Previous Articles

  • Editor’s Note October 20, 2020 October 19, 2020 by webadminpcw - From now until the election, we intend to publish the Chesapeake Observer weekly in an effort to keep up with the almost constant surprises. In this issue, we publish the second part of David Montgomery’s column based on books by Timur Kuran and Rod Dreher. The next issue will appear on the normal day of Tuesday next week.
  • Living In Truth Part 2 October 20, 2020 by W. David Montgomery - In his book Live Not By Lies, Rod Dreher takes Timur Kuran’s observation that a desire to “fit in” leads to preference falsification a step further. Kumar gave the unexpected liberation of Eastern Europe from communism as an example of a benign “availability cascade” that suddenly and unexpectedly enabled the vast majority that hated communism to make their true preferences known. Dreher also bases his observations on the experience of Eastern Europe, using a number of interviews with former dissidents to understand how they were able to continue “living in truth” so that the benign availability cascade could happen. Dreher sees an availability cascade operating in the United States in a less benign direction, as the Democratic party, media, corporations and communities have adopted the language and beliefs of progressive activists. His thesis is that they are creating a system of what he calls “soft totalitarianism,” in comparison to the “hard” totalitarianism of the Nazis and Soviets. They are accomplishing this by using their power over individuals’ communications, livelihood and reputation to narrow the bounds of acceptable thought and speech to the point that only beliefs endorsed by the progressive left are allowed.
  • Living In Truth October 13, 2020 by W. David Montgomery - As I was writing this column, a neighbor stopped her car to talk to my wife, who was pruning bushes in our front yard. The neighbor said “I am proud of you for putting up a Trump sign, it encourages me. But you should know that a lot of people in our neighborhood will have nothing to do with you from now on.” Every time I have driven through Oxford recently, a related thought has come to mind. I see Biden/Harris signs in front of every other house and not a single Trump sign. I know that there are Trump supporters in Oxford, but to avoid social ostracism, they conceal their preference. Recently a professor at Duke University, Timur Kuran, tweeted that “Preference falsification makes the 2020 election especially difficult to predict. It’s widespread among Republicans about Trump and in many groups about dealing with the police. Biden seems ahead but only some political undercurrents are working in his favor. Food for thought.”
  • Thinking About Things: The Politicization of the American Judiciary September 28, 2020 by John DeQ. Briggs - The death of a Supreme Court Justice has again brought forth uncabined forces of hypocrisy and bloviation. It is almost entertaining to see each side excoriating the other for doing precisely what they would be doing if the shoe were on the other foot. Yet beneath it all, there is a legitimate political reason for all of this hyperactivity: the American judiciary has become more powerful than many legislatures, and even a single judge with lifetime tenure and no political accountability can stop presidential action or legislative enactment in its tracks. This problem has been brewing for a long time and it will not go away for a long time. In a different context, I wrote about this back on March 3, just before The Great Lockdown began. The context then was a discussion about an extraordinary book by Jonathan Sumption, a retired British Supreme Court Judge: Trials of the State and the Decline of Politics. The context now is a vacant Supreme Court swing seat on the cusp of one of the most contentious presidential elections in American history. There are many depressing things to note about the current state of the American Judiciary and I will note but…
  • The Biden Plan to End Our Gun Violence Epidemic September 15, 2020 by Matthew Daley - The Biden Plan is sweeping in scope; defective in its lack of understanding of firearms, crime and criminals; and lacks empirical data. On the other hand, it justifiably claims credit for Biden’s role in passage of the Brady Bill and the now defunct ban on “assault weapons” and high capacity magazines. It also proposes a number of unobjectionable steps, but these will have at best a marginal impact on the problem. The Biden Plan too often proposes policies based more on wishful thinking than serious research. Strangely, it ignores the fact that gun violence in the US has been declining significantly for decades despite a pronounced increase in the number of guns in private hands and it makes no effort to examine why that is the case and how best we can build on those trends or, put otherwise, what works and what does not. Herewith some of the more important points:
  • Maryland State’s Attorneys Act to Usurp Sheriff’s Authority September 15, 2020 by Guest Author - The Maryland State’s Attorneys’ Association’s (MSAA) Prosecutorial Police Reform Sub-Committee has made a number of recommendations to its membership; it is unclear how many of the state’s attorneys endorse the recommendations, but some of those recommendations bear close scrutiny because they support the effort of groups and lawmakers who want to reduce the authority of local law enforcement to act to protect citizens and reduce funding for local law enforcement.
