Why Italy Flopped
June 24, 2010
There are a number of theories for why Italy slinked out of the World Cup so shamefully. That the team was old; that coach Marcello Lippi could have picked better attackers; that the Juventus-based central defense with Cannavaro and Chiellini was shaky, and dismally proved it with their club all season long, and so on. In my view, while these criticisms are all in some respects true, the real problems lie elsewhere, particularly in two places: tactically, the absence of anything we might call an effective midfield; and, more generally, the declining standard of Italian football.
The Search For Foreign Models
June 22, 2010
Rich Lowry and Ramesh Ponnuru, National Review: The American Left has shared this maddened perplexity at its country’s character and this hope for its effacement. Marxists at home and abroad were always mystified by the failure of socialism in the U.S. They thought that, as the most advanced capitalist society, we would have had the most restive proletariat. Instead we have had a broad and largely satisfied middle class. Even our unions, in their early history, were anti-statist, their radicalism anarchistic rather than socialist.
The $64 Trillion Question (Part 1)
June 22, 2010
That we seem to have avoided another Great Depression doesn’t mean our economy is anywhere near as strong as it should be. In fact, most indicators—from unemployment to private investment—prove quite the opposite. What can be done? How can we ensure the U.S. enjoys not merely a modest recovery but the kind of buoyant prosperity we saw in the decades after World War II and briefly in the 1990s? We put the question to few political economists and will run their thoughts over the next couple weeks.
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 ...