Lazy Sunday C: Valentine’s Day

It’s Valentine’s Day—and the one-hundredth installment of Lazy Sunday!  Because I did the “Best of Lazy Sunday” prematurely due to The Great Misnumbering, I decided to take a look back at Valentine’s Day posts.

Unfortunately, I only have two posts for Valentine’s Day, which I don’t celebrate with the same gusto as Halloween or Christmas.  So I’m also going to toss in a sales pitch for one of my albums, which you’re welcome to ignore.

That’s it for this very special Valentine’s Day edition of Lazy Sunday.  Snuggle your sweetie today—even if she is a robot.

Love,

TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

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SubscribeStar Saturday: The Mainstreaming of Secession

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.

The American experiment in self-government is at perhaps its lowest ebb since the 1850s, a decade whose division and partisan rancor rival our own.  That decade’s statesmen’s failures to address sectional tensions—and, ultimately, to reconcile two fundamentally incompatible views of the world—resulted in the secession of eleven States that no longer believed the national government was acting in accordance with the Constitution.

It brings me no joy to make such a grim assessment, nor to contemplate what comes next as a result, but it is a necessary task.  My sincerest wish is that our great Union remain intact, and that we see some restoration of constitutionalism.  An increase in States’ rights and federalism—greater sovereignty at the State level and less power at the federal level—would go a very long way in resolving at least some of our national issues.

Unfortunately, I and others are increasingly drawing the conclusion that such a restoration is, at best, extremely unlikely and, at worst, impossible in an age of totalizing progressivism.  When even Rush Limbaugh is musing about secession (H/T to photog at Orion’s Cold Fire) and a George Mason law professor is writing seriously on the subject, we can no longer laugh off the notion.  Secession may be the future.

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Lazy Sunday XLIX: Family

It’s been another busy weekend for yours portly.  SubscribeStar readers, I have not forgotten about you, even though I’ve failed to deliver on yesterday’s still delayed post.  I will have a post up this evening, after I’ve logged this edition of Lazy Sunday.

I’m actually on a glorious four-day weekend from school, so you’d think I’d have loads of time to get posts done.  In fact, this Sunday has been anything but lazy, with church, four piano lessons, and a jazz band rehearsal now in the books.

This weekend has seen a great deal of time with my family, however, as my youngest nephew celebrated his first birthday yesterday.  Time with family is always rejuvenating, and helps maintain the closest of bonds and the most basic unit of human organization.  Our excessive focus on the individual has, at times, come at the cost of the older, stronger emphasis on the family as the basic unit of society.

To that end—and in the spirit of one-year olds’ birthday celebrations—here are some old posts, all throwbacks to the original TPP Blogger page, about family:

  • Family Matters” – a lengthy post detailing the decline of the traditional family structure, and arguing for the benefits of family-formation.
  • Family Matters Follow-Up Part I: Divorce and Marriage; Sex Education” – the “Family Matters” post generated a good bit of discussion on Facebook (back when I had the guts to post these to my personal profile page), especially among the sorts that don’t understand what a generalization is.  So this piece detailed some of the questions, comments, and objections that came up in the wake of the original.
  • Family Matters Follow-Up Part II: The Welfare State and the Crisis of the Family” – the welfare state has had an extremely deleterious effect on the family, particularly black families, which are barely anything such, with nearly 3/4ths of black children born out-of-wedlock.  Much of that decline is cultural and social in nature, but it also derives from bad government policy and perverse economic incentives.  Even worse, it’s spreading:  over half of children born to women under thirty today are born without a father present.

That’s it for this weekend, folks!  Be sure to hug your parents, grandparents, children, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc., and keep outbreeding the childless progressives.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Destroying Marriage with the Flip of a Coin

Today’s post is something straight out of Dalrock’s excellent blog:  a couple in Florida decided to take the last name of whoever won a coin toss.

