Friday, November 30, 2012

Sabato's Crystal Ball on GOP Senate Chances in 2014

Sabato is a keen student of the American electoral panorama.
Before looking ahead at the Republicans’ prospects to gain the six seats they need to win control of the Senate, it is first important — though for Republicans, painful — to look back at the past two Senate cycles.

In 2010, Republicans probably threw away three seats when they nominated weak candidates in Colorado, Delaware and Nevada. Then, in the just-concluded election, they threw away, at a minimum, two more seats in Indiana and Missouri (thanks to the disastrous candidacies of Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin). And that’s not counting other Senate races where different Republican candidates might have performed better or even won in Florida, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio and Virginia.

So instead of having a tied Senate, or a tiny majority for one side or the other, Republicans are in the unenviable position of needing to levitate out of a deep hole they’ve dug for themselves. Only then can they end Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) six-year (and counting) leadership of the Senate.
So what's it gonna be like in 2014?
At first blush, the 2014 Senate map presents some promising opportunities for Republicans. Of the 33 seats that will be contested in November 2014, Republicans only have to defend 13 while Democrats have to defend 20. And the Republican seats — as is obvious from Map 1 — are almost entirely situated in deeply Republican states. In 12 of the 13 states currently represented by Republicans on this map, President Obama won 45.5% of the vote or less in all except Maine (which he won easily).
Larry Sabato then goes through the sorry history of GOP self-destruction in 2010 & 2012 in its Senate hopes, with Tea Party candidates being flummoxed into silly answers by an overly hostile media. This will continue, as the media is staunchly pro-Democratic.
...a second-term president’s final midterm is frequently bad for his party. Chart 1 shows midterm election results dating back to the end of World War II; note that Presidents Dwight Eisenhower (1958), Ronald Reagan (1986) and George W. Bush (2006) all suffered significant congressional losses in their “sixth-year itch” midterm elections. So did Presidents Harry Truman (1950) and Lyndon Johnson (1966), who were only elected once but were serving their party’s fifth and second consecutive term, respectively, in the White House; President Gerald Ford (1974) also presided over big losses in what would have Richard Nixon’s final midterm. Bill Clinton, thanks to a booming economy and Republican overreach on impeachment, actually saw his party make small gains in the House in 1998 and play to a draw in the Senate.
Larry then goes through a state-by-state prospectus for the GOP in 2014. Very interesting. Worth going to the link.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Lamar Smith, Global Warming Skeptic, Set To Chair House Science Committee

Smith's predecessor is correct. When Hall said that the dissenters believed that circular reasoning is responsible for the "overwhelming majority" of self-selected climate scholars who are deemed worthy of making scientific opinions, the NYT agreed partly: "The climate dissenters have long complained that global-warming science is an echo chamber in which, they contend, it is hard to get published if one does not accept the conventional wisdom that humans are heating up the planet. So they argue that it is circular reasoning to claim a broad scientific consensus based on publication track records."

The argument that only the mainstream thinkers are correct in such matters is not scientific, just another example of what Richard Feynman prophetically called "cargo-cult science."
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Latino Vote in 2012 and the Depth of the GOP Problem

I disagree with Messrs. Diaz & Zogby that Texas & Georgia will be up for grabs in 2016, but AZ might get enough Latinos to tip into the Dem column in the electoral race. But the larger problem for the GOP is more complex than these gentlemen make it sound. Moderation by Ronald Reagan with the one-time Amnesty in 1985 did not produce GOP gains among the Latinos in 1986----on the contrary, the pct. of the Latino vote was much LOWER than it was in '84 for the presidential race. Admittedly, GWB was much more politically adept at handling the problems Latinos faced than either McCain or Romney, but a lot of the problem that the GOP has with the Latinos might disappear in 2016 if Marco Rubio is on the presidential list or Gov. Martinez of N.M. is on the Veep ticket.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

$86.8 Trillion in Real US Deficit Debt

Former Cong. Cox & Archer have written an editorial in the WSJ which throws a tingle up the spine of every God-Fearing American:
A decade and a half ago, both of us served on President Clinton's Bipartisan Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform, the forerunner to President Obama's recent National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. In 1994 we predicted that, unless something was done to control runaway entitlement spending, Medicare and Social Security would eventually go bankrupt or confront severe benefit cuts.

Eighteen years later, nothing has been done. Why? The usual reason is that entitlement reform is the third rail of American politics. That explanation presupposes voter demand for entitlements at any cost, even if it means bankrupting the nation.

A better explanation is that the full extent of the problem has remained hidden from policy makers and the public because of less than transparent government financial statements. How else could responsible officials claim that Medicare and Social Security have the resources they need to fulfill their commitments for years to come?

As Washington wrestles with the roughly $600 billion "fiscal cliff" and the 2013 budget, the far greater fiscal challenge of the U.S. government's unfunded pension and health-care liabilities remains offstage. The truly important figures would appear on the federal balance sheet—if the government prepared an accurate one.

But it hasn't. For years, the government has gotten by without having to produce the kind of financial statements that are required of most significant for-profit and nonprofit enterprises. The U.S. Treasury "balance sheet" does list liabilities such as Treasury debt issued to the public, federal employee pensions, and post-retirement health benefits. But it does not include the unfunded liabilities of Medicare, Social Security and other outsized and very real obligations.

As a result, fiscal policy discussions generally focus on current-year budget deficits, the accumulated national debt, and the relationships between these two items and gross domestic product. We most often hear about the alarming $15.96 trillion national debt (more than 100% of GDP), and the 2012 budget deficit of $1.1 trillion (6.97% of GDP). As dangerous as those numbers are, they do not begin to tell the story of the federal government's true liabilities.

The actual liabilities of the federal government—including Social Security, Medicare, and federal employees' future retirement benefits—already exceed $86.8 trillion, or 550% of GDP. For the year ending Dec. 31, 2011, the annual accrued expense of Medicare and Social Security was $7 trillion. Nothing like that figure is used in calculating the deficit. In reality, the reported budget deficit is less than one-fifth of the more accurate figure.

Why haven't Americans heard about the titanic $86.8 trillion liability from these programs? One reason: The actual figures do not appear in black and white on any balance sheet. But it is possible to discover them. Included in the annual Medicare Trustees' report are separate actuarial estimates of the unfunded liability for Medicare Part A (the hospital portion), Part B (medical insurance) and Part D (prescription drug coverage).

As of the most recent Trustees' report in April, the net present value of the unfunded liability of Medicare was $42.8 trillion. The comparable balance sheet liability for Social Security is $20.5 trillion.

Were American policy makers to have the benefit of transparent financial statements prepared the way public companies must report their pension liabilities, they would see clearly the magnitude of the future borrowing that these liabilities imply. Borrowing on this scale could eclipse the capacity of global capital markets—and bankrupt not only the programs themselves but the entire federal government.

These real-world impacts will be felt when currently unfunded liabilities need to be paid. In theory, the Medicare and Social Security trust funds have at least some money to pay a portion of the bills that are coming due. In actuality, the cupboard is bare: 100% of the payroll taxes for these programs were spent in the same year they were collected.

In exchange for the payroll taxes that aren't paid out in benefits to current retirees in any given year, the trust funds got nonmarketable Treasury debt. Now, as the baby boomers' promised benefits swamp the payroll-tax collections from today's workers, the government has to swap the trust funds' nonmarketable securities for marketable Treasury debt. The Treasury will then have to sell not only this debt, but far more, in order to pay the benefits as they come due.

When combined with funding the general cash deficits, these multitrillion-dollar Treasury operations will dominate the capital markets in the years ahead, particularly given China's de-emphasis of new investment in U.S. Treasurys in favor of increasing foreign direct investment, and Japan's and Europe's own sovereign-debt challenges.

When the accrued expenses of the government's entitlement programs are counted, it becomes clear that to collect enough tax revenue just to avoid going deeper into debt would require over $8 trillion in tax collections annually. That is the total of the average annual accrued liabilities of just the two largest entitlement programs, plus the annual cash deficit.

Nothing like that $8 trillion amount is available for the IRS to target. According to the most recent tax data, all individuals filing tax returns in America and earning more than $66,193 per year have a total adjusted gross income of $5.1 trillion. In 2006, when corporate taxable income peaked before the recession, all corporations in the U.S. had total income for tax purposes of $1.6 trillion. That comes to $6.7 trillion available to tax from these individuals and corporations under existing tax laws.

In short, if the government confiscated the entire adjusted gross income of these American taxpayers, plus all of the corporate taxable income in the year before the recession, it wouldn't be nearly enough to fund the over $8 trillion per year in the growth of U.S. liabilities. Some public officials and pundits claim we can dig our way out through tax increases on upper-income earners, or even all taxpayers. In reality, that would amount to bailing out the Pacific Ocean with a teaspoon. Only by addressing these unsustainable spending commitments can the nation's debt and deficit problems be solved.

Neither the public nor policy makers will be able to fully understand and deal with these issues unless the government publishes financial statements that present the government's largest financial liabilities in accordance with well-established norms in the private sector. When the new Congress convenes in January, making the numbers clear—and establishing policies that finally address them before it is too late—should be a top order of business.

