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Even Italian Cynicism Has Its Limits. Berlusconi

Italy's PM Silvio Berlusconi. Click for credits (La Repubblica)

I am very depressed about what is happening here in this country.

Even Italian cynicism has its limits.

About Man of Roma

I am a man from Rome, Italy. I’m 60 and a Roman since many generations. In my blog, manofroma.wordpress.com, I’m writing down my meditations. The idea behind it all is that something 'ancient' is still alive in the true Romans of today, of which few are left.

57 responses »

  1. I’m far away and not following the news in Italy. Are you referring to the Berlusconi escapades?

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  2. Cheer up Giovanni, Rome has seen worse over it’s 3000 tears.

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    • Yes, tears and years. You’re one of the best persons I’ve ever known Paul. I think Canucks are special my friend.

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      • Contrary to Zeus, my friend, flattery will get you nowhere with me. However I appreciate your hat’s off for my fellow Canucks, eh!

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        • Paul! I even just added a new Canuck to my blogroll and you didn’t even notice it! :-(
          What’s this sudden touchiness… but I guess I don’t know what effect a word like Canuck can have: hope it is not derogatory.

          And why Zeus darn.

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          • A) I did not notice the new canuck on your blogroll;
            B) Zeusiswatching has just posted with the title “flattery will take everywhere with me”;
            C) Canuck is applied to Western Canadians mainly as in the Vancouver Canucks hockey team and it has a slight mocking twist to it…as seen by Eastern Canadians.
            D) Philippe has some surprising ideas and opinions and his blog is well worth visiting.
            E) No offence taken, be in peace amico.

          • @Paul

            I now remember Zeus’ sentence, it was a jest of yours, now I got it and I’ll comment on his posts here directly.

            I’d had a bad day because of Italy’s sultan – nobody imagined the extent of his ‘going off the rails’.

            I know Philippe is a very interesting person. I might have visited him more than he did with me, but I may be wrong. But basically– I hope he’ll read – I had two connected problems with him:

            1) he once wrote a post aimed at demonstrating that Latin languages are not derived from Latin (or sort of) but have instead just influenced one another. Which not only railed me a bit but it was contrary to all my 45-year on-the-field experience with such matters

            2) some traits of his character are similar to my father’s (not that I blame him for that, I’d be insane if I did). Which caused like a little short circuit in my mind, nothing serious.

            Poor Phil, I am sorry!! One day I’ll get my father’s skeleton out of my (mind) closet. And I’ll from now try to fix this silly thing i have with Phil.

            La pace sia con noi, amico e amici.

  3. Grab an umbrella, find some puddles, a lamp post.

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  4. Where’s Suetonius when you need him?

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    • I know. But I’ve already talked about Berlusconi-Tiberius. I don’t feel like it any more.

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      • In any case *here* it is :-)
        [even though you've already seen it]

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        • A great post. I actually pulled up Wikipedia and spent time after looking at that post reading about the Italian government and various premiers after WW II Andreotti and Craxi were names I remembered, but new little about.

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      • That might have been right before I came in.

        Now my mind is drifting back to my freshman year in college and a slightly schizoid classmate who would kidnap my guitar and sing that week’s Ancient History reading:

        Tiberius was an Emperor,
        Semper-or, fid-emperor…”

        Chin up, amico. We had to live through Bush (“Mission Accomplished,” “Bring it on”) with straight faces. And Nixon, if we were old enough. (I was chased around a coffee table in Poughkeepsie, New York by a randy Watergate burglar when I was seventeen… true story…)

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        • This has got to be good.

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        • @Sled

          Funny story you told. I hope the table was rectangular and long, not round and small.

          I remember Nixon well, and the Watergate. Every country has its own problems. But I see statesmen resigning all over the (democratic) planet for much less than what has happened here.

          So we are a bit different, a foot in the past and one in the present. After all, it is what I am trying to explain in my blog. Meant to explain more than to justify things (I hope).

          The thought of this also depressed me yesterday …

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    • I remember sitting at the cafe reading Suetonius during my long recuperation from my back injury. Silvio is no Roman Emperor, but that doesn’t keep the old fellow from aspiring to host some of the greatest modern bacchanalias.

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      • He’s not aspiring to, he is fully succeeding it seems.

        But you’re right. His Bacchanalia have nothing to do with the real thing. Bacchanalia were among ‘ta orgia’ ie among those ‘secret rites’ (=ta orgia) in the cults of ancient Greek or Roman deities that involved singing, dancing, drinking and sexual activity (Wordnet, Princeton).
        Later Christianity having abolished any sex from rituals we today mean by orgy just group sex, deprived of any religious meaning.

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  5. What’s with the Zeus concern?

