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.

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TBT^4: Happy Birthday, America!

It’s a bit late to commemorate Independence Day (and I did it already on Saturday), but it’s #MAGAWeek2020 (read installments here, here, and here), and it seemed fitting to dedicate this edition of TBT to America’s Birthday.

I’m reblogging a reblog of a reblog from the old site.  Last year’s post was “TBT^2,” or “TBT Squared.”   Well, to be mathematically consistent, I had to square that square, which I think makes it “TBT^4,” or “TBT to the power of four.”  I sure hope I’m right.  Regardless, next year will be “TBT^16,” and so on.

I like the layer of commentary, like my piddling blog posts are Talmudic commentaries on other rabbinical commentaries (or, since I’m Christian, Biblical commentaries on other Biblical commentaries of the Bible).  It’s interesting seeing how what’s changed over the years in this throwback posts.

For example, last Independence Day I had my first SubscribeStar subscriber.  That was fun!  I was also in New Jersey—one of the nicer trips I’ve taken.  This year, it was a Southern Fourth, with lots of barbecue and hash.

On a more somber note, America has seen better days—but also far worse.  I have to remind myself of that latter point, as it’s easy to get black-pilled and give into despair.  It’s a commentary on the softness of my own life that today’s ructions—piddling when compared to conflicts of the past—seem insurmountable.

But even if America is on the rocks in some areas, God is still in control.  We’re still the greatest country in the world, despite what the BLM and AntiFa ingrates think.  To be quite frank, if they hate America so much, they’re welcome to move.

With that, here are past Independence Day posts:

“TBT^2: Happy Birthday, America!” (2019)

It’s Independence Day in the United States!  God Bless America!

I hope everyone has been enjoying #MAGAWeek2019.  Remember, you can read those full entries only on SubscribeStar with a $1/mo. or higher subscription.  Your subscription also includes exclusive access to new content every Saturday, as well as other goodies from time to time.

I’m happy to announce, too, that I have my first subscriber.  You, too, can support my work for just $1 a month (or more).  That’s the price of a large pizza if you paid for it over the course of an entire year—you can’t beat that!

In case you’ve missed them, so far #MAGAWeek2019 has commemorated our second President, John Adams; our first Secretary of Treasury, Alexander Hamilton; and our national cuisine, fast food.  You can also check out all of #MAGAWeek2018’s entries.

This Fourth of July I’m in New Jersey, and spent a great day yesterday at Coney Island in New York City.  Despite not liking rollercoasters, I rode the historic The Cyclone, which was first constructed in 1927.  I also visited the New York Aquarium, and tried a cheese dog at the original Nathan’s Famous hot dog stand, the one that will host America’s favorite hot dog-eating contest today.  It was all quite touristy, but very fun.

To commemorate the Fourth of July, I’m reheating last year’s TBT feature, itself a reblogging of a classic Fourth of July post from 2016.

Enjoy your independence, and God Bless America!

–TPP

“TBT: Happy Birthday, America!”  (2018)

Two years ago, I dedicated my Fourth of July post to analyzing Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.  In the spirit of MAGA Week 2018—and to preserve the TPP TBT tradition—I’m re-posting that classic post today.

A major theme of the blog posts from that summer was the idea of America as a nation, an idea I still find endlessly compelling.  The election of President Trump in November 2016 has reinvigorated public debates about the nature of American nationalism, as well as revived, at least partially, a spirit of unabashed patriotism.

As a child, I took it for granted that America was a special place.  When I learned American history as a child, I learned the heroic tales of our Founders.  While revisionist historians certainly have been correct in pointing out the faults of some of these men, I believe it is entirely appropriate to teach children—who are incapable of understanding such nuance—a positive, patriotic view of American history.  We shouldn’t lie to them, but there’s nothing wrong with educating them that, despite its flaws, America is pretty great.

“Happy Birthday, America!” (2016)

Today the United States of America celebrates 240 years of liberty.  240 years ago, Americans boldly banded together to create the greatest nation ever brought forth on this earth.

