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  Aug 14, 2012                     
Crisis: "U.S. pretty darned fucked" + more Gore Vidal + notes by me 

The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who tell them the truth.
 -- H.L.Mencken







Sections

    1. Introductory remarks
    2. "U.S. pretty darned fucked"
    3. A long 2000 interview with Gore Vidal

    4. A few more notes on Gore Vidal on politics 

1. Introductory remarks

This Nederlog continues the last one with links to another long interview with Vidal, this time from 2000, with some remarks by me following it.

My reasons to put it in Nederlog are the same as before, so I avoid repeating these here mostly, though I do have some comments on why - I think - not many of my readers will use my links, and also on why I provide them neverheless.

There also is a section with some more notes by me, that are a follow up to earlier notes I wrote in the Nederlogs of the last days, that were - and still are - influenced by my having sore eyes, that very probably will continue to limit my activities with my compiter the rest of this month, at the very least.

Finally, the first section that follows is a TYT (The Young Turks) (<- Wikipedia) item, that reports on - I think - quite accurate statements of two (former) U.S. officials about the state of the U.S. economy.


2. "U.S. pretty darned fucked"

I like TYT (The Young Turks) (<- Wikipedia) and have been following them ever since discovering them in 2009, as a direct result of getting fast internet then, which changed my use of the computer rather a lot: There is a huge difference between, on the one hand, surfing the net with  phone-modem working at 28 Kb per second (maximally, on the very rare days the KPN-takeover "xs4all" allowed this, while "xs4all" is the name of an excellent provider until it was taken over by Dutch Telecom KPN in 2002, and since then it is a sorry mess, though indeed possibly not worse than the sorry competition they have) and, on the other hand, surfing the net with ADSL or better, and one such huge differences is that Youtube-videos, including those of the TYT, become accessinble.

Anyway - to the topic at hand, that I give with title and comment as they appear on the TYT site:

"Neil Barofsky, the former Inspector General of the Troubled Asset Relief Fund, can sum up the state of the nation in two words: "Pretty fucked." The concise assessment came Tuesday during a question and answer session on Gawker...Barofsky insisted that President Obama's administration, of which Geithner is a part, isn't doing enough to address issues inside the financial industry, saying that Dodd-Frank financial reform doesn't adequately address questions surrounding too-big-to-fail banks...".

This seems to me a correct assessment (though "raped" is probably descriptively more correct), and indeed Mr Barofsky is not the only one with his appreciation and terminology, as TYT reports. Ms Christina Romer, the former chair of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, gets quoted as having said that the state of the U.S. economy is
  • "Pretty darned fucked"
I quite agree - and indeed I think, as did the late Gore Vidal, with more excellent videos below, this was also done on purpose: If the economical crisis wasn't created on purpose, surely the use that was made of it to effectively strengthen the hold of the "Too Big To Fail" (TBTF) banks on U.S. society, government, and the U.S. people, and indeed the Western world, was quite intentional.

Here are two quotes as they appear in the TYT-item, in which Mr Barofsky explains why he thinks as he does:





If you are in doubt - as well you may, and as is often sensible - consider the following two items on the plans of Mitt Romney's candidate for vice-presidency Paul Ryan, also from TYT:
"Enjoy!" - as the phrase is.

3. A long 2000 interview with Gore Vidal

The above is probably not conducive to your pursuit or your feelings of happiness, but then that's not my fault, and Gore Vidal explained rather a lot about it in earlier videos I found and listed here
So here is more Gore Vidal, because I think he is - and I do know he died July 31 last, but will keep the present tense - sensible, speaks well, and is informed, interesting, and witty, while I also don't know of any other public intellectual with such opinions, except perhaps Noam Chomsky, whom I respect but tend to find boring, and while I agree that conceivably that may be just me, I think I could make a fair case that Vidal's prose and talk is better. (*)

The following list is a series of links to a long interview and question+answer session Vidal did in October of 2000. Altogether it is 3 hours of interview and talk in all - and very good talk it is - that was made and put on line by an organization called BookTV that is on something called C-span2 (I provided Wikipedia links), that in fact I was wholly ignorant about, mostly because I am Dutch through no choice of my own, while I also am someone who never owned a TV, of which I indeed saw very little of since 1970, through choices of my own, which I do not regret at all, but which did make me a lot less learned about TV than almost all of my contemporaries. In any case, it's nice to learn of the existence of these organizations and of the fact that they put this excellent interview on line, and of being now capable of enjoying this through the internet.

