Lazy Sunday CXXI: MAGAWeek2021 Posts

Last week was MAGAWeek2021, a week dedicated to the men, women, ideas, events, and things that, in their own way, MADE AMERICA GREATMAGAWeek2021 posts were SubscribeStar exclusives.  If you want to read the full posts, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for as little as $1 a month.

In case you missed any of these posts, no worries!  You can catch up on them now with this edition of Lazy Sunday.  Here’s all the greatness in one convenient post:

So, with all that goodness, why haven’t you subscribed yet?  Hmmmmm?

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

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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.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: The Supreme Court and Power

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The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg eight days ago has opened up another power struggle in D.C.  Democrats have spent decades perverting the function of the courts from that of constitutional referee into that of constitution interpreter, a role that places the Supreme Court above Congress and the presidency.

The result is rule by nine unelected officials who serve for life.  Congress has gleefully passed the difficulty of legislative activity and the push and pull of debate onto the Supreme Court, trusting it to clarify anything Congress may have forgotten to write into law.  Presidents have passively executed Supreme Court verdicts, and even signed legislation they believed to be unconstitutional, on the premise that the Supreme Court would make the ultimate decision.

Thus, the Court has emerged as the dominant force in American politics—and morality.  Not only does the Court tell us what the Constitution really says—even if the Constitution doesn’t say it at all—it also tells us the moral judgments of the Constitution (thanks to Z Man for that insight).  Thus, every cat lady and box wine auntie in America bemoans the death of RBG, their symbolic stand-in, who endorsed free and easy abortions and gay rights.

Now President Trump has the opportunity to shift the balance of the Supreme Court for a generation.  But will it be enough to reverse judicial supremacy and restore constitutional order?

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Law and Order?

It’s an election year, in case you’d missed that point, and our man Trump is up for reelection.  Trump is not doing well in the polls at the moment, but George H. W. Bush was similarly down against Michael Dukakis at this point in 1988, and won in a blowout victory.  Of course, Dukakis was an exceptionally feeble and excessively nerdy politician, and Lee Atwater’s Willie Horton ad was a gutsy, effective attack on Dukakis’s program of weekend release for prisoners.

1988 was also a very different America.  Even 2016 seems like another world.  Trump’s election was the paradigm shift of our age, spawning four years of constant resistance from progressives and neocons alike.  Joe Biden, like Hillary Clinton before him, enjoys the full support of the media and the institutions; even in his advancing senility, they are determined to drag him into the White House, where he will serve as a dull-witted, mentally-diminished puppet for every crazy Left-wing policy ever concocted in the faculty lounge of a women’s studies department.

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TBT: The Influence of Christianity on America’s Founding

My high school American history classes are getting into the American Civil War—or the War of Northern Aggression, or the War for Southern Independence, or whatever you’d like to call it—this week, so we’ve been talking about beginnings a good bit.  The Civil War had deep roots that go back not just to the 1840s or 1850s, and not even to the Constitutional Convention in 1787.

Indeed, the fundamental division dates back to the English Civil War in the 1648, when the Puritan Roundheads under Oliver Cromwell ousted and beheaded Charles I, and established the English Republic (which—the English having little taste for radicalism or dictatorships, fortunately collapses in 1660 with the restoration of the Stuart monarchs).  Loyalists to the king and the monarchical order were the aristocratic Cavaliers.  Those same Puritans of East Anglia settled heavily in Massachusetts following the Pilgrims’ famous landing at Plymouth Rock, and the Cavaliers—in body and spirit—dominated the tidewater plantations of the South.

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America’s Roman Roots

The Portly Politico is striving towards self-sufficiency.  If you would like to support my work, consider subscribing to my SubscribeStar page.  Your subscription of $1/month or more gains you access to exclusive content every Saturday, including annual #MAGAWeek posts.  If you’ve received any value from my scribblings, I would very much appreciate your support.

