Lazy Sunday LXVIII: Phone it in Fridays, Part II

A quick note:  tomorrow marks the beginning of #MAGAWeek2020, a week-long celebration of people, places, concepts, innovations, etc., that MADE AMERICA GREAT (AGAIN).  #MAGAWeek posts are SubscribeStar exclusives, so you need a subscription of $1 or higher to gain full access to these extended posts.  You can check out #MAGAWeek2018 and #MAGAWeek2019 Lazy Sunday posts to get a better idea of the kind of content you’ll see this week.  God Bless America!

We’re continuing our review of Phone it in Friday posts with editions IV, V, and VI.  Hopefully they’re as good as the original Star Wars trilogy.  At the very least, they can’t be as bad as the prequels, or as woke as the new trilogy.  ¡Dios Mio!

  • Phone it in Friday IV: Conferencing” – I hate meetings.  I’ve been in enough of them to know that they are typically a soul-sucking waste of time, and their agendas are often way overstuffed, usually with information that could be explained easily enough in an e-mail.  That said, I love conferences.  This post was a review of a private school association’s annual teachers’ conference, which our faculty had not attended in some years due to various conflicts.  I find that, unlike meetings, conferences are full of opportunities to learn and to network.  There’s an air of sociable conviviality at a good conference—and cheese Danishes.
  • Phone it in Friday V: Ode to Friday Evenings (and Weekends)” – This post was truly a phoned-in edition of Phone it in Friday—it was late, I’d had a long week, and I needed to slam out some content to appease the WordPress Daily Post counter.  I explain that magical period “from about 3:30 in the afternoon until around about bedtime Friday night” when everything is alive with possibilities for the weekend ahead, and when you’re at the furthest possible point from official responsibilities.  Now that I’m on summer vacation and was doing distance teaching for two months prior to that, everyday is Friday, essentially (except for Wednesdays, when History of Conservative Thought meets).  I’m trying to enjoy unlimited Fridays while I can!
  • Phone it in Friday VI: Valentine’s Day” – This post wasn’t really about Valentine’s Day, per se, but it did include Z Man‘s excellent “The Lovecast” episode of his weekly podcast, as well as photog’s post about bringing back matchmakers.  I also reflected on some positive signs during a trip to a rural Hardee’s, which was remodeling:  “It was also heartening to see a Hardee’s in rural Lugoff, South Carolina spending the money to remodel.  Times are good.”

Well, that’s it for this classic trilogy of Phone it in Friday posts.  The fun continues next Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Lazy Sunday XLVII: Winning

Need a soundtrack to go with all the winning conservatives are enjoying under President Trump and Prime Minister Johnson?  Download Contest Winner – EP for just a few bucks, or download the legendary title track.

As I wrote yesterday, it’s been a good week for populism and national sovereignty.  It’s easy to get caught up in the myriad defeats on our side, and it’s frustrating that we seem to rally only at the last possible moment to prevent total catastrophe, but it’s worthwhile to look back at our victories from time to time.

To that end, this edition of Lazy Sunday is dedicated to looking back at some conservative victories.  One of the pieces looks back at our greatest Secretary of State, who although was a part of the totalizing New England faction that dominates progressive thought today, also helped created our national borders with his diplomatic finesse.

  • Independence Day” – This post was a brief celebration of Great Britain’s final exit from the blight that is the European Union.  Hip, hip, hooray!
  • Trump Stands for Us” – This piece linked to an essay from my blogger buddy photog, “The Unique Value of the Trump Presidency“; both photog’s original and my commentary are worth reading.  There’s a popular meme that shows President Trump sitting sternly, pointing directly at the viewer, with a caption that reads something along the lines of, “They’re not after me, they’re after YOU; I’m just in the way.”  Boy, does that speak volumes.  As photog points out, President Trump truly does stand with us, the American people.  In part, he does that simply by not despising us the way our elites do.
  • Mueller Probe Completed, Trump Vindicated” – Before the Ukraine impeachment hoax, there was the Russian collusion hoax.  How soon we forget.  While Mueller declined to write in his report that Trump could be fully vindicated, he also couldn’t make a case for Russian collusion.  Trump did nothing wrong!  After the Senate acquits GEOTUS this week, I wonder what scary Slavic country they’ll pick next.  Maybe they’ll allege that President Trump is in league with Viktor Orban in Hungary?  That would make me support him even more!
  • #MAGAWeek2018 – John Quincy Adams” – A bit of an outlier here, but I wrote a fairly lengthy rundown of John Quincy Adams—probably our best Secretary of State, and one of our worst presidents—back in summer 2018 as part of #MAGAWeek2018.  JQA and his New England Puritan ilk can probably be faulted for many of the one-size-fits-all solutions progressives plague us with today (although he would have recoiled at what progressives want), but he was a genius in terms of foreign policy, and he was a sincere nationalist, in the best sense of that amorphous term:  he wanted to make American great, physically and economically.  It’s a worthwhile read to get some more insights into a largely forgotten historical figure.

