“Where I Was Wrong”



“Where I was wrong,” said President Obama at his press conference on a Thursday in May 2010, as he mulled over the oil spill, “was in my belief that the oil companies had their act together when it came to worst-case scenarios.”

Instead what deference to oil companies brought was an utter disregard to laws, and the worst oil spill in history. Oil companies fear the governments and laws of Brazil, or Angola. But not of the USA. (There is massive deep water drilling off these two, among many countries).

This seems to be a pattern with Mr. Obama. He seems to have been in the "belief that those who are presently in power had their act together when it came to worst-case scenarios".

This is especially true with the so called "financial industry". "Industry" means, etymologically, to build inside. People in finance do not build anything, but they have captured the vocabulary of those who do, insisting that they introduce new "products" as part of "innovation", a way to drone people with the sound of new new new, when all they do is concentrate ever more power around themselves, the old fashion way. Power, that is property, people, and even hope.

But it is also the approach of Mr. Obama in Afghanistan. Obviously there, some day, Mr. Obama will pontificate about it, too. He will say: “Where I was wrong, was in my belief that the military-intelligence complex had their act together when it came to worst-case scenarios.” Mr. Obama’s tactics in Afghanistan are deeply flawed. Americans now use illiterate warlords, with divided loyalties to reign over there, some making fortunes from US taxpayers.


Adam Ferguson for The New York Times

A security post on the road controlled by Matiullah Khan in southern Afghanistan. He leads a private army that earns millions of dollars guarding NATO convoys. See NYT, for a very revealing article.


Divided loyalties seem to be the way, with Mr. Obama and his government. Just as Mr. Obama is bipartisan, he finds natural to rest his tactics in Afghanistan on warlords who are bipartisan, half Taliban, half corrupt.

The strategy I advocate in Afghanistan is the exact opposite: a clear philosophical choice, by supporting only dedicated secular forces. (And if that cannot be done: out; but Afghanistan used to be secular, so it can be done).

The hope you can believe in is that those who are good to the hyper wealthy financial "industry" will be well rewarded later. See Clinton, Rubin, Summers, Geithner, and countless other critters, we don’t even bother remembering the names of, whose wealth profited from past goodness to the so called financial "industry". Rubin’s and Clinton’s fortunes are now in the hundreds of million dollars. Serious money. Clinton is still playing a political and public relation role, as he provides the sympathetic face plutocracy needs.

As Mr. Blow, an editorialist of the New York Times pointed out :"With all due respect to the president, who is a very smart man, how is it possible for anyone with any reasonable awareness of the nonstop carnage that has accompanied the entire history of giant corporations to believe that the oil companies, which are among the most rapacious players on the planet, somehow “had their act together” with regard to worst-case scenarios."

Mr. Blow is very Afro-American, let it be said in passing, to neutralize all silly accusations of racism some of the simple ones are bound to brandish, as they read the stunning punch line of this essay. I find Mr. Blow’s editorials generally cogent, courageous, and not caught in the racial obsession with the color of the skin, many others have, or think political to have. (As Mr. Obama does, since born from a white mother, and brought up by white grandparents in a non racist, although pluri-ethnic, but certainly non "black" society, he now defines himself as "black", although he is brown, something any African in good standing such as myself will immediately recognize.)


Charles M. Blow is The New York Times’s visual Op-Ed columnist. His column appears on Saturday.

Mr. Blow joined The New York Times in 1994 as a graphics editor and quickly became the paper’s graphics director, a position he held for nine years…


Frank Rich in an excellent editorial in the New York Times points out that: "It turns out there is something harder to find than a fix for BP’s leak: Barack Obama’s boiling point. The frantic and fruitless nationwide search for the president’s temper is now our sole dependable comic relief from the tragedy in the gulf… We still want to believe that Obama is on our side, willing to fight those bad corporate actors who cut corners and gambled recklessly while regulators slept, Congress raked in contributions, and we got stuck with the wreckage and the bills. But his leadership style keeps sowing confusion about his loyalties, puncturing holes in the powerful tale he could tell.