Armchair historians and dime-a-dozen political pundits (like yours portly) love to compare the United States to the Roman Empire, usually during its decadent latter-day decline.  The comparison is an easy one to make; just like Rome in the fourth and fifth centuries, the United States possesses an underclass of wage slaves; an obsession with mystery religions and spiritualistic fads; an immigration crisis; a decadent, self-indulgent quasi-morality; declining birth rates; and a sense the precious liberty of the old Republic has been lost.

Yet for all those declinist comparisons—apt though they may be—Americans should extend their historical gaze back further, to the Roman Republic.  That is what Dr. Steele Brand, Assistant Professor of History at The King’s College, urges Americans to do in an op-ed entitled “Why knowing Roman history is key to preserving America’s future” (thanks to a dear former of colleague of mine—and a regular reader of this blog—for sharing this piece).

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Lazy Sunday XVI: #MAGAWeek2018

This week marks the beginning of #MAGAWeek2019, my celebration of the men, women, and ideas that MADE AMERICA GREAT!  Starting Monday, July 1 and running through Friday, July 5, this year’s #MAGAWeek2019 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.

To celebrate #MAGAWeek2019, this edition of Lazy Sunday features the four essays from #MAGAWeek2018.  They pull from my years of teaching and reading American history, and I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

1.) “George Washington” – The Father of Our Country!  Social justice bleeding hearts and historical revisionists have striven for years to cast Washington and the other Founders as greedy slave owners who wrote a wicked, capitalistic Constitution to preserve their own power.  What a cartoonishly stupid view of American history!  George Washington was an able leader, and demonstrated a trait that the modern Left would do well to learn:  mercy.

2.) “John Quincy Adams” – John Quincy Adams was a terrible president, and suffered from the aloof elitism of our modern coastal elites (he was even staged against the Trump of his time, the populist hero Andrew Jackson).  That said, he was the best Secretary of State this nation ever had (so don’t be too hasty in drawing comparisons between him and Secretary Hillary Clinton).  JQA crafted America’s expansion across the continent with adept skill.  Read all about it in my lengthy biography.

3.) “Thomas Jefferson & The Declaration of Independence” – Jefferson is, other Washington, Madison, Hamilton, and a handful of other Founders, our most important Founding Father.  He wrote the Declaration of Independence, with its lofty ideals of God-given rights and liberty.  He was a Renaissance Man, talented in many areas, and while he harbored a naive support for the French Revolution (and revolutions generally), his philosophic mind bequeathed to the world a document that is a thunderclap for liberty here and abroad.

4.) “Limited Government” – This post largely focused on the Madisonian system of the Constitution.  I fear that we no longer truly live under the constitutional order that Madison and the fifty-four other Framers created, as our insidious Deep State and bureaucratic elite resist the results of elections and despise the very citizens they are charged to serve.  Let us hope the spirit of 1787 will move Americans again to insist upon the restoration of limited government.

Enjoy this look back at our nation’s history, and stay tuned for more #MAGAWeek entries this week!

–TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Washington’s Hardball Model

History blogger SheafferHistorianAZ at Practically Historical shares a piece from American history blog Almost Chosen People containing letters exchanged between General George Washington and British General Thomas Gage regarding the mistreatment of American POWs in British camps.  In the exchange, Washington warns Gage that British prisoners will be treated the same way American prisoners are, so that if the abuse of Americans continued, British POWs would endure the same mistreatment.

Washington made good on his promise for a short period, then resumed normal, humane treatment of POWs under his care.  Washington was known for his magnanimity, but “had his limits,” as Almost Chosen writes.

This bit of American history caught my eye because it seemed germane to yesterday’s post about Attorney General William Barr and the threat of the Deep State.  Such serendipitous connections are almost routine, I’ve learned, the more I read and blog.

What does one have to do with the other?  Washington here gave us an excellent example of how President Trump and AG Barr can approach the difficult task of holding Deep State traitors accountable, while avoiding a total breakdown into institutional civil war.

In essence:  treat your foes mercifully—until and unless they violate the rules of gentlemanly engagement.  The Left long ago ceased to follow any such restraint, and the Right’s major mistake is that, rather than combating it, we’ve attempted to operate within the Left’s increasingly narrow, insanity-driven frame.