Here is the image from the article:

A picture is worth a thousand soyboys.  I sent this article to my younger brother, sister-in-law, and girlfriend yesterday, and my brother commented, “The entire aesthetic of the lady officiant makes me think of one of these dystopian sci-fi settings where there’s one secular religion imposed by the State.”  Amen.

I will add:  the bride’s (Darcy’s) reaction to winning the coin toss speaks volumes.  She’s clearly gloating at winning an arbitrary coin toss that strips her husband of his last remaining shred of masculine dignity.  And the look on the groom’s (Jeff’s) face suggests he is not pleased with the outcome.

Of course, Jeff will never admit this fact.  Here is a particularly cringe-inducing excerpt:

At the altar of their Dec. 14 wedding, they flipped a brass, engraved medallion, one side with Darcy’s last name, and the other with Jeff’s surname.

“It’s fair. I am a graduate student in economics at Florida State and I think about fairness,” Jeff told the Palm Beach Post.

“Being with someone who was willing to start the marriage from a creative and teamwork and fair place felt like a really good first step toward an equal partnership,” Darcy, a nurse-midwife, added.

When the time came, it was Darcy’s name that won out. Mr. and Mrs. Ward were thrilled with the result.

“You could say I won,” Jeff said. “I was the one who received something new.”

The phrase “I am a graduate student in economics at Florida State and I think about fairness” perfectly encapsulates the clueless virtue-signalling of noodle-wristed academics.  Jeff is saying, “I’m smart, so I know better than centuries of tradition.”

His claim that he “won” because he “received something new” is protesting too much.  Jeff knows that what he and his wife have done is ludicrous—otherwise it wouldn’t make the New York Post—and emasculating, so he’s attempting to save face with a ex post facto justification.

The hyphenation of last names, or wives keeping their maiden names, may seem like a small personal choice, but it’s one of the thousand little cuts against traditional marriage.  Marriage is the coming together of two people into one, with the husband as the spiritual leader.  Taking her husband’s last name is a significant demonstration of devotion and fidelity.  It also serves the practical purpose of confirming paternity and keeping fathers responsible to their children.

It might seem like I’m making a big deal over a small decision—“it’s just a name, TPP.”  Well, what’s in a name?  Surely there is some symbolic and practical significance to taking a husband’s name.

Further, I’d be more amenable to such arguments if we hadn’t seen the systematic destruction of marriage over the last 100 years.  That destruction began with baby steps.  Anything we can do to shore up traditional marriage is a positive good.

I completely understand the special cases:  academics retaining their maiden names professionally, for example.  But a wife should not begrudge her husband for becoming one with him—that’s a recipe for a failed marriage.  Besides, no kid wants to be saddled with a hyphenated last name.

Let’s hope Jeff and Darcy make it.  My instincts tell me they won’t.  Darcy is clearly the “man” in this relationship, and Jeff is not.  Whether they realize it or not, that’s going to breed a great deal of unhappiness and strife.

I hope I’m wrong, for their sake.

Ratcheting up Towards Civil War

I’ve been catching up on photog’s excellent blog Orion’s Cold Fire, and boy did I miss a doozy.  Good ol’ photog regularly presents his pick for American Greatness “Post of the Day,” and on August 7, he wrote about a sobering Angelo Codevilla piece, “Igniting Civil War.”

Meanwhile, Southern history think-tank The Abbeville Institute posted an essay Monday asking “Is Political Separation in Our Future?”  These pieces suggest that something cataclysmic is looming for the United States.  Are they right to be concerned?

Read More »

Reblog: The joke’s on him (Dalrock Post)

A quick post, re: this morning’s post on moral decline:  Dalrock posted this piece about a sleazy divorce attorney in Dallas pitching divorce as a way to clear up closet space.

Here’s the Tweet with the billboard:

This mentality is why we’re in moral free-fall.

