November 30, 2008

'O Come, O Come Emmanuel'

Today is the first Sunday of Advent. To live it properly, I thought the listening of the wonderful hymn “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” sang by Aled Jones with backing vocals of Libera, might be helpful. I wish you a blessed Advent season!

November 29, 2008

The genius of Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli

Michelangeli was known for his note-perfect performances. “His fingers can no more hit a wrong note or smudge a passage than a bullet can be veered off course once it has been fired,” wrote of him the music critic Harold Schonberg. In this post is explained how his style is classical in the sense of Classicism, and in a way that is more than emblematic.

Why more than emblematic? Because Michelangeli (together with Maurizio Pollini) is further evidence of a sort of anti-romanticism present in the Italian culture and due, not many doubts about it, to the Italian classical heritage and its influence in all fields.

Ave, Caesar

If you are interested in ancient Roman history and you are in Rome during this time (or plan, as I do, to visit there soon), then I think you shouldn’t reasonably miss “Julius Caesar - Man, Feats and Myth” (Giulio Cesare. L'uomo, le imprese, il mito), the first ever exhibition to focus entirely on ancient Rome’s most famous political and military leader.

The exhibition, which is being held at the Chiostro del Bramante, started on Friday, October 24, 2008, through Saturday, May 3, 2009. It examines the historic aspects of Caesar’s rule, as well as the political and cultural atmosphere of his time, his astonishing military campaigns, his magnificent literary works, his climb to power and his brutal murder in the Roman Senate.

The exhibition—in my view the event of the year in the Italian capital—collects archaeological documents of the utmost importance, coming from the most prestigious Italian and foreign museums, and paintings by masters such as Rubens, Guercino, Pietro da Cortona and Guido Reni. Massive canvases of Caesar by Giambattista Tiepolo, sold to the Russian tsar in the early nineteenth century, have also returned to Italy for the occasion (and for the first time in 200 years).

Caesar, as the organizers explain, was “an exceptional character, a man of letters, historian, general and statesman of extraordinary far-sightedness.” It was he himself who “started even during his lifetime, to create his own myth.” In fact,

he presented himself as a descendant of Venus, thus tying himself to the original myth of the city of Rome itself, dating back, according to ancient tradition, to Aeneas himself, son of Venus, who supposedly landed at the Tyrrhenian shores of Latium at the end of his long wanderings, being exiled from Troy, as marvellously narrated in the Virgilian Aeneid.

Hence the exhibition’s guiding philosophy.

The final section looks at the depiction of Caesar in the world of cinema. The palace that houses the exhibit was designed by Donato Bramante in the 15th century and is attached to the church of Santa Maria della Pace along Via Della Pace close to piazza Navona.

P.S. Since it happens that just in these days I’m reading, Idi di Marzo (The Ides of March), the latest book by Valerio Massimo Manfredi (unfortunately for my English-speaking readers the English version is yet to be released), I can’t help confessing that this is one of those moments where I feel sorry that I live so far away from Rome …

Come nevica sul Pd ...

Ma che diavolo hanno da criticare quelli che le misure del governo a favore dei più poveri proprio non le hanno mandate giù? Non lo dico io, anche se potrei benissimo associarmi, ed anzi mi associo senz’altro, non lo dico io, dicevo, ma Lucia Annunziata. Una contestazione da sinistra della contestazione di sinistra di provvedimenti presi dalla destra. Non è un gioco di parole, magari lo fosse, è molto di più, è un altro sintomo che qualcosa si è rotto: diciamo il rapporto, il contatto con la realtà. E quindi, per dirla come la Annunziata, anche “il senso del denaro” se n’è andato in vacanza. Per quelli di sinistra, naturalmente, ché la gente comune il valore e il senso dei soldi li ha molto ben presenti. Su questo non ci piove, anzi, date le condizioni meteo, non ci nevica.

November 28, 2008

Sex spells trouble, my friends ...

Sexual pressure, sexual desire, actually I think is short period satisfaction and often, that leads to more complication.
Naturally as a human being ... some kind of desire for sex comes, but then you use human intelligence to make comprehension that those couples always full of trouble. And in some cases there is suicide, murder cases.

Don’t worry, my dear secularist readers, it was not the Pope who said this. It was Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama.

November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. As for me, I would like to give thanks to the Lord for many things, one of which is … Columbus, that is for letting him be born, and for letting him think that, after all, it was time to discover a new World!

