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Everydayness Till It Hurts

By 7.29.15

The Grind: Inside Baseball’s Endless Season
By Barry Svrluga
(Blue Rider Press, 177 pages, $23.95)

Regular TAS readers know I like baseball more than most. But even for me the 162-game regular Major League Baseball season, followed by endless layers of playoffs that reach almost to November, is a bit overlong. You can have too much of almost any good thing. Even very good things. (I always meant to ask Carlo Ponti about this, but alas, I waited too long.)

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Mark Levin: ‘Plunder and Deceit’

By 7.28.15

Uncanny: Mark Levin has done it again. Six years ago, Mark’s Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto appeared, quite coincidentally with the lift-off of the Tea Party. In an instant L&T became what then-Congresswoman Michele Bachmann called the party’s “intellectual foundation.” 

In this space I referred to L&T as “the book that changed America,” writing in part:

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A Timid Take on Economic Inequality

By 7.27.15

Like it or not, economic inequality will be a habitual theme during the 2016 presidential campaign. Democrats are continuing to harp on the topic, with Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton making its (hypothetical) elimination the cornerstone of her economic platform. Since the unfortunate arrival of John Edwards on the national scene, the idea of two America—the haves and the have-nots—has been firmly engrained in our national discourse.

That’s why I wasn’t surprised to see renowned political scientist, Harvard professor, and cultural observer Robert Putnam chime in on the topic. He does so in his latest work, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis.

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Economics Made Easy

By 7.24.15

Popular Economics: What the Rolling Stones, Downton Abbey, and LeBron James Can Teach You about Economics
By John Tamny
(Regnery Publishing, 256 pages, $27.99)

If you want to understand economics, all you have to do is read John Tamny’s new book, Popular Economics. After just one reading of this clear, easy to read, and entertaining book, you will understand economics better than most academic Ph.Ds., who are pettifogged by so much PC posturing that even they no longer know what they are talking about.

His book is the 21st century heir to Economics in One Lesson, by Henry Hazlitt, published in 1946. That book sold over a million copies. But Tamny’s is more sophisticated than Hazlitt’s publication of 70 years ago.

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America at an Ominous Crossroads

By 7.22.15

Shattered Consensus: The Rise and Decline of America’s Postwar Political Order
By James Piereson
(Encounter, 389 pages, $27.99) 

Authors of history books often design them with a unifying theme, a so-called theory of history. Henry Steele Commager, one of the most ardent promoters of liberal politics in the 20th century, once explained his partisanship by saying, “History is a jangle of accidents, blunders, surprises and absurdities, and so is our knowledge of it, but if we are to report it at all we must impose some order upon it.”

Arnold Toynbee, whose prodigious A Study of History won worldwide acclaim in the 1950s, built his structure around the theory that a common religious belief has driven the rise of civilizations. His fellow Englishman Paul Johnson, whose Modern Times won popularity in the 1980s, followed a similar theme in citing “moral relativity” with its absence of firm values and standards as the acid that dissolves civilizations.

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Hitler and Gun Control

By 7.13.15

Gun Control in the Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and “Enemies of the State”
By Stephen P. Halbrook
(The Independent Institute, 280 pages, $22.95)

One of the issues that liberals and gun control advocates are most loath to discuss is how heavily and effectively totalitarians and mass murderers have relied upon gun registration and other firearms controls to round up “enemies of the state.” Hitler, Stalin, Castro, and Mussolini all seized upon gun laws to punish, incarcerate, and even exterminate their opponents, while permitting their own evil cliques to expand and strengthen the state and party monopolies on gun ownership.

Stephen P. Halbrook, an attorney and Research Fellow with the Independent Institute in California, has written a remarkably well-documented analysis of how Adolf Hitler and his Nazi henchmen in the government made private, “unauthorized” gun ownership a capital crime, while using registration records to effectively turn ordinary Germans into instant criminals.

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Millennials and the Elderly

By 6.26.15

Disinherited: How Washington Is Betraying America’s Young
By Diana Furchtgott-Roth and Jared Meyer
(Encounter Books, 152 pages, $17.99)

Diana Furchtgott-Roth and Jared Meyer are, respectively, a senior fellow and policy analyst with the Manhattan Institute. They make a generally strong, articulate, pithy, and well-researched case in Disinherited that liberal policy makers from Washington to City Hall have been hamstringing the aspirations and bank accounts of America’s younger generations.

The general perception that millennials are the first American generation with dimmer prospects than their parents is bolstered by the authors, who point to the shock of an $18 trillion national debt, bloated by the President’s Affordable Care Act, with the bill for this record spending being handed to our young to pay.

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The New Federalist Papers

By 6.24.15

Our Lost Constitution: The Willful Subversion of America’s Founding Document
Sen. Mike Lee
(Sentinel, 244 pages, $27.95)

Sadly, the American public has become disconnected from its founding document, the Constitution. Knowledge of civics is so deplorable that few people can identify the three branches of government, let alone the constitutional bases for them. Most Americans have never read the Constitution. Even law students studying Constitutional Law learn mainly about Supreme Court decisions interpreting the Constitution—and arcane “theories” of interpretation— not the actual text. This ignorance has permitted the Supreme Court (and elected officials) to manipulate the Constitution, in the process allowing the Leviathan state to expand beyond the narrow limits intended by the Framers.

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Willie on Willie — Revelations and Recollections

By 6.22.15

It’s a Long Story: My Life
By Willie Nelson with David Ritz
(Little, Brown, 392 pages, $30)

We’re at a scratchy point in our history just now, as we often are, with a lot of sharp-elbows being thrown between the races, the sexes, various political and economic factions. Not the worst we’ve ever seen. But not business as usual either. If some researcher took time away from our current conflicts to identify what more Americans like and agree on than anything else, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that it’s Willie Nelson and his music. (A lot of overseas precincts would agree as well.)

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Medicalizing the Human Condition

By 6.18.15

Admirable Evasions: How Psychology Undermines Morality
By Theodore Dalrymple
(Encounter Books, 127 pages, $21.50)

Does it seem to you that most of the findings of psychology are either obvious or daft? Does the whole enterprise reek of morality-canceling relativism by explaining away all manner of bad behavior as being the result of disorders or syndromes that the individual bad actor is helpless before? Does the head trade in all its practitioners (psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric social workers, counselors of all stripes) strike you as shamelessly entrepreneurial, forever coining new diagnoses that can be turned into billable hours for the shrinks? Does it seem to you that the entire credentialed profession has no more insight into the complex business that is the human condition than acute observers — playwrights, novelists, bartenders, chief petty officers, your Aunt Eunice — have had for centuries?