TBT: Family Matters Follow-Up Part I: Divorce and Marriage; Sex Education

Happy Valentine’s Day!  To celebrate the Day of Love, here’s a #TBT about the collapse of the American family and divorce.  This piece was a follow-up to one of my most popular posts on the old site, “Family Matters.”  I received a ton of feedback on that post (in those days, I posted everything to my personal Facebook page, but that was before it became completely unpleasant to be a conservative online—Trump was elected that November and it became much more dangerous to espouse conservative ideas on Facebook), including lots of questions about divorce and such.

Most of those comments fell into the anecdotal, “well, ACTUALLY” range—“what you’re saying is true, but here’s my one exception that I think undermines the general trend.”  Yes, yes—of course there are rare instances in which divorce is preferable to sticking it out, like violent abuse.  That said, we should generally support preserving marriage and discouraging divorce.

So, enjoy your Valentine’s Day with this lengthy rumination on divorce, marriage, and sex education:

Last Friday I wrote a post entitled “Family Matters” about the decline of the traditional family in the United States and the West, which I called “our true national and civilizational crisis.”  To my surprise, the post was very well-received and popular.  To date, it is the second-most read blog post on the site, and I look for it to eclipse the most-read entry, “American Values, American Nationalism.”  It certainly shattered single-day records for The Portly Politico.

It also garnered quite a bit of discussion on my Facebook page, where I always share links to these posts.  There was a great deal of excellent discussion, including questions for clarification on some points.  People also shared some of their personal experiences with matters of family and what sorts of arrangements work and in what circumstances.

As such, I thought I’d dedicate today and Wednesday’s posts to following up on some of the comments, questions, and observations I received.  I do so to facilitate further discussion and to help clear up any confusion about some of my contentions.

(Note:  As I wrote this post, I decided to split it into [at least] two parts.  Wednesday’s portion will deal with questions about same-sex couples and the impact of the Great Society upon black families.)

– Divorce:  I did not mention divorce at all in Friday’s post, but many of the comments I received dealt with this painful scenario.  Certainly, no picture of the decline of the traditional family is complete without a discussion of dissolved unions.

With roughly 50% of marriages ending in divorce, the model of the stable, two-parent family is further threatened, although increasingly families are forming outside of formal marriage.  Neither of these scenarios is ideal.  The rate of divorce naturally increased in the twentieth century in part because divorces became easier to obtain, especially with the rise and success of the women’s suffrage and rights movements.

The relative legal ease of acquiring a divorce, however, does not tell the full story.  Divorce also increased because of increasingly relaxed attitudes about marriage and family formation.  As the single working mother morphed from an object of sympathy into a perverse ideal–and as social signals and laws increasingly downplayed the importance of fathers and privileged mothers–both men and women came to see marriage as less of an institution and more of a formality.

“[Parents]… should make a good-faith effort to raise their children in a stable home, and to spare them the misery, confusion, and familial turmoil of divorce.”

As several commenters noted, sometimes divorce is, sadly, the better option, such as when a spouse is abusive.  I suspect many such unfortunate unions take place precisely because we’ve come to take marriage (and love) so lightly.  The erosion of a broad, common set of cultural and religious values could also play a role, as more and more “oxen” are unevenly “yoked,” creating deep tensions within relationships.

Of course, marriage is hugely complicated, and couples part way for many reasons (usually money).  However, it does seem that, absent abuse, infidelity, or criminality, couples with children should make a good-faith effort to raise their children in a stable home, and to spare them the misery, confusion, and familial turmoil of divorce.

Marriage, after all, is–or, at least, should be–a serious obligation entered into by two sober-minded adults with shared values and principles.  Of course, actual human relationships tend to be messy even in the most ideal of circumstances, but a proper focus on the point of marriage–two people coming together as one in the presence of God–would go a long way to help realign and heal struggling marriages.

 “Marriage, after all, is… a serious obligation entered into by two sober-minded adults with shared values and principles.”

