Winning for “El Mariscal”
June 20, 2010
There are several reason why I enjoyed Paraguay’s victory over Slovakia. First, there’s the obvious. As almost every Paraguayan team in history, this group understands football first as a physical game. It is no coincidence that Paraguay is one of the few teams in the world—and certainly in this continent—so clearly identified with the ancestral values of its indigenous people, the Guaranies. This is not “el equipo paraguayo”; this is “el equipo guarani.” The indomitable culture of the Guarani is as much a part of Paraguayan football culture as Maori tradition for New Zealand.
The Sixties Strike Back
June 19, 2010
Of all the advantages that England seemed to enjoy at the outset of their lifeless 0-0 draw with Algeria, perhaps none looked so dramatic on television as their vast handsomeness advantage. On the sideline there was David Beckham, of course, the only man alive who can make a mohawk look upstanding, and the coach Fabio Capello, who looked terrific and commanding--gorgeous light grey suit, charcoal shirt, black tie, and spectacles so impeccably designed they seem likely to inspire a line of kitchenware.
June 19, 2010
The lady has been an old crone for more than half a century. So it was inevitable that some people in the profession would feel sympathy for Helen Thomas, even in her wicked quintessence. And not only merciful to her person but concerned for her lost job. Yes, Hearst pushed her, but Thomas, intuitively sensing that she would no longer be deferred to by the president or the press corps, went gently. Her wacky game was up. But this is not comedy. And Thomas’s answer to a random question—from a rabbi, it is true—about her current thoughts on Israel were deadly serious.
Is Italy Fatally Insular?
June 17, 2010
I’ve been reading Rob Hughes for many years, always with interest, but a recent piece of his in the New York Times (from his On Soccer column in the International Herald Tribune) made me wonder about the pretzel logic that can sometimes accompany political correctness. The theme of his article published on June 15 was that Germany, thanks to its multicultural team, was displaying a new vigor, while Italy, top-heavy with, well, uh, Italians, was on the skids: There seems to be a new, vibrant, powerful Germany: a side whose players are too young to fear defeat and whose diverse ethnic backgroun
Hotter Planet, More Snowstorms?
June 14, 2010
Sometime this summer, the Senate will have a debate over an energy bill. What kind of energy bill? That's still the unanswered question. But the timing, at least, is propitious: After all, 2010 is shaping up to be the hottest year on record, and the summer months should be particularly unpleasant. And studies have shown that people are, predictably, far more receptive to talking about global warming during the sweltering heat than during the winter months.
Get it Right!
June 14, 2010
Washington—Will politics slow our economic recovery? Will world leaders who pulled us back from the brink of a new Great Depression throw in the towel before the global economy gets the unemployed back to work?These are the moment's central questions, and I posed them last week to Larry Summers, President Obama's top economic adviser. Summers is often cast as an economic conservative because he was a serious budget balancer in the Clinton years.
Better A Bad Press Than A Good Epitaph
June 13, 2010
Actually, the hysteria about the Israeli encounter with the Turkish goons has abated. And it has probably come to the attention of some reasonable people that Recep Tayyip Erdogan is working the seas not exactly for the interests of the Turks but for the Islamic crusade being led by the Iranian clerisy and secret police. I know little about Erdogan but something more about Turkey. The last century of its history is being betrayed in an avalanche of thuggish holiness. Its economy is not doing as bad as that of Greece. But just wait. Tourism is going down, down, down ...
Abbas Doesn't Want the Embargo Lifted Either
June 13, 2010
There's a fascinating dispatch in Ha'aretz reporting that Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas has made it clear to President Obama that he doesn't want Israel's naval blockade against Hamas lifted. This should be no surprise, and it raises difficult questions for both America and the meddlesome Europeans who can produce nothing diplomatically but hot air. In fact, why doesn't Europe attend to its own terrible problems, among which are the survival of the Eurozone itself and the very liquidity of Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland? What does that mean? Leave Israel alone. But it won'
The Iranian Resistance and Us
June 11, 2010
One year ago this week in Iran, the desire for democracy gave birth to an indigenous political reform movement that is more promising and more consequential than anything the Middle East has seen in a generation. One year ago, the conventional wisdom held that the prospect for political evolution in Iran was dim and distant.
From the Archives: TNR Debates Soccer
June 09, 2010
Not everyone at TNR has an equal appreciation for the beautiful game. In fact, Frank Foer and Jonathan Chait have debated its proper role in American sports and culture around the office for over a decade. Here are excerpts from a passionate argument (and equally rousing response) published in the magazine eight years ago, while the World Cup was wrapping up in Korea and Japan. From Foer’s piece, “Fair Ball,” (7/1/2002): But there's a simple solution to this perception problem: Let soccer be soccer.