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Cluster index: Denis Boyles

A Christmas tree in Aleppo.

Denis Boyles: ‘It took until this morning, on the BBC’s “Today” programme on Radio 4, for correspondent Jeremy Bowen, cornered by Ford, to finally admit that the rebels have been systematically using the people they were ostensibly “liberating” as human shields, a war crime that went unreported.’

A history lesson for Hilary Benn and Yvette Cooper.

Denis Boyles: ‘European unification is a constant thread running through all our postwar decades. Reading accounts of twentieth-century Europe, you can’t help notice how little the Continental political class has been affected by the massive storms that have broken over her. The worldview of the European political elites is the same now as it has always been. The growth — usually predicated on various claims of urgency and necessity — of government and the inevitably consequent centralization of power have a persistent gravity all their own. ‘

Elliott Coleman: the American poet from Augustland.

This portfolio of work by and about Elliott Coleman contains two of Coleman’s poems, an appreciative essay by poet and essayist Myra Sklarew, and comments from others who studied in the Writing Seminars before the days of the MFA.

DSK and the French conspiracy’s woman.

Denis Boyles: Strauss-Kahn’s erasure from French politics and the IMF, will have almost no effect on international finance. Its only effect will be on French domestic politics. Sakozy’s failure as a politician was to distance himself from France’s ruling élite. That’s why he was elected in 2007 – his victory was a victory over the incestuous, self-serving énarques who had driven French voters from indifference to despair. Now there are more énarques in Sarkozy’s government than there were in Chirac’s. He has become one of them.

Ramadan’s Mau-Mauing of the intellectuals.

The victory of Tariq Ramadan has been due to his ability to manipulate the ignorance of friendly intellectuals—men and women whose intellectuality has been consecrated by a kind of laying-on of the hands of other intellectuals.

Noted: American exceptionalism?

No matter what variations in domestic policies politicians invent, no matter what rhetorical claims of convenience are cited by polemicists, no matter what books we read, what schools we attend, what cars we drive, what taxes we pay—when it comes to outcomes, we all end up at about the same place at about the same time.

The uses for populism.

Denis Boyles: Populism finds a way, even in Europe. Your grandmother may die of neglect in Paris while you go to the beach and the government dithers, but if you want real populist outrage in Europe, try freezing the salaries of bureaucrats. The state is Europe’s largest employer. When the reality of that unaffordable fact of political life sinks in, as it has in Greece and as it no doubt will elsewhere, you get a kind of populism even Timothy Egan may wish to avoid: riots, death, anarchy and an impending collapse of the currency.

Notes & comment: The uses for populism.

Denis Boyles: In the Euro-zone, populism is kept in place by encouraging dependence on the state. That dependence is so deeply entrenched now that not even the French health-care disaster of 2003 could disturb it. When 15,000 mostly elderly citizens perished in a three-week heat wave after government services collapsed, it left utterly unaffected both the political establishment and the journalists who cover and largely support it.

Noted elsewhere: Making the world safe for fuss-potting.

A very minor press flap has erupted over the release of a study by Open Europe, a Euroskeptic group, showing that over a twelve-year span beginning in 1998, regulations — mostly the EU variety — have cost Britain nearly €200 billion, an amount equal to Britain’s current deficit.

Euro vision.

Denis Boyles: Governments run on money, and the wonderful thing about the euro up until now has been that the government of, say, Greece, ran just as inefficiently on German euros as it did on Greek ones. Eventually, as common sense would suggest, it all must chug to a stop and fall apart.