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Frank Dudley Berry, Jr.
Novelist, playwright (writing under names that are variants of the surname 'Wurtenbaugh'), retired criminal law practitioner.
Recent Activity
There is madness abroad in the way American elites think about their government and their institutions, the epicenter of which is an understanding (or misunderstanding) of the word 'democracy'. Recently, an Atlantic Monthly staffer named Barton Gellman published an article... Continue reading
It's apparent from the deplorable reaction of the media elite to the extraordinary Supreme Court decisions that ended the 2022 term that many of them misunderstand the difference between political conservatism and judicial conservatism. Political conservatism is a philosophy pertaining... Continue reading
To say that the United States Constitution has been subject to different and conflicting views is to state the matter mildly. Perspectives range from the absurdly reverential to the absurdly cynical. "The Constitution of the United States was made not merely for the generation that then existed, but for posterity-... Continue reading
Posted May 14, 2022 at American Idealism
I could begin with an apology for another blog dedicated to topics of American history and idealism, except that no apology is necessary. We have reached a stage in national and cultural development in which an incredible diversity of opinion about the nature and meaning of the American experiment. These... Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2021 at American Idealism
My attitudes about stop-and-frisk and other police practices in which privacy and security are balanced in various ways was permanently influenced by a case that arose in Illinois during the 70's, my public defender days - too long ago to... Continue reading
I receive daily email notifications of the columns David Leonhardt writes for the New York Times. The one I received a few days ago (linked here) could not have been a starker, more frustrating example of the compulsion so much... Continue reading
A friend of mine asked me about solutions to the plague of mass random shootings. You can begin by defining the problem correctly. The vast majority of guns and gun owners pose no risk of mass violence. The problem arises... Continue reading
Two years after the publication of 'A Prophet Without Honor', it might be safe to risk a little controversy and discuss the political parable I had in mind in writing the novel. Back in 2003, during the buildup to the... Continue reading
[Spoilers Below] You can read 'Thursday's Child' without knowing or caring about the mythological basis of the plot. The story is told completely in secular, naturalistic terms. But some readers will find an awareness of the underpinnings of the story... Continue reading
The painting on the cover of Thursday’s Child is a copy of ‘The Crucifiction’, by Jan Van Eck, done about 1440, and on permanent display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (Gallery 624). Thursday’s Child is not... Continue reading
The Stanford White Paper on Securing American Elections, published a few weeks, ago is an extremely disappointing presentation, to put it mildly. Summarizing, it focuses almost exclusively on Russian efforts to affect the 2016 election, ignoring other nations and individuals... Continue reading
[Written on Reddit in response to a poster who still believes all the 60's myths of the Vietnam War perpetrated by the war opposition. They fall apart on the slightest examination, but very few Boomers ever undertake that - too... Continue reading
A few years ago, I read Atul Gawande's book 'Better'. The book is a series of essays on a deceptively simple concept - a discussion of medical improvements and process that did not end or eliminate a problem (e;g. the... Continue reading
Let's suppose Elizabeth Warren's proposal for a wealth tax becomes law. It's pretty picayune compared to what we have been discussing in this blog i.e., a wholesale substitution of a net wealth tax for income tax. But let us suppose. I read a blog or Twitter post the other day,... Continue reading
Let me round out the entire scheme of Wealth Taxation in this post. Just a friendly reminder - we are not talking of a tax increase in advancing this proposal. The issue is the sources of revenue, not the amount. There may be all sorts of good reasons for a... Continue reading
Everything written on this blog is a speculation, a thought experiment about the means by which a net wealth tax might actually be implemented and administered. When a good or interesting idea comes along, consideration of it will be integrated into the discussion. In response to my last post on... Continue reading
Thus, the overview of the objectives of the Net Wealth Tax, and the basic administration. But God is in the details, and never more so than with the Net Wealth Tax. The tax requires that every asset and liability owned or owed by every taxpayer be accounted for and taxed... Continue reading
No administration of a direct tax is free from problems. But the administration of net wealth tax will be far easier than an income tax, for the same reason that it is much easier to construct a balance sheet than an income statement. Here is one likely template: (a) The... Continue reading
The one and only subject matter of this blog is the proposal that the United States impose an annual tax on the net wealth of citizens and residents, in lieu of an annual income tax. (I do not propose a tax increase. Tax rates would be calculated to produce the... Continue reading
[Derived from discussion posts of mine, lightly edited] My own thoughts for solutions to the problems posed by automatic weapons involve two simple elements, implementable tomorrow in one case, in a half-year in the other. (1) You create a 'no-buy'... Continue reading
It might be useful to step back for a second at the world as it existed in 1776, to realize how important Washington, Jefferson, and the nation they founded are to the entire human race. On January 1, 1776, slave... Continue reading
Wurtenbaugh's account is stunningly original, and he plausibly conjures a remarkably full vision of alternative history. . . [T]his is an impressive work, as bold as it is meticulous. A masterful exercise in historical hypothesis. - Kirkus Reviews (recommended) I... Continue reading
Several of the posters on the Facebook page about 'A Prophet Without Honor' discuss Neville Chamberlain, and various revisionist historians who attempt to rehabilitate his conduct at Munich. I'm a novelist, not a historian, but I did do my research... Continue reading
‘A Prophet Without Honor’ is subtitled ‘A Novel of Alternative History’ because there is no better genre description at present. But the book is actually a novel of what might be called ‘contrafactual history’. ‘Alternative history’ is exemplified by Philip... Continue reading