October 26, 2011

A Defense of Nonsense

Our claim that nonsense is a new literature (we might almost say a new sense) would be quite indefensible if nonsense were nothing more than a mere aesthetic fancy. Nothing sublimely artistic has ever arisen out of mere art, any more than anything essentially reasonable has ever arisen out of the pure reason. There must always be a rich moral soil for any great aesthetic growth. The principle of art for art’s sake is a very good principle if it means that there is a vital distinction between the earth and the tree that has its roots in the earth; but it is a very bad principle if it means that the tree could grow just as well with its roots in the air. Every great literature has always been allegorical—allegorical of some view of the whole universe. The ‘Iliad’ is only great because all life is a battle, the ‘Odyssey’ because all life is a journey, the Book of Job because all life is a riddle. There is one attitude in which we think that all existence is summed up in the word ‘ghosts’; another, and somewhat better one, in which we think it is summed up in the words ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’ Even the vulgarest melodrama or detective story can be good if it expresses something of the delight in sinister possibilities—the healthy lust for darkness and terror which may come on us any night in walking down a dark lane. If, therefore, nonsense is really to be the literature of the future, it must have its own version of the Cosmos to offer; the world must not only be the tragic, romantic, and religious, it must be nonsensical also. And here we fancy that nonsense will, in a very unexpected way, come to the aid of the spiritual view of things. Religion has for centuries been trying to make men exult in the ‘wonders’ of creation, but it has forgotten that a thing cannot be completely wonderful so long as it remains sensible. So long as we regard a tree as an obvious thing, naturally and reasonably created for a giraffe to eat, we cannot properly wonder at it. It is when we consider it as a prodigious wave of the living soil sprawling up to the skies for no reason in particular that we take off our hats, to the astonishment of the park-keeper. Everything has in fact another side to it, like the moon, the patroness of nonsense. Viewed from that other side, a bird is a blossom broken loose from its chain of stalk, a man a quadruped begging on its hind legs, a house a gigantesque hat to cover a man from the sun, a chair an apparatus of four wooden legs for a cripple with only two.
This is the side of things which tends most truly to spiritual wonder. It is significant that in the greatest religious poem existent, the Book of Job, the argument which convinces the infidel is not (as has been represented by the merely rational religionism of the eighteenth century) a picture of the ordered beneficence of the Creation; but, on the contrary, a picture of the huge and undecipherable unreason of it. ‘Hast Thou sent the rain upon the desert where no man is?’ This simple sense of wonder at the shapes of things, and at their exuberant independence of our intellectual standards and our trivial definitions, is the basis of spirituality as it is the basis of nonsense. Nonsense and faith (strange as the conjunction may seem) are the two supreme symbolic assertions of the truth that to draw out the soul of things with a syllogism is as impossible as to draw out Leviathan with a hook. The well-meaning person who, by merely studying the logical side of things, has decided that ‘faith is nonsense,’ does not know how truly he speaks; later it may come back to him in the form that nonsense is faith.

~ Gilbert Keith Chesterton, The Defendant, 1902

How true! It is definitely impossible to draw out the soul of things with a syllogism. Do you remember Dante’s Paradiso (Canto X)?

O Thou insensate care of mortal men,
How inconclusive are the syllogisms
That make thee beat thy wings in downward flight!

Nonsense is therefore about as actually an instrument of the search for the ultimate truth as faith. Of course, as Chesterton pointed out elsewhere (“Child Psychology and Nonsense” in Illustrated London News, October 15, 1921), there are “two ways of dealing with nonsense in this world,”

One way is to put nonsense in the right place; as when people put nonsense into nursery rhymes. The other is to put nonsense in the wrong place; as when they put it into educational addresses, psychological criticisms, and complaints against nursery rhymes or other normal amusements of mankind.

