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Sarkozy-Bruni 'wedding': Has DGSE 'checked' Ms Bruni yet?

by The3rdColumn Mon Jan 14th, 2008 at 09:17:14 PM EST

President Nicolas Sarkozy and ex-fashion model Carla Bruni were wed last Thursday according to L'Est Republicain but the story was neither confirmed nor denied by the Elysée. The newspaper earlier on also broke the story about President Sarkozy's divorce last October from Cécilia, his wife of 11 years.

Nicolas Sarkozy et Carla Bruni se seraient mariés jeudi à l'Elysée

Nicolas Sarkozy et Carla Bruni se seraient mariés jeudi à l'Elysée

Selon une source proche d'un témoin ayant assisté à leur union, le Président de la République Nicolas Sarkozy et l'ex-mannequin chanteuse Carla Bruni se seraient mariés jeudi dernier à l'Elysée. Interrogé cet après - midi alors qu'il accompagne le Président Sarkozy dans le Golfe, son conseiller en communication Franck Louvrier a déclaré: " cette information relève de la vie privée de Nicolas Sarkozy et je n'ai aucun commentaire à faire ". Une déclaration reprise par David Martinon, le secrétaire général de l'Elysée. Mis en ligne à 15 h 45 Full story here...

(Rough translation: According to a source close to the witness who was present during the event, French president Nicolas Sarkozy and the former model turned singer Carla Bruni were wed last Thursday at the Elysée. When asked about the supposed wedding, Franck Louvier, Sarkozy's communication adviser who was with the President in the Gulf declared, "this information concerns the private life of Nicolas Sarkozy and I have no comment to make." Same declaration was made by the secretary general of the Elysée. Posted on line at 15h45)

The Italian model turned singer who has supposedly wedded the French president declared in an interview with Le Figaro Magazine last year Carla Bruni « vivre, vivre, vivre » that monogamy bored her preferring polygamy or polyandry (polygamy for women). They met at a dinner hosted by an advertising executive friend of the President last 14th November or exactly two months ago.

The whirlwind romance, engagement and wedding, if the latter indeed took place, will undoubtedly catch the French off guard despite the news having hogged the headlines at home and abroad these last two months but in my view, France will get over the "shock" and felicitations will follow.

Many conservative French (and Europeans) will be asking the ultimate question, "Why so fast?" but trust the energetic president to answer that one fast too. Many will be concerned and will be adamant that no breach of national security should be committed in the name of this presidential marriage. Some quarters will surely be wondering if the DGSE (Direction Générale de Sureté Extérieure), the French foreign intelligence service, has done its duty by "checking on Ms Bruni." I'm sure the French Secret Service is already "on top of the situation."

Photo of Pres Sarkozy and Ms Bruni from L'Est Republicain

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My problem with the woman who made Hillary "cry"

by The3rdColumn Thu Jan 10th, 2008 at 12:48:09 PM EST

Very difficult to please everybody. Hillary's "tears" have come under heavy scrutiny not only by the media but also by the voting public that even the woman who made her cry "changed her mind" about her.

The question that brought tears to Hillary's eyes was:

"As a woman, I know it's hard to get out of the house and get ready. My question is very personal. How do you do it? How do you, how do you keep upbeat and so wonderful?"

Apparently, Ms Marianne Pernold Young, the 64 year old voter from New Hampshire who asked the question had been as shocked by Mrs Clinton's response as everyone else in the room, including the journalists jolted awake by the show of emotion.

"It's amazing how one compassionate sentence could cause such a ripple. It's just mind-boggling."

"I wasn't going to ask it, because every time I thought of it, my heart would pound," she said.

"Why would she want to deal with something like this? It's too girlie."

But after asking Mrs Clinton the question, Pernold Young confided that she ended up voting for Obama because from her "front row view of Mrs Clinton's moment of emotion, she had been distinctly unimpressed by the way that the former First Lady had gone straight back into politician mode after giving her answer."

"I took a walk on the beach and all I thought was how Obama made me feel and I thought about Hillary's response to me, and I thought she was a soft feminine woman for seven seconds.

"When she turned, she adapted this political posture again, the stiffness and the rhetoric, and I said I really want to vote for Obama."

I must admit I have a problem understanding Mrs Pernold Young. Did she really expect Hillary Clinton to behave in "girlie" fashion all the way through, i.e., sob, sniff, break down, and not take on a politician's stance even after the "compassionate" question had been settled?

Mrs Clinton is aspiring to become commander-in-chief of the world's most powerful nation - why should she be "girlie" and allow herself the luxury of completely "breaking down" in tears no matter how tired or drained she felt? Such behaviour would definitely not be in keeping with the role one expects of a leader, let alone of a US president. Surely, that would have drawn flak even from very "compassionate" voters like her.

