French Voters Reject Fascist Presidential Candidate, Third National Defeat For Marine Le Pen As Emmanuel Macron Scores Wide Margin Of Victory

As one of the walkers on the Madison isthmus reminded me this afternoon as I planted roses, and we talked of the French presidential election, there were still four in 10 voters who cast a ballot for a fascist candidate. As one who worries about democracy not only in our nation but in countries around the globe, she did not need to remind me. I told her it was the older voters in France who well recall their history and then correctly cast their ballot for Emmanuel Macron.

And saved their country from the ruinous racism, white nationalism, and xenophobia of Marine Le Pen.

There was no way to successfully soft-pedal or sell Le Pen’s blows against Muslims or her tirades against Algerians. One can not rift about inflation one minute and then next pour scalding rhetoric upon Muslim women and their headscarves and not have reasoned voters go what the hell is wrong with her?

There was no hairstyle or consultant-driven outfits that could wash away Le Pens’ overt and constant racism.

Or her admiration for Russian President Putin.

French voters did not forget that Le Pen repeated her support for Putin’s assault on Crimea and her opposition to the EU sanctions at that time in response to the annexation. It was a mere 38 days after Russia invaded Ukraine that Le Pen stated, that Putin “could become an ally of France again” if the war ends.

If the hate-mongering from Le Pen was not enough to deeply draw concern, the threats she posed to NATO policy and the unity of the European Union surely would have done so. Why the far-right finds it a natural fit to cozy with Putin is one reason they must be viewed with suspicion when on the ballot. As voters proved today in France.

The close ties that Macron has established between France and the rest of Western Europe and the United States are the hallmark of what constitutes a solid working relationship. Now consider the angry populism and white nationalistic bombast from Le Pen, and ask yourself what would have befallen France and Europe had she operated from the presidential office? Putin would have won a second war without even needing to have fired one missile westward.

Macron has five years to now focus on a leadership role in the EU, with the absence of Germany’s outsized role of Angela Merkel. He can now press forward with his “More Europe” perspective and agenda.

As the woman who talked with me in the sunshine said of today’s election, Le Pen may have plenty of supporters, but the collective wisdom of the majority of mainstream French voters simply would not allow for a fascist to become the next French president.

Thank you to the majority of French voters for your concern for democracy.

And so it goes.

Blocking Vile Marine Le Pen Main Goal This Weekend

Illiberal democracy continues to be a theme on Caffeinated Politics. This weekend it is the people of France who carry the responsibility of rejecting the dangerous and racist messaging of Marine Le Pen, as she seeks power in France’s presidential elections.

Attempting to soften years of fascism is a tall order but with slick styling and consultant-driven word usage, the third time attempt by Le Pen to wrest control of government into the hands of the far-right is making for nervousness among electors. And the world community.

It is the hope here that President Emmanuel Macron, a fave politico at this desk due to his economic plans and much-needed-reforms with an almost JFK style of being himself and finding joy in governing, will garner the needed 50% of the vote. What stirs anxiety, however, is the degree of buy-in the voters will have for the repackaging of Le Pen, a vile racist, and a danger to democratic institutions.

The anti-immigrant rhetoric has continued as she blusters that she will punish Muslims who wear headscarves in public and will use police to enforce such a policy in the same manner that seatbelts are imposed upon drivers. I would argue the cultural turning of the screw must not be on the women who are subjugated but on the men who force the matter upon their wives and sisters.

The hate-filled rhetoric over the years from Le Pen about Islam and what constitutes national identity in France shows who she is, as opposed to now tossing back her hair and opining about consumer high prices. Let us be honest and note that when viewing her campaign in 2022–through the BBC and newspapers both France and here in the states, one thing is abundantly clear.

There is still a powerful undertow from Le Pen about resenting diversity and furthering France’s divisions. She has structured a campaign to make more of a distance between city and rural voters, those with an upper income and those of modest means, and especially and most disgustedly between “native” French people and immigrants.

Cultural nationalism has been the root cause of so much misery throughout the pages of history and Le Pen stokes that fire both overtly and covertly. Her recent campaign has not diluted her views, just the words used to lure people who have economic angst to her camp. But ask what she thinks about gay and transgender rights, Algerians, and any notion about diversity and you find a cancer that is central to her philosophy.

Politics takes precedence over law, she says.

In a liberal democracy that can never be a path taken by the leader of a country. Racism and the fear of ‘others’ can not be the driving force for any leader in the 21st century.

And yet Le Pen has warned–or is that promised–the first measure she will undertake will be a bill on immigration and identity.

As I said earlier in this post when describing Le Pen, she is vile.

And so it goes.

Common Sense Vs. Politics

An advertisement in Sunday’s Wisconsin State Journal promoting sound public health caught my attention. I applaud the effort to continue to press forward with getting more people vaccinated to stem COVID-19. While the ad correctly urged an easy way to receive the shots it also presented what is wrong with our politics.

