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It’s Saturday and Wonk sez, “Liberté, Egalité, Sororité”

Good morning, everyone. I’m going to go ahead and dive into the headlines coming out of France and Europe right now, and then bring this back to America at the end, with a Wonk rant of course.

France Pension Protest: One Family’s Perspective

(Associated Press)

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch reporting in Paris on Friday’s big and hotly contested pension reform vote — French Senate passes pension overhaul raising retirement age to 62.” The increase, which is a gradual one from 60 to 62 by the year 2018, still has yet to get the green light by both a parliamentary committee and another vote by a joint session of parliament, steps which look likely to go through. According to the French Senate’s press office, the committee will begin meeting on Monday, meaning the measure could be voted into law as soon as Wednesday, though its final passage does not look like it will be doing anything to stop the protests.

Polling released yesterday from the BVA Institute indicates that nearly 70% of the French people support the strikes and street demonstrations. The Christian Science Monitor has more on what to expect next on that front — New France strikes to follow Senate passage of pension law.” On the future of the protests: “Once the bill passes and the school holidays kick in, however, union leaders will have to walk a fine line between cadres who want to continue striking and those that do not. To this end, the two days of demonstrations called on Thursday are considered a compromise.” The two days being referred to are next Thursday and the first Saturday of November. The article also reports on how oil workers have taken to blocking the country’s refineries in addition to striking. Police force was used on Friday at the Grandpuits refinery near Paris. Three protesters were injured.

The BBC published a piece Friday called Contrasting views on the age of austerity,” in which, as the BBC describes it, “people from three different countries – two of whom work in the public sector – share their contrasting views on their government’s action and the public response.”

The first person is Helen Stollery, age 23. She works in the public sector in Maidenhead, UK. Here is a taste of what she had to say:

I think people in Britain have a different culture to those in Europe – and I don’t think we’ll see the same level of strikes.

People here are more accepting of the changes that have to be made. Our state retirement age has been going up for some time and people have accepted the changes.

There’s no point in resisting something that is inevitable.

Next is Eleni Hondrou, age 38, from the public sector as well, in Athens, Greece. A sample of Hondrou’s remarks:

For now things are relatively quiet in Greece. Most people are trying to adapt and get on with their lives on a lower standard of living

Reductions in my allowances mean I have lost 20% of my annual income. I have had to cut many things out of my life.

We had no choice but to make those changes in May because things were so bad, we were on the verge of bankruptcy.

But we never know what will happen next. We rely on our external creditors. If we have to borrow more money at a higher rate – and if that means we have to take further reductions then I don’t think people will accept things peacefully.

Finally we hear from Brian Hind, a 40 year old American farmer from Kansas. Briefly from his comments:

The cuts in the UK and elsewhere in Europe are just something that the governments have to do. Things won’t be as bad as they will be for us in America – we’re making things worse by delaying cuts.

Also from the BBC a little later on Friday — Pension reform vote: Views from France,” which highlights reactions to the passage of the pension bill from three residents of France.

The first reaction is from Heidi Garnier of Charenton-le-Pont. An excerpt:

France seems to be the only country in Europe where people want to retire as soon as they have left nursery school.

I am very satisfied with the result of the vote. I discussed it with my husband and we have the same opinion.

Georgina Thompson, a teacher from the suburbs of Rouen who is active in the national strikes, had this to say in her comments:

I’d probably say that I’m disappointed without being surprised by the outcome of the vote in the Senate. President Sarkozy has clearly shown that he’s unwilling to heed what the strikers and protesters have to say.

The decree of application hasn’t yet been published; there are already a number of demonstrations and strike actions planned in and around Rouen over the next few days and I’ll be taking part.

There does need to be some kind of pension reform, but I’m not convinced that this is the type of reform we need.

There are other problems with the French economy, for example many people being laid off before the age of 60 and not being able to make up their full pension.

The whole system really needs an overhaul – not these measures that are being proposed.

I am losing money by striking, and I was back at work today and will work tomorrow in order not to lose out on holiday pay.

And, this view from Alexandre Aba of Grenoble, an unemployed computer aided designer:

I’m really annoyed about this at the moment, because the strikes are preventing me from getting to job interviews. We can’t use the trains or drive anywhere because of the fuel shortage.