That’s it for today!  Let’s keep winning in 2020, and KEEP AMERICA GREAT!

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

TBT – #MAGAWeek2018 – John Quincy Adams

Because I was out sick from work yesterday (and will be again today), I needed a way to cover Secretary of State and President John Quincy Adams with one AP United States History class that was slightly behind the others (in part to our strange, rotating schedule).  It occurred to me that I had written nearly 2000 words on the great Secretary of State back in 2018, during the first ever #MAGAWeek.  Why not have the students read that?

So, given my decrepit—but improving!—situation, I thought I’d dedicate today’s TBT to the man who was, perhaps, the greatest Secretary of State in American history—the oft-forgotten, much-maligned John Quincy Adams:

John Quincy Adams

If yesterday’s MAGA Week profile of George Washington was straight from “American History Greatest Hits, Volume I,” today’s selection is like a bootlegged deep-cut from an obscure local musician’s live show.  John Quincy Adams—an American diplomat, Secretary of State, President, and Congressman—deserves better.

US History students of mine for years have recoiled at the dour daguerreotype portrait of our somewhat severe sixth President.  But behind that stern, austere visage churned the  mind of a brilliant, ambitious man—and probably the greatest Secretary of State in American history.  I will be focusing on Adams’s tenure in that position in today’s profile.

An “Era of Good Feeling”

Adams was one of several “all-star” statesmen of the second generation of great Americans.  After the careers of George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and John Quincy’s father, John Adams, a new, youthful cadre of ambitious and talented national leaders took their place at the helm of a nation that was growing and expanding rapidly.  From the ill-fated War of 1812 through the Mexican War, leaders like John C. Calhoun, Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, and Andrew Jackson—the populist odd-man out—forged a national identity and sought to navigate the nation through its early growing pains.

John Quincy Adams was among this group.  After the War of 1812, his father’s old Federalist Party largely died out, both due to the treasonous actions of the so-called “Blue Light” Federalists (who openly sided with the British) and to demographic changes brought about by westward expansion and the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.  More Americans were small, yeoman farmers, and the Federalists’ pro-British, pro-industry, pro-commerce platform held little appeal for feisty frontiersman who were suspicious of a strong federal government and the hated Second Bank of the United States, charted in 1816.

As such, the United States entered an “Era of Good Feeling” under President James Monroe, in which one party, the Democratic-Republican Party, remained.  Monroe’s cabinet was a “who’s who” of young, dynamic men, and Adams was his Secretary of State.

Secretary of State

It was in this context that Adams made his most significant contributions to American foreign policy and nationalism.  While serving as Secretary of State, he laid out a vision for America’s future that held throughout the nineteenth century.

In essence, Adams argued that the United States should pursue a realist foreign policy that avoided wars and foreign entanglements; that the nation should not seek a European-style “balance of power” with its Latin American neighbors, but should be exercise hegemonic dominance in the Western Hemisphere; and that the United States should gain such territory as it could diplomatically.

In 1821, Adams famously issued his warning against involvement in foreign wars of liberation.  The context for this warning was the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire, an endeavor that was hugely popular in Europe, particularly in Britain.  Many Americans urged Congress to intervene in the interest of liberty, and for Americans to at least send arms to help in another fledgling nation’s war for independence.

Adams perceptively saw the dangers inherent in the United States involving itself in other nations’ wars, even on the most idealistic of grounds.  To quote Adams at length:

“Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example. She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force…. She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit.” (Emphasis added; Source:  https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/jqadams.htm)

If America were to involve itself in open-ended wars of liberation—even once!—it would set a dangerous precedent that the United States would become constantly embroiled in the squabbles of other nations.  No matter how well-meaning, such intervention would commit the nation to a disastrously unlimited policy of nation-building and war.

