Issues‎ > ‎

The Divine Comedy

"Weiner screwed some women, but Lofgren screwed the people in her district and the American public."
Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2011 @ 10:29am

I arrived in Florence, Italy, on a summer evening.    Without making any hotel reservation, I was forced to sleep on a bench in a park because all hotels in the town had already overbooked with tourists.     At night, a group of American students (could be Stanford students since the school has an overseas program in Florence for a long time) walked by and one of them sang an aria in a bel-canto voice beautifully.      It’s a magical Florentine night.      While lying on a bench, I was dreaming about Dante and his journey through Hell.   Dante Alighieri (c 1265-1321), was an Italian poet, prose writer, literary theorist, moral philosopher, and political thinker.      His book La divina commedia (Divine Comedy), considered the greatest literary work composed in the Italian language and a masterpiece of world literature, heralded the coming of the Italian Renaissance -- a period in which Europe was waking up after 1000 years in darkness since the fall of the Roman Empire.

Guided by Virgil, Dante walks to the underworld.    Along the way, he meets literature and historical figures who now suffers the punishments because of what they had done while they were still living.    The deeper level he goes, the worse the punishment due to the more serious nature of their sins.     At the second level, he meets Francesca da Rimini, an extraordinarily beautiful woman who was drawn into an illicit relationship with her brother-in-law, Paolo.   Now both of them are doomed to spend eternity in the Second level of Hell.         

A church bell woke me up from my stupor.    I just love Florence, the city is full of magnificent art, architecture, and history.     Somehow the city reminded me of my grandfather.     I believe that I inherit from him the love for art, history, and classics.    He was growing up during the time when Vietnam was under French colonial rule.     His father was a village teacher who taught children Confucianism and Chinese/Vietnamese classics, but he insisted that my grandfather studying French because he was aware that the world was changing having witnessed Vietnam becoming a French colony just a couple of decades earlier.  (In some ways, it’s similar to some American parents wanting their children to learn Chinese because they are aware of the emergence of China as an economic power.)   But he was poor and didn’t have money to hire a tutor in French for my grandfather.    Instead, he knew a richer distant uncle who already hired a tutor for his children.    My grandfather was sent to his house where he could be tutored in French.    By the time he became a teenager, his French was so good that he won a scholarship to study architecture at the newly opened École Supérieure des Beaux Arts de l’Indochine in Hanoi, a branch of the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris.      In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris was the center of art study for the whole world.     Even famous American architects such as Julia Morgan, who designed the Hearst Castle, came to Paris to study at Ecole des Beaux Arts.     When he graduated, he worked as an architect and his clients were the Who’s Who List of French Indochina.      His clients loved his work because not only his house designs were beautiful; he also knew the background and history behind them.     He later became a real estate developer and investor (a target for the Communist).   

In the Fourth Circle, Dante meets those whose greed in life caused them to spend time in this circle of hell where they spend their time fighting each other.   Before he goes further down, Virgil stops him to explain the geography and rationale of the Lower Hell in which violent and malicious sins are punished.     In Boglia 5, corrupt politicians (someone like Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren) are immersed in a lake of boiling pitch, which represents the sticky fingers and dark secrets of their corrupt deals.

But for me, my grandfather was a book-lover-by-heart more than an architect-by-profession.    My brothers, sister, and I came to live with him after he went to bail us out from prison while our parents were imprisoned.     We were kicked out of school for being "reactionary" and we had to stayed home for a long time.    My grandfather tried to home-school us.    Looking back, I think it was a great time for me personally because instead of learning the Communist propaganda at school, I had a chance to read my grandfather's books on the classics, architecture, arts, mythologies, and histories.    I remember that all of his rooms were overflown with books from both the Western (Italy, France, Germany, etc) and Eastern (China, Japan, Vietnam, etc) traditions.   I also knew that he was a collector of rare books.    I was too young at the time to understand much.     But many years later I came to realize how much knowledge I learned during this time, one time I was standing in front of a famous painting in the National Palace Museum in Taipei, Taiwan, and suddenly I understood the painting even though I cannot read Chinese.     The painting was owned by the Chinese Emperor Qianlong and it depicts a scene from one of China’s most important classics -- the Romance of the Three Kingdoms.     I recognized the scene because of what I have read from my grandfather’s books decades earlier.    