  • The Dissolution of the American Dream September 1, 2020 by W. David Montgomery - It is not easy to write about the dissolution of the American Dream, yet evidence of its demise is all around us. Believers in an earthly paradise with no police, pristine nature, peace and love would see, if they open their eyes, that their demands have made large parts of our country unlivable. Their belief that it is possible to create heaven on earth justifies the creation of an earthly hell along the way. This, indeed, has been the philosophy of every revolutionary leader and intellectual in the modern era — from Marx, Hitler and Mao to the founders of BLM. Much of conservative thought — in which I include myself — recognizes the imperfection of human nature because it embraces ideas of natural law and individual responsibility that set the standard under which imperfection is recognizable. We do not expect or aspire to heaven on earth, and we certainly do not believe it is necessary to destroy what we have in order to make gradual improvements. Yet unfolding before us is evidence that America is not as exceptional as it seemed to be and is no exception to the general rule that countries and civilizations rise and fall.
  • Thinking about things The Political Industrial Complex: a Positive Path Forward August 18, 2020 by John DeQ. Briggs - We live in a perilous political time. Everywhere we look, most especially in the media, we are confronted with conflict between and among identity groups, political groups, and especially these days ambiguous groups defined by words that obscure their purpose or intent. Words have lost much of their obvious or clear meaning. Social justice combines two words each of which has a clear meaning to create a phrase that with each passing year has become increasingly Orwellian. Nobody really knows what the words now mean and what they mean depends on who is saying them in what context and in what circumstances. The seeming breakdown of civil society and the growing dysfunction of our political system are all amplified by a pandemic that has no end in sight. Yet in the midst of this most depressing set of circumstances in the middle of this most depressing year, I have just read a book that spends its first-half presenting the darkest imaginable picture of our country and our political system, and yet which ends with a sense of powerful optimism that we can put ourselves back together again with some relatively simple and achievable solutions that could re-create the political system…
  • The New York Times, History, and the Emerging Anti-White Majority August 4, 2020 by Guest Author - The main theme of the New York Times 1619 Project (as sociologist Alexander Riley aptly sums it up) is: “It is not just the American Founding that is racist to its core; every facet of white identity, from the beginning to the present moment, is directed in a laser focus toward the oppression of blacks. … Indeed, it is blacks who made everything valuable and worthwhile in this country.” But the Project’s anti-white screed, as I explain below, badly distorts history on four key points: 1. The Times paints U.S. slavery as a unique evil; and by current standards, it was brutal; yet, at the time, slavery prevailed nearly worldwide; and the U.S. system was not as harsh as many others. 2. In any case, the South had no clear path by which it might have divested itself of slavery’s baneful legacy. 3. The Project asserts that slavery and racism have enriched current U.S. whites; they have not, and the Times case relies on studies that other scholars have largely rebutted. 4. The Times also ascribes U.S. blacks’ problems solely to white malice; such a claim is, at best, simplistic. The 1619 Project seeks to justify punishing U.S. whites for…
  • Coming Soon to a City Near You: George Floyd Riots Redux August 4, 2020 by Matthew Daley - When videos showed Derek Chauvin placing his knee on George Floyd’s neck for eight plus minutes and Floyd subsequently died, many – myself included – concluded that we had witnessed a homicide. To quote Mark Lane, we perhaps had engaged in a “rush to judgment.” Certainly, the dominant narrative in the US was that Floyd had been killed by racist police and the Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison raised the charges against Chauvin from third degree murder to second degree murder and charged the other officers on the scene with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. This step was likely welcomed by the many Americans who had concluded that George Floyd was manifestly killed by the police who will understandably expect that Chauvin and one or more of the other officers present will be convicted of murder and sentenced harshly. One can also understand how this expectation has been baked into the public consciousness with the tenor and intensity of media coverage of the encounter as well as the subsequent discussion of and protests against police misconduct.