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A Philadelphia-area native offers an unlettered layman’s perspective.

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Stephen Greenblatt’s Tyrant

Since no amount of scandal seems able to deter Donald Trump from recapturing the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in the upcoming Fall election, now might be a good time to look back and review one of the more unique analyses of his improbable first win in 2016.

The Truth’s Long, Hard Slog

The conservative Catholic commentator Christopher Manion has been around a long time, and is well into the eminence grise stage of his career. Perhaps not as well-known as some other conservative Catholic thought-leaders who possess a somewhat higher public profile, Manion nevertheless has a reliable following in certain circles.

Leaving the Family Homestead

I am in the process of selling the property where I’ve lived for the last 30 years, the place where my ex-wife and I raised our four children. It wasn’t that long ago I was telling anyone who would listen I was never going to leave this place, never going to sell this property. But things change.

Political Economy at Christendom College

Christendom College is a small liberal arts school whose rural campus is located just outside the sleepy little town of Front Royal, Virginia. It prides itself on not taking any government funding, which allows it to dodge unwanted federal mandates on curriculum.

Volkswagen in America

Auto workers at a Volkswagen assembly plant in Tennessee voted to join a union this month, after similar attempts to unionize at that same plant failed to gain the necessary majorities in 2014 and 2019.

Protesting the War in Gaza

This week the ongoing pro-Palestinian protests, which at times have included some unforgivable excesses directed at Jewish students, spread from a few high-profile universities on the East Cost to many different college campuses across the United States.

Lovesac Wisdom

Not a day goes by without a new batch of unsolicited suggestions for self-improvement hitting my inbox. Fueled by the latest research, these highly-annotated ideas are meant to help me develop a higher level of empathy and improve my emotional intelligence, making me a more effective employer and manager, a better husband and father.

Labor Freedom

“Labor freedom” was recently cited by The Wall Street Journal in a short editorial criticizing the nefarious efforts of Big Labor and its Democratic allies in Congress to unionize the new, government-subsidized auto plants in our Southern states.

Pursuing Happiness

In his latest book Jeffrey Rosen tells readers the famous phrase in our Declaration of Independence about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness was not intended as a license to be a selfish, self-centered bore. Mr. Rosen points out how our most influential Founders studied the moral philosophy of classical thinkers such as Xenophon, Seneca, and Cicero, along with that of contemporary Enlightenment stalwarts John Locke (1632-1704) and David Hume (1711-1776), and therefore defined happiness as the pursuit of virtue – as being good, rather than feeling good.

Digital Discrimination

In a recent editorial the Wall Street Journal takes issue with a new rule the Federal Communication Commission is considering to prevent what is referred to as “digital discrimination.” This proposed action is a by-product of the 2021 infrastructure bill that included a directive for the FCC to monitor disparities in broadband access “based on income level, race, ethnicity, color, religion, or national origin.”

Fair Play: An Appreciation

After making a splash at the Sundance Film Festival in January, the new movie Fair Play received only a limited theatrical release in September before its streaming debut on Netflix earlier this month. It is billed as a drama/mystery/thriller, and after watching it last night I would add the word “tragedy” to that list as well.

Is the Pope Catholic?

Asking whether the Pope is Catholic used to be one of those funny rhetorical question that do not require an answer. Like asking does a bird fly, or if a bear defecates in the forest. But these days that first question is not so funny to some people, and not so rhetorical.

A Different Side of Bruce Springsteen

My interest in Bruce Springsteen as a singer-songwriter ended about 50 years ago. The high point for me was The Wild, The Innocent, and The E Street Shuffle, a record he released in November 1973. Along with a few cuts from his follow-up Born to Run album, released in August 1975. He has obviously gone on to enjoy a prolific career in the decades since, achieving world-wide superstar status. So mine is a decidedly minority opinion. But I can’t help it. His “mature” output has never done much for me.

Forgiving Student Loans

The student loan forgiveness plan the Supreme Court threw out last week, just before adjourning for the summer, was one of the Biden administration’s more ambitious and controversial proposals. So it should come as no surprise this latest ruling is generating such a passionate response.