– Sex Education:  One friend argued that we need more sex education in schools, as well as free birth control for young people to prevent unwanted pregnancies.  While I believe that abstinence is the best method of birth control to emphasize, I’m enough of a realist to know that teenagers find particular joy in doing what they’re told not to do.

The problem I see is two-fold:  first, we already provide sex education in most public high schools throughout the United States; second, the call for more sex education and access to contraceptives merely demonstrate the crisis of the family I’ve noted.

The proper realm for sex education is the home.  The popular media has perpetuated the myth that parents don’t talk to their children about the pitfalls of premarital sex because they’re uncomfortable or prudish, so the schools have to do it to prevent millions of unplanned pregnancies.

The problem, rather, is that so many children are growing up in homes without proper parental guidance, they’re missing out on important lessons about sex, marriage, and family.  Absent fathers aren’t there to teach their children that it’s wrong to get a woman pregnant and then to leave her.  Sex outside of the framework or expectation of marriage becomes devoid of any larger sense of responsibility.

 “[S]o many children are growing up in homes without proper parental guidance, they’re missing out on important lessons about sex, marriage, and family.”

Therefore, teachers have had to take on yet another responsibility that should rest primarily, if not solely, with parents.  Add to this lack of parental involvement the glorification of sex in the media and the general “if-it-feels-good-do-it” philosophy of postmodern America, and you have a recipe for moral disaster.

It’s unfortunate that schools have had to adopt this responsibility, at it suggests a massive decline in the understanding of what parents are supposed to do for their children.

To the point about free birth control in schools, I’ve never really understood this argument.  I understand that the logic goes, “it’s worth taxpayers’ money because it prevents the births of children who would become wards of the state; therefore, it’s ultimately more cost-effective.”  But many forms of birth control are incredibly cheap and readily available.  There’s no compelling argument for why the government should force taxpayers to pay for a box of condoms for high school students.

As far as the birth control pill for girls, it’s actually Republicans who want to make it available over-the-counter, which would further drive down the cost and allow young women experiencing shame or uncertainty to obtain it more easily.

 “[P]roviding birth control pills to minors through public schools introduces a host of sticky constitutional and legal concerns….”

Most importantly, providing birth control pills to minors through public schools introduces a host of sticky constitutional and legal concerns, the biggest being, “what if a family’s faith forbids the use of contraceptives”?  A devout, traditional Catholic, for example, would no-doubt object to being forced to pay for birth control for his daughter and the daughters of strangers.  He would likewise experience a crisis being required to purchase condoms for his or others sons.

Just because most people–including, apparently, most Catholics–are morally comfortable using traditional birth control and contraceptive methods doesn’t mean that we should make those who disagree pay for it.  The need to fund contraceptives becomes even less pressing when the low cost is considered.  Why cause an unnecessary, stressful crisis of faith for millions just to save a kid a quarter on a gas station rubber?

At this point, I would agree with my friend that, unfortunately, schools do have to take some role in sex education, especially given the increased likelihood children won’t receive it at home, since the traditional family unit is on the decline.  If private non-profit organizations want to provide additional information or free contraceptives, no worries–there’s no infringement upon religious liberty via official coercion.  Additionally, schools should stress the moral and financial obligations of parents to their children, especially in those communities where good role models are lacking.

Unfortunately, another government program to hand out free condoms is not a lasting solution to a problem that is one of the soul, not of the pocketbook.  Let civil society address these problems (perhaps with a revival of the good, old-fashioned shotgun wedding).

***
These are certainly thorny problems, and I fully recognize that as a single, never-married man I don’t possess the same perspective as, say, a married couple of twenty years or a divorcee.  Nevertheless, I reject the notion that a lack of personal experience disqualifies one from the discussion (even while acknowledging that personal experience often provides a great deal of clarity).  Besides, I’ve witnessed first-hand the power of strong marriages and stable families.  Indeed, I’m the beneficiary of one such union.

Finally, I appreciate lively (and civil) feedback and discussion, and I look forward to expanding further on this topic on Wednesday.