Lazy Sunday LXXIII: Forgotten Posts, Volume II

It’s another Lazy Sunday dive into some of my deep cuts—the forgotten or neglected posts of yesteryear.  As a reminder, here’s my loose criteria for selecting these posts, as spelled out last Sunday:

That’s all a long way of saying that I’m doing some deep dives for an indeterminate number of Sundays into some forgotten posts.  These are posts that don’t immediately spring to my mind when I’m referencing my own work.  These posts may or may not have had high or low hit counts; they are just posts that don’t linger strongly in my memory.  They’re the red-headed stepchildren of my churning mind.

The following three posts all date from Summer 2018, an important summer for me:  it’s when I relaunched the blog on WordPress, and when my old apartment flooded for the second time, prompting my ultimate move to Lamar:

  • Breaking: Trump Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize” – I used to do these “breaking” news posts periodically—dashing off a couple hundred words about some major development.  I was perhaps overly optimistic about Trump’s peace talks in Korea, but while they might not have ended the Korean War’s long cease-fire, they definitely calmed down tensions between the US and North Korea.
  • George Will’s Self-Destruct Sequence” – The Never Trump phenomenon was gasping for air in 2018, but it still had some loyal adherents (and still does, if you check out National ReviewThe Dispatch, and The Bulwark, the last of which is blatantly progressive, despite its claims to be a conservative site).  One of the first major figures to succumb publicly and wildly to the disease was George Will, the long-time WaPo columnist and tweedy neocon.  Will argued that Republicans in Congress should be voted out to avoid giving Trump dictatorial powers—a ludicrous obsession with the Left and the Never Trumpers, and completely deleterious to the future of the nation.  Sure, we Republicans might be the “Stupid Party” sometimes, stupidity in the highest halls of power is generally preferable to the “Evil Party” of intentional wickedness.  Now we have so-called conservatives plumping for Joe Biden on similarly faulty premises.  Yeesh!
  • HSAs are A-Okay” – I’m a big fan of health savings accounts, or HSAs, thanks in large part to my younger brother’s financial wizardry.  Health savings accounts allow account holders to deposit funds that can be used to cover future, out-of-pocket medical expenses.  Since my cut-rate insurance comes with a hefty $6750 annual deductible, squirreling away cash into my HSA helps in the event of a catastrophic injury or health crisis.  But the real beauty of an HSA is that the deposited funds can be invested in mutual funds and grow in value—tax-free.  They’re the ultimate investment vehicle, and you can save medical receipts for years before using them to withdraw HSA funds (if you use an emergency fund to cover medical expenses on the front-end, the HSA funds can grow unmolested until you decide to use them).

That’s it for another edition of Lazy Sunday—one of the last truly lazy ones for some time, as I report back to school tomorrow morning.  Classes resume 20 August 2020, so I still have about eleven days to prepare for the return of students.

Now I’m off to tickle the ivories for morning service.  Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

TBT: More Never Trump Treachery

With all the impeachment talk swirling, I thought it would be worth it to look back at a piece I wrote in May, focusing on squishy Michigan Congressman Justin Amash, the so-called “libertarian Republican,” as an example of the kind of bitter Never Trumpery that is champing at the bit to see President Trump impeached.

At that time, Amash argued that President Trump’s conduct was impeachable—not any actual crimes he committed, just that the way he comports himself is impeachable.  This claim coming from a guy who allegedly supports the Constitution.

Acting like a boor is not an impeachable offense.  It falls well below the bar of “high crimes and misdemeanors” set by the Constitution.  Further, President Trump’s phone calls to the Ukraine and Australia certainly fall well below that bar; I don’t even think he did anything wrong.

Read More »

More Never Trump Treachery

In the Culture Wars, the Right struggles with a commitment to principles, decorum, and intellectual honesty.  In every area of life, those qualities are virtues, but in the battle against the progressive Left, those virtues quickly become liabilities.

Nowhere is this handicapping more apparent than on the “Never Trump” Right.  In some cases—think neocon loons Max Boot and Bill Kristol—these figures are not even properly part of the “Right.”  In other cases, they’re effete elites—like George Will—who comprise the “loyal opposition” to the dominant Leftist paradigm.

In still others, the Never Trumpers are overly-literal ideologues who can’t accept anything but 100% ideological purity.  These are the Libertarians or “libertarian Republicans” that love 99% of what Trump has accomplished as president, but can’t abide tariffs or border control.  They point to Trump’s seemingly “authoritarian” rhetoric as evidence that the freedom-loving real estate mogul is not-so-secretly an American Mussolini.

Such is the case with Michigan Congressman Justin Amash, the self-styled “libertarian Republican,” who announced on Twitter that President Trump has committed impeachable offenses (without identifying what those offenses may be).

There are also rumors that Amash might run for president in 2020 as a Libertarian.  Given his tenuous but significant popularity in Michigan, he could siphon away enough votes from President Trump to cost him a crucial State and its electoral votes.

And herein rests the problem with so-called “libertarians” like Amash:  they’re willing to sacrifice the good—in Trump’s case, the overwhelmingly great—for the perfect.  “I can’t have Milton Friedman for President, so I’ll make sure the depraved socialists take office.”

Further, Amash has spent his entire career in politics, with the exception of one year working for his father’s company.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it definitely doesn’t fit with the Randian Übermensch ideal of spergy libertarianism.  Libertarianism works great if you’re shielded completely from the vagaries of the real-world job market.

The most generous interpretation is that Amash sincerely believes that the president’s reactions to the Mueller probe constitute what he calls “impeachable conduct” (never mind that the Constitution doesn’t identify “conduct” as worthy of impeachment, just “high crimes and misdemeanors”).  I can accept that Amash has applied his ideology so rigidly—and his distaste for real political brawlers so completely—that he believes the president should be impeached.

