I prefer that.  But no global warming!  Oh wait.  France believes in it.  They signed (and hosted) COPD21.

Daily stuff – bought a new Iphone7 in the States.  Brought it and the old Iphone 6 and the older Iphone5 which was functioning as my French phone.  This week I switched the sim card with the guys help.  Unfortunately, he didn’t think to change the cellular network.  Another nice lady at another SF store helped.  Now works beautifully.  But when the phone is down, I am not happy.  I use it constantly for my bus trips.  It takes me 3 minutes to walk to one bus stop, 6 to another.  So I check the real time buss rival so that I don’t have to stand in the sun, rain or heat too long.

Hint. If you want to watch Hulu or sometimes Amazon from Europe, you best have a VPN.  It makes it look like you are watching from the US.  Netflix was the same 2 years ago but they have now opened up Europe.  I remember when the term VPN said by the tech guys at work made me cringe.  But now everything is so app configured, no problem.

I upgraded a few things in the apartment.  Brought a sheet over (hers aren’t too soft and I can’t spend money for that here! I had so many extra at home.)  So now I don’t have to remember to wash very early so that the sheet dries by evening.  It’s the little things…  I went to my favorite stocking up stores – Ikea and E Leclerc.   And spent 12 euros on mini speakers.  I thought it was frivolous but now I am very happy.  The sound is so much better than the CDplayer she has.  Which looks very good!  But is probably 10 years old.  The changes in sound technology are great.  I like to have the music in the background while I putter around the place.

I stop now. Always thinking of my friend who said don’t make any post too long. She’d rather read 4 short ones.

 

News.  Media Training…

 

I have been sick.  I know I am sick when I voluntarily get up and gargle with soda and salt and hot water. It’s all my great-niece’s fault – running me ragged for 2 weeks.  Wednesday I rested and thought I was on top of it.  Just had one meeting on Thursday, and a conversation on Friday.  Returning home earlier than I anticipated on Friday, I collapsed.  Friday and Saturday I was out.  I could read for max of 15 minutes and then I slept.  Luckily I had picked up some food on the way home Friday.  I even found real chicken noodle soup mix. (I swear by chicken soup.)

Sunday I was a bit better.  Maybe I could read for 45 minutes before napping.  What is it? Hard to say – scratchy throat and sniffles but fatigue is the main symptom. It’s Monday now – just back from a grocery trip (took my backpack to make it easier and grabbed the bus back.)   Feeling a bit better after the gargling (I can hear my mom telling me Go Gargle Now!)

Now that I am more conscious, I am back on the news circuit.  Surprisingly, my main news sources are 1. BBC app, 2. Le Point French magazine news app, and 3. FaceBook.

Don’t roll your eyes.  Yes.  Facebook is one of my news sources.  I find that my friends have links to many interesting articles on the NY Times and the Washington Post among others.  I want to subscribe to the Post – a friend has a special cheap rate for 6 months.  All I can find is a 99 cent one month deal.  I am holding off til October 1 to sign up for that.

This is leading somewhere.

Today I saw two news clips of reporters interviewing two Trump aides.  They – the Trump people – are masters at managing the interviews.  I had media training years ago at Kaweah.  I brought in a guy who had talked at one of Judee’s conferences.  The key message: don’t answer the question they ask, answer the question you want to answer.  I used the technique myself with great results when interviewed by two TV stations on a mold and employee health problem.

But Trump’s people excel.   Basically – News: what has Trump done to help veterans?  Trump:  He’s given a lot of support but really we should be focusing on what Hillary Clinton hasn’t done…. And she went on…

I give the reporters credit – they are finally trying to deal with this.  I heard one repeatedly interrupt to get back on point.  One interaction was about the tax returns – the Trump person said he can’t release them while in audit.  Good for the reporter who pushed and pushed to get the person to agree that legally he could release them while under audit.  But “I am an attorney and I advise him not to.”  Very different from the message she was trying to send.  And one reporter cut off a discussion saying something along the lines – we don’t have time to address all the lies….

We live in a world of sound bites.  I still subscribe to the Sacramento Bee.  I prefer reading to watching TV.  I don’t think I have had my TV on here for two months.  And yes, I do have English channels, including the BBC.

Did I ever talk about the French system?  They have two elections, a week apart.  If in the first election no one gets a majority, then there is a run-off between the top 2-3 candidates.   Last year Marine LePen’s Front Nationale – a very right wing group – won almost everywhere the first time.  But not enough to really win.  In the second election I don’t think they carried any elections.  If only England had done that… the results for Brexit might have been different.  I heard so many quotes of Brits who said they didn’t think their vote would count.  They just wanted to send a message…  I like France’s process better.

I am looking forward to feeling better soon so I can go out once again and experience all Paris has to offer and ignore the US politics for a while…       But who am I kidding?   It’s always in the back of my mind.

Politics

Disclaimer.  I do not like Trump.  And I do respect Secretary Clinton.  So, if that disturbs you, maybe just wait for the next blog post.