    At any rate, I think Silvio might at last be on the way out of office. Good riddance. I don’t know what else there is to say. So long Silvio.

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    • No concern Zeus. As I said above, I was having a bad day so I thought Paul thought I first had tried to flatter you and then him, a total moronity by my part I guess.

      As for Silvio, Italy is in a mess being in the hands of a totally irresponsible person who will take some time to fall, in a hard moment for any country around the world.

      Italy deserves better I believe. We are flexible and often cynical, but this is too much even for us.

      Just to provide an idea:

      Multiply Clinton’s looseness by 10,000 (quantity and quality: minors being there too), insert a couple of Italian govt female ministries into the equation – Monica Lewinsky at least wasn’t’ made Ministry! – and perhaps also bunga bunga parties with Putin, al-Gaddafi and other international statesmen (papers worldwide are discussing also this).

      Then mix to it entire sections of the Italian media – from managers to starlets to pimps, with lots of unchecked girls that can blackmail him – and actually are (the minor from Morocco seems to have said: “give me 5 million euros and I won’t say anything”):

      you get a ‘foggy idea’ of how we beat any record of shame – there excepting – allow my mania – Emperor Tiberius’ late life account by Suetonius (not to be read by the faint of heart.)

      Yes, so long Silvio. But when? And the Mediterranean is the Mediterranean, see what’s happening in Tunisia, and now Egypt etc.. We all belong to the same stream of cultures. Something may be really stirring even in these forgotten-by-the-gods waters (but with the added dangers that Islamic fundamentalists may reach power in those countries)

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      • My word Giovanni you really are in a bad pass. Of course the Mediterranean sky is rather cloudy right now but I do not see a resurgence of the Ottoman Empire any time soon. The ghosts may stir a bit but too many have too much to loose to let it happen…I hope.

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      • @Paul

        You are wrong Paul, I am pretty well (that was yesterday.)

        Pls allow me to say you live far from here. There is a connection (I have this clear feeling), maybe thin, between what is happening in Tunisia and Egypt and things in Rome. There is a certain amount of reciprocal influence. No resurgence of the Ottoman Empire LOL. But the fundamentalists may profit from an instability of the area (I am referring to North Africa, not to us of course).

        The North and South shores of the Med are quite different. Italy belongs to the Euro zone, is the 7th economic power of the world (not for long). And yet… too long a topic.

        I don’t think many Italians reading this would agree or rejoice. North Africa is stupidly considered zero by many, not only here. They may think what they like but it is the European part of Africa and a marvellous place. I wrote many posts on this and you read them (*here* I collect the basic infos and the links to them)

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        • I got you wrong. Of course Islamists are a threat for Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon and others in North Africa and the Middle East. I was under the wrong impression that you were including the Mediterranean basin as well. I should have known better.
          And I am very glad to hear that today is another day and another mood.

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          • (Text updated)

            One among other similarities (of course not the Islamic religion lol):

            North Africa is revolting mostly because of youths unemployment. Italy scores among the worst EU states in this topic. I don’t have exact figures now but maybe two millions youths (from 16 to 28) are total drop outs from both school and jobs, ie 1 out of 5, like a bomb ready to explode.

            Youth is shattering North Africa’s governments. Youth may shutter both Berlusconi (among the problems he has) and some flaws in democracy we have (I hope).

      • I said he “might” be out of office, but then again, Bubba stayed until the end of his term and left with rock star like popularity. Silvio strikes me as less capable and skilled a statesman and perhaps that will allow history to be less than kind to his career of national service.

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  6. Man of Roma – You said of me that ……. he once wrote a post aimed at demonstrating that Latin languages are not derived from Latin (or sort of) but have instead just influenced one another. Which not only railed me a bit but it was contrary to all my 45-year on-the-field experience with such matters……..

    These weren’t my views, but the views of someone whose book I read. I was impressed by the logic and common sense of what the writer said.

    Incidentally, it was also drummed into me as Holy Writ when I was at school, that all the Romance languages came out of Latin, courtesy of the Roman occupiers.

    And it was also drummed into me as Holy Writ as a schoolboy that my native English language came out of the language of the Anglo-Saxon invaders. That current research bespeaks that it didn’t, hasn’t been earth-shattering for me, in the way that it hasn’t been earth-shattering for me to learn that it’s just possible that today’s Romance languages didn’t come out of Latin

    ….. some traits of his character are similar to my father’s……..

    I’m honoured that I would remind you of your father!!!

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    • Giovanni, Philippe, glad to see a dialogue between you two. You both have daring and inquisitive minds, two good things.
      As my grandmother used to say: “Mix good things together and you will get another good thing”.