His most conspicuous flaw is his unshakeable confidence in the collective management brilliance of the best and the brightest he selected for his White House team — “his abiding faith in the judgment of experts,” as Joshua Green of The Atlantic has put it. At his gulf-centric press conference 10 days ago, the president said he had “probably had more meetings on this issue than just about any issue since we did our Afghan review.” This was meant to be reassuring but it was not. The plugging of an uncontrollable oil leak, like the pacification of an intractable Afghanistan, may be beyond the reach of marathon brainstorming by brainiacs…"

Verily, all over history, common sense has always beaten expertise. Why? Because experts are infeodated to power, they owe everything to it. So experts are clever, as long as Power is clever. Experts play a support role to Power. If they contradict it, they are nothing.

When president Franklin Delano Roosevelt separated banking from financially speculating in the "Banking Act of 1933" ("Glass-Steagall"), he was acting as the son of privilege who wanted to exert power, by beating plutocracy into submission, to give power back to the rule to the People. Roosevelt had been born a plutocrat, he wanted to achieve more than his class could provide.

The counter-attack of privilege came after Johnson’s Great Society of the 1960s. Starting with Nixon and Reagan, public money and power were subverted to give ever more private power to a small oligarchy. Nixon created the HMOs on the public dime, and Reagan helped by geniuses such as Lawrence Summers started to remove the barriers between banking and speculation (that caused the immediate failure of thousands of "Savings and Loans").

One has to understand that banks, all banks are publicly funded and guaranteed. That makes banks, all banks into public institutions. That is why Goldman Sachs rushed to become a bank in 2008 (instead of an “investment bank”, which was actually a speculative private bank). This way Goldman Sachs could access the public money spigot.

Summers, as Clinton’s economic boss, would finish destroying the Banking Act of 1933, and as Obama’s economic guru, he makes sure that it cannot be reborn from the wreckage: the White House is presently trying to block attempts at a cleaner separation of banking and speculation in derivatives, as the Senate has proposed ("Volcker’s rule").

The establishment gave everything to Obama, so Obama gives everything to the establishment. Gratitude, and the sheepish hormonal bath it comes from, is why great revolutions are never the work of insiders. To invent, and lead where no mind has been before, one needs rage.

It can be very dignified rage, such as that of Socrates, Cicero or Boethius, but it is still rage. (These three rambunctious philosophers were executed by fascist power exasperated by their free spirit; I could give Twentieth Century example, but readers would not know their names; although some day they will be widely known.) The implicit recognition of that mental mechanism, the importance of creative rage, is why the mythical Jesus threw the merchants out of the temple, and why Jesus made rather sinister death threats against unbelievers (which no philosopher in good standing will stoop to do, since philosophers kill ideas, not their carriers.)

Creativity always entails destruction, be it only of inappropriate neurology. That is actually why anger was invented. To foster the melting of erroneous neurological circuitry. That, and scarring the enemy.

So let’s recapitulate. Clinton was bought.

After his nomination as candidate, Clinton was told Rubin, head of Goldman Sachs, would be his boss, and then, moreover, that the even more extreme Lawrence Summers, Reagan’s aide, would help to do what was necessary, namely to dismantle FDR’s work.

Clinton was aghast. He asked Rubin the rhetorical question "You mean to tell me that the success of the economic program and my re-election hinges on the Federal Reserve and a bunch of fucking bond traders?"

(One has to understand that the Federal Reserve is mostly a system having the appearance of objectivity, but mostly independent of democracy, being a creature of the banks that it itself feeds with public money, without any oversight of what it truly does, since it is secret. Thus one does not really know how much public money was given to Goldman Sachs in the last two years. It may have been above 60 billion dollars, some counted; but everybody knows 60 billion dollars was provided to General Motors, because there is oversight for that; GM makes things, Goldman Sachs causes trouble, and builds a new aristocracy.)

The president wanted to be "transformative". The essence of the economic and financial crises is the publicly financed, privately managed fractional reserve system itself. More globally the incest between Power and the elected representatives that our present form of democracy uses has caused the rise of various undemocratic powers.

The military industrial complex a retiring president Eisenhower saw as the greatest danger. Let him speak in his farewell address:

" A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction…

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together."