At this time of crisis, strikes are extremely disrespectful to the private sector, who are effectively paying for civil servants.

Going on strike is one thing, but messing up our economy is another and these strikes are so bad for France’s reputation.

Additionally, if you have a few minutes and haven’t done so already, check out the video up top from the Associated Press. It is one French family’s perspective on the importance of protesting.

Moving along to a couple editorials that caught my eye. I enjoyed this one from The GuardianFrench lessons: pension protests. As the welfare state is rolled back all over Europe, a cause is being fought in France which we would do well to watch.” Another op-ed, this one from the Financial Times — “France vents its fury as Britain takes a chilly dip.”

From Barbara Whelehan, on SS here in the US, via bankrate.com, with a title that piqued my interest, “Vive le Social Security,” until I read the first half of the entry, which was rather meh. It misses the point that the degradation of worker rights is what’s at stake at the broader level so quibbling over the best age to retire is neither here, nor there. The second half is more interesting, though, to say the least:

Tax the rich
There are other ways to save pension systems besides raising the retirement age. As I pointed out on two previous occasions, the Special Committee on Aging came up with 30-plus solutions to fix Social Security. My favorite solution is to eliminate the cap on Social Security taxes. Right now, only earnings up to $106,800 are taxed. If the cap is eliminated, high earners would get a smaller check (so what?), and Social Security would remain solvent over the next 75 years.

This solution can be taken a step further. In a recent Wall Street Journal opinion piece, Ken Langone, a co-founder of Home Depot, suggested that rich people shouldn’t get Social Security checks at all. “It makes little sense to send Treasury checks to high-net-worth people in the form of Social Security,” he writes. “I guarantee you that many millionaires and billionaires will gladly forgo it. …”

Hey — this is not my idea. It’s coming straight from the mind of a wealthy capitalist.

Here’s a link to that Special Committee on Aging report from May, by the way. Just in case you were curious or needed a refresher.

So what do y’all think of Whelehan’s suggestions? How about anyone reading this who is at all sympathetic to the GO-TEA-Party’s fiscal arguments? On the one hand, “hands off my social security and Medicare” and on the other “Taxed Enough Already”? How do your respond to the issue of “taxing the rich” to preserve social security? It’s an honest question, I’m genuinely inquiring, and here’s why. I think there is a lot of overlap between the basic concerns of the grassroots left and the grassroots right when it comes to the social safety net–it is the elites who benefit from us staying locked in tribal fights (Socialist! Teabagger!) rather than coming together and trying to find common ground and solutions on concerns that we share.

As I wrote back in March, we need to have more summits on ideas, not angry splashes of tea and coffee at each other. There is so much at stake and we are the ones who are hurt by staying stuck in our tribalist mindsets against each other, while the elites, both on the left and right, laugh all the way to the bank. I think all of us–those of us who come at issues more from the left and those of you who come more at them from the right–need to make more an effort to get past the stuff we disagree on so we can get some movement on the stuff we do agree on. The future lobbyists of America that make up our Congress are not going to do this work for us. After the midterms, when Obama starts presenting us with those “very difficult choices” he spoke of over the summer, how will we respond?

Will we join together, putting aside our childish, superficial taunts at each other over teabags and Marxism? I know George W. Bush liked to sneer at the Frannnch, but at least their country is united when it comes to workers. Will we be united when it’s our turn to fight the retirement age increases?

Or, will the left stay paralyzed thanks to its apologist faction which demonizes anyone trying to hold Obama accountable? And, will the right keep shrieking about socialism, when what we are actually experiencing is crony capitalism, corporate welfare, and lemon socialism, which is really socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor, where profits are privatized and losses are socialized? Will the left keep mocking the unwashed masses and making the same tired old cracks about misspelled signs? Will they keep their noses turned up so high that they can’t see the legitimate populist frustration coming out of both the left and right in America? Will they keep reflexively shouting “racist” at anyone who tries to raise a valid criticism of Obama’s agenda?