Mr. Cox, a former chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee and the Securities and Exchange Commission, is president of Bingham Consulting LLC. Mr. Archer, a former chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, is a senior policy adviser at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mark Steyn on the Benghazi/Petraeus Affair

Mark Steyn is one of the only commentators worthy of painting the absurdities of this Sistine Chapel ceiling of cock-ups in all its complexity:
Let us turn from the post-Thanksgiving scenes of inflamed mobs clubbing each other to the ground for a discounted television set to the comparatively placid boulevards of the Middle East. In Cairo, no sooner had Hillary Clinton's plane cleared Egyptian air space then Mohammed Morsi issued one-man constitutional amendments declaring himself and his Muslim Brotherhood buddies free from judicial oversight and announced that his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, would be retried for all the stuff he was acquitted of in the previous trial. Morsi now wields total control over Parliament, the Judiciary, and the military to a degree Mubarak in his jail cell can only marvel at. Old CIA wisdom: He may be an SOB but he's our SOB. New post-Arab Spring CIA wisdom: He may be an SOB but at least he's not our SOB. But don't worry. As America's Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, assured the House Intelligence Committee at the time of Mubarak's fall, the Muslim Brotherhood is a "largely secular" organization. The name's just for show, same as the Episcopal Church.
Clapper is a very dim bulb in this affair, famous for not knowing about a huge intelligence fiasco a couple of years ago because it was a weekend & no one bothered to call him. Says volumes about the importance of this "Director of Intelligence."
Which brings us to Intelligence Director Clapper's fellow Intelligence Director, Gen. David Petraeus. Don't ask me why there's a Director of National Intelligence and a Director of Central Intelligence. Something to do with 9/11, after which the government decided it could use more intelligence. Instead, it wound up with more Directors of Intelligence, which is the way it usually goes in Washington. Anyway, I blow hot and cold on the Petraeus sex scandal. Initially, it seemed the best shot at getting a largely uninterested public to take notice of the national humiliation and subsequent cover-up over the deaths of American diplomats and the sacking of our consulate in Benghazi. On the other hand, everyone involved in this sorry excuse for a sex scandal seems to have been too busy emailing each other to have had any sex. The FBI was initially reported to have printed out 20,000 to 30,000 pages of emails and other communications between Gen. John Allen, U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and Jill Kelley of Tampa, one-half of a pair of identical twins dressed like understudies for the CENTCOM mess hall production of "Keeping Up With The Kardashians." Thirty thousand pages! The complete works of Shakespeare come to about three-and-a-half-thousand pages, but American officials can't even have a sex scandal without getting bogged down in the paperwork.
And we move from a biographer who can't write---Paula Broadwell---so she needs a ghost to ghost her own biography of the respected Gen. Petraeus.
For the cost of running those FBI documents off the photocopier, you could fly some broad to the Bahamas and have a real sex scandal. Instead, we'll "investigate" it for a year or three, as we're doing with Benghazi itself. At her press conference the other day, soon-to-be Secretary of State Susan Rice explained that she would be misspeaking if she were to explain why she misspoke about Benghazi until something called the Accountability Review Board has finished "conducting investigations" into "all aspects" of the investigations being conducted, which should be completed by roughly midway through Joe Biden's second term.

Pending that "definitive accounting," one or two aspects stand out. Paula Broadwell had access to Gen. Petraeus because she was supposedly writing his biography. As it turns out, she can't write, so her publisher was obliged to hire a ghostwriter from The Washington Post. Some years ago, at a low point in my career, I was asked to ghostwrite a book for a supermodel. That's usually the type of "writer" who requires a ghost: models, singers, athletes, celebrities. When a first-time biographer requires a ghostwriter, that person is not a biographer but something else. Yet she had classified documents at her home – and yes, as the president suggested, they're probably not that classified, not the real top-secret stuff. But in a speech at the University of Denver, Mrs. Broadwell appeared to reveal accidentally that she is privy to operational knowledge of illegal CIA interrogation chambers in Benghazi.
But when you get to the Kelley twins, identical in their Lebanese nutjob silliness, the vaudeville gets absolutely slapstick...
Now let us move from Gen. Petraeus' mistress to Gen. Allen's non-mistress, Tampa socialite and identical twin Jill Kelley. Mrs. Kelley had clearance for all parts of MacDill Air Force Base, near Tampa, Fla., and was given some kind of commemorative certificate as "honorary ambassador" to CENTCOM, on the basis of which, in a recent 911 call, she claimed the right to "diplomatic protection." Yeah, that's what Chris Stevens thought in Benghazi. As appears to be well known, the Kelleys have financial problems, and their luxury home faces foreclosure. For awhile they ran a charity, the Doctor Kelley Cancer Foundation, which makes terminal cancer patients' final wishes come true. In 2007, they took in $157,284 in donations, and ran up expenses of $81,927 on dining, entertainment and travel. So, if you've got cancer, and your dying wish is for Jill Kelley to party, this is the charity for you.

In other words, neither of these women passes the smell test. Which is a problem insofar as Petraeus, as CIA Director, is supposed to be head of the national smell test, and Gen. Allen, as Petraeus' successor in Kabul, is supposed to be head of the smell test in Afghanistan. In the Gaza "peace agreement" signed last week, they flew in Hillary Clinton to give the impression that she had something to do with it, where as, in reality, she was entirely peripheral to the deal. But Jill Kelley is apparently essential to anything that matters in CENTCOM: When Pastor Terry Jones was threatening to burn a Koran, Gen. Allen asked Mrs. Kelley to mediate. When radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge was threatening to "deep-fat fry" a Koran, Gen. Allen recommended the mayor of Tampa ask Mrs. Kelley to intervene. The U.S. government is responsible for 43 percent of the planet's military spending, and apparently all that gets you is that, when the feces hits the fan, the four-star brass start emailing Jill Kelley of Tampa. If only she'd been hosting a champagne reception at the Sigonella air base in southern Italy, maybe we could have parachuted her into Benghazi to defuse the situation. Jill is the woman Hillary can only dream of being – at the confluence of all the great geostrategic currents of the age. Why didn't we fly Jill Kelley to broker the Gaza deal? Instead of a patsy peddling risible talking-points like Susan Rice, why can't we have Jill Kelley as Secretary of State?

As far as I can tell, our enemies in Afghanistan don't go in for Soviet-style honey traps. Which is just as well, considering the ease with which, say, a pretend biographer can wind up sitting next to the U.S. commander on his personal Gulfstream. In different ways, Director Petraeus' judgment and Director Clapper's obtuseness testify to the problems of America's vast, sprawling, over-bureaucratized intelligence community. If Director Petraeus can't see the obvious under his nose in his interventions in the Kelley twins' various difficulties, why would you expect Director Clapper to have any greater grasp of what's happening in Cairo or Damascus?

Having consolidated his grip in Egypt, Morsi is now looking beyond. His "peace deal" legitimizes the Muslim Brotherhood's affiliate in Gaza, and increases the likelihood of the Brothers advancing to power in Syria and elsewhere. As on that night in Benghazi, when the most lavishly funded military/intelligence operation on the planet watched for eight hours as a mob devoured America's emissaries, America in a broader sense is a spectator in its own fate. As for Afghanistan, it seems a fitting comment on America's longest unwon war that the last two U.S. commanders exit in a Benny Hill finale, trousers round their ankles, pursued to speeded-up chase music by bunny-boiling mistresses, stalker socialites, identical twins and Bubba the Love Sponge.
Hillary the has-been was doing wine-tastings in the Australian vineyards when the Benghazi House hearings began. Looks like she'll soon be rid of the requirement to lie for the sake of her country....

Doctor Fuhrman's GOMBS Diet Plan

GOMBS means Greens, Onions, Mushrooms, Beans, Seeds. The good [and rich] Doctor is the favorite diet doc of Mehmet Oz, M.D., or so he claims.

Hamas a Collection of Murderous Torture-chamber Thugs

Gaza City is run by a gang of crooks and gangsters worse than Capone or Lucky Luciano's Murder Incorporated ever were. Read the link about the sad story of the innocent victim dragged through the streets as an Israeli collaborator.

Zero Dark Thirty Movie Review

Kathryn Bigelow is an intriguing director who has mastered every skill at portraying faithfully a complex process that lasted almost a decade---the tracking down and killing of the greatest terrorist in the world---Osama Bin Laden. So says Richard Corliss in a rave and sophisticated review of the film, which opens in NYC & LA in December---just in time for an Oscar nomination.

Although it will be tough to beat Lincoln for best picture, Zero Dark Thirty is coming to a theater near you in January & Corliss thinks it will show the CIA in a light that most flash & dash flicks like the Bourne trilogy disdain. And Oliver Stone would flip.

Here's another rave review---I for one think all the 911 culprits should be water boarded until they spew their friends' names & whereabouts. This reviewer obviously does not.

Monday, November 26, 2012

France Speeds Up on the Road to Perdition

WSJ has an editorial on the land of que sera, sera.
Moody's stripped France of its triple-A rating last week, citing "deteriorating economic prospects," the "long-standing rigidities of its labor, goods and services markets" and "exposure to peripheral Europe." And it could get worse: "We would downgrade the rating further in the event of an additional material deterioration in France's economic prospects," says Dietmar Hornung, Moody's lead analyst for France.

Don't think, however, that the French government is unduly alarmed. Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici insisted that the downgrade did not "call into question the economic fundamentals of our country." We've never made a fetish of the opinions of the ratings agencies, which tend to be lagging indicators. Nonetheless, the "fundamentals" Mr. Moscovici points to are worth a closer look.

In 1981, when the Socialist government of Francois Mitterrand took office, France's national debt amounted to 22% of GDP. In the intervening years France's economy has grown by an inflation-adjusted 73%, while the national debt—now at 90% of GDP—grew by 609% in real terms. In raw numbers, that comes to about €1.7 trillion in additional debt. At no time in those 31 years did any French government balance a budget, much less run a surplus.

All this amounts to one of the free world's longest-running experiments in the real-world effects of stimulus spending. If the fabled Keynesian multiplier really existed, all that spending should have translated into robust economic growth for France. Instead, the only thing that's been multiplied is France's debt.