(In the penultimate draft of the address, Eisenhower initially used the term MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL-CONGRESSIONAL complex.)

One may start with the same premise, with, say, the fossil fuel industry. After all it is also a vital element in keeping keeping on. Thus the oil energy representatives ended, literally, in bed with officials of the supposedly democratic government (Obama is talking as if he wanted to change this, but, when the lady directly in charge was fired, he had not heard about it, a particularly telling moment; who is the boss, really?)

F. A. Hayek mentions in his 1944 book "The Road to Serfdom" the danger of a support of monopolistic organization of industry from WWII political remnants:

"Another element which after this war is likely to strengthen the tendencies in this direction will be some of the men who during the war have tasted the powers of coercive control and will find it difficult to reconcile themselves with the humbler roles they will then have to play [in peaceful times]".

Although Hayek is viewed as very deep by most American neo-conservatives, from my point of view, inasmuch as the preceding remark is correct, he is also quite naïve.

The war of 1914 was launched directly by military men, But not WWII. Indeed, the military effort of the war itself resulted from men who knew, all along, a greater "coercive control", namely those who, in Anglo-Saxon countries and Germany, used Hitler as an all too willing pawn. Hitler was fabricated. Hayek did not want to understand that, because he was a follower of his "master mind", de Mandeville (early 18C). Hayek was a co-creator of shadowy organizations (Pan European Union, Mont Pelerin) which helped put in power Hitler, Thatcher and Reagan, and the members of which were amply rewarded with wealth, power and honors.

Hitler himself talked as if he could out-maneuver his wealthy sponsors, and spent a lot of his time decrying them.

(This connects to his attack on the Jews, because, after all, the Rothschilds, initially German Jews, vociferously decried much earlier by US presidents, were behind the monopolistic powers of the public-private fractional reserve system, used, as early as the 18C, by England to leverage itself against larger France). In the end Hitler committed suicide, and some of his wealthy sponsors and managers such as Prescott Bush, or Dr. Schacht ended on top, and wealthier and more powerful than ever (having escaped prosecution).

Obama is a creature of compromise between many things. His usage of "transformation" may have been just a word the uttering of which would allow to vaccinate against the concept it nominates. Why would Obama have otherwise chosen the advisers and aides he did? To use them as a cover-up, and then manipulate them subtly to achieve the transformations they were supposed to prevent?

All we can hope , at this point: to believe in Obama’s inner fiber, by making him really angry.

So let him show us that his presidency is not just about a little brown boy in a big White House, obsequiously serving his masters.





P/S: I proposed, long ago, to use the anti-organized crime law for the Too-Big-To-Fail finance industry. In preparation to this, and to assuage some just rage, it may be good to practice RICO on BP. It is obvious that there was a deliberate, organized effort to scuttle normal laws and regulations on the part of the giant corporation known as BP (20 billion dollars profits a year).


11 Responses to ““Where I Was Wrong””

  1. JMG Says:


    Instead of hammering away at the President I think your energies would be better spent criticizing the biggest, most influential players that brought the U.S. economy nearly to the brink of collapse.

    Instead of insulting Obama which any one can do and then spending a lot of words defending an obviously poor choice of words, why not write more about former Treasury Secretary and investment banking CEO Henry Paulson, who in 2000 (gov´t said no) and again in 2004 (gov´t said yes, removing the leverage limits) asked the regulators to remove the leverage limits for investment banks that had been in place and which could have prevented the collapse of Bear Stearns and Lehman Bros., which were some of the major events that assured the election of Democrat Obama as the Wall St. collapse triggered a broader economic crisis? Obama has made plenty of mistakes, some of which he has owned up to. Which, however imperfect, is a lot better than the job done by his predecessor who is now quietly collecting his honorariums along with Greenspan and some of the others who were responsible for the gutting of the regulatory mechanisms than made the crisis a very likely outcome.

