SubscribeStar Saturday: Decline, Part I: Afghanistan

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.  For a full rundown of everything your subscription gets, click here.

Events of the past few years give one the distinct sense that the United States—and, indeed, Western Civilization—is in a steady decline.  As I wrote in an old post:

We’re no longer the Roman Republic, but we’re not the Roman Empire in the 5th century, either.  We’re more like the Roman Empire in the 2nd or 3rd centuries:  coasting along on the remnants of a functioning system, with a play-acting Congress shadowing the motions of republicanism.

We’re in what might be called the “decadent” phase of our existence:  past generations forged a nation from their sweat and blood; their successors solidified and consolidated on those gains, creating a powerful economy and culture, and winning major wars; their successors are currently coasting along on the fruits of their ancestors’ efforts.  But a culture, a nation, a civilization can only coast for so long before it loses all momentum entirely.

The recent unpleasantness in Afghanistan is a stark illustration of our current decadence—and our blind arrogance.  We believed we could plant a functioning democratic republic in a land that has been war-torn and riddled with autocratic warlords since time immemorial with an investment of twenty years of blood and treasure.  Instead, we botched a pull-out, abandoning American citizens and military equipment in the process, allowing the Taliban to seize control of the entire country in a leisurely weekend.

Ironically, The Pretender Biden was probably the perfect patsy for American withdrawal from Afghanistan, which was about nineteen years overdue.  Every administration has known we needed to get the heck out of a place known as “The Graveyard of Empires,” but no one wanted the bad optics of a withdrawal.  Biden is so senile and mentally foggy that he probably still doesn’t realize what he did, and certainly doesn’t feel any shame about abandoning Americans to the Taliban.

But even given our incompetent, mentally hobbled executive, the withdrawal from Afghanistan—quite necessary, I think—was botched so terribly, it condemns the entire US government and our military leadership.  Any ten-year old could have said, “Yeah, get all the weapons and people out first, then withdraw the last of the American troops.”  Instead, we did the exact opposite.  Ripping off the Band-Aid and getting out of Afghanistan was necessary, but did we have to rip the skin clean off the arm?

To read the rest of this post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.

Major Loot

In 2014, Hobby Lobby purchased a tablet containing an excerpt from the Epic of Gilgamesh, perhaps the oldest epic work of literature in Western Civilization.  The tablet is 3500-years old, and Hobby Lobby won the tablet in a Christie’s auction, paying $1.6 million for it.  Hobby Lobby displayed the tablet in its Museum of the Bible, which houses a number of rare and ancient artifacts.

Now, Hobby Lobby has forfeited the tablet to the US Department of Justice due to it shady provenance.  It seems that the original seller falsified a letter of provenance to show that the tablet had entered the United States before laws against importing rare artifacts were enacted.

To make matters worse, Christie’s apparently knew that the letter was questionable, but withheld that information.

Unfortunately, that means Hobby Lobby took one on the chin financially.  I’m not sure what the fate of the original smuggler is, but I imagine he’s long gone and living the sweet life.

The bigger question, though, is what should be done with such artifacts?  Current US policy seems to be to return them to their country of origin.  While that might seem to the be simplest policy, is it really best for the preservation of the artifacts—and our cultural heritage?

Read More »

MAGAWeek2021: Washington’s Miraculous Escape from New York City

This week is MAGAWeek2021, my celebration of the men, women, and ideas that MADE AMERICA GREAT!  Starting Monday, 5 July 2021 and running through today (Friday, 9 July 2021), this year’s MAGAWeek2021 posts will be SubscribeStar exclusives.  If you want to read the full posts, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for as little as $1 a month.  You’ll also get access to exclusive content every Saturday.

On Wednesday of this MAGAWeek2021 I wrote about the Battle of Sullivan’s Island, a key early victory for the Americans in our Revolution that protected coastal South Carolina from British occupation for four years, diverting the Redcoats to the North.  An unfortunate side effect of that victory was the increased concentration of British troops in and ships off the coast of New York.

Soon, General George Washington and the Continental Army found themselves besieged in Brooklyn Heights, New York.  The British General Howe had Washington’s forces surrounded and outgunned.  Facing total annihilation—or, even worse, surrender of the Continental Army just six weeks after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Washington made the decision to evacuate his men across the East River onto Manhattan Island on the night of 28 August 1776.

At daybreak, only about half of the Continental Army had made it across.  Defeat seemed imminent, even after the daring river crossings in the dead of night.

But then, something miraculous happened.

To read the rest of today’s MAGAWeek2021 post, head to my SubscribeStar page and subscribe for $1 a month or more!

TBT^16: Happy Birthday, America!

