Thursday, February 17, 2011

Gene Therapy

The Times reported yesterday, “Berlusconi denies wrongdoing and has said he has no intention of stepping down” (“Trial Is Set for Berlusconi in Prostitution Case,” NYT, 2/15/11). While Berlusconi and his heartthrob, the now 18-year-old Karima el-Mahroug, aka Ruby the Heart-Stealer, may not have had sex, the prime minister, according to the Times, “gave her 7,000 euros, about $9,450, the first time she visited his villa for a party last spring.” This tops the $4,300 Eliot Spitzer paid for his first tryst with Ashley Dupré, which included, according to the Wikipedia entry on the subject, a $1,100 down payment to the agency for future work. Maybe Berlusconi should have used the moniker George Fox, as Spitzer did when he checked into room 871 at Washington’s Mayflower Hotel. Even worse was Berlusconi’s apparent attempt to get RHS (Ruby Heart-Stealer) off the hook for a theft charge. The Times article explains that “Mr. Berlusconi has said he called the police to avoid ‘an international diplomatic incident’ because he had been told that the Moroccan-born Ms. Mahroug was the niece of Hosni Mubarak, then the president of Egypt.” Perhaps Berlusconi was not being entirely disingenuous. After all, Hosni Mubarak was also someone who had “no intention of stepping down.” Is it possible that Hosni and Silvio are in fact related and share similar genes? DNA analysis is routinely used in rape cases, but this might be the first time it could be used to explain the stubborn and despotic behavior of international leaders. If there is such a gene pool, then Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe is probably also swimming in it.


  1. International leaders may not share the same gene pool, but many despots are currently receiving "Gene" therapy. ;) (See the NY Times article: ) Democracy is a price above Ruby!

  2. I'd read the same piece in this morning's Times with great anticipation,but was unfortunately unable to glean from it the substance of Sharp's charisma--particularly with regard to the fact that he is relatively computer illiterate and partakes of little of the social networking skills that have proved to be such a potent force in Egypt and elsewhere. Then again Machiavelli, Clausewitz, Carlyle, Spengler, Gibbon, Bakunin and Marx all preceded the Internet.

  3. Francis, you highlight an interesting point about Gene Sharp. On page 9 of his book, "There are Realistic Alternatives," Sharp writes: "Nonviolent struggle does not need a charismatic leader." ( None of the names you mention ever advocated nonviolent struggle as a solution to political conflict.

    There is a fascinating documentary by Al Jazeera English on the leaders of the April 6th movement and how they organized their revolution that can be seen here:

    An extraordinary scene occurs 15:50 minutes into this documentary. Protesters trying to make their way to Tahrir Square are stopped in a side street by a line of police. The crowd swells, demanding to be allowed through. Suddenly, they hear the call to prayer. All the demonstrators kneel down on the ground and the police turn their backs on them as a sign of respect. Even though they are adversaries, there appears to be some kind of social contract between them. When their prayers are over, the people get up and starts demonstrating again. One can only wonder if the police behave the same way during the more violent protests in Bahrain and Libya.


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