I suspect Mrs Pernold Young wasn't entirely being truthful -- she had made up her mind about voting for Barack Obama even before she asked the question. After all she admitted that earlier on, she had listened to Obama's speech and that it made her cry.

I wonder why she didn't ask Sen Obama the SAME question. Oh, I almost forgot... she couldn't ask the question because Obama was making her cry.

But whether we like it or not, Hillary supporters must be grateful to Mrs Pernold Young for helping show Hillary's "feminine" side. At the end of the day, Hillary supporters will have to come to terms that it's IMPOSSIBLE to please everybody.

Posted by Mrs 3rd Column

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It's Hillary in New Hampshire! (She'll go the distance...)

by The3rdColumn Wed Jan 9th, 2008 at 07:02:41 AM EST

Hillary against all odds (or predictions)! That's what I wanted to hear...

Gerard Baker, US Editor of The Times writes an Analysis: how New Hampshire fooled everyone, including the Clintons and liveblogs the results, capped by this mea culpa:

10.15 Everybody - pundits, strategists, journalists and campaigns - got this race completely wrong. I can't speak for pollsters and consultants but I can say a bit about the problem with journalists. We (me included) acted like a herd of stampeding ignoramuses, buying into the prevailing (lack of) wisdom. We should all exercise a good deal of humility about that. But of course we won't. We shall boldly segue neatly from one set of post-hoc certainties to another.

Indeed, it would be the height of naiveté to write off Hillary following her defeat in the Iowa caucuses. She is a formidable political animal, an excellent campaign strategist, couple that with the fact, just like what I said in a previous thread, she has Bill Clinton, who is probably her biggest political asset.

Also, in a follow on ripost to a commenter in US Primaries: Who will it be? Obama or Hillary?, with a good dose of European pragmatism I said, "It will be difficult to put a good, intelligent woman down..." And that's how I feel about Hillary and her candidacy.

At this stage, while I'm not betting my 'bottom dollar' yet on a final win for her, I have every reason to believe that Mrs Clinton will give it all she's got to land the party nomination. We must hand it to her, she deserves every bit of applause for not yielding to anti-Clintons (plural) 'hysteria' which I have observed, rightly or wrongly, seems to be backed by a lot of 'spins' in media...one published rubbish in The Daily Telegraph, Hillary Clinton let down every woman is a recent sample of that spin.

Pundits, media observers, by their own admission, have not held Mrs Clinton to the same standards they have held the other candidates. It's time to do so.

Right off the bat, there are two critera that come to mind (1) Issues: Let them wage it out issue per issue (2) The distance: the candidate who can go the distance against the Republican machine. At the end of the day, in a marathon, it's not about who wins the first leg -- victory goes to the person who can go the distance.

This space says, "Carry on!"

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What would US do if 2 carriers were sent into Gulf of Mexico by an "enemy"?

by The3rdColumn Tue Jan 8th, 2008 at 05:33:21 PM EST

President Bush warns Iran today over 'provocation' following a near collission course between US and Iran naval elements in the Gulf the day before.

The US president may be a 'lame duck' president but he should not be underestimated; he is still commander in chief of the world's strongest military who could make good his promise that he would do something about Iran before his term of office ends.

Kudos go to US naval commanders on the spot who held their nerve and refused to be "provoked" into a confrontation by five swift patrol boats of Iran's Revolutionary Guard in the Strait of Hormuz.

Having said that, I beg to differ with Mr Bush and with the brave US naval officers and men stationed in The Gulf. There is no turning around it -- there's been provocation by both sides. And there is one question that begs to be asked:

What would the US do if two huge carriers were sent into the Gulf of Mexico by an "enemy"?

¤¤¤

Last year, almost to the day, Britain declared that she "was joining an American military campaign to blunt Iranian influence in Iraq and the Gulf." As a former officer in Her Majesty's Submarine Service, I thought Britain's tactical approach was inevitable. But it stopped there after I heard US defence secretary Robert Gates delivering a message during his first visit to Nato in Brussels, "We are not leaving..."

I feared then we might actually see action against Iran and I fear now that we are getting closer to a more dangerous collission course with Iran that could drag the whole Middle East into a protracted conflict unless powers that be, including those in Iran, held their fire.

There have been comments from both sides of the Atlantic, eg., "this is an accidental war waiting to happen" which I feel is so naive and to my mind, "This is a difficult situation and if the West gets it wrong there will be a war because we provoked it" is nearer the mark.

I remember listening to an American comment on the BBC radio during Gates' first visit to NATO to the effect "We need to send in more troops and drop more bombs, only then can we scare them into submission." What an appalling remark at all levels.

¤¤¤

The use of force will not help, it has not helped in Iraq, it did not help in Vietnam so history tells us it is wrong. The whole history of colonialism (including the USA) tells us that force by an external power cannot last and has no legitimacy.