They did so at the height of their mother country’s dominance.  Great Britain emerged from the French and Indian War in 1763 as the preeminent global power.  Americans had fought in the war, which was international in scope but fought primarily in British North America.  After Britain’s stunning, come-from-behind victory, Americans never felt prouder to be English.

Thirteen short years later, Americans made the unprecedented move to declare their independence.  Then, only twenty years after the Treaty of Paris of 1763 that ended the French and Indian War, another Treaty of Paris (1783) officially ended the American Revolution, extending formal diplomatic recognition to the young United States.  The rapidity of this world-historic shift reflects the deep respect for liberty and the rule of law that beat in the breasts of Americans throughout the original thirteen colonies.

America is founded on ideas, spelled out in the Declaration of Independence and given institutional form and legal protection by the Constitution.  Values–not specific ethnicity–would come to form a new, distinctly American nationalism, one that has created enduring freedom.

***

Rather than rehash these ideas, however, I’d instead like to treat you to the greatest political speech ever given in the English language.  It’s all the more remarkable because it continues to inspire even when read silently.  I’m writing, of course, about Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.  Here is the transcript (Source:  http://www.gettysburg.com/bog/address.htm):
“Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation: conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.“Now we are engaged in a great civil war. . .testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated. . . can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war.“We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

“But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate. . .we cannot consecrate. . . we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.

“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us. . .that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion. . . that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain. . . that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom. . . and that government of the people. . .by the people. . .for the people. . . shall not perish from the earth. “

 ***
The Gettysburg Address is elegant in its simplicity.  At less than 300 words, it was a remarkably short speech for the time (political and commemorative speeches often ran to two or three hours).  Yet its power is undiminished all these years later.  President Lincoln was only wrong about one thing:  the claim that the “world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here” has proven untrue.
I will likely write a deeper analysis of the Address in November to commemorate its delivery; in the meantime, I ask you to read and reread the speech, and to reflect on its timeless truths.
God Bless America!
–TPP
To read different versions of the Gettysburg Address–there are several versions extant–check out this excellent page from Abraham Lincoln Online:  http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/gettysburg.htm.

#MAGAWeek2020: Theodore Roosevelt, Part II

This week is #MAGAWeek2020, my celebration of the men, women, and ideas that MADE AMERICA GREAT!  Running through this Friday, 10 July 2020, this year’s #MAGAWeek2020 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.

Yesterday featured Part I of this two-part biography of President Theodore Roosevelt.  Part I dealt largely with Roosevelt’s life and achievements outside of the presidency; today’s post will examine his accomplishments as President of the United States.

Upon the death of William McKinley—a great, if now neglected, president in his own right—the young Theodore Roosevelt ascended to the presidency.  Old Guard Republicans had sought to smother Roosevelt’s career in national politics with a long, dull tenure as Vice President.  Now—thanks to the tragedy of an assassin’s bullet—Roosevelt took the “bully pulpit.”

Roosevelt was a Progressive, in the context of the time—he embraced a number of ideas Progressive reformers pushed—but he was also fundamentally conservative.  Roosevelt sought to conserve America’s promise of a “square deal to every man,” a promise that was seriously threatened.

To read the rest of today’s #MAGAWeek2020 post, head to my SubscribeStar page and subscribe for $1 a month or more!

TBT: Trade War with China is Worth It

Amid this whole coronavirus situationconundrum, crisis, globalist meltdown—we should keep in mind that it’s all China’s fault.  That’s why GEOTUS keeps calling it the “Chinese Virus” and the “Wuhan Flu,” because those names are completely accurate.  Of course, the media is having conniption fits about the supposedly “racist” intentions and implications of those names (which are quite mild compared to my favorite, “Kung Flu”).  It’s why the only real response to charges of racism—which are designed to make conservatives apologize in panicked fear—is to ignore them.