President Francois Hollande is now bemoaning the supposed growth-killing effects of the spending cuts being demanded of him by the European Union. Yet if deficit spending could stimulate an economy, France would not be looking over the border with envy at Germany's growth, debt and unemployment figures. Nor would it again be trying to explain away another debt downgrade.
Fast lane Haute Politique [piste rapide], slow lane economic growth...

Pravda On "Liberalism: Psychosis, evil or ignorance?

Pravda like a broken watch, is right twice a day. Here's some interesting reading...
Are liberals mentally ill, spiritually depraved or just ignorant good-hearted people trying to improve society? Liberalism defined by Merriam-Webster: "a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race". It sounds nice but history has already proven that political liberalism is not beneficial. Unfortunately, many still adhere to its philosophy which has led many psychiatrists to examine this behavior.

One such psychiatrist, Dr. Lyle Rossiter wrote the book:

"The Liberal Mind: The Psychological Causes of Political Madness."

"Psychopathology of the Liberal Mind: The adult drive toward omnipotent control of others, in any arena whatever, is rooted in fears of separation, abandonment loss or abuse--the residual effects of early attachment gone wrong. The need to dominate others arises from the tyrant's need for absolute assurance that the catastrophic loss of dependency or the pain of abuse so devastating to him in his earliest years will not be repeated."

"Like spoiled, angry children, they rebel against the normal responsibilities of adulthood and demand that a parental government meet their needs from cradle to grave."

Dr. Lyle Rossiter has 37 years experience with more than 1,500 patients as a board certified clinical psychiatrist. He is also a board certified forensic psychiatrist who has examined more than 2,700 civil and criminal cases. He was educated at the University of Chicago.

No wonder he had a lot of patients! Obama and his crew came from Chicago. Dr. Rossiter was also a psychiatrist in the army for two years. His website for his book is here. His professional website is here.

He also writes, "America's founding fathers intended, as the Preamble tells us, to establish justice, insure peace, provide for the nation's defense, promote its general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty. But the entire twentieth century, and the dawn of the twenty-first, have witnessed modern liberalism's relentless attacks on all of these goals and on all of the principles on which individual liberty and rational social order rest."

Many times on the Michael Savage Show he says, "Liberalism is a mental disorder". He actually wrote a book on it. I always laugh when he says it. Recently I reflected what is the common denominator among the liberals that I have met in my life and came up with a list. Maybe yours is the same or different.

Liberals have all or most of these qualities: -prefer to insult others rather than use logic and reasoning -have an arrogant behavior -use anti-depressants or illegal drugs -favor Marxists, Socialists or Communists -against all or part of the 10 Commandments-favor killing babies (abortion) -dislike Christians-liars -like Lucifer they hate obedience or responsibility

Then I made a list of qualities of people I have met that are conservative. They have most of these characteristics: -try to follow the 10 commandments-have a spiritual life either as a Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, Christian, etc. -have a genuine love for their Creator and people around them -selfless
Hit the link to read the rest of an interesting analysis which has the additional merit of being true...

Europeanization of America

Pete Du Pont has a good piece in the WSJ on how the US will look like Greece in a few years.

Iran Rearming Hamas via Sudan?

The Jerusalem Post has an interesting story about satellites' revealing that Iran is using Khartoum as a factory to reassemble or construct or serve as a storage facility for Fajr-5s & larger Iranian missiles.
Israeli intelligence satellites have spied the loading of rockets and other material in Iran believed to be destined for the Gaza Strip, the UK-based Sunday Times reported, citing Israeli officials.

According to the report, Iran began preparing the weapons shipment around the same time Israel and Hamas negotiated a cease-fire late last week.

Ahmadinejad: Israel must 'bow' to Palestinian rights The shipment is said to include Iranianmade Fajr-5 medium-range rockets, the same model that was fired toward Tel Aviv and Jerusalem during Operation Pillar of Defense, the Sunday Times reported.

Last month, following an air attack on a weapons plant near Khartoum, the Defense Ministry’s director of policy and political-military affairs accused Sudan of acting as a transit point for weapons shipments to Gaza. Amos Gilad accused Khartoum of aiding and abetting terrorism, and said the Sudanese regime was “supported by Iran” and was used as a route to transfer weapons to Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip via Egypt.

Sudan accused Israel of attacking the military plant.

The Sunday Times report also cited Israeli officials speculating that Iran could be moving longer-range ballistic missiles into Sudan, which could be aimed at Israel from the African country.

The official added that Tehran would act to re-arm Hamas and other Gaza groups quickly, as it sees them as a necessary part of its response to a possible Israeli attack against Iran.
Here and here are two attached examples of Iranian aggression in the Levant.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Agony in the Congo---BBC Meltdown Nightly

Walter Mead has a blog called The American Interest which is constantly interesting. One example:
...a rebel movement backed, most observers believe, by Rwanda has recently humiliated a pathetic mix of feckless, poorly led UN peacekeeping troops and forces from the “Democratic Republic” of the Congo’s shambolic army to occupy the key city of Goma. The M23 rebels are now threatening to take the regional capital and loudly blustering about marching on to Kinshasa, DR Congo’s capital on the other side of the sprawling, chaotic and ill-governed country.

MSM coverage of Africa flips between two mood states. In the upbeat mood, which is the Official Position for most of the time and heartily endorsed by the Development Lobby bureaucrats committed to extracting billions every year to support them in affluence as they allegedly solve Africa’s problems, the press is all happy clappy about Africa’s inevitable ascent. The continent is becoming more important, we have been told almost continuously for the last fifty years, and liberated from colonialism is making new strides, advancing fearlessly in development from year to shining year. Some subset of the 59 or so African states are singled out as exemplifying the new age of African progress — like Mali, which before its latest meltdown was widely praised in the media and the world of development professionals as an example of the new, democratic Africa that was on the cusp of emerging.

But then something happens and the mood flips to despair: Nothing has changed in Africa, nothing can change. It is the heart of darkness, there is no hope. The powerful countries outside Africa aren’t good enough or committed enough and in the absence of outside leadership, the Development Lobby loudly wails, even as it quietly whispers that the Africans themselves are too brutal, cynical and divided to make anything happen. The remedy, of course, is more money: no matter what is happening or not happening in Africa the Development Lobby and its media allies will always know what is needed, and it is always the same thing. But, moans the press in its depressed phase, there will never be enough money because the selfish North doesn’t care enough about Africa. Racists!
I am a faithful watcher of the BBC, simply because it goes all over the world where the trouble spots are and says, oh, woe are we, living on a planet with such terrible people---unless the people are PC-protected, like black Africans. Then the most one will here is a muffled 'tut tut," gingham-Victorian style.
In due course this mood will yield to another bracing bout of official optimism and the cycle will continue as it has done since decolonization in the 1960s. Optimism, pessimism, optimism, pessimism. Like much of what goes on in the press, it has very little connection with what is actually taking place on the ground, reflecting elite mood swings more than anything else. In due course this mood will yield to another bracing bout of official optimism and the cycle will continue as it has done since decolonization in the 1960s. Optimism, pessimism, optimism, pessimism. Like much of what goes on in the press, it has very little connection with what is actually taking place on the ground, reflecting elite mood swings more than anything else.

Neither the Africa optimists nor the Africa pessimists are right. The optimists, periodically anointing one regime or group of regimes as the heroes of a new democratic growth surge in Africa are pathetic. Paul Kagame, the president of Rwanda now being pilloried as the cause of the fighting in the Congo, used to be, pardon the expression, the Great White Hope of the Africa optimists: the non-corrupt, growth oriented, liberal thinking democrat building a new kind of African paradise on the ashes of genocide. Now they’ve flipped him into yet another commodity grubbing, wealth-hungry African strongman.In due course this mood will yield to another bracing bout of official optimism and the cycle will continue as it has done since decolonization in the 1960s. Optimism, pessimism, optimism, pessimism. Like much of what goes on in the press, it has very little connection with what is actually taking place on the ground, reflecting elite mood swings more than anything else.
Having worked in DC as an FSO and overseas as an executive in a large American firm, I know how true Walter's observations are. The MSM blames GWB for WMD & Lord knows what while denying him credit for getting US aid to virtually halve the AIDS epidemic afflicting Black Africa.
But if the Africa optimists are clueless, the pessimists are flat wrong. Africa is not unchanging; a dynamic process of development and transition is indeed taking place across the continent. Tens of millions of people are flocking to the cities; population is booming; more people are becoming educated; investment is changing the nature of African economies from the Sahara to the Cape of Good Hope. Technologies like cell phones are changing African lives; emigration and remittances are pumping money into economies all over the continent; the triumph of Christianity across sub-Saharan Africa is having progressively deeper cultural and psychological impact; hundreds of millions of people are living in a world their parents and grandparents never knew.

Something is happening, but neither the optimists nor the pessimists get it—less because they don’t understand Africa than because they don’t understand history and modernization very well.

Most people in the west, and especially in the United States, take one of two positions on what modernization means. We are either historical optimists who think that science, technology and culture are moving higher and higher on an ascending trajectory towards a terrestrial utopia, or we are despairing hand wringers who think we are on some kind of down slope toward a final crash. Maybe global warming will kill us all, maybe nukes, maybe clashes of civilization or water wars, but modernization is bringing us closer and closer to inexorable doom.
Having lived in France & the UK, as well as three countries in the Middle East & Vietnam in S.E. Asia, I am a pessimist, but not a gloom & doomer. And Mead has the historical background, much like Robert Kaplan, whom he resembles, to know why.
This is an old pattern for us; going back into the 19th century Americans divided into “post-millennial” Christians who believed that human beings, guided by God, would create a just and prosperous world before Jesus returned at the end of time and “pre-millennial” Christians who believed that humanity’s efforts at progress and prosperity were doomed to fail, and that after an apocalyptic series of wars and disasters, Jesus would return to clean up the mess. Those two views of modern history persist today, even among people who don’t have an explicit religious dimension in their world-view.