And now, after making it clear that, somewhat unexpectedly, nursery rhymes and the Book of Job have something very important in common, let’s make “the well-meaning person” say that faith is nonsense—he does not actually know how truly he speaks…

Giovanni Di Paolo, Illustration of Dante's Paradiso (Canto X) 
The First Circle of the Twelve Teachers of Wisdom (British Library - London)

October 24, 2011

Living 'La Vita Bella' (and Other Stories)

Medieval Florence (miniature, Vatican Library)

Not Just the Weekly Grind: Last Week’s Roundup

  1. Living “La Vita Bella.” Italians Leave Fears of Debt Crisis to Others

    After living with the problem for hundreds of years, most Italians don’t really worry. Not the way the other countries do. After all, no other country has such a long history of involvement in debt... That’s why no other country knows as much about getting in and out of debt. High debt levels and little growth have been part of the status quo in Italian budget policy, and the Italians have survived even more serious crises…

    After so many centuries, the secret door sticks a bit. But it still exists, hidden behind an image of Italy in the “Hall of Maps” of Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio. “Eccolo,” says Francesca, the custodian. “It happened here.”
    This is where it all began. Starting sometime in the mid-14th century, the leather-bound ledgers the city of Florence used to record its debts were kept hidden in this secret place. Someone in the city government had apparently hit upon the idea of using the citizens' money to fund the next military campaign. After Florence’s (supposedly certain) victory, the city would simply repay the debts—and with interest.
    The wealthy Florentines, who were required to buy their city’s debt securities, had their names recorded in the ledgers at Palazzo Vecchio. But, for them, paying up was still preferable to putting on their own suits of armor to defend the city. Besides, they could also sell these new debt securities to others.

    Yes, that’s where it all began. But this is just the beginning of a long Spiegel Online International article that is very much worth your time (interviews with the mayor of Florence and leading economists included).

  2. Herman Cain Blames The Unemployed, GOP Debate Audience Cheers (VIDEO) 

    As everybody already knows Herman Cain recently criticized the Occupy Wall Street protesters, saying, “Don’t blame Wall Street. Don’t blame the big banks. If you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself.” As it was not enough, at Tuesday night’s CNN debate, he stood by his comments.
    In response, Ron Paul criticized Cain: “I think Mr. Cain has blamed the victims. […] There’s a lot of people that are victims of this business cycle. We can’t blame the victims. But we also have to point—I’d go to Washington as well as Wall Street, but I’d go over to the Federal Reserve. They create the financial bubbles.”
    Now honestly, how can you disagree with that?
  3. Cain's latest bizarre abortion comment

    Herman Cain took another shot at clarifying his abortion stance on Fox News today, but in the process only added to the confusion.
    Cain attempted to argue that when he said in a CNN interview earlier this week that the decision was ultimately up to the family, what he really meant was that it was up the family as to whether they wanted to break the law.
    “I do not think abortion should be legal in this country,” Cain said on Fox today. “Abortion should not be legal. That is clear. But if a family made the decision to break the law, that’s that family’s decision.”
    On its face, it's completely bizarre for a presidential candidate to say that families should decide whether they want to break the law, but either way, it's difficult to square with previous comments.

    I’ve got a headache coming on...
  4. Why There’s No Way Cain Will Survive His Abortion Gaffe

    Herman is a smooth operator with the soul of a born salesman, but this time his silver tongue may have undone him. Tax plans can be written or unwritten. For people who think legalized abortion represents an ongoing American Holocaust, however, the correct position is always the same, and any wrinkle or nuance that complicates “No!” is just going to get the candidate in deep trouble.

    Not a minor affair...
  5. Steve Forbes on Rick Perry’s Flat Tax Proposal: It’s the Best Tax Proposal Since Ronald Reagan (VIDEO)

    Things change. “Nothing endures but change” (Heraclitus).

October 23, 2011

Protests, Propaganda, Presidents

~ “LETTERS FROM AMERICA” - by The Metaphysical Peregrine

President Obama and the Democrats continue to blame America’s
economic woes on George Bush even though their Party controlled both houses of Congress for most of the 20th century, with a couple years spread out here and there for the Republicans. The first two years of this administration Congress was controlled completely by the Democrats. Together they increased our debt by about $4 trillion dollars. Right now we are $15,000,000,000,000 in debt. That puts every man, woman and child in America $47,835 in debt. That doesn't include $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities, the things the Federal Government has taken off the books and say the States or someone has to pay for. They’re all in massive debt too, and unable to pay.

