This being a month with the letter "a" in it I am sure you will be taking another much-needed vacation soon. I note with interest that, along with the undersized girl's bike and sensible helmet, you have lately taken to bringing books as well. This is a welcome trend inasmuch as knowledge is power -- and your utterances of late have betrayed an energy crisis of an entirely different kind.
I am specifically referring to your many forays into history, economics and theology in your public pronouncements. These have some of us (primarily those who have studied history, economics and theology) scratching our heads like Inigo Montoya and muttering "I don't think that means what you think it means."
What I'm trying to say here is while you get full marks for reading books -- or at least carrying them around in plain sight for the cameras -- it is possible that your reading choices could benefit from a bit of a tweak. While I'm sure The Post American World by Fareed Zakaria is a stirring read, part of your job is to prove him wrong, and that probably won't happen if you are nodding and smiling at the bits where we are overtaken by China.
Accordingly, in the spirit of "better to light a candle than curse the darkness", and incidentally shore up a few areas where you might be a little behind the curve, herewith a few of my favorites for those lazy days when the bike has a flat tire and Michelle locks your golf-clubs in the closet.
Next: Remembering the Forgotten Man
7. The Forgotten Man -- Amity Shlaes
Your fondness for the New Deal as the paragon of successful government intervention is a matter of public record. In fact, in your very first press conference you expressed something approaching amused contempt for anyone who would doubt such a thing:
There are several who've suggested FDR was wrong to intervene in the New Deal. They're fighting battles I thought were resolved a pretty long time ago.
If the approach sounds familiar, it's because it's the same kind of peremptory dismissal others of your ilk have been using for years in defense of global warming. Substitute "settled history" for "settled science" and you pretty much arrive at the same place.
The thing is, outside the progressive echo-chamber it isn't settled, and all the repetition and eye-rolling in the world won't make it so.
Consider this opening passage from Amity Shlaes' marvelous The Forgotten Man.
ONE NOVEMBER EVENING LONG AGO in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, a thirteen-year-old named William Troeller hanged himself from the transom in his bedroom. The boy had watched his family slide into an increasingly desperate situation. The gas for their five-room apartment on Driggs Avenue had been shut off since April. His father, Harold, had lost his job at Brooklyn Edison after suffering a “rupture”—a worker’s hernia, probably. ... Harold told a newspaper reporter that his brother “was sensitive and always felt embarrassed” about asking for his share at mealtime. ... “He Was Reluctant about Asking for Food,” read the headline in the New York Times. New York that year had a Dickensian feel—an un-American feel.
The story sounds familiar. It is something like the descriptions we hear of the Great Crash of 1929. But in fact these events took place in the autumn of 1937. This was a depression within the Depression. It was occurring five years after Franklin Roosevelt was first elected, and four and a half years after Roosevelt introduced the New Deal. It was taking place eight years after President Herbert Hoover first made his own rescue plans following the 1929 stock market crash. Washington had already made thousands of efforts to help the economy, yet those efforts had not brought prosperity.
Unlike the stories you like to recount in support of one social engineering boondoggle or another this one is understated, accurate and verifiable. It also isn't the main argument, which in this case extends another 500 heavily footnoted pages. With extensive use of statistics and original sources Shlaes builds a compelling case that the New Deal was a disastrous exercise in central planning driven more by tinkering and trial-and-error -- mostly error -- than anything else. Originating in all but name with Hoover, not Roosevelt, the New Deal prolonged what should have been one more cyclical depression into the Great Depression.
The term "The Forgotten Man" which FDR appropriated for his own purposes actually originated with William Graham Sumner and had a decidedly different meaning than the one imposed upon it later:
As soon as A observes something which seems to him to be wrong, from which X is suffering, A talks it over with B, and A and B propose to get a law passed to remedy the evil and help X. Their law always proposes to determine that C shall do for X, or in the better case, what A, B and C shall do for X ... What I want to do is look up C. I want to show you what manner of man he is. I call him the Forgotten Man. Perhaps the appellation is not strictly correct. He is the man who never is thought of ...
