Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ron Paul supporters meet boss politics at GOP convention

This article shows how the GOP power elite simply rolled over its rules and pushed aside Ron Paul supporters.

Welcome to Mayor Richard Daley, Sr.'s world, Ron Paul supporters.

I laughed sadly at this:

At the heart of the conflict was a decision by RNC officials to change the rules regarding primaries. The intention was to neutralize Paul backers’ tactic of taking over delegates won by other candidates by controlling otherwise sleepy state conventions and caucuses. In a related fight, the RNC’s decision not to seat the delegation of Paul supporters from Maine who were chosen in such a fashion sparked an ugly standoff on the convention floor.

Simmering tensions finally boiled over as Paul supporters screamed, “point of order” in unison as the RNC announced the approval of a seating process that excluded Paul’s Maine delegation. Romney supporters tried in vain to drown them out with chants of “USA!” but the boos continued unabated.

“Weak candidate! Weeeaaak!” a lone Paul supporter shouted from the stands.

Later when Speaker John Boehner called a voice vote on the new rules process, Paul supporters’ “nays” loudly bested the “ayes.” Boehner nonetheless sided with the ayes, provoking the crowd’s ire yet again.

“It was a hostile motion by the RNC and to some extent the Romney campaign,” Cody Morgan, one of the ousted Paul delegates from Maine, told TPM. He accused Romney supporters of trying to call the sergeant at arms to remove “boisterous” Paul delegates during their shouting match.

The truth is that the Ron Paul folks were cleverly using the rules during and after primaries, and the GOP powers that be simply rolled over them at the convention.

This story from the AP was interesting because it buried the real lead, which was the lack of enthusiasm for the nominee, Romney, and turned the truth on its head by blaming the victims, the Ron Paul supporters, for what happened today and this evening. The AP is a classic supporter of the top 1% and the Empire. They did their jobs on behalf of the 1% and the Empire with the structure and headline for that article...

Ron Paul supporters should be supporting Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party. They should not take part in the charade of the Republican Party, which re-affirmed its hostility toward women having sexual relations and against homosexuals.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Review of Book Reviews Returns...For a Moment at Least

1. The New York Times Book Review has a few articles on higher education, and at least one is worth reading. Andrew Delbanco, a professor at Columbia, wisely castigates a newer version of Allan Bloom's "Closing of the American Mind."

I sense Delbanco is aware of Martha Nussbaum's brilliant disposing of the silly Bloom book, in her essay, "Undemocratic Vistas," in the November 5, 1987 issue of the New York Review of Books. She attacked Bloom on his claimed area of expertise, and showed how his ignorance of his own subject matter of antiquity infected his unbalanced and ultimately ridiculous worldview regarding the then-present late 20th Century.

Regardless, there is a silliness that still exists in too many literature departments across the nation and Delbanco gives a tip of the hat to the author, Bruce Bawer, for noting it.

A question arises for me when reading this review: Would I like to enter that literature academy? Yes, I definitely would. But a few months ago, when I posed the question to a local university literature department graduate studies professor how I may enter that academy, she informed me I am no better in her or their eyes than a 22 year old with a BA, and that I would have to go through a lengthy Masters' and then PhD program. My life experience, my JD in law, my critically acclaimed novel, written endorsements of my teaching abilities I have received from top teachers and former students from Mock Trial days who have become highly successful, meant absolutely nothing. I must crawl through the broken glass of the literature academy, and the broken glass through which I have crawled counts for nothing. I must say I was not asking for a complete or even near complete pass. I was wondering whether it was necessary to take each and every course in the preparation of a masters' degree, or whether there might not be some sort of tribunal early on to see just where I fit in to the process. In short, I was asking, is there a way to see if I am actually 24, as opposed to 22 again? The response was swift and final: No dice. I had approached another university in our area a few years ago and was met with the same response. I thought I'd try again, now that my book has been republished, but it appears the credential process is more calcified than ever.

Oh well...On to other topics...

2. Here is a smart review of a new book that posits that the intangibles of grit and self-confidence can be more important than a high IQ score. Not very surprising in the conclusion, but it is surprising for the usual discourse on this subject. It has deep political implications for pundits on both the left and right, but Annie Murphy Paul writes her review with a delicacy, poignancy and insight that is itself worth noting, and worth reading. I would have loved a slightly longer review to see how we who are closer to the middle are faring with our children. I am proud of my son's achievements in school, but there was a lot of heartache and arguments along the way, and I wonder whether my wife and I coddled him too much, or not enough. He is starting his first week of college tomorrow and it is of great interest and concern for me at least (my wife is more sanguine) whether he will master the time-management skills required in completing assignments throughout the semester. In other words, the intangibles that Paul's review is discussing.

