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  • The famous Ides of March of ancient Rome fell on March 15, the day when the tyrannical Julius Caesar was assassinated in the building where the Senate was meeting. His assassin was Brutus, acting on behalf of a group of conspirators known as the "Liberators." By coincidence, Italy's neo-deputies and senators take their seats in Parliament and the Senate on that very day. Among them, the largest single political party - 109 members of the Chamber of Deputies (25.5%) and 50 Senators (23% ) - is led by Beppe Grillo, whose weapon of choice in trying to liberate the system from itself is rhetoric.
  • The March 2 Economist magazine has Italy on the cover and the headline: "How Beppe Grillo and Silvio Berlusconi threaten the future of Italy and the euro." The charge: "Confronted by the worst recession in their country since the 1930s and the possible implosion of Europe's single currency, the people of Italy have decided to avoid reality." A better way to put it is that some here have failed to grasp reality because reality is complex. A government that can handle the economic crisis, and the social crisis implicit in it, is necessary, but which government?
  • New York City and Italy have a great deal in common, starting and ending with self-destructive electorates; voters who are intent on putting into office people who, in one way or another, hold them in contempt. In both democracies, The People are generally too ignorant and self-absorbed to notice that the pain they feel is self-inflicted. How does this happen?
  • At the primaries of the Democratic Party (PD), Pier Luigi Bersani has triumphed, walking away with 63.45% of the votes over his younger rival Matteo Renzi who won only 36.48%. What are the future possible scenarios for the Italian politic?
  • The First Annual Forum in Italian American Criticism was held in Manhattan in 2008 at which internationally renowned scholars were invited to comment on “The Status of Interpretation in Italian American Studies.” After the lively event, I was given the pleasant task of lightly editing and arranging the contributions into a volume of the same name as the 30th volume in the highly respected Forum Italicum book series in Italian and Italian American Studies published in the spring of 2012. It is well worth a read by anyone who recognizes the value of the Italian experience in America and wishes to know who are the major players in the game.
  • Everyone is talking about the new New York State law that gives non-heterosexual couples the right to get married, but the belated law is really about recognizing homosexuals as what they are --- people. Unfortunately, the right to marry law needed the ideological right to get passed.
  • Over half the country is rejoicing this week because a nationwide referendum drew a stunning turnout of over 57% of those eligible to vote, and four pieces of center-right legislation dear to Premier Silvio Berlusconi were overturned. The referendum result made three essential points: first, that democracy is alive and well in Italy; secondly, that the media do not tell the whole story; and, thirdly, that it is time for the nation’s leaders to roll up their sleeves and get to work.
  • Given the unfortunate hot breakfast drink metaphors "Tea Party" and "Coffee Party" that have been brewed to simplify the already simple-minded partisan political debate in American politics over the past year, I have resorted to a "Cappuccino" allusion in this column to ask the non-musical question: “What does the election of Andrew Cuomo mean for New York State’s Italian Americans?" My informed guess is that, like his father Mario, Andy knows he owes little to the Italian American voter.

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