The fact that in Wisconsin there remains a need to clarify that these vaccine shots do not include a microchip or alter DNA made me put the newspaper down, and if anyone saw me, I surely just shook my head. When it comes to marketing to the anti-vaxxers no one can deny the effectiveness of partisans who used a pandemic to score points.

Meanwhile, The New York Times ran an article Sunday about the presidential election in France. The issue of Algeria, colonialism, and religion has been created by some partisans as a wedge issue in the upcoming balloting.

The legacy of Algeria has perhaps been most evident in the phrase “great replacement,” a racist conspiracy theory claiming that white Christians were being replaced by nonwhite immigrants.

Cleary the lack of critical thinking is not a local problem, as it spans the globe and presents itself in the most dreadful of ways. But wasn’t the emergence of the world wide web and countless ways to access information and gain knowledge to have lifted us all up as a global society?

So what happened where people now entertain the idea of microchips in vaccines and ‘replacement theories?

While history is replete with inaccurate information about health issues and it was only 62 years ago that our nation was actually discussing if a Catholic could be elected leader of the free world, should we not now be smarter and wiser with modern technology?

I grew up as a child hearing prognosticators speak of gadgetry akin to the world of The Jetsons, the space-age cartoon, being very possible within the coming decades. Life was going to be more advanced, the work world changed to make workers toil less, and the underlying assumption was we would be happier.

Computer chips revolutionized the world and advances, up and down the line, have allowed for everything from classrooms to space travel to speed forward with modernity. I marvel at those achievements as some of them mirror what we were told might happen as children.

But are we smarter and more able to think, reason, and use logic to not only navigate our personal lives but the larger community around us? In many aspects of our lives, such technology has been a clear asset. But how then, at the same time, do we account for what seems to be a growing segment of the world population insisting on rejecting facts and common sense, as noted in my two examples from today’s papers?

It is assumed, and I would argue correctly so, that using politics to steer our nation towards civil rights, and greater freedoms such as lowering the voting age and broadening the definition of marriage moved our nation closer to our ideals about democracy. But we have also seen the utter contempt for facts and logic used by some for partisan reasons actually grow; most recently by the willful undermining of life-saving vaccines.

The internet and the myriad ways to gain access to information and knowledge about every imaginable topic were to have lifted up humanity. In many ways, it has done that very thing. But we have also seen political forces misuse social media to create conspiracies and stir doubt as they score victories by how many they can deceive and delude.

I remain an optimist, seeing the glass half-full. But we need to be mindful that it can also be argued to be half-empty.

And so it goes.

And Away We Go…Caffeinated Politics From Madison Isthmus In 2022

Happy New Year!

The Holidays were a time for relaxation and great food, and though the pandemic demanded vigilance our home was filled with music, books, some Oscar-worthy films such as The Power Of The Dog, and continuous laughter. All those things, including (sadly) the virus, will continue to be with us as we enter the New Year.

Over the past 20 days, the absence of the clacking of the keyboard meant this blog was on a Holiday break. With the start of the New Year that all changes as we head into a hectic pace of mid-term elections, the continuing need to contemplate how we repair our internal political problems so as to be stronger on the global stage, and what to do about a serious shortage of workers that is far more a problem than that which was created by the pandemic.

Among the international stories requiring attention is the serious need to remove Brazilian President Jair Messias Bolsonaro from office and watching how much appeal the extreme far-right candidate fares in the French presidential election.

Wisconsin politics will be front and center with a heated governor’s race and the continued threat from illiberal movements within the Republican Party fomenting a disregard for institutional norms and faith in our electoral system. Add in the dysfunctional qualities of Ron Johnson and there is no need to question what will make for headlines this year in the Badger State.

In other words, as we start another year of blogging there is no shortage of topics to engage with and opine about on Caffeinated Politics.

Thanks, as always, to my readers for stopping by this little place on the internet highway. I also can be found on my Caffeinated Politics Facebook Page, my Doty Land podcast, and my self-narrated one-minute history videos on YouTube. There is never a shortage of projects to work on. But that makes life fun.

With that being said…….

(The above album was one I used when broadcasting a Big Band show on WDOR radio and wishing to add some flavor with the comedy of that era. Looks like large doses of humor will be required in the coming year!)

A Comment About D-Day, And Trump’s Action Just Yards From Graves

I spent time on the 75th anniversary of D-Day reading sections of some history books on my shelves, watching some of the coverage from France, and then late Thursday watched, once again, Saving Private Ryan.  (The Longest Day is slated for this weekend.)

I would be far less than honest, however, if I did not comment on something which happened Thursday which left me truly sad.  After reading pages from history books I turned on the news and saw something which left me stunned.  I am sure my mouth had dropped open as I watched.

Just yards from the graves of fallen heroes, on the 75th anniversary of this most historic day, Donald Trump gave an interview where he ripped his political foes and called people names.  Speaking to Fox News from the American cemetery at Normandy Trump called special counsel Robert Mueller a “fool” and the Speaker of the House a “disaster.”