Both the optimistic and pessimistic points of view can point to evidence that backs them up in other parts of the world as well as in Africa. The reason is that modernization itself contains both positive and negative elements. As Europe modernized in the 19th and 20th centuries, democracy spread, women got more rights, societies became more fair—and repeated episodes of murderous nationalism killed tens of millions of people and drove tens of millions from their homes in the most destructive wars and radical outbreaks of evil in the written history of mankind.

Those events were connected: modernization promotes nationalism and nationalism often leads both to democracy and mass murder. That was true across Europe; we can see it at work in the Middle East, and ethnic conflict between Tutsis and Hutus in the Great Lakes area in Africa is a major driver of the violence in the eastern Congo today.
But violence rules much of the Dark Continent.
Africa is modernizing today, and along with that process some very hopeful signs can often be discerned. But Africa looks set for a rough modernization. Crazy quilt colonial boundaries, ineffective elites, meddling foreign powers, resource curses, religious strife: all the ingredients are in place for a bloody and agonizing process of development and change.

The western media used to put Paul Kagame into a white hat and hail him as a modernizing savior figure as part of the new wave of African development. Now they have him in a black hat as a kind of resource warlord, promoting conflict in the Congo to get access to valuable mineral resources and royalties.
I read The Economist weekly online as well as in our dead-tree magazine delivered every Friday. Except for some glaring blindspots, such as US & UK politics [!!], this venerable magazine has its ducks in order, compared to the slapdash liberal shambolic make-a-wish kumbayeh vibe of American "news" magazines. Newsweek is so bad it's dissolving itself in left-wing hydrochloric acid. But in Nigeria, crazy Islamist sects like Boko Haram wreak havoc & kill Christians just for the fun of it.
National leaders in tough neighborhoods generally don’t fit well in neat moral categories. They mix serious accomplishments with staggering crimes. They combine a statesmanlike ability to manage a complicated foreign relations portfolio with hard and unwavering action where they think their vital interests are at stake.
This generalization works across Africa & the Arab world for that matter. Syria is a crime on its own people---Sierra Leone shows how quickly a country can rise from horrific crimes in a civil war to re-electing a President who is actually not just feasting on the national treasury. It is a commonplace that African airlines must take their planes out of Africa to be repaired or periodically checked---not because the natives can't DO the repairs, but because the parts and even the machinery disappears because of massive theft. Just a pessimistic way to end this peace at 2 AM.

Greg Mankiew Serves as Obungler's Fiscal Cliff Shrink

Mankiew is a much smarter and much more ethical economist than Paul Krugboy [can anyone spell "Enron Advisor." Read the link in the NYT & consider why according to Bob Woodward's book, the foursome of Boehner, Reid, Pelosi & McConnell all were ready for the debt ceiling deal, but Obungler refused and instead the insane fiscal cliff was forced upon the nation.

Or maybe that's what the retarded liberal dunce Obungler wanted all along---for the epic fail in the US economy caused by higher taxes and defense cuts.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Truth, Justice & the American Way Prevails?

The University of Iowa not only produces shitty football & basketball teams, but spineless gutless University Provosts and other numbnut affirmative action bigots. Read the link above to see how one female Law School prof was denied promotion & tenure for not toeing the PC line.

Palestinians Behind Tottenham Hotspur Fan Attack?

The BBC News had a three-minute piece on TV about a bar/cafe in Rome where ten Hotspur fans were attacked. The attackers all wore ski-masks to hide their identities, and not so coincidentally perhaps, their ethnic background. Turns out that Tottenham has a large contingent of fans from the North London Jewish community, which also led to anti-Semitic shouts by Lazio fans in Rome when they played Tottenham this week.

And of course the spineless degenerate Italian officials allow this to happen with their usual brainless lack of integrity.

Friday, November 23, 2012

WSJ Berates Morsi Diktat;

Here's the text:

The Egyptian revolution took another bad turn Thursday, as President Mohamed Morsi gave himself dictatorial powers over the legislature and courts. The world has feared that the Muslim Brotherhood would favor one-man, one-vote, once, and the Morsi coup is an ominous sign.

"The people wanted me to be the guardian of these steps in this phase," Reuters quoted Mr. Morsi as saying on Friday. "I don't like and don't want—and there is no need—to use exceptional measures. But those who are trying to gnaw the bones of the nation" must be "held accountable."

Mr. Morsi says his diktat will merely last as long as it takes the country to adopt a new constitution, which is what authoritarians always say. They claim to be a necessary step on the way to democracy, but democracy never arrives. Mr. Morsi's rationalization is that he must have this power to "protect the revolution," as if the demonstrators who deposed Hosni Mubarak in 2011 merely wanted another Mubarak with a beard and prayer rug. Mr. Morsi is claiming more power than Mr. Mubarak ever had.

Egyptians took to the street on Friday in protest, sometimes violently, and nearly every other major political leader denounced the putsch. That includes Abdel Monheim Aboul Fotouh, a former Muslim Brotherhood leader and presidential candidate. The violence is regrettable, but the protests may be the only way Egyptians can prevent the Muslim Brotherhood from becoming their new dictators.

The Brotherhood doesn't control the military or Ministry of Interior, yet neither one is going to rush to defend a more liberal Egyptian state. The military's main goal is to protect its role in government and its economic interests, and the Brotherhood's draft constitution puts the military outside of civilian control.

As long as Mr. Morsi doesn't challenge those interests, the military and police may let him control the courts, the media and the legislature. This is a recipe for rule a la Pakistan, with an increasingly Islamist state but the military and intelligence services as an independent power. The immediate losers will be Egypt's liberals and the Western journalists who inhaled the vapors of Tahrir Square. But whatever Mr. Morsi intends, the Pakistan model is not a recipe for a more stable Egypt.

Mr. Morsi's coup is also awkward for the Obama Administration, which had been praising the Egyptian in media backgrounders for his role in brokering the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. Mr. Morsi was hailed as a moderate statesman. Yet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had barely left Cairo before Mr. Morsi made his move. He may have figured that all the praise made it easier for him to grab more power.

Mrs. Clinton and President Obama had said nothing as we went to press, though a State Department spokeswoman issued a tepid statement saying the U.S. had "concerns" and calling for "checks and balances." The Obama Administration has invested its prestige in a moderate Muslim Brotherhood, and it may be loathe to admit that this hope might be going the way of its Russian "reset" or its claim that the "tide of war is receding."

Mr. Obama should condemn the power grab and hope this has some sway with those who want to maintain good U.S. ties. If the Muslim Brotherhood becomes the Islamist Mubarak, it will be a blow to U.S. interests and further evidence of a Middle East sliding away from American influence.
Gosh, amateur hour at the White House. Who would thunkit?

Morsi Power Grab One Day After Gaza Settlement

The 51% victor in the recent Egyptian elections for President sure doesn't waste any time. He emasculates the Army, no mean feat in itself, then brokers a Gaza cease fire, finally seizes all the reins of power in Misr, named for the black mud in the Delta.

I've been to almost two dozen Arab countries as an FSO [missed Djibouti & Libya] & to Egypt many times. The concepts of Islam & democracy are mutually exclusive [I am a State Dept. trained Arabist] & Arab history since the Hegira shows little evidence of any forms of government save autocracy by a strongman with religious credentials---Morsi is just the latest example. Islamists are like Communists---once you vote them in, that's the last election you'll have that is not totally rigged.

Morsi seems not to have learned any lessons in democracy and the silly amateur in the WH in DC elected by the new majority of leeches, minorities, slackers and layabouts---generally the Lumpenproletariat Marx despised, but which in the US loves Marx [if the illiterate loons ever heard of him].

Barry Soetero couldn't find Egypt on a map before he was elected and I doubt if his high-flying paeans to democracy before he got his ridiculous Nobel mean anything to this scandalous fraud anymore. Now he's free to get himself out of the jam he's in, and figure out how to make people think he's not a witless chump on Benghazi & Cairo.

UPDATE: David Kirkpatrick of the NYT reports on Morsi's power grab obliquely, but gets to a level of disapproval.
Mr. Morsi, an Islamist and Egypt’s first elected president, portrayed his decree as an attempt to fulfill popular demands for justice and protect the transition to a constitutional democracy. But the unexpected breadth of the powers he seized raised immediate fears that he might become a new strongman. Seldom in history has a postrevolutionary leader amassed so much personal power only to relinquish it swiftly.
What an understatement! When the Free Officers' Movement secured a figurehead like Naguib and the segued swiftly to Nasser in the early '50's, there was no fig leaf of legitimacy---only a call for pan-Arab & later a Bandung Conference in Indonesia for ALL the impoverished ex-colonial states. Sadat was a later improvement after Nasser died fifteen years after he seized power & Mubarak improved on Sadat slightly. Now Morsi is reverting back to the original Muhammad Ali strongman template of the early 19th c.
In Washington, a senior State Department official said, “We are seeking more information about President Morsi’s decisions and declarations today, which have raised concerns.”

Mr. Morsi’s advisers portrayed the decree as an attempt to cut through the deadlock that has stalled Egypt’s convoluted political transition more than 20 months after President Mubarak’s ouster. Mr. Morsi’s more political opponents and the holdover judicial system, they argued, were sabotaging the transition to thwart the Islamist majority.