But now, for the sake of true Country Music connoisseurs, I’ll call upon Johnny Cash to speak. Let’s listen to Man in Black singing a rare song called “Thanksgiving Prayer” (words and music by Johnny himself and Josef Anderson). He sang it on the Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman Show several years ago. Enjoy it, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

November 26, 2008

Once upon a time ... La Dolce Vita

I can’t honestly say that La Dolce Vita is one of my favourite movies, nor that it is my favourite Federico Fellini’s masterpiece (I prefer I Vitelloni, La Strada, and above all Amarcord), but I understand and respect the reasons why millions of people from all over the world tend to consider it as one of the best films ever. In any case, there is no doubt that La Dolce Vita is a cult movie which represents a watershed moment in the history of both cinema and custom.

That is why, since its half-century mark—Fellini conceived the film in November 1958, shot in 1959 and premiered in early 1960—is approaching, Rimini, the director’s hometown, is pulling out the stops to give the movie a two-year-long international birthday bash. The celebrations will eventually extend to Los Angeles in 2009 (the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will hold an exhibition in Beverly Hills from January 24 to April 19 on Fellini’s “Book of my Dreams”).

All this, the Guardian writes today,

is a world away from the furore when the film was finally released in 1960 - when Fellini was spat on "in the name of the fatherland" at the Milan premiere, challenged to a duel by an outraged Roman, accused of inciting vice and immorality by the Vatican newspaper and saw fights break out in the audience after showings.

But the film was not even universally admired by liberal critics:

An early Guardian review observed that the film lasts three hours, "of which two are superfluous", before offering the withering judgment that "even the best sequences rise no higher than the level of good journalism".

Light years away, actually. Another major British newspaper, the Independent, tells the story of how it all started, namely when an American billionaire decided to cheer up a penniless young Venetian countess by bankrolling a birthday party for her in a trattoria in Trastevere. It was then that on the dance floor the then almost-unknown Anita Ekberg started pulling down her suspenders …

November 25, 2008

A 'Machiavellian' perspective on the Tibetan issue?

“We are in a democratic system, but the opinion of the majority may not be the right one,” said Lhadon Thethorg, a delegate (and New York president of Students for a Free Tibet) on the final day of the meeting between the Tibetan exile leaders which took place last week in Dharamshala. In fact nearly 600 delegates voted to continue to follow the Dalai Lama’s “Middle Way” strategy. However, Lhadon Thethorg added, “whether for the ‘Middle Way’ or independence for Tibet, people are calling for more vigorous action.”

Dolma Gyari, deputy speaker of the Tibetan parliament-in-exile, in turn, said that “if China does not respond positively to our initiative, there is no other options left for us than to go for independence.” Yet, the Dalai Lama doesn’t seem too hopeful about the “positivity” of the Chinese approach towards the Tibetan issue: “My trust in Chinese officials has become thinner and thinner,” he said Sunday, addressing the delegates after they wrapped up the gathering. So what? Is he in doubt about his own “Middle Way” path itself, which seeks genuine autonomy through negotiations with the Chinese leadership? Yes and no, I’d say. No, because the alternative approach (to seek the path of negotiation over the way of violence) would lead nowhere. Yes, because of the undoubted failure of the negotiations which have been held so far. Is this contradictory? Yes, if we mean this in a logical sense, no, if we consider the true nature of the issue, or, to say it with Machiavelli’s words, if we go directly to “the effectual truth of the thing than to the imagination of it.”

But there is a different way to approach the issue: instead of wondering, as many people do, whether or not the Dalai Lama’s “Middle Way” is the best path, we might wonder whether or not Chinese views and policies on Tibet are actually wise and thoughtful. As a matter of fact, the Chinese are assisting the calls for Tibetan independence, and, as this leading article in yesterday’s Independent says, they are “encouraging radicalism as a way of splitting the Dalai Lama from his adherents and then waiting for him to reach an isolated death.”

But …

[t]his is a dangerous policy. Marginalising moderation, as we know from the Islamic world, only plays into the hands of the extremists, of which there are an increasing number amongst young Tibetans. The call for independence, as opposed to autonomy, will grow louder. Beijing should heed the Dalai Lama’s call for the “middle way” before it finds that events have moved beyond its control.

I find this perspective to be a good starting point for further discussions.

November 22, 2008

Tibet exiles back Dalai Lama's 'Middle Way'

At last the nearly 600 Tibetan exile leaders who have been meeting in the Northern India hill town of Dharamsala this week to debate a potential new approach to Tibet’s struggle for freedom have voted to continue to follow the Dalai Lama’s “Middle Way” strategy.