The Transcontinental Treaty (1819)

Prior to rumblings for intervention in Greece, Adams brokered the purchase of Spanish Florida in a rather amusing fashion.  The hero of the Battle of New Orleans, General Andrew Jackson, pursued a group of Seminole Indians into Florida, violating orders to respect the international border.  In the process, Jackson attacked a fort manned by Seminoles and escaped slaves, killed two British spies, and burned a Spanish settlement.

Instantly, an international crisis seemed imminent.  To a man, President Monroe’s cabinet demanded disciplinary action be taken against General Jackson.  It was Adams—who, ironically, would become Jackson’s bitterest political opponent in 1824 and 1828—argued against any such action, and planned to use Jackson’s boldness to America’s advantage.

With apologies to Britain and Spain, Adams pointed out that, despite the government’s best efforts, Jackson was almost impossible to control, and was apt to invade the peninsula again.  Further, Spanish rule in Florida was increasingly tenuous, due to the various Latin American wars of independence flaring up at the time.  With revolts likely—and facing the prospect of another Jackson invasion—Spain relented, selling the entire territory for a song.

The Oregon Country and the Convention of 1818

Adams was also key in securing the Oregon Country for the United States, although the process was not completed in full until James K. Polk’s presidency, some thirty years later.  The Oregon Country—consisting of the modern States of Washington and Oregon—was prime land for settlement, but the United States and Great Britain both held valid claims to the territory.

Adams realized that the United States could afford to be patient—given America’s massive population growth at the time, and its citizens’ lust for new lands, Adams reasoned that, given enough time, American settlers would quickly outnumber British settlers in the territory.

Sure enough, Adams secured another territory for the United States, albeit in far less dramatic fashion that the acquisition of Florida one year later.

The Monroe Doctrine (1823)

Perhaps Adams’s greatest contribution to the United States was his work on the Monroe Doctrine in 1823.  Once again, Adams’s diplomatic brilliance came into play.

Adams sought to keep the United States out of foreign wars, but he also wanted to keep European powers out of the Western Hemisphere.  As Spain continued to lose its grip on its American colonies, the autocratic nations of Russia, Prussia, and Austria (the Austrian Hapsburg controlled Spain at this time) sought to reestablish monarchical rule in the Western Hemisphere.

President Monroe and Secretary Adams were having none of it—nor was was Great Britain, which enjoyed a brisk trade with the newly-independent republics of Latin America.  To that end, Britain proposed issuing a joint statement to the world, with the effect of committing both nations to keeping the new nations of Latin American independent.

Monroe was excited at the idea, but in his ever-prescient manner, Adams argued for caution.  Were the United States to issue the declaration jointly with Britain, they would appear “as a cockboat in the wake of a British man-o-war.”  It would be better, Adams argued, to issue a statement unilaterally.

The United States had no way, in 1823, to enforce the terms of the resulting Monroe Doctrine, which pushed for three points:  Europe was to cease intervention in the affairs of the Western Hemisphere (non-intervention); Europe was to cease acquiring new colonies in the Western Hemisphere (non-colonization); and the United States would stay out of open-ended entanglements and alliances with Europe (isolation).

However, Adams knew that Britain would enforce the Monroe Doctrine with its mighty navy, even if the United States issued it unilaterally, because it would be in Britain’s national interest to do so.  Sure enough, Adams’s shrewd realism won the day, and, other than France’s brief occupation of Mexico during the American Civil War, European powers never again established colonies in the New World.

After Monroe’s Cabinet

For purposes of space and length, I will forego a lengthy discussion of Adams’s presidency and his tenure in Congress.  He was an ardent nationalist in the sense that he sought an ambitious project of internal improvements—roads, canals, harbors, and lighthouses—to tie the young nation together.  In his Inaugural Address, he called for investment in a national university and a series of observatories, which he called “lighthouses of the sky,” an uncharacteristically dreamy appellation that brought him ire from an already-hostile Congress.

His presidency, too, was marred by the unusual circumstances of his election; Adams is the only president to never win the popular or electoral vote, or to ascend to the position from the vice presidency.  That’s a story worth telling in brief, particularly for political nerds.

The presidential election field of 1824 was a crowded one, and the “Era of Good Feeling” and its one-party dominance were showing signs of sectional tension (indeed, the second system of two parties, the National Republicans—or “Whigs”—and Jackson’s Democratic Party, would evolve by 1828).  There were four candidates for president that year:  Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, Speaker of the House Henry Clay, and Secretary of Treasury William Crawford of Georgia.

