Written by: Jeff Cole
Greetings! I recently read three books on politics. If you have time to read one, you should read After America.
After America, Get Ready for Armegeddon
Regnery Publishing, 349 pages
Mary Steyn is a prolific social commentator. He writes for National Review and fills in for Rush Limbaugh when he’s on vacation or getting divorced. You’ve probably already decided whether you’ll read his book. If not, let me help: He’s funny. He’s profound. He’s like your drunken uncle on a tirade except he’s articulate and literate. He’s also depressing. . His most recent books include: America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It and Lights Out: Free Speech and The Twilight of the West.
Steyn offers a flamethrower critique of American government policies and social practices, for instance, our current welfare state and unfunded liabilities. The creeping leviathan of the federal government is shown logically and anecdotally to be absurd. Steyn shows the underlying mentality of the populace to be equally absurd. And anecdotes are his specialty. To show the danger of low birth rates, he points out that a birth rate of 1.8 is an upside down family tree: 100 grandparents have 42 grandchildren.
I found myself becoming more and more hopeless. Steyn thankfully ends his book with a chapter of solutions. One of which is to keep political solutions as local as possible. It’s nice, but how? The book would have been helped with some rough guidelines for how to choose among candidates and how to navigate national elections as so many things seem to be decided at the national level.
Read to laugh and cry or to find out what your conservative friends think.
THE TYRANNY OF CLICHÉS
How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas
By Jonah Goldberg
Publisher:Sentinel, 312 pp.
Jonah Goldberg is the editor of National Review Online and appears on Fox News. You’ve probably already decided whether you’ll read his new book, The Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas.
Sometimes clichés are used because they’re true; sometimes they’re employed to shut down a reasonable argument. Goldberg examines twenty-four of the latter in short, five-page chapters.
Some of the chapters were circuitous and a little too long (who knew Marie Antoinette never said, “Let them eat cake?”) Maybe though, my diet is too rich in blogs. The book would have been helped by short summaries at the end of the chapters. For instance, the chapter on dogmas would have been helped with a summary like this: Dogmas are typically referred to by liberals as something negative. Kevorkian said, “’You’ve lost common sense in this society because of religious fanaticism and dogma.’” But a dogma is simply a belief held by a group of people. Kevorkian is trying to replace an established dogma with a new one.
Goldberg critiques the cliché that war is not the answer. He points out that non-violent protest is only possible in free, moral western countries. Had Gandhi said such a thing in Nazi Germany he would have been hosed out of a tank tread, not invited to speak to the press. Whether you agree with everything Goldberg says, we should all agree that we’re better off in a country with a free press where these ideas can be argued.
Read it if you have extra time.
Publisher: Cato Institute, 264 pages
By Gene Healy
Gene Healy is the vice president of the Cato Institute; it’s a libertarian political think tank. So, he’s very libertarian. His other book is called, Go Directly to Jail: The Criminalization of Almost Everything. I’m sure you like him already. This is his first book; it’s big; it’s researched; be impressed.
Healy posits that presidential power has greatly expanded since 1900. He builds his case solidly. Juicy anecdotes punctuate long and thorough descriptions of court cases and abdications of authority by Congress. They’re unbelievable: George W. Bush insisting that no demonstrators be visible from his cars as he arrives to speak; LBJ standing unzipping his pants and shaking his member at reporters. Neither party is spared. Conservatives didn’t mind the president’s power expanding when Regan was in power. Liberals when Clinton was president.
He reverses Spider Man’s maxim and places the blame on “we the people” and Congress. With great responsibility comes great power. If we look to a man to heal our country, a great responsibility, then we must give him great power to do what’s necessary.
I found myself clicking a few more degrees libertarian. The author should have lengthened the chapter on solutions. I was left despairing. Especially helpful would have been some talking points. How can I get my friends who vote to think about this?
Read it to counterbalance our Democrat or Republican thinking.