On the other hand, given his utter lack of real-world experience, it could be that Amash is attempting to make a name for himself after he leaves Congress (or gets voted out).  There are a number of Never Trumpers who, I’m convinced, are biding their time.  Should Trump lose in 2020—or when he leaves office in 2025—they look forward to resuming their place atop the political ruling class, getting back to their ineffectual, noodle-wristed “opposition” to official, state-sanctioned Leftism.

Regardless, the Right has no room in its ranks for such traitors (the Great One, Mark Levin, characterized Amash as a “Benedict Arnold against the Constitution“).  Fortunately, Michigan State Representative Jim Lower has announced a primary challenge to Amash.  Here’s hoping Lower lowers Amash a peg or two.

Vindication – Ben Shapiro Agrees with TPP

Yesterday, I wrote about George Will’s full-scale, Never Trump meltdown.  Later that day, the brilliant Ben Shapiro agreed with me on his daily show (not by name, mind you—that would be awesome).

Check out the video here:

I don’t like purity tests, but George Will isn’t even taking the right exam.  It’s said to see such an eloquent writer and inspired mind succumb to Trump Derangement Syndrome.

Ben Shapiro did not uncritically accept Trump during the 2016 election, and did not vote for him (or Clinton), but he’s been intellectually honest about his assessment of the Trump administration (and has pledged to vote for Trump in 2020 should the administration’s current course continue).

Sadly, such even-handedness among the so-called Conservatism, Inc., has been in short supply.  Kudos to Shapiro for calling it like it is.

George Will’s Self-Destruct Sequence

Last week, America lost one of its great columnists, Charles Krauthammer.  Krauthammer was a former speechwriter for Democratic VP candidate Walter Mondale, then realized he was no longer a Democrat when Ronald Reagan became president.  Krauthammer was a political conservative, but he wasn’t a slave to ideology.  He remained intellectually-curious and -honest, even that meant he was wrong on a rare occasion (he argued for a $1/gallon gas tax nearly a decade ago).

Long-time Washington Post columnist George Will—a colleague of Krauthammer’s at the paper—similarly has a reputation for intellectual honesty.  Like Krauthammer, Will exists in a cosseted, Beltway-Washington, D.C., and hasn’t quite come to terms with the presidency of Donald Trump.

As such, it was with dismay—but not surprise—that I read Will’s derisive op-ed in the Post, “Vote against the GOP this November.”  Never has self-destructive defeatism sounded so literate.

Will’s specious argument boils down to these details:  President Trump is a borderline dictator; Republicans in Congress are afraid to criticize him for fear they will lose their seats; Americans should vote out enough Republicans that the Democrats take control, but there will still “be enough Republicans to gum up the Senate’s machinery.”

Will points out that Congress has sacrificed its own important Article II powers in order to take the easier path of non-accountability, instead preferring to leave the hard decisions to the President and his power of executive orders.  While this point is valid, it’s not unique to the Trump administration, which, by all accounts, has used executive orders narrowly, and within the framework of existing legislation.  To read Will, this problem is due to Trump’s temperament and personality.

While the President may not enjoy criticism, he’s a big boy—not the coddled man-child that was President Barack Obama—and, besides, it’s Congress’s responsibility to pass and propose legislation.  If the President doesn’t like something, he can veto it.

Where Will’s advice truly goes off the rails is his claim that Democrats should be permitted to take control of the Senate, even if it brings in a “basket of deplorables,” because then a do-nothing Congress… would still do nothing!  He argues that enough Republicans would still be around that they would keep “the institution as peripheral as it has been under their control,” and would “asphyxiat[e] mischief from a Democratic House.”

What a load of malarkey.  As a conservative, which would you rather see:  a feckless Congress controlled by Republicans, or Democrats?  Even if you knew the Congress would be ineffective half of the time, the answer is obvious:  you’d opt for the former.  At least with ineffectual Republicans in control, you’d avoid groundless impeachment votes.

Indeed, look at the record of the current Congress:  the Senate confirmed conservative Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch; the Republican-controlled Congress passed the massive tax cut bill (which Will imperiously dismisses—when one enjoys Georgetown cocktail parties and fancy D.C. brunches for a living, money isn’t an issue); the Congress enacted the Right to Try Act, which will make it easier and cheaper for patients to try still-experimental drugs for deadly illnesses.

Logically, Will’s advice makes zero sense.  If the idea is to send a message to Republicans to be more independent from the President’s agenda—why would they want to be?—the price is too high.  Why make a point on principle if it costs you the future victories of still-higher principles?

I believe Will is sincere in his desire to see constitutional checks and balances restored, but President Trump represents part of the cure to that problem, not the disease.  Congress has the responsibility to step up.

That said, I also believe Will is blinded by a sincere hatred of—or, at the very least, a passionate distaste for—President Trump.  The man left the Republican Party, and urged Republicans to ensure Trump’s defeat, back in 2016—such are the depths of his disregard.  Now that Trump is president—and restoring the nation’s economy and national sovereignty—Will’s irrelevance as a national commentator is even further highlighted, and it seems his anti-Trump impulses grow even further.

Will thinks the ideal President should be balancing a tea cup on one knee while listening attentively to a farmer in Iowa (sadly, I can’t find this quotation online at the moment, but I remember reading it back in 2016).  For better or worse, the era of the Mitt Romney Republican presidential candidate has passed.  We are in the midst of a full-blown, no-holds-barred culture war in which conservatives have played the decorum card for too long.  Trump is a brawler, and while he may be imprecise or distractible, he has the guts to tango with the enemy—and win.

Will’s self-destruction as a conservative pundit is sad to witness, but perhaps it’s overdue.