He works, he votes, generally he prays--but he always pays ...
-- William Graham Sumner, Yale University, 1883
Inasmuch as you seem determined to take us there again, you might want to give this a read, with particular attention to the "votes" part of that above quote.
Amity Shlaes, The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression, Trade Paperback Edition. (Harper Perennial, 2008).
Next: If the New Deal was such a bad idea, why was it such a bad idea? Let's dig into some ECONOMICS!
6. Economics in One Lesson -- Henry Hazlitt
In more ways than are generally understood Mr. President you had an impoverished upbringing. For most of your young life and well into adulthood you couldn't have swung a medium sized cat without hitting a Marxist (not that there's anything wrong with that). Mom, dad, Uncle Frank, even your grandparents were all in that club. As such, it wasn't surprising that once you struck out on your own you sought company that would provide a little taste of home. Accordingly, while you probably learned 101 different ways to intellectualize that chip on your shoulder, and 101 more to legitimize your determination to get some payback, it's painfully obvious you didn't learn much about economics. This deficiency is made manifest with pretty much every public utterance you make.
Consider this exercise in finger wagging directed at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the least of whom arguably forgot more about the workings of a modern economy than you will probably ever know -- absent serious remedial education at any rate.
If we're fighting to reform the tax code and increase exports to help you compete, the benefits can't just translate into greater profits and bonuses for those at the top. They have to be shared by American workers, who need to know that expanding trade and opening markets will lift their standards of living as well as your bottom line.
-- President Obama's remarks at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Feb. 7, 2011
The stone-faced expressions in that terribly quiet room effectively masked what had to be a combination of dismay and incredulity that you actually have no clue what profits actually represent or what businesses do with them. Worse still, the larger context of this speech would have left them in no doubt that you have even less understanding of the complexity and interconnectedness of the system you are so eager to stick electric prods into.
Enter Henry Hazlitt, whose"Economics in One Lesson is an excellent primer in how free-market capitalism works, and by corollary, why government tinkering doesn't. Possibly anticipating a special needs reader such as yourself, he starts out very simply with the eponymous "one lesson":
The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.
One hypothetical example might be a government subsidy for trade-ins on purchases of new cars that was supposed to stimulate new automobile sales but didn't. What's worse, it created an artificial shortage of serviceable used cars, effectively denying people of modest means the inexpensive cars they had access to before all that government 'help' came along.
Similarly, when you imply that profits in and of themselves are somehow ill-gotten and must be diminished or redistributed for the "sake of the workers", you either don't understand the big picture or don't care to understand it.
On the off-chance the latter isn't true Hazlitt can help you out:
Suppose a clothing manufacturer learns of a machine that will make men’s and women’s overcoats for half as much labor as previously. He installs the machines and drops half his labor force. This looks at first glance like a clear loss of employment. But the machine itself required labor to make it; so here, as one offset, are jobs that would not otherwise have existed.
After the machine has produced economies sufficient to offset its cost, the clothing manufacturer has more profits than before. ... The manufacturer must use these extra profits in at least one of three ways, and possibly he will use part of them in all three: (1) he will use the extra profits to expand his operations by buying more machines to make more coats; or (2) he will invest the extra profits in some other industry; or (3) he will spend the extra profits on increasing his own consumption. Whichever of these three courses he takes, he will increase employment.
On the subject of those evil profits themselves, he is equally direct:
The function of profits, finally, is to put constant and unremitting pressure on the head of every competitive business to introduce further economies and efficiencies, no matter to what stage these may already have been brought. ... Contrary to a popular impression, profits are achieved not by raising prices, but by introducing economies and efficiencies that cut costs of production. ... The price charged by all firms for the same commodity or service must be the same; those who try to charge a higher price do not find buyers. Therefore the largest profits go to the firms that have achieved the lowest costs of production. ... It is thus that the consumer and the public are served.