This was generally considered the most likely—and reasonable, in my opinion—outcome of the gathering, but there has been a small minority who called for Tibetan independence instead of the “genuine autonomy” which His Holiness has been seeking for decades. “The majority of the people have spoken and have requested his holiness the Dalai Lama to continue with his Middle Way approach,” said spokesman Tenzin Taklha, according to whom “the Tibetans demonstrated that the Dalai Lama was their undisputed leader.” The Tibetan parliament, which convenes in March, must approve the agreements reached in the meeting, said former prime minister of Tibet’s government-in-exile Tenzin Tethong.

Yet, in the face of that “moderate” outcome Chinese authorities and government will likely remain deaf. “The Dalai Lama’s so-called ‘middle way’ is a naked expression of ‘Tibet independence’ aimed at nakedly spreading the despicable plot of opposing the tide of history,” said last Friday an editorial in the official Tibet Daily newspaper. That is why the delegates also recommended that Tibetan leaders stop sending delegates to meet with Chinese officials “until we are convinced China is serious about negotiating and so far China is not serious,” as a participant at the meeting refers.

Which means, to speak the way the ancient Romans used to, it will take place the day of the Greek calendae—and let's keep in mind the Greek calendar did not have calendae!

November 21, 2008

Fuga dal Pd (updated)

C’è chi dice no. E se ne va (dalla Direzione nazionale del Partito democratico), non senza aver prima esposto dettagliatamente, in una lettera aperta a Walter Veltroni pubblicata oggi in prima pagina dal Riformista, le motivazioni che hanno “suggerito” questa decisione. E’ Irene Tinagli, che insegna alla Carnegie Mellon University di Pittsburgh ed è esperta di politiche pubbliche per l'innovazione, la creatività e lo sviluppo economico. Inoltre lavora come consulente per il Dipartimento Affari Economici e Sociali dell'Onu e per la Commissione europea. Il suo ultimo libro—informa Il Riformista—è Talento da svendere, uscito quest’anno per i tipi di Einaudi.

[Continua qui, come al solito. Attenzione, c'è un aggiornamento: da leggere assolutamente, su Wittgenstein.]

Dharamsala notebook

The BBC's Chris Morris reports on the atmosphere at the “special meeting” that is taking place this week in Dharamsala to discuss the future of Tibet (see my previous post).

November 20, 2008

Rethinking freedom struggle

Nearly 600 Tibetan exiles began a week-long meeting Monday in Dharamsala—the Northern India hill town which is home of the 73-year-old Dalai Lama and Tibet’s government in exile—for a very special and unprecedented meeting to discuss Tibet’s future.

His Holiness called for this gathering two months ago, when he began to realize that his attempts to secure greater autonomy for his country through negotiation with the Chinese government were fated to fail. Which actually happened, and in fact he publicly admitted earlier this month in Japan, that his “middle path” approach of seeking dialogue with the Chinese leadership in search of a “genuine” autonomy (not “independence”) for Tibet had been exhausted and that there was now “no other alternative than to ask people” about how to proceed.

Though the meeting will have no policy-making power, since any recommendations would require the approval of the exiled Tibetan parliament, according to many exiles and observers this is definitely a moment of historic importance: time are ripe for change, they say, but, apart from the most radical Tibetan activist groups, nobody knows which alternative approach could produce better results at not-too-great a cost. And maybe that is also why the Dalai Lama himself has decided not to attend the meeting. “His Holiness wants to give Tibetan people the opportunity to express their views. He is neutral,” said Lodi Gyari, special envoy of the Dalai Lama, at a press conference on Sunday in Dharamsala.

Neutral? Who could have imagined that the Tibetan spiritual leader would have thrown in the sponge? But is this what he really wants? I am neither very convinced about that, nor am I persuaded that, as my friend Enzo writes in today’s Il Foglio newspaper and in his blog (in Italian), “the era and the epic of the Dalai Lama as a political leader have come to their terminus.”

Yet, I agree with Enzo when he recalls and stresses what Thupten Samphel, spokesman for the Tibetan government-in-exile, said in response to Qin Gang's—China's Foreign Ministry spokesman—warning ( “any attempt to separate Tibet from Chinese territory will be doomed”): “This meeting is not about taking Tibet away from China,” he said, “it’s about restoring the human rights of Tibetan people living in Tibet.”

