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A Primer on Race

By 7.8.14

Back in the heyday of the British Empire, a man from one of the colonies addressed a London audience.

“Please do not do any more good in my country,” he said. “We have suffered too much already from all the good that you have done.”

That is essentially the message of an outstanding new book by Jason Riley about blacks in America. Its title is Please Stop Helping Us. Its theme is that many policies designed to help blacks are in fact harmful, sometimes devastatingly so. These counterproductive policies range from minimum wage laws to “affirmative action” quotas.

This book untangles the controversies, the confusions, and the irresponsible rhetoric in which issues involving minimum wage laws are usually discussed. As someone who has followed minimum wage controversies for decades, I must say that I have never seen the subject explained more clearly or more convincingly.

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Restraint: The Prudent American Grand Strategy

By 6.30.14

Restraint: A New Foundation for U.S. Grand Strategy
By Barry R. Posen
(Cornell University, 256 pages, $29.95)

Since the end of the Cold War, a handful of America’s most prestigious scholars have called for a radical transformation of U.S. grand strategy from the status quo of liberal hegemony. (Liberal because of America’s democratic values and hegemonic because it’s sustained with the sword.) In its place, scholars such as Texas A&M’s Christopher Layne, Harvard’s Stephen Walt, University of Chicago’s John Mearsheimer, and MIT’s Harvey Sapolsky have argued for a strategy of “offshore balancing.” In their view, U.S. forces, currently spread across some 500 foreign bases and numbering around 175,000 (not including those deployed to Afghanistan), should come home.

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Flash Noise

By From the June 2014 issue

Flash Boys: A Wall Street RevoltBy Michael Lewis(W.W. Norton, 288 pages, $27.95)Michael Lewis is one of America’s most successful storytellers. But the bombastic conclusions in his new book, Flash Boys, a superficial one-sided discussion of High Frequency Trading, and his repeated pronouncements that the stock market is “rigged” and a “fraud,” are as harmful as they are overstated.

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Eric Holder’s Idea of Justice

By 6.25.14

Obama's Enforcer: Eric Holder's Justice Department
By Hans von Spakovsky and John Fund
(Broadside Books, 272 pages, $27.99)

In Obama’s Enforcer, Hans von Spakovsky and John Fund tell the story of a thoroughly politicized U.S. Department of Justice, headed up by President Obama’s “kindred spirit and…heat shield.” In his tenure as attorney general, Eric Holder has proven to be the “most liberal attorney general of the modern era, who…has also liberally bent the rule of law and established internal policies that harm the cause of justice.”

The Department of Justice is one of the most powerful federal agencies. In 2013, it was America’s largest law firm with a budget of $27 billion and some 114,000 employees. Its role is to enforce and defend the laws of the United States in an impartial and even-handed way. Doing that right takes leadership from the top and supervision through a number of levels of management.

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The Good Doctor

By 6.20.14

One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America’s Future
By Ben Carson, M.D.
(Sentinel, 256 pages, $25.95)

Just for the record, here’s a list of the jobs that Dr. Ben Carson held before he had graduated from Yale University:

  • Payroll office clerk at Ford Motors
  • Bank teller (“I learned accuracy and efficiency as well as some things about bank robbers”)
  • Mailroom clerk
  • Encyclopedia salesman
  • Supervisor in charge of highway cleanup crews.
  • Lab technician at Wayne State at Wayne State University
  • Crane operator at a steel factory
  • Assembly line worker in an auto plant.
  • Police auxiliary on the Yale University campus. 

Does this sound like the pampered grandson of a bank vice-president and affirmative-action baby who was ushered through college and professional school by adoring academics thrilled to be meeting “a modern African-American man who is articulate and bright,” as Joe Biden would put it?

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Nobody’s Fools

By From the July/August 2014 issue

The Rule of Nobody: Saving America From Dead Laws and Broken Government
By Philip K. Howard

(Norton, 256 pages, $23.95)

The best law book in the last twenty years received very little attention from anyone in the American legal academy. That book, The Death of Common Sense by Philip K. Howard, was an indictment of the numberless rules and regulations in this country that have assumed a life of their own, to the detriment of old-fashioned commonsensical decision-making. Howard was the kid who said “The Emperor has no clothes,” with the difference that everyone in a position to correct things told him, “Shut up, kid. He looks just fine to me.”

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PC America’s Death Wish

By 6.11.14

William Kilpatrick’s black comedy Insecurity comes at an opportune moment. It revolves around a planned Islamic coup of the United States, containing scenes many readers would regard as too over the top even for satire. But such readers might see the value of such an exercise in extreme parody after last week’s Rose Garden ceremony, at which President Obama treated the trade of five Islamic terrorists for a deserter and possible defector as a glorious moment for the United States and listened approvingly as the soldier’s father prayed to “Allah.”

Kilpatrick’s tale imagines an America in the most advanced stages of political correctness, the outlines of which can be glimpsed in events such as the Rose Garden ceremony, the proposed mosque near the site of 9/11, and the Fort Hood shooting. Kilpatrick takes gleefully cartoonish aim at a culture that is increasingly open to Islam, closed to Christianity, and enamored with soft-headed liberalism.

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The Obama Impeachment Bible

By 6.10.14

“Be careful how you make those statements, gentleman.” Barack Hussein Obama had been president of the United States for all of two months. He was lecturing the titans of American finance who were struggling to explain to him, a man with no meaningful business experience, how high salaries are necessary if American companies are to compete for talent in a global market.

“The public isn’t buying that,” scoffed the president. He wasn’t talking about the public, though. “My administration,” he warned, “is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.” The pitchforks: that’s his public.