Do we need their "submission"? Cannot we coexist peacefully together? Can there be real peace when someone has to "submit" to another?

Did the commenter, coming from the nation I thought was THE great democracy and proponent of freedom, really want to "scare"another nation into submission? What does this say about US society and their current values?

The USA is seen as an evangelical Christian nation and it was surprising to hear a US citizen voicing the idea that more killing is the way forward. It is equally hard to see how the US government can endorse this idea by sending more soldiers into the conflict area.

¤¤¤

Let's be real: The whole tenor of stationing aircraft carriers in The Gulf is provocative. The Arab nations may fear Iran, and may be asking for support from the USA and others. However, this should be discussed at the UN. It is in this forum that Iran should be told that any action will be countered with force.

The West won the Cold War on this basis. We acted together through an international alliance, NATO, and quietly and calmly told the Warsaw Pact if they attacked we would defend. We demonstrated with exercises, clearly signalled to Russia, we always had parity in forces. It worked. The nearest we came to war was when either side displayed too much force: The Berlin airlift and Cuba.

Admittedly, some Iranians may want "to rule the world", but I suspect most will settle for some respect from the international community and a rightful share of the world's prosperity today. Their war with Iraq, their difficulties with the Kurds and their close-up view of the situation in Afghanistan will have told them that force is not really a viable solution.

¤¤¤

However, I have no doubt that they feel threatened by this very environment: Neighbours on all sides who are from different races and cultures, the USA and the rest of the world community openly hostile to the ruling regime. This means it is natural for them to seek to have enough force internally to ensure no-one will attack (we are back to NATO versus the Warsaw Pact).

We have to assume they will get the weapons at some stage, and so will many others; what we want is for them to fully understand that the use of those weapons WOULD BE TOTALLY COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE.

We need to persuade and convince them that they can live in this world together with us, despite cultural, linguistic, religious differences. We do not, absolutely not, want to make them feel so desperate and FEARFUL that they feel they have nothing to lose and make a violently aggressive gesture.

We, the overwhelmingly powerful West, need to hold back a bit and allow 'smaller' and 'weaker' nations to feel self-respect and that they have the right to run their own affairs. If we try to impose our own values, however right we think they are, then we will end up with a conflict which we may find very very difficult to win.

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Who can the Democratic Party nominate who will go the distance against the Republicans?

by The3rdColumn Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 11:44:23 AM EST

On US Democratic Party primaries:

The crux of the matter, as Hillary Clinton pointed out at a NH democratic party dinner, is "Who can we nominate who will go the distance against the Republicans?"
[editor's note, by The3rdColumn] Unless someone else has dropped out since the Iowa Caucus, here's the list of Democratic Party candidates vying for the nomination: Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama,John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich, Bill Richardson and Mike Gravel who is surprisingly still around. (Joe Biden and Chris Dodd have dropped out of the race) Republican Party candidates: Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, John McCain , Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, Duncan Hunter

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US Primaries: Who will it be? Obama or Hillary?

by The3rdColumn Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 02:29:21 AM EST

Fresh from his Iowa caucus victory, Obama rushes to race Hillary to a 10-point lead reports The Times.

Barack Obama's victory has also been billed the rise of a new JFK. But realistically, although Obama 'thumped' Hillary Clinton, who came third in Iowa, one can't say that the Iowa results are final -- both are formidable and worthy opponents. And there's the New Hampshire primary to come yet... Tom Baldwin of The Times explains: Delegate-picking – everything you need to know but were afraid to ask (January 1st, 2008)

Does Iowa usually get it right? It probably thinks so, but the winner in the caucus does not always go on to take his or her party's nomination. In 1980 George Bush Sr narrowly beat Ronald Reagan but lost out in the end. In 1988 Richard Gephardt won the Democratic caucus only for Michael Dukakis to become the nominee. In 1992 the caucuses were bypassed because an Iowa senator, Tom Harkin, was standing. But Iowa usually influences what happens afterwards, providing momentum for trailing candidates and halting the progress of many a front-runner

The combative former US First Lady is banking on voters' pragmatism to reestablish her candidacy, headlines Time on line. Clinton Loss Means Change of Tactics (January 4, 2008).  

Recent poll results showed Clinton leading Obama by 45% to 24%. However, a poll conducted for CNN and WMUR by the University of New Hampshire shows that both candidates are neck on neck with 33% of the votes each from Democratic primary voters in the New Hampshire primary.

Rightly or wrongly, many of us in Europe believe that nothing is definitive, that Hillary has got one major asset in her campaign entourage: Bill Clinton. The former US president is one political animal that will certainly draw crowds to vote for Hillary come nomination time. (Also, two heads are better than one?)


