Roman Forum 2006

Roman Forum 2006
Foro Romano, from the Palatine Hill - a favorite photo from one of my favorite cities

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Bloggo TRUMP-USCONI, or A Tale of Two Tyrants

Dottore Gianni does not like Donald Trump - let's face it, he absolutely LOATHES "the Donald." To Dottore Gianni, Trump is the quintessence of the Ugly American: arrogant, loud, bigoted - and proud of it.

Aside (my new. more theatrical term for Sidebar)
I don't care much for the Donald either. 

But rather than a litany of "let me count the ways," I'll examine Donald Trump (DT from here on, for though it would be fun to refer to him as "the Donald" as did his first wife, Ivana, that takes too long to type)  by comparing him to another man I don't much care for (and another whom Dottore Gianni loathes), the ex-prime minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi (SB from here forward - more fun as well than initials, but more time-consuming, and as all of you who read this know "la vita e troppo breve" for the good doctor). I'll tell you a bit about SB, and you make the connection. OK?

Aside: For the record, to obtain the above details and for what follows I relied a good bit on the Wikipedia entry, but also made use of BBC news - for people who like that sort of thing, here are the links: 

Silvio Berlusconi  lorded it over the Italians in spurts during the period from 1994 to 2011. This, by the way, makes SB the prime minister who was in power longer by far than any Italian leader since the Second World War.

Silvio the crooner
 SB (he by the way has been nicknamed Il Cavaliere, or "the Knight") is a self-made man, having started his working life as a vacuum cleaner salesman and moved on to crooning on cruise lines and in nightclubs. Then he became involved big-time in housing development, around Milan, and ultimately built a media empire including the three largest privately held television stations in Italy (these and other private stations compete with RAI, publicly owned TV, similar to our PBS) and a newspaper. He also owns the AC Milan football ("soccer" for ill-informed Americans) club, along with many other assets.

Having built a financial empire, SB decided to try his hand at government, and formed his own party in 1993, Forza Italia (GO Italy! a popular Italian football chant). The following year he was elected prime minister, a post he held through 1995, was elected again in 2001 and reigned until 2006, was elected yet again in 2008 and finally ousted in 2011.  

Aside: Are some of you thinking that owning three major television stations and a newspaper might just make it a tad easier for SB to win elections than most of his competition? ...Guess what? You're right! And there's evidence that when he became prime minister he pressured and influenced RAI as well. 
It's very good to be the prime minister

SB has a penchant for making outlandish statements that he should regret, but does not. Examples include frequent remarks about (and seeming obsession with) Italian women:

At an address to Wall Street traders he listed reasons to invest in Italy. His first reason? "We have the most beautiful secretaries in the world." This remark prompted female members of parliament to stage a cross-party protest. 

In the election campaign of 2008 he stated that female politicians on the right were "more beautiful," than those on the left, and that the left had "no taste, even when it comes to women."

After announcing his intention to increase military presence in Italian cities for their protection, SB was asked if that would be enough to protect Italian women from rape. No, he replied, because then Italy would need as many soldiers as beautiful women and that would be impossible as there are so many beautiful women in Italy.

He has frequently been accused of involvement in underage female prostitution. At a trade fair in Milan he responded to the latest such accusation, "If sometimes I look at some good-looking girl, it's better to be fond of pretty girls than to be gay."

Others than women (and the left, and gays) come in for his crude observations:

After the terrible earthquake in l'Aquila in 2008, which left the town a heap of rubble and countless numbers of people homeless, SB suggested that the victims view their situation as a weekend of camping.

L'Aquila after the quake

SB once remarked that an African priest had "a nice tan."

About a German member of the European Parliament who criticized his policies, SB said that the German should play a Nazi concentration camp guard in a movie.

Any connections being made? Good! Now let's look at SB's record in the Italian courts.

Wikipedia claims that he has been accused in 20 trials during his time in office, ranging from embezzling to tax fraud to sex with underage girls, and that as of 2013 he had been convicted on final appeal just in one out of 32 trials. And SB finds in this record that he has reason to brag, placing him very near the record-holding Big Jule from Chi (see Guys and Dolls) who bragged, "Thirty three [pronounced 'toity-tree'] arrests...and NO convictions!" 

