High-level defection?

Sources in Washington are strongly denying rumors that Attorney-General Ashcroft has defected to France. But it seems hard to square those denials with this report.

The [French] National Assembly has voted to make it a criminal offence to show a lack of respect for the national anthem and the national flag, with penalties of up to E7,500 and six months in prison.

At the French cup final in the Stade de France last May between Bastia and Lorient, the playing of ‘La Marseillaise’ before the match was accompanied by loud whistling from the many Corsicans among the spectators. President Jacques Chirac was clearly furious, because moments later he left the stand. Recalling this incident, the president of the Football Federation Claude Simonet will not easily forget the words Chirac used at last year’s cup final to express his fury. “It’s inadmissible. I will not tolerate and I will not accept attacks on the essential values of the Republic and on those who express them.”

DEVELOPING.

Update A Chirac comment that “The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen is not a suicide pact” has generated rumors that Chief Justice Rehnquist might also have defected. But our sources tell us those negotiations have stalled over Rehnquist’s insistence on being allowed to wear his robes with the three chevrons, a demand strenuously opposed by the powerful French fashion industry.

Second update A Rehnquist clerk who would speak only on condition of anonymity claims to have heard the Chief complain about “being caught between Chirac and a hard place.”

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com