No doubt that any attempt to take Tibet away from China would lead nowhere, while focusing on the issue of “human rights of Tibetan people living in Tibet” sounds much more realistic (and “noble”).

One more thing: Thubten Samphel also noted that the Dalai Lama had said last month that his “trust in the Chinese government was diminishing. But he never said he had given up on talks.” That’s quite another matter.

November 19, 2008

Veltroni? Niente da aggiungere

Ne farei volentieri a meno, sono sincero, ma avere un blog politico comporta anche il dovere di occuparsi di questioni e situazioni politicamente sgradevoli, persino tediose, e dei personaggi che ne sono protagonisti (ai quali, pur con tutta la buona volontà, non ci si può riferire in termini più benevoli di quelli impiegati un momento fa). E dunque parliamo delle recenti vicende del Pd e del suo capo. O meglio dell’editoriale di Ernesto Galli della Loggia sul Corriere di ieri e della risposta di Walter Veltroni su quello di oggi.
[continua qui]

November 16, 2008

'Let Eluana Englaro live!'

After the ruling by Italy's top appeals court allowing Eluana Englaro’s family to halt the treatment that is keeping her alive, the nuns of the Misericordine Order, under whose care Eluana has been surviving for 14 years, have launched a moving appeal to save her life. In a letter published in yesterday’s Avvenire, the daily newspaper of the Italian Bishops Conference, they said:

Our hope, and that of many like us, is that the death by hunger and thirst of Eluana, and others in her condition, will not be carried out. That is why, once again, we maintain our availability, today and into the future, to continue to serve Eluana. If there are those who consider her dead, let Eluana remain with us who feel she is alive. We don’t ask anything but the silence and the liberty to love and to devote ourselves to those who are weak, poor and little in return.

A crystal clear example, in my view, of what Catholic faith and, I dare to say, Catholic moral theology are all about. [See also here]

As for the Catholic hierarchy, Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life, described allowing Eluana Englaro to die as an “immense crime” and a “civil and moral defeat.” Eluana, he said, would die an “atrocious death” by being deprived of water and nutrition. A step on the road to legal euthanasia, in his view. But he added that he had “profound respect” for Eluana’s father (“I pray for him”), and that “no one who has not had a similar experience can possibly judge her family, or indeed other families dealing with similar cases.”

Another example, but this time of a comprehensive, well-balanced approach to this kind of case. Both the nuns and Archbishop Fisichella, in my own humble opinion, have been equal to their task.

November 14, 2008

Italy's Terri Schiavo case

The Corte di Cassazione, Italy's top appeals court, removed today the last legal obstacle in a landmark “right-to-die” case which has fiercely divided opinion in Italy, by authorizing the father of 37-year-old Eluana Englaro to remove the feeding tube which has kept his comatose daughter alive for nearly seventeen years.

The Englaro case has been compared to that of Terri Schiavo, the American woman who spent 15 years in a vegetative state and was allowed to die in March 2006 against the wishes of her parents after a long court battle.

In fact, Terri Schiavo’s brother, Bobby Schindler, told he strongly disagrees with the court. “Today’s ruling,” he said, “will clear the way for Eluana to experience a barbaric and inhumane death by starvation and dehydration.” He is also worried that the kind of “bioethics” that prompted courts in the United States to allow his sister’s former husband to kill her is making its way across the globe. “This court’s ruling seems to indicate that American ‘medical ethics’ are spreading like a virus among the international community, threatening countless numbers of elderly, ailing and disabled persons in an increasing and alarming way,” Schindler noted.

Perhaps Schindler undervalues the high “progressive” standards achieved in some European countries. Nevertheless I think he is basically right.

Free Nay Phone Latt !

As it is well known Burma’s military government exercises strict control over all public media. That’s why dissidents often use the Internet—where controls are, at least up to a certain point, less stringent—to circulate information. But this time there was no escape for Nay Phone Latt, a 28-year-old blogger, whom a court in military-ruled Myanmar sentenced to more than 20 years in jail last Monday for his Internet activities.

Nay Phone Latt, who is also a former member of detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition party, used his blog, written in the Burma language, as a forum to discuss the difficulties of daily life, such as the regular power outages and the rising cost of living. The blog was banned by Burma's military regime, and Nay Phone Latt was arrested in January this year during a round-up of activists linked to the massive anti-junta protests in September 2007.