One thing is sure. Whatever the outcome of the upcoming New Hampshire primary, the American political landscape today is changing and has become quite exciting. It seems the Democratic Party's final nominee will give whoever becomes the GOP presidential candidate a run for his money if only to give Bush-Cheney, their cronies and their politics a good, hard, lethal kick in the butt.

There is no doubt that Europeans have also become more keen on US political personalities and are finding the current US primaries hugely interesting, which wasn't the case before the arrival of Obama and Hillary on the US national political stage.

Read more... (71 comments, 525 words in story)

POTUS, Scottish Terriers and a Poodle

by The3rdColumn Sat Jan 5th, 2008 at 09:54:32 AM EST

Spotted an item in Guardian Unlimited's on line issue today: Blair lands role in Bush's doggie video.

According to blurb: "Tony Blair featured alongside the Bush family dogs, Barney and Miss Beazley, in the annual White House Christmas video greeting."

For the life of me I couldn't quite figure out what Pres Bush and his family were doing in a doggie show featuring two Scottish Terriers, particularly when Tony Blair popped in front of the camera to speak to the doggies! There he was, Bush's favourite poodle playing a cameo role in Bush's doggie film.

The video opened to a President Bush talking to the dogs, then camera panned to First Lady Laura Bush reading a story to the pair of terriers and then, two gorgeous young women appeared, again speaking to the dogs!

OK! I eventually understood that the video was some kind of smart "Happy holiday" message from the occupants of the White House but while watching it, I couldn't help but think that the videoed episode was also some kind of a patting a dog play with a subliminal message intended for current UK PM Gordon Brown who happens to be a true Scottie and who, it seems refuses to play lap dog to Bush.

The presence of former UK PM Tony Blair, Bush's poodle, also addressing the dogs lent credence to the doggie message. Oh well, maybe the joke is on me... Just that there were too many dogs being patted and petted around on that doggie video...

Yep, bizarre, bizarre...! (To view video, click on Link to this video.)

Meanwhile, in The Times, Peter Brookes, my favourite political cartoonist says that George W Bush, POTUS is as "...dead as a dodo!"

Comments >> (6 comments)

President Sarkozy may date all the "lovelies" he wants but with a caveat...

by The3rdColumn Wed Dec 19th, 2007 at 03:55:07 PM EST

Two months after his divorce with Cécilia, rumours are rife that President Sarkozy is seriously dating Carla Bruni, a former top model turned singer. Point de Vue, a French-language weekly magazine specializing in news and stories about monarchy and the who's who on planet earth features the new high profile 'romance' in its latest cover story.

Bruni, 39, an Italian brunette who speaks fluent French has not bothered to hide her romance with the French president, and who, according to the magazine, has "confirmed her romance" with the world's most elgible bachelor.

On the gossip front, we find Charles Bremner, The Times' correspondent in Paris  writing about Sarkozy's new love story, in his blog as well as a full news report for the same newspaper.

The Carla-Nicolas 'romance' is also the hottest topic in French media: Le Figaro's recent headline: «Une rencontre inévitable» (An inevitable encounter). The right-wing French major daily has also posted an important question to its readers asking their opinion: Bruni, une bonne première dame ? (Bruni, a good first Lady?)

Even the usually intellectually sober Le Monde has weighed in on the news albeit with a brief news item: Nicolas Sarkozy se met en scène au côté de l'ancien top model Carla Bruni (Nicolas Sarkozy goes on stage beside ex-top model Carla Bruni).

ParisMatch, another French-language glossy has also reported extensively on the apparent romance, Le coup de foudre de Carla Bruni et de Nicolas Sarkozy (Love at first sight between Carla Bruni and Nicolas Sarkozy). News have it that the the two met a couple of weeks ago at a dinner hosted by advertising executive, Jacques Seguela.

Recently, the French president has also been paired with other beauties like TV Canal Plus' Laurence Ferrari and just before the high profile news coverage of his date with Carla in Paris Disneyland, tongues were wagging that he was also romantically linked to his Minister of Justice, glamorous 42-year old French-Moroccan-Algerian Rachida Dati.

Despite the front page musings by the press, l'Elysée refuses to make any formal comment on the "rumour": L'Elysée se refuse à faire des commentaires sur une éventuelle relation intime entre Nicolas Sarkozy et Carla Bruni (L'Elysée refuses to comment on the possible romantic relationship between Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni)

As far as this blog is concerned, we say right on, Monsieur le Président... we don't think the French electorate need to worry that you are dating all these ladies. You are not married and who you date is your concern -- it's your "droit le plus stricte" (your right in the strictest sense).

But a caveat, Monsieur le Président -- that these romances should not get in the way of your work as president of La République Française. Your duty first and foremost is to the country -- it's your responsibility to 'preside' over the affairs of the nation with as much presidential efficiency as possible -- nobody but nobody should step in the way, not even a "future first lady."

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