The liberal and secular opposition has repeatedly threatened to boycott the Islamist-dominated constitutional assembly. (It is led by Mr. Morsi’s allies in the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party. Members were picked by Parliament, where Islamists won a nearly three-quarters majority.) And as the assembly nears a deadline set under an earlier interim transition plan, most secular members and the representatives of the Coptic Church have walked out, costing it up to a quarter of its 100 members and much of its legitimacy.
Finally, Fuad Ajami of the WSJ summed it up on the BBC TV news with: "one election for one leader for one time, the same old Egyptian rule [in both senses of the word] for centuries."

Here's the way the NYT article sums it up:

Mr. Morsi also replaced the public prosecutor, Abdel Meguid Mahmoud, a Mubarak appointee widely criticized for failing to win stronger sentences against Mr. Mubarak and his associates, and against abusive police officers. (Mr. Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison for overseeing the killing of protesters, but the verdict found no direct evidence of his involvement, paving the way for an appeal.)

Mr. Mahmoud’s replacement is Talaat Ibrahim Abdullah, former leader of the movement for judicial independence under Mr. Mubarak.

Mr. Morsi ordered retrials for Mr. Mubarak and others accused of responsibility for killing civilian protesters during the uprising. He stripped the accused of protections against being tried twice for the same crime and issued a law setting up a new transitional legal system to handle the retrials.

Another decree provision granted the president the “power to take all necessary measures and procedures” against any potential threat to the revolution.

On the Web site of the state newspaper Al Ahram, a prominent jurist, Salah Eissa, urged citizens “to take to the street and die, because Egypt is lost,” adding, “immunizing the decisions of the president with a constitutional declaration is a forgery and a fraud.”

Nathan J. Brown, a scholar of the Egyptian legal system at George Washington University, summed up the overall message: “I, Morsi, am all powerful. And in my first act as being all powerful, I declare myself more powerful still. But don’t worry — it’s just for a little while.”
The New Pharaoh setting up kangaroo courts in a country being taken over by Islamist crazies. Watch for the "Honor Code" killing daughters get legitimized. And the Copts get persecuted. It's The Alexandria Quartet by Larry Durrell, where the desert creeps in during the last book bringing back the dread sterility of the Arab Middle Ages, where the Fatimids were the high point of Egypt's sad history. And the mad Sultan in 1015 burnt down Churches and Synagogues in his purity of religion---bringing all sorts of insanity into the Arab world. P.S.: The Fatimids were Shi'ites and spawned the Alawites and the Druzis.

No More Rex Ryan Mouthing Off as Jets Coach?

Bill Belichek is the strong silent type. Rex Ryan should be a Defensive Coordinator like his twin brother in Dallas. The nationally-televised game Thanksgiving Evening sliced up the Jets like a turkey---the Patriots had the ball less than four minutes in the second quarter and yet scored 35 points, going into halftime leading 35-3 over the arch-rival Jets. And the chorus began afterwards for Rex's head on a large platter such as any turkey should be served. ESPN has two woeful articles:
Last year Ryan promised the franchise its first championship since man walked on the moon, mocked Tom Coughlin's Giants in the days preceding their Christmas Eve clash, and then watched his team implode before its big-brother neighbor landed in another ticker-tape parade.

Allegedly humbled by the beatdowns and enlightened by the unnecessary stress he was putting on his players, Ryan opened 2012 by dialing back his outsize persona. That didn't work either, not even close. The Jets might be hearing him, but they're definitely not listening to him.

"I know our fans deserve a heck of a lot better than this," Ryan said.

Yes they do. They deserve better than Ryan's ever-weakening defense, better than Rex's blind devotion to Sanchez, better than his empty pledges that the Jets will rebound, and better than his call to suit up a battered Tebow.

Of the fans, Ryan said, "I don't blame them for booing me." At the end of his postgame news conference the coach was asked if he believes he'll make it to 2013.

"I do," he said, "and I think our team will play a heck of a lot better. And I don't believe anybody will ask that question by the time the year's over."

Even if the Jets win three or four of their final five against teams with a combined 17-33 record, Woody Johnson shouldn't be fooled into sticking with the same management group. Tannenbaum needs to go and Ryan's no-ring circus needs to go with him, and the billionaire needs to pick up the tab.

Johnson must lure a Payton or a Dungy, or the next college coach who can make the kind of transition to the NFL made by Jim Harbaugh, a 34-0 winner over Ryan in September. Rex coulda beena contenda, but now he's gone ahead and knocked himself out.
I was getting sick and tired listening to Rex shoot off his mouth each year about how the Jets were going to win the Super Bowl.

ESPN's James Walker expands on Ian O'Connor's comments above:
The 2012 season is over for the New York Jets. The New England Patriots made sure of it with a 49-19 blowout victory over New York on Thanksgiving night at MetLife Stadium.

New York embarrassed itself with a comedy of errors, particularly during the 35 unanswered points by New England in the second quarter. The Jets dropped to 4-7 and their playoff chances are reduced to virtually zero.

From this point forward, it's time for the Jets to start thinking about 2013. New York still has five games left, but this is the start of a lengthy self-evaluation process for next season.

Here are the questions New York should consider:

Who is the quarterback?

It is clear that Mark Sanchez is not the long-term solution. Sanchez had four years to prove he is a franchise quarterback and is regressing. He is 12-15 as a starter the past two seasons.

New York must figure out in these final five games if Sanchez deserves to be the starting quarterback for a fifth year in 2013. Popular backup Tim Tebow is on the roster, and Jets fans are calling for Tebow to get a shot. At 4-7, it may be wise for New York to see what it has in Tebow.

But contractually for the long haul, the Jets may be stuck with Sanchez. He has a lot of guaranteed money next year with his recent contract extension. Going in a different direction would be horrific for New York’s salary cap and the bottom line.

This is a difficult decision for the Jets because Sanchez is not getting better. He is an average quarterback, at best, who can only thrive when everything is going well around him. If Sanchez remains the starter, the Jets could go through many of the same issues on offense next year.

Who stays and who goes?

Sanchez is contractually strapped to the Jets next season. But the Jets have several veteran free agents they can let go. Pending free agents like starting tailback Shonn Greene, tight end Dustin Keller and safeties LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell are all playing out the final five games of their contracts.

New York does not have a lot of cap room next year. Therefore, the Jets have a lot of decisions to make on veterans and whether they will stick around after this season.

The Jets are an older team that was built to win now. But they latched onto veterans too long and it's time to get younger and faster. A lot of players are auditioning for jobs in New York in the final month of the season.

Do Jets have the right GM and coach?

Jets owner Woody Johnson said a week ago that he didn’t sign up for 3-6. Well, the boss certainly didn’t sign up for a 30-point loss at home to their biggest rival on national television.

The Jets looked like the "Bad News Bears" at times Thursday, and that reflects on the coaching staff that prepared the team and the front office that put the team together. New York is a roster without much speed or depth, and that’s on general manager Mike Tannenbaum. The Jets also haven’t been well coached at times this year, and that’s on Rex Ryan.

I believe Ryan and Tannenbaum deserve another year. But performances like Thursday in a big game make this pair hard to defend.

Johnson will be watching closely how the Jets play in the final five games, and that could directly impact the future of New York’s head coach and general manager.

It's going to be a long five games for the Jets. But this team has a lot more questions than answers, and this is the time to start searching for solutions.
Remember long ago when Brett Favre was the Jets QB? I still think Brett could have gotten them farther than poor Mark Sanchez. Tebow would be better than Mark...

Jesse Jackson Jr. Resigns Amid Gathering Scandals

Feigning mental illness as an excuse, Jackson is just one of the thirty-or-so Black Caucus members, a majority of whom are basically swindlers and cheats of one sort or another. Read how he angled for Obama's vacated seat by having his foreign-named mentor/minder offer between $1.5 & $6 million for Blagovich, the then-governor now serving a prison sentence, told the FBI. Jackson Jr. & his Alderman wife are now still being investigated, but this resignation looks like Junior is taking the fall so as to avoid a full-blown expose of his crimes and misdemeanors.

TPM Muckraker has more salacious details, including how Ald. wife used campaign funds to redecorate the Jesse Jr. Chicago home.

Jesse Sr. was notorious for shaking down huge corporations as he did to a Toyota plant in Peoria for alleged discrimination, threatening demonstrations, boycotts & mayhem to the brand name. The crook who still infests the American body politic like a flea or a louse, depending on your POV, now acts as an elder statesman, his time like Al Sharpton's as a symbol of black whatever now receding into the past.
“Mr. Jackson is cooperating with the investigation. We hope to negotiate a fair resolution of the matter but the process could take several months. During that time, we will have no further comment and urge you to give Mr. Jackson the privacy he needs to heal and handle these issues responsibly,” according to a statement by Reid Weingarten and Brian Heberlig, who are in Washington, and Dan K. Webb, who is in Chicago.
Reid Weingarten represented my wife [and myself] when we were testifying against Sen. Hatfield about twenty years ago when he was a bright young up and coming lawyer. Now he's graduated to representing the big fish like Jesse Jr.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

White House To Boehner: Obamacare Not Part Of Fiscal Cliff Deal

Anyone who read Bob Woodward's book on the maddening negotiations on the debt ceiling that led to this 'fiscal cliff' knows that Obama is as stubborn as the Democrat jackass that symbolizes the Party.

Even with Pelosi, Reid & McConnell on Speaker Boehner's side, Woodward described the nutjob Obama summarily rejecting the deal last summer proposed by the entire House/Senate Leadership.

Instead, Obama pushed for a temporary rise in the debt ceiling to be followed by the 'cliff' in January.

Truth be told, if Obama had pushed for Simpson/Bowles, this entire drama would not be playing out at this strange transitional time.