The sentence, say Reporters Without Borders, consisted of two years for violating article 505 (b) of the Criminal Code (which punishes defamation of the state), three years and six months for violating article 32 (b) of the Video Act and 15 years for violating article 33 (a) of the Electronic Act.

Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association say that this shocking sentence “is meant to terrify those who go online in an attempt to elude the dictatorship’s ubiquitous control of news and information.” The two organizations called for bloggers around the world to post a photo of Nay Phone Latt on their webpages and write to Burma’s embassies to press for the young man’s immediate release. Hence this post, with which I willingly accept the call and ask my few but loyal readers to spread the word … [Hat tip: Nora]

The American Dream makes converts ...

“And now we may let Obama let us down. When was the last time someone deceived us?” wrote prominent Italian columnist Adriano Sofri a couple of days ago in la Repubblica newspaper (in Italian, via Luca).

That is likely the way many European leftists look at Barack Obama.
“There is a lesson,” says the Italian intellectual,

in the fact that the three contemporary personalities who more confidently dealt with the dream had African ancestors: Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, and now Barack Obama.

Well, isn’t Obama King’s dream realized? Perhaps more pragmatically, as Sofri puts it, he is the man who

describes America as the ‘Dream’ Corporation in which every American must hold a stock of shares. In his best speeches, the redistribution of the American Dream went along with the redistribution of the wealth.

And hence his huge margin victory. I would just ask Sofri and the other European leftists one question: should Obama be successful in achieving his aims, do you think you will be ready to be converted to the American Dream? [Italian version]

November 12, 2008

Anch'io ci credo, direttore, però ...

“Io ci credo” (all’Italia), scrive il direttore del Giornale a quelli che fanno parte della community de—come lo scrivente, che per informarsi via Web sottoscrive tutto ciò che di decente e serio, in Italia e soprattutto fuori, si renda disponibile a titolo gratuito …—, invitando tutti a fare altrettanto e a testimoniarlo qui.

E allora eccomi: anch’io ci credo, credo che gli italiani siano migliori di quanto non pensino e non appaiano alla luce di quel che si legge sui giornali o si sente e si vede nei telegiornali, e che dunque possiamo farcela, e che probabilmente ce la faremo. Ma questa fiducia, come suggerisce il “probabilmente,” non è incondizionata ... [continua qui]

Once upon a time in San Ginesio ...

San Ginesio’s Battle, Tavola XV CenturyEvery two years a fabulous battle re-enactment takes place in a lovely hilltop town called San Ginesio, in the Le Marche region, Central Italy. The event is known as “La Festa della Fornarina” (“The Little Baker’s Festival”).

Please follow this link if you are interested in knowing what the Festa is all about, and what else is to be found in that picturesque Italian town.

It all began when, back in the late Middle ages (on November 30, 1377), while the people of San Ginesio were soundly sleeping, their enemies from the near town of Fermo, sneaked up in the dead of night and attacked San Ginesio …

November 9, 2008

All life is an experiment

Emerson in His Journals (
Do not be too timid & squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more you make, the better. What if they are a little coarse, & you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, & get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice? Up again, you shall never more be so afraid of a tumble. This matter of the lectures, for instance. The engagement drives your thoughts & studies to a head, & enables you to do somewhat not otherwise practicable; that is the action. Then there is the reaction; for when you bring your discourse to your auditory, it shows differently. You have more power than you had thought of, or less. The thing fits, or does not fit; is good or detestable.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson [from his journals, Nov. 1842], in EMERSON IN HIS JOURNALS, selected and edited by Joel Porte, Harvard University Press, Cambridge (Massachsetts) - London (England), 1982.

November 8, 2008

Stop underwriting the Burmese military junta

I've just heard—thanks to my Swedish friend Eva—about a campaign to pressure Lloyd’s of London to stop insuring the military dictators of Burma. I thought that it was more than well worth a post, so here we go again with the issue of Burma.

First of all, let’s summarize the situation. Burma's military junta has been hanging on to power for years using repressive tactics, such as jailing monks and opposition leaders such as Aung San Suu Kyi. Recently the military junta has also been denying their citizens relief after last year’s devastating cyclone. Up till now Burma’s military dictators remain entrenched, propped up by dealings with Western companies. Well, one way the Burmese democracy movement has found to push for change is to cut off the businesses that prop them up by shaming those companies themselves—exposing them one by one, and forcing big companies to pull out—especially the insurers who underwrite the generals’ economic stranglehold.