    Has Obama made some big mistakes while in office? Unquestionably. Some big ones. But remind yourself what and who preceded him. Paulson as Treasury Secretary virtually assured great difficulties for the next President and the next Treasury Secretary by giving so much money to the very financial institutions responsible for the crisis without any strings attached with regard to bonuses, executive compensation, and so on. As if Wall St. players deserved to have a different set of rules than other miscreants – something that clearly Paulson had already been pushing for for years like Larry Summers. Paulson´s selfish act for the benefit of Wall St. virtually assured that average American workers would be angry with the Federal government (and the new administration) over the bailout as their jobs disintegrated and home values continued to deteriorate.

    You´ve attempted to criticize Warren Buffett, too which is a lot more difficult than to criticize Paulson and Summers. I advise you to spend more of your energy criticizing those who are most obviously guilty of fanning the flames of the ideological war against sensible regulation of the financial markets instead of the smarter and less guilty people you are sometimes taking to task for smaller offenses.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Thanks for the comment. Good you say aloud what many are bound to think.

      I view my history helping Obama as second to none. And my criticism as constructive, not insulting. OK, I am sometimes trying to be funny, but I am not as funny as Obama.

      The fact is, Obama is the biggest player, although neither you nor him seem to be aware of it. Obama ought not to have nominated as economic guru the man who, more than any other, brought the economic catastrophe, namely Lawrence Summers. Even Rubin now accuses Summers for his behavior under Clinton (the later succeeded the former as economic chief). Then Obama decided to save the wealthy friends (Dimon, Goldman Sachs, Buffet, etc.) instead of saving the real American economy.

      Obama also decided to engage in an insane and immoral expansion of the war in AfPak, becoming worse than Bush that way. (Latest: he is starting to put the brakes on that insanity, according to New York Times. See my next essay on frustration.)

      I have covered what you are talking about in earlier essay, and my critiques go way deeper than the fractional reserve system. I even suggested to use ENERGY AS CURRENCY. From the largest philosophical point of view, Obama is the mote that could have done much better.

      I know Obama’s way cannot be easy. But he has made it harder by making nice to plutocracy.Maybe that is because he views himself all too much as black, and that colors his worldview, as he aspires to be taken seriously by serious masters. I view him as president. He is the master. Master of masters. So he should act, and think as if he were.


  2. jsaralan Says:


    As I look at American history I don’t see any real difference between Obama, Reagan, Roosevelt or others. You ascribe an interesting motive to Roosevelt for his creation of Glass-Steagall, but the truth is when Roosevelt came into office the nation had such serious problems that people were beginning to look at capitalism as the cause. Because of this, public interest in Marx, et. al. was at an all time high, and the Socialist party was a viable entity in the country. Roosevelt was a son of privilege who normally would be bound to serve them, but he faced a higher calling, which was the preservation of the country. People forget this but I don’t think it can be overstated: 10% unemployment is considered bad, but at least it’s workable in terms of keeping the social fabric basically intact. 12% is really bad, but also possibly workable. But when unemployment starts to creep higher, as it did during Roosevelt’s time, you have the makings of a revolution. Roosevelt, in order to save the privileged elites from themselves, simply stole the best ideas the Socialists had in order to take the wind out of Marxist sails. If he had not done it, the U.S. would have been convulsed by violence. These are possibilities conservatives conveniently forget when they criticize Roosevelt. By doing what he did, he helped quell the masses who had begun to suspect they were nothing more than debt peons. And there’s nobody more dangerous than a man who realizes his life doesn’t matter. So what Roosevelt really did was save the Union, in my view, which is the only cause that could force him to repudiate the elites (and for this they possibly attempted to arrange a coup against him, but that’s another issue). Anyway, if we look at American presidents in that light, they all serve privilege unless the abandonment of that principle is needed to preserve the Union. I am not a political expert, but that’s the way I tend to see it. The Civil Rights Act helped preserve the Union at a time when violence in the streets was becoming almost a norm, and the U.S. was an international embarrassment, one of only a few modern nations with racism encoded in law. Thus, once more a higher calling forced a president to save the greedy elites from themselves. And Lincoln fits into this framework as well. But save for these emergencies, all presidents have always been completely dedicated servants of the powerful elites, which is why the country always drifts right decade after decade until things get screwed up enough to need fixing yet again. Obama is no different from the others. When the banking crisis hit, and Bush enacted the naked robbery of the bailouts and Obama continued them, unrest on par with the 1930s or 1960s would have forced Obama to make the same choice as previous presidents—save the elites from themselves. American citizens should have shut down Wall Street—period, against whatever police resistance might have materialized. But instead they signed Facebook petitions, and the protests that occurred were sporadic and easily ignored by the corporate media. So change didn’t happen. Don’t blame Obama—blame the citizenry. Change has never occurred while people sat in their living rooms, but the illusion of our Internet age is that it can. Frankly, if the banking crisis couldn’t enrage people, and the endless wars can’t do it, then I fear it will never happen. What this means, at its most basic, is that the U.S. will not likely have another courageous president.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      jsaralan: Your comment is extremely smart. I agree with all you say.