3. This is a fascinating review because the writer likes Molly Ringwald, and wants her to succeed in whatever she does. He likes parts of Ringwald's first published novel in short stories, and recognizes the limitations of her writing as well.

My daughter and I saw Ringwald at the American Library Assn. convention in Los Angeles in June, and my daughter said, "Who?" when I mentioned who it was. As a fourteen year old who had just completed middle school, my daughter then emitted that sort of sigh of "She's old. Who cares?" However, we both wondered and I marveled at how Ringwald was dressed in a sexy dress that revealed most of her breasts. I asked my daughter, "What do you think of her outfit?" and she said, "I don't get why she would dress that way. Does she want people to look at her top or read her book?" I answered, "Maybe she is afraid they won't like her book." "Probably..." my daughter said, and began to walk off in search of a young author who wrote some fantasy book that interested her. Enough with old people is what she was telling me. Of course, to my daughter, I am not old, but ancient, but she deals with me since I'm her Dad.

4. The letters section of the NY Times Book Review is sometimes outstanding. This week's is certainly so. A reviewer of a book on science and philosophy posited that the first time someone asked about non-being was Leibniz in the early 18th Century. Three letter writers gave similar, yet distinct critical responses to the reviewer's specific assertion, and were each quite convincing about it.

As the Times forecloses me from other articles--I'm too cheap to pay--I rush off to The Washington Post's book review section, formerly known as Book World.

5. I loved Jonathan Yardley's review of Robert Sullivan's new travelogue historiography of the American Revolution because it explains the book and allows me to disagree with Yardley at the same time. I think Sullivan's book is trivial and a bit too snarky for my tastes. It is better to read Ray Raphael's works on the American Revolution, for example, if one wishes to have an unconventional read that informs our time today.

6. This is a brilliant capsule review of a book that should have been a novel rather than an investigative journalist's report. Reviewer Lisa Bonos sees very clearly the limits of the investigative journalist's book as she wanted to live the suspense the author had in investigating the story. Heck, it could have been written like Maugham's "Razor's Edge" where the author plants herself or himself into the first page of the story, and narrates the tale.

7. Finally, this review left me wanting more in a way that disappointed me. The reviewer of "The Great Railroad War" did not provide enough detail about the railroad corruption of the mid to late 19th Century, as he appears to believe we would be bored by its banality. It is in fact in the details that we can learn to spot the historical patterns in what has recently happened with our real estate lender-grifters, banksters, and financial evil geniuses--and ask again why we would think not regulating these various aspects of capitalist pursuit is a good idea. Why the greed exhibited by Samuel Huntington did not occur at that level of ridiculousness during the period of the late 1930s through the late 1970s, and why that sort of greed occurred in the time of Reagan through Clinton through Bush II is something lost in our discourse. It is, as I have said in the past, an inability to articulate a controlled outrage at capitalism and a loss of the language of socialism. The details are how we begin to express ourselves in a manner that may help lead us out of the current morass of obfuscation, easy cynicism and general hopelessness.

Knowing even more details might have better informed the reviewer of Stiglitz's recent book on the dangers of inequality in our society. Dante Chinni, the reviewer, has that same limited vision in not being able to see how or why non professional workers can be protected through a change in public policy, and that the trade treaties our nation's leaders approved did not have to be structured in the way they were structured.

As I said before, Oh well...

Or should I just sing, "Oh well, we'll catch up--some other time"?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Look! My Book is in a Nook!

Indeed, it is. Thank you at long, long last Barnes & Noble, and for my publisher, iBooks/Brick Tower for fighting the battle for the Nook.

My book is now out in soft cover, Kindle and Nook.

That gives me a wonderful feeling after coming back from dropping my son off at Case Western Reserve University, I must say. It dulls the emptiness I admit I felt as a parent after I said goodbye, and see ya in December...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I can't believe I missed this guy...

