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.

Anyone But Brazil
June 07, 2010

Hello everyone. It's nice to be back and thank you, Frank, for the invitation to join this merry throng once again. You ask: Who will win this thing? The sensible answer, I suppose, is to say that either Spain or Brazil will carry the trophy home. On paper they are comfortably the two most accomplished squads in the tournament. But, as the television pundits always remind us, soccer ain’t played on paper.  Nevertheless, should it be a Brazil-Spain final, I very much hope that Spain will prevail. I am, you see and I am afraid, bored of Brazil.

The Idolatry of Light
June 05, 2010

Tiepolo Pink By Roberto Calasso Translated by Alastair McEwen (Knopf, 288 pp., $40) Giambattista Tiepolo was not the last of the old masters—that dubious distinction is usually conferred on Goya—but it is surely safe to say that he was the last great painter of the Italian Renaissance.

In The Great Flotilla Debate, The Facts Are On Israel's Side
June 01, 2010

Look, I wish the Israeli raid on the so-called “Freedom Flotilla” had ended differently. Why, I ask, didn’t Israel’s navy disable the engine of the Mavi Marmara and drag the ship into port? Who knows? The engines of the other boats were apparently disabled—or so reliable sources say. But, frankly, when some 800 men and women, distributed over six boats after weeks and weeks of preparation, are headed towards Gaza on the wings of slogan and hysteria, you don’t take that many chances.