In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 23, 2008 / 18 Iyar 5768

Trash and Politics Italian Style

By Mona Charen

Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Does the outcome of last month's election in Italy have any relevance to the U.S.? A youngish center-left candidate who claimed to represent a new politics of hope, "Si puo fare," ("It can be done") lost decisively to a 71-year-old figure of the center-right who is nothing if not a familiar fixture of Italian politics. The loser's resemblance to Barack Obama is not coincidental. Walter Veltroni was the first European politician to promote Obama after the two met in 2005. Veltroni wrote the introduction for the Italian release of "The Audacity of Hope." While he has moved to the center in recent years, Veltroni began his political life in the Communist Party, a biographical detail unforgiven by some voters.

But Silvio Berlusconi pulled out a great victory. And that is where resemblances to American politics must end. Consider what Berlusconi faces. The New York Times reported it this way: "Beginning his third term as prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi on Wednesday pledged unusually forceful measures to solve Italy's deep problems. These steps include new restrictions on illegal immigrants and the use of the military to tackle the longstanding garbage crisis in Naples." The military? To clear garbage?

Your humble correspondent was just in Italy last week and amid many delights (including the gorgeous Amalfi Coast) had the misfortune to spend the better part of a day in Naples. Nothing prepares you for the squalor. The trash is piled up in great hillocks around the city, many as much as one-story high. The stench is oppressive. A great deal of garbage has of course escaped its plastic bags and decorates the streets and sidewalks. Everywhere your eye falls, even in the district surrounding the Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace), blight reigns. Having just seen Rome and Sorrento, Naples was a jar.

My friend JWR contributor Michael Ledeen, an expert on Italian fascism, Eurocommunism, the history of Italy, terrorism, and many other subjects, is completing a book on Naples. He compares it to New Orleans, another corrupt city. Both cities are doomed, he explains. New Orleans, it need hardly be recalled post-Katrina, lies below sea level in the path of hurricanes. Naples sits right below Mount Vesuvius, which has erupted dozens of times since its catastrophic explosion in the year 79, most recently in 1944.

The question now is whether the Italian government has the wherewithal to deal with the literal and figurative mess. Italy is famed for its ungovernability. The trash has piled up in the streets of Naples because the dumps are full and when a new dump or incinerator is proposed, there is loud protest from those in proximity to the planned site. The NIMBY impulse is killing a great European city.

Not only is the trash an aesthetic and health offense, it deepens the corruption of the city. The companies that collect trash are thoroughly infiltrated by the Camorra, as the Neapolitan branch of the mafia is called. City dumps reached capacity a decade ago, so the city has pronounced yearly states of emergency since then. Under the states of emergency, CNN reports, the normal contracting oversight is dispensed with, and Camorra gets the lucrative contracts. The criminals then fail to clear the trash and deal with complaints and competition in time-honored wise-guy fashion. The Camorra is said to earn more than a billion dollars a year from "waste management."

Silvio Berlusconi is from the bustling northern Italian city of Milan. A billionaire with a higher-than-average self-regard ("I am the Jesus Christ of politics"), the black-haired septuagenarian has been plagued by conflict of interest charges. His previous record on economic reform was tepid, and as for his diplomatic skills, well… At the close of the 2003 EU summit he pronounced, "Let's talk about footfall and women." He then turned to the four-times-married German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and said, "Gerhard, why don't you start?" Regarding his own flexible ethical standards, Berlusconi explained, "If I, taking care of everyone's interests, also take care of my own, you can't talk about a conflict of interest."

Such is the man who now bestrides Italian politics. His quirky egomania seems ill-suited to the grownup job of governing. The trash in Naples is the test. If he can clean that up and take down the Camorra, he will deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Rudolph Giuliani.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment on JWR contributor Mona Charen's column by clicking here.

Mona Charen Archives

© 2006, Creators Syndicate