Unfortunately, though he used to be a crooner, SB is in politics and not a musical comedy.

Big Julr at the Salvation Army meeting in Guys and Dolls

Aside (yes, another one): I wrote earlier that I'd let my readers make the connection for themselves, but not all of you nay know that DT is one America's most litigious men, though more of his lawsuits are brought by him, whereas SB is usually on the receiving end of legal cases.

Back to SB's legal issues. The one loss, the court case that put SB one giant step behind Big Jule from Chi occurred (finally!) in 2013 when he was finally prosecuted successfully all the way up the appeals ladder (before this he had beat back convictions in one appeals court after another) - for tax fraud. He was banned from political office and sentenced to four years in prison, though due to his age (late 70s) the time was reduced to one year of house arrest or community service. He chose the latter and worked four hours a week in a home for elderly dementia patients. 

2013 was not SB's best year in the courts. To explain, I must go back to SB's attention to the opposite sex. Notorious for hosting "bunga-bunga" parties that always featured beautiful young (sometimes too young) women, SB was also convicted in 2013 of having sex with and abuse of power in his relationship with the 
17-year-old prostitute called Ruby (real name Karima El Mahroug). But SB vehemently denies he EVER paid for sex, stating: 

"I never understood where the satisfaction is when you're missing the pleasure of conquest" (BBC article, link above)

Making love (or lust?) as "the pleasure of conquest...hmmm...but then what doesn't SB want to "conquer?"

I should add that "Ruby" was hardly SB's first transgression with VERY young women. His second wife divorced him in 2009 on the heels of a very public photo op that placed SB at the birthday party of an 18 year old who wanted to be a model, a party to which he did not bring his wife. 

I could easily continue to expand the comparison. I haven't even mentioned SB's ruthlessness nor DT's (You're fired!!!). 

But by now you should see that Donald Trump and Silvio Berlusconi (Dottore Gianni has just pointed out that I am using full names again! We must be close to the end of the post!) both became filthy rich and invaded politics late in life. Each one is a demagogue, vain, selfish, rude, demeaning to women...the list goes on and on, but I hope that you see that the two are very similar, in all the wrong ways..

But! There is a vital DIFFERENCE (my main point - always save the best for last)! Berlusconi has been elected three times, running down Italy and Italy's reputation in the eyes of the world in the process. Why do people vote for him? How does this happen? I have no answer, the question is not rhetorical. You see, I can understand Berlusconi's outrageous behavior even if I I am disgusted by it.What I cannot understand is the MANY with whom he is popular, the MANY who vote for him. What is in their heads? What's the appeal? His supporters frighten me much more than he himself. 

Meanwhile, Trump has often considered running for office and had one feeble go at the presidency in 2012. But he has not yet WON the highest office in the land, and had better not, because I fear for the republic if he ever gets near 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Just as with Berlusconi, I can understand the pathetic egotism of this man.

But not the people from whom he obtains his support! What kind of people keep cheering a man who insults everyone that gets in his way, including immigrants, women, fellow Republicans, even those with physical disabilities, a man who brags, braying that he can do this that or the other better than anyone in the world or at least in the U.S.? What kind of people ARE those who share his "values"? Again, I haven't an answer, but I'll tell you that like the fans (that term is short for fanatics, by the way) of Berlusconi, I fear those of Trump - and I fear them more, if they elect their man or not, because they are closer at hand to me...and to the entire United States of America.

Aside in the form of not so much a confession as a statement of full disclosure. I came to the comparison on my own, but as I was checking facts while writing this post, I came upon in Google several other articles that have compared these two, penned by better writers and wiser minds than mine, two of which I've provided links to below,

However! Dottore Gianni insists that I point this out. Neither of the two articles mentioned in just above (I can't attest to any of the others, as I don't plan to read them all) point out one of the most frightening comparisons of all:


Can this be REAL??

Can THIS be real???

I rest my case.