One of the most beautiful paintings of all times comes back to Washington


Twenty tears ago, in full blizzard, we went to visit the Vermeer exhibition at the National Gallery, Christina Zarifopol Illias, Mircea Mihaies, and myself. Mary stayed home with Adam who was a few months old. My sister Vicky and her husband Nicu stayed with them. The weather was terrible. Flights were cancelled. Fights over budget had shut down the federal government., Mircea and I spent ten days putting together the volume “Balul mascat.” At the Vermeer exhibition, I watched very carefully an elder gentleman who seemed enthralled with the paintings. He was Robert McNamara. For years thereafter I have been wondering what was in his mind contemplating the immensely peaceful images, the perfect tranquillity of Vermeer’s masterpieces. Was he thinking about Vietnam? Or about the frailty of human economic and social arrangements? About the inescapable passing of time? I can’t wait to see again “The Woman in Blue”…


Vermeer's 1663 work, Woman in Blue Reading a Letter, is back on display at the National Gallery after its first visit 20 years ago.

Acting like a Bolshevik


I just finished my interview with Cosmin Prelipceanu on Digi24TV. Main themes: in June 1990, by inviting the Jiu Valley miners to occupy Bucharest and act brutally against democratic forces, Ion Iliescu did not act alone, but as the head of a political mafia which included prime minister Petre Roman ,secret police boss Virgil Magureanu, deputy premier Gelu Voican Voiculescu, Leninist ideologue N. S. Dumitru etc; instead of building the new democracy on trust, truth, and tolerance, Iliescu erected it on lies, hatred, and resentment; in June 1990, he acted like a Bolshevik, promoted violence. and cynically organized the logistics of social hatred. Leninism is his mental frame; there is no statute of limitations for crimes against humanity, in Romania, Mexico, Poland, Germany, Cambodia, Ethiopia etc The ongoing judicial process is beneficial for Romanian democracy and it ought to be a much too long delayed catharsis and help enhance moral clarity.

Festivalul imposturii sau dadaismul politic de la Bucuresti


Romania trăieste sub zodia neferice a dadaismului politic. Ion Iliescu, presedintele minerilor din 13-15 iunie 1990, inamicul mortal al Pietii Universitatii, zona liberă de neo-comunism, critică PSD pentru că nu stie să cultive intelectualii. Unde sunt vremurile cand roiau in jurul sau luminile spirituale ale natiei: Eugen Simion, Razvan Theodorescu, Draga Olteanu si alti augustinbuzuri? Liviu Dragnea potentează mascarada atunci, cand, pasămite,, reabilitează echipa HRP-Mihaies-Tania Radu din fruntea ICR, demisionată in august 2012, mizerabil calomniată de mega-plagiatorul Ponta si, poate chiar mai abject, dacă se poate folosi comparativul, de cel pe care l-am scos din minti numindu-l El Crin.

Cine a emis ordonanta de urgentă care a schimbat chiar ratiunea de fi a ICR, impunand sinistrul neo-jdanovism al caloriferistului protocronist Andrei Marga? Nu liderul PSD Victor Ponta? Cine l-a numit pe Mircea Mihăies “fascist bătran”? Nu acel Munchausen din Balcani? Ciner l-a numit pe actualul consilier prezidential Andrei Muraru in fruntea IICCMER, alături de “seniorul” penelist Dinu Zamfirescu? Nu Victor Ponta, ca parte a toxicului algoritmului uselist? E nevoie sa reamintim demisiile celor care n-au acceptat să fie umiliti, agresati, jigniti de Muraru, marele prieten al lui Relu Fenechiu? Oamenii acestia chiar ne cred pe toti spălati pe creier, mancurtizati?

Festivalul imposturii ar putea atinge paroxismul in clipa cand Dragnea ar lauda echipa Ioan Stanomir-Vladimir Tismaneanu-Cristian Vasile-Bogdan C. Iacob demisă de Ponta de la conducerea IICCMER si ar elogia activitatea lui Dorin Dobrincu la Arhivele Nationale. Pe scurt, vorba tortionarului Gheorghe Enoiu, noi te-am ucis, noi te reabilităm!

Why Jeanne Hersch Matters


Swiss political and moral thinker Jeanne Hersch was, like Hannah Arendt, a student of the great philosopher Karl Jaspers. Her book about the conflict between ideology and reality remains one of the most profound attempts to deconstruct the ideological follies of modern times. I first heard Jeanne Hersch’s name in Radio Free Europe broadcasts by Monica Lovinescu, the indomitable anti-totalitarian cultural critic. When she passed away in June 2010, Czeslaw Milosz wrote a tribute to Jeanne Hersch, his intellectual soulmate, in which he summed up what he learned from her. Among other truly important things, he found out “that in our lives we should not succumb to despair because of our errors and our sins, for the past is never dosed down and receives the meaning we give it by our subsequent acts.” Milosz died in Cracow four years later, in August 2004.

Simtul realitatii


Sir Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997): “If there were a final solution, a final pattern in which society could be arranged, to rebel against which would be sinful, for it was ultimate salvation, liberty would become a sin. By refuting this sinister view, by furnishing perpetual examples of its falsity, philosophy serves the cause of liberty. (…) This is why all the enemies of freedom automatically round upon intellectuals, like the Communists and Fascists, and make them their first victims; rightly, for they are the great disseminators of those critical ideas which as a rule the great philosophers are the first to formulate. All others may be brought into conformity with the new despotism; only they, whether they want it or not, are in principle incapable of being assimilated into it. This is glory enough for human activity.” (“The Sense of Reality: Studies in Ideas and Their History”, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1996, pp. 75-76)



Tom Gallagher about Corneliu Vadim Tudor: Court poet to Nicolae Ceausescu who became an extreme nationalist figure after the fall of communism in Romania


In “The Independent” (London), political scientist Tom Gallagher wrote a most accurate and telltale obituary of the chief sycophant at Nicolae Ceausescu’s court. Vadim Tudor was also the main polluter of Romania’s recovered public space after 1990.