Will the right keep looking for the robinhoods below them instead of the corporate robinhoods robber barons above them? Will they keep ignoring the fact that it is the bonus class who have waged classwarfare on all of us, shifting the focus away from corporate greed and malfeasance while pitting middle class against working class? Will our country stay hostage to the politics of division, meant to keep us focused on fearing each other–from mosque-builders and 9-11 families, to Mexicans and other ethnic minorities, to straights and gays and lesbians, to liberals and teapartiers, to women and the children they choose to have or not have? Will we stay slave to these “wedges,” while the corporations and the banks take their bedroom relationship with our government to the next level and produce the next bastard child policy that we can’t afford?

Or, will we finally reject what has wedged between us and rise to what Hillary said so elegantly in her message to LGBT youth:

Because the story of America is the story of people coming together to tear down barriers, stand up for rights, and insist on equality, not only for themselves but for all people. And in the process, they create a community of support and solidarity that endures. Just think of the progress made by women just during my lifetime by women, or ethnic, racial and religious minorities over the course of our history —and by gays and lesbians, many of whom are now free to live their lives openly and proudly.

I have a stubborn belief in the American people, and I hope against Hope™ that we’ll join together and stand up for ourselves and a working and middle class that gets its workout out of these trying times and a strengthened, rather than diminished, safety net for the older generation and their children and grandchildren. We will sink or swim based on whether or not we recognize that we are the 99% of this country that is all in this together.

Before I go…. On this day (October 23) in 1915, somewhere between 25,000 and 33,000 women marched for their right to vote on Fifth Avenue in NYC.

Photograph shows four women carrying ballot boxes on a stretcher during a suffrage parade in New York City, New York. # Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-132968 (b&w film copy neg.)

Also for Canadian readers, I came across Celebrating women’s history,” an entry written by husband and wife historian team in a local paper from New Westminster, on October being Women’s History month in Canada.

Have a lovely weekend, and please chime in with what you’re reading and what’s on your mind this Saturday morning!

91 Responses

  1. Setting busses on fire, overturing police cars and other assorted hooliganism in Europe and we get upset when a protester carrys an un-pc sign.
    The Founding Fathers must be puking in their graves when they see what sheep we have become.

  2. Ha! I have the pleasure of working with French ex-pats and while they gripe and complain about the strikes, they have come to realize that the French are better off with them than without them. There is no safety net here. If you lose your job, you lose everything and no one gives a $%@# about you. They know they will have to go back to France if they get laid off, green card or no green card.

    62. We can only dream about such luxury. And that after a lifetime of generous vacations, virtually free college education, maternity leave to die for and world class health care. I’d put up with strikes for that.

  3. BTW, my dream scenario is that the working class schlubs who run the air traffic control towers redirect personal jets to the Cayman Islands and never let the ultra rich back into the country. Let them live with their money on an island on a hurricane track in the Gulf of Mexico- and never let them leave.
    Watch them go all Lord of the Flies on each other. That’s the kind of world they want. Let them live it.

    • I like that scenario. I find that most governments are now preaching austerity on the backs of those least able to survive – time to deal with the elephants in the room – the ultra rich.

      • “And, will the right keep shrieking about socialism, when what we are actually experiencing is crony capitalism, corporate welfare, and lemon socialism, which is really socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor, where profits are privatized and losses are socialized?”

        Yup. This very point is where we need to come together.

        BO = GWB

        • amen!

          • Saddist thing – no one will pay any attention to the reality of the wealthy sucking the working folks dry. I’ve heard arguments against this idea, however, where else do the rich reap more money? You want to look at the enemies of the american dream – guess.

  4. I got lost in a thought and got it back after publishing!

    Corrected part will read:

    “…the robinhoods below them instead of the robber barons above them?”

    • Happens to me all the time. But I don’t usually have time to edit before dashing out the door to work.

  5. Wikileaks has mapped every death in Iraq since the war began. How sad it is that these dots represent people and not archeological sites.

    • It looks like blood spill, which it is.

      I was going to put the developments on wikileaks in my post too but then decided it deserved its own post. BB is really good at covering wikileaks. Hope to hear from her. It just makes my blood boil.

  6. Here’s a video that might be important to you if you have elderly parents with time shares. It’s from another makeup guru (see? they know foundation and they can think too!)