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

David Brooks on Republican/Libertarian Conservatism

David Brooks has written a thoughtful article on where the GOP might be headed in the future. Center-Right, he hopes, but says there are many thoughtful conservatives of many different stripes:
Paleoconservatives. The American Conservative has become one of the more dynamic spots on the political Web. Writers like Rod Dreher and Daniel Larison tend to be suspicious of bigness: big corporations, big government, a big military, concentrated power and concentrated wealth. Writers at that Web site, and at the temperamentally aligned Front Porch Republic, treasure tight communities and local bonds. They’re alert to the ways capitalism can erode community. Dispositionally, they are more Walker Percy than Pat Robertson.

Larison focuses on what he calls the imperial tendencies of both the Bush and Obama foreign policies. He crusades against what he sees as the unchecked killing power of drone strikes and champions a more modest and noninterventionist foreign policy.

Lower-Middle Reformists. Reihan Salam, a writer for National Review, E21 and others, recently pointed out that there are two stories about where the Republican Party should go next. There is the upper-middle reform story: Republicans should soften their tone on the social issues to win over suburban voters along the coasts. Then there is a lower-middle reform story: Republicans should focus on the specific economic concerns of the multiethnic working class.

Salam promotes the latter. This means acknowledging that working-class concerns are not what they were in the 1980s. The income tax is less burdensome than the payroll tax. Family disruption undermines social mobility. Republicans, he argues, should keep the social conservatism, which reinforces families, and supplement it with an agenda that supports upward mobility and social capital.

Similarly, Henry Olsen of the American Enterprise Institute has argued for a Republican Party that listens more closely to working-class concerns. Ramesh Ponnuru of National Review has argued for family-friendly tax credits and other measures that reinforce middle-class dignity. Jim Manzi wrote a seminal article in National Affairs on the need to promote innovation while reducing inequality.

Soft Libertarians. Some of the most influential bloggers on the right, like Tyler Cowen, Alex Tabarrok and Megan McArdle, start from broadly libertarian premises but do not apply them in a doctrinaire way.

Many of these market-oriented writers emphasize that being pro-market is not the same as being pro-business. Luigi Zingales of the University of Chicago published an influential book, “A Capitalism for the People,” that took aim at crony capitalism. Tim Carney of The Washington Examiner does muckraking reporting on corporate-federal collusion. Rising star Derek Khanna wrote a heralded paper on intellectual property rights for the House Republican Study Committee that was withdrawn by higher-ups in the party, presumably because it differed from the usual lobbyist-driven position.

There are a number of unpredictable libertarian-leaning writers, including Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic on civil liberties issues, and Eugene Volokh on legal and free speech concerns.

Burkean Revivalists. This group includes young conservatives whose intellectual roots go back to the organic vision of society described best by Edmund Burke but who are still deeply enmeshed in current policy debates.

Yuval Levin, the editor of National Affairs is one of the two or three most influential young writers in politics today. He argues that we are now witnessing the fiscal crisis of the entitlement state, exemplified most of all by exploding health care costs. His magazine promotes a big agenda of institutional modernization.

The lawyer Adam J. White has argued for an approach to jurisprudence and regulatory affairs based on modesty, but not a doctrinaire clinging to original intent. Ryan Streeter of Indiana champions civil-society conservatism, an updated version of the Jack Kemp style.

By and large, these diverse writers did not grow up in the age of Reagan and are not trying to recapture it. They disdain what you might call Donor Base Republicanism. Most important, they matured intellectually within a far-reaching Web-based conversation. In contrast to many members of the conservative political-entertainment complex, they are data-driven, empirical and low-key in tone.

They are united more by a style of feedback and mutual scrutiny than by a common agenda. Some politically unorthodox people in this conversation, such as Josh Barro of Bloomberg View, Meghan Clyne of National Affairs and Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute, specialize in puncturing sentimentality and groupthink.

Since Nov. 6, the G.O.P. has experienced an epidemic of open-mindedness. The party may evolve quickly. If so, it’ll be powerfully influenced by people with names like Reihan, Ramesh, Yuval and Derek Khanna.
While I cringe at David's tendency on TV to lurch leftward or give a simpering smile and cringeworthy nod to many leftist screeds on PBS Evening News, his reading all sorts of political scribblings --- if he reads even half of the above --- is impressive. I have one of his books on suburban culture, Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There, and found it sociologically interesting, but not at all judgmental. Brooks is becoming an influential voice, but tends to be too shallow for a trenchant analysis of how America's destiny will work out. A sort of soft totalitarian vibe. O tempura, o mores...

The Real Scoop on Papa John's and Obamacare

JOHNSchnatter knows that ObamaCare is going to cost gigantic amounts of taxpayer money and that every small business will be overwhelmed with even more paperwork and regulations and bullish*t rules imposed from above.

And the consumer of his great pies will pay the extra costs. In 2014, the giant second foot descends on the taxpayer and the nation's health system is probably going to collapse or at least crumble from all the new expenses. It's basically like medicare after one buys some health insurance. In the end, almost everyone loses.

And finally, Palin was right about the death panels. In the UK, every day many elderly patients are denied care that would prolong their lives because some unaccountable bureaucrat in the NHS decides it won't be worth the cost. Bye bye Grandma.

Sebelius or her ilk will turn into 'Big Sister' and pull the plug by rules and regs on thousands of The Greatest Generation as their health deteriorates.

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Which Professions Have The Most Psychopaths?

Interesting article. I have dealt with Media, Lawyers, & Journalists in my FSO career. Then in the private sector, I actually was a journalist and then a minor executive in a huge oil company with frequent contact with its CEO, who took a shine to me.

I would say from my experience that the list rings true---even to chefs, some world-class specimens of whom I met when I was Vice Consul in Lyon, France. Lawyers are even more unfeeling than CEOs, whom I found out in my journalistic career [I interviewed many in my job as International Editor of the Oil Daily] were very cagey because they have to think of their shareholders.

Lawyers don't, and often disregard the interests of their client, as I found out.

Media/TV types are hopelessly shallow with only a few exceptions [Howie Kurtz is one very prominent exception whom I met and talked to several times at length].

Journalists run the spectrum, with many who will kill for a story and then others who will share with their fellow ink-stained wretches.

Diplomats should be on the psychopathy list as I've met Richard Holbrooke & several less famous like him who are genuinely autistic and solipsistic in their utter self-absorption.

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Is CJ John Roberts an Attention Whore?

The MSM has anointed John Roberts, erstwhile pillar of conservative thought and SCOTUS rulings, a savior of the Republic. This for jumping ship on ObamaCare. Here's how the WSJ editorial ends:
Chief Justice Roberts shares the Esquire honor with Lena Dunham, the star of an Obama campaign ad and the creator and star of the HBO series about 20-something sexual angst called "Girls."

She and the Chief Justice also make the Atlantic Monthly's list of "Brave Thinkers" of 2012, by which they mean thinkers who agree with the Atlantic's liberal editors. Ms. Dunham is praised for taking "the soft glow off the 'chick flick,'" for instance when her character acts "like an underage street hooker to turn her boyfriend on," while the Chief Justice gets credit for "maintaining the Court's legitimacy" with a ruling "both brave and shrewd." President Obama probably has Time's "Person of the Year" nailed down, but expect the Chief to finish a close second.

Such is the strange new respect a conservative receives for sustaining liberal priorities. Our own view is less effusive, and to expiate his ObamaCare legal sins, a fair punishment would be that he hire Ms. Dunham as a clerk.
Is Lena Stanley Ann Dunham's distant relative. Inquiring minds want to know.
CBS reports with two very good pieces by Charles D'Agata and fluent Arabist Clarissa Ward in more detail about the vicious Hamas leadership:
Israel accuses Hamas militants of hiding near civilians, which Hamas denies. But CBS News correspondent Charlie D'Agata reports the Islamic jihad admitted one of their militants was hiding among journalists when he was killed by an Israeli air strike over the Gaza media center Monday. Launch pads are being discovered near mosques and schools, and CBS News crews saw a rocket launch just two blocks away from a residential area.

Egypt, the traditional mediator between Israel and the Arab world, was at the center of a flurry of diplomatic activity Monday. Egyptian intelligence officials met separately in Cairo with an Israeli envoy and with Khaled Mashaal, the top Hamas leader in exile. Until recently, he has only been allowed in Syria and Iran, CBS News correspondent Clarissa Ward reports.

Hamas wants Israel to halt all attacks on Gaza and lift tight restrictions on trade and movement in and out of the territory that have been in place since Hamas seized Gaza by force in 2007. Israel demands an end to rocket fire from Gaza and a halt to weapons smuggling into Gaza through tunnels under the border with Egypt.

With positions far apart on a comprehensive deal, some close to the negotiations suggested Egypt is first seeking a halt to fighting before other conditions are discussed. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are in a sensitive stage.

Hamas leader: Rockets won't stop until demands are met Mashaal told reporters that Israel's threat of invading Gaza was a bluff and Hamas would only agree to a cease-fire if its demands are met. "We don't accept Israeli conditions because it is the aggressor," he said. "We want a cease-fire along with meeting our demands."

When asked by Ward if Hamas wants to see a truce, he responded: "God-willing, the American people will wake up and realize that it is better to stand with 350 million Arabs than to continue to support Israel."

Mashaal eventually conceded that he did not want to see an escalation in hostilities, Ward reports, but was unclear on when he thought a truce would be reached. "Perhaps today, perhaps tomorrow, perhaps never," he told reporters.
Ward and her CNN counterpart whose name escapes me at the moment are two extremely good young Arabists. Ward was also conversing in Japanese, a language I as an Arabist am unfamiliar with. Hamas's answer to the persistent young American reporter:
Hamas leader on truce prospects: "Maybe never" Israeli leaders have repeatedly threatened to widen the offensive, saying an invasion is an option. Israel has amassed troops on the Gaza border and begun calling up thousands of reservists.