Facebook brings together people.  And tears them apart this political season.  Fortunately, I don’t seem to have many… any… friends who are FOR Trump.  That’s a good thing.  He lies faster than he speaks.  He is coarse.  A braggadocio.  Unaware of global politics.

What does surprise me is the hatred that exists out there for Hillary Clinton.  I mean.  Vile vicious hatred.  As if she had burnt their houses down and drawn and quartered the children and dogs.  Lack of respect, yes, I can understand that.  I don‘t have much respect for Bush, Cheney, or Karl Rove.  But I don’t think I HATE them.

If you ask me about Trump and why I think he lies, or is coarse, or unaware….  I can give you specific examples.  I can quote him or send you to a YouTube video.

When I ask the Clinton haters for specifics, they answer with generalities.  “There is some website somewhere….” But then they never send me a link.  They quote the FBI as saying Hillary Clinton is a liar.  When what I read says the FBI Director said she was reckless… or careless.   A friend said he hates her because she is going to take his assault rifle away.  That generated a huge (oh I sound like Trump) conversation on what exactly is an assault rifle… we got beyond that and then I find out that in his mind he has applied the California laws to the entire nation.  I had to point out that California has some of the strictest (if not the strictest) assault weapon laws in the nation.  So that took out most of his argument.  He was saying we didn’t need more laws – well, maybe not, if the rest of the nation had laws like CA.

I wonder why such hatred.  And I find the most obvious conclusion for me is misogyny.  I grew up when it was still illegal to have an abortion and women died from the backstreet hacks.  When women weren’t in the board room (not that there are a lot right now!).  There were no women on the Supreme Court.  When men felt comfortable walking up to a peer in the office and putting their arms around the little lady… uncomfortably close to her breast.   (One colleague would always have a sharpened pencil to use to accidentally stab his hand.)  I was told that I could not make a presentation to the board of directors of the company I was working for if I didn’t wear a dress.  I liked my very-tailored professional pants suit so I never did.

I thought we were over that.  Other countries have been electing women to the top position for years –  The UK: Margaret Thatcher and now. Theresa May.  Germany has had Angela Merkel for many years.  Other countries include: India, Nepal, Croatia, New Zealand, Argentina, the list goes on.   And in France “In the year 2000 France passed a law forcing all parties to include equal numbers of men and women on party lists for elections. Fines were handed out to those parties who did not meet their targets. The move was credited with helping to increase the number of female lawmakers but the French government now wants more. “ – The Local

This is a tough election season.  I am happy to be here, only reading about it.  It reminds me of my trip to New Zealand in 2000 – we left on Election Day (I voted absentee) and spent 3 weeks delighted to not have to hear daily about the hanging chads.  But that doesn’t mean I am not engaged.  The rhetoric depresses and scares me.

My absentee ballot is on its way to me.

Back to Normality

 

And yes, there is such a thing.

I continue my conversations – but my people are being very French and leaving town for July and August – or parts thereof.  And I am planning an overnight myself – just can’t decide if it’s one night or two.  My destination is Dieppe, on the English Channel, or as the French say, La Manche.  That means sleeve.  I need to recharge at the sea.  And Dieppe is reachable via two trains in two hours.  And it is not the chi chi destination like Deauville.  When I wandered through Deauville last year, I felt like I was in Palm Springs – all the tres chic brands had shops there.  And Trouville, right next door, has a Casino.

On the other hand, my July has been filled with jaunts to Chateaux.  There will be a separate blog about them.  And museum visits for closing exhibits.

And a quick two night trip to Dijon.  No, I do NOT like mustard!  The smell of mustard makes me nauseous.  But Dijon has many wonderful medieval sites and wines and fabulous restaurants.  My traveling friend went off to Beaunne to see the hospital – Hotel Dieu.  I visited it last year and wrote about it then.  Great place but I wanted to wander in Dijon so we had time by ourselves.  We met up for a tasty dinner.  That’s actually too casual – it was a delicious meal.  I selected Bouef Charolais.  Sounded familiar to me – Charolais is a breed of cattle – I recall reading about it when visiting Avignon last year.  And wow.  Best tasting beef I have had in ages…. Maybe ever.

Have you read Rich Dad Poor Dad?  I haven’t.  But I know the concept.  Somehow I got invited to a 2 hour presentation for free.  So I went.  What a fascinating mélange of theatrics, information, sales job, and both encouraging coaching and intimidating threats.  So the 2 hours was to get you to sign up for the course.  The presenter was an American who lives in England and is successful at buying property – one of the cornerstones of the RDPD theory about making money.  He also said he had been an actor early in his career.  And he put those talents to good use.  For me, as a coach, I was fascinated at how he worked the crowd.  Most of the time he was supportive and helpful and just there to share the way to get rich (with some work) with everyone.  By the end, when people didn’t jump up to sign up, he was tough and disappointed and threatening all at the same time – discounting people – “well if you don’t want…. If you just want to be an employee (said in a most derogatory way).”

