Of course, scapegoats are intrinsic to the language of politics. And scapegoats are particularly useful to ignorant politicians. The fact is that most politicians do not know the slightest about how finance—public or private—actually operates. It is for them a matter of good and evil—mostly good when prosperity reigns, mostly evil when prosperity collapses.
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.
I am told that “Guantanamera,” a song derived from a poem by the Cuban turn-of-the century revolutionary Jose Marti and made famous by the American Communist folk singer Pete Seeger, refers to a girl, presumably very beautiful, from Guantanamo. The original Spanish lyrics do not confirm this.
Shortly after Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou took office last fall, he learned that he’d inherited a massive booby prize: a budget deficit that was twice the amount the previous government had disclosed. But, when Papandreou came clean and promised to address the problem, the financial markets reacted violently. Interest rates soared, adding billions in debt-service costs to an already dire budget picture.
Elisabeth Rosenthal has a smart piece looking into Spain's failed experiment with solar-power subsidies. What happened was that in 2007, the Spanish government announced a new policy of "feed-in tariffs" for solar power. Anyone who built, say, a solar-thermal plant or installed photovoltaic panels on their roof could sell that electricity to the grid for above-market rates.
What were two members of a violent Basque separatist group doing with 11 members of Colombia's narco-Marxist insurgency in a remote corner of southwestern Venezuela in August 2007? According to a blockbuster indictment handed down by a Spanish judge last week, they were participating in a kind of intercontinental terrorist training camp held under the aegis of the Venezuelan military.
Meyer Schapiro Abroad: Letters to Lillian and Travel Notebooks Edited by Daniel Esterman (Getty Research Institute, 243 pp., $39.95) I. Meyer Schapiro Abroad is an astonishing book. It consists of seemingly commonplace materials--the love letters that a graduate student wrote while traveling to work on his dissertation, plus a selection of sheets from his research notebooks. Yet taken together these pages present something extraordinary and nearly unique: an intensely evocative account of the process and the experience of historical discovery.
Europe is a mess. Greece is the country on the continent closest to utter wreck. (And, if not for statements yesterday by Chancellor Merkel and President Sarkozy, there would literally be no hope for a life raft anywhere near Athens soon. This morning's FT smothers even those wan hopes.) Spain, Portugal and Ireland are not far behind ... or under. Each of these countries has views on how Israel deals with the Palestinians, and they don't like it at all. Neither do the past and present "foreign ministers"—so to speak, but not exactly—of the European Union.
Bitter Spring: A Life of Ignazio Silone By Stanislao Pugliese (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 426 pp., $35) In June 1950, Ignazio Silone and Arthur Koestler, two of the most prominent anti-communist writers of that era, attended a convivial dinner party in West Berlin. They had gathered with several other intellectuals to celebrate the founding conference of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, an American-sponsored riposte to the Soviet Cominform’s “peace conferences” of the preceding year.