I was kind of hoping that the dateline of this edition of MULLINGS would be: Paris, France which is where I spent about 20 hours.
I was planning to spend only 20 hours in Paris, but the students were planning huge demonstrations and the labor unions had threatened a GENERAL STRIKE! in sympathy.
So, I thought I might be stuck in Paris and, for the price of it, would be able to report to you on the labor situation here.
The concierge at my hotel thought that a GENERAL STRIKE! would not extend to international flights but warned me that as many has half the scheduled trains might be cancelled.
When I laughed, he asked my why I thought this was so drôle. I said, in the United States, half the passenger trains being cancelled on any given day is called: Normal service.
As I am writing this, the President of France, Jacques Chirac, has decided to throw his Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin (whom everyone in America – with the exception of Maureen Dowd – despises) overboard because of this just-signed-and-soon-to-be-ignored law which allows employers to fire young workers within two years of their employment.
The potential young workers in question – college students – believe this is not such a good idea in that the stuttering French economy has, for decades, been built on the Four Horsemen of the Financial System: Short hours, frequent strikes, long holidays, and lifetime employment for all.
So, the students have been protesting, rioting, running amok and, generally, not going to class.
In so doing, they are practicing to be good French workers; “Good French worker,” being the example in every dictionary on the Solar System for the word: Oxymoron.
De Villepin wants to be the next President of France. Because he has so botched this entire process he has an approval rating of 29%. Dominique has a lower approval rating in France than his arch-enemy, George W. has in the United States.
In fact, George W. probably has a higher approval rating than de Villapin, in France.
Because my life is modestly self-focused, I weigh these matters entirely on if and/or how I may be affected.
In the case of this GENERAL STRIKE!, the total effect was a two-hour delay at Orly Airport which, even for me, is but a drop in les bucket.
Speaking of delays, I awoke in Paris at seven o’clock (One AM Eastern Daylight) to read a report on the Associated Press wire by senior correspondent, Dave Espo, that Tom DeLay has decided to resign from Congress.
The timing of DeLay’s announcement – just a few days after his former chief of staff , Tony Rudy, entered a plea of guilty to charges stemming from his actions, while on DeLay’s payroll, on behalf of Jack Abramoff – cannot, and should not, be ignored.
I am not the biggest fan of Tom DeLay in Washington, but neither will I dance on his professional grave. He was an extraordinary Whip and Majority Leader for the Republican Conference in the House.
His won-loss record on big votes may be the best in Congressional history, which is not the least of the reasons Democrats wanted him gone.
DeLay’s resignation will do little to the balance of power in the U.S. House. His seat is safely Republican and safer-still without him on the ballot.
When DeLay stepped down from the Majority Leader spot after his indictment on state charges (stemming from his legitimate desire to bring Congressional districts in Texas in alignment with voting patterns) he was lost to the House Democrats as a target.
By leaving the Congress altogether he will join fellow Texan (and former Democratic Speaker) Jim Wright as a footnote in Congressional history, rather than a high value target for the opposition party.
New eras in France and in the U.S. House. “May we live in interesting times,” right?
On a the Secret Decoder Ring page today: A link to the International Herald Tribune coverage of the labor strife; a link to Dave Espo’s AP piece; a Mullfoto which will make you chuckle and a Catchy Caption of the Day.