One day, he brought out his books and burned them.    It pained him greatly; I didn’t know why he wanted to destroy something he loved so much.    I was not aware that Vietnam was undergoing a Cultural Revolution at the time.    My grandfather was afraid that the Communists would accuse him of being a foreign agent, a capitalist roader, and a traitor (which could mean spending decades in a hard-labor camp) because he had so many foreign books which could be used as evidence against him.    He wanted to protect us; so he decided to put many of his books into hiding and burn the rest.    It was something I could relate to when I read Florentine history, especially about the period in which Florence was under the influence of Savonarola, a Dominican monk who preached religious piety and who launched a puritanical campaign in which beautiful art objects and worthy books were thrown into the bonfires.    Luckily for Florence, after a couple of years the citizens got fed up with his preaching and they then hung and burned him alive in the main square of the city.    

Finally Dante and Virgil enter the pit that forms the Ninth Circle of Hell (Canto XXXI) where the punishment is the hardest, there he meets another set of corrupt politicians whose acts involve betraying their constituents (a politician similar to our Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren).  The traitors are frozen in a lake of ice, distorted in all conceivable positions.    Well, it seems to me like Dante didn’t like corrupt politicians that much since they are being punished much more severe at a lower level of hell than someone who had an incestuous relationship like Francesca da Rimini.    As a matter of fact, one of the testimonies reminds me of Anthony Weiner -- he is like Francesca da Rimini.     Both of them have committed crimes of the flesh.    He sent his naked pictures to a couple of women (OK, I agree, he is not as good-looking as Francesca).    But still Dante would have put both of them in hell but they would get a lighter punishment than a corrupt politician like our Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren.   It actually makes logical sense.   Whatever Francesa and Weiner were doing, they were harming themselves and a couple of people unlike Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren who has destroyed the lives of millions of American citizens through her corrupt behavior.    Anthony Weiner was forced to resigned from Congress.   I am urging the voters of the 19th Congressional District NOT to let Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren's terrible deeds of selling her constituents go unpunished, by allowing her to get away from her corrupt behavior with immunity, we are sending out a terrible and disturbing message to the whole world.

Dante's concern about corrupt politicians is as valid today in Silicon Valley as it was during his time in the 14th century Florence.   His timeless wisdom is something we should keep in mind -- a lesson from one of the most brilliant minds of the Western tradition.


I am not the only one who believes Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren is terrible. These are the voices from Americans across the nation who expressed their views about her on the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, the Hill, San Jose Mercury News, etc. in the comment sections of the articles that mentioned her name:

Anonymous Coward, Jun 17th, 2011 @ 10:29am
The minor inconveniences experienced by foreign visa workers are pale by comparison to the American citizens who have lost our jobs, homes, healthcare, life savings and sadly so much more.

See first hand how these fraud ridden programs impact tens of thousands of American citizens like me and the people interviewed on Dan Rather Reports.

Dan Rather Report -- No Thanks for Everything

This is no laughing matter and there is no room for people to insult the integrity and skill of hardworking Americans.

Lofgren and her patsies are paid off by Nasscom and greedy corporations to draft nonsense legislation like this bill. Don’t believe me, google lofrgren and India pac to see her on video talking about this – and check opensecrets to see who pays her bills – shocking….

I hope the voters in her district recall her – Weiner screwed some women, but Lofgren screwed the people in her district and the American public.

The H1b propaganda machine is in high gear – but the GREAT news is that law enforcement, the DOJ, and other Federal Agencies are on the case and doing something about it.


Atlanta 5 hours ago

Interesting. My congressman wants to help "deserving" foreign STEM students stay in this country while, what, half of US STEM grads can't get jobs in their field of study. This congress has so much PAC and lobbyist love in their eyes (aka dollar signs) that they can't connect the dots.  I know former coworkers who were replaced with H1b visa workers and unable to get work for years.    I would love to replace Congress with a bunch of cheap visa workers and let them taste their own medicine. I don't think the visa workers would be qualified, but, hey, they're cheap.

·       160 Recommend

maraba2  a day ago

There are already at least 600000 H-1B in this country (almost 75% from India). Now the spouses on H-4 will also be able to compete for jobs. This order by Obama is plain treachery as far as native workers are concerned, Bring them on one status, then suddenly change the rules and force of glut of workers in this country. This was Obama's answer to Jennifer Wedel's question in Arizona when she asked why her husband was laid off for an H-1B worker! Imagine, he came to this conclusion after months of soul-searching.... The problem is Republicans are even worse - Orrin Hatch sponsored the new bill to increase H1B. Initially this flood of H-1B was started by a myth: "STEM shortage"... It was very effectively perpetrated by rich owners like Gates and Zuckerberg. It worked but then people understood it was SCAM and very systematic study has debunked this nonsense. There is no shortage and the only reason the H-1B system remains is to depress worker wages, kill the domestic tech industry and has resulted in massive age discrimination.. Sad, but our politicians are sell-outs to lobbyists and we have no hope!

§  Economists: H-1B visas suppress wages (U.C. Berkeley Economist)