Book Club
Book Club Archive 2018
January 19, 2019
Home of Pauline Bacaj
Positive Populism by Steve Hilton

Before discussing this month's book, we took a photograph to celebrate Trump’s two-year anniversary with a celebratory toast to our President with Trump Vineyard (Virginia) champagne (oops … sparkling wine).  
Pauline led the discussion by saying that although she had not read the entire book she was very impressed by what she had read in the first chapter.  Concerning poverty Pauline compared poor people she had seen in Naples, Italy with those she saw in Toledo, OH.  The poor in Naples walked to a health care facility and lived in cardboard shacks covered with plastic; the poor in Toledo arrived by cab and had televisions.    We agreed that poor people didn’t need televisions or all the comforts of middle class life.   Caz read the entire book.  She thought Progressive Populism was well-written and informative..  Linda read the entire book but had misgivings with Hilton’s loose use of expressions, such as “return of power to the people,”  “elites who make all the decisions,” “global elite versus the working class,”  “globalization.”  She asked who is he talking about when he talks of elites?  Are we the elite?  Most thought of bureaucratic elites.  Linda felt that the meaning of elite was economic and that more people live more prosperous lives today than ever before.    
Linda G thought that Hilton was concerned with economic security, but that capitalism is always destroying and creating new things.  Think of the horse and wagon. Think of all the people who made wagons and who kept horses.  When the car was introduced the horse and wagon’s days were numbered as were the jobs of those who were tied to them.  But for lost jobs, new jobs were created.  She also thought that Hilton’s focus on the family as the best determinant of the success of children was correct.  

Caz spoke of what we are up against in trying to promote the traditional family.  She described the unfortunate gender policies in some public elementary and private schools.  For example, when she lived in Colorado Springs, Colorado, sex was a laissez-faire decision made by children.  The principal and an adult neighbor thought that was okay.  We all were appalled that such policies were reinforced by the establishment.  She had found a private school in Alexandria under a similar influence.  Caz also said that when she worked for the government some years ago she heard an NEA speaker explain that the NEA was going to redefine the family and come up against the traditional definition of family.  It has.  We agreed that we needed to take back America and do all we could to prevent these untraditional values from becoming the national norm.

Eileen was concerned about globalism and feared support of the U N or the idea that we should pledge allegiance to “the world” represented by the U N.  Rather she and we believed in pledging allegiance to the U.S. of A.  

We adjourned about 2:30 and decided to read Alan Dershowitz’s The Case Against Impeaching Trump rather than the previously selected We Wanted Workers by Borjas.

February 16, 2019
Home of Jan Bates
 The Case Against Impeaching Trump by Alan Dershowitz
The Book Club met at Jan Bates’ house where we had wonderful time discussing a variety of topics including Alan Dershowitz’s book, Dershowitz makes a compelling case against any attempt to impeach the President because he says the President has done nothing that comes close to meeting the standard set by the Constitution for impeachment. He adds that he would be saying the same thing regardless of who was President given the same circumstance. He illustrates how the Constitution stipulates treason, bribery, high crimes and misdemeanors are the only reasons for impeachment. And you must commit these crimes while in office. Also in his book he talks about how far left the ACLU has moved in the last 10 years and that he no longer supports them. And he briefly describes how appointing a Special Prosecutor to look into Russian involvement in US elections was a mistake. He advocates for a bipartisan commission instead.
The Book Club will be reading. We Wanted Workers, next. And the March meeting will be held at Susan Yonts-Shepard’s house ([email protected]). If you are interested in attending, need more information about the book, would like to join the book club or just sit in on our discussion, let Susan know.
March 16, 2019
Home of Susan Yonts-Shepard
We Wanted Workers by George Borjas
Our book of choice for March was We Wanted Workers by Dr. George Borjas. Everyone was very impressed with the book. It is an honest look at immigration beginning with the last major wave of immigrants to enter the US in the early 1900s up to the current day. We all felt Borjas did a good job of putting to rest some of the more extreme beliefs on all sides of the immigration issue. And unlike some in academia these days he presents his findings with no ideological gloss. 
The book opens with Professor Borjas's own immigrant story.  He came to the US with his family from Cuba shortly after the Castro dictatorship took power. But Borjas is no sentimental supporter of immigration. He is an economist and believes strongly that the numbers on immigration speak for themselves.
He casts a clear eye on the claims made both for and against immigration and concludes that the benefits to native-born Americans are minimal compared to those that accrue to the immigrants themselves. While assimilation, becoming American, is the goal of some immigrants, many of the current policies we have for immigrants actually work against their integration into society at large and allow them to live in enclaves where they don’t have to learn English and don’t have to assimilate. All of which works against them and the US economy.
The book is full of interesting facts, two of which are that 46 percent of immigrants are on welfare and a majority of them live in California. Borjas says that 98 percent of the benefits of immigration goes to the immigrants. The take-away ideas from the book : We must 1) have secure borders; 2) compensate those native Americans who are displaced by immigrant labor; 3) give up on trying for comprehensive immigration reform; instead, fix pieces of the problem like chain immigration, require English language skills; 4) remove birthright for the children of illegal immigrants; 5) extend the prohibition on paying Federal welfare benefits to immigrants for five years to benefits provided at the State level; 6) and finally, the most surprising recommendation of all, get rid of affirmative action programs.
July 30, 2019
Home of Laurie Kirby
Suicide of the West: How the Rebirth of Tribalism, Populism, Nationalism and Identity Politics is Destroying American Democracy by Jonah Goldberg
Goldberg writes in an easy to read style and his research is very good. The book contains an excellent bibliography of his sources if you want more information on any of the topics he covers. He is also masterful at one liners that sum up some deep and critical thinking. One of the more interesting points he makes is how capitalism destroyed slavery. The very notion that an individual could sell his or her labor or skill to someone else was a completely new concept. Communism, Fascism, any of the isms he notes are all “command economies” and yet are always sold to the people as good for the social order. Ultimately they all lead to forced labor by everyone. You no longer work for yourself. You work for the State. And the State decides what you get in return for your labor. Very different from a willing seller and a willing buyer deciding what a person’s talent and labor are worth. In socialist societies, you are paid what you are paid, or not, it is dependent on the State. Capitalism gives you the option to walk away and find someone who will pay you what you are worth, if you are unhappy.
In discussing “Identity politics” Goldberg notes identity politics is exactly what you see in governments led by absolute monarchs, dictators and even the caste system in India. You, as part of a class, tribe, caste, or type are ascribed a status; you have not achieved a status due to your own effort. Identity politics is manufactured tribalism. “It is the heart of the aristocracy and the soul of nationalism. Identify politics may be a modern term but it is an ancient idea. Embracing it is not a step forward but a retreat to the past.” 
On religion Goldberg notes that Christianity recognize every person is due a certain measure of justice and every person is obliged to respect others as children of God. The Golden Rule, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is the seed from which grew the concept of the individual. (ed. Individualism is a concept missing from Islamic teachings.) Goldberg also notes the notion that God is watching you even when others are not is probably the most powerful civilizing force in all of human history. He quotes author C.K. Chesterton “When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.”
And finally a couple of pithy quotes from the book: “We drown in information but we starve for knowledge.” And a quote we thought should be included in all Republican literature/handouts “The Government can improve your net worth with a check, but it cannot improve your self-worth.”
August 31, 2019
Home of Jan Bates
 Urban Policy Papers from The Manhattan Institute