Obama did a big “pass this now” jobs bill. It didn’t pass the Democrat controlled Senate. A second try was made last week, and again it was not passed by the Democrat controlled Senate. Yet on the campaign trail promoting his jobs bill, he blamed the Republicans. Really and truly. The lowest sort of blame came from Vice President Joe Biden, who said not passing the bill would mean there would be an increase in rapes and murders, and it would be the Republican’s fault. Other leaders in the Democrat Party are repeating this disgusting lie and line. Shameless.

A couple months ago some college students and aging hippies got together to protest Wall Street and corporations. They are financed and organized by media outlets, unions and the socialist movement. They call themselves the 99%. They made some bad life choices, or are just lazy, and want the 1% to pay for it. The “Occupy Wall Street” protests popped up in several cities and have gotten massive positive coverage. There have been beatings, thefts, rape, public nudity and sexual activity, clashes with the police, violence and hundreds of arrests. People are defecating in public, including on police cars and the American flag. Pedophiles are exposing themselves to children. (What are kids doing there?) They wear the latest threads provided by corporations, using millions of dollars of the latest technology made by corporations. Now at the protest sites rats are breeding like, well, rats, and the health hazard is becoming extreme. The Left is anti-Semitic, and the signs along with anti-Jewish rants bear it out. It’s been a dirty little secret for years. It’s still being covered up by the Jurassic Press. Its racism bubbled up at the Portland protest when a black man was called a n****er by several of the protesters.

Support for these non-producers comes not only from the Main Steam Media, but elite socialists in the hated 1%. Russell Simmons is a multimillionaire that has several businesses, including a high interest credit card (how capitalist can you get), is a 1 per center that supports the movement. Fat cat propagandist Michael Moore, emphasis on fat, is worth several $million; as are the Obama’s, Bill Clinton, George Soros, Susan Sarandon and most of the Hollywood elites. If anything, why aren’t multimillionaire actors that make mostly bad movies, shelter their earnings to reduce their tax rate, being protested? They're in the 1%. Other supporters of the movement include the fascist Iranian government, Communist Party USA, Socialist Party of America, the Nazi Party of America; the Russian Kleptocrats lead by Putin, and the Democrat Party.

All the nastiness, hatred, violence, anti-Semitism, and racism is being glossed over by reporters in the Main Stream Media. Conversely, what’s reported about the TEA (Taxed Enough Already) Party is they are racist and violent, even though there is no evidence of either. The only violence that occurred was when union thugs showed up at rally’s and town hall meetings and tried to start fights. TEA Party members and supporters met with elected "servants of the people" at town hall meetings, didn’t like what they heard, and went to the polls and voted many of them out; legally, nonviolently and constitutionally. The Wall Street protesters are advocating the destruction of our economic system and the overthrow of our constitutional republic to be replaced by a socialist state. About a third of them advocate for the violent overthrow of the government.

Going back to the top of this post, we have an incompetent president that was elected to the highest office in the land with no business or government executive experience. He's had an easy life of people just giving him everything he wanted. He was raised by communists and racists. He went to church that worshipped at the altar of racism and materialist Marxism, not the altar of God. His two self aggrandizing books are peppered with racist statements. He claimed to be a constitutional professor but was only a guest lecturer. He was editor of a college publication, but never wrote an article. He’s never released his grades like every president before him. (As an aside, the Press kept claiming John Kerry was smarter than GW Bush. Bush had higher grades, an advanced degree, and was a fighter pilot. Kerry ran a little boat on a river, a job that a chief petty officer could do.) Obama never had a job, never met a payroll, never governed a state, and never ran a business. In both state and US senates he mostly voted ‘present’.