    Gina is one of the more knowledgeable gurus about makeup ingredients and false claims. Highly recommended. (So glad she’s putting her cat stuff at the end of her videos now)

  7. My dream retirement: working on an archeological dig in Turkey like Catalhoyuk or Gobekli Tepe.

  8. Saw this on yahoo’s headlines — apparently Ricky Hollywood isn’t sure if he’s running as a Dem or a GOPer. Oh noes!

    • Who is Ricky Hollywood?

    • Lol The fact that he knows the names of the parties is a step up for him. (Levi Johnson, Sarah Palin’s grandson’s father)

      • Aww, jeez, can anyone be that dim??
        Run away, Bristol, run!

        • She’s already gone 🙂

          • I hope that’s permanent! She sounds kinda brave (I don’t watch DWTS, yet it’s impossible to avoid hearing about it, and the microscope she’s under sounds insane… if only we have microscopes like that for…oh I don’t know…pretexts for war!!!!) but no young woman should have to brave a deadbeat.

        • Too bad there’s apparently no chance that anyone else is her child’s gene donor.

  9. Wonk , fab post like always…I love that photo from 1915 That many women is impressive back then…it wasn’t as easy to travel etc.

    we’re making things worse by delaying cuts

    LOL!!! That’s classic…it’s like saying we are making our being sick worse by delaying our getting ill

    One must protest and vigorously such things, or more will be taken until you do. I remember a friend was hired for a pittance…but he needed the job so said a willing okay…well wasn’t the new boss on the phone
    the next day asking him to work for less?? He, being a nice guy said okay….by the time the Boss called a third time I had told my friend for the love of God make them at least aware it’s a big deal!! This taking one for team shit DOES NOT work…they only reward such vein opening behavior by asking for more life blood .

    For the first time in years I ran into CNN on the tube…and what was the headline?

    French protests drag on

    Drag on??? the next story was about Lindsay Lohan….but the French Protests are dragging on??

    The French are having the age 62 imposed on them because they protested in the past and will in the future. Without the protesting they would be looking at 70 , LIKE US….Make them at least pay when they steal from you…they will never say we have enough by themselves….they will come back way faster for more if you don’t.

    • I keep telling my French friends that they shouldn’t yield a millimeter even if the strikes are maddening and inconvenient.
      If they need incentive, the unions could always point to the US and say, “That’s what’s going to happen to you. Is that what you want?? No health care? No retirement until you are too old to work? TWO WEEKS OF VACATION? Sacre bleu! Incroyable! Non, Non, Non.”

      • Really …they should be grateful their fellow citizens DO protest! It’s the only thing that puts a hitch in the giddy up to hell in a hand basket jag the West is on. Once the elections are over here , the social services butcher knives will come out …no matter which party is in . They can barely wait

      • C’est vrai. What is happening is again, the ubra wealthy trying to correct their venal constant avarice on the backs of the rest of the population.

      • Two weeks of vacation in little bitty chunks, with your boss expecting to get you by email/cell phone whenever he wants.

    • My husband and MIL flew home from Paris the day before the strikes started. His mother is French and they went to visit relatives for a few weeks. They were very fortunate in their timing.

      A 35 hour work week, 4-6 weeks of vacation and full pension at 60 and people wonder why that is not supportable?

      I do not agree with violence during strikes regardless of how “right” each side thinks they are. “Tax the rich” only gets you so far. Unsupportable is unsupportable.
      Something will have to give here, but what is the real question.

      • Demographics are destiny. In Europe, populations are shrinking so yes something has to give. You simply cannot have 2 grandchildren supporting 4 sets of grandparents. What is the big question.

        In the US, we don’t have to same demographic time bomb ticking yet so I don’t see the need for the same kinds of changes.

        • How does a child acquire 4 sets of grandparents? Are you assuming that every parent gets divorced twice, and kids get new grandparents with each step-parent?

          • Some people are childless. I should have said 4 sets of elderly people because those are the numbers.

        • This broken system is not asking 2 grandchildren to support their grandparents….whatever the number .

          They are being asked to support their grandparents an about 5-10 executives from all the various “industries”
          who make tens of millions for failure . Executives must be spared….So of course it’s granny who is voted off the life boat.

      • I had all that when I worked at M.I.T. I don’t know what their retirement age is now, but you used to be able to take early retirement with a reduced pension at 55. The U.S. standard of living has dropped dramatically. I stopped working a 9-5 job in 1986. Average wages have actually dropped since then.

