Delayed SubscribeStar Saturday Posted: Back in the Arena

This past Saturday’s SubscribeStar Saturday was delayed, but I got the latest post, “Back in the Arena: Second Lamar Town Council Special Election” posted last night.  It’s about the beginning of my second campaign for Lamar Town Council, and my strategy to overcome secret write-in campaigns this time around (basically, get more people to turn out to vote for me—not too complicated!).

It’s available now for $1 and higher subscribers.  For full details about subscriber perks, read this morning’s TBT post.

Thanks again for your support!

—TPP

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Building Community

The outcome of the 2020 election is still up in the air, but whether we’re enduring President Biden (and then—Heaven help us—President Harris) in a couple of months or still partying under President Trump‘s second term, it’s important for conservatives and traditionalists to consider what comes nextAnother four years of Trump would be an extension of our current reprieve from progressives dominating the executive, but there’s no guarantees that a Republican will hold the White House after 2024.

As such, we need to begin planning and preparing for the worst immediately.  Indeed, many Americans have already done so, and I’ve spoken with many conservatives who believe the worst is yet to come.

Aside from stockpiling and gardening—and generally moving towards greater degrees of self-sufficiency—one important aspect to consider is community building.  By that I do not mean the kind of Leftist, Obama Era pabulum in which we’re all “community organizers” mobilizing nihilistic welfare queens into a low-information progressive voting bloc.  Rather, I mean genuine community building—the formation of those multitudinous, invisible bonds that bind a people together.

Doing so may very well be the most important step Christians, conservatives, and traditionalists can take to survive for the long-term.

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Red-Pilled Bible Study

Last night I attended a men’s monthly Bible study at a church in Lamar.  My neighbors had been inviting me for a couple of months, but when that mythical third Monday would roll around, I’d always have some outstanding obligation (mainly rehearsal for the Spooktacular).  Since I’m running for Town Council again in January, I figured it would be good to feed my soul and my political ambitions simultaneously (they also brought sub sandwiches, so I was pretty well-fed holistically by the time I left).

The evening was spiritually, culturally, and politically encouraging.  These men were fired up for Jesus, our country, and Trump, in that order.  After everybody caught up a bit and after some introductions (I was the new guy at the meeting), the conversation gradually turned to politics, starting (I believe) with the necessity for a border wall, and Biden’s hare-brained pledge to tear it down.

From there, it was a free-ranging discussion, including vigorous airings of grievances; laments for the state of our nation; pledges to resist excessive government mandates; and repeated admonitions to trust in God.  Our Scripture reading was Psalm 138.  The Psalm is a reminder that God is in control, and will support us in our hour of need.  Here’s verse 7, from the New King James Version:

7Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me;
You will stretch out Your hand
Against the wrath of my enemies,
And Your right hand will save me.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Rule of Law Matters

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.

Also, the delayed Universal Studios post is now available to subscribers:  “Universal Studios Trip No. 3.”

During the recent incarnation of the domestic terror organization Black Lives Matter, a group of BLM organizers in Florence, South Carolina received permission to paint a “Black Lives Matter” mural on a section of street in downtown Florence.  The mural is meant to depict various scenes from African and African-American history, including some Egyptian elements.

The mural itself was a community effort, and took around three or four days to paint.  In all fairness, it was a peaceful project with the full support of the City of Florence, and seemed to be an expressive way for the black community to participate in a project that isn’t overtly destructive.  Creating art—even historically inaccurate, propagandist art—is generally preferable to looting stores.

However, the City of Florence has decided to remove the mural.  Naturally, it’s resulted in a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth from blacks and gentry white liberals in Florence, who are accusing Mayor Wukela—a red-diaper baby and progressive Democrat—of racism, of suppressing black voices, and the usual litany of complaints.

Of course, that has nothing to do with why Florence City Council—which is overwhelming Democratic and heavily African-American—is removing the mural.

To read the rest of this post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.

TBT: High-Tech Agrarianism

Lately I’ve been heavily focused on yard work, as my lawn and flower beds were resembling an abandoned lot more than a well-maintained lawn.  As such, I’ve had small-scale farming on the brain more lately, even though the only edibles I planted were one forlorn banana pepper plant and some oregano (although the celosia leaves are edible before the plants flower).