Fascinating article by J. Hoberman about Wallace Markfield.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Redistribution of wealth to workers from corporate executives saves Social Security

Dean Baker explains something that is really not well understood. If we had increased wage growth, it would do a lot to lower the projected shortfall twenty five years from now in Social Security.

Workers pay more in payroll taxes than rich folks who rely for most of their income in investments, which are not part of the payroll tax.

Put a lot of money in workers' hands and more payroll taxes roll into Social Security, and for that matter, Medicare.

It is also true that if the GDP grows, then Social Security's projected shortfall in 2037 also is lessened. If GDP grew as it did during the 1960s and 1970s, then the shortfall would disappear in its entirety.

This is all why attacking Social Security or wanting to "reform" it is looking through the telescope from the wrong end. The problem of a projected shortfall with Social Security is a symptom of the larger economic decline of the middle class. However, the way it is discussed in broadcast corporate media is that it is a cause of decline of the American middle class.

The saga of Pussy Riot and the momentum of dissidence in modern Russia

The story of a punk rock group of female musicians who walked into a church in Russia and dared to sing a religious tinged protest anthem, and were arrested and tried for acts of criminal misconduct (possibly appropriate under strict trespass and other related laws, though the larger category of hooliganism is itself an engine for repression) is a fascinating one. Wikipedia provides a short backgrounder in the previous link.

Here is the closing statement of what is probably the lead member of the group in the criminal trial just ending.

The story of the band Pussy Riot has elements enunciated in Frank Zappa's neglected classic, "Joe's Garage," which posits a rock band standing up to oppressive governmental and corporate backed authority. It was Zappa at his most libertarian, and while there are of course limits there, and of course Zappa's male dominated mind set, it is interesting to juxtapose this very intelligent and caring Russian woman's plea for balance and justice with the Zappa opera.

And of course, there is another analogy that also has Zappa connections, which is the Czechoslovakian dissident band from the late 1960s through 1980s, the Plastic People of the Universe. See here for the Wiki entry and here for an example of their music.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Romney doubles down on Ayn Rand cultism in the Republican Party

Galtian overlords are likely rejoicing that Romney has chosen Paul Ryan (John Galt-WI) to be his vice presidential running mate.

Romney is doubling down on the perceived selfish and anti-communitarian elitism with which he is being more properly than not identified.

Nonetheless, there is an air of desperation in this move, as Romney works to shore up the I-hate-government and anti-abortion crowds at the risk of losing elderly Floridians, not merely Jewish elderly, who will rightly be concerned at the prospect of a vice president who deeply wants to undermine, actually wound Medicare and Social Security. Ryan is likely therefore to cost votes in Florida. He is likely a push in Ohio, but not much more. However, Ryan helps in at least two states that are close, Colorado and New Hampshire, and possibly Nevada.

Plus, Ryan has the added negative of potentially becoming a divisive lightning rod that simultaneously highlights Romney's lack of charisma and overshadows Romney's previously planned message of confusing people as to whether he is a centrist in disguise or an ardent ideological right winger.

Outside of the Rasmussen polling data, which has been skewing right and unreliable for several years, Obama often appears to be barely ahead in the popular vote, but very much ahead in the electoral college vote.*

While I am maintaining that I will likely vote for Jill Stein of the Green Party for president this November, if I see a rush of libertarians deserting the decent and truly libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson, I may have to rethink my personal strategy.

Sad, my vote really doesn't count, and our republic is more of a sham controlled by financial interests than at any time since the 1880s, even more than the 1920s. Corporate broadcast media has a stranglehold on the structure of our discourse, and union and socialist sensibilities are nowhere to be seen in broadcast media--except indirectly in political humor on Comedy Central and HBO, in cartoons such as "The Simpsons" or "Family Guy," or on HBO's "The Newsroom." These programs are the functional equivalent to the late Soviet Union's samizdat.

* The poll tracker at Talking Points Memo, which is where we have linked, states as of this morning, based upon trends of last week, that Obama is up nearly 6% over Romney in the popular vote. The electoral college, however, shows Obama with over 300 electoral college votes, with 270 being the margin needed for victory.


ADDENDUM: 5:45 p.m. PT: A libertarian friend reminds me that Ryan is very statist when it comes to undocumented workers, the Patriot Act, other civil liberties issues, wars, and even once voted to uphold Davis-Bacon, a labor law. Pretty statist, though with the exception of the one Davis-Bacon vote, quite consistent with a pro-corporate stance. As I say, let's see if the libertarians around the nation rally around Ryan or not.