Profits, in short, resulting from the relationships of costs to prices, not only tell us which goods it is most economical to make, but which are the most economical ways to make them.
Hazlitt has a great deal more to say about profits, as well as many other fundamentals of economics generally ignored by well-meaning (and not so well-meaning) people such as yourself in their single-minded pursuit of Utopia. His exposition of the "broken window" fallacy alone -- a kill shot for every make-work/stimulus/dig-a-hole-fill-a-hole economic argument ever made -- is worth the asking price.
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics (Three Rivers Press, 1988).
Next: When one lesson isn't enough. It's time for the BIG BOOK!
5. Basic Economics -- Thomas Sowell
Okay, now that you know what profit is, it's time to take your game to the next level. At 786 pages Thomas Sowell's (excuse me for a moment here while I take off my hat) Basic Economics is something of a door-stopper. It is also one the most -- if not the most -- lucid, comprehensive and eminently readable overviews of economics fundamentals you are ever likely to encounter.
Given who you have chosen to surround yourself with I'm hardly going out on a limb here.
I mean, has anyone in that gaggle of whiz-kids around you ever explained the economic facts of life to you as elegantly and persuasively as this?
Without scarcity, there is no need to economize—and therefore no economics. A distinguished British economist named Lionel Robbins gave the classic definition of economics:
"Economics is the study of the use of scarce resources which have alternative uses."
What does “scarce” mean? It means that what everybody wants adds up to more than there is. What this implies is that there are no easy “win-win” solutions but only serious and sometimes painful trade-offs. This may seem like a simple thing, but its implications are often grossly misunderstood, even by highly educated people.
One of those highly educated people is clearly you.
Using this recurring theme of using "scarce resources which have alternative uses" Sowell demonstrates how free markets invariably channel resources to their most valuable uses, using prices and profits as a constant feedback loop.
What is remarkable about a capitalist economy -- as he demonstrates -- is that this system of stupefying complexity was built and is maintained by millions of individuals, none of whom understand more than their microscopic share of it. They operate on nothing more than profit-motive constrained by competition. What is also remarkable is that this system, which would appear to be driven solely by self-interest, reliably creates a far greater amount of wealth and well-being for its citizens than collectivist systems explicitly dedicated to their common welfare.
Your takeaway here, Mr. President, though I don't expect you to embrace it, is the system you are trying to bring down is historically the most successful at improving the lot of the people you claim to care about. It is by no means perfect, and it will never be "fair" (since that term is entirely irrelevant to economics anyway) but it produces by far the best results. (The next book I am going to suggest provides powerful arguments as to how much worse the second-best option is, but don't you dare read ahead.)
It all goes wrong when people of varying honesty and good-will decide to grab the controls in the name of "social justice" ,"equality" or whatever other buzz words are in vogue in the salons at the time. The fatal conceit here is that any group of central planners, no matter how bright and talented, can possibly understand every aspect of a modern economy, much less react to changes within it in a timely fashion.
When economic decisions are taken out of the hands of individuals operating in a market and put into the hands of experts on planning commissions and the like, this may be thought of as a transfer of decision-making power from those with less knowledge to those with more knowledge but it is far more likely to be a transfer of decision-making power to experts with less knowledge and more presumptions. The poor track record of central planning, which caused many nations to abandon it by the late twentieth century, is understandable in terms of the inherent difficulty of amassing the kind of knowledge that would have been required to make it work.
This was played out in endlessly in the old Soviet Union where artificially high prices resulted in products rotting in warehouses. At the same time artificially low prices created the shortages and serpentine waiting lines that became emblematic of the communist economy. All of this was the handiwork of central planners who had to keep track of 24 million prices.
Our attempts to out-Soviet the Soviets has included subsidies to grossly inefficient and uneconomical solutions such as ethanol, solar and wind power while inflicting punitive taxation and regulation on economic winners such as the nuclear and petroleum industries. It is somewhat more subtle than outright nationalization and central committees but the net effect is the same.