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      • @Paul

        Match-making seems a common practice in our little blogosphere coin, although there’s this father factor … :-)

        I have a story. Having many paternal relatives in North Italy, one of them – a nice guy from Piedmont – married an Irish girl many years ago. She didn’t (doesn’t’) like the English much.

        One day, I was present, she burst and spoke up:

        “The Piedmontese??? MUCH WORSE than the English!!!”

        True story. Great girl (today woman). He’s also extremely nice. Still together.

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    • Phil,

      History of thought / science – no need to remind you – is often characterized either by big paradigm shifts (as those described by Thomas Kuhn: Copernicus etc.) or by smaller changes in ways of seeing certain things.

      So views first drummed as Holy Writ at big or smaller levels are often superseded in a continuous process. It is the logic of scientific research, based on doubt and inquiry.

      Which doesn’t mean one should – I’m talking in general – fall into a ‘Holy Writ’, into an ‘official science conspiracy’ type of syndrome, where any new theory (often conceived by social climbers / success seekers) is good provided it challenges the Official Knowledge System.

      In general I believe we should think with our head (not saying you don’t lol), taking from this and that what we deem valuable according to our intellectual journey. Every man after all is a big or small philosopher.

      To me Romance languages come out of Latin not because of any Holy Writ but because such notion is supported by all the valuable-to-me evidence I have – mostly alone, by myself – collected during all these years of solitary language craze.

      Which doesn’t mean I’m not now curious about this guy and his work :-)

      PS

      My father was a very decent man. His family came from the Alpine Waldensian valleys very close to France and similar in spirit to Calvinism.
      *Here* I write about him a bit.

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  7. Regarding Silvio Berlusconi, I’m not sure that in the matter of the young 17 year old girls, he’s done anything morally wrong. I mean, what’s morally wrong with a man having consensual sex with a 17 year old woman, since I believe that in the likes of Britain, the USA, Canada, and I’m sure lots of other countries, the legal age of sexual consent is 16.

    So, what Silvio has done wrong is only, for Italian purposes, legally wrong, not morally wrong. If, then, you insist that what Silvio did was morally wrong, then aren’t you being as prudish as any old uptight Anglo-Saxon?

    I suspect that much of the anger against Silvio in the matter of his partying with young women comes out of jealousy. Most men, I suspect, would love to party with young women in the way, and with the frequency of Silvio, but they aren’t free to, for financial and family reasons. Hence they must vicariously slake their lust by watching porn on the internet.

    Isn’t it emotionally healthier for a man to have consensual sex with young woman, as it’s alleged that Silvio does, than to watch internet porn?

    In all I’ve read about Silvio and the young women, there’s been no mention of the fact that a Type A male – which the power-hungry Silvio surely is – has a higher-than-normal sex drive – a sex drive of such power that it can’t be slaked by the normal bourgeois married sex. The higher the power drive, the higher the sex drive.

    Pity, therefore, the Type A men who we put in positions of power, but of whom we expect the same monogamous sexual activities of normal nine-to-five men wearing the same grey flannel suits to the same boring office jobs every day. That so many Type A men in public office have been caught out in sexual peccadilloes, should surprise no-one.

    I would go so far as to say that if Silvio didn’t have the vigorous healthy sexual appetite that he appears to have, that would be cause for worry. Silvio may well have done morally reprehensible things, but his partying with young women hasn’t been one of them.

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  8. Dear Phil,

    I am not a judge nor a law expert. This is only my opinion.

    To me Berlusconi is legally, morally and politically wrong.

    Legally. Also according to our crime code, consensual sex with a minor is allowed after 16 years of age (Art. 609 quater). But, it is punished in case the minor is a prostitute (Art. 600-bis).

    Morally. He corrupts the young and the poor. Easy to do, they are weak: many of those girls come from the poorer parts of our country and / or are very young. Though not legally wrong, it is abuse of power and wealth – ie abusing weak people – in my book.

    After all, with so many young people looking desperately for a job – also because of his policies -, what is the ‘moral message’ he conveys to the new generation?
    Sell yourself for money and career.
    He dared say it even in a meeting: “If I see a hot girl what is my advice for her future? Find a rich boyfriend”.

    And this is all that has been taught (and, it seems, practised) within his media empire etc. See my comment on Zeus’ above.
    (And a youtube movie below)

    [that many men can be jealous of another man who has a fun they cannot afford, it is part of human nature but it is not the point here imo]

    Politically (and legally too I presume). There is evidence he has ‘repaid’ certain ‘female attentions’ with posts of political responsibility. These women now govern us, locally and maybe also centrally. Some of our taxes now enter their pockets in exchange for dubious political skills.
    Besides, to me (also morally relevant) a politician must set a good example vs others.