First the list, then some brief comments:

The series is called Gore Vidal on In Depth, and consists of about half an hour of interview and two and a half hours of - mostly good - questions by viewers with fine answers by Vidal, all as it happened and was recorded on October 1, 2000. It is in 12 parts, and lasts 3 hours in all. All parts are a little over 15 minutes, while the 7th part includes some 5 minutes of
ads for/about Book-TV. (I listened to these as well, as I did listen to the rest because my eyes get sore rapidly when I wantch a screen, and I found them - let's say - sociologically interesting, and not irritating, but that's an aside.)

Here is the lot, with title, and also with some - partial, incomplete - indication of subjects and number of views of the items, the last a topic I briefly consider below.

Gore Vidal on In Depth,  1/12: (2508 views)
Gore Vidal on In Depth2/12: (Eugene Luther Gore Vidal) (1313 views)
Gore Vidal on In Depth 3/12: (places Vidal lived) (1662 view)
Gore Vidal on In Depth4/12: (Major General Smedley Butler) (1627 views_
Gore Vidal on In Depth5/12:  (Hearst: Rise of modern media)
Gore Vidal on In Depth6/12: (Lincoln)
Gore Vidal on In Depth7/12:  (includes ads for/about Book-TV) (889 views)
Gore Vidal on In Depth8/12: (924 views)
Gore Vidal on In Depth9/12: (Hume, identity papers, media, opinion, "driptorture of                                                 misinformation", messengers, being blocked) ) (910 views)
Gore Vidal on In Depth10/12: (view of human race: genetic engineering. Herbert
                                          Hoover quote) (757 views)

Gore Vidal on In Depth11/12: (how the elite works; closed corporation) (779 views)
Gore Vidal on In Depth12/12: (Roosevelt & Pearl Harbor, police-state, 1989 turning
                                          point, C-span)


Now for some brief comments, centering on the questions why I link it and why I like it:

I link it and I like it because it is excellent, civilized, interesting, witty, spoken English, much of which I agree with (more than not, depending), and a considerable part of which can be seen as a very good lecture on U.S. history, by a man very well placed, for various reasons, to know and understand much about that subject.

Indeed - having read some about it in the 1960ies and early 1970ies, but not much since - Vidal states the first credible theory (not his: he merely mentions it) on the murders of John and Robert Kennedy that I have heard or read: They were killed by the mafia, because of failed deals relating to Castro and to Robert Kennedy's attempts, as Attorney General, to tame the mafia.

Also, the ideas and values that Vidal has seem to me to be both sensible and to be quite helpful for understanding the present time and problems, while the language used in the above series is very good, which makes it a pleasure to listen to (which I did, rather than also facing a screen, because of the ongoing problems with my eyes).

Also, I am well aware that most of my readers will not be interested, or not enough to listen to all or most of the above - as indeed also can be inferred from the numbers of viewers, which is after the first two parts around 800, on average. As to that number: I've found that the things on internet that really interest me tend to be things that have few viewers or visitors, also if it is material by persons who have great names in their fields.

This is a fairly interesting fact, of which first another illustration:

I was originally rather amazed that Johh McCarthy - the inventor of Lisp, a very important programming language, and a leading theoretician in the field of artificial intelligence and computer science - who has (he died in 2011, but his site is still maintained) a site with many of his
- interesting, fine, well written - papers, to which were attached counters for the numbers of visitors. Well, many of these had a hundred or a few hundred visitors over a period of some 10 years. The same turned out to be the case with Raymond Smullyan: A great mathematical logician, with a considerable and very justified fame as author of logic puzzle books, with a fine site, indeed without many of his papers, but in any case with relatively few visitors, given his great standing as a mathematical logician, and his being better known than almost any other logician with the general public, and again I found the same to be the case with series of - fine, mathematics or physics - lectures that Stanford University put on line: Far fewer were interested than I had assumed or expected.

Since then, I saw this is the case with most things I am really interested in - and the explanation must be that there simply are very few persons who are interested in fairly difficult things, or are  interested in things written in or with formal languages, or are interested in thinking outside the box of their own specialisms. I think that is the only tenable rational explanation, and it is a pity that it is true.