Still, an Israeli official emphasized that Israel hopes to find a diplomatic solution.

"We prefer the diplomatic solution if it's possible. If we see it's not going to bear fruit, we can escalate," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the diplomatic efforts under way. He added that Israel wants international guarantees that Hamas will not rearm or use Egypt's Sinai region, which abuts Gaza, for militant activity.
Clarissa reported to Scott Pelley that Meshal is full of bluster and really wants the escalation to stop, despite daring Israel to invade. As Gaza turns & Israel regrets going along with Condi Rice who in January 2006 convinced the Israelis to agree to let Hamas participate in the municipal elections. So America let these terrorist thugs who shot missiles from civilian areas in Gaza to civilian areas in Israel act back then as a responsible party. They were elected and the Palestinians have been going downhill ever since.

Conclave of Congressional Demonrat Crones Says "Never Blame a Woman"

James Taranto has a great article on the hysterical double standards of the so-called female mind. But men's attitudes towards women go back aways and there is a tendency to say that chivalry and hypocrisy are both just shields against what women consider porn and check this out if you don't believe me.
The Washington Post's Lisa Miller echoes the complaint: "The commentary and analysis of this season's latest and greatest sex scandal . . . is downright medieval. . . . Powerful men are expected to stray. . . . But the women with whom they consort are unredeemed for all of history."

They have a point; there is a double standard. But the feminist critics misunderstand the nature of that double standard.

Petraeus himself, after all, has not exactly been "redeemed." Quite the contrary. The affair came to public attention precisely because of his resignation. No one can take away his considerable accomplishments, but his public career appears to be at an end. History will remember the ridiculous and humiliating way in which it concluded. No doubt he is paying a private price as well: "As you can imagine, she's not exactly pleased right now," ABC News quoted Steve Boylan, a retired Army colonel with a gift for understatement, as saying of Mrs. Petraeus.

When commentators observe that Petraeus must have been tempted by Broadwell, they are not making excuses for his errant behavior. They are merely stating the obvious: that his was a failure of self-control. It is generally understood that men are weak, subject to sexual temptation.

If Broadwell is assigned a disproportionate share of the "responsibility' for the affair, it is because of a failure to acknowledge that women are weak, too--that "human fallibility" does indeed work both ways. If he found a younger, physically attractive woman irresistible, it seems a reasonable surmise that she found a powerful, famous, brilliant man equally so. Indeed, how could it not be so? If either one of them had successfully resisted the attraction, dangerous to both of them, there would have been no affair.

Feminists are not above employing double standards when it suits their purposes. Lisa Miller, the Washington Post columnist quoted above, was last seen in this column disparaging "the smug fecundity of the Republican [presidential] field." Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann all have too many children for Miller's liking, and despite her including Bachmann in the list, she blamed the men: "What the Republican front-runners seem to be saying is this: We are like the biblical patriarchs."
So Miller implies that it is "smug" to have a large family, but according to her "powerful men are expected to stray..."

This kind of blatant hypocrisy is why the Washington Post is slowly sliding into the dustbin of history just like its complicit companions in moral turpitude, the major newspapers and networks in the media.

Can't wait to see them all taken out to the giant piles of refuse that history coughs up to lie, cheat and steal in the name of the "marketplace of ideas." But here's more proof that women have no concept of consistency or elevated perspective on the Demonrat side of the aisle.
As for Fudge and the other defenders of Susan Rice against supposed sexism, they seem to be implying that women in powerful public positions should be spared the rough treatment that would be accorded to men. "In unusually personal terms," the AP notes, "the Democratic women lashed out at Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham." The story does not mention if they lashed out at a third critic of Rice, Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire. Her name does appear in the report, but only in passing, and nine paragraphs after McCain and Graham are first mentioned.
Isn't it interesting that the aptly named Fudge & other BC fatties would issue an illiterate and biased statement hating on men. But the mental wastrel Senator from California outdoes the Black Caucus with her breathtaking stupidity and ignorance:
Then again, the standard is different when the black woman named Rice is a Republican. In January 2007, an AP dispatch noted "Sen. Barbara Boxer's remark last week to [Secretary of State] Condoleezza Rice that the secretary of state, single and childless, doesn't have a 'personal price' to pay in Iraq."
To call the imbecilic moron Boxer a moral failure is an understatement. But the hypocrisy in the Demonrat Party extends to the culpability of the Rat-in-Chief:
A final irony is that the feminist defense of Susan Rice is ultimately in the service of shielding a powerful man from accountability. After all, Obama was not merely being chivalrous when he said that if McCain and Graham "want to go after somebody, they should go after me." He was also changing the subject away from the failure of his administration, which includes officials of both sexes, to give an honest accounting of the Benghazi fiasco.
Read the whole article to see why even when he feigns chivalry, this specimen of deceptive BS hides his failures by pointing "Look, over there, male chauvinist pigs!"

Terrorist-in-Chief Khaled Meshal Dares Israel to Invade

Khaled Meshal is a craven hyena too afraid to live in Gaza, so he sequesters himself in Damascus where Chief-of-State terrorist Bashar Assad gives this Hamas scavenger-animal shelter from the Israelis.
Speaking at a news conference in Cairo, where the diplomatic efforts were under way, the Hamas leader, Khaled Meshal, suggested that the Israeli infantry mobilization on the border with Gaza was a bluff on the part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.

“If you wanted to launch it, you would have done it,” Mr. Meshal told reporters. He accused Israel of using the invasion threat as an attempt to “dictate its own terms and force us into silence.”

Rejecting Israel’s contention that Hamas had precipitated the conflict, Mr. Meshal said the burden was on the Israelis. “The demand of the people of Gaza is meeting their legimitate demands — for Israel to be restrained from its aggression, assassinations and invasions, and for the siege over Gaza to be ended,” he said.
This dog of an Arab should shut up and keep his trap shut. I am hoping the coward who has his missiles aimed at Israeli civilians gets his car blown up just like the Hamas military commander did last week. If he had a spinal column, he would aim those missiles at the Israeli Merkava tanks---then he's see a nation with citizens who fight terrorist fags and bitch-boys would retaliate. Aiming at civilian towns in Israel is cowardly, not something the NYT often points out. Israel will take care of Haniya and Meshel in good time. Just like they took out the cowardly hyena who killed an American Navy Officer back in the '80s. That hyena was killed in Damascus and was Meshal's chief assistant terrorist. Both dogs will get their just due at the hands of Israel

And then the dogs will eat their bones too.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Gaza Child Killed by Misfiring Hamas Rocket[s]?

Human Shields are the ultimate cynical ploy by the barbaric whiners in Hamas' leadership who want to parade their victimhood in front of the witless non-Arab, non-Muslim world to gain sympathy and some measure of guilt money. This weekend the visit of Egyptian Prime Minister Kandil was highlighted by the highly-publicized presentation to him of a 4-year old Gaza boy killed the very morning of his visit. Foreign reporters tsk-tsked and the Gaza Hamas PR types wove a web of lies about the unfortunate boy---however, soon independent Gaza observers ratted out the cynical Haniya and his gang of liars:
In private, many people were prepared to admit to dismay that it was happening again. Some of those with homes near strategic points that might soon become battlefields, or targets for Israeli bombers, admitted to feelings of dread at what could be to come. A few even said they had pleaded with Hamas not to launch rockets from near their homes — a sure-fire way to summon up an Israeli airstrike in response. But there were signs on Saturday that not all the Palestinian casualties have been the result of Israeli air strikes. The highly publicised death of four-year-old Mohammed Sadallah appeared to have been the result of a misfiring home-made rocket, not a bomb dropped by Israel.

The child’s death on Friday figured prominently in media coverage after Hisham Kandil, the Egyptian prime minister, was filmed lifting his dead body out of an ambulance. "The boy, the martyr, whose blood is still on my hands and clothes, is something that we cannot keep silent about," he said, before promising to defend the Palestinian people. But experts from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights who visited the site on Saturday said they believed that the explosion was caused by a Palestinian rocket.

In the chaos, it is highly unlikely that Mr Kandil or anyone else at the hospital suspected that the death was the result of anything but an air strike. Sharif Khalah, 26, was standing at the end of the alleyway by the road when the explosion happened.
Anyone familiar with the tawdry cynical mindset of the Hamas and Ikhwan religious fanatics knows that they will say, deny, excuse anything in the advancement and aggrandizement of their goals and territory.

Ross Douthat on "The Liberal Gloat"

Ross applies his gentle and genteel intelligence to examining the egregious solecisms some of the more delusional half-wits on the left emit without stop on captive legacy media:
Maybe it’s too soon to pierce this cloud of postelection smugness. But in the spirit of friendly correction — or, O.K., maybe curmudgeonly annoyance — let me point out some slightly more unpleasant truths about the future that liberalism seems to be winning.

Liberals look at the Obama majority and see a coalition bound together by enlightened values — reason rather than superstition, tolerance rather than bigotry, equality rather than hierarchy. But it’s just as easy to see a coalition created by social disintegration and unified by economic fear.

Consider the Hispanic vote. Are Democrats winning Hispanics because they put forward a more welcoming face than Republicans do — one more in keeping with America’s tradition of assimilating migrants yearning to breathe free? Yes, up to a point. But they’re also winning recent immigrants because those immigrants often aren’t assimilating successfully — or worse, are assimilating downward, thanks to rising out-of-wedlock birthrates and high dropout rates. The Democratic edge among Hispanics depends heavily on these darker trends: the weaker that families and communities are, the more necessary government support inevitably seems.