Jackson won a plurality of the electoral votes—99—but no candidate had a clear majority.  In this event, the top three candidates are thrown to the House of Representatives, where each State’s delegation votes as one.  Crawford, who finished third, was deathly ill, and was not a suitable candidate, and Henry Clay, in fourth, was not eligible constitutionally.

That left the rabble-rousing Jackson and the austere Adams.  Clay, as Speaker of the House, held immense influence in Congress, and could not stand Jackson, so he threw his support behind Adams, who won the election in Congress.

Apparently losing all the wisdom and prudence of his days at the State Department, Adams foolishly named Clay as his new Secretary of State—an office that, in those days, was perceived as a stepping stone to the presidency.  Jackson supporters immediately cried foul, arguing that it was a “corrupt bargain” in which Clay sold the presidency in exchange for the Cabinet position.

While it appears that Adams sincerely believed Clay was simply the best man for the job, the decision cast a pall over his presidency, and Jackson supporters would gleefully send their man to the Executive Mansion in 1828.

At that point, Adams expected to settle into a quiet retirement, but was elected to represent his congressional district in 1830.  During his time in Congress, he fought against slavery and the infamous “gag rule,” which prevented Congressman from receiving letters from constituents that contained anti-slavery materials.  He was also a vocal opponent of the Mexican War—as was a young Abraham Lincoln during his single term in Congress—and died, somewhat disgracefully, while rising to oppose a measure to honor the veterans of that war.

Regardless, Adams’s career shaped the future of the country, gaining it international prestige and setting it on track to emerge as a mighty nation, stretching from sea to shining sea.  Through his service and genius, Adams made America great—and, physically, in a very literal sense.

Quick References

Lazy Sunday XVII: #MAGAWeek2019

This past week was #MAGAWeek2019 here at The Portly Politico.  Each day’s post was a SubscribeStar exclusive.  For a subscription of $1/month, you gain exclusive to each day’s posts, as well as exclusive content every Saturday throughout the rest of the year.  Visit my SubscribeStar page for more details.

In case you missed anything from #MAGAWeek2019, this week’s edition of Lazy Sunday is dedicated to catching you up on what you missed.  But remember, you only get a teaser of each post; to read the full posts, you have to subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1/month or more.  That includes exclusive content every Saturday, too, like yesterday’s review of my trip to New Jersey and Coney Island, NYC, “Mid-Atlantic Musings.”

But enough sales pitches.  Here were the highlights from #MAGAWeek2019:

  • Fast Food” – After a long day on the road last Sunday, I decided to do something fun and lighthearted to kick off #MAGAWeek2019.  President Trump famously loves fast food, even feeding it to the Clemsux National Championship football team in vast quantities.  I, too, appreciate good fast food, and marvel at its ability to provide a filling, calorie-rich meal at an affordable price.  You can read more of my high cholesterol musings on the topic at my SubscribeStar page.
  • Alexander Hamilton” – Hamilton engenders a great deal of debate between decentralist Jeffersonians (such as myself) and centralists, but his influence on and importance to America’s early political and financial formation cannot be denied—indeed, it should be celebrated.  Jefferson and Madison were probably correct, constitutionally, on the issue of the national bank—Congress had no explicit constitutional authority to create such an institution—but Hamilton’s financial reforms placed the nation on solid financial footing, ensuring the United States had the financial infrastructure in place for explosive growth and expansion.
  • John Adams” – John Adams is an unappreciated Founder and Framer, though David McCullough’s magisterial biography of the second President of the United States has done much to lift Adams’s profile.  Adams served the United States ably as our Commander in Chief during his single term, staving off a full-blown war with France while protecting American mercantile shipping on the high seas.
  • President Trump’s Independence Day Speech” – On a particularly star-spangled Fourth of July, President Trump delivered a powerhouse of an Independence Day speech.  Not only were the multiple flyovers of military aircraft impressive (ending, of course, with the Blue Angels soaring majestically over the National Mall), the speech itself was a masterclass in what I dub “old, patriotic American history.”  It’s well worth watching—and reading my full analysis on my SubscribeStar page.

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

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:

TPP Review: First Half of 2019

It’s been a busy week for yours portly as I’ve been on uncle duty.  The little ones are back to their folks, and TPP is wiping away the baby spittle and Cheerios dust—and, hopefully, getting back on schedule.