And I admit that I am again somewhat amazed in the case of the above linked series - only 737?! in a country of hundreds of millions?! for material of this quality?! - and indeed also in case of other interviews with Vidal, again especially amazing because he was a rather well known author and public figure, and because he is a good talker with interesting opinions and great erudition, and also  because - unlike mathematics or programming - his subjects do not require any special knowledge.

But then - alas - this is the amount of interest in his person, prose and opinions, and indeed is the level of interest in almost anyone else eminent for intelliigence, lucidity, scholarship and wit: Such a one may intrigue, amuse or interest several hundreds or, sometimes, several thousands, but the millions - the hoi polloi -  much rather follow sensational nonsense, in part because they can't do any better, but also in part because many have not been educated properly at all.

It's a great pity, but then real intelligence is a rare quality, while it is very pleasant to see that there are in the USA - still - programs like
BookTV and boradcasters like C-span2: Perhaps as long as such programs and institutions, and related ones, continue to exist, it may be true thaty not all hope for Western civilization is lost.

4. A few more notes on Gore Vidal on politics

I provided a set of notes in the previous Nederlog, that are here continued, mostly because I forgot to mention some things then. Here they are, all kept brief:

-----------------

What I forgot to mention, also in the list of points:
  • Independent media are dead: No more independent media - TV and the papers all sing the praises of government or corporations, and don't inform anymore: They propagandize, amuse, and repress alternative views, by neither mentioning them nor containing spokesmen for them.
  • Intermediate governance is dead: Cities and provinces, at least in Holland, have turned corporate (as I noticed in 2008, in what became the first Nederlog on the ongoing Crisis, on September 1, 2008, in Dutch), and also the days produce their own inane PR, that is completely Orwellian in tone and terminology, evidently also on purpose, in a sort of sadistic irony: See Laudatio Neerlandica, of 2010, for several examples).
  • The middle class is dead: No more heads of small but important institutions - headmasters, GPs, lawyers, trade union leaders and such - with some independent power of their own: Gone or else part and parcel of a corporate party-machine.
  • The political parties are dead, except in name: At best, these are now manpower offices where possible candidates for corrupt office are tested and selected by succesful corrupt holders of offices, and where no individual mind can break through party machine. (For Holland and in Dutch, this has been treated in Nederlog in "De illusie van democratie".)
  • A new elite has arisen, certainly in Holland: A class of folks that switch jobs between the various tools of governments and corporations: They start out as journalist; progress to PR-spokesmen of cities, villages or corporations; then get nominated as personal assistants of parliamentarians or mayors or aldermen; then become, through these functions, professors, mayors, aldermen, or parliamentarians, after which they become parliamentarians, aldermen, mayors or members of boards of large corporations, to end life as well-paid professorship in "a science" that coincided with their own political hobbies, or again as journalist/older statesman
To start with, I should remark, in the interest of cognitive clarity, that I am speaking of tendencies of what are perhaps best referred to as social processes of social institutions: In name, all of these things linger on: There still are "daily papers", "news shows", "mayors", "aldermen", "GPs" and "political parties", but none of them are much like they were 30 years ago, and as independent institutions with at least some countervailing power against the state, big business or the corporations, they are dead and gone: What remains with the old names all function differently from how they functioned before: They work for different ends, with different agendas, and different reward schemes and ideologies. (**)

Also, these notes, and the ones I put in the Nederlog of August 12, are sketches only - fingers pointing at the moon, without much context, evidence, or textual references. But they are informed, in my case as in Vidal's, by a lifetime of reading and much experience, so having said that let me do a little more fingerpointing:

The four points I added are all about the fact that the countervailing powers of the state in society have all gone, but in name: In reality, they have either disappeared or become incorporated in some corporate machine (that these days may be a city government or a province, like Amsterdam and its province Northholland now are corrupt corporate institutions rather than independent small government that functions as local government and as checks and balances of the state once did, one or two generations ago).

The media, as independent powers, whether daily papers or TV, have disappeared between 1980 and 2010, when they turned more and more commercial at first, and then became purveyors of propaganda + amusement + contentless "news" about "celebs": Maxwell, Murdoch, Fox News. And besides, the internet destroyed the financial basis for daily papers, and also for the old media corporations, whereas the general dumbing down of education made certain only a very small minority with any interest in independent, real news written in a good style remained - and meanwhile all real intellectuals with a good university education are 60 or older (and the vast majority of these have been thoroughly corrupted).

