France

We Have A Winner!
February 03, 2012

Well, Mitt Romney may not have much competition in the Nevada caucuses, but he’s got rivals galore in the business of producing gaffes that manage to be aggravating to both left and right, as his “not concerned about the very poor” riff was. The Stump put out the call for gaffes of Romneyesque bipolar irritation, and the readers responded in force. If Mitt’s well ever runs dry, he will know where to turn for material. So, without further ado, the winner and runners up of the First Stump Contest of the 2012 campaign.

Meet the Gun-Toting, Teetotaling, Jet-Skiing Russian Billionaire Running Against Putin
December 15, 2011

In the wake of rising dissatisfaction with Vladimir Putin and protests against irregularities in Russia’s recent parliamentary elections, Mikhail Prokhorov’s decision to run for president was greeted with a lot of excitement. But, soon enough, paranoia set in: Is he a freedom-loving democrat, an opportunist, or just another Putin stooge? While the jury is still out on that question, one thing is clear enough: He’s incredibly rich, and perhaps like most über-wealthy individuals, he’s cultivated quite a few … eccentricities. Here are just a few that stand out.  1.

What Hope Remains?
December 14, 2011

An Awareness of What is Missing: Faith and Reason in a Post-Secular Age By Jürgen Habermas (Polity Press, 87 pp., $14.95) The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere By Judith Butler, Jürgen Habermas, Charles Taylor, and Cornel West Edited by Eduardo Mendieta and Jonathan VanAntwerpen (Columbia University Press, 137 pp., $19.50) On October 14, 2001, the German philosopher Jürgen Habermas stepped up to the lectern at the Paulskirche in Frankfurt to deliver a short address called “Faith and Knowledge.” The occasion was his acceptance speech of the Peace Prize, a yearly honor that the German Book

Stanley Kauffmann on Films: The Unexpected
December 14, 2011

The Conquest Tomboy In Heaven, Underground: The Weissensee Jewish Cemetery “Politics is a stupid job done by smart men.” So says Nicolas Sarkozy in The Conquest, a French film about him that states it is not a documentary. At the start it asserts that, though it is based on real people and events, it is fiction.

In "Humanizing" Mitt, An Unintended Echo
December 12, 2011

Politico reports that Mitt Romney, seeking to reboot amid the resurgence of Newt Gingrich, is now "engaged in a humanizing effort" after months in which he framed himself as an impersonal fix-it man for a broken economy: Meet Mitt Romney, human. In the past 24 hours, the former Massachusetts governor has talked about his father, experiences while working as a missionary that weren’t even in his memoir — and twice in two days, he’s brought up the Mormon faith that he’s until now largely steered clear of.

Defending Israel Against Its Right-Wing Jews
December 06, 2011

In the Jewish struggle around Zionism there were at least three strands in opposition so fierce that it was evident that the very meaning of “the people Israel” was at stake. The first of these was a vast religious cohort, at once immensely learned or purported to have such learning and having, as well, the authority of the sages. Or the ages. While ongoing study and “trust in the Lord” constituted their program, they practiced a politics that was fundamentally anti-political. God was both their instrument and their end.

Darkness and Kindness
November 23, 2011

The Letters of Samuel Beckett Vol. 2: 1941-1956Edited by George Craig, Martha Dow Fehsenfeld, Dan Gunn, and Lois More Overbeck (Cambridge University Press, 791 pp., $50) In February 1950, David Greene, who was then a professor of English at New York University, asked a twenty-three-year-old protégé on a Fulbright year in Paris to track down Samuel Beckett.  I should like to know  a.) what he is doing now, for a living.  b.) why has he, or has he, stopped writing. But none of this is terribly important except that I should like to find that he is a real person, living in the flesh.

Mitt Romney: Tither Extraordinaire
November 16, 2011

My post on Monday musing on the recent highbrow critiques of Mormonism by Chris Lehmann in Harper's magazine and Harold Bloom in the New York Times provoked some thoughtful responses from Mormon readers who questioned whether Mitt Romney's religion was any grounds for discussion. Buried deep inside today's Times was another small reminder why many people believe it is fair topic for conversation: because Mitt Romney is not any old Mormon. He was, as a recent profile described, not only the "bishop" of his local congregation in Belmont, Mass.

The Pretender
November 09, 2011

Many characters made appearances during my efforts earlier this year to persuade the international community that the freedom fighters of Libya needed the world’s help.

Italy’s Going Under, But Don’t Blame Berlusconi
November 09, 2011

The eurozone debt crisis simply refuses to go away. Last month’s latest and greatest plan put forward by European leaders has already been judged by financial markets to be insufficient. And while it is political uncertainty in Greece that has thrown the whole process into question, the main victim has actually been Italy; in the days since the rescue package was announced, Italy has found its borrowing costs rising to record levels as investors continue to expect the worst. But why are investors picking on Italy?

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