Rest in Peace, Herman Cain

Yesterday, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO and 2012 Republican presidential primary candidate Herman Cain passed away after a long struggle against The Virus.  Cain was 74.

Breitbart calls Cain a “Conservative firebrand,” which was apparent to anyone following the crowded 2011-2012 Republican presidential primaries.  Like 2016, that was a crowded primary field, with tons of conservative darlings and Establishment types alike jumping into the field.  Back in those days, everybody thought Barack Obama was going to be the next Jimmy Carter—an ineffectual, overly-progressive one-termer.  The economy stunk, Obama seemed out of his depth, and conservatives were united and motivated to get out and vote.

Herman Cain quickly set himself apart from the rest of the crowd, though—he wasn’t a career politician, but a successful businessman (according to John Derbyshire, Cain is also somewhat a mathematical genius).  He put out his bold “9-9-9 Plan“—flat, nine percent national sales, income, and corporate tax rates.  Cain’s reasoning:  “If ten percent is good enough for God, nine percent is good enough for the federal government.”  Yes, it was a bit far-fetched, but it was catchy, and in an era of high corporate and income taxes—both of which undermined American business competitiveness domestically and abroad—it resonated with voters.  The implicit reference to the biblical tithe also let voters know Cain was a devoted Christian, which was a welcome change from the open hostility of the Obama administration to religious liberty.

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Lazy Sunday XXXI: Trump, Part II

This week’s Lazy Sunday picks up from last week’s edition, “Lazy Sunday XXX: Trump, Part I.”  Our perpetually embattled POTUS/GEOTUS continues to fight back against the screeching Leftists:

  • Trump Up in Polls” – This piece from July looks at Trump’s rising approval ratings.  It also analyzes those numbers, and looks at MSNBC gasbag Joe Scarborough’s prediction that “bigotry and racism” would cost Trump reelection in 2020.  At the time, I wrote that “bigotry and racism” would not be much of a factor:  the epithet of “racism” has been hurled so much lately, it’s become like “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”—it’s meaningless.
  • Happy Monday: President Trump’s Approval Rating at 52” – Remember the government shutdown?  That seems like an eternity ago (I wish it were still going on).  Even in the midst of that, Trump’s approval ratings crested to their highest since Inauguration 2017.  President Trump has returned to the 52% (and 53%, I believe) mark since the impeachment witch hunt has begun.
  • Babes for Trump” – This little post always seems to do well, and was seeing a steady trickle of traffic recently (consistently enough that I made it a TBT feature).  Whenever I post it to The Portly Politico‘s Facebook page, one of my Trumpian former students always likes it.  Easy, big fella!  Regardless, the post is about President Trump’s support among Republican women.  My only real fear for 2020 is that, should Fauxcahontas get the nomination, box wine aunties and suburban moms will vote for her because she’s a woman, and because Trump is a “meanie.”  Get over yourselves!
  • Breaking:  Trump Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize” – Remember when we were supposed to be embroiled in nuclear war with North Korea?  Notice how that hasn’t happened?  A Scandinavian politician called for President Trump’s nomination to the Nobel Peace Prize.  That might have been a tad rich, but it would have been far more deserved than President Barack Obama’s receipt of the award—simply because he was a black guy who got elected President!  He won the award before he even had a chance to wreck our foreign policy.

Well, that’s it for this Sunday.  Enjoy your Columbus Day tomorrow!

–TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

TBT: Mueller Probe Complete, Trump Vindicated

Remember when the Mueller probe ended, then Robert Mueller gave bumbling, incoherent testimony to Congress?  For two years the Democrats engaged in major psychological projection, accusing President Trump of malfeasance akin to what Secretary Hillary Clinton actually committed.  The Deep State scrambled to overthrow the duly elected President of the United States.

After a brief reprieve—even Democrats have to take time off from playing Marxists to splash about at Martha’s Vineyard during the summer months—the progressives are at it again with a ginned up impeachment inquiry.  Trump talked to the new Ukrainian president and mentioned Joe Biden’s son.  GASP!  POTUS is colluding with scary Eastern Europeans to get dirt on a political opponent!

