Books

"The Roads Not Taken"

Entertaining review of Richard Posner's recent book, Divergent Paths: The Academy and the Judiciary, by Paul Howitz (Gordon Rosen Professor of Law at the University of Alabama School of Law).

The individual criticisms of the article may be sound, but his conclusion—that the author “misperceives what judges need in the way of academic analysis,” which turns out to be more articles telling judges to be like Posner, to delete their ibids and unleash their ids—is ridiculous. . . .

I agree with most of Posner’s diagnoses and many of his prescriptions; I admire his work as a judge and a scholar; I wish more judges, lawyers, and law professors were like Posner. But all of them? By the end of the book, one can’t help recall a scene in the movie Being John Malkovich, depicting a world with nothing but Malkoviches. Even a world filled with first-rate Posners would be an unsteady place; one filled with inevitably less capable people, taught nothing but how to emulate him, would be calamitous. Whatever legal academics’ job is, it can’t be that.


"The Conservative Way Forward?"

Arnold Kling reviews a forthcoming book by Yuval Levin, The Fractured Republic: Renewing America's Social Contract in the Age of Individualism.  Kling likes it but . . . 

In his important new book (forthcoming, May 24, 2016 from Basic Books), Yuval Levin offers a diagnosis of America's illness and a prescription for a cure. His diagnosis blames both the left and the right for promulgating an untenable vision of an individualistic society under the umbrella of the central government. . . . 

For me, Levin offers an appealing vision. However, I wonder if it can ever attract broad public support. In 2016, it appears to me that Americans do not value freedom as much as they used to. If President Obama represented the nostalgia for the era of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, then currently his party seems to be moving even further to the left, with many believing that some form of socialism is the answer. On the Republican side, it seems ironic that the candidate who gained ascendancy by promising to wall off our southern neighbors would appear to wish to run the United States like a Latin American strongman. And on college campuses, many students and administrators prefer "safe spaces" to free speech.


"Chrissie Hynde on artistic expression and the sexual revolution"

Ms. Hynde, speaking her mind.

You write pointedly about the sexual expectations of the 1960s. What do you think the sexual revolution has done for women?

I think it’s very convoluted. I’ve heard this kind of feminist argument a lot, there was a big sexual revolution and we took our lives into our own hands. It wasn’t like anyone took charge. I’m not saying whether that’s good or bad, but I think it confuses people. The idea of being promiscuous was cool in the sixties, because it meant you were free and you weren’t hung up. But that spreads a lot of disease. We could get rid of those diseases, so nothing seemed to matter. All people cared about was that you weren’t hung up. I mean, it’s very nice if you don’t want to have to be a stay-at-home housewife, but I’m not sure that was the choice people were making. I think they were putting that off as long as they wanted to and having as much sex as they could. I think it probably fucked up some people’s heads. You could bastardize what I’m saying, because I’m not making it very clear. But I’m not sure it was as liberating as it was almost enslaving. What’s liberation? That’s the real question. I’m still wondering myself.


"Solving the Poor"

A review of Robert Putnam's book, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, by Amy L. Wax.

I also highly recommend her "Engines of Inequality: Class, Race, and Family Structure," Family Law Quarterly, Fall 2007, the sort of article that gets her branded a "racist" at one of our finer institutions of higher education.

See also "Family Structure Matters — Science Proves It". (And as Glenn Reynolds often cracks, we don't want to argue with science now do we?)