Likewise with the growing number of unmarried Americans, especially unmarried women. Yes, social issues like abortion help explain why these voters lean Democratic. But the more important explanation is that single life is generally more insecure and chaotic than married life, and single life with children — which is now commonplace for women under 30 — is almost impossible to navigate without the support the welfare state provides.

Or consider the secular vote, which has been growing swiftly and tilts heavily toward Democrats. The liberal image of a non-churchgoing American is probably the “spiritual but not religious” seeker, or the bright young atheist reading Richard Dawkins. But the typical unchurched American is just as often an underemployed working-class man, whose secularism is less an intellectual choice than a symptom of his disconnection from community in general.

What unites all of these stories is the growing failure of America’s local associations — civic, familial, religious — to foster stability, encourage solidarity and make mobility possible.
Anyone who has read Russell Kirk knows what Ross is getting at. The spirit of voluntarism and independence that De Toqueville raved about 170+ years ago which he contrasted with the tired statist monarchies and emperors and czars of Europe---these virtues in America have been replaced by the same listless and yet self-assured convictions that the state will protect and defend its citizens---even those who would never go to church or have a nuclear family or even vote in municipal and state elections. The all-powerful Washington military=industrial socialism which flourished in Europe in the first half of the twentieth century seems to be their ideal---or some sort of socialism which protects them cradle to grave. Never mind that it's never REALLY worked in Europe, except in demographically tiny countries like Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Switzerland---even Norway has a huge energy sector which means it doesn't count. Douthat continues:
This is a crisis that the Republican Party often badly misunderstands, casting Democratic-leaning voters as lazy moochers or spoiled children seeking “gifts” (as a certain former Republican presidential nominee would have it) rather than recognizing the reality of their economic struggles.

But if conservatives don’t acknowledge the crisis’s economic component, liberalism often seems indifferent to its deeper social roots. The progressive bias toward the capital-F Future, the old left-wing suspicion of faith and domesticity, the fact that Democrats have benefited politically from these trends — all of this makes it easy for liberals to just celebrate the emerging America, to minimize the costs of disrupted families and hollowed-out communities, and to treat the places where Americans have traditionally found solidarity outside the state (like the churches threatened by the Obama White House’s contraceptive mandate) as irritants or threats.

This is a great flaw in the liberal vision, because whatever role government plays in prosperity, transfer payments are not a sufficient foundation for middle-class success. It’s not a coincidence that the economic era that many liberals pine for — the great, egalitarian post-World War II boom — was an era that social conservatives remember fondly as well: a time of leaping church attendance, rising marriage rates and birthrates, and widespread civic renewal and engagement.

No such renewal seems to be on the horizon. That isn’t a judgment on the Obama White House, necessarily. But it is a judgment on a certain kind of blithe liberal optimism, and the confidence with which many Democrats assume their newly emerged majority is a sign of progress rather than decline.
I was a Democrat for 25 years and learned after my family grew that the Democrats are philosophically hostile to the nuclear family. And to organized religion. And to any kind of self-help outside the federal government nexus. They don't advertise this, but their lurchings toward feminism and unchecked immigration and "gifts" such as unregulated dispensation of disabled benefits and food stamps and unemployment benefits without compensatory economic growth are self-defeating over the long run.

But as I learned working for the Democratic Party in two national campaigns and many state [WI, NE, CA, NY, IL, IN, MI] campaigns, their future depends on dreams rather than hard work and REAL education---not the silly social and psychological and other ridiculous study programs now graduating a collection of pedantic misfits.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Obama is a Political Jim Jones

Bernard Goldberg has a column about Obama as a Mesmerizer. The first commenter used the appropriate Jim Jones analogy. Read the real hold this Cafe-au-Lait P.O.S. has on the mesmerized masses of morons as put forward by Bernie, who is a voice of sanity among the wasted minds of the maniac media.

Incredible Saturday for College Football

Oregon & Kansas State both lost---the first time in living memory that both the number one and number two ranked teams in the country lost the same Saturday. Which leaves Notre Dame at number three and unbeaten---the only unbeaten BCS team in the country and a sure Number One tomorrow morning. However, the storied rivalry with USC happens in Pasadena next Saturday, and we'll see if ND's terrific defense can keep Matt Barkley from scoring a tremendous upset. If ND wins, odds-on it will be ND versus the Crimson Tide in the National Championship game.

And in my godforsaken Big Ten, my native Badgers lost AGAIN to Ohio State---my earliest memories in the fifties are the Badgers winning all their games with Alan Ameche, only to succumb to the Buckeyes. Same story sixty years later---with 2 minutes left in the Fourth Quarter, Montee Ball dived over the goal line with his hands holding the ball in front of him for the TD that would have given him the undisputed all-time record for TDs as a FSC school player---and had the ball punched out of his hands by a Buckeye linebacker. Same story with OSU since forever, the Badgers manage to lose in overtime.

Good thing the Packers wax Bengals' or Brown's asses whenever they play them...!! ;-)

Proust to a Proustolator Like Me

Joseph Epstein writes a review of a book called M. Proust's Library by Ms. Anka Muhlstein, whose authorship includes other books.
With "Monsieur Proust's Library," Anka Muhlstein has added another volume to the collection of splendid books about Proust. A woman of intellectual refinement, subtle understanding and deep literary culture, Ms. Muhlstein has written an excellent biography of Astolphe de Custine, the 19th-century French aristocrat who did for Russia what Alexis de Tocqueville did for the United States. Her previous book, "Balzac's Omelette," was a study of the place of food in that novelist's life and in his work. With "Monsieur Proust's Library," Anka Muhlstein has added another volume to the collection of splendid books about Proust. A woman of intellectual refinement, subtle understanding and deep literary culture, Ms. Muhlstein has written an excellent biography of Astolphe de Custine, the 19th-century French aristocrat who did for Russia what Alexis de Tocqueville did for the United States. Her previous book, "Balzac's Omelette," was a study of the place of food in that novelist's life and in his work.
I have about twenty [20] books about Proust in my personal library and have read about half of them, but I have the Pleiade edition of In Search of Lost Time, of which I have read all three volumes in French, though I admit to skipping about 50 pages of the one of "jeunes filles en flours" which I found too precious. I have also read several chapters of Custine's amazing book on Russia circa 1839. The brutish Czar Nicholas I didn't sound far off from the brutish Socialist Czar Stalin a century later. And Balzac is my favorite French writer aside from Proust---his splendeurs et miseres des courtisanes is at my bedside.

Indeed, Epstein's entire review is also a philosophical excursion about great writers. Here's a paragraph:
Masterworks also engender writing about them by superior people. Small books have been written about Proust's novel by François Mauriac, Samuel Beckett and Jean-François Revel. Other studies of the book have been done by the poets Howard Moss and Howard Nemerov and the critic Roger Shattuck. Full-length biographies of Proust have been written by George Painter, André Maurois, William C. Carter and Jean-Yves Tadié. Others have written books about photography and Proust; about painting and Proust; about his May 1922 dinner meeting with James Joyce, Igor Stravinsky and other of the great figures of Modernism; about his interest in but limited knowledge of English. There is even an excellent biography of Proust's mother, who played so important a role in his life. Proustolators, of whom I count myself one, do not want for excellent reading about their idol.
I've read the George Painter pair of biographies and tried to buy the Jean-Yves Tadié, which was gigantic, the last time I was in Paris.

Here's more of Epstein's philosophical musings on Proust's writings and Muhlstein's notes on little Marcel's reading lists:
As an asthmatic child, Proust read more than most children. Ms. Muhlstein recounts that, by the age of 15, he was already immersed in contemporary literature, having read the essays and novels of Anatole France and Pierre Loti, the poetry of Mallarmé and Leconte de Lisle, and a number of the novels of Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Dickens and George Eliot. Unlike Henry James, who referred to their works as "baggy monsters," Proust fully appreciated the great Russian novelists. He thought Tolstoy "a serene god," valuing especially his ability to generalize in the form of setting down laws about human nature. Ms. Muhlstein informs us that, for Proust, Dostoyevsky surpassed all other writers, and that he found "The Idiot" the most beautiful novel he had ever read. He admired Dostoyesky's skill with sudden twists in plot, providing the plausible surprises that propelled his novels.

In his 1905 essay "On Reading," a key document, Ms. Muhlstein notes, in Proust's freeing himself to write his great novel, he quoted Descartes: "The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the most cultivated of men of past centuries who have been their authors." Proust's examination of "the original psychological act called reading," that "noblest of distractions," holds that books are superior to conversation, which "dissipates immediately."
For me, The Brothers Karamazov and Anna Karenina are the two great poles between which all writers must gravitate towards---the Fox and the Hedgehog, if you will. The Fox knows a little about everything and the hedgehog knows one thing well. Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, if you will. But Marcel knew that one thing.
The one sentence in "Monsieur Proust's Library" with which I find myself in disagreement comes late, when Ms. Muhlstein, considering Proust's condemnation of the Goncourt brothers for their attacks on the morality of their contemporaries, writes: "For Proust literature had nothing to do with morality." Perhaps Ms. Muhlstein meant to write "conventional morality," because a reversal of that sentence—"For Proust literature had everything to do with morality"—is closer to the truth. No other modern author was more alive than he to the toll taken by snobbery, cruelty, brutishness; none so exalted kindness, loftiness of spirit, sweetness of character, the kind and generous heart. No great novelist has ever written oblivious to morality, and Marcel Proust is among the novelists in that small and blessed circle of the very greatest of the great.
I love reading the Goncourt brothers' arch and nasty stories about French writers, especially about the louche critics like Sainte-Beuve. But Marcel was a true gentleman, whose incredible stores of apercus are only exceeded by his kindness and gentility to all around him. Marcel didn't have a mean bone in his body.