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TBT: Six Long Years

I’m still indulging in the unrealistic decadence of Spring Break’s unlimited freedom.  After a long Wednesday painting, I decided to go with an unorthodox pick for this week’s TBT.  Indeed, I’ve mined out the best of the old TPP blog; pretty soon I’ll be reposting pieces from this iteration of it, what I call “TPP 3.0.”  The benefit of daily posts is that I have a good bit of windbaggery to pull from.

Today’s TBT hearkens back to the dawn of the TPP 2.0 era, when I relaunched the blog after a six- (in reality, a seven-) year hiatus.  I was down on Fripp Island, a place that always seems to get the literary juices flowing.  There’s something about sitting at a dark, wooden desk in a study at the beach that channels some Pat Conroy-esque inspirado.

Anyway, it was there that I decided to do thrice-weekly posts for the duration of the summer.  The posts then were much longer than the average posts now.  These days, I average around 600 words on a post.  In those days, I was churning out 1200-1500 words three times a week.  There’s a reason I started the TBT weekly feature:  I wrote some quality content back in those days.

The post you’re about to read, “Six Long Years,” was a quick set of reflections on the very eventful years that passed from 2010-2016.  The world changed rapidly during the Obama Administration; we often forget how quickly and how much.  I can still remember, vividly, when many States—including deep blue ones!—voted against legalizing same-sex marriage.  Now, even suggesting what was the norm less than ten years ago would be grounds for deplatforming, doxxing, and SJW Twitter (and real) mobs otherwise destroying your life.

Now, even 2016 seems like an eternity ago.  Trump’s election that November was a “through-the-looking-glass” moment.  Who knows what the next six years might hold?

There’s no way to know.  Regardless, here is 2016’s “Six Long Years“:

A lot can happen in six years.

When I last posted on this blog, I announce that Nikki Haley had been elected Governor of South Carolina.

That was November of 2010.  Think about what was going on at that time:

– Democrats still controlled the Senate, but had just lost the House to the rising T.E.A. Party insurgency.

– The Affordable Care Act had been passed, but would not go into effect until 2013 (2014, as it turned out, due to the executive fiat of the Department of Health and Human Services).

– The Great Recession was, from a technically economic standpoint, over, but the much-vaunted Obama recovery was still frustratingly anemic at best, and virtually invisible to many Americans.

– President Barack Obama hadn’t completely divided the country along race, class, and gender lines, and his disastrous foreign policy hadn’t completely crippled American power and prestige abroad.

What a difference six years make.  Here are some highlights:

– Nikki Haley not only began her first gubernatorial term in 2011; she handily won reelection in 2014 in a landslide victory against her 2010 opponent, Vincent Sheheen.  The relatively unknown upstart from Bamberg made good on her promise to grow the State economically.  She guided the state through the horrible Charleston Nine massacre in 2015; adroitly handled the resultant push to remove the Confederate Flag from the Statehouse grounds; and entered VP buzz for the carnival-like 2015-2016 presidential election season.

– The Democrats lost control of the Senate after an unexpected Republican surge in the 2014 midterm elections, which cemented the gains of 2010 and showed Americans’ growing dissatisfaction with the Affordable Care Act in particular and the Obama administration’s equivocating in general.  This victory came despite an unpopular government shut-down (led by the brilliant Senator Ted Cruz of Texas) in 2013 and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s drubbing in the 2012 presidential election.

– Racial wounds that had mostly scabbed over were ripped open once again–this time with the president dumping plenty of salt on them.  Alleged police misconduct in Ferguson, Missouri and beyond brought out protestors in droves… despite the fact that many of these unfortunate events were not racially motivated (although some, such as the death of Eric Garner in New York City, highlighted the perils of excessive force and regulations).  Baltimore caught fire, Ferguson was ablaze, and the big losers were small black business owners who saw their stores looted amid cries for racial and social justice.