        The biggest problem? Reaganomics. Back when the rich and corporations had to pay their fair share of taxes, our economy was booming. When I was growing up in the ’60s times were good for just about everyone. Younger people have no idea how much worse things have gotten in this country.

        It has been pretty much downhill since 1973, with a little break during the Clinton years.

        • Luckily for me, I’ll have a small pension from MIT when I reach 65 too. It will help even though it will only be a few hundred per month.

        • In a past job, I was covered by the University of California Retirement System. MIT’s sounds the same. I’m grandfathered into a pension with my present employer and that’s gonna help, so long as it’s paid.

          Reaganomics, I think, highly accelerated the process that was started in the late ’60s or early ’70s of giving the uber rich the keys to the kingdom. Look back at income data, the drop started in the ’70s and never really let up.

          • Yes, the big universities get together to set wages and benefits (even though that is illegal). They try to keep wages low but have good benefits, including 35 hour work week, which used to be pretty much standard around here anyway.

      • How is endless war and exploding military budgets supportable? But somehow they are never asked to tighten a belt or ” get real ” . Funny how that is never brought up by the profiting from war media. Yeah GE I’m looking at you

    • Thank you paper doll and right on!

      For the first time in years I ran into CNN on the tube…and what was the headline?

      French protests drag on

      Drag on??? the next story was about Lindsay Lohan….but the French Protests are dragging on??

      The corporate media serves its corporate masters well! These are the same people who convinced America to be more suspicious of the most prosperity and relative peace this country has had than of the war and poverty of the last decade!! It is no coincidence that the rise of “reality” tv and celebrity trainwreck coverage has coincided with this conjob!

      The French are having the age 62 imposed on them because they protested in the past and will in the future. Without the protesting they would be looking at 70 , LIKE US….Make them at least pay when they steal from you…they will never say we have enough by themselves….they will come back way faster for more if you don’t.

      Exactly and very astutely put.

  10. Wonk,

    Thank you for this wonderful, insightful post. We are so much worse off than the people in Europe. Retirement age of 60? Good grief. We may end up with the age being 70 here! And here if anyone protested in favor of workers or social services, they would be ignored or reviled.

    I wholeheartedly agree with you on this:

    “…we need to have more summits on ideas, not angry splashes of tea and coffee at each other. There is so much at stake and we are the ones who are hurt by staying stuck in our tribalist mindsets against each other, while the elites, both on the left and right, laugh all the way to the bank. I think all of us–those of us who come at issues more from the left and those of you who come more at them from the right–need to make more an effort to get past the stuff we disagree on so we can get some movement on the stuff we do agree on.”

    • It’s really become obvious that if he have-nots don’t come together to fight off the haves in this country, we will have literally nothing left. The uber-rich seem to want it all now and it appears they have bought enough government to get it.

    • Thank you, bb. We cannot afford to end up with 70 here. We must say NO and not yield or acquiesce. They’ve (i.e. Malefactors of Great Wealth) already won if we start at their bargaining point.

    • And here if anyone protested in favor of workers or social services, they would be ignored or reviled.

      It’s so sad! The corporate media numbs people with reality shows and celebrity trainwrecks and people get all up in arms over that kind of stuff, but anyone dare get angry enough about the reality of the plight of workers (and migrant workers, as Colbert reminded us) and they’re derided as populists, as if that’s a bad thing!

      “A populist is someone who is for the people and against the powerful, and so a populist is generally the same as a liberal—except we tend to have more fun.” —Molly Ivins

      Let’s have some fun! (I heard a suggestion through the left-o-sphere grapevine that real change starts with working at the local level to get rid of the Electoral College…)

  11. Guys, I am positively giddy with work these days. There are some days that the time passes so quickly. I can’t frickin’ get enough. I was tempted to work well into the night last night to purify a protein. The only thing that stopped me was I don’t know the instrument well enough to want to lose a precious sample accidentally.
    it’s totally weirding me out. Is this normal in a middle aged r@ycist crone uneducated working class idiot?

    • Well, that depends on which baseball fans you’re talking about. I’m disappointed (I sort of hoped they’d win “for my father” this year), but not crushed. It’s not like they never won before.