Voting Third Party in 2024

Have you ever voted for a Third Party candidate in a Presidential election? In my experience people who do tend to be idealistic and are also usually a little bit ornery. (I am both and confess to voting Third Party on occasion.) Reviving that option seems to be a recurring theme, given the rather lackluster Republican and Democrat candidates we have been presented with in recent years. With a likely Biden-Trump re-match in the offing, some otherwise sensible citizens are once again starting to explore their options, and are talking up the possibility of going rogue in the voting booth next year.

Patrick Deenen Strikes Again

Patrick Deenen’s new book, Regime Change, was just reviewed in the Wall Street Journal and got panned good and hard. Reading that review reminded me how his previous book, Why Liberalism Failed (2018), received the same chilly reception, most notably in The New York Times.

Somewhere in Queens

Here are a few words of praise for the new feature film, Somewhere in Queens, directed and co-written by veteran stand-up comedian and TV sitcom star Ray Romano

The Narrative is Problematic

It is natural to assemble a story for ourselves that helps explain how and why things happen in this world. Along the way we encounter others who seem knowledgeable in these matters, and we add their understanding to our own. As we get older, our narrative emphasizes what has gone wrong out there, and what should be done to fix all the problems. This, too, is natural.

The Economics of Beauty

Now here is an angle Karl Marx and Fredrich Engels probably did not cover in their famous 1848 treatise on economics, “The Communist Manifesto”… Namely, the impact beauty has on an economic system. But it turns out a gentleman by the name of Daniel S. Hamermesh has given it a lot of thought.

An Aversion to Action Films

It’s late on Friday afternoon and a few co-workers are letting their hair down before heading out for the weekend. I can hear bits and pieces of conversation through an open door. Someone mentions not having seen the blockbuster hit “Top Gun: Maverick,”

The Second Bill of Rights

Everyone is always singing the praises of liberal democracy, but these days many enthusiasts are expressing concern about the future of the institution. Populist uprisings here in the United States and across Europe are seen as threatening the rule of law, and the idea of free and fair elections.

Selective Ridicule

Everyone is always singing the praises of “liberal democracy” these days.  Not only is it universally thought of as the best possible form of government, it’s the only one any reasonable person will even consider.

Why Libertarian Catholics are Wrong on Economics Part 4

As my little amateur history draws to a close, I will be offering two concrete suggestions for improving the economic status quo. As a preface to making those suggestions allow me to state for the record I do not disagree with the libertarian premise about regulation stifling innovation and undermining incentives that drive capitalism. Or that capitalism is the best economic system for “freeing” large masses of human beings from lives of misery and poverty.

Why Libertarian Catholics are Wrong on Economics Part 3

My goal in assembling this very amateur and oh-so-brief history is three-fold. To disabuse everyday conservative Catholics (my friends and neighbors) of the notion economics has nothing to do with morality. To challenge the contention of intellectual conservative Catholics (the scholars I have been reading for the last thirty years) that free market capitalism is inherently moral. And lastly to assure both groups (and any other readers who may wander in) that I am not suggesting any form of socialism as an alternative.

Why Libertarian Catholics are Wrong on Economics Part 2

In analyzing the ideological schism that plagues present-day Catholicism, we tend to focus on the fall-out from the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the sexual revolution of the 1960s that surrounded it. With good reason, since both did indeed play a large role in splintering Catholics into the current opposing camps of “liberal” and “conservative.”

The Magic Scene: Nebraska

It sort of goes without saying every good movie is made up of a series of enjoyable, engaging scenes. But the really good movies, the ones that stick with you, have what I would call a magic scene. Or maybe even more than one.

The Republican Crusade Against Sex

As a resident of Pennsylvania, I will be called on in a few months to help elect a new Governor. As usual, I am less than thrilled with the two major party candidates we are able to choose between. And also as usual in recent years, the Republican option in this election is even more of a concern to me than is the Democrat.

Mt. Sinai and the Second Amendment

Yesterday the latest in a seemingly endless series of mass shootings occurred in a small Texas town, when 18-year-old Salvador Ramos walked into an elementary school with an AR-15 style rifle. He killed nineteen children and two teachers, and wounded seventeen others.

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