Yet the theme presented by the Jurassic Press about the Republican candidates is that they are lacking and not ready for the presidency. There’s a fighter pilot governor in Rick Perry who's economic policies created a pro-business environment resulting in the creation of most of the jobs in the United States the past few years. A hugely successful businessman, a guy that pulled the winter Olympics out of certain failure into a success, and a governor in Mitt Romney. A successful lawyer and business woman in Michelle Bachman, and a successful businessman in Herman Cain. Newt Gringrich may be the smartest politician alive, and all the Left can do is personally attack him because they’re unable to successfully debate him. Yet all these people are less qualified than Obama? Look where that’s gotten us.  

October 21, 2011

Why Transhumanism’s Mission to Create Ubermenchen Children Is Coercive

Ronald Bailey, the science editor for “Reason” magazine, describes himself as a “libertarian transhumanist.” In his 2005 book Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution, he argues that, despite what he considers the vastly exaggerated concerns of opponents of biotechnology and stem cell research, the emerging biotech revolution will improve our lives and the future of our children—far from endangering human dignity, he says, the rapid progress in biotechnology will enable more of us to live flourishing lives free of disease, disability, and the threat of early death. Unfortunately, he argues,

We find ourselves in the remarkable position of having many of our leading intellectuals and policymakers arguing that their fellow citizens should be denied access to technologies they know will enable them and their families to live healthier, saner and longer lives…

Rather, in his opinion, patients should have the freedom to embrace or reject stem cell and biotech benefits based on their own personal or religious values. He recently returned to this topic, polemicizing with political scientist Peter Lawler, a member of President George W. Bush’s Council on Bioethics, who during a debate concerning the ethics of radical life extension at Wheaton College in Massachusetts last week, made the case that using technology to radically extend human life spans, and boost human intellectual, emotional, and physical capacities, will end in coercion. To which Bailey replied as follows:

I advocate a liberal tolerant approach: People who reject enhancements for themselves and their progeny are free to do so, whereas those who want to upgrade their mental and physical capacities are also free to do so.

Now, what can we say in response to this? Well, as for the term “liberal,” especially in the current meaning of the word (a political ideology of reform, often associated with left-leaning movements), I’d prefer not to comment. As for the term “tolerant,” well, there is much to be said about this… Here is how CBC (Center for Bioethics and Culture Network) Wesley J. Smith puts it:

How can I put it in a way that Bailey will understand? Assume scientists find a “religion” gene that expresses for people to experience intense faith. And say, a fundamentalist Christian, decides he wants to ensure his kid will be saved for eternity–and so he transhumanizes the kid to have the “faith” gene, thereby creating a strong propensity in his child to believe. Would Bailey say that child had not been coerced into being religious? I doubt it.

He might say–I don’t know–that engineering for faith should be forbidden. If so, he would be violating transhumanist libertarianism by constraining the “freedom” to post humanize children to only those enhancements with which he–or better stated, the power structure–approves. If not, he accepts the transhumanist core belief that in some sense children are mere sentient products, properly accessorized to please the desires and fulfill the wishes of their purchasers (or not, as in the classicGattaca scene embedded above).

Transhumanism has revived the pernicious idea of the ubermenchen in the hubristic belief that they have the wisdom to intelligently design human life beyond how we evolved, were created, or were designed by a greater force than ourselves. They don’t, and they forget that often our human imperfections bring out the best in people–and indeed help produce greatness. (Would Abraham Lincoln have been Abraham Lincoln without what may have been his congenital melancholia?) In any event, the eugenic implications of transhumanist ideology are more than frightening.

October 20, 2011

Game Over

The first photo (France Press/Philippe Desmazes)
Captured or killed, but the game is over aniway.