– The American college campus, always a training school for Leftist ideologues, became a breeding ground for illiberal Progressives, those who loudly (and sometimes violently) suppressed freedom of speech if such speech was deemed unacceptable or “hateful” (the latter often taking a rather protean definition).  Dovetailing with the rise in identity politics (see the previous bullet point), campus multiculturalism took on a dangerously Balkanized flavor, one that denounced the First Amendment and, in the process, heterosexual white men in favor of a vague commitment to skin-deep “diversity” (unless you’re transgender, in which case you can be whatever you feel like at any given moment).

– Out of all this craziness came the largest, most talented field of Republican presidential hopefuls in the nation’s history.  With seventeen (!) candidates, Republicans were treated to a wealth of talent—but also a great deal of muckraking, mudslinging, and intense political maneuvering.  From this crowded field emerged an unlikely victor:  business mogul Donald J. Trump.  In one of the biggest twists in American political history, a non-ideological, brash, gutsy-but-not-very-detail-oriented, and always-controversial reality television star won the nomination of an increasingly conservative Republican Party.  Put another way, a thrice-married, formerly-pro-Clinton, formerly-pro-choice New Yorker beat out a born-again, pro-life Texan.

Needless to say, it’s been pretty crazy.

With everything that’s happened, I realized that it’s time to get back into this world of political commentary.  The unique character of the 2016 presidential election alone has me salivating (be on the lookout for my brief overview of the 2015-2016 presidential nomination process).  There are so many questions:  what will become of the Republican Party?  Can Trump win the election (for what it’s worth, I think he can)?  Will Hillary manage to hold off socialist Bernie Sanders?  How will Trump and Clinton go after each other?  Should conservatives support Trump, or back a third-party candidate (for reasons I’ll explain in a future post, I’ll say “yes, with some caveats” to the first part and “no” to the second)?  What would a viable third-party candidacy look like—if such a thing is possible?

There’s a lot to talk about.

So, strap in and brace yourself—it’s going to be one heck of a ride.

All the best,

The Portly Politico

TBT: The Portly Politico Summer Reading List 2016

Two years ago, during the Second Era of Portliness, I wrote one of my most popular posts ever:  my recommended must-reads for conservatives (and everyone, for that matter).  With school starting back—yesterday!—I decided it was a good time to look back to this classic—nay, timeless—list.  Pick these up as soon as possible, and enjoy some end-of-summer reading.  –TPP

I’m at the beach–at the very desk at which I re-launched this blog after a six-year hiatus–and I figure it’s the perfect occasion to unveil the “Portly Politico Summer Reading List 2016.”

The books listed here are among some of my favorites.  I’m not necessarily reading them at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t!  These books have shaped my thinking about the many issues I’ve covered over the past two months.  I highly encourage you to check them out.

This picture accurately depicts high school students the night before classes start.
(Image Source:  Original doodle, 23 September 2012)

So, without further ado, and in no particular order, here are some of my all-time favorites:

1.) Richard Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences (1948) – I just wrote about this book in my last post (which I encourage you to read), and I’m including it on this list because it’s pretty much required reading, especially if you’re putting yourself through Conservatism 101.  The edition linked here is right around 100 pages, and while it’s a dense read, it’s not so overwhelming that you can’t finish it, making it perfect for long days at the beach.

Weaver’s writing is prophetic, especially if you’ve studied conservative thought, or even if you’ve just experienced a vague, gnawing sense of dislocation in the modern world.  It’s packed–nearly on every page–with brilliant, quotable gems.  I re-read the introduction to the book every August right before school starts back, because it reminds me why I teach, and helps to align my thinking morally and spiritually.

If you read just one book this summer—or even this year—make it Ideas Have Consequences.