ADDENDUM: 8/12/12: Glenn Greenwald expands on the Paul Ryan as corporate fascist, not merely an Ayn Rand cultist. However, as Corey Robin would recognize, when a society implements Ayn Rand's solutions, it doesn't take long for rich people to hire one half of the working class to oppress the other half, in other words, big government in the form of government or private police apparatuses.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Robert Hughes...Interesting people dropping like flies

I missed this: Robert Hughes has died.

I loved "The Shock of the New." It was witty, acerbic, brilliant. And so was Hughes.

Hughes' take down of Andy Warhol in the NY Review of Books was a classic. Hughes knew how to smash the phoniness in the art world without being anti-intellectual. That was a rare gift in the world of artists and art critics.

He is already missed.

Sherrod Brown: One of the good guys who deserves support from regular folks across the nation

This article in Newsweek shows how far the pernicious reach of corporate propaganda and money influence has extended. The money is making a race where there should not even be a race. Sherrod Brown is one of the best people in the Senate and Congress. He is earnest, knowledgeable and recognizes that public policy exists to help regular folks.

I just gave a donation to Brown's reelection campaign, partly in honor of my son starting to attend Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. It is a great school, as seen by this latest research finding regarding a cancer gene.

The Republican against whom Brown is running is probably a decent fellow somewhere deep inside, and I found this article earlier this year from The Jewish Forward to be interesting. I expect my son will meet the Republican challenger's wife at some point at the Hillel on the CWR campus. I get a kick out of the fact that her family is so prolific. Her cousins are Michael Ratner, who can make me look...conservative, and Ellen Ratner, a political commentator who is somewhat liberal (not sure whether to forgive her for being a commentator on FoxNews...). And heck, the other cousin is Bruce Ratner, who is minority owner of the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets basketball team. As I say, prolific family.

Still, it's Sherrod we've got to protect here. He is one of the few good guys on Capitol Hill and he stands foursquare for American workers and their families. There is really nobody better than Sherrod in Washington, DC today.

Unlike Obama, Sherrod is worth throwing coins to in order to stand up to corporate power that is smothering our nation.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Thinking about I.F. Stone...

Here is a video of I.F. Stone from the early to mid-1970s.

Fascinating to watch nearly 40 years later....

Labor intellectual Gus Tyler's review of "Free to Choose"

Dissent has (finally!) reprinted on the Internet Gus Tyler's critique of Milton & Rose Friedman's "Free to Choose."

Read it here.

I hope one day The New Leader magazine or someone for them would reprint Tyler's take on the Smoot-Hawley Tariff and the Great Depression....

What is going on at the top levels of Chinese leadership?

There is an almost classic mixture of personal feuds, murder and corruption going on with the Chinese political elite.

Not much of a surprise, but the failure of the corporate media to cover this with the intelligence of Perry Link's article in the NY Review of Books is a disservice to Americans seeking an explanation and discussion of the events.

I was initially prepared to believe the fella's wife was guilty of murder, and still am. I was also prepared to believe her husband was being made a scapegoat for his wife's conduct in order to undermine the fella's populism, as he was known as the guy who was pushing for increasing wages of workers in China. I am less sure now, and wondering whether he is corrupt in that sort of Adam Clayton Powell way...though on a much larger scale than Powell.

An article like this is very helpful and provides a basis to evaluate and analyze further information as it comes across the Internet and newspapers.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Gore Vidal: A friend and supporter of the ideals of Eleanor Roosevelt, not Jefferson

There seems to be a growing group of pundits who are saying the late Gore Vidal was a Jeffersonian in a broad sense.

This is wrong.

Vidal was a dear friend and supporter of Eleanor Roosevelt and her public policy prescriptions. Vidal heartily endorsed the New Deal domestic programs from the 1950s forward. Vidal supported Medicare for All, government reinvestment in infrastructure and labor law reforms that would reinvigorate labor unions in our nation. This makes Vidal more akin to Alexander Hamilton than Jefferson in terms of public policy. Also, Vidal supported civil rights laws, which puts him definitely at odds with the slaveholding Jefferson.

It is not to say Vidal did not admire Jefferson. He did. Vidal definitely saw merit in quoting Jefferson with regard to civil liberties, though he'd be the first to note Jefferson's unfair use of government against his enemies, including one Aaron Burr.