October 19, 2011

And, Sure, Sean Is an Honorable Man

Sean Penn and Hugo Chavez

Not Just the Weekly Grind: Last Week’s Roundup

  1. Sean Penn Calls Tea Party the ‘Get the N-Word Out of the White House Party’ Which Wants to ‘Lynch’ Obama
    According to left-wing actor Sean Penn the Tea Party is motivated by racism. On CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight on Friday evening he said that an impediment to President Obama’s success is “what I call the ‘Get the N-word out of the White House party,’ the Tea Party.”  (Video and transcript included)

    This, of course, while Herman Cain tops polls of Republican primary voters. Yet Brutus Sean says—without citing any evidence, ça va sans dire—that “there’s a big bubble coming out of their heads saying, you know, ‘can we just lynch him?’” And, sure, he is an honourable man... 
  2. Ann Coulter: Media ‘Will Lie About the Economy’ To Get Obama Reelected
    Conservative author Ann Coulter told Fox News’s Sean Hannity Friday evening that Obama, as bad as his numbers are right now, “will have the entire mainstream media bucking for him and they will lie about the economy. ‘Oh, it’s a turnaround, don’t stop him now.’” An easy prophecy? (Video and transcript included)
  3. Why Herman Cain Can Win
    OK, Herman Cain isn’t the most likely person to be the Republican nominee for president in 2012. That’s Mitt Romney. But, a new NBC-Wall Street Journal poll released late Wednesday suggests that a path to victory does exist for him. How? Well, by singing! Er, no, just kidding of course (great video, though), read the above linked article to know exactly how. 
  4. We Underestimate Occupy Wall Street to Our Own Peril

    By trying to minimize them we’re in fact doing exactly what these people did, and are still doing, when they try to portray us as Nazis, capitalist pigs, reactionaries, or assassins. If we try to portray them as something different, something un-American, I think we’ll lose every time because they have the media advantage. And gods forbid if the soldiers in that crowd make a showing, because it’s easy to criticize the hippies, but how do you criticize the soldiers as different? You can’t, really.
    What I think we need is a war of ideas, not one of belittlement. I think that’s the key to defeating Occupy Wall Street arguments, and we need to get started.

    What can I say? Very well said, indeed...

October 18, 2011

Tocqueville's American (and Cartesian) Democracy

Alexis de Tocqueville
Did you know about Tocqueville’s remarkable insight that the Americans are Cartesians without having read a word of Descartes? But “the Cartesian method is also the democratic method, and it’s that democratic method that keeps Americans from reading the words of philosophers — Descartes or anyone else.” Read this and much more in an introduction to Tocqueville (.pdf) and his “contribution to the American reconciliation of greatness and justice in a true understanding of human liberty,” by Peter A. Lawler (published in LO SGUARDO – RIVISTA DI FILOSOFIA, N. 7, 2011 (III) – LIBERALISMO E DEMOCRAZIA). The author’s purpose is “to show the similarity between Tocqueville’s and Percy’s [the American Catholic novelist/philosopher Walker Percy] analysis of American disorientation, of a people confused by not knowing the whole truth about who they are and what they’re supposed to do.”

Via Postmodern Conservative.

October 17, 2011

Achtung, France!

[From the series, Who's the Next Domino to Fall?]

Top German economists are warning that French debt is likely to be downgraded in the months to come. In today's Spiegel Online International:

Ever since Europe's common currency crisis began erupting in earnest last year, two countries have been largely responsible for preventing a complete collapse of the euro zone: France and Germany. Without their support, Greece, Portugal and Ireland would have long since declared insolvency.

This year, though, with the euro crisis going from bad to worse, it is looking increasingly likely that France may not be able to emerge unscathed. Indeed, leading German economists on Monday told the website of financial daily Handelsblatt that French debt is likely to be downgraded in the months to come.

October 15, 2011

Occupy Goes Global (and Violent, Too)

See also here, here, and here.

However, what do “protests and riots in Rome” really mean? Well, here is the answer (from Fr. Philip Neri Powell, the best “foreign correspondent” in Italy). Simply priceless.