This Monday, July 1 will kick off #MAGAWeek2019, which will be a SubscribeStar exclusiveJust subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more to get access to these posts about the men, women, and ideas that made America great [again]!  And don’t forget tomorrow is SubscribeStar Saturday, the day of the week subscribers get a post just for them.

July 1 will also mark the halfway point of this year, so I thought I’d use tonight’s post to do a little looking back.  This post will be the 180th consecutive post, which means I have an entire secondary school academic year’s worth of posts in 2019.  I might should start compiling those into a book—the Portly Manifesto, perhaps?

Regardless, here are the five most viewed posts of 2019 up to this point.  Enjoy!

5.) “Nehemiah and National Renewal” – Not only is this post about Nehemiah, the great leader of the Israelites who coordinated the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s dilapidated walls in the face of overwhelming opposition, a reader favorite; it’s one of my favorites as well.  Nehemiah trusted in God, and when God commanded him to rebuild the walls, Nehemiah did so faithfully.  The parallels with the Trumpean program of building a wall and seeking national renewal are hard to miss.  I also wrote a fairly popular follow-up to this post, which explores the spiritual aspects of Nehemiah more thoroughly.

4.) “Hump Day Hoax” – This post garnered a great deal of attention because I linked to it in the “comments” section of GOPUSA, a conservative news and opinion website.  The site featured a piece on my adopted home town’s mayor, who claimed that the heavy pollen on her car was part of a deliberate hate crime.  You can’t make this stuff up.  In the wake of the Jussie Smollett hoax, it seemed at the time like Her Dishonor the Mayor was grasping for some race-based discrimination fame of her own.  I’m pretty sure my mayor reported the story to Newsweek herself, even though county and State law enforcement confirmed that the mystery substance was, indeed, pollen.  Gesundheit!

3.) “Secession Saturday” – This post explored the totalitarian nature of Leftism, particularly the idea that, should our cold cultural civil war ever turn hot, the Left would never allow for a peaceful separation.  Even though they hate us, part of that hate is due to their unwillingness to let us live our lives as we see fit.  As such, there would never be an amicable parting of ways, because progressives can’t stand for people to disagree with them.

2.) “Gay Totalitarianism” – This piece pulled from—as all of my best posts do—the excellent American Greatness website.  It explored a couple of hoaxes involving gays or lesbians concocting incidents of violence to garner media attention and fawning support, all in the service of pushing an increasingly unhinged queer agenda.  Jussie Smollett’s ability to stage a ridiculously clumsy “hate crime” against himself, then to walk scot-free, shows how being gay, black, and famous serves as a talisman against even criminal prosecution.

1.) “The Desperate Search for Meaning” – The most popular post of this year owes its popularity to clicks from Dalrock’s blog.  I posted the link to it in a comment on one of his pieces, and his superior content and traffic spilled over to this piece, which focused on the antics of a New Age charlatan and her female acolytes.  The posts discusses how people (and, in this context, specifically women) are desperately searching for something deeper than empty materialism, to the point that they will endure abuse and slave-like work conditions for the chance to be close to someone offering spiritual fulfillment, even if it’s counterfeit.

So, there you have it.  I hope you’ve enjoyed the blog this year.  Here’s hoping I can keep the momentum going.

Happy Fourth of July!

–TPP

2018’s Top Ten Posts

2018 was a good year for The Portly Politico.  I relaunched the blog back over the summer, when I had more time to write multiple pieces a week.  With the South Carolina primary elections, it’s not surprising that some of the most traffic hit during June.

Just like the 2016 election, I was unable to dedicate the time necessary to covering the 2018 midterm elections; perhaps my greatest deficiency as a blogger is the inability to post regularly during the school year, a function of both a lack of time and focus (and, very likely, a lack of discipline).  While the blog has not gained the traction I’d hoped for six months ago, it’s been an entertaining way to put some of my thoughts to “paper,” as it were, and get some interesting feedback from you, my small coterie of loyal readers.

All navel-gazing aside, here are 2018’s Top Ten Posts, as determined by the number of views:

10.) SC Primary Run-Off Election Results – the title says it all!  I think some wayward Googlers boosted this one into the top ten.

9.) #MAGAWeek2018 – George Washington – during the Fourth of July week, I kicked off what will become an annual observance:  MAGA Week.  Each day featured an essay about some figure or idea that had made America great in his or its own way.  While I’m most proud of my lengthy overview of the career of John Quincy Adams, the post on George Washington gained the most traction with readers—a deserved victory for America’s most influential Founding Father.