      I just did not want to complicate matters. As it is my essays are often already way overcomplicated (actually Obama uses the tactic to overcomplicate everything all the time, maybe so that he can get nothing done, in his eternal pursuit of the status quo). Although I hold to my suggestion that FDR welcomed the challenge of exerting power in superior ways (after all, it is what motivates most intellectuals, whether they admit it or not!).

      One way FDR can be seen through is his attitude relative to Nazism. He talked part of the talk, but did not walk any walk, but the other way, until late 1941, when it became clear that Nazi Germany was not winning (as shown by massive British bombing raids on Germany and the exhaustion of the offensive against the USSR).

      Even more revealing was FDR’s attitude relative to France, which was neglectful, not to say aggressive. France was the enemy of Hitler, and had been for years. After Hitler’s accession to power, France prepared for war, and spent enormous energy doing so. When France, a republic and democracy, requested help formally from the USA, FDR could have used the executive privilege of the commander in chief. After all, it was about fighting Nazism, an abominable, hyper racist, violent and invasive regime.

      But FDR did not come to the help of France, nor barred his plutocratic affiliates to commerce with, aid and abet Hitler. Instead FDR rushed to extent recognition to the fascist, unconstitutional coup known as the Vichy regime. Later, during the war, he prepared the occupation of France as an enemy belligerent, a status France has had, courtesy of the FDR government and his US Congress, for longer than Nazi Germany. In particular an occupation currency was printed. (It all came to nought as the extremely aggressive and experienced French army was way too big, in Europe, for the American army to tangle with (although the French army supply lines were cut for a while, by the USA high command, it got to Austria first)).

      FDR is very much loved in France, and the French are wise that way: they decided to overlook and forget the preceding. But, as you point out, it is time to look into it. The presidency of the USA is more rapacious than is generally appreciated. One of my main theme has been that the USA, at the very least, surfed well the wave of fascism in Europe, and elsewhere. Supposing it did not mostly create it (as it seems pretty obvious to me that plutocracy did, with Hitler).


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      jsaralan: I do blame the citizenry. There is clearly not the spirit of (peaceful, but powerful) demonstrations, as found in France (leading Europe that way, but now pretty much all of Europe is joining the French in the spirit of contestation). Why is it so? A factor maybe that Americans are deeply scared: they do not find difference exciting, if it is deep enough. Moreover, being like cows watching trains pass, in front of the TV, seems the highest form of American culture, for most of the country.

      I have family in Colorado, and have seen them beach themselves like elephant seals in front of the wide screen TV, watching steroid freaks bang into each other on TV. For hours. It’s scary. That is what they use as mental activity. But talk about something interesting, and they leave the room, perhaps to save their material souls. I could say much more (but will not, for Obama like reasons).

      I know where Obama comes from, and, intellectually, he has come a long way. And it is very hard to do anything, because of that citizenry. This is what happened under imperial Rome: decerebration, and deintellectualization of the People, by the plutocracy. It’s easier to rule idiot sheep.


  3. Jacques Richarme Says:

    La photo me fait penser au poste dans lequel j’ai passé un an il y a quelque 45 ans en Algérie. Comment peut-on imaginer contrôler un tel pays, si loin, si haut et…si pauvre? Pourquoi ne pas les laisser croupir ou plutôt s’entredéchirer entre les diverses ethnies et factions religieuses qui le composent? Quant au terrorisme, il existera toujours, d’autant plus que l’épine irritative est bien présente, à savoir Israël? Et laissons faire les états directement affrontés à l’Islam guerrier et terroriste: ici l’Inde (avec le Cachemire), là la Chine avec le xingyang (Turkestan) mais n’y allons pas nous -même, les occidentaux sur le déclin!