The Arab Spring Hasn’t Yet Begun

The winner of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in 2011, Boualem Sansal, is an Algerian engineer, an internationally acclaimed author, and a straightforward man. “Our choice this year”—said Gottfried Honnefelder, chairman of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association, at the start of the 2011 Buchtage Berlin (Berlin Book Days)—“is intended as a signal of encouragement for democracy movements in North Africa.” Yet, Boualem Sansal is not, as one might first think, a supporter of the Arab Spring, and this for the simple reason that, in his opinion, unfortunately the Arab Spring hasn’t yet begun. Here is what he told the Italian Corriere della Sera newspaper (English translation: mine):

The Arab Spring hasn’t yet begun. The big problems are still unsettled. It’s not only about dictators, who of course must disappear. No, there is also the question of culture and that of Islamism.
In studying the Third Reich, I saw that, over there, there were the same ingredients that I recognize in my own country and in the other Arab regimes. And they are: single-party system, militarization of the country, brainwashing, falsification of history, assertion of the existence of a conspiracy (the main culprits are Israel and America), glorification of the martyrs and of the supreme leader of the country, omnipresence of the police, huge mass meeting, pharaonic public works projects. When, and only when, Algerians, Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans will get rid of this castle of lies, then the Arab Spring will can start. That’s why I stay in Algeria.

The idea that we have to analyze National Socialism if we are to keep Islamism in check is not new, but what is surprising is that this time it comes from the other side of the fence, and the frankness with which it is expressed. Here is how he put it in a May 6, 2010 interview:

There are enormous similarities [between Nazis and Jihadists] - the concept of conquering: of souls, but also of territories. And there is the idea of extermination - of all those who do not submit to the ideology of Islamism.

But then again, Boualem Sansal is first and foremost the author of the first Arabic novel about the Holocaust, a book originally written in French—like the author’s other works—and published in the U.S. as The German Mujahid and in the U.K. as An Unfinished Business. It tells the story of a German nazi who goes into hiding after the war as a member of the Algerian forces fighting for independence from France. The German Mujahid was honored with multiple international prizes and translations but, as was to be expected, it was banned in Algeria, a country which, according to Sansal himself, is becoming a bastion of Islamic extremism and where the Holocaust is not currently acknowledged.

It has to be noted that, whilst Boualem Sansal publicly and sternly denounces the worldwide rise of Islamic extremism, the mood in the U.S. and other Western countries is generally so anti-anti-Islam that politicians run for cover whenever Islam is raised as an issue. Let’s hope the once-lonely fight of Boualem Sansal serves as an inspiration and a wake-up call.

The Peace Prize award ceremony will take place tomorrow, October 16, 2011 in the Church of St. Paul in Frankfurt.

October 12, 2011

The Day the Mouse Roared (and Other Sories)

Not Just the Daily Grind: Today’s Must Reads (or so)

  1. Yesterday the parliament of Slovakia voted against the expansion of the euro bailout fund, but EU Pins Hopes on Second Slovak Vote This Week. The government of Iveta Radicova has fallen but will continue in a caretaker role. It has pledged to get the measure through parliament in a second vote.  Alas, in vain the mouse roared...
  2. Danes firmly against euro - The latest Statistics Denmark euro barometer shows Danes firmly opposed to joining the Single Currency. Nothing new under the Danish Sun. They didn't want in before the financial crash, and a fortiori they don't want in right now. There is something right in Denmark.
  3. Italy Still Needs Silvio Berlusconi - Over at the National Review they think there's still hope for il Cavaliere. When the night is darkest the dawn is nearest...
  4. The Académie française: custodians of the French language - The Académie française was created in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu. Its aim was to "fix the French language, giving it rules, rendering it pure and comprehensible by all."

    Each French ministry has its own commission of terminology and neologisms, whose job is to track down English terms and offer French alternatives. They send their proposals to the Académie, which debates the new terms and rubber stamps them.
    Once published in the statues book, French civil servants are urged to use them. Its rulings, however, are only advisory; not binding on either the public or the government. About 300 such official French terms appear each year.
    However, not all catch on. The French term "prix hypotécaire à risqué" is not often heard in place of "subprime", for example.

  5. Saudi Women Receive Husbands' Explicit Permission To Celebrate Right To Vote -

    In the wake of the watershed decision granting them the right to vote in the 2015 elections, Saudi women have received their husbands' explicit consent to rejoice, sources reported Wednesday. "It is with great pride that women all across Saudi Arabia have been allowed to leave their homes under the guardianship of a male relative and celebrate this cultural landmark," father of four Khalid al-Kazaz told reporters. "It brings us great pleasure to permit them a few moments in which to smile beneath their hijabs before returning to their daily duties." Saudi officials followed the announcement with another historic decree that lowered from 10 to 7 the number of lashes that will be administered to women who drive themselves to the voting booth.