Naturally, my mind returned to this March 2020 essay, “High-Tech Agrarianism.”  It’s perhaps a testament to how much we have adjusted to The Age of The Virus that I did not go out and till my half-acre, instead letting it loose to its recent weedy state.

Reading over this essay, which I wrote in the week after South Carolina schools shut down, it’s interesting how much I’ve mellowed on The Virus.  I was skeptical of it beforehand, but when schools were shuttered for the last two months of the academic year, the sense that something big was wrong only grew.  The most remarkable aspect of The Virus is that, even with shutdowns, the economy kept going, and there’s not the same sense of depressing listlessness that reigned during the Great Recession.

Of course, the economic fallout may very well be delayed, and I’m in a much better position financially and professionally this time around than I was in 2009.  The government distributing $1200 checks and propping up businesses probably smoothed out the economic disruption a bit, too.

It’s also interesting that other than wearing masks and sanitizing ourselves and our things constantly, life seems to be marching on more normally.  The True Believers in The Virus scold large gatherings, but people want to be together.  We can limit crowds only so much—people are going to congregate.

The Age of The Virus aside, the idea of tilling suburban and small town acreage is a prudent, if difficult, job.  I still maintain it’s a better use of land than a lawn.  Instead of mowing and edging, put that effort towards watering, weeding, and fertilizing.  Crops look good—and taste good, too.

That last paragraph probably highlights my ignorance about agriculture—something I’m working on as I flirt more and more with the idea of converting my yard into arable square feet.  We’ll see where I am in another six months.

Here’s “High-Tech Agrarianism“:

The coronavirus situation—which I am convinced is both quite serious, but also inspiring some huge overreactions—has created a world that feels almost entirely different than it did even a few days ago.  This time last week, I was convinced that the whole thing was way overblown, and that life would largely continue apace, minus some school closures here and there.

By Friday evening I was growing more concerned, as everything began to get closed or cancelled.  I proctored the SAT Saturday morning and even went out of town that evening.  At that point, I thought the risk of my school closing was greater than it had been even two or three days before, but I still figured it was a relatively remote possibility.

Then Governor McMaster announced the closure of all South Carolina public schools (I teach at a private school, but we always follow gubernatorial closures)—and a bunch of other stuff shut down.  I picked up dinner at a Hardee’s in Florence, South Carolina Monday evening after a guitar lesson, and it was surreal—everything was gone from the front, and the cashier had to give me a lid and straw according to their new cleanliness guidelines.

(Let’s take a moment to thank all those service industry folks and long-distance truckers who are continuing to work and risking exposure; they are unsung heroes.  Also, spare a thought to people in those industries that are out-of-work at the moment.  They need our love and charity now more than ever.)

That’s all to say that, in a remarkably short period of time, the United States has undergone a major paradigm shift.  The world of Saturday, 14 March 2020 at 2 PM—when I emerged from the cocoon of extended time SAT testing—was a different than the world of Wednesday, 18 March 2020 at 9 PM (when I’m writing this very belated blog post).

One trend—that I think will be positive if it endures—is the implicit rejection of globalism.  People are suddenly awakening, dramatically, to the manifold downsides of open borders and excessive global economic integration.  Suddenly, localism is back in vogue.

One of my musician friends, a bit of a Sandersnista hippie-dippie type (but attractive enough to get away with it) has been posting Left-leaning memes consistently throughout this crisis.  But one meme caught my eye:

Grandma - Local Supply Chain

Here’s good ol’ Granny tending her garden.  The meme is right:  I know from family lore that my Mamaw and Papaw fed themselves, their children, and a lot of other folks in the mountains of southwestern Virginia during the Depression with chickens and crops they raised themselves.

That got me thinking:  could America see the return of widespread of homesteading, or some modern-day version of Jeffersonian agrarianism?

I was pondering this question on my way to church tonight (yes, yes, social distancing, etc., but it’s a small church, and we had a very small turnout, so I’m sure it was fine to attend), driving through the fields on the outskirts of Lamar.  I began pondering the notion of a society with our level of information technology, but that saw most Americans farming or gardening for at least a small bit of their sustenance.