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      This is no doubt what a philosopher such as Badiou would say: let them simmer, benign neglect…

      Thus, excellente observation. Mais les occidentaux ne sont pas la bas pour les raisons qu’ils pretendent. Ils sont la bas pour faire la guerre et imposer leur presence en Asie Centrale. Et parcequ’ils ont donne’ au Pakistan la bombe atomique, parceque diviser, c’est reigner (d’apres eux). Maintenant les occidentaux veulent avoir leurs forces pretes a s’insinuer dans la probabilite’ de conflit nucleaire entre Inde, Pakistan et Chine.

      Ce genre de mensonge est une grande partie de ce qui cause le declin des occidentaux. Ils investissent avant tout dans le militaire, donc faut qu’ils s’en servent. (Le budget US en “defense” est autour de 750 milliards de dollars; plus si on compte vraiment tous les supports indirects.)

      Par exemple le systeme bancaire est un vaste mensonge: il n’y a pas de banques vraiment seulement privees, elles sont toutes supportees par l’etat. Je suis d’accord avec toi que ce serait superficiellement agreable de voir une belle guerre Inde-Pakistan-Chine, bien nucleaire. Mais il y aurait de vastes consequences tragiques, meme en occident, et on renouvellerait le schema des annees trentes.

      Ma solution serait de faire monter en puissance le secularisme, a l’interieur meme de l’Afghanistan… Je ne sais pas si Obama a lit ce que j’ai ecrit, mais il est sorti avec un language tres muscle’ ce matin (“kick ass”).


  4. G Says:

    Have any mainstream politicians EVER publicly questioned what the finance industry as a whole actually does for society?

    If they just rendered the basic services – printing, safeguarding and accounting for our money – there would be no scope for them to become powerful billionaires, and as you say, they do not actually produce anything.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      President Sarkozy (himself as close to plutocracy, through marriage and brother as possible, and in to a lot of very dirty, if not murderous, secrets, including with China and Pakistan) has called for separating banks and speculation, at Davos, 2010. The financiers nearly hissed. He exited, then thought better of it, scolded them some more, and, as president of the French republic, asked them to rise.
      Shortly after, rumors came out massively saying he and his wife were sleeping around, like crazy, and high French government officials asserted that it was an attempt by bankers to discredit him. In Anglo-Saxon countries, of course. What is called infidelity in Anglo-Saxon countries is, indeed, viewed as fidelity to human nature in France, not to mention well ingrained French culture, and the religion of liberty. Let alone fraternity.

      Today the British Chancellor of the Exchequer announced to Parliament a special bank tax. He also announced that France and Germany were preparing a similar tax (thus demonstrating to sharky financiers the complete accord of the European heavyweights, since the Brits announce Franco-German financial strategy). Time for Obama to wake up. If he does not want a wake as hope mumified.



      • G Says:

        Heh – I’d thought a French premier’s career should be pretty robust against that sort of scandal: it’s what half the French film-industry’s about! 😀 Don’t the French have a forgiving attitude about infidelity?


        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Sarkozy is president; the PM is Fillon (very serious, and much more popular). Sarkozy is thin skinned about many things, which is funny because he does not hesitate to be controversial. Anyway the point is that French officials accused Anglo-Saxon financiers to have spread the rumors maliciously. The idea was to undermine bank reform by undermining the authority of Sarkozy, who is for reform, in the USA .

          Not that Sarkozy is a rebel, but he is a cautious plutocrat; he knows that France can explode, if he does not surf the wave well, and the rest of Europe could not be far behind.

          It is hard to imagine anybody in France would worry about who the Sarkozys sleep with. The French deeply feel that who sleeps with whom is their business only.

          Mitterand used to have a complete second family housed and protected by the French state, and nobody talked about it. It was great fun, though, when president Giscard d’Estaing, without security detail, collided with the milkman’s truck at 5am outside the Elysee Palace.


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