      • For most of us, having the Yankees in the WS every single year is incredibly boring. When you win all the time, and when you can buy the highest paid players because you have all the money in the world, people tend to dislike your team. The Red Sox have to deal with that to a certain extent also.

        • The Rangers fans are cute, getting their karmic revenge on A-rod.

        • You must have been really bored during the subway series. I understand the reasons for the dislike of the Yankees. As to the money thing, did you ever see the neighborhood Yankee Stadium is located in? Ow. I used to walk past there with my mother, but haven’t been there in years. It is hard to imagine Yankee Stadium located across the street. I guess baseball is something like campaign reform. There should be equal amounts of money available to all so there can be a more real competition.

          • The Mets are hated a lot less than the Yankees, for obvious reasons. But of course it is much more interesting for baseball fans if the participants in the WS change from year to year, along with the areas of the country represented. Only New Yorkers could be so provicial as not to understand that.

            Sorry, but as a Red Sox fan, I reserve the right to hate the Yankees forever. And as a kid growing up in the midwest, I did get sick of them always hogging all the glory. In those days, the Kansas City A’s were actually like a Yankees AAA team. The Yankees have never had a level playing field, yet their fans can’t understand why other baseball fans get annoyed with their provincial attitude.

          • I hate the Mets. Well, I guess that’s understandable. I’ve been saying “Beat’em, Bucs!” since I was a toddler.

          • Just to clarify, I know how rich the Yankees are. I was comparing their wealth to the poverty of the surrounding area. An appalling contrast, sort of like the Taj Mahal in the middle of slums.

          • Yes, I got that, Branjor. Sorry, but I’ve never been to Yankee stadium, so I didn’t have any way to respond to that part of your comment. Maybe the Yankees should spend some of their millions to improve the neighborhood. And didn’t NY help pay for the new stadium?


            That would never happen in MA. We don’t cotton to rich team owners blackmailing the taxpayers. Robert Kraft paid for the new Patriots stadium himself. Same with the Red Sox owners and their massive improvements to Fenway Park.

  12. Here’s a poll that is such an outlier that it’s almost comical:

    Dem approval JUMPS! LOL.

  13. Totally off topic:

    If you’re bored, one thing to pass the time is to take a pic of yourself every day and turn it into a time lapsed video:

  14. Wonk great post! If anyone wants to read more suffrage stories; this is a good one. http://www.wvgazette.com/Life/201008271014 Most people know the story in Tennessee; August 17th 1920 which I always thought there should have been a movie made just about that vote.

    • Iron Jawed Angels covered that moment pretty strongly.

      • I love Iron Jawed Angels!

        pdgrey, thanks for the link.

        Here’s a scene from Iron Jawed Angels, this isn’t of the 1915 parade in NYC but the 1913 parade in DC I think:

      • I loved Iron Jawed Angels. They did not cover “that moment” strongly. I want a movie that goes state to state telling the story, the struggle, the dramatic second by second of yes or no to the vote. They’re has not been a movie told of that. Do you know of a movie about Jesse Bloch racing to vote? About Harry Burn running and having to hide in the bellfree from the other lawmakers in Tennessee after the vote? No, the VERY dramatic story has not been told. Only as part of the story, kind of the ending of the story. Never as THE story. There is a lot of women’s history not being told.

        • If I had the money, and could write this movie; it would be about the state to state fight. If you research that, it would amaze you just how close it was and in a movie the drama would have people holding their breath. Iron Jawed Angles was great, but it did not cover that.

  15. In an age of globalization, national characteristics still shine through. Anne Applebaum

    In an age of supposed globalization, when we are all allegedly becoming more alike—listening to the same American music, buying the same Chinese products—it is astonishing how absolutely British the British remain, and how thoroughly French are the French. Both countries are facing the need to change state spending patterns and cut budgets in order to cope with economic crisis. Faced with this challenge, the British have stiffened their upper lips—while the French have taken to the streets.

    • I just hope the French keep making great films.

      • Speaking of great films, I saw Hereafter last night. It’s the latest Clint Eastwood movie. Not great exactly but pretty good. The tsunami scene was scarily realistic. Now I understand how terrifying it must have been.

