Previous Articles

  • The American Right to Work Under COVID-19 November 24, 2020 by Guest Author - “Man produces himself through labor.” Marx’s seminal insight speaks to the psychological effects of the American response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The psychological health of the human person, regardless of his gender, race, ethnicity, class, or status, is coupled to work. Persons create and recreate themselves through work. Persons who choose not to work alienate themselves from the fullness of human living. Persons who are proscribed from working are disenfranchised from their immanent right to live and be. The therapeutic effects of work have been largely ignored by the political-economics of COVID-19. The omission is remarkable given the appeals to “science” commonly voiced by US political representatives and public health officials. NIAID Director Fauci’s sermons to the American public exemplify this deficiency. His exclusive COVID-19 focus on support for shutdowns and mass sequestrations disregards the total health of the individual. There is little science in the straight up death counts that have shaped the public discourse about the pandemic. The numbers are easily misinterpreted when separated from their greater context, remarkably susceptible to sensationalistic readings, and liable to political machination.
  • Thinking About Things: Winners, Losers, and Survivors. November 10, 2020 by John DeQ. Briggs - Well, I am glad the election is finally over. I also think that we will all survive quite nicely, at least in the short term. But what a weird ride. Donald Trump was not even the biggest loser. The pollsters and the media seem to me to have lost more. To be sure, President Trump was personally repudiated, but the pollsters and the media had virtually every major prognostication dead wrong. There was no “blue wave.” The Democrats lost a half dozen or more seats in the House of Representatives and, at least for the moment, Republicans seem to have maintained control of the Senate, subject to the Georgia runoff elections. Even if the Democrats capture the Senate and the Vice President is poised to break a tie vote, that will mean the party can go no further to the left than its most conservative senator will abide. Further down ballot, the Republicans maintained control of all of the state legislatures and governorships that they previously had and flipped a number of state legislatures as well, significant in a decennial redistricting year.
  • Enhancing Confidence in the Electoral System November 10, 2020 by Matthew Daley - There will be no shortage of analyses of the 2020 Presidential election in the coming weeks but, without regard to the final outcome of that election, the time has come to reform certain aspects of how the United States generally conducts elections. As governance issues go, this is not a daunting intellectual challenge. The American people have every right to expect that our elections will be conducted with integrity, transparency, and accountability by government officials. Court challenges aside, we also are entitled to know the results promptly. This is usually accomplished, but in close contests the lapses provide fodder for accusations that undermine public confidence in the system. Yes, in recent years we have seen instances of irregularities involving both parties. That said, there is not yet evidence of irregularities on a scale that would overturn outcomes. The judicial system will – shortly I hope -- resolve those complaints and allegations that are being brought this week. My present purpose is to look at modest measures that would enhance confidence in our future elections. A fair amount of confusion ensues from the fundamental reality that most of the legal underpinnings as well as the conduct our elections are the responsibility…
  • Election Reflections November 10, 2020 by webadminpcw - Each of our three editors provides today his individual short reflections on the election just concluded. We welcome readers to offer their own reflections about the election.
  • We Still Do Not Know What Is Coming November 10, 2020 by W. David Montgomery - Donald Trump’s apparent loss to Joe Biden would be far less troubling had Biden not chosen a left-wing extremist for his running mate. Then again, it would have been far more troubling if Republicans had failed to keep control of the Senate. The one hopeful sign about the resilience of American institutions is that the preference of the electorate for divided government seems to remain strong. Since Franklin Roosevelt’s time, only Kennedy and Johnson had and kept control of both houses for more than two Congresses. The rapidity with which Clinton, Obama and Trump lost that control of Congress seems to be a warning that there is still a middle that rejects partisan attempts at radical change. That may be due to the different geographic makeup of the House and Senate more than the continued viability of the center, but it remains a brilliant achievement of the Founders. Markets are already celebrating a return to divided government: Bloomberg news stated on November 9 that “A GOP-led Senate with a Democratic president is "one of the better scenarios" for stocks, JPMorgan said, as it would limit market-negative policies but lessen trade uncertainty. The firm expects a rotation to value and said…
  • Thinking About Things: The Biden Family Business, Ethics and the Rule of Law November 3, 2020 by John DeQ. Briggs - While I have no special insight (or maybe no insight at all) into the outcome of tonight’s election, recent revelations about the Biden family (the apparent selling of Chinese and other nations’ access to Joe Biden by his son, his brother and others for millions of dollars, some of which allegedly went at least indirectly to Joe Biden) brings to my mind several thoughts. But first a few sentences of essential background. The first line of defense to the initial revelations by the New York Post was that this was Russian disinformation. The second line of defense seemed to be that this could not be true because none of the media were reporting it and if it were true, the media would of course be reporting it. After Mr. Bobulinski’s firsthand eyewitness account of events, supported by contemporaneous emails and documents (collection of links here), was broadcast on national television, a soft third line of defense developed: that this was “old news” unworthy of comment. An equally soft fourth line of defense was that this was just a political smear and that Joe Biden did nothing illegal. One does not need to dislike Mr. Biden or like Mr. Trump to…
  • No Legitimate President October 27, 2020 by W. David Montgomery - There is no chance at this point that the 2020 presidential election will restore consensus on the legitimacy of the Presidency. We have noted in these columns several times over the last year that a successful democratic republic depends in no small measure on the consent of the losers. No matter the outcome of the upcoming election, some of the losing side’s supporters will not consent to the victors. A large number of voters will be convinced that one or the other of the candidates has won by illegitimate means: whether by voter suppression; ballot stuffing; buying votes; or by advancing a multitude of untruths and outright fabrications about the other side. A number of commentators declare that the victory of one of the candidates will be the “end of democracy” in the United States. An article in the Wall Street Journal suggests that should Mr. Trump prevail, the State of Oregon will actually choose to secede. This would perhaps be a good thing, as it would remove two democratic senators and, as its own country, Oregon could maintain its chosen status as a police-free sanctuary for criminals of all stripes, illegal immigrants as well as others. It would be…
  • 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…