Previous Articles

  • Replacing the Religion of Progressivism January 26, 2022 by W. David Montgomery - By W. David Montgomery January 25, 2022 I start with an apology for my delay in publishing this issue.  This article is about one of the most interesting essays on the relation between religion and public life that I have read in many years.  It was written by Professor C. C. Pecknold of Catholic University, under whom I was privileged to study several years ago.  After reflecting on Professor Pecknold’s essay for a while, I threw away the article I had been writing and started over.  My plan is to summarize Pecknold’s argument while adding my own commentary on its relevance.  My hope is to introduce you to his work and that of his friends Adrian Vermeule (Harvard Law), Patrick Deneen (Notre Dame Law), and Gladden Pappin (University of Dallas), some of which is found here.  I hope you will be attracted by their thinking about conservatism and hope for America. They also make great comments on Twitter. I hope I will be forgiven for summarizing his (their) thesis in one paragraph. The idea that church and state must be separate is an illusion.  All societies have been linked together by some religion; the new state religion in the Western world is wokeism, for lack of a…
  • Russia, NATO and Us: Will our search for a European security order end in war? January 10, 2022 by Guest Author - By Wolfgang Ischinger Editor Matt Daley recommends this as the best short background to the current face off on Ukraine.  It also charts a reasonable path forward.  It was originally presented at the Munich Security Conference, December 31, 2021. The year is 1993/94. Poland, Hungary, and other former member states of the Warsaw Pact are pushing for NATO membership, German Defense Minister Volker Rühe is promoting this, and the U.S. would rather avoid NATO enlargement because of possible ratification issues in the Senate. Chancellor Kohl is skeptical and decides to discuss the matter personally with Boris Yeltsin. The result: Moscow is absolutely not enthusiastic, but would accept the admission of new members if, in parallel, the Russia-NATO relationship will be put on a fundamentally new, more cooperative basis. It was precisely along these lines that the alliance then negotiated the “NATO-Russia Founding Act” with Russia, starting in 1996. Two core elements: on the one hand, the admission of new members, albeit with considerable restrictions, for example on NATO troop deployments as well as on the stationing of nuclear weapons, and on the other hand, the creation of a consultative body that later became known as the “NATO-Russia Council”. The Founding…
  • Worth Reading for January 11, 2022 January 10, 2022 by The Editors - JDQB  likes the Commentary podcast on Bad Prosecutors, which echoes pieces of the main article.   He is also pretty shocked by the extraordinary partisanship of Merrick Garland as Attorney General, which he suspects might be a form of payback to the conservatives for their refusal to vote on his nomination to the Supreme Court so many years ago. See the December 9 Wall St. Journal  article. Finally, he does not know whether to laugh or cry at the Elizabeth Warren OpEd piece declaring that the Supreme Court now “threatens the foundation of our nation” and hence must be destroyed by packing it with enough compliant justices to overcome the current 6-3 split. This is a variation on an expression that famously helped to end the Vietnam War.  When the Pentagon announced that it was necessary to destroy certain villages to save them, their credibility began a steep decline and a loss of confidence in the military increased greatly.  Sen. Warren may meet a similar fate.  On the subject of the Pelosi-run hearings into the events of January 6, Matt Taibbi has written a brilliant piece (also narrated) with a sharp and acerbic pen to condemn the authoritarian designs of the left and critique the more comic authoritarian instincts of Mr Trump, while…
  • Thinking About Things: Societal Respect for The Rule of Law is in Trouble January 10, 2022 by John DeQ. Briggs - John DeQ. Briggs January 10, 2022 Many of our political leaders, and even more of our voting citizens, have not just lost respect for the rule of law as we have known it for centuries, but they seem committed to opposing it, even as it has proved robust in jury rooms and courthouses.   This has become increasingly evident since the summer of 2020, although the attitudinal seeds for this development were sown some time ago.  It is the reaping of these seeds that has become so obvious over the past two years.  Worse yet, the machinery of social media, coupled with intimidating social intolerance on all sides, makes it difficult to imagine the circumstance getting better before it gets worse.  The solution, if there is one, probably lies in major political change, perhaps procedural, that empowers the center and disempowers both the hard left (Progressives and their fellow travelers) and the hard right (Trumpists and their fellow travelers. The Situation.  I will refer in this article to some examples of the societal, and often political, distaste for and disparagement of the rule of law and the embrace of more situationally convenient rules.  These are by no means intended to be exclusive, but rather more…
  • Worth Reading December 14, 2021 December 13, 2021 by The Editors - JDQB recommends a deep article by Patrick Deneen of Notre Dame on how the left has changed from the optimistic pursuit of heaven on earth to a pessimistic conviction that nothing has gotten better or ever will because of irremediable racism and oppression.  Naturally, the Advent season is when we anticipate the remedy. We (the editors) have largely steered away from the moral issue of abortion, not because of lack of strongly held views but to stay out of a debate to which we did not feel able to make a unique contribution.  Now the possibility of a decision to overturn Roe vs Wade will make abortion a front and center debate until it is rendered next year, so it is time to jump into the discussion of at least its legal and political consequences.  The New York Sun gives a start WDM likes, and it is along the lines of JDQB’s recent column on secession. Then there is the point, made by a Loyola University Law professor, that no matter what Justice Sotomayor may think, objection to abortion is not only based on religious grounds. Now to a few new examples of how news that conflicts with the woke world view does not appear. WDM recommends…
