Now Is The Time...
The most compelling thing I noticed about the geese flock, is how few of them appear to have ever participated in a riot, or even in an excited crowd. I, for my sins, have done both.
An emotional explosion such as the Parisian suburbs are seeing, going on for days and days, cannot be conjured up with the wave of a wand by Radical Islamists or anyone else. A crowd can become a mob on short notice as the giddy feeling of license and misrule flows over it like a wave. I have been part of this. But a crowd cannot stay a mob for very long, particularly under the pressure of modern, scientific, crowd control, with it's knee knocking rubber bullets and so on. I have also been part of this. But riot on riot, night after night, requires years of emotional pressure cooking to sustain itself.
If you leave the pressure cooker on the burner without watching it, you have only yourself to blame when the lid finally shatters the ceiling. Hence the French. It is really of no moment why they let the pressure build up--you can explain it any way which suits your political prejudices, or not bother to explain it at all. "Thar she blew, you gallic nitwits!" is about all anyone needs to say. Hopefully the rest of Europe will profit from the French example and watch the burners more closely.
But beyond that there are a few more abstract lessons to be drawn. My political prejudices have sustained me in the belief that the George W. Bush administration has been the most squalid, inept, and mendacious government I have ever seen, with the ultimate poster child for it being former FEMA director Michael Brown, who set so bad an example during Hurricane Katrina that he made all the rest of them, the Roves, the DeLays, the Cheneys, the Libbys, and the Rumsfelds, look sterling by comparison.
Another illusion shattered. The French have an entire government of Michael Browns. I didn't think it was possible. And I can no longer sustain the notion that the Bush Administration is the worst government I have ever seen. Twelve days into the rioting and the French Government is "fighting back" with "more police and curfews", as if curfews will do anything to stop the momentum of what still may become an all out civil war.
No, I am not becoming a honking, hysterical conservative. But I am a realist. I would put the actual chances of it going that far at about 1 in 5. But that is far too good of odds to mess around trying to forestall the situation with merely more police and curfews.
Michael Moore has immortalized for all eternity the numbingly long minutes George Bush spent dithering and reading children's books after being told about 9/11. Jacques Chirac has spent days in stunned silence. You are never, ever, as bad off as you think in America.
It was a silly conservative fetish when the Iraq war started to call French Fries by the name of Freedom Fries, simply because the French disagreed with us. But, under the current circumstances, if they were to demand that we now call French Fries Hostess HoHos, I wouldn't have the face to resist.
But, more broadly, I draw the lesson from France of the real genius and advantages of our Federal system of governmental separation of powers. The fact that any one of fifty governors usually has the soldiers of the State National Guard at readiness for emergencies makes the phrase "well-armed militia" in the Second Amendment something more than a large joke of fat guncranks dressing in camo and waving AK-47's as they listen to continuous political spleen on "Christian" radio.
This is one of the major reasons why the Iraq war has been so disastrous. It has thinned these real militias so much that no State Governor can rely on them without outside help. We saw the results during Hurricane Katrina.
Moreover, the concentration of unopposed power in a Parliament and its Governmental Cabinet of Ministers can help a government to act decisively and with speed if the men and women with the ministerial portfolios have all their buttons wired up. But, as the French have proven, it simply freezes when they don't.
And the provinces, as usual, can do nothing but look to Paris for the solutions which are not forthcoming. A better argument for State National Guards cannot be made.
Moreover, the fact that there is always considerable and constant friction between the branches of our national government, even if one party dominates all of them, means that most of the members of them have to have at least some of their buttons wired up simply to do ordinary and customary business. A Congress, or even an Executive Office of all Michael Browns is probably not possible.
Thank heavens--and Hail, Columbia!