Lloyd’s of London, the worlds foremost insurance market, is precisely one of the generals’ lifelines—Lloyd’s chairman Lord Levene also sits on the board of the junta-linked Total, which pays Rangoon $2m a day for oil. That is why the campaigners—Burma Campaign-UK and the Avaaz group—are urging to join them now by mass emailing the huge company, while the media furore is growing, to push Lloyd’s to terminate its Burmese contracts to save face.

“The Burmese people’s struggle is long and tough,” say the campaigners, “but as in South Africa, international pressure on the regime’s exploitative ventures could tip the balance. Because it’s hard or impossible for them to continue without insurance, this is an effective and wide-reaching approach for citizens everywhere to have a real impact.”

So far, as a result, the British government has begun to ask Lloyd's to cease its business with the Burmese military junta. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of emails and telephone calls have been bombarding key staff at Lloyd’s of London.

I think it's a very worthwhile cause. Please follow this link to take action.

What went wrong with the ‘old soldier’

With his “campaign autopsy,” in yesterday’s Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer pointed out, in my view correctly, John McCain’s merits and mistakes, and above all how difficult and impossible his mission was:

Considering the carnage to both capital and labor (which covers just about everybody), even a Ronald Reagan could not have survived. The fact that John McCain got 46 percent of the electorate when 75 percent said the country was going in the wrong direction is quite remarkable.

However crushing the external events, McCain did make two significant unforced errors. His suspension of the campaign during the economic meltdown was a long shot that not only failed, it created the McCain-the-erratic meme that deeply undermined his huge advantage over Obama in perception of leadership.

The choice of Sarah Palin was also a mistake. I'm talking here about its political effects, not the sideshow psychodrama of feminist rage and elite loathing that had little to do with politics and everything to do with cultural prejudices, resentments and affectations.

Palin was a mistake (" near suicidal," I wrote on the day of her selection) because she completely undercut McCain's principal case against Obama: his inexperience and unreadiness to lead. And her nomination not only intellectually undermined the readiness argument. It also changed the election dynamic by shifting attention, for days on end, to Palin's preparedness, fitness and experience -- and away from Obama's.

McCain thought he could steal from Obama the "change" issue by running a Two Mavericks campaign. A fool's errand from the very beginning. It defied logic for the incumbent-party candidate to try to take "change" away from the opposition. Election Day exit polls bore that out with a vengeance. Voters seeking the "change candidate" went 89 to 9 for Obama.

Last but not least, what is worth acknowledging, according to Krauthammer, is that

McCain ran a valiant race against impossible odds. He will be -- he should be -- remembered as the most worthy presidential nominee ever to be denied the prize.

November 7, 2008

Più che lo sdegno poté il disgusto

Christian replica, ed anche stavolta a buon diritto, Luca invece no, almeno finora, ancorché chiamato in causa, lui stesso, dal Travaglio Quotidiano, che non ha esattamente una predilezione per chi lo contesta, soprattutto in ragione di semplici fatti, ai quali risulta ogni giorno un po’ più allergico—verso quali agognati traguardi il refrattario sia diretto, di questo passo, questo non è dato sapere, benché mi sentirei senz’altro di escludere quelli letterari, anche del genere fantastico (che è una cosa serissima). Ma l’astensione, in questo caso, sarebbe d’obbligo, almeno secondo ciò che mi detta il mio (personalissimo, per carità) senso della decenza. Se avete voglia di approfondire seguite il link riportato dal post di cui sopra: io non lo metto, questo è certo. Più che lo sdegno poté il disgusto.

A ciascuno il suo (Travaglio quotidiano)

Certo, Christian si difende da sé—dal Travaglio (Marco) Quotidiano—e restituisce con gli interessi, come si conviene. Ma se Luca gli dà una mano, in punta di penna e col bello stile che gli fa onore, la cosa non guasta, benché il parlar sia indarno (a determinate latitudini etico-deontologiche, ove il desso alberga e donde lancia malamente i suoi strali avvelenati). E qui, per certo, si approva e sottoscrive in toto. Amen.

November 5, 2008

God Bless America

I am amazed. During the U.S. presidential campaign I haven’t been a European Obama supporter, nor am I one now, though I have always appreciated his ever-present composure, and above all the fact that, in a way, his unwavering “belief in change” is all about the American Dream being once again every American's dream. That belief and that composure are probably the core of his victory speech itself (see my previous post), in a triumph of sobriety and restrained emotion.

