by Ramin Mazaheri

I know that if you’re on The Saker you have a ton of great stuff to read, and I don’t want to waste your time, so:

Fillon is a French presidential candidate, and no you do not have to care about him anymore.

Are you still reading? Well then, we must be related!

(Send food/money/fewer pictures)

I have put off writing this article for so long that it has become largely irrelevant, as Francois himself now is.

Today, Fillon had all of France in a tizzy as he hastily canceled his visit to the National Farmers’ Fair (Salon de l’Agriculture) and called an immediate press conference.

France is the breadbasket of Western Europe and primarily a nation of rural farmers, so politicians don’t just…cancel a visit to this event. It’s the only time you can step in cow dung and be in Paris at the same time!

And you certainly don’t do it in a campaign year!

But done it, he did.

And so we journos stopped whatever we working on to cover Fillon. I cancelled a story on a demonstration against France’s illegal treatment of homeless minors. I felt bad about that, but that’s the way it is.

We all assumed that he was going to make good on his pledge to step down if the justice system opened up a formal investigation on his alleged participation in “Penelopegate”.

François and Penelope Fillion

For those who rightly ignore the presidential campaigns of foreign nations because they are what I call “near news” (whoever wins is the actual “news” anyone really needs to know): Penelope is Fillon’s wife, and she is alleged to have received nearly 1 million euros in ghost jobs over a decade.

From taxpayer money no less. As her husband’s parliamentary aide, no less!

They could not find any proof of Penelope doing any actual work. Fillon said he would provide plenty of evidence to police…such as pay stubs. LOL, Francois seemed to think that proof of payment is not the same as proof of hard work.

This is from a candidate who ran as “Mr. Clean”, backed by the rural Catholic silent majority who he so surprisingly spurned to hold this press conference.

Skip the preambles, so what’d he say?

Fillon announced that he will indeed have to go before a judge on March 15 and explain himselfover his role in the alleged fraud.

(But he’s got pay stubs! What’s the problem?)

What’s funny is that if you are a cop in France and you shoot some Black or Muslim 20-year old in the back…well, then the wheels of justice move slowly, and then they move not at all in a seemingly-guaranteed acquittal (I can offer no examples of cops being convicted of murder this century).

So, it is a bit strange that Frank is going to have to testify so quickly….

I said “skip the preambles”! Is Fillon going to drop out?

Hahahahaahha, your naiveté is very cute! What a good heart you have! How are you not married by now?

Frank is not dropping out.

Franklin may have dropped from guaranteed winner all the way down to 3rd place, but he’s still close enough to the De Gaulle-crafted dictatorship-presidency that nothing could make him quit.

Frank said “the presidential election is being politically assassinated”…and that is being poorly reported as, “Fillon claims ‘political assassination,’” but I can’t do everyone’s job for them.

He’s got a point, per my “how does a cop get off after shooting anybody in the back” point attests. I’m surprised he didn’t also draw the comparison….

It’s not just Fillon: Marine Le Pen is also being investigated for alleged ghost jobs, but with European Parliament. She is a smart one, or at least she has savvy lawyers, because she has claimed her right to immunity as an MP and refuses to talk to investigators until after the election.

However, she has just been stripped of said immunity, but only regarding gruesome beheading re-Tweets of ISIL.

That investigation has been going on since late 2015 but the timing is also curious, and Le Pen will easily find a receptive audience for allegations of politically-motivated machinations to deprive her of the presidency as well.

I wonder how we the public can understand the effects of going to war if we can’t show the actual effects of war…but that’s pretty much the point, and also another issue.

Fillon can’t really take Le Pen’s tack here (though he does agree with her policy of rampant xenophobia), because he campaigned as “Mr. Clean”.

He’s a “Monsieur Propre” (as that household cleaner is marketed here in France) with a cool million of allegedly stolen taxpayer money, but he still has to dutifully go and see the cops, and he may even confess like the good Catholic he always says he is.