I simply stared at the television and just sat silent in the chair.  Sitting silent is not something I often am noted for–ask just about anyone.   But I was simply shocked at what was being aired on television.

Trump gets taken to the wood shed often on my blog.  There are many serious issues which demand feedback from a nation which seems trapped by the one they let in through the front door.  Some readers might think I am once again just piling on.

No one can countenance the lack of morals, ethics, civility, decency, and proper deportment which the world witnessed today when Trump sat in close proximity to the graves of the soldiers, and acted as he did.   I know it is often said on this blog that nothing shocks or registers anymore.  We are becoming immune day by day to the undermining of our foundations and lowering of our institutional standards.

It was just more than we should be expected to accept.

One does not need to be a politico, member of the military, or even an American to grasp what was so terribly wrong about what happened.  One only needs to be human, and raised with only a modicum of parental upbringing to know what Trump did was beneath the dignity of the office he holds,  and utter contemptible given national ideals and standards.

It was an international embarrassment.  A stain on our nation and those who served and died.

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Yellow Vests Of France And Mobilizing Voices Of Dissent

Let me first state that the riots and chaos designed to hamstring the French government has been most unfortunate.  An orderly process of registering dissent. and making efforts through a legislative path, is the reasonable way to proceed.  What has taken place over the past months has been an affront to common sense.
 
While that is my process and governing view, it is also necessary to view what happened with the Yellow Vests in France–and is still festering–from the larger social tumult perspective which has at its roots a very political message.  Today this article in the NYT did a great job of digging down into part of the story.
 
Before the local gendarmes shooed them away, the Yellow Vests found an unlikely sense of community on the traffic circles where they had gathered to demonstrate. There, people who before had felt alone, looked down upon and abandoned came together.
 
Yet in Les Andelys, a collection of hamlets in Normandy, as in many other parts of France, the Yellow Vests have now been barred from the roundabouts, denied, quite literally, the common ground to coalesce and talk through what comes next for them.
 
At least that is what the government seems to hope.
 
There is no doubt that the virtual space offered by social media was important to the Yellow Vests’ organization, and remains so. But it is no substitute for a place where people can meet one another in person.
 
Much like the shops and post offices of the past — where people traded stories about their miseries and the microeconomics of their daily lives, the roundabouts provided a physical meeting place.
 
“Just a couple of decades ago, in every village there were little stores, little services, like the post office, the little grocery store; today the villages are dormitories,” said Bruno Laziou, a Yellow Vest protester in Les Andelys.
 
“Nothing is open anymore in my little village, other than the mayor’s office,” he said.
 
The use of the traffic circles as public space speaks to the fragmentation and accompanying isolation that has come to define much of life in the hinterlands of France, where the Yellow Vest movement took hold.

Macron Let Bullies Win

A magazine cover and story that really is one about the need for leaders not to cave in to the lowest common denominators.  James loves to get the mail, and as he handed me the latest edition, reminded me again why we must never let bullies prevail.  

Mr Macron will now be banking that his decision, on December 5th, to cancel the diesel tax rises “for the year of 2019”, will take the heat out of the conflict. This seems unlikely; for a start, the protests have in part now been hijacked by thuggish extremists with an interest in the violent overthrow of capitalism. Many of even the moderate gilets jaunes are demanding Mr Macron’s resignation, or a new parliament. And an earlier diesel tax rise which went into effect last January, has not (yet) been reversed.

France Bans Phones In Schools–We All Should Applaud

This news proves that sound policy can be passed and implemented.

I am continually surprised at how consumed young people are with their gadgets–personal phones.   Since not a single one is dealing in stocks or making plans for international intrigue one then has to ask what has them so captivated.   Granted, the same can be said for adults, too.  But children are still being shaped and molded and should not be allowed to drift off aimlessly into their hand-held devices.

For the record this blogger, and his partner, do not own a cell phone.  There is a paid phone for the long vacations, or day trips, that is placed in the car, but if you ask me to give the phone number for a million dollars I would still be just who I am.   We do not even know how to retrieve messages on that phone or turn on the ringer.  Pressed to use the phone in an emergency I would need to think fast.  That is how removed I am–and willingly so–from the constant need by many to feel always in touch with the world.   We have a land line and check it for messages a couple times a day.    I am tech savvy with my computer but read printed newspapers, books, and still play albums.    Having said that I am thrilled with the news from France.

When school starts up in September, a new French law will ban students ranging roughly from ages 3 to 15 from using smartphones anywhere on school grounds, with only narrow exceptions.

The law is one of the most sweeping attempts yet to address growing concerns among parents and educators that a generation of children is growing up addicted to the mobile devices in their pockets.

“Children don’t have the maturity” for smartphones, said Valérie Paroux, Solal’s mother. “Some adults don’t either.”

France’s education minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer, says the ban, which applies to the French equivalent of preschool through ninth grade, is intended to remove distractions during class and to encourage children to read a book or play outside during recreation. He says he hopes the law will serve as a symbolic message to both children and adults beyond school.