What amazes me are two—very interrelated—things. The first is what the Americans have done and demonstrated yesterday, namely what the new president of the United States has plainly summarized at the beginning of his victory speech:

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where any things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive ... who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.
And to all those who have wondered if Americas beacon still burns as bright - tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

Perhaps never truer words were spoken by a politician. America is still the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. The U.S. is still the country of the second chance, of opportunity for all, included millions of people around the world who hope for a better future for them and their children.

I am also amazed by the words the defeated candidate pronounced in his concession speech (see my other previous post):

This is an historic election, and I recognize the special significance it has for African-Americans and for the special pride that must be theirs tonight.
I've always believed that America offers opportunities to all who have the industry and will to seize it. Senator Obama believes that, too.

But we both recognize that, though we have come a long way from the old injustices that once stained our nation's reputation and denied some Americans the full blessings of American citizenship, the memory of them still had the power to wound.
A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt's invitation of Booker T. Washington to dine at the White House was taken as an outrage in many quarters.

America today is a world away from the cruel and frightful bigotry of that time. There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African-American to the presidency of the United States.

Let there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth.
I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.

Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans. And please believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that.

I must say that, as a European and a true friend of the United States of America as well, I share with president Obama one more firm belief, that this victory is not so much his victory as that of the American people: “I will never forget—he said tonight—who this victory truly belongs to - it belongs to you.”

Good luck, Mr. President, and may God bless your Great Country.

A Place in History - 2

Obama victory speech (Chicago, Illinois, Wednesday, November 5, 2008):

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

Its the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.

Its the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled - Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.

Its the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

Its been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.

I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and hes fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him and Governor Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nations promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nations next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy thats coming with us to the White House. And while shes no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my campaign manager David Plouffe, my chief strategist David Axelrod, and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics - you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what youve sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to - it belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didnt start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington - it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.

It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generations apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.

I know you didnt do this just to win an election and I know you didnt do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime - two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how theyll make the mortgage, or pay their doctors bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America - I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you - we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who wont agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government cant solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way its been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years - block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek - it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, its that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers - in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.

Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House - a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, We are not enemies, but friends…though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn - I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world - our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down - we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security - we support you. And to all those who have wondered if Americas beacon still burns as bright - tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

For that is the true genius of America - that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one thats on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. Shes a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing - Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldnt vote for two reasons - because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that shes seen throughout her century in America - the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we cant, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when womens voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that We Shall Overcome. Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves - if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time - to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth - that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we cant, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

A Place in History

John McCain's concession speech (Phoenix, Arizona, Tuesday, November 4, 2008):

My friends, we have -- we have come to the end of a long journey. The American people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly.

A little while ago, I had the honor of calling Senator Barack Obama to congratulate him. To congratulate him on being elected the next president of the country that we both love.

In a contest as long and difficult as this campaign has been, his success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance. But that he managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving.

This is an historic election, and I recognize the special significance it has for African-Americans and for the special pride that must be theirs tonight.
I've always believed that America offers opportunities to all who have the industry and will to seize it. Senator Obama believes that, too.

But we both recognize that, though we have come a long way from the old injustices that once stained our nation's reputation and denied some Americans the full blessings of American citizenship, the memory of them still had the power to wound.
A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt's invitation of Booker T. Washington to dine at the White House was taken as an outrage in many quarters.

America today is a world away from the cruel and frightful bigotry of that time. There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African-American to the presidency of the United States.

Let there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth.

Senator Obama has achieved a great thing for himself and for his country. I applaud him for it, and offer him my sincere sympathy that his beloved grandmother did not live to see this day. Though our faith assures us she is at rest in the presence of her creator and so very proud of the good man she helped raise.

Senator Obama and I have had and argued our differences, and he has prevailed. No doubt many of those differences remain.

These are difficult times for our country. And I pledge to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face.

I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.

Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans. And please believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that.

It is natural. It's natural, tonight, to feel some disappointment. But tomorrow, we must move beyond it and work together to get our country moving again.
We fought -- we fought as hard as we could. And though we feel short, the failure is mine, not yours.

I am so deeply grateful to all of you for the great honor of your support and for all you have done for me. I wish the outcome had been different, my friends.

The road was a difficult one from the outset, but your support and friendship never wavered. I cannot adequately express how deeply indebted I am to you.
I'm especially grateful to my wife, Cindy, my children, my dear mother my dear mother and all my family, and to the many old and dear friends who have stood by my side through the many ups and downs of this long campaign.