        The other great movie I saw recently was “Never Let Me Go”. It is very low key for the subject matter. But that’s what makes it so powerful. I’ve read a lot of critics who say it will never be a hit with mainstream audiences. So what? Not all films that deserve to be made are going to appeal to 13 year old boys with perpetual hard ons. I thought it was one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time and Carey Mulligan deserves an oscar. But it was Keira Knightley’s final scene in the movie that will haunt me. {{shivver}}
        Our lives are so ephemeral.

        • Glad to hear the movie version of Never Let Me Go is good. Mulligan and Knightley seemed ideally cast. The novel is probably the best new book I’ve read in the last decade.

          • After seeing the movie, I don’t understand what the critics are complaining about. The movie is very restrained but so is the book. It’s not a movie with a lot of plot twists. It’s a retrospective analysis of three peoples’ lives through the lens of one of the subjects. She tries to make sense of it all but has a limited viewpoint due to the way she was raised. It would be like one of us trying to imagine what it is like to be born in a different country. We can’t. Our perception is shaped by our environments to a large extent. But, wow, some of the images in that film are so startling and painful to watch. You can’t help but be affected. You’d have to be made of ice to write a review where you complain that the movie is just so-so because it doesn’t have the blockbuster potential of Avatar. It’s a movie on a whole nuther level. More movies *should* be made like this one. American’s are spoonfed garbage on a daily basis. We’ve forgotten how to empathize with others.
            That’s what the movie delivers. Empathy.

          • Never Let Me Go sounds really good. The critics are a mob mentality a lot of the time. One says something, and the next has to outdo that person in saying it, and so on.

    • The Financial Times op-ed in the top post discusses this too, i.e. how British the British are being and how French the French are being in their reactions (hence the title “France vents its fury as Britain takes a chilly dip.”)

      • Ooh, I just realized you may need a subscription for that one. Here are two excerpts in case any of you clicked and couldn’t get to it:

        It is sometimes said – most often by jingoistic Britons – that France glories in its few victories, while Great Britain celebrates its few defeats.

        “France cannot be France without grandeur,” as Charles de Gaulle, France’s former leader, famously wrote. The Arc de Triomphe, which stands in the Parisian place that now bears de Gaulle’s name, is a monument to France’s love of pomp and its desire to shape the destinies of nations.

        The British people, on the other hand, often appear more at ease with heroic failure than vainglorious success. From the magnificent but suicidal Charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean war, to the hapless Antarctic expeditions of Ernest Shackleton, to the ignominious withdrawal from Dunkirk in 1940, the British seemingly love nothing more than to confront catastrophe and sneer in the face of defeat.

        That difference in national psyche may help explain the striking divergence of public opinion towards the austerity programmes being implemented on both sides of the Channel. Whereas the French seem to regard austerity as an affront to their national identity, the British appear readier to embrace the challenge, rather like dipping into the North Sea on a gusty summer’s day.

        In many ways, despite their differing political cultures, France and Britain share near-identical problems and will have to find similar solutions. Both countries are multi-cultural European nations of some 60m people, whose imperial glory has faded, whose economies are over-stretched by weak growth, excessive debt and ageing societies, whose problems with imperfectly integrated immigrant populations have caused social unrest, and whose football teams both flopped at the World Cup.

        Logic would say that sooner or later even the most revolutionary French diehards will be mugged by the reality of unsustainable public finances. Sooner or later, even the most hard-hearted of Tory ideologues will be humbled by the human misery unleashed by the budget cuts.

        • Ok, here’s my unsolicited opinion on the differences between France and Britain: England never had a Sans Coulotte. Oh, sure, Britain had a civil war in the 17th century but it wasn’t a class war. France, OTOH, went completely berserk. The middle and lower classes took over and rivers literally ran with blood. But it wasn’t enough just to execute the aristocrats. It was anyone who didn’t support the mob. And they didn’t stop with the killing. No, they even changed the calendar.
          Just when the country started getting its act together, the people took to the barricades in the 19th century. I think that’s what makes France so successful in defending their social reforms. The French know how to frighten the powerful and they’ve carried through with it before.
          England has never really done that. But who knows? Things may change. After all, the rich are relatively few in number. They can be isolated. If the people have the will to do that, they could confiscate the wealth and access of the rich and strand them. No blood needs to be shed. Really, it’s the civilized solution. And we would be far kinder to them than they deserve. After all, they are practicing a form of terrorism on the rest of us.

