Because We Can, Cannes
May 20, 2010
Europe is burning. The unpronounceable Eyjafjallajökull volcano won’t stay put; Southern European countries are competing with each other to announce the most draconian austerity measures imaginable; a liquidity flood of Biblical proportions has failed to restore market confidence; and, if that weren’t enough, Simon Cowell is getting cold feet about marriage. These are dark days. So what better time for me to flee stern Con-Lib London and seek relief at the Cannes Film Festival? Surely better Penelope Cruz than Premier Cameron. Penelope was too busy to hang out.
You may remember that during the president’s first trip abroad he spent two days in Turkey. A little much, I thought. After all, a presidential visit is something of a gift to the host country’s government. And why did Ankara deserve such a gift? Well, it didn’t. First of all, in 2003, it had barred American troop movement through Iraq from the north. I don’t know exactly how many U.S. deaths accrued because of this ban. But sober estimates tell us that as many as 500 soldiers may have been killed because of the restriction.
I’m Serious: We’re Finally Getting Serious
May 12, 2010
The fiscal policy terrain is shifting radically—and rapidly. Europe’s response to the Greek crisis combines debt and enforced austerity. In the UK, the official Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition agreement states that “deficit reduction and continuing to ensure economic recovery is the most urgent issue facing Britain” and commits to a “significantly accelerated reduction in the structural deficit over the course of a Parliament” (that is, between now and 2015).
Forget About “The New Middle East.” Israel Belongs To The First World, And Its Neighbors To The Third.
May 11, 2010
Everybody actually knows that. “The new Middle East” is a psychedelic fantasy of the perennially intoxicated peace processors. The dream will go on forever. And maybe it will be punctuated positively a tiny bit by practical arrangements on the ground.
The British Election Was All About Immigration
May 11, 2010
Many observers are wondering why the Conservatives failed to gain an outright majority in last week’s elections. After all, Labour has been in power for thirteen years, Gordon Brown is deeply unpopular, and the budget is in crisis. Moreover, David Cameron worked hard to modernize and moderate the Conservative party, and despite a surge after the first debate, the Liberal Democrats scored only a modest gain in the popular vote and actually lost five seats. The answer is starting us in the face, and it’s disturbing: the Tories fell short because the right-wing anti-Europe, anti-immigrant partie
The Only Really Good News For The American Economy Is The Rise Of The Dollar. Have A Wonderful Time In Europe This Summer.
May 07, 2010
Actually, the insolvency of Greece also made rough waves in America. Shortly before 3 p.m., the major stock indices (S & P, Dow and NASDAQ) were about to register 10% southwards. Not good news. And the fact they all ended the market day at roughly 3.5% down was only relatively good news, very relatively. This was not a good week for Wall Street. Of course, it was a disastrous week for Greece, which, mirabili dictu, avoided default only because the professional Eurocrats in Brussels and in other boring cities where “Europe” is headquartered went into hysterics.
The Prisoner Intellectuals
May 05, 2010
The key to understanding radical Islam and Communism? Prison culture.
April 29, 2010
These are obviously dark days for the Roman Catholic Church. For over a decade, the U.S. church has been assailed by abuse charges and devastated by the resulting litigation. The Vatican used to console itself with the belief that this was a peculiarly American crisis, but, this year, similar abuse cases have arisen all over Europe—most agonizingly in Ireland, one of the world's most faithfully Catholic countries. Across the continent, bishops are facing demands to resign, while critics are urging Pope Benedict himself to consider standing down.
April 28, 2010
For most of the 2.5 million years that humans and their predecessors have been around, the Earth has been a volatile place. Subtle shifts in the planet’s orbit have triggered large temperature swings; glaciers have marched across North America and Europe and then retreated. But, about 10,000 years ago, something unusual happened: The Earth’s climate settled into a relatively stable state, global temperatures started hovering within a narrow band, and sea levels stopped rising and falling so drastically.
April 21, 2010
The words most often used by the heads of oil companies to describe the boom are “revolution” and “game changer.” Industry historian Daniel Yergin calls it “the shale gale.” Admittedly, serious questions remain as to whether shale gas will pass the ecological test—critics say it can’t be extracted safely in proximity to groundwater, and the EPA is engaged in a two-year study of extraction techniques.