    So as you see, it is not the partying with women I condemn, not at all. It is all that is attached to it.
    One final point you raised:

    The Type A man. I understand this Type A man may tend to reach political power & a great number of women. Besides, success, it is known, is a powerful aphrodisiac. Such man, as far as my morals go, can have even 100,000 women if he likes, provided he doesn’t corrupt them ie incite them to sell themselves, ie hurts them morally. The younger the woman, the deeper the moral corruption in my view. This is a delicate point that cannot be discussed in a comment post.

    Generally my conduct code is simple: all but no one must get hurt.

    Do I love to have sex with 10 kangaroos at the same time? Great! Provided they are happy with it from any point of view :-)

    Update: Found this *Youtube movie* where Berusconi ‘educates’ the young. Transmitted by a Spanish TV justly kidding us (some Spanish or Italian is required).

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  9. @MoR – As is usual, the points which you make are excellent.

    Of Berlusconi you said: …… He corrupts the young and the poor. Easy to do, they are weak: many of those girls come from the poorer parts of our country and / or are very young. Though not legally wrong, it is abuse of power and wealth…….

    Despite that these girls are as young as 17, and are poor, I suggest that young people of 17, particularly girls of 17, are emotionally far tougher than you think. The character at that age is basically formed, and it is formed by the environment at home. When wars come along, we think nothing of sending 17 year old boys to fight and be killed. They are deemed to be adults.

    As for girls of 17, it was quite common – at least when I grew up – for girls of 17 to get married and begin having children. They were deemed to be adults. No doubt they still are.

    It is not infrequent for a 17 year old boy to be seduced by an older woman. This is thought to be fine. But when a 17 year old girl is seduced by an older man, we say it’s not fine. This is odd, since, if anything, a 17 year old girl is emotionally more mature, and emotionally tougher, than a 17 year-old boy.

    I suggest that the 17 year-old girls who Berlusconi parties with, know exactly what they’re doing, and won’t be any more corrupted by their experiences with Berlusconi, than if they hadn’t met him. Think also that the monies they allegedly get from him, may enable them to get an education, or otherwise enable them to change their lives for the better.

    …..There is evidence he has ‘repaid’ certain ‘female attentions’ with posts of political responsibility……

    Handing out plum jobs for personal favours done, is common in politics. It’s called patronage.

    PS In the matter of language, you might enjoy *this website*.

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    • I’m going to jump in here. I have been posting mostly lighthearted comments, but I referred to being pursued sexually by someone who had political connections — not someone who literally broke into the Watergate, I admit to some poetic license, but of that cadre and era. I was seventeen.

      And I was scared out of my wits. I was keenly aware that I might have no choice but to do what the guy wanted — I was in a place far from anyone I knew with no transportation, late at night, and only one woman friend (older than myself) who seemed to want me to go along with him. The guy clearly had lots of government connections, including some whom I figured could make sure I got silenced (one way or another) if I said anything. He was not picking on someone his own size and he was very persistent. I escaped in the end having been no worse than faintly disgusted, but only because I can talk fast — Scheherazade lite, more or less. I stayed scared about that incident for many, many years.

      The playing field is not equal between a woman not yet twenty and a powerful politician or political string-puller. And if we send young men to fight and die at that age, I’m no fan of it, but we hope at least that it is not done just to get some corrupt old man’s rocks off.

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    • @Philippe
      @Sledpress

      Sled, I think Philippe is somewhat reflecting from both a theoretical and historical point of view. It is true that girls at 17, even at 15, appear mature (at least compared to males of the same age) and in the past they got married at such age and had children.

      But I believe Phil that, outside your logical reasoning, things are quite different. In the past such girls lived protected within a clan, had their marriage arranged, and received support for their children from the said extended family.

      I have two daughters (past adolescence fortunately!) and I’ve had teenagers (14-18) as a teacher from both sexes. The big physiological changes, the hormone storms etc. – no need to remind that – bring along such uncertainty to teenagers making them very insecure, about who they are, who the hell they want etc., and therefore easy prey to be taken advantage of.

      So I still believe that the younger they are the more immoral it is (even if legal) to have sex with them, unless one is more or less their age.

      So I agree with the notion that “the playing field is not equal – Sled wrote – between a woman not yet twenty and a powerful politician or political string-puller.”

      PS
      Phil, I’m not saying this because you in some way resemble my father :-)

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      • In Québec, and in most other provinces of Canada, our youth protection laws distinguish between an adult having sex with a child below 16 and between 16 and 18. The latter can consent to sex…however if the adult is in a position of authority over the minor, consent or not it is a crime punishable by a jail sentence. Here, Signor Berlusconi would be considered a person in authority over the minor because of his position and the impact it can have upon said minnor’s consent for money or otherwise.

        Reply

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