Intermediate governance, as independent small powers based on some locality (a town, a city, a district, a province) or some local function (a trade union, civic interest), have also disappeared or incorporated in some corporate machine. This happened also between 1980-2010: It all went corporate from 1989/1990 onwards, and must have been based on a deliberate process on the side of the leaders of political parties and the leaders of corporations. (In Holland, main players were Wim Kok; the social democrats aka Dutch Labour; and what the Dutch call "the purple cabinet".) This happened mostly in secret, as it was never publicly discussed. One important reason it could happen was: More money for the bureaucrats and small powers that led themselves be corrupted: Salaries and perks became a lot higher, again without public discussion.

The middle class, as independent holders of some power or authority, disappeared with the disappearance/dissolution/transformation of intermediate governance, and the same is true of the political parties, which still exist in name, but only as tools for the leaders at the top, and as pools from which to select the next generation of eagerly corrupt willing servants of the big corporations or Our Leader In Office.

For the new elite, see again, for Holland, "
De illusie van democratie": The things I mentioned can, in Holland, be illustrated very well with careers from the leading members of the Dutch "Left" and "Centrist" parties. For Dutchies: PvdA, GroenLinks, CDA, VVD: Wim Kok, Labour Leader, now a rich commissioner in many corporations; Lodewijk de Waal, former communist, Labour Leader, Trade Union Leader, now commissioner in large banks; Ritzen, Melkert, Dittrich, Ina Brouwer, Femke Halsema - all arrived careerists, all liars and posturers for decades. Also, there is a related list of top bureaucrats (who are less in the limelight but at least as powerful as those who are). For English folks: Consider the histories and propaganda of Blair and New Labour, of Gordon Brown and of the total corruption of Parliament, which are quite similar if not the same as what happened in Holland in the same periods, while for England these also have been documented fairly well, satirically, by John Mortimer ("Titmuss Regained") and Spitting Image (that at least appraised personalities and motives well).

-----------------

Thus far my notes, originally handwritten, in view of the condition of my eyes. Fort those who like Vidal, here are two more items, both lasting around an hour, both also on BookTV:
This is an interview plus questions from the audience, with Jay Parine, when Vidal was 82 and in a wheelchair, but remarkably clear. If you have seen or heard more from him, as I have, meanwhile, you will meet several of his talking points and formulations again, but I find that quite natural, and indeed what one would expect from a real person, of his age. I liked the interview, as I liked the following, from rather a lot earlier:
Again an interview with questions from the audience, this time with Vidal at my present age - 62 - looking well but also looking a lot older than I look now (a fact I remark upon because it is true and puzzling), and again with a return of Vidal main's points, which are the evil nature of the military-industrial complex; the unfairness of the U.S. system, which is and has been almost geared to serving the interests of its power elite, rather than the people in whose names this happened; and the great unwisdom - that started ca. 1900 - that led to the U.S. becoming an imperialist nation, in in total contradiction with what the Founding Fathers had envisaged for the U.S.

--------------------



Notes
(*) I do not have a high opinion of most journalists, and these days, where journalists let themselves be muzzled or play the parts of media-whores with gusto, I certainly don't feel better about the species than I did before, so let me just say that I do not have, and never had, a high opinion of men like Christopher Hitchens, Bernard-Henri LÚvy and similar "public intellectuals": Purveyors of bullshit, even if they meant well (which I tend to disbelieve: I have seen many careerists of their type in the University of Amsterdam, who all were the devious, dishonest liars and deceivers, who were out for three things: Status, power, money: Max van Wezel, Meindert Feddema, Elsbeth Etty and their likes are the Dutch counterparts to Stalin's editors of the Pravda, and indeed all made very remunerative careers in very easy very well-paid functions.)

(**) I should perhaps add that I cannot treat the theme of the death of the old civic institutions well, in English: I lack the relevant knowledge about England and the US, though clearly the same has happened there as happened in the Netherlands.

I can treat the theme quite well in Dutch, and did so repeatedly in Nederlog, and on a larger scale in ME in Amsterdam, but in Holland I am clearly an official non-person, who is never referred to, never mentioned, never answered, never mailed even, all because I have made Our Authorities angry by writing the truth, first about the intentional destruction of the universities and the schools, since 1965, and second about the intentional protection of the mafia, since 1970. (See e.g.
Crisis: Gore Vidal explains some backgrounds) and ME in Amsterdam if you read Dutch.)