  16. Hello, friends! While 31 million unemployed Americans (as claimed by the Union of the Unemployed — http://www.unionofunemployed.com/) and the underemployed and those barely hanging on brace for the worse, Barack and Michelle’s trip to Mumbai in November sure sounds like an early holiday disguised as official business. Here’s an excerpt:

    “To ensure fool-proof security, the President’s team has booked the entire the Taj Mahal Hotel, including 570 rooms, all banquets and restaurants. Since his security contingent and staff will comprise a huge number, 125 rooms at Taj President have also been booked, apart from 80 to 90 rooms each in Grand Hyatt and The Oberoi hotels. The NCPA, where the President is expected to meet representatives from the business community, has also been entirely booked.” Oh, and they’re not going to sample Indian food for fear that it might be spiked. Read on. . . (http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/Barack-and-Michelles-Mumbai-darshan-plans/articleshow/6797379.cms)

    And this after a kerkuffle over his decision to cancel a visit to the famous Golden Temple — http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/Reports-of-Obama-not-visiting-Golden-Temple-disappoint-Sikhs/articleshow/6797417.cms

    Compare the road trip that Hillary will be taking the day after her 63rd birthday — and she was also in the Balkans on her wedding anniversary (http://still4hill.wordpress.com/): “Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will travel to Hawaii, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, and Australia October 27-November 8”

  17. WTV,

    really good reporting on what’s going on in France. I’ve been working there for the last 2 weeks and it’s a nightmare. You can’t fly and you can’t rely on public transportation. You have to drive the whole time and everything is crowded.

    Still, I’m happy to see the unions be a force hold their ground.

  18. http://www.blueshoenashville.com/suffragehistory.html Read this and see why I want this movie. That’s just one state.

    • Sorry, I didn’t hit reply.

      • Re-reading my comments, I thought I should explain why I’m so reactive on this subject. I am from Tennessee; my grandmother could not vote in 1920. Our home was 30 miles from Nashville. She rode her horse “Mayflower” that day to see the vote. I think the struggle of the state to state vote is important. It almost always was close. Check your state history and see if it has been told.

        • Wow pdgrey. That gives me goosebumps. I really mean that about reading your “script” so to speak, btw. It doesn’t have to be formal posts or anything even. I just love hearing stuff like this. Can’t get enough. I have more feminist posts in the works, so all the info and links you ever want to share on suffrage are always more than welcome on any of those threads, whether or not they’re strictly devoted to suffrage.

          • Although she was Canadian, Nellie McClung was a fantastic feminist in the early part of the 20th century.

            The anecdotes are many, but I offer up one:

            She was campaigning for office (which she won). A male heckler called out, “Don’t you wish you were a man.” She retorted, “Don’t you wish you were.”

            She wrote an interesting book with the biblical title “As a man thinketh”. The stress was put on “man.”

            She actually was a religious woman, methodist I think. But pretty far ahead of her time. “You have to remember that the Bible was written by men,” she wrote, in explanation of things she couldn’t accept.

          • Pilgrim,
            Your description of McClung reminded me a bit of Mary Daly. And McClung is very relevant to the topic of Canadian women’s history month! I just barely touched on that at the end of my post. Do you have any good book or film recs on Canadian feminists? I was looking to expand on this and maybe share my finds.

          • Thanks, Wonk the Vote. I’ve been thinking about this for awhile. I will let you know when I have something. I wrote about my vote in 2008 Fl. here. Hillary had already lost the Primary but I dressed in as suffragist to vote in August that year.

  19. Pilgrim, WOW!

  20. “Contrasting views on the age of austerity”?
    “we had no choice”… “There’s no point in resisting something that is inevitable”… “just something that the governments have to do”… Where’s the contrast, BBC?

    • The BBC could have brought out more a contrast, but the comment from Greece wasn’t that black and white either. The person did sound resigned (“we had no choice”) on one hand but on the other not sure how much more reductions could be adjusted to (” I don’t think people will accept things peacefully.”)

  21. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by puma, Boston Boomer. Boston Boomer said: It’s Saturday and Wonk sez, “Liberté, Egalité, Sororité” http://bit.ly/bjv9y2 […]

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