What Michael Lind in Salon.com is missing is Vidal admired all of the Founders, though he wondered about Washington's intellect, I must admit (Too bad Vidal had not read Ron Chernow's great bio of Washington, which is the best I've read on our first president). Vidal recognized their human traits, their frailties, their duplicitousness and egos, and gave us a nuanced view of the Founders that now informs historians.

And then there are the mean spirited obits, with the most surprising one from someone I ordinarily like, Professor David Greenberg of my alma mater, Rutgers U, who writes for Slate.com. He slanders Vidal as an anti-Semite, misinterprets the Nation article that attacked Norman Podhoretz and the homophobe Midge Decter (Poddy's wife), and never once reveals that Vidal is now being buried next to a Jewish guy with whom he shared his life for over four decades. And he misreads Vidal's point, written during the twilight of the Cold War, about Russia and the US finding commonality against the rise of China. It is a calumny that should not stand--and I commented on it at Salon.com where the article appeared.

My sense is that Greenberg did not like Vidal's phrase "scholar-squirrel" and sought to bury Vidal rather than praise him...So like a scholar-squirrel...

Oh, my obit on Vidal is here.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Larry Lessig calls for constitutional convention...

Larry Lessig is so properly sick of the money corruption in our national government, and how it undermines our public policy making (and even our discourse), he has embraced the solution Gore Vidal began calling for way back in the 1970s: A Constitutional Convention.

Not sure how we get there, but heck, sign me up.

This is first thing Gore Vidal is missing. He'd have been very happy to sign up, too. In fact, he'd say to Lessig: Welcome aboard, young man.

Gore Vidal: 1925-2012

Gore Vidal was the greatest American essayist of the 20th Century. He was also one of the greatest and most influential historians of the past 100 years.

He died yesterday and it is important we note his achievement upon his passing. (NOTE: Elaine Woo, of the LA Times, is the best obit writer I've seen and this one is outstanding).

Vidal considered himself as much as chronicler of American history as a novelist. And he was right to do so. When his historical fiction book, Burr, was released in 1973, the consensus of historians, led by the Southern gentleman scholar, Dumas Malone, among others was that the Founders were near saints whose disputes were of the most lofty and important. Malone was a leader of the historians who held that Jefferson was closer to sainthood than every other Founder, and he certainly could not have had any sexual relations with any of his slaves, even the slave, Sally Hemmings, who was the half-sister of Jefferson's pre-deceased wife.

Burr upended this. Burr gave center stage to the rogue Aaron Burr, and showed he was not so different in his political scheming as Jefferson or Hamilton. It was Vidal who combed through the original sources and gave us the understanding that is now nearly commonplace among historians today. Gordon Wood and David Donald, the latter who is the foremost authority on Abraham Lincoln, recognize Vidal's contribution, though other scholar-squirrels, as Vidal calls most academic historians, studiously avoid mentioning him.

It was Vidal, in the mid-1970s, who, in the NY Review of Books, made the case for the brilliance and importance of John and John Quincy Adams. It was Vidal who gave us the first human Lincoln in the 1980s (meaning first in our time, as Herndon's Lincoln did a great job of humanizing Lincoln in the late 19th Century).

Vidal's essays are brilliant not only for their substance, but their prose style. They teem with excitement and continue to fascinate. Vidal, in the 1950s, was prescient in recognizing the literary academy was undermining our studies of the novels of the great writers by losing themselves in the lives of the writers. He also saw how the literature professors would rather teach their literary criticism articles about Sinclair Lewis than have the students read Sinclair Lewis. Vidal, in the 1960s, began to turn his lens toward a long view of American history and politics, and recognized three important points that provide a great insight into what ails us politically:

1. The Property Party, which is divided up into two wings, commonly called the Democratic and Republican parties.

2. The Village, by which he meant the permanent denizens of Washington DC who, no matter who is president, control not merely the cocktail circuit, but the levers of government. These include not merely permanent establishment figures who populate organizations like the Council on Foreign Relations, but lobbyists, kingmakers, and the like. There is a belief among the left blogs that Digby, at Hullabaloo, coined the phrase "The Village" to describe the DC residents. Not true. It may not have been Vidal either, but he was using this phrase in interviews going back to the 1980s at least. I even used the phrase in my book, which I began writing in manuscript form in 1998 and 1999, well before Digby was using the phrase.