Regardless, it’s worth remembering that China is to blame.  Whether it was the result of abhorrent, unhygienic culinary practices (the infamous “bat soup“) or a malicious (or incompetent) leak of an engineered biological weapon, China unleashed this plague upon the world.  Perhaps the strongest argument against uncritical globalization is just that:  we made ourselves excessively dependent upon a regime that is fundamentally opposed to our very existence, and which rejects our deepest held values and beliefs.

In retrospect, then, President Trump’s trade war with China looks all the more prescient.  We’ve become so dependent upon and integrated with China, we’re running short on the ingredients for essential medicines because of China’s disease.  Supply chains have been seriously disrupted, and will continue to be, it seems, for some weeks.  Thank goodness the tariffs began moving production of some goods back to the United States.

That’s an important lesson to remember:  paying a bit more for your washing machine is worth the price of having domestic production.  We don’t need to make everything in the United States, but saving a hundred bucks or so on a major appliance isn’t worth gutting our industrial capacity and leaving our middle and working classes out of work.

Oh, well.  A lesson learned too late is still a lesson learned.  When this whole fiasco is over, let’s consider a healthy dose of autarky going forward.

With that, here is August 2019’s “Trade War with China is Worth It“:

There’s a lot of disingenuous scuttlebutt flying around about a looming recession, the inverted yield curve, and the costs of the trade war with China.  I can’t help but think such doom and gloom reporting is part of an effort to undermine President Trump.  Investor and consumer confidence are emotional, fickle things, based as much on feeling as they are on hard economic data.

As such, I suspect that major media outlets are attempting a bank-shot:  scare investors and consumers enough, and they panic into a recession.  President Trump’s greatest strength at present is the booming economy and low unemployment rate; take that away, and loopy, socialist Democrats have a much better shot in the 2020 elections.  With Leftists like Bill Maher actually hoping for a recession to unseat President Trump, that’s not a far-fetched speculation at all.

The inverted yield curve is a bit academic, though, and I don’t think it’s going to have the scary impact its prophets of doom hope.  Oh, a curve on a graph is inverted—scary!  Most Americans aren’t going to respond to that in any substantial way.

On the other hand, the negative media attention around the trade war with China could negatively impact perceptions of the president.  Trade wars, in which countries throw up tariff barriers against one another’s imports, often ratcheting up the duty levels, is a game in which both sides lose out over the long-run—that is, assuming they don’t have other viable trading partners, and that they’re both evenly matched economically.

And, yes, the trade war has had some drag on the American economy—but it’s been so minuscule, only a few sectors have really felt the pain.  Meanwhile, China is really struggling.  Getting Trump out of office would serve China beautifully, as narrow-minded neoliberal economists would likely push a Biden (or Harris—gulp!) administration to end the tariffs.  China has the dubious luxury of an authoritarian system that can direct its economy, while President Trump must survive reelection to keep his trade policy going.

The case for maintaining the trade war is compelling (and it pre-dates Trump:  one of Mitt Romney’s advisers in the 2012 election, Oren Cass, wrote an essay for National Review calling for a trade war with China in 2014).  The best recent summary for why the trade war is beneficial actually comes from my hometown paper, The Aiken Standard (kudos to my Dad for sharing this piece).

Greg Roberts spells out the case in “Facts behind the U.S.-China trade war“; I highly recommend you give it a read.  As Roberts points out, in a normal trading relationship, the price of each trading nations’ currencies would fluctuate based on its relative trade imbalance with its trading partners; this fluctuation would occur until some rough equilibrium in currency values is reached.

China—in violation of its agreement not to do so upon entering the World Trade Organization—has continually depressed the value of its own currency in order to encourage a trade imbalance with the United States.  Because the Chinese currency is held artificially low, it is cheaper for the United States to import Chinese goods than to export American goods to China.  Why?  Because the Chinese currency is cheaper, Chinese goods are less expensive, and can be bought and imported cheaply.

Because China is a currency manipulator, it is not acting per its agreement upon joining the WTO.  Further, Roberts points out other violations, including China’s requirement that firms wishing to manufacture in China turn over their patents, blueprints, and other intellectual property to the Chinese government as the cost of doing business.