Such a system would be “high-tech agrarianism”—it would combine modern technology, especially information technology like the Internet, with millions of freehold agriculturalists.  Yes, we’d still have the huge mega-farms, we’d have people working in offices, etc.  But people would be making good use of their land, too, growing crops instead of grass.

Of course, I then began to ponder if such a society could have ever developed organically.  My instinct is no—it required the massive integration of local, regional, and national economies to raise production efficiency to the point that we can have widespread, niche-y specialization in tens of thousands of fields.  Greater efficiency fed into greater technological advancement, which in turn led to greater efficiency—and on and on and on, in a revving upward cycle.

But now we’re staring down this virus, which is leading governments all over the world to close stores, cancel events, lay off workers, turn away elderly patients, and on and on.  Those long, efficient supply chains are massively disrupted.  People are hoarding toilet paper and bread in the hopes of riding out likely (and, in some places, actual) quarantines.

I’m assuming life will return to normal… eventually.  But when?  So far, many of my assumptions about the pandemic have been incorrect (it turns out this time, the media wasn’t just crying wolf—well, not entirely, anyway; it still seems that some of this panicked response is driven by ridiculous media spin and speculation).  If we continue down this road of greater and greater decentralized isolation, people are either going to riot, or figure out how to provide for themselves.

In such a world, maybe high technology and small-scale farming could work keyboard-in-glove.  I’ve long advocated for some return to a simpler, more agrarian, more localized life.

Of course, I’m romanticizing America’s Jeffersonian past.  Farming is hard—and risky (of course, that hardness made our nation great).  I certainly don’t know anything about it—another truth to the meme above.  Also, if we’d continued as a mostly farming nation, we wouldn’t have the means to fight this virus, or to figure out how to fight it.

That said, converting your half-acre lawn into a garden full of corn, squash, peppers, lettuce, cabbage, beans, berry bushes, etc., seems like a far more productive use of your little plot of land, and one that could save your life and the lives of others in a pinch.  That seems sensible.

We could also do with some can-do gumption, like Granny had.

Home Depot is operating on shortened hours, but they’re remaining open.  Maybe now is the time to buy a roto-tiller.

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Lazy Sunday LXXXII: Rural America

After a week of incredibly hot weather here in South Carolina, Saturday brought a blessed drop in both the temperature and humidity—a foretaste of autumn.  My girlfriend and I spent Saturday weeding my disgracefully overgrown flower beds, which were mostly weeds strangling the life out of everything but the hardiest of perennials (and my robust banana trees).  We then did some new plantings (with a few more to put in, as well as some mulch).  The results were pretty good:

Lamar House - After Planting, 5 September 2020

It felt good to get our hands (and clothes, and faces) dirty, digging through the dirt and nurturing plant life.  My mother is an expert gardener, so I’ve picked up a few simple techniques from her; otherwise, we just bought flowers we liked and plopped ’em in with some in-ground bedding soil and a some water.  Fingers crossed that everything survives.

My mind has been on the soil lately, and our connection to it.  I have a fondness—perhaps a tad romantic—for country life.  With current trends in the cities—rising home prices, rising property taxes, and rising urban violence—country life seems like an attractive, even inevitable, alternative.

As such, I thought I’d dedicate this week’s Lazy Sunday to some pieces about rural America:

