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In Italy in August the country completely shuts down and everyone heads for the beach. It is referred to as ferragosto. When I worked in the US Embassy in Rome in the 1970s Italian secretaries would begin maneuvering in the preceding September to make sure that they would have their vacations in the following August, circumventing Embassy requirements that all sections be staffed even during August. It was shameful not to be on vacation in August.

I know it is August in America and a similar ritual is taking place, with nearly everyone with a bank account on Martha’s Vineyard schmoozing with Alan Dershowitz and the other cool guys from Harvard, but there are some serious issues that need to be addressed. First of all there is the Brett Favre saga, currently playing out in Green Bay Wisconsin. Favre says he wants to play football even though in March he said that he didn’t. His view of the surge has never been made clear to my satisfaction. Does he really think the Sunni Awakening is in the US national interest? And what would happen if General Petraeus were to meet Mullah Omar head to head? Petraeus is Dutch and the last successful Dutch general was named von Tromp or something like that and that was in the seventeenth century. And what does Favre think of Obama apart from the obvious , i.e. that any respectable cornerback in the NFL could eat his lunch if he tried to catch a down and out or cut across a seam midfield. Smart guy with good hands but afraid to take a hit. And what about that old fart McCain. Okay in the owner’s box, but keep him off the sideline.

And then there’s the guy in England who strangled his wife because she wouldn’t give him money to go off and get drunk. Yesterday the judge sentenced him to permanent banishment from the local pub, reasoning that it would punish him more than spending the rest of his life in prison. I wonder what the penalty for mothers-in-law would be? Is this a sign that Britain has gone even softer and is somehow so lacking in spinal rigor that it would not back Washington when we dish it to the Mullahs? Serious stuff, even if it is August.

And then there’s the really crappy television in August. I mean who wants to see spin-offs of “Dancing with the Stars.” Even the “Jeopardy” tournament of champions is featuring questions like “Who is buried in Grant’s Tomb?” Reruns of “The Office” are no longer funny.

Meanwhile there are two wars going on and another one about to start if the Israeli government gets its way, but nobody cares. Is Hillary really going to stage a coup at the Democratic National Convention? Will China win its own Olympics? Stay tuned.

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy 
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