“In recent times, more politicians have been successfully prosecuted for corruption in Romania than in any other democracy. This is a tribute to the tenacity of reformers in the justice system but also a testimony to the scale of venality at the top of Romanian politics.

When the macabre and highly restrictive communist regime was toppled in 1989, Nicolae Ceausescu left a legion of ruthless and resourceful figures in the party and state apparatus determined to profit from new times. The demagogic politician Corneliu Vadim Tudor was instrumental in ensuring that they would shape the new democratic rules on a restricted agenda of change.

He went from being Ceausescu’s court poet in the 1980s to a serious contender for power in the election of 2000, when his Greater Romania Party won a quarter of parliamentary seats. In the 1990s he controlled a mass circulation newspaper in which politicians and intellectuals dedicated to genuine change were systematically defamed. Former and serving members of the intelligence services supplied him with information and resources to launch a movement in which minority groups, Jews and Hungarians especially, were singled out as enemies of the country.

Many poorly educated Romanians, traumatised by the abrupt switch from rigid egalitarianism to a chaotic form of capitalism that often benefited agile former communists, were taken in. But the ability of citizens to travel freely, especially after the arrival of EU membership in 2007, widened the horizons of many and Vadim’s power waned.

Born in 1949 to an ordinary family in Bucharest, he made his mark in journalism with writing that brought Ceausescu’s cult of personality to new depths of sycophancy. He was a mediocre literary critic but he enjoyed influence as a protégé of the talented nationalist writer Eugen Barbu. He dropped out of sight after the anti-communist uprising at the end of 1989, only to be swiftly rehabilitated by Ion Iliescu, President from 1990-96 and 2000-04, who had ordered the execution of Ceausescu. But Iliescu’s rule benefited many of the dictator’s supporters, who regrouped in the Social Democratic Party which rules today.

Vadim was given money, unlimited access to the media and immunity from prosecution to launch an ultra-nationalist movement. Nothing happened when his bodyguard beat up an opposition deputy in parliament in 1993, then on 18 December 2006 he took a mob to parliament, staging a riot as a report on the crimes of communism was formally presented (with the former Polish and Bulgarian presidents, Lech Walesa and Zhelyu Zhelev, in attendance).

Vadim’s defence of the communist regime struck a chord with lots of Romanians who failed to do well after 1989. He eventually felt strong enough to launch his own power bid, and in 1999 he called on the army to mutiny during a march on Bucharest by thousands of coal miners which almost overwhelmed the authorities, and in December 2000 he won a third of the votes in the presidential election. His staying power sprang from his talents as a polemicist and agitator, but a crucial element was undoubtedly the readiness of President Iliescu’s party to turn a blind eye to his excesses.

In December 2004, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Elie Wiesel, returned one of the country’s highest honours after Iliescu had bestowed the same one on Vadim. But by now, Vadim’s power was waning as his avarice and megalomania drove many followers from his movement. He lost his parliamentary seat in 2008, and though he was elected to the European Parliament the following year, a sign that his power was at last broken came in 2011 when a young female magistrate successfully evicted his party from the villa that had been its Bucharest headquarters, when a court restored ownership to the family from which it had been seized in the 1950s.

Once many Romanians ceased to be traumatised by the totalitarian past, Vadim’s brainwashing abilities faded and his intolerant views lost their appeal. Romania is now a European country in which anti-Semitism has dramatically fallen in intensity and relations between the large Hungarian minority and other Romanians are generally cordial. But Vadim lowered political standards in what should have been a time of democratic recovery, and provided cover for the looting of state resources by whipping up imaginary nationalist fears.

Some television stations (controlled by figures already influential before 1989), provided obituaries which described him as a showman, while overlooking his xenophobia and his anti-democratic record. But Vadim had become an embarrassment to most Romanians and the pressure of public opinion ensured that the request of his supporters for his body to lie in repose in the Senate was turned down.


Corneliu Vadim Tudor, writer and politician: born Bucharest 28 November 1949; married (two children); died Bucharest 14 September 2015.

The Godfather from the City Hall: Uber-mafiotul Oprescu si banda sa


Primesc in zori de zi, de la un amic, vestea halucinanta despre descoperirea mafiei lui Sorin Oprescu, the Lord Mayor of Bucharest. Credeam ca imaginea lui Arturo Ui, gangsterul din piesa lui Bertolt Brecht, se potrivea piromanilor politici Victor Ponta si Crin Antonescu. Ei bine, iata ca adevaratul Arturo Ui, cu privirea sa umed-cetoasa, cu talentul de a iesi de sub reflectoare oricand se iveste o situatie mai sensibila, cu tentaculele acaparatoare cotropind spatii vizibile si invizibile, este chiar placidul boss de la Hotel de Ville Bucarest.

Halucinanta aceasta stire pentru ca vorbeste despre un tupeu gargantuan si despre o nerusinare de proportii cosmice. Daca acuzatiile procurorilor se confirma cu probe irefutabile, nu cred ca mai poate exista vreun pesedist onest (ma rog, sintagma poate suna si ca un oximoron) care sa se indoiasca de natura criminal-cleptocratica a sistemului infiintat de Ion Iliescu, dezvoltat de Adrian Nastase si exacerbat de Victor Ponta. Sorin Oprescu si banda sa de gangsteri au devenit nababi calcand in picioare statul de drept. Rapacitatera acestor indivizi, ceea ce francezii numesc des crapules, este fara limita, enorma, gretoasa, scabroasa…

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