I didn’t sign up.  But I got a CD and made 2.5 euro so I was happy.

And I discovered a new medieval building!  Well, it’s only new to me.  College des Bernadins.  It’s located in an area I thought I knew well!  But no!  It was started in 1248.  Here’s the website – there’s a video showing the place if you are interested.  https://www.collegedesbernardins.fr/qui-sommes-nous/huit-siecles-dhistoire

I am going back – I was there midday and the tour is at 4.  And while there, I picked up a new book in the library – lists all the medieval sites in Paris.  I have been to most, but will complete the list before I return.

Return…

Makes me think of the political situation in the US.  I have always registered as an independent, neither Republican nor Democrat.  The rhetoric flying about amazes and concerns me greatly.  I have never thought any politician to be a saint.  And I am sure there are things Hillary has done that aren’t necessarily the best things.  But I cannot understand the people who follow Donald Trump.

This is supposed to be a blog about France, not politics – but rarely do I have a conversation with a French person without them asking me about Trump.  He scares them.  They equate him with Marine La Pen and the Front Nationale.  A far right, a far far right group here.  And I have no response to give my French friends– the disrespectful things Trump says about women, about minorities, about immigrants.  The violence that he encourages… And that he does have the backing of some Christian groups…

I am speechless.

And Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of NY city, with net worth of $46.7 billion – 6 richest person in the US who made his own money –  (Trump is listed at $4.5 billion and only in the top 400 and he started with an inheritance), Bloomberg calls Trump a con man.  But people continue to support him.

I don’t understand it.  Please.  Let me come home to a US with a president not named Trump.

And on that note, I would promise to not talk politics again.  But I am not sure I can keep that promise…  at least, not as much and not often.

There’s another blog waiting to be written about the traffic in Paris – I draft it every time I am on the bus or sitting at a bus stop and watching.  I have discovered there is a method.  More later.

A la prochaine

Elections…

Image result for brexit voteBrexit surprised many.  What a mess.  I bought The Times, the Daily Mail and the International New York Times on Sunday to figure out what was going on.

Not there yet.  Mike Dooley posted a quote:  Question everything that doesn’t make sense until it does make sense.  I think I am going to be questioning this for a long time.  What worries me is that so many people voted to Leave without understanding the full ramifications.  Just read about a small county that voted overwhelmingly to leave.  And now they are suddenly aware that the big subsidy they received from the EU might be (?might? WILL) be going away.

And there is no exit strategy.  Not on Cameron’s side.  Not on the Leave campaign side.  The EU is saying hurry up and leave since you want out.  And Britain is saying we are not ready to formally declare our resignation.  Once they give notice, there is a two year time frame to untangle the arrangement.  And the EU doesn’t want to make this an easy process.  And of course they don’t.  If it’s simple and painless, there are several other countries that will want out.  And then the whole thing might collapse.

And of course there’s the complication that Scotland, Northern Ireland, Gibraltar and London want to remain.  And now Scotland wants out of the UK again.  Maybe.  And Spain wants Gibraltar.  And the far right in the Netherlands and in France are talking about getting out too.

David Cameron didn’t have to hold this referendum.  Just sayin’.

Here’s a link to Samantha Bee’s take on Brexit.  Funny.  Adult language warning.  http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2016-06-28/david-tennant-reads-angry-tweets-reacting-to-donald-trumps-scotland-gaffe

Amazing to hear the people who voted to Leave to send a message, thinking their vote wouldn’t really count.  And the lies that the Leave campaign made.  Hoping the US pays some attention to this!

Yup.  Then there’s the US election.  I keep getting reminders from the US Embassy here about registering to vote.  I thought I had registered in May as an overseas civilian but I hadn’t heard from the Sac Registrar of voters.  I called today.  Yes.  They have my e-application to change my status.  But it won’t be processed until after the June ballot is closed up.  So I should hear by September.  However, there should be no problems.  Everything on my app looked good.  I chose the vote electronically option.  Wish I could do that even when home… but if I am back in the States for the following election, I have to change it back.

Seems funny to be classified as a Civilian Overseas.  But I guess that’s what I am.

Oh and more Brexit news – the official working language of the EU is English.  Just read that maybe it will change to French.  Which it was before England got in and the Scandinavian countries joined.  English really is the most commonly shared language but wouldn’t it be awful to continue to speak English when the damned British divorced you?  Even if it makes sense.

Aside from election woes, I have had a fabulous day.  Today was my first formal coaching session with a client using the Enneagram.  I use Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator and Gallup’s Strengths Finder in my coaching practice.  In March I attended a week-long training on the Enneagram.  Adding that third assessment makes the coaching process much deeper and richer.  I love it when clients have meaningful insights… moments when they just stop and say, I never thought of that!  Or what a great question!  The sad thing is that, while I can find MBTI in French and Gallup has a French version of their assessment, the instrument I use for the Enneagram is not in French yet.  Patience.