Here are two relevant paragraphs:

Has China kept its promise? The answer is a resounding no, since the Peoples Bank in China, which is controlled by the Communist Party, routinely devalues its currency to maintain, in the case of the U.S., a positive trade balance, which, for us, means we have a trade deficit with China, now totaling more than $300 billion annually.

China agreed to many other provisions when it joined the WTO which the country has not kept, to wit not requiring the transfer of foreign technology as a condition of market access; enterprises in China that are owned or controlled by the government have expanded rather than diminished; foreign banks have not been given the access that had been agreed to; the theft of intellectual property has not abated; among many others.

Clearly, China has acted in bad faith repeatedly.  Further, the United States has a number of alternatives for trade in the region, including Vietnam.

Also, the goods China receives from the United States are the stuff of life—soybeans and other agricultural products.  Does the United States need more cheap plastic crap?

Give Roberts’s analysis a read.  It’s the best, most succinct summary of the trade war I’ve read recently, and it will convince you of the necessity of holding the line against Chinese economic aggression.

Post-Trump America

Well, the craziness of yesterday has subsided, and I’m almost finished with report cards.  Student-musicians apparently did quite well at their Music Festival, and life is (hopefully) about to calm down a bit before getting insane all over again in about five or six weeks.

All that said, I’m still pretty worn-out today.  Fortunately, my good blogger buddy photog, proprietor of Orion’s Cold Fire, wrote a post yesterday, “Building on Trump’s Revolt,” which raises some interesting questions.  Foremost at the back of every Trumpist’s mind:  who takes over after Trump?

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TBT: The Human Toll of Globalization

One of the more interesting developments in conservatism since Trump’s rise in 2015-2016 has been a reevaluation of our basic economic policy.  Much of the ideas debated originated, in our modern political era, with Pat Buchanan.  For decades, the assumption among conservatism was that economic efficiency was the highest good, as it lowered costs and eliminated or reduced government overreach.

That was a reasonable set of assumptions when our nation shared a common culture, and when the United States dominated global markets hegemonically.  But the goal of reducing the size of government morphed pathologically into the mad worship of Efficiency above all else.  We sold out social capital—stable families, cohesive communities, robust civil society—for quick cash.

That’s the gist of Z-Man’s post today, “Middle-Man Conservatism.”  Tucker Carlson has similarly touched upon the woeful consequences of worshiping Efficiency-for-its-own-sake.  Sure, Americans possess a pioneering spirit—we’ll move to the oil fields in North Dakota if we have to do so—but we’re still motivated by the same things other humans are:  family, community, belonging.  Gutting our communities to save fifty bucks on a washing machine is a ludicrous trade-off.

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TBT: Best SOTU Ever

Trump delivered an amazing State of the Union address Tuesday night—the best I have ever heard in my own lifetime, as well as the most entertaining.  That incredible, lively address—a celebration of America and her greatness—was followed Wednesday by Trump’s acquittal in the Senate on both of the flagrant, fallacious impeachment charges.  President Trump and the American people are riding high.

Before Tuesday night’s address, I thought the 2019 SOTU was the “Best SOTU Ever.”  Now it’s fallen to a respectable second place slot—perfect for this week’s TBT feature:

I was wrong, as were most conservative (and some progressive) commentators:  President Trump was right to hold out for a real State of the Union Address, rather than reviving the Jeffersonian tradition of the written address.

The president’s State of the Union speech was a tour de force:  he spoke eloquently of America’s role in advancing civil and human rights; the sanctity of human life, born and unborn; the economic development of the United States in the last two years; and the crisis at the border.

It was an address that was optimistic and accurate.  Unlike most SOTU addresses, which tend to be tedious attempts to inflate small bits of good news beyond all reasonable proportions, Trump’s 2019 address described, in detail, just how great America is, and how far we’ve come in two short years.

It’s little wonder Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi wanted to cancel the speech:  how do Democrats respond to that?  The first part of the speech was full of positive economic news, news that can’t be ignored or denied.  The president detailed explosive wage and job growth, including the lowest unemployment rates for black, Hispanic, and Asian Americans in history.