Sowell described it thus:
People who want special taxes or subsidies for particular things seem not to understand that what they are really asking for is for the prices to misstate the relative scarcities of things and the relative values that the users of these things put on them.
Denying reality is no way to go through life, since in this case it tends to bite you back with high food and oil prices -- the logical consequence of fueling our cars with corn and ceding oil drilling to China and Venezuela.
I would recommend buying two copies of this book and giving one to Geitner. If he says he has already read it tell him to pay attention this time.
Thomas Sowell, Basic Economics 4th Ed: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy, Fourth Edition. (Basic Books, 2010).
Next: Socialists mean well, so how bad could it possibly get?
4. The Road to Serfdom -- F.A. Hayek
It is now often said that democracy will not tolerate “capitalism.” If “capitalism” means here a competitive system based on free disposal over private property, it is far more important to realize that only within this system is democracy possible. When it becomes dominated by a collectivist creed, democracy will inevitably destroy itself.
There is no justification for the belief that, so long as power is conferred by democratic procedure, it cannot be arbitrary; the contrast suggested by this statement is altogether false: it is not the source but the limitation of power which prevents it from being arbitrary. Democratic control may prevent power from becoming arbitrary, but it does not do so by its mere existence. If democracy resolves on a task which necessarily involves the use of power which cannot be guided by fixed rules, it must become arbitrary power.
Mr. President, we have now looked at three books which each in their own way make powerful arguments that socialism doesn't work. In fact, it has failed everywhere it has been tried and will reliably fail in every future attempt with something approaching mathematical certainty. What disturbs many of us is not so much that it fails, but what it turns into after it has failed, which more often than not involves guns, loudspeakers and at least one guy with a title like "Great Leader".
Again, it is possible that you believe 1,543 is a charm and it will all turn out differently this time. It won't, and we do you no favors, to say nothing of ourselves, by allowing you to persist in this delusion.
There is perhaps no more powerful and persuasive work on the intellectual bankruptcy of socialism and its inevitable descent into some form of totalitarianism than F.A. Hayek's The Road to Serfdom. It is a measure of its power and influence in fact that many of your compatriots single it out for contempt and abuse to this very day.
One typical criticism was that he exaggerated the corrosive effects of socialism. What about western Europe, they asked, that had embraced a kinder, gentler form of socialism and had suffered none of the dire effects he described? Hayek's basic response was "it's early". The fact that the Greeks are now setting their own policemen on fire, to cite but one example, would seem to bear him out on this. In fact, this quote below could have been used as a crawl underneath the footage of any of the riots that have afflicted Europe of late.
These difficulties need not lead to open clashes so long as socialism is merely the aspiration of a limited and fairly homogeneous group. They come to the surface only when a socialist policy is actually attempted with the support of the many different groups which together compose the majority of a people. Then it soon becomes the one burning question which of the different sets of ideals shall be imposed upon all by making the whole resources of the country serve it.
Economic power is ultimate power. Hilaire Belloc puts it most succinctly:
The control of the production of wealth is the control of human life itself.
Once this power is arrogated to any group of central planners, no matter how initially enlightened and well-meaning, economic failure ensues. This failure is always followed by the necessity of propping up "The Plan" through increasing control and coercion, making matters even worse.
We must here return for a moment to the position which precedes the suppression of democratic institutions and the creation of a totalitarian regime. In this stage it is the general demand for quick and determined government action that is the dominating element in the situation, dissatisfaction with the slow and cumbersome course of democratic procedure which makes action for action’s sake the goal. It is then the man or the party who seems strong and resolute enough “to get things done” who exercises the greatest appeal. “Strong” in this sense means not merely a numerical majority—it is the ineffectiveness of parliamentary majorities with which people are dissatisfied. What they will seek is somebody with such solid support as to inspire confidence that he can carry out whatever he wants. It is here that the new type of party, organized on military lines, comes in.