Instead, the Right should hit back—and hard—against the Deep State.  Make a quick, decisive, coordinated strike and bring criminal charges against Andrew McCabe and Peter Strzok.  Prosecute them and their ilk swiftly, and make noise about investigating the Clinton Foundation under RICO jurisdiction.  President Trump could imply that such investigations and probes will cease once the Left decides to treat conservatives fairly again.

Such a “Washington Model” of measured-but-decisive action against the Deep State would send a powerful, unmistakable message to the swamp critters in D.C. and the Democratic Party:  play by the rules of “loyal opposition,” treat your opponents with dignity, or endure a dose of your own medicine.

We’ve depended on empty appeals to “decorum” and “taking the high road” for too long.  We shouldn’t swing wildly like a drunken pugilist, but should strike devastating blows on critical targets.  Drain the Swamp!

#MAGAWeek2018 – George Washington

#MAGAWeek2018

It’s July Fourth week here in the glorious United States, and in the spirit of good, old-fashioned patriotism, I’m dubbing this week “MAGA Week 2018” (and adopting the hashtag #MAGAWeek2018 in celebration—please share this post with the appropriate dose of shameless promotion I crave).  Each day I’ll be highlighting some historic individual who, in his or her own way, made America great again in their respective time.

George Washington

As with all American firsts, we’re starting with the first President of the United States, George Washington.  A bit cliche, perhaps, but I believe that we take George Washington’s legacy for granted.  Yes, he’s ubiquitously arrayed on our currency, and he shows up around Presidents’ Day in commercials for local car dealerships (“I cannot tell a lie—the price on these 2018 Chevy Silverados is unbeatable!”), but Washington has suffered at the hands of social justice warrior academics and white-male bashers.

Of course, none of those Gender Studies majors could even bash our first President were it not for his choices in and before taking office.  Indeed, we owe an immense debt of gratitude to George Washington for the system of government we enjoy today.

Surrendering Power

Washington is not some kind of patriotic demigod—he more or less blundered the British Empire into the lengthy and expensive Seven Years’ War/French and Indian War with France—but he did something that few military men have ever done in history:  he voluntarily gave up power.

George Washington received a commission from the young Continental Congress to lead the Continental Army in 1775.  On 23 December 1783, General Washington resigned his commission, surrendering his commission back to the civilian authority that originally granted it.

Historically speaking, it is hard to articulate how rare such an action is.  Washington could have gone the direction of the “George Washington of South America,” Simon Bolivar, and continued to fight for more power, or to expand the Revolution abroad.  Many men in his position—a position of immense popularity and holding the keys to the nation’s fighting force—would have forced the Continental Congress at gun point to extend “emergency powers” or the like to them.  Washington could easily have made himself King of the United States.

Instead, Washington followed the model of the humble Roman farmer Cincinnatus, who saved the young Roman Republic and promptly returned to his plow.  Thus, Washington is remembered to this day as “The American Cincinnatus.”

The Newburgh Conspiracy

Before he surrendered his commission, Washington narrowly saved the fledgling young Republic once again.  In Newburgh, New York, a group of disgruntled soldiers, upset that they had gone unpaid for so long, began to foment a conspiracy to march on Philadelphia, demand their wages on gunpoint, and, should the Continental Congress refuse, overthrow the assembly by force.  Such an uprising would have been disastrous, and could have ushered in a military junto, supplanting the Articles of Confederation.

Despite his best efforts, Washington could not win over the hardened veterans with eloquence.  He produced a letter from a soldier to read aloud to the rowdy bunch of soldiers, then fumbled about in his coat pocket for his glasses.

As he put on his glasses, Washington remarked, “Gentleman, you must pardon me, for I have not only grown gray but almost blind in service to my country.”  Washington’s soldiers had never seen him in such a light, and began to weep openly.  Thus, General Washington prevent a military coup simply by donning his glasses.

Shays’ Rebellion

After Daniel Shays’ Rebellion in 1786-87, Washington again—reluctantly—returned to public life, and was among the handful of men who began to push for a stronger national government.