Beyond the economic good news—and the vow that the United States will never be a socialist country—it was a fun speech (well, it was a bit long, and dragged a smidge, but not much).  Even Democrats started getting up and dancing around at one point!  Congress sang “Happy Birthday” to a Holocaust survivor.  President Trump cut some jokes, and was clearly having a blast.  As any performer knows, if you’re having fun on stage, the people in the audience will have fun, too.

If you missed the speech, go to YouTube, shut the office door, and fire that baby up while you file TPS reports.  You won’t regret it.

TBT: Tucker Carlson’s Diagnosis

This week’s TBT looks back to a piece I wrote in January 2019 that summarized a segment Tucker Carlson did on his wildly popular show.  That segment really shaped my thinking on some economic and social issues (although other commentators and writers were already influencing my thinking in that direction).

Earlier this week, I wrote a piece about another Tucker segment that applied these concerns into a political platform, of sorts, one that moves beyond economic growth to real improvement for people’s lives.

This blog post was a bit shorter, so I’ll allow it to speak for itself.  It’s definitely worth watching the linked video in the piece, as it is the segment the post covers.

Here is January 2019’s “Tucker Carlson’s Diagnosis“:

recent monologue from Tucker Carlson’s Fox News program is blowing up the right-wing blogosphere, and understandably so.  Carlson has been a vocal critic of the neoliberal deification of economic efficiency at all costs.  I used to be a member of this cult, until the candidacy of Donald Trump (and lived experience) knocked the idealistic scales from my eyes.

Normally, it bugs me when people send me video clips to watch.  If they’re cutesy videos of the variety that drive clicks—think cats playing piano, or Goth versions of Christmas songs—I usually ignore them, no matter how hyped they are.  That’s not some virtue on my part; I just don’t want to take the time to watch them, especially on a cell phone (a pet peeve:  someone making me watch a video on their cell phone; I will refuse).

That said, I’m indulging in some hypocrisy:  you must watch this video as soon as you’re able.

For those of you that don’t want to take the time, here are some highlights:

  • Elites care only about maximizing economic efficiency, regardless of the human costs to individuals, families, and communities
  • That lust for efficiency drives income inequality, particularly benefiting the technology sector/Silicon Valley
  • “We are ruled by mercenaries, who feel no long-term obligation to the people they rule”—a key idea; I’ve read a similar analysis from controversial blogger Z-Man, in which he argues that leaders in a democracy are, inherently, renters rather than owners, and therefore are heavily tempted towards asset-stripping while in office, rather than building and maintaining a nation:  http://thezman.com/wordpress/?p=15929
  • Because of the hollowing out of American manufacturing and declining wages (again, due in part to the quest for efficiency), men struggle to find employment or to improve their wages
    • Because of that, rural parts of the country are dominated increasingly by healthcare and education, female-dominated fields
    • While better wages for women is fine, Carlson claims that—whether or not they should—women are less likely to marry men who earn less than them, therefore

These are just some of the most interesting insights, but Carlson sums up in fifteen minutes what would take a legion of hack bloggers like me hours or weeks to explain.

Again, I urge you to watch this video:  https://video.foxnews.com/v/5985464569001/?playlist_id=5198073478001#sp=show-clips

Blog Spotlight: Salt of America

Here’s something a bit lighter for your Tuesday.  I was poking around on the Internet looking for—well, I don’t know what—and I stumbled upon this charming little blog, Salt of America.  It has an “early Internet” feel in terms of layout, with a few banner or sidebar ads, and an archaic system for logging your ZIP code so the site can get sponsors.

Other than the ads for Mobil 1 engine oil and Campbell’s Soup, the site includes all sorts of articles and documents pertaining to rural living in the American past.  The site features a series of local and regional histories that explore the development of various American cities and States.  I’m particularly interested in checking out a two-part series on America’s first State to ratify the Constitution, Delaware (Part I, Part II).

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