I have always been a fortunate man, and never more so for the love and encouragement you have given me. You know, campaigns are often harder on a candidate's family than on the candidate, and that's been true in this campaign.

All I can offer in compensation is my love and gratitude and the promise of more peaceful years ahead.

I am also -- I am also, of course, very thankful to Governor Sarah Palin, one of the best campaigners I've ever seen one of the best campaigners I have ever seen, and an impressive new voice in our party for reform and the principles that have always been our greatest strength, her husband Todd and their five beautiful children for their tireless dedication to our cause, and the courage and grace they showed in the rough and tumble of a presidential campaign.

We can all look forward with great interest to her future service to Alaska, the Republican Party and our country.

To all my campaign comrades, from Rick Davis and Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter, to every last volunteer who fought so hard and valiantly, month after month, in what at times seemed to be the most challenged campaign in modern times, thank you so much. A lost election will never mean more to me than the privilege of your faith and friendship.

I don't know -- I don't know what more we could have done to try to win this election. I'll leave that to others to determine. Every candidate makes mistakes, and I'm sure I made my share of them. But I won't spend a moment of the future regretting what might have been.

This campaign was and will remain the great honor of my life, and my heart is filled with nothing but gratitude for the experience and to the American people for giving me a fair hearing before deciding that Senator Obama and my old friend Senator Joe Biden should have the honor of leading us for the next four years.

I would not -- I would not be an American worthy of the name should I regret a fate that has allowed me the extraordinary privilege of serving this country for a half a century.

Today, I was a candidate for the highest office in the country I love so much. And tonight, I remain her servant. That is blessing enough for anyone, and I thank the people of Arizona for it.

Tonight -- tonight, more than any night, I hold in my heart nothing but love for this country and for all its citizens, whether they supported me or Senator Obama -- whether they supported me or Senator Obama.

I wish Godspeed to the man who was my former opponent and will be my president. And I call on all Americans, as I have often in this campaign, to not despair of our present difficulties, but to believe, always, in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here.

Americans never quit. We never surrender.

We never hide from history. We make history.

Thank you, and God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you all very much.

November 4, 2008

Waiting for the last judgement ...

Italy is gearing up for today's presidential elections in the United States almost as if it was a national election here complete with all-night TV coverage, ANSA informs.

Actors Leonardo Di Caprio and Daniel Craig will follow the results of the presidential elections from Rome tonight after arriving in the capital ahead of the Italian premieres of their latest movies.

As for me, I'm gonna do my best—in spite of the six-hour time difference ...

Election night (popcorn included)

So many have predicted a lopsided victory for Senator Barack Obama over Senator John McCain that you might wonder why even to bother watching the returns on Tuesday night. The fact is, there is plenty of mystery — and there is only one poll that counts.

Yes, indeed. There is only one poll that counts … Here is a guide of highlights to watch for on Tuesday.

November 3, 2008

Education reform: second thoughts

There is a very interesting and significant development concerning the issue of recent education reform of Italian government. A prominent leader of the center-right People of Freedom party (PdL) and Lombardy region Governor, Roberto Formigoni, is keeping the party and the government at arm's length. Formigoni, who is also a former Vice-President of the European Parliament, criticized today [in Italian] the deep budget cuts (€7.8bn) over the next three years included in Mariastella Gelmini’s decree—definitively converted into law by the Senate last Wednesday—at the opening of the Academic Year 2008-2009 of Milan Polytechnic. He agreed with rector Giulio Ballio, who in his official opening speech called [in It.] for the need to distinguish inefficient universities from virtuous ones.

This is an invitation to second thoughts, not an attack against the government. The reform and the rationalization of public expenditures are necessary, but we must treat efficiency and quality of the system with care, by recognizing the goodness of those universities which have been so far virtuous and wise.

Furthermore, he said that “there should be a debate in parliament. The best way is always to develop a shared reform agenda.”

This is, of course, something very different from the approach taken by the other members of the ruling coalition, with the only exception of Roberto Calderoli, a leading member of the Northern League, who along with the Lombardy region Governor called today [in It.] for a shared reform agenda.

In my previous post I hoped the government would think again about the budget cuts. Now I hope this marks the beginning of a fundamental change of mind.

November 1, 2008

Happy All Saints Day!

When The Saints Go Marchin' In

(Louis Armstrong's All Stars In Concert. La Bussola, Focette (Marina di Pietrasanta), (LU), Italy. Thursday, May 7, 1959)