8.) A Discourse on Disclaimers – I got so sick of endlessly qualifying every statement, I wrote this protesting post.  One thing the Trump presidency has taught us is that you’re never going to appease the progressives, so you’ve gotta fight back.  You’re never going to able to mollify an emotional, inherently violent beast with an appeal to decency and reason, so why bother?

7.) SCOTUS D&D – one of the lighter works of the Brett Kavanaugh character assassination, this post linked to another author’s attempt to place the Supreme Court justices on the legendary Dungeons and Dragons alignment chart.  Very fun.

6.) Progressivism and Political Violence – one of my best pieces, I would argue.  This post detailed the strong link between the progressive ideology and violence, be it the official use of state violence to enforce its way, or street-level thuggery when it’s been systematically denied the levers of power.  If Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg kicks the bucket in 2019 and President Trump and the Republican Senate successfully appoint and confirm a conservative justice to replace her, I shudder to contemplate the hysterical bloodshed that will result as masked Antifa goons and hipster black boots take to the streets.

5.) #TBT: It’s a Thanksgiving Miracle – the only “Throwback Thursday” post to make the top ten, this was a reposting of the old blog’s 2017 Thanksgiving post, which I wrote with a freshly broken left wrist.  We all have a great deal to thank God for this year.

4.) America Should Expand into Space – one of my early pieces during the 2018 relaunch argued that the United States should make a concerted effort to continue expanding into outer space.  Why get our precious rare-earth metals from China when we can mine them from asteroids?  Speaking of…

3.) Breaking: President Trump Creates Space Force – I whooped with joy when President Trump announced the creation of Space Force.  Apparently, many readers were excited about it, too.  It’s a commonsense move:  space is the next, and final, frontier.  Why cede dominance—military, economic, cultural, or otherwise—to the ChiComs?  Make America Space Again!

2.) 4.8% Economic Growth?! – one of the first posts upon relaunching the blog, this little piece drew a good bit of attention (and probably benefited from the initial curiosity traffic).  Let the good times roll!

1.) Run-Off Elections in SC Primaries Today – this post blew all others away, with (at the time of this writing) 101 more views than its next competitor.  I was shocked, but the blog showed up in several online search results as South Carolinians sought out information about the primary run-off elections this past summer.

So there you have it!  My personal favorites didn’t always gain the traction I hoped—and some of my better essays were nowhere near the top ten—but that’s the fun of blogging:  you never know what’s going to catch readers’ attention.

Thank you all for a wonderful 2018.  Here’s looking forward to bigger and better things in 2019!

God Bless, and Happy New Year!

–The Portly Politico

#MAGAWeek2018 – Limited Government

For the last day of MAGA Week 2018, I’m dedicating this post not to any specific historic individual, but instead to a facet of political (conservative) philosophy:  limited government.

It’s easy to take limited government for granted, or even to fail to recognize it:  it doesn’t seem to occur organically, although modern-day economic libertarians will claim as such (never mind that this ignores most of the last 6000 years of recorded history).  Limited government is rooted in self-government, which did flourish once given a chance, but it certainly required the fertile soil of 550 years of English political history.

Limited government is not quite the same as small government.  A government can be “small” in terms of its expenditures, but still not “limited”—imagine a lean, efficiently-run dictatorship in a very small country.

Limited government, on the other hand, suggests a “smallness” of scale, but also carefully delineates the scope of the government’s purview.  The “checks and balances” and “separation of powers” of the Constitution are key ingredients, not just between the different branches of the federal government, but between the federal and State governments as well.

The whole point of our system—beautifully laid out by the Framers, but particularly James Madison—is to defuse and counterbalance power, and to submit all authority to rule of law.  The Constitution, then, is the limiting of what government can do.  Everything else is left to the people.

Unfortunately, our nation has given up our old attitude—“ask forgiveness, not permission”—for “assume you’re not allowed to do something without getting it sanctioned by some authority first.”  That’s a shocking change from the Framers’ attitude, and to our century of “salutary neglect” prior to 1763.

Recall that Americans didn’t declare independence in 1776 because taxes were too high, but that they were being taxed without their consent—without representation in Parliament.  The whole theory was that government ruled with the consent of the governed, a notion dating back to the feudal privileges of the barons at the signing of the Magna Carta at Runnymede in 1215.

