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Conservative writers tackle funny side of being a father

Alan Wallace
| Saturday, May 16, 2015, 9:00 p.m.

“The Dadly Virtues: Adventures from the Worst Job You'll Ever Love” (Templeton Press, available Monday) is the second essay collection edited by Weekly Standard senior writer Jonathan V. Last to counter the notion that conservatives are humorless.

Featuring many of the same contributors, it's a sequel to 2014's “The Seven Deadly Virtues: 18 Conservative Writers on Why the Virtuous Life is Funny as Hell,” which Templeton Press billed as “a hilarious, insightful, sanctimony-free remix of William Bennett's ‘The Book of Virtues' — without parental controls.” Last writes that producing a sequel about fatherhood was easy: “All I had to do was get the band back together and have my favorite writers write it for me. Jackpot.”

“The Dadly Virtues” takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to a subject with serious societal ramifications. It arrives at a time when fathers, and men in general, are often portrayed as bumbling and clueless — and, as Last notes in his introduction, “only 69 percent of kids (in America) live in a home with two parents.” Do be aware that it contains some language that's probably best not shared with younger children.

Among the contributors are P.J. O'Rourke, writing about what men get from fatherhood; Jonah Goldberg, on the moral case for having family pets; Tucker Carlson, on the sort of youthful mischief that involves bottle rockets and potato guns; and Matt Labash, on the dreaded paternal talk about “the birds and the bees.”

The book covers all stages of fatherhood: expecting and experiencing a first child's birth; seeing one's family expand; dealing with children in relation to religion, athletics, college, dating, marriage and moving out on their own or back home; and eventually becoming a grandfather.

The readers who might benefit most from the book are those about to be fathers. Describing it as “part instructional guide, part meditation, part war journal,” Last writes: “It is, frankly, the book I wish I'd had back when my first child, Cody, was born.”

CRISIS FOR MILLENNIALS

“Disinherited: How Washington Is Betraying America's Young” by Diana Furchtgott-Roth and Jared Mayer (Encounter Books) — The co-authors of this book are scholars at the Manhattan Institute; Furchtgott-Roth is a former U.S. Labor Department chief economist who held other economic- and domestic-policy posts in the Reagan administration and both Bush administrations. They contend that millennials are getting a raw deal from the federal government — and both political parties — that threatens both their future and America's. Using the stories of individual millennials to illustrate their case, they explain how Americans ages 18 to 30 are having to pay more in taxes to sustain entitlements that mainly benefit their elders, being let down by the education system and burdened by college debt, and denied job opportunities by occupational licensing and minimum-wage laws. The authors do all this, plus offer solutions that don't rely on bigger, tax-and-spend government, in fewer than 130 pages.

WALTER'S WISDOM

“American Contempt for Liberty” by Walter E. Williams (Hoover Institution Press) — This book collects syndicated columns (plus one speech) written from 2009 to 2014 by a man whose writings appear frequently in the Trib. A George Mason University economics professor, he's a member of a rare species of pundit — a black conservative. That gives him a distinct perspective that's presented here through columns grouped into the book's seven parts under headings of “Constitution,” “Politics,” “Race,” “Education,” “Environment and Health,” “International” and “Potpourri.” New material provided by the author consists of the book's preface and introductory text for each part, and each piece carries its original publication date. Topics range as widely as daily headlines and the author's intellect, including entitlements, the IRS, minimum-wage laws, ObamaCare, campus concerns, the EPA, anti-Semitism, “the rich” and guns. Each piece is a quick read, but all express a consistent, principled worldview.

IN THE PIPELINE

Forthcoming titles from both ends of the political spectrum:

Conservative

• “Takedown: From Communists to Progressives, How the Left Has Sabotaged Family and Marriage” by Paul Kengor (WND Books, May 26)

• “Lincoln's Ethics” by Thomas Carson (Cambridge University Press, May 31)

• “In Defense of Selfishness: Why the Code of Self-Sacrifice is Unjust and Destructive” by Peter Schwartz (Palgrave Macmillan, June 2)

• “Going for Broke: Deficits, Debt, and the Entitlement Crisis” by Michael D. Tanner (Cato Institute, June 7)

• “End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun)” by Mary Katharine Ham and Guy Benson (Crown Forum, June 9)

Liberal

• “Do Guns Make Us Free?: Democracy and the Armed Society” by Firmin DeBrabander (Yale University Press, available Tuesday)

• “Give a Man a Fish: Reflections on the New Politics of Distribution” by James Ferguson (Duke University Press, Wednesday)

• “Shadow Sovereigns: How Global Corporations Are Seizing Power” by Susan George (Polity Press, June 1)

• “Tomorrow's Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa” by Nick Turse (Haymarket Books, June 9)

• “Practicing Feminist Ecologies: Moving Beyond the ‘Green Economy'” edited by Wendy Harcourt and Ingrid L. Nelson (Zed Books, June 15)

Alan Wallace is a Trib Total Media editorial page writer (412-320-7983 or awallace@tribweb.com).

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