In first principles and final outcomes the differences between Communism and Fascism are thus largely academic.
The conflict between the Fascist or National Socialist and the older socialist parties must, indeed, very largely be regarded as the kind of conflict which is bound to arise between rival socialist factions. There was no difference between them about the question of its being the will of the state which should assign to each person his proper place in society. But there were, as there always will be, most profound differences about what are the proper places of the different classes and groups.
Now, it could be, that you fully appreciate the end game of socialism and are actively pursuing it -- in which case the subtext here should be "we're onto you." It could however be that you are one of the majority of the Left who really haven't thought this through or, more accurately, have willed themselves not to think it through.
As Hayek describes below:
The effect of the people’s agreeing that there must be central planning, without agreeing on the ends, will be rather as if a group of people were to commit themselves to take a journey together without agreeing where they want to go: with the result that they may all have to make a journey which most of them do not want at all.
If in fact you are one of those folks, I defy you to read this book with an open mind and not come away with profound second thoughts about the wisdom of riding this particular train.
F. A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom: Text and Documents--The Definitive Edition (University Of Chicago Press, 2007).
Next: While we're on the subject of Fascism ...
3. The Complete Infidel's Guide to the Koran -- Robert Spencer
For the record, Mr. President I don't think you're not a follower of Islam; if for no other reason than you don't seem to know very much about it. Now, as Robert Spencer explains in The Complete Infidel's Guide to the Koran that's not as unique even among believers. The words of the Koran and its supporting texts (the Hadith) are only considered authoritative in the original Arabic so non-Arab Muslims typically recite verses and prayers they don't understand. If anything though they have the advantage over you because at least they know they're taking somebody's word for it.
Spencer's book is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in what the Koran actually says, the role and importance of supporting texts, and the accepted theological resolutions for passages that often contradict each other. This latter element is especially important when, as you actually are wont to do, someone produces an isolated verse to prove the Koran counsels peace or tolerance. The principle of abrogation generally holds that later passages supersede earlier ones (to further muddy the waters this isn't necessarily in terms of where they occur in the book, which is not in chronological order).
Generally Muslim theologians follow the practice of Ibn Ishaq: they regard the Medinian suras -- which constitute the bulk of Koranic teaching on warfare against believers [and incidentally most of Shari'a] -- as taking precedence over the earlier Meccan ones. This effectively enshrines the validity of the Koran's most bellicose and supremacist injunctions.
It is unfortunate that you did not avail yourself of Spencer's book before charging off to make the Muslim waters recede in your Cairo speech, which demonstrated to at least two large groups, Muslims and historians, that you knew nothing about Islam or the history of western conflicts with it.
I know, too, that Islam has always been a part of America's story. The first nation to recognize my country was Morocco. In signing the Treaty of Tripoli in 1796, our second President John Adams wrote, "The United States has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Muslims."
After which Jefferson, tired of paying tribute to the Barbary Muslim pirates fought and won a war against them, from which the Marine Corps gets that "shores of Tripoli" line in its song, right? You have political boilerplate issued on the signing of a treaty, we have Jefferson, the war and the Marine Corps. So, your point?
There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground. As the Holy Koran tells us, "Be conscious of God and speak always the truth." That is what I will try to do – to speak the truth as best I can, humbled by the task before us, and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart.
The problem here that Spencer and others have pointed out is that this verse is actually a prelude to Muhammad scolding some of his followers to help him fight unbelievers. I can imagine that's possibly not the "oil on troubled waters" effect you were looking for.
The rest of that passage reads in part:
It is not for the townsfolk of Al-Madinah and for those around them of the wandering Arabs to stay behind the messenger of Allah and prefer their lives to his life. ... O ye who believe! Fight those of the disbelievers who are near to you, and let them find harshness in you, and know that Allah is with those who keep their duty (unto Him). -- 9:120-123
Spencer points out a curious delusion that prompts these spasms of wishful thinking:
U.S. officials seem to believe if they act as if Islam is a religion of peace and the Koran is a book of peace, Muslims will feel themselves compelled to behave accordingly.