    No further comment needed, right?

Double Standards

Cartoon by William Warren (click to enlarge)

...I guess no further comments are needed. Via NetRightDaily.com

October 11, 2011

The Debacle of the Italian Justice System: Who Is to Blame?

And now, after the verdict on Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in the killing of British student Meredith Kercher, the U.S. media is getting its own back against the Italian justice system and, to a degree, against the Italians themselves (here are two eloquent examples). And, what’s worse, I think they are basically right: the Italian justice is a worldwide embarrassment, but a large number of Italians bear moral responsibility for that. I’m specifically talking of left-wingers and liberals, who for reasons of political calculation have been blindly rallying behind left-wing magistrates whose main purpose was/is to destroy their opponents—right-wingers and moderates, whom they regard as enemies, not just political rivals—rather than to pursue justice.

This attitude has understandably generated a sort of delirium of omnipotence on the part of a number of magistrates. They never fail, they never commit mistakes, they never even exaggerate, they always tell the truth and do not try to deceive people or break the law, and they are always super partes—no matter if they act as political activists and show their deep contempt for one political party or another, in both private and public occasions—this is, in the best case, the arrière pensée which “inspires” the vast majority of the Italian liberals and left-wingers. In the worst case, and not infrequently, they are obviously in bad faith, but the outcome is exactly the same.

Yet now, perhaps, it is time for those people to pay the bill, or to start doing so.

October 10, 2011

Not Just the Weekly Grind: Last Week’s Roundup

  1. Notes on Perry - “I think Perry is undervalued at this point…” Well, so do I, to be honest. And as a matter of fact (see below)...
  2. GOP Primary News And Notes - “Rick Perry may have had a less than stellar roll out with voters but he’s rolling in the dough.” Yeah, as the old saying goes (and with all due respect), “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”
  3. Employment in Italy -
    “Italy’s official statistics office ISTAT releases figures on employment and unemployment levels [...]. The figures reveal that there are anomalies concerning unemployment levels in Italy’s south.” Well, it’s actually quite surprising that there are only two anomalies... 
  4. Tea Party Activist Gets Help from Morgan Freeman’s Neighbors -
    Ali Akbar, a Tea Party activist who sent a letter to Morgan Freeman inviting him to a Tea Party told Roger Simon that Freeman’s Mississippi neighbors would attempt to deliver the letter personally. Freeman, as many will recall, accused the Tea Party of racisim... “My evaluation of Akbar,” says Roger Simon, “is that he is quite determined to reach Freeman and get some response from the actor to his invitation.” Bloody hell, it might turn out to be a damn good fight!
  5. Thirty Three Things (v. 55) - Issues and problems such as Holden Caulfield’s immortal question about where the ducks from the Central Park pond go in winter, but not only this. Some examples: Did Americans in 1776 have British accents? What would really happen if you nuked a volcano? Famous Quotes That Were Never Said, The Dead Sea Scrolls Are Online In High-Definition, Unusual Ways to Die Through the Ages, etc.

October 5, 2011

Lessons from the Amanda Knox Case

Giuliano Ferrara
According to Giuliano Ferrara, editor of the newspaper Il Foglio, there are things foreign correspondents in Italy might want to learn from the Amanda Knox trial about the Italian justice system. By the way, never forget that, apart from what may pertain Silvio Berlusconi’s troubles with it—defending the indefensible is impossible for nearly everyone—this is the same “justice” which has been holding the whole political system in check in this country since about 20 years, and, what is more, amidst much international fanfare and celebration. But read what Giuliano Ferrara has to say about the whole thing.

P.S. You might also want to read what I wrote about one year and a half ago—nothing news under the Italian sun...