2.) Dennis Prager, Still the Best Hope:  Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph (2012) – Few books have shaped my thinking about American values—what they are, why they matter, and why they’re worth defending—more thoroughly than this effort from conservative talk-radio host Dennis Prager.  Prager, a devout Jew with an Ivy League education and rich love of learning, outlines the so-called “American Trinity”—easily found on any coin—and argues that Americans are losing a three-sided battle against the Left and Islamism due to an inability to articulate why American values matter.

The “American Trinity”—liberty, trust in God, and e pluribus unum—is a brilliant and easy-to-digest device for understanding core American values.  In fact, I owe a huge debt to Prager; Still the Best Hope almost directly inspired two of my earliest come-back posts:  the much-read “American Values, American Nationalism,” and the follow-up “Created by Philosophy.”

Prager splits the book into three major sections:  outlines of the threats of radical Islamism and modern progressive Leftism, then an unpacking of the “American Trinity.”  By far, the largest chunk of the book is the second section, which is one of the most effective eviscerations of Leftist assumptions ever written.  It’s so long because it’s extremely thorough and well-documented.

At around 450 pages, it can be a longer read, but it’s written in a pleasing, engaging style.  Prager isn’t a blow-hard like so many talk-radio show hosts, and his inquisitive, inviting voice comes through on the page.  I also love Prager’s mind and the way he approaches topics; check out his other works here.

3.) Roger Kimball, The Long March:  How the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s Changed America (2001) – If you’ve got some time—and are prepared to be terrified by the excesses of 1960s radicalism and its heroes—you must read this excellent, damning collection of essays.  In fact, everything Kimball writes is required reading (I also recommend The Fortunes of Permanence:  Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia and The Survival of Culture:  Permanent Values in a Virtual Age, both from 2012; the latter is edited by Kimball and includes the works of other writers).

“[E]verything Kimball writes is required reading.”

Long March strips away the romantic facade of 1960s folk heroes and “radical chic” academics, exposing their fraudulent, dangerous theories and their continued influence on American society and institutions.  Kimball isn’t aiming for the easy targets or to satisfy the Sean Hannity crowd; he brings thorough research and intellectual heft to the proceedings.  As an art historian and critic, he offers a perspective that’s often lacking from conservative scholarship, serious or otherwise.

My only real beef with the book is that he takes a very dim view of rock ‘n’ roll.  That being said, his argument against it makes sense, and I can’t help but experience a twinge of introspection now whenever I listen to my beloved classic rock.

Regardless, Kimball is a strong, eloquent writer, and I can almost feel myself getting smarter when I read his works.  I’m currently reading The Rape of the Masters:  How Political Correctness Sabotages Art from 2005, and it’s a linguistic delight.

“If you read just one book this summer–or even this year–make it Ideas Have Consequences.”

Honorable Mention:  Greg Gutfeld, Not Cool:  The Hipster Elite and Their War on You (2015) – if you want a summer read that’s quick, digestible, and absolutely hilarious, pick up Not Cool.  Greg Gutfeld, co-host of Fox News’s The Five and former host of the excellent late-late-late-night round-table discussion show Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld, offers an unusual thesis:  everything awful that’s ever been done—such as adopting wasteful, inefficient, and redistributive government programs—for the past fifty years or so has been because people are afraid to look uncool.

It’s oddly compelling.  When you think about it, no one wants to be left out, and the Left constantly bludgeons society with the idea that if you don’t uncritically accept that the government should solve all of our problems through coercion (“compassion”), then you’re a mean, stingy racist.  If the parade of A-list celebrities at the Democratic National Convention last week (and the smaller cavalcade of B-list celebrities at the Republican National Convention the week before) is any indication, then it’s clear that it’s “cool” to be a progressive, but lethally uncool to be a conservative.  After all, what’s “cool” about saying no to “free” stuff?

Not Cool is a quick read, and Gutfeld’s humor and insight crackle on every page.  Sometimes you won’t know whether you should laugh or cry.

***

So, there’s your summer reading for 2016.  We’ve still got about a month of summertime fun left (although I’ll be heading back to the classroom in just a couple of weeks), so grab some of these books before you head out of town.  You’ll be glad you did.