An extreme example of this bizarre assumption can in President Obama's heralded speech to the Islamic world in Cairo in 2009. Obama was extremely anxious to appear sympathetic and accommodating to Muslim grievances — so much so that he not only quoted the Koran (and did so ham-handedly and out of context, as we have seen) but also signaled in several ways, whether by ignorance or by design, that he was Muslim himself.
For example, Obama extended "a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my community: assalaamu alaykum" -- that is, peace be upon you. According to Islamic law, however, this is the greeting that a Muslim extends to a fellow Muslim. ... Islamic law is silent about what Muslims must do when naive, non-Muslim, Islamophilic presidents offer the greeting to Muslims. Obama also said the words that Muslims traditionally utter after mentioning the names of prophets -- "peace upon them" -- after mentioning Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. Does he then accept Muhammad as a prophet? No reporter has asked him, but that was decidedly the impression he gave, intentionally or not, to the Islamic world.
The people in charge in the Middle East know (if they had any doubts previously) that through either naivete or willful blindness you don't understand Islam and aren't interested in understanding it either. To such people this is a big fat green light to press their advantage, not that we've seen any evidence of that of late. Flipping through this book might be a good first start in turning that around.
Robert Spencer, The Complete Infidel's Guide to the Koran (Regnery Publishing, 2009).
Next: It's all about you baby!
2. Radical-in-Chief -- Stanley Kurtz
One of my fondest hopes is that Stanley Kurtz will never become an IRS auditor and I will never find myself staring across a desk at him trying to explain those undisclosed assets I thought were safely buried in a jar in Greenland.
I am sure Mr. President your fondest hope must have been that he would take the hint to back off looking into your past after his research efforts met unexpected roadblocks and after the piranhas of the media swarmed him like a severed limb.
Unhappily for you anyway it only appears to have steeled his resolve. The result is a masterpiece, written in careful, meticulous (some would say painful) detail that documents the cat's cradle of relationships with socialist individuals and organizations that characterized every step of your ascendancy from student to community organizer to president.
More importantly Kurtz makes a compelling case that from the early 1980's onwards your own evolution and the metamorphosis of the Left were inextricably intertwined. It explains, as no other theory has adequately explained, why you became a community organizer in the first place.
The socialist community organizers who inspired and trained Obama openly embraced American democracy. Although they admired Marx, Lenin, and Mao—along with Obama’s idol, Saul Alinsky—in the medium term, at least, these organizers surrendered their revolutionary hopes and abandoned authoritarian ways. Some retained a soft spot for Third World Communist regimes in Cuba and Latin America. And surely the program favored by Obama’s organizing mentors could be seen as a subtle—and sometimes not so subtle—assault on traditional American freedoms. Yet this new stealth socialism, which Obama studied and absorbed as a community organizer in Chicago, became more sophisticated and transformed itself into the policies he is now enacting as president. ... The president has systematically disguised the truth about his socialist convictions, sometimes by directly misrepresenting his past and sometimes by omitting or parceling out damaging information to disguise its real importance. Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, and ACORN—all of Obama’s well-known radical ties are entry points into the much larger and still unknown socialist world where Obama’s career was nurtured.
As I alluded to above, this is a heavy read, only because Kurtz has a researcher's zeal for detail and exhaustive references. One can easily imagine that one of his motives for the elaborate t-crossing was to preempt any suggestion that this was just one more hyper-partisan screed playing fast and loose with the facts. The complete lack of sensationalism makes it all the more powerful.
I recommend this one, not so much as a walk down memory lane as a reminder that even the best kept secrets have a much shorter shelf-life than most people imagine. You might want to ruminate on this, with possible reference to Lincoln's observations about fooling all of the people all of the time.
Stanley Kurtz, Radical-in-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism (Threshold Editions, 2010).
