Phone it in Friday VIII: Coronavirus Conundrum

It’s been another crazy week here in the world of yours portly.  The quarter is coming to a close, and I’ve got a mountain of ungraded quizzes and tests to slog through to appease the gods of higher education admittance.

Ergo, it’s time for a very special coronavirus (or “COVID19,” for your cool kids) edition of Phone it in Friday!

  • Tomorrow’s SubscribeStar Saturday will be a detailed rundown of what I’ve been doing to prepare for the extremely remote possibility that we all get quarantined in our homes and have to practice social distancing to avoid spreading the bug any further.  Here’s the short preview:  I bought a bunch of rice, beans, and spaghetti.
    • On that note, I’m yet again flummoxed by fears of everyday hunger in America.  Ten pounds of rice came to about $7; same with the spaghetti.  Twenty cans of beans cost around $12.  You can eat—maybe not well, but enough to survive and function—for a month for extremely cheaply.  Whining about “hunger” in the United States is a farcical outlier.
    • I am thankful to live in the United States, a country with the best medical system in the world, and the means to treat most diseases.  I’m optimistic that the virus will pass through quickly
  • Was it bat soup, or a Wuhan biological weapon?  Either way, I think we’ve seen the wisdom of the trade war with China, even though we weren’t anticipating something like a Chinese-created pandemic.  The coronavirus exposes the weaknesses and contradictions at the heart of China, and puts lie to the notion that this is a “Chinese century.”  I’ll be glad to be done with such rubbish.  The Chinese have come far, yes, but it turns out a totalitarian regime built on a culture of death and lying (“saving face”) can only snooker people for so long.
    • That doesn’t mean that China will no longer pose a threat.  Indeed, I believe China to be our biggest geopolitical competitor.  All the more reason to relocate industries back to the United States, or at least to friendlier countries like Vietnam, rather than deal with the Chinese.
    • For the best treatment of this subject, read blogger Didact’s essay “Corona-chan Comes for You.”  He spells out the economic threat of the coronavirus, and how the whole thing is likely the result of Chinese incompetence and the insane cultural concept of “face,” in which it’s better to lie (in the Chinese mind) than to risk bringing shame to your family.  Concepts like that make me glad to live in the United States.

My hope is that after all is done, China will be a pariah, no longer vaunted as a power on the rise, but maligned as a malicious, mendacious regime.

That’s it for this brief Phone it in Friday.  Wash your hands, stock up on dry goods, and stay healthy!

—TPP

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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Corporate Grind II: The Return of Corporate History International

It’s been a golden week for reblogging, as some of my blogosphere buddies continue to generate some amazing content.  It looks like I may have to do another Dissident Write feature soon (here are I and II).  Armistice Day always brings out the best material, too.

As we head into the weekend—mercifully free of professional obligations—I’m pleased to note the revival of my buddy fridrix’s blog, Corporate History International.

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Trump Stands for Us

My blogger buddy photog at Orion’s Cold Fire is enduring some bleak New England weather.  Apparently, the bracing cold and gale force winds have sharpened his already-considerable analytical skills, as he’s been killing it lately with his posts.

He’s written a post, “The Unique Value of the Trump Presidency,” which perfectly encapsulates what Trump’s presidency means to the forgotten men and women of this country.  photog rattles off a laundry list of reasons different kinds of conservatives might like Trump—his judicial appointments, his less interventionist foreign policy, his trade war with China—but hones in on the key reason Trump matters:  “… there is actually a much more important aspect to the presidency of Donald Trump that should be emphasized.  He doesn’t despise us” (emphasis photog’s).

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One-Way Cosmopolitanism

A major theme—perhaps clumsily conveyed—of yesterday’s post was that Americans should be able to keep their culture and local identity without shame.  As I noted, struggling rural communities are particularly susceptible to being swept away by large-scale immigration, legal or otherwise.  Thus, we see small South Carolina towns gradually hispanicize, turning into little replicas of various Latin American cultures, rather than the old Southern culture that predominated.

One often hears that Americans should be tolerant and open-minded to other cultures, and to extend maximum understanding and patience.  That is a generous and worthy view:  I don’t expect the Chinese foreign exchange students at our school to speak accent-less English and understand liberty their first day off the plane.  In that instance, we go out of our way to attempt to understand the cultural background from which those students came.

It’s another matter, though, when it involves the permanent or long-term relocation of foreign aliens to our land.  Remember the expression, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do?”  That rule always seems to apply to Americans—who are routinely criticized for being uncouth abroad—but never to any other ethnic group, and especially not to cultures outside of the West.

It’s an enduring frustration of mine:  one-way cosmopolitanism.

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World Space Week Starts Today

It’s been a long but productive week for yours portly.  Readers will notice that, other than my recent #TBT features (yesterday and last Thursday’s posts), I’ve been mostly silent on the impeachment circus.  My general policy in this age of media perfidy is to withhold comment until the real facts have been reported.

The way everything is shaping up, my gut instincts—that there is nothing to claims that President Trump has committed impeachable offenses, defined constitutionally as “high crimes and misdemeanors”—seem validated.  Of course, that won’t stop the Democrats from expending months of energy, treasure, and rhetoric on banging the drum of impeachment.

In general, I’ve been trying to expand the focus of the blog, moving away from strictly writing about politics and politics-adjacent issues to more general interest topics.  My little piece on Saturn from a few weeks ago was enjoyable to write, and seemed to garner some positive feedback.

As such, I was excited to see that today marks the beginning of World Space Week.