That’s between him, his Maker and the justice system, but admitting it and putting it behind him may be the only way for him to regain enough popularity to get into the 2nd round. The latest poll has him at 21% in the first round, bested by Le Pen (25%) and Emmanuel “Ugh please anyone but him how can this happen oh the humanity” Macron (24%).

For those not used to a two-round system: 21% in the first round is essentially equal to the score of the New Anti-Capitalist Party’s Philippe Poutou, who is polling at 0%.

I assume that’s rounded down, unless he really has a self-confidence problem.

Ole Francoissy said (I’m running out of nicknames here) at his press conference: “I rely on the French people because only the vote, and not a prosecution, can decide who will be the next president….The sovereign will of the people cannot be annulled…that alone should choose our collective future.”

It’s an interesting point, similar to the US Supreme Court justice situation during the Trump/Clinton election. Should the people decide…or appointed bureaucrats? If the French people are ok with electing a guy who may be guilty of embezzlement…well, this is France.

And how bad is France? It is so bad that a staggering, STAGGERING 99% of 18-34 year old believe their politicians are corrupt, according to a poll last December.

That is enormous; that is something which may not be replicated anywhere else; that alone proves that voting for the mainstream is the fool’s vote. Certainly since the European Sovereign Debt Crisis they are indeed a “lost” and “sacrificed” generation.

The older ones here are just as faithless: 75% believe that Parliamentarians are corrupt. It has gotten so bad that we will have had nationwide anti-corruption on three Sundays running, provided it’s not too rainy March 5th.

So, Coissy (why don’t they use that diminutive here?) is not wrong to think he really is not done for.

But Fillon should be done for

My original headline for this column was: “Francois Fillon – man of the (17th century) people.”

I waffled on if his ideology would be more accurately termed “16th century” – preceding any advancements of the Enlightenment – and then I became engrossed with flicking playing cards into an upturned hat and never wrote the column.

Fillon lives in a huge 14th century feudal manor.

It’s the type of place which for centuries required an entire village of hundreds of people to support. You’d have the barrel-makers making his barrels, and the cobber cobbling 14th-century Fillon’s cobs, and the indentured servants as his mistresses, etc.

Somebody wouldn’t bow low enough, or they’d ask if they could collect the rainwater for the tiny patch of cropland Master didn’t appropriate, and…14th-century Francois would give them the lash, and then go pray in the on-site chapel with a totally clear conscience.

21st-century Francois is not so different. He is unusual in that he seemingly always wears pinstripe suits, and in France this English/American style is only for the most capitalist of conservatives, for the biggest wannabe-gangsters.

I don’t care about his sartorial fashions or his wife’s I’m “a country peasant” who stays at home in my hillbilly hovel nonsense. Well, if you do, then how are you also working hard as his Parliamentary assistant in Paris? And what kind of a peasant earns 7,000 euros/month? You likely weren’t working hard as his aide, and she was caught on video years ago saying as much. Penelope is also being forced to testify.

What I care about is that Fillon’s economic plan is to DOUBLE the austerity cuts of Hollande.

Really? Is it because that has worked so well?

I can promise you that with a clock’s regularity since the fall of 2011 I have been penning the phrase “low quarterly growth rate” every three months. Austerity forced me to do so many of these stories that I’m going to instead hyperlink a story about French activists occupying a bank over tax fraud from December. (Fun story)

Fillon also wants to cut 500,000 public sector jobs. Why can’t I put 500,000 in capital letters?!

Because France has more than 4 million people already unemployed, 500k more would mean an instant 15% increase.

Yeah, maybe it’s not exactly that simple, but my math is way better than the neoliberals who say that firing 500,000 people will spark a decrease in France’s near-record unemployment rate.

I wouldn’t vote for Fillon if he ran against the exhumed body of Napoleon III’s favorite barrel-maker!

And yet, I’ve been shocked to hear even true leftists in France say they would still vote for Fillon over Le Pen. As if Fillon wasn’t just as xenophobic….