Since 2018, I’ve been reblogging my original “Happy Birthday, America!” post, which dates back to 2016 and the old Blogger site.  Each year I add another layer of commentary to to the original post, which essentially analyzed and discussed very briefly Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

My view on Lincoln’s role in American history has shifted somewhat in five years, but it’s undeniable that the Gettysburg Address is a powerful, succinct speech.  The Address, unlike my windy blog posts, is the quintessential illustration of the principle that “less is more.”

Like last year, this year’s post is a bit delayed due to the way the Fourth fell this year (on a Sunday).  It was a very quiet Independence Day:  my younger brother had my girlfriend, myself, and another friend over to have hot dogs and burgers, as his wife and kids were away visiting family.  I manned the grill, turning the dogs like a human-operated convenience store hot dog roller.  The thin, diner-style smash burgers my brother made were delicious, especially with American cheese.

This year was the first in awhile that didn’t really feel like the Fourth of July, even though last year’s celebration was during the supremely unfree Age of The Virus.  I suppose the holiday snuck up on me, and with the nation in the state it is, perhaps I just wasn’t feeling all that patriotic.

Nevertheless, I reminded myself that America has been on the ropes before, and we’re not going to let some bug-eating, gender-confused CommieNazis destroy our hope.

With that, here are several posts commemorating July Fourths past:

Read More »

Groundhog Day

Today is Groundhog Day in the United States, one of those throwaway observations that gets some cute stories in the news about a rodent spotting its shadow and a handful of opportunistic sales events sandwiched in between MLK Day and Presidents’ Day.  It’s ubiquitous enough to make it into the papers and the home page of your preferred search engine, but not significant enough to get a day off work.

I primarily remember Groundhog Day as a career-shadowing day for high school students.  When I was in high school, I spent one “Groundhog Shadowing Day,” as the administration called it, shadowing a college history professor at the University of South Carolina-Aiken.  I remember being overawed by the specificity of the historical research papers his college students were writing (in the way a first grader marvels at a fifth grader who writes an entire paragraph, not just one sentence), and chuckling to myself at his pro-gun control op-eds.  Even back then I knew college professors were loopy.

The following year I had the opportunity to shadow my State representative, who I remember as having a rather red-cheeked appearance and jovial manner.  I was still under the impression that politicians were somehow elevated beings, people possessed of occasional foibles and shortcomings, but ultimately intent on serving the public interest.  Ah, yes—the naïveté of youth.  I’ll never forget an energy lobbyist slapping him on the back and telling me, “I know Skipper will look out for us.”  Indeed.

Otherwise, Groundhog Day doesn’t loom large in my mind other than as a fun Bill Murray movie in which he woos a beautiful South Carolinian, Andie MacDowell.  Indeed, that film seems to have brought the holiday into the larger consciousness of Americans, as it had largely been a Mid-Atlantic—Pennsylvanian, really—observance up to that point.

Read More »

Election Day 2020

Well, here it is:  Election Day 2020.  I got up early this morning to get to the polls around 6:50 AM, and there was already a line twenty-deep waiting at the door.  I voted around 7:25 AM, so it wasn’t too terribly long of a wait.  When I left, there was still a long line out the door, and I live in a town with less than 1000 people and two voting precincts.

Immediately after voting, I felt energized.  I may be naive, as my blogger buddy jonolan claims, but I can’t help but feel optimistic this morning.  Hopefully that optimism bears out across the country, and holds up as the results come in.

I remember in 2016 a sense of despair that the fix was in, which slowly gave way to the magic of a Trump upset.  This year I am more anxious about the aftermath of the results than I am about the results themselves (although I am praying fervently for an unexpected Trump landslide).  A narrow victory for either candidate is probably the worst possible outcome (ergo, my aforementioned prayers for a convincing, incontestable Trump victory).

Of course, if my prayers are answered and Trump wins resoundingly and Republicans dominate Congress again, there won’t suddenly be peace on the streets.  As I noted in “Progressivism and Political Violence,” the progressive Left will resort to anything—including violence—if it’s electorally denied access to the legitimate organs of power.

With the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett, the Supreme Court is now solidly conservative-constitutionalist.  If Republicans control the presidency and a convincing majority in the House and Senate, the Left will grow even more enraged, unhinged, and violent.  Never mind they can take a bite at the congressional apple again in two years; they will array every force and tactic at their disposal to destroy us.

We must remember, too, that electoral victory does not equate to cultural victory.  The Left dominates the institutions and entertainment.  Leftist dogma increasingly shapes our basic assumptions about the world.  Those assumptions run deep, infecting even conservative Christians, the very group equipped intellectually and spiritually to resist such corruption.