  • US-China Competition: Nature, Sources, and Prospects December 13, 2021 by Guest Author - By Bilahari Kausikan December 14, 2021 It is privilege to publish, with permission, this guest lecture given by Secretary Kausikan at the Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Tokyo on 26th November 2021. I was asked to speak about ASEAN views of US-China relations. Southeast Asia is an extremely diverse region. I do not pretend to represent the views of the ten very different countries that make up ASEAN. Mine is a view from Singapore – and please note that I said ‘a’ Singapore view not ‘the’ Singapore view.  I am going to deal with three aspects of US-China relations: the nature of their competition, the sources of their competition, and the probable outcome of their competition.  It is obvious that US-China competition is now in a new phase. Since 1972 when China and the US reestablished contact after the communist victory in 1949, until around 2010, there had been periodic disagreements and tense episodes, particularly over Taiwan and human rights issues, but the overall emphasis was on engagement. Even the Tiananmen massacre in 1989 did not permanently derail engagement. But now the emphasis has flipped around. Engagement will not entirely cease, but the overall emphasis is now on…
  • Worth Reading November 29, 2021 November 29, 2021 by The Editors - MPD found a very interesting discussion of how Biden is in pincers between progressive donors and “cynical centrists” in this quirky article.  The author, a true believer in the Biden apotheosis, blames all his unpopularity on the resistance of the centrists, and how he does that is worth a read. JDQB recommends  John McWhorter’s expanded discussion of the AMA’s recent absurd recommendation that doctors adopt new woke names for diagnoses, and even suggests it might be worth subscribing to the New York Times to read him regularly. Out of the Commentary podcasts that he follows regularly, he has selected this one on Bad Prosecutors as particularly worth a listen.  For those like WDM who want something to back up their scepticism about pronouncements on Covid, he recommends this scholarly article that reveals the total lack of evidence that masks do any good. He reacted to this article on the Omicron variant with the thought that the Biden presidency is pretty much summarized by the phrase:  “Act then Think (or omit second part entirely).”  While on the subject of Omicron, his take from this tweet is: “Don’t Panic!” Nobody diagnosed with Omicron has yet required hospitalization.
  • Big Oil Is Not Responsible, Biden and Big Banks Are November 29, 2021 by W. David Montgomery - By W. David Montgomery November 29, 2021 Whenever oil prices rise, Democrats in power blame “Big Oil.”  Just as I can copy much of this article from what I wrote every other time this happened, we know President Biden reads from a script. In this case it is one that Democrats keep on hand for such occasions.  He called for an investigation of “price gouging” just as Obama, Clinton and Democrat committee chairmen did when gasoline price spiked on their watches.  That is what politicians do when their own policies caused the problems. I can recount 6 occasions on which this call has been made, and in every case the Department of Energy and/or the Federal Trade Commission found zero evidence of anti-competitive behavior. Their conclusions in every case have been that gasoline price increases were due to the operation of supply and demand, with prices rising when a constraint on supply appeared during a period of rising demand, and that the magnitude of price increases was consistent with the magnitude of the loss in supply. There has never been a finding that gasoline price increases were caused by any manipulation of oil markets. Nevertheless, blaming Big Oil plays well as a distraction and political theater.  Thus…
  • Worth Reading November 16, 2021 November 15, 2021 by The Editors - The China Diary by Matt Daley This article by Yun Sun in the Asia Times is as good a short analysis of China's strategic options re AUKUS as MPD has seen.  Sun points out that China remembers the fall of the Soviet Union as it contemplates whether to escalate a similar arms race with the US and its allies in Southeast Asia. Worth Reading JDeQB finds these recent bits and pieces from the news, Twitter and the like worth a look or a listen:  What it means not to teach CRT  Andrew Sullivan’s interesting piece on how the mainstream media seems to have gotten almost everything wrong over the last several years    Brett Stephens has an excellent piece in the NYTimes about why the Democrats are in Trouble.  Entertaining piece from The Dispatch on the perils of insulting the customer.  Excellent chart (and article too, but the chart is the point) on the Taxonomy of Woke Religion  WDM notes that his predictions about the events and outcome of COP26 were on the mark.  Putin and Xi did not find even the political theatre of the event useful enough to bother attending, meaning that nearly half of global emissions were not seriously engaged.   Commentators were divided about whether to cheer John Kerry, the President…
  • President Biden’s Immigration Plan Revisited November 15, 2021 by Matthew Daley - By Matthew P. Daley In an essay printed in the Chesapeake Observer earlier this year, I set forth what was then known about President Biden’s immigration policies.  At that time, I expressed foreboding that a central tenet of the Administration’s plan was to create “an open border” although that phrase was not explicitly used.  Nine months later, taking stock is appropriate.   As a Washington Post editorial stated recently, “In its apparent desperation to fashion an immigration strategy that will impose order on increasingly out-of-control migration, the Biden administration has unleashed a torrent of words and goals untethered to specific policies and timetables.”  Similar assessments have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and other mainstream publications.  Without a clear plan to address the immediate crisis, the result is the highest level of illegal border crossing in decades.  Despite the Administration’s constant avowals that our southern border is secure, these startling facts speak for themselves: August of 2020 under the Trump Administration, the Border Patrol apprehended over 47,000 illegal migrants of whom 10 were released to the interior of the US.  In August 2021 under Biden Administration policies, the Border Patrol made 195,000 arrests.  Of these, 43,941 were released into the US without benefit of…