For our September meeting we took on a different project. The Manhattan Institute publishes a handbook of policy issues that represent a conservative view and offers possible remedies for urban problems. Linda Greenberg and Jan Bates took the lead for our discussion of 1. Permits as part of the administrative state and 2. Housing, primarily affordable housing.
Linda began the discussion asking if anyone had recently tried to get a new driver’s license or a building permit or anything that required “permission” from the City. If so the first thing you will notice is the term “user friendly” is not in anyone’s vocabulary which it come to forms posted on the internet. That is assuming you can find the correct forms. And if you’ve ever gone to the DMV you just know you are going to have to wait, and pray you have the correct information they need or you are forced to repeat your horrible experience at a later date. One example in the policy paper was NYC. There are over 6000 rules, 200 licenses, 15 organizations you might have to deal with. For any new construction or renovations to your home you might need 30 permits and require 23 separate inspections all costing you money. 
Alexandria is not quite that bad yet. But as we discussed requiring permits, licenses, inspections are stealth ways to increase revenue for cities, counties and States through the administrative state. Many people don’t even know this large and growing group of government employees exist, much less what it is up to at the direction of City Councils, Mayors, etc. At the very least local governments should make this process as painless and easy to complete as possible. After all it is your money.
The housing issue was focused on California and how indirectly Proposition 13 has caused a major problem for housing in the State. It has only been made worse by a one-party controlled legislature. Prop. 13 said that property taxes could not go up for current residents; only when you sell do the new residents get hit with the new level of property taxes. This keeps people in their homes for longer times and it hits younger people, in the market for the first time, with a huge tax burden when they buy. It also forces municipalities to find other sources of income to feed the administrative state and social programs. Factor in all the permits, licenses, restrictions, and zoning that the legislature has affixed to the cost of new building and you get very expensive cost to rent or buy. That is assuming you can build in the area. Many times you can’t due to zoning restrictions. All of this and more has created a stark two-tier society: those with money who can afford to buy and those who can’t. This situation goes a long way to explaining the number of people living in the streets of Silicon Valley. They may be employed but cannot afford to live close to where they work. Some possible solutions include: commercial corridors to include mixed housing, market rate properties, smaller living units, and where there is now shopping centers and strip malls, add mixed usage for dwellings.
October 26, 2019
Home of Susan Yonts-Shephard
Open Borders Inc. Who's Funding America's Destruction by Michelle Malkin

This month, the Book Club tackled Michelle Malkin’s book, Open Borders, Inc. Malkin believes and discovered it is largely true to follow the money and you will discover who or what is behind the insurgence of illegals at the US southern border. 
Her book discloses that the individuals and organizations behind this “movement” all say they are doing it in the name of “compassion” but they are really driven by profit and are in fact making money off these poor people. She says they are undoing the rule of law while making money off the backs of illegal aliens, refugees and low-wage guest workers. 
Her investigation led to the following organizations: The Catholic Church, which staffs and financially supports the “Catholic Relief Migration and Refugee Service” which maintains a network of people who help illegals disappear within our borders; Doctors Without Borders is part of that network. Her book is filled with documentation and makes a compelling case to end illegal immigration or lose the Country.