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Tom Steyer’s Belt

When I was in college, I formed this ridiculous pseudo-band with a suitemate of mine (who has, apparently, now gone down some dark roads) called Blasphemy’s Belt, which my bio on another band’s website refers to as an “electro-pop humor duo.”  I can’t remember how we came up with the name—our music wasn’t particularly or purposefully blasphemous (or good), and while we wore belts, they weren’t outrageous (just to keep our pants up)—but it was apparently catchy enough that people picked up on it.

The Belt never performed live, other than for an annoyed roommate, and a highly grating pop-up concert (at least, that’s what hipsters would call it nowadays) on our floor’s study room, but we generated enough buzz to get people to vote for us in a “Best of Columbia” survey in The Free Times.  We didn’t win anything, but it was an object lesson in how enough hype can make people believe you have substance when you really don’t.

That’s my self-indulgent way to introduce some literal navel-gazing—at Democratic hopeful and wealthy scold Tom Steyer‘s virtue-signalling, sanctimonious belt.

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Lazy Sunday XXVIII: World History

Most of my pieces here at The Portly Politico focus on American politics and culture, with some occasional dabbling in British and European affairs.  But contrary to Ron Swanson’s historiographical claim, history did not begin in 1776 (though everything that came before may have been a mistake).

As such, I’ve written a few pieces about events, current and historical, that take place in more exotic locales.  While I am a parochial homebody, I appreciate travel and the contributions of other cultures (I still wish I’d seen London and Paris before they became part of the Caliphate).  I wish I had the time to do more of it (on that note, stay tuned for details of my trip to the Yemassee Shrimp Festival).

So, here’s some worldly pieces for your Lazy Sunday:

  • North Korea Reflections” – I wrote this little piece on the occasion of President Trump’s historic summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un in Singapore.  My interpretation of the summit was cautiously optimistic.  It’s still unclear what the future holds for US-Nork relations, but the gambit seemed to work—North Korea is a still a bloodthirsty, repressive, totalitarian regime, but they aren’t lobbing missiles around constantly anymore.
  • The Impermanence of Knowledge and Culture:  The Great Library and Notre Dame” – this post was a synthesis of two events—the destruction of the Great Library at Alexandria, and the burning of a substantial portion of the Notre Dame Cathedral.  The fire at the latter riled up conservatives and traditionalists because the structure had endured for so long as a symbol of Christianity and of France’s faithfulness.  France is not a very faithful country now, but Notre Dame remains a powerful symbol of man’s capacity for focusing on the greatness of God.  The major point of this piece was to drive home how even great edifices eventually crumble, and that knowledge and culture must be preserved actively if they are to endure.
  • Sri Lankan Church Bombings” – coming on the heels of the catastrophic Notre Dame fire, the island nation of Sri Lanka was shaken on Easter Sunday of this year with Islamic terrorist attacks on churches.  Democrats referred to the slain Christians as “Easter worshippers” in what appeared to be a concerted effort to appear politically-correct.  Yeesh.
  • America’s Roman Roots” – I wrote this piece earlier in the week, based on an excellent op-ed a colleague sent my way.  Commentators often fixate on the similarities between the United States today and the Roman Empire, but often miss the parallels to the Roman Republic.  Those parallels exist because the Framers of the Constitution pulled heavily from Roman tradition, even naming key institutions like the Senate after their Roman counterparts.  The Roman Republic holds valuable lessons for Americans for how to craft a robust society that enables citizens to live worthwhile lives.

That wraps up this little tour around the globe.  Rome, France, Sri Lanka and North Korea—not a bad start, though I’d better get Africa and Latin America into the mix soon, lest I catch flack from the SJWs for lack of inclusion.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

TBT: Global Poverty in Decline

Yesterday I wrote about homelessness, particularly the sense that many “homeless” panhandlers are simply shakedown artists well-versed in emotional manipulation, guilt-trips, and implied violence or mental instability.

The United States enjoys incredible prosperity, unprecedented in history.  That prosperity doesn’t necessarily give our lives meaning—a key critique of traditionalists like my intellectual hero, Richard Weaver—but it’s probably a moral good to not have to worry about your ability to feed and shelter yourself.

But the United States is not the only beneficiary of wealth and abundance.  The rest of the world has enjoyed huge increases in quality of life since the end of the Second World War, and especially since the end of the Cold War.

So, contrary to Leftist myth-making, the United States has not kept the rest of the world down (and, by implication, is therefore morally responsible for taking in its impoverished, unassimilable hordes).  Instead, capitalism has lifted the world out of poverty.

That is the subject of this TBT feature, August 2018’s “Global Poverty in Decline“:

Regular readers know that I frequently cite pollster Scott Rasmussen’s #Number of the Day series from Ballotpedia.  I do so because a.) his numbers often reveal some interesting truths about our world and b.) blogging is, at bottom, the art of making secondary or tertiary commentary on what other, smarter, harder-working people have thought, written, and done.

Yesterday’s #Number of the Day dealt with global poverty; specifically, Americans’ ignorance to the fact that global poverty has declined substantially over the last twenty years.  Indeed, global poverty has been reduced by half in that time.

I’ll confess I was ignorant of the extent of this decline, too, although it makes sense that poverty has decreased, especially when you consider the rise of post-Soviet market economies in Eastern Europe and China’s meteoric rise since the 1980s.

I suspect that the perennial culprit of the Mainstream Media is to blame, in part, for this ignorance, coupled as it is with progressive politicians.  The rise of “democratic socialist” candidates—as well as the lingering effects of the Great Recession—would have Americans believe that the global economy is in terrible shape, and that “underprivileged” parts of the world labor in ever-worsening poverty (so, let’s just move them all here—that’ll solve poverty!).

It’s refreshing to see that capitalism is working its economic magic, and people all over the globe are lifting themselves out of poverty.  If representative republicanism and strong civil societies can take root and flourish in more places, the ingredients will be in place for continued economic and cultural growth.