3. Vidal understood that Hollywood and Washington DC is a marriage made in heaven. Vidal's historical novel, Hollywood, provides a strong analysis of the interplay of political propaganda and films and the way in which Hollywood money, whether management or the actors or unions, find their way into both Republican and Democratic Parties' coffers. It is thus required reading. One begins to understand how important Thirties Hollywood boy-mogul Irving Thalberg was to the development of political campaign advertising and bundling money on behalf of the powerful economic elements in our society.

Vidal came from an interesting family. His father, a football star at West Point, was a major player in the aviation industry in the 1920s and 1930s. Amelia Earhart loved Vidal's father, though it remain unrequited. He and Earhart founded what became known as TWA airlines. He was the first head of the Civil Areonautics Board for FDR in the 1930s. Vidal was more politically influenced in his early years by Vidal's grandfather, Thomas P. Gore, the first senator from Oklahoma, who was an old Populist Democratic who for rather cranky reasons did not abide FDR or the New Deal. FDR recruited a primary challenger to run against Gore in 1934 and Gore was history. Vidal himself became an American Firster, and was, according to contemporaries, not a liberal at all at the time. By the 1950s, he had become very fond of and friendly with Eleanor Roosevelt and became much more associated with the literary and New Deal left.

One fun note about Vidal: He was the youngest person to fly an airplane in the early 1930s, age 7 I believe.

Vidal had family members who could be traced back to before the founding of the American Constitution. His family stretched to at least Jimmy Carter, though there is more evidence to suggest he is not related to Albert Gore, Sr. or Jr. than Vidal himself believed. His family owned much of the land that was sold to the US government where the White House and Congress and other government landmarks currently sit. He also had famous friends, from Johnny Carson to Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, with whom they could be comfortable and lay down their burdens.

Vidal also provided us insight into the understanding where sex and religion intermingle, and that we are not homosexual or heterosexual as much as we engage in those acts, either exclusively or otherwise. Okay, I get squeamish here myself, but Vidal is vital in humbling ourselves in this cultural debate, and causes us to realize we're all a little nutty when it comes to matters of sex.

Finally, there is the canard that Vidal was an anti-Semite. That Vidal lived with a very NY Jewish guy named Howard Auster for over forty years should be immediate proof against the charge. And if you ever met Howard Auster, you'd say, My God, the guy is screaming Jewish. He talked like Harvey Fierstein, and was even a stereotype of many of my Jewish relatives--except they were not homosexual in their practices. Vidal was charged with anti-Semitism for recognizing, in the 1980s, that some American Jews, starting with Norman Podhoretz, had become so wrapped around the axle over Israel that their liberalism was destroyed, and that they were more interested in protecting Israel than the US. I've seen such folks at my temples and synagogues over the years, and immediately recognized the "some" that appeared in the article, which was largely about his squabble with Podhoretz, and Podhoretz's wife, Midge Decter (who herself acquired a reputation based far more on her own actual writings, of being a homophobe). Vidal proved how difficult it is for non-Jews in America to write about Israel or how the American Jewish political groups work, and has had to endure the ridiculous attacks on his integrity ever since that article appeared in The Nation.

I'm of course in mid-week and working, and so there is no time to link to various things. Suffice it to say that America has lost its greatest 20th Century essayist and one of its foremost historians and man of letters.

Vidal outlived most of his adversaries, starting with Bill Buckley, and that did give him some solace, but he has died in deep worry about the viability of the American experiment. He diagnosed the problems in his various State of the Union addresses, which were originally published in Esquire magazine, and thereafter in books and essays and articles in other magazines. I have long said that when the historians of the 23rd Century sift through the wreckage of the American Empire, it will be Vidal to whom they turn for contemporary understanding and wisdom, and not many others.

Hail to Gore Vidal. I'd say rest in peace, but he was a confirmed non-believer in deities, and had a marvelous essay about the wreckage caused by those who believe in Sky-Gods. It is a humbling article for those of us of the monotheistic set and is just another Vidalian insight that we may now cherish as history and life move forward without Vidal.

(Edited: I substituted Woo's great obit for the first shorter obit from CNN. And corrected Howard Auster's name from Austen, though Mr. Auster had originally been known as Austen. MJF).