October 3, 2011

Amanda and Raffaele: Free at Last

Amanda Knox and Carlo Dalla Vedova, her lawyer.
So at last the court overturned the homicide convictions of Amanda Knox and her co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito, allowing for their immediate release. I am very happy for them, even though, being far from an expert in judicial matters—in which I am neither well-versed nor, to be honest, particularly interested—I am not the most qualified person to write about this subject. And in fact, were it not for the half-dozen or so American friends of mine, who emailed me asking for an opinion on the Amanda Knox case, I wouldn’t be writing this post (I thought it was better to write a post rather than a half-dozen emails). Be it as it may, my very humble opinion is this: the more I have been reading about the Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito trial, the more I realize that there was no proof of their guilt. That’s why I cannot but agree with Amanda’s lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova who told the court that his client had been “crucified, impaled in the piazza” for a crime she never committed, and that she had spent more than 1,000 days in prison on the basis of “evidence that cannot stand up to other hypotheses.” Not a good story for the Italian justice system. Yet, now justice seems to have been done. Let’s not forget, however, that what was at stake in Perugia was not only the future of Amanda and Raffaele, but also the reliability of the Italian justice system. And in the latter case there have been no winners, only survivors.

UPDATE — Wednesday, October 5, 2011 
This may also be of interest: Lessons from the Amanda Knox Case (according to Giuliano Ferrara, editor of the newspaper Il Foglio, there are things foreign correspondents in Italy might want to learn from the Amanda Knox trial about the Italian justice system).

The Angels Are Among Us

Benedict XVI at the Angelus, in regard to yesterday’s celebration of the Feast of the Guardian Angels:

God is always near and active in human history, and follows us with the unique presence of His angels, who today the Church venerates as the Guardian angels, in other words ministers of God’s concern for every man. From the beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their constant protection.

Via AsiaNews.it

October 2, 2011

Why America Is an Exception

America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed. That creed is set forth with dogmatic and even theological lucidity in the Declaration of Independence; perhaps the only piece of practical politics that is also theoretical politics and also great literature. It enunciates that all men are equal in their claim to justice, that governments exist to give them that justice, and that their authority is for that reason just. It certainly does condemn anarchism, and it does also by inference condemn atheism, since it clearly names the Creator as the ultimate authority from whom these equal rights are derived. Nobody expects a modern political system to proceed logically in the application of such dogmas, and in the matter of God and Government it is naturally God whose claim is taken more lightly. The point is that there is a creed, if not about divine, at least about human things.

~ Gilbert Keith Chesterton, What I Saw in America, 1922

This famous G.K. Chesterton quote is perhaps even more relevant today than it was when it was written, back in the early Twenties. Is the culture of the United States significantly different than that of Europe? Yes, and that’s why American Exceptionalism is still a closely held value by the American people. Here is how American political sociologist Seymour Martin Lipset—who was the son of Russian Jewish immigrants—put it in his 1996 American Exceptionalism: A Double-Edged Sword (by quoting, in turn, Chesterton):

Born out of revolution, the United States is a country organized around an ideology which includes a set of dogmas about the nature of a good society. Americanism, as different people have pointed out, is an "ism" or ideology in the same way that communism or fascism or liberalism are isms. As G. K. Chesterton put it: ‘America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed. That creed is set forth with dogmatic and even theological lucidity in the Declaration of Independence.’ … The nation’s ideology can be described in five words: liberty, egalitarianism, individualism, populism, and laissez-faire. The revolutionary ideology which became the American Creed is liberalism in its eighteenth- and nineteenth-century meanings, as distinct from conservative Toryism, statist communitarianism, mercantilism, and noblesse oblige dominant in monarchical, state-church-formed cultures.
Other countries' senses of themselves are derived from a common history. Winston Churchill once gave vivid evidence to the difference between a national identity rooted in history and one defined by ideology in objecting to a proposal in 1940 to outlaw the anti-war Communist Party. In a speech in the House of Commons, Churchill said that as far as he knew, the Communist Party was composed of Englishmen and he did not fear an Englishman. In Europe, nationality is related to community, and thus one cannot become un-English or un-Swedish. Being an American, however, is an ideological commitment. It is not a matter of birth. Those who reject American values are un-American.