Similarly, the Boston Tea Party was a response to the monopolization of tea entering the colonies—a corporatist scheme cooked up by the British government to bail out the failing, government-subsidized British East India Company.  The colonists rightly reasoned that, should the importation of tea be monopolized, any product could be subject to monopolization—potentially destroying the colonial economy under the thumb of an exploitative British government.

Americans believed—correctly—that their rights as Englishmen were being trampled, and that the British government was overstepping its bounds.  In essence, Parliament and King George III failed to apply the traditional limits of English government to their colonial possessions in British North America.

As such, our Framers put together a written Constitution (unlike Britain’s unwritten constitution, which can essentially be changed at the majoritarian whim of Parliament; thus, people arrested in Britain for posting controversial topics on Facebook—and the persecution of Tommy Robinson), one that clearly delineates the roles of the three branches of government.  The Bill of Rights prudently added the Tenth Amendment, which devolves power down to the States and the people.

As for why limited government is great, I will close with this recommendation:  watch the video below from Prager University.  Adam Corolla lays out the best case for limited government I’ve ever heard.

Enjoy—and thanks for making America great again!

#MAGAWeek2018 – Thomas Jefferson & The Declaration of Independence

Happy Independence Day, America!  242 years ago, the Second Continental Congress declared independence from Great Britain, changing the course of history and spawning independence movements all over the globe.

As such, it’s only fitting that today we look at the author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson.

Few figures in the period of the Early Republic have inspired as much debate as Jefferson, who clashed frequently with President Washington’s Secretary of Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, while serving as Secretary of State.  His friendship with John Adams turned into a bitter, acrimonious rivalry, as the two parted ways on the proper response to the French Revolution, then squared off against one another in the 1796 and 1800 presidential elections.  The two would make amends later in life, exchanging some of the liveliest, most insightful correspondence of the period.

After the publication of Thomas Paine’s revolutionary pamphlet “Common Sense” electrified pro-independence sentiment throughout the colonies, the Second Continental Congress put aside any hopes of reconciliation with Britain, and instead decided to declare independence.  To draft the document that would take the colonies across the Rubicon, the Congress selected Jefferson.

Jefferson wrote the Declaration with his fellow countrymen and other European nations in mind, although it was addressed to Parliament and King George III.  The Declaration is one of the most brilliant documents ever written, and its opening paragraphs are almost more important than the specific list of grievances against the English government.

Jefferson’s claim—radical at the time—that “all men are created equal”—shook the world, and its reverberations through history are well-documented.  There are, however, some other key phrases.  The phrase “When in the Course of human events” seems innocuous on the face, but carries an important meaning:  the “unalienable” rights are not unique to any one people, nation, or time in history, but are universal.  All peoples enjoy natural rights that are woven into the fabric of the universe—and which were “endowed by [our] Creator.”

Jefferson was likely a Deist, believing that a God created the universe, but afterward left it to work and unfold according to physical laws of nature.  Nevertheless, Jefferson believed—as did many of the Founders, who were often products of the Scottish Enlightenment (and, fortunately, not the more destructive French Enlightenment)—that the Creator imbued the physical universe with natural rights, just as He created gravity.

Regardless, after some revisions—the congressional committee that commissioned Jefferson had him change “Life, Liberty, and Property” to “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”—the Declaration was adopted as both a specific list of grievances detailing America’s case to “a candid world,” and as a timeless expression of America’s belief in natural rights.  The usual disclaimers apply—women and free blacks, not to mention slaves, were left out of this consideration at the time, despite objections from Abigail Adams, wife of our second president (and mother of yesterday’s subject)—but the Declaration paved the way for all Americans to enjoy greater liberty.

When time permits, I will dive into a deeper, lengthier discussion of Jefferson’s legacy; as it is, it’s taken me several hours just to write this much, as I’m fulfilling my avuncular duties of watching my niece and nephew.  For now, I will end on one final anecdote:

On 4 July 1826, Thomas Jefferson passed away—the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  A few shorts hours, in what is likely the most serendipitous event in American history, an aged John Adams slipped away, too.  Moments before his passing, Adams said, “Thomas Jefferson still survives,” although Jefferson had passed just hours before.  An attendant by Adams’s side said that, at the moment of the great man’s death, a sudden thunderstorm whipped up, as if the artillery of Heaven were welcoming him home.

***

To read a full transcript of the Declaration of Independence, I recommend this version at Archives.gov:  https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration-transcript