But Leftism, for all its falsehoods and inconsistencies, is seductive to untrained minds and to well-meaning hearts.  It whispers sweet lies and promises.  In this way, it is truly demonic; indeed, it is satanic.  Satan appears as a being of light; his ugliness and wickedness only reveal themselves later.  Such has been the course of Leftism in American history.

But for now, let’s focus on winning that electoral victory.  If you haven’t already, get out and VOTE for Trump and Republican candidates at every level.  Let’s win the levers of power—and then begin the much harder work of repairing our broken culture.

vote-1286584_960_720

Tip The Portly Politico

Support quality commentary on politics, education, culture, and the arts with your one-time donation.

1.00 $

One Final Appeal

The 2020 election is tomorrow, and the fate of the country hangs in the balance.  Yes, such melodramatic rhetoric crops up in every election, but it’s very real this time around.

By this point, many Americans have made their choices, but I implore undecided conservatives and centrists to cast their votes for President Trump—and for Republicans at every level.  Sure, there are still some RINOs in our midsts, but a semi-reliable RINO is better by far than a reliably destructive progressive.

Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell might not always vote the way we would like them to, but there’s no denying they’ve been effective at supporting President Trump’s agenda in deed, if not always in words.  But actions speak louder than words; I can put up with a token denouncement from McConnell if he keeps packing the courts with conservative constitutionalists and playing procedural hardball with the Democrats.

Of course, the main attraction is Trump himself.  If he were any other person in American history, we’d be lauding him as the greatest president of a generation.  But because his style is combative and pugilistic, conservatives are all too eager to denounce him as “reckless.”  The irony is that Trump would have been unable to accomplish everything he has in his first term if he didn’t possess that scrappy sensibility.

I had a conversation last week with a conservative friend who agonizingly arrived at the point where even though he dislikes Trump’s style, he realizes the Democrats have nothing to offer but death and destruction.  Voting for the Democrats was never on the table for him, but he felt he could not morally support the President—until he thoughtfully considered the president’s record.  As he put it, “‘Peace in the Middle East’ used to be a joke.  Then Trump actually did it.”

Trump is the obvious choice for peace, prosperity, and national renewal.  Joe Biden is a puppet of the progressive Left, which will shunt him out of office in favor of Kamala Harris—a calculating, cruel, corrupt politician lacking any scruples whatsoever—at the first opportunity.

Don’t let that happen.  Vote for Trump, vote Republican, and vote to Keep America Great!

MAGA!

Donald-Trump-Official-White-House-Photograph

Tip The Portly Politico

Support quality commentary on politics, education, culture, and the arts with your one-time donation.

1.00 $

Second Presidential Debate Review

Last night was the second and final presidential debate between President Trump and former Vice President Biden.  Overall, it was far more measured in tone and richer in substance than the first debate, and it accomplished what President Trump needed to do:  reassure squishy independents and critical undecided voters that he’s not just a loose cannon, but can actually govern, and govern well.

I also found the moderator to be surprisingly fair.  The questions obviously were slanted in favor of the Democrats, as these questions always are (again, who cares about climate change anymore?), but she gave President Trump the opportunity to respond to criticisms, and also had some tough questions for Biden.

President Trump did what he should have done in the first debate:  he gave Biden the rope with which to hang himself.  It was Biden who brought up China and Ukraine, which opened the door for Trump to attack Hunter Biden’s lucrative salaries from foreign companies and governments—the result of Biden’s influence peddling.

Read More »

What is Civilization?

This morning while getting ready for work I listened to a fascinating discussion between Milo Yiannopoulos and “groypers” Steven Franssen and Vincent James.  I don’t know much about Franssen and James, other than that they are fairly prominent figures on the Dissident Right, but the discussion (which is available at Censored.TV to subscribers—I highly recommend forking over the $10 a month for a subscription) covered a broad range of topics, from 9/11 to the future of America and traditionalism.

Out of that far-ranging discussion came a brief debate between Milo and his guests near the end of the exchange.  The gist of it boiled down to the question “what is civilization?”  Milo’s contention—an interesting one—is that by abandoning our cities, we are, essentially, abandoning our greatest cultural products:  our art, our architecture, our institutions.  These cultural artifacts took the blood, sweat, toil, and ingenuity of the American people to build, so we’re capitulating to the Leftist mobs when we flee our cities instead of fighting for them.

In true Milo fashion, it’s a compellingly contrarian argument:  why surrender what we fought so hard to build?  I am a big advocate of normal, decent folks abandoning the cities in search of a better life in the country (to the point I think we should consider subsidizing families in rural areas), but makes a strong case.  If we want to preserve our heritage, we shouldn’t hand it over to looters.

Read More »