In either case, the precise extent of "intentional" is hard to draw, if only for lack of relevant evidence, for I refer to secret processes, and decisions made in secret backdoor agreements, but it is clear that education was destroyed in the name of "democracy" and "equal chances" and "freedom", of course, since the most horrible things are invariably done in the name of the highest ideals, by my generation of babyboomers out for professorships and lectureships for themselves for life, which many of them got, whereas the drugs mafia was protected for reasons of profit in the name of "tolerance" and "freedom": If mayors and aldermen did not take a share, at least sizable parts of the top bureaucrats in city goverments must have become tremendously rich.

Again, in either case, a lot more may have been involved, but this is more difficult to prove, though not difficult to guess. (Then again, and certainly in Holland, incompetence and indifference play major roles: Most simply did nor care that education was destroyed and drugs were dealt in an obviously corrupt process, and especially not if their own careers depended on tacit consent and collaboration.)

For example, the destruction of education in Holland started in 1965, with a radical dumbing down of the public education offered to the 12-18 year olds, rather like what seems to have been happening in the US in the 1950ies and early 60ies. In either case it may have been indifference of the political elite, or it may have been an intentional policy to make education "more democratic" and "more egalitarian" by lowering the standards, or it may have been an intentional cynical policy to dumb down the population at large. I do not know, but I do know that the Minister who started it all, Cals of the KVP, was a freakish sort of person (for whom Dutch readers are referred to W.F. Hermans "Mandarijnen op Zwavelzuur", that one cannot read these days, now that the Catholic Church stands revealed as a temple of paedophilia, without asking "How many future bishops may young Cals have brought to climax?!")

The drugs corruption probably happened in stages, between 1970 and 1982, it seems for financial reasons, since the amounts turned over were (and are) so enormous, and the risks so small, though even here one cannot be certain: There may have been a deeper game going on, though again ordinary corruption, indifference and tacit collaboration while looking away may have been the main processes involved.

In either case, in Holland the Dutch in very large majority didn't care or welcomed what happened:

It became much easier to graduate from high schools, grammar schools and universities, which most Dutchmen welcomed, and namely for the advantages that development seemed to offer to their own person (not realizing that if 50% of the adults is a B.A. in some "study", such a title will hardly bring financial advances, while  academic "studies" that are fit for IQs from 90-115 to graduate in, cannotteach anything much of value for anyone whose intelligence is considerably higher), and  while very few Dutchmen saw any problem with "toleration of soft drugs" - drugs, that indeed, for social reasons, namely to break both the power and the motive of the mafia, by cutting the enormous profit margins, should be legalized, but for financial reasons were not, which policy was hardly discussed in Holland, and cannot be discussed rationally and reasonably there, since all politicians, bureaucrats, policemen, judges and district attorneys have been breaking the Dutch laws for 42 years now, and have always lied about the subject of drugs, as have the men and women in their pay: The journalists in the media.

                                   
                             P.S.     Corrections, if any are necessary, have to be made later.
                      -- Aug 15, 2012: Corrected some typos and added some links.

 

As to ME/CFS (that I prefer to call ME):

1.  Anthony Komaroff Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS (pdf)
2.  Malcolm Hooper THE MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT: 
PERSECUTION OF PATIENTS?
3.  Hillary Johnson The Why (currently not available)
4.  Consensus of M.D.s Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf)
5.  Eleanor Stein Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)
6.  William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
7.  Paul Lutus

Is Psychology a Science?

8.  Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
9.
 Maarten Maartensz
ME in Amsterdam - surviving in Amsterdam with ME (Dutch)
10.
 Maarten Maartensz Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

Short descriptions of the above:                

1. Ten reasons why ME/CFS is a real disease by a professor of medicine of Harvard.
2. Long essay by a professor emeritus of medical chemistry about maltreatment of ME.
3. Explanation of what's happening around ME by an investigative journalist.
4. Report to Canadian Government on ME, by many medical experts.
5. Advice to psychiatrist by a psychiatrist who understa, but nds ME is an organic disease
6. English mathematical genius on one's responsibilities in the matter of one's beliefs:

7. A  space- and computer-scientist takes a look at psychology.
8. Malcolm Hooper puts things together status 2010.
9. I tell my story of surviving (so far) in Amsterdam/ with ME.
10. The directory on my site about ME.



See also: ME -Documentation and ME - Resources
The last has many files, all on my site to keep them accessible.

 


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