So where does Mr. Fillon stand now?

Well, he probably stands with far less political independence than when today started.

Fillon was 30 minutes late to his press conference, and people here are pretty punctual. (Not me, I’m on Iranian-peoples’ time.)

There should be very little doubt of why he was late: He was in the back room of his campaign headquarters, with all the fellow conservative party leaders he could muster…and he was probably handing out favors and appointments in return for their continued support despite the deepening of his scandal.

He probably had to promise an airport in this town, a cabinet position to this guy, a campaign appearance at the annual cheese festival of this rural bigwig, etc.

Maybe some didn’t get what they wanted, because they are already defecting from Fillon’s campaign. He might lose some key centrist parties who had backed him – time will tell.

How can you campaign for a guy being grilled for embezzlement…when just two months ago you were repeating his claim that “only a candidate with a record as spotless as me can correctly inflict such brutal austerity measures”? I’m paraphrasing, but not by much, truly.

He did not lose Sarko l’Américain.

In fact, as his campaign was starting to unravel, Fillon lunched with Sarkozy last month. And it was clear that he gave Fillon his new campaign tactic: Say something shocking every day to control the narrative.

I wasn’t here in 2007 when Sarko started, but journalists told me, “Man, was he great for business!” Because he gave journalists a lot of work by purposely saying crazy and offensive things during the campaign, and then also calling a ton of press conferences during his lone term.

There’s no bad publicity, for a Sarkozyist.

But there is – and it’s disgusting really: The very night that Fillon met with Sarkozy he proposed to try minors as adults.

It was openly targeted at Muslims and Blacks in the poor suburbs – pure Sarkozy.

The reality is that if Fillon wins, he’ll have to try and deliver on this promise, and that means that 16-year olds will be treated as if they aren’t children and will be forced to rot even longer in France’s antiquated, overcrowded, 70% Arab-filled prisons which are “among the worst in Europe” (behind only Moldova) … just so Fillon can be president.

Like I said – disgusting.

I guess it’s really WWSD – What Would Sarko Do – and not WWJD – What Would Jesus Do?

What Fillon may not realize is that Sarkozy’s tactic won’t work – it’s old hat. Islamophobia has gone mainstream under Hollande, and now everybody is doing it. That well has gone dry.

Fillon: Watch out for those flying cow patties!

It’s really amazing: Three days after the French Left doomed themselves to irrelevance– by refusing to unite in a broad coalition –the Right is now imploding due to Fillon.

Much like the Celine Dion CD he probably has rocking in whatever high-end luxury car he has, Francois’ “heart will go on”.

He is still running, and c’est la France – expectations for morality are so low that almost no politician is ever dead, above all on the Right.

But I think Fillon will ultimately sink just like Celine’s Titanic did…unless he can find a LOT more non-Whites to throw under the bus, or something.

In 2017 it’s all about just getting into the 2nd round, where everyone is beating Le Pen. However, it’s key to know that she made very solid gains in February: she is running at 58-42 against Macron and is all the way to 55-45 versus Fillon.

That was prior to today.

Fillon is going to take a huge hit in the polls, and I for one say it can’t be deep enough: Penelopegate aside, 5 more years of austerity would mean that we have to come up with an adjective even worse than “brutal” to precede “austerity measures”.

And the French really don’t like those, as the “one and done” term of Hollande proves.

And yet…Macron is proposing worse cuts than Hollande and is somehow leading? I am going to go on record as saying: France is currently a very stupid country.

At some point before they close the fake barn doors, Fillon will have to go back to the Farmers’ Fair…and he better hope his pinstripe suit is Staingarded for cow dung.

He’ll even get some cheers, but the people cheering the most tonight are Macron and Le Pen. Barring the nation coming to its senses and voting for the Communist-backed Jean-Luc Melenchon, it will be those two candidates in the 2nd round on the May 7th.

Now that you’ve met Francois Fillon, I think you’ll agree you really didn’t need to know so much about him – he’s just “near news”.

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television.

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