Shays’ Rebellion shook many leading Americans to the core.  The State of Massachusetts, which was diligently and vigorously paying off its debts from the American Revolution, placed heavy demands on the limited resources of farmers in the western portion of the State (a recurring theme in American history—the tension between eastern commercial elites and western farmers).  As many farmers were unable to pay their debts—much less in the hard currency specie the law required—they faced debtors’ prison or confiscation of their property.

Their backs against the wall, the young Daniel Shays led an ad-hoc army of about 4000 men to occupy courthouses to prevent foreclosures and seizures of property.  Ultimately, the State of Massachusetts had to raise a private militia, as no other States would send troops to assist what they saw as a matter exclusive to Massachusetts.

Shays’ Rebellion highlighted the need for a stronger central government than the Articles of Confederation provided.  The Articles did not give the federal government the ability to tax the States or imports, and while a national army technically existed, it could only requisition troops from the States, and it had no way to compel the States to provide troops (seeing as it lacked a national military).

Reluctantly, Washington came out of retirement, and presided over the Constitutional Convention in 1787.

First President

Once the Constitution was ratified in 1789, the nation faced a number of problems that had gone unresolved during the long years under the Articles of Confederation.  America in the 1780s was economically depressed and suspicious of national authority (the latter is not entirely a bad quality), and it had failed to fulfill several of its obligations to Great Britain under the Treaty of Paris of 1783, the treaty that ended the Revolutionary War.  Additionally, the French Revolution broke out in 1791, creating a sticky situation between the young Republic and its technical Revolutionary allies.

The only man who could engender the support of all thirteen States was George Washington, who won unanimously in the Electoral College.  At his Inauguration, Washington wore a simple, brown suit—the attire of a common but respectable gentleman of the time—and eschewed any regal titles.  Vice President John Adams, knowing the difficulty of the job any President would face, proposed the unwieldy, monarchical title “His Highness, President of These United States, and Protector of Their Liberties” (in response, congressmen snickered that Adams should be called “His Rotundity”).  Washington wisely adopted the simple “Mr. President.”

The Whiskey Rebellion

In 1795, during his second term, George Washington faced the Whiskey Rebellion in Pennsylvania.  Like Shays’ Rebellion, the uprising pitted the interests of the nationalists against rural farmers.  Western farmers, lacking reliable transportation and long transport times, relied on converting their corn into whiskey, which would survive the long, arduous trip to market.  The Federalist-dominated Congress placed an excise tax on whiskey as a way to increase revenue, placing a heavy burden on western farmers (who, incidentally, tended to vote for Thomas Jefferson’s new Democratic-Republican Party).

Farmers began refusing to pay the tax, and assembled a militia to prevent its collection.  This time, however, things went differently—George Washington, as Commander-in-Chief, personally led the Army to face the farmers.  At the sight of the American military, the farmers threw down their weapons and dispersed.  Washington—in one of his multiple instances of magnanimity and mercy—pardoned the leaders of the rebellion, sparing them the hangman’s noose.

The lessons of the Whiskey Rebellion were clear:  good order must be maintained; armed insurrection is not tolerated; change must occur at the ballot box, not by force of arms.  Washington’s response to the Whiskey Rebellion cemented the authority of the Constitution, which had survived one of its first major tests.

End of Presidency

Washington served ably as President, keeping America out of France’s costly and radical revolution, establishing good government, and uniting a young country that was suspicious of centralized power.  And, once again, Washington yielded power, opting to serve only two terms—an important precedent that every President followed until Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

That final act cannot be dismissed too quickly.  Had Washington served a third term, he would have died in office.  The precedent would have been set that any President should try to hold onto power as long as was electorally feasible—or by extra-constitutional means, if necessary.

In his Farewell Address, Washington spelled out the ingredients that make a good government work.  He wrote, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports…. It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.”

We would do well to remember his words—and, I fear, we have forgotten many of them.

Fortunately, God blessed the United States with George Washington, and worked through him to make ours a more perfect union.  At multiple times in our young Republic’s history, George Washington Made America Great Again!

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