  • TBT: Rustics Have Opinions, Too” – This piece dates way back 2009, when the blog was in its first iteration on Blogger, and I was still enthralled with “Randian-libertarian economic” philosophy.  Such are the follies of youth.  However, I did notice even then the deep disdain of limousine liberals for the rest of us here in “flyover country,” a disdain that, at least in part, accounts for the TEA Party movement and the Trumpian revolt of 2016.
  • High-Tech Agrarianism” – When The Virus hit, people were in a tizzy about having enough toilet paper and food.  People gained a renewed interest in gardening as a source of sustenance, not just beauty.  In this post, I mused about a possible return to small-scale homesteading, coupled with our advanced information technology.  Essentially, I posited a world in which people still work, albeit increasingly from home and on more flexible hours, and can use their time to tend to small crops to supplement their diets.
  • SubscribeStar Saturday: The Future is Rural” – One of two recent posts on the lure of rural America and small town life, I argue here that life in the country offers many attractive incentives for working families.  Not only are cities pushing people away with high prices and crime; the country is ready to take in telecommuters who earn good money but want a low cost of living in a safe, healthy environment.
  • SubscribeStar Saturday: Small Town Natalism” – The second post in my Saturday series about small town and rural living, this post is a preliminary sketch of a policy proposal:  applying nationalistic, pro-birth natalist policies to the small town context.  Instead of wasting money on seldom-used public facilities, local governments could offer a stipend to married families with children to encourage increased birth rates.  That would grow towns organically and attract new residents, thereby broadening the tax bases in often distressed rural areas.

That’s it for this week.  The garden is calling to me.  Time to put down some mulch!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Small Town Natalism

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.

Last Saturday I argued that “The Future is Rural.”  With the rise in urban violence (that seems to turn up every presidential election year) and unsustainable living costs, coupled with the spread of telecommuting and improved Internet access, I predict that more and more Americans will flee to the countryside.

Even with the tide turning in favor of rural and small town life, local and county governments can take some proactive steps to attract residents.  If the goal is to attract working families consisting of committed parents, localities need to get creative.

The usual approach to building up revenue in small towns is to spend lavishly on parks and sports fields.  Large cities famously subsidize the NFL with billions in stadium construction, but small towns routinely fall into these construction boondoggles.  The premise is that new softball fields will bring in summer travel leagues, generating local tourism dollars, which is always how new ball fields are sold to the public.  Of course, the maintenance of these facilities are added into a locality’s annual budget, becoming recurring expenses, on top of the initial cost of production, which is often debt-financed.

Rather than spend public money on baseball diamonds and—even worse—soccer fields, small towns hoping to attract working families should use that money for something far more precious:  children.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Lamar Special Election Analysis

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.  NEW TIER: $3 a month gets one edition of Sunday Doodles every month!

As readers know, I ran in the Lamar, South Carolina special election for Town Council this past Tuesday.  Former Town Councillor Tamron McManus resigned earlier in the year, triggering a special election.  The election was originally slated for 12 May 2020, but was rescheduled to 14 July 2020 due to The Virus.

I posted the results on Wednesday, after I spoke with the Darlington County Election Commissioner.  Of the two filed candidates—Buzz Segars and myself—neither candidate won.  There was a surprise, sleeper, dark-horse write-in candidate, Mary Anne Mack, who blew both of us away.  The final tally was 86-28-23, Mack, Cook, Segars (read Wednesday’s post for the full breakdown).

In my results post, I wrote that “I will offer more detailed analysis in this Saturday’s edition of SubscribeStar Saturday.  Some of my insights, while I believe accurate, are a bit spicy, and should be behind a paywall.”

So, as promised, here is my analysis of this highly unusual election.  While Lamar is a small town of just under 1000, I think this election has some important implications for small municipal elections, especially in the South.  The Mack Strategy of running a quiet write-in campaign among a tight-knit group, thereby catching the publicly announced candidates off-guard, could be hugely effective.  Implementing it—or learning to combat it—could significantly change municipal elections in rural and small town communities.

The rest of this post will be available on my SubscribeStar page shortly.  I am attending a family wedding this afternoon and will be a tad delayed completing the post.

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Lamar Town Council 2020 Special Election Results

Yesterday Lamar held a rescheduled special election for a vacant Town Council seat.  I was hoping to have the results last night, but when I drove by Lamar Town Hall around 8:30 PM, the results were not posted to the front door.

I spoke with Darlington County Election Commissioner Hoyt Campbell this morning, however, and he gave me the results over the phone.  He also said the poll workers might have posted the voting machine receipts to one of the side doors of Town Hall.  Sure enough, I drove down there this morning and they were on a side door.  That occurred to me last night, but the prospect of lurking around a public building at dusk struck me as a tad sketchy.

The results were surprising—shocking, really.  This little off-cycle, middle-of-summer, Age of The Virus election came with an interesting twist.

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