Next: Sorry about your dad, but why does the whole country have to suffer?
1. The Roots of Obama's Rage -- Dinesh D'Souza
There is something deeply Freudian about this, and even Shakespearean. Obama never knew his father, who abandoned his mother and him shortly after he was born, and whom he met only once when he was a young boy. Even so, Obama identified more with his father than anyone else, and he undertook an intense psychological and ultimately actual journey to Africa in order to discover his dad and in the process to find himself. Unable to find his father, he did the next best thing: he embraced his father’s ideals and decided to live out the script of his father’s unfulfilled life. Obama ultimately recognized that his father was not the great romantic figure he had long envisioned him to be. But Obama concluded that despite his flaws, his father had great vision, great ideals, a great plan of reform. Since Obama Sr. was unable to achieve those ideals, Obama Jr. figured he would undertake this heroic mission. In changing the world into the image of his father, he would complete the task that his father couldn’t, and thus he would become worthy of his father, a real African and a real man.
Just so you don't think I am fixated on the socialist thing, let's conclude with a book by Dinesh D'Souza that takes an entirely different tack, identifying the prime motive in your life as not socialism at all but anti-colonialism fueled by the psychological dynamic described above.
I actually believe D'Souza uses an artificially narrow definition of socialism (the European version for instance is dismissed as "state capitalism") , to make a distinction that is ultimately unnecessary to his argument in any event. Socialism and anti-colonialism are by no means mutually exclusive (Obama's Marxist father being a prime example). Besides, the history of modern Africa is littered with movements and political figures who have embraced both more or less seamlessly (a point D'Souza himself makes later on in the book).
This is, however, more of a quibble than a serious objection. Although, as I have written before, others have made similar observations before there is no question that D'Souza is mining this subject more deeply and thoroughly than anyone before him.
After carefully laying out the five tenets of anti-colonialism:
 ... that empires are produced by murderous conquest and sustained by unceasing terror and violence.
 ... colonial regimes are racist—they systematically produce the dehumanization of the colonized.
 ... colonialism is a system of piracy in which the wealth of the colonized countries is systematically stolen by the colonizers.
 ... colonial powers have a new leader: the United States.
 ...there is no end to this system of injustice without getting the colonizers out.
D'Souza applies it as a working hypothesis to explain decisions and behaviors that have hitherto defied analysis or yielded only partially plausible answers. This is particularly pronounced in the area of foreign relations -- think anything to do with England for instance.
This is a fascinating and persuasive read by one of conservatism's best writers and thinkers. Small minds (many of them your fans) have dismissed it as closet racism -- by a person of color no less -- which, as we say on this side of the fence, is Libberish for "Help, help, we can't break his logic!"
Mr. President, I frankly see a self-help opportunity here. If in fact you are fighting your own personal demons -- and Dinesh sold me -- you need to remember the three hundred million people you have put in the cross-fire. Please stop doing things we will all be sorry for later.
Dinesh D'Souza, The Roots of Obama's Rage (Regnery Publishing, 2010).
So Mr. President, enjoy your time off. I hope my suggestions have been helpful. Just to summarize the gist of my recommendations:
- Roosevelt was wrong. The New Deal was a disaster. Please don't use it as a template.
- Economics is worth understanding, especially if you have the power to sandbag whole industries with the stroke of a pen.
- Socialism works well until it doesn't. When it doesn't ... guns, loudspeakers, "Great Leader"
- Islam is many things but warm and fuzzy isn't one of them, and it's best you look into that sooner than later. Otherwise .. guns, loudspeakers, "Great Prophet"
- Your socialist background is an open book -- literally. The days of stealth and misdirection are numbered. You might as well start retooling now.
- Sorry about your dad but you have a country to run. Get help.
I know you're a quick study so please let me know when you are finished with these books and I'll suggest others.
For what it's worth many of us are working overtime to ensure you will have all the time you need to catch up on your reading after 2012.
All the best,