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:

Lazy Sunday XXXI: Trump, Part II

This week’s Lazy Sunday picks up from last week’s edition, “Lazy Sunday XXX: Trump, Part I.”  Our perpetually embattled POTUS/GEOTUS continues to fight back against the screeching Leftists:

  • Trump Up in Polls” – This piece from July looks at Trump’s rising approval ratings.  It also analyzes those numbers, and looks at MSNBC gasbag Joe Scarborough’s prediction that “bigotry and racism” would cost Trump reelection in 2020.  At the time, I wrote that “bigotry and racism” would not be much of a factor:  the epithet of “racism” has been hurled so much lately, it’s become like “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”—it’s meaningless.
  • Happy Monday: President Trump’s Approval Rating at 52” – Remember the government shutdown?  That seems like an eternity ago (I wish it were still going on).  Even in the midst of that, Trump’s approval ratings crested to their highest since Inauguration 2017.  President Trump has returned to the 52% (and 53%, I believe) mark since the impeachment witch hunt has begun.
  • Babes for Trump” – This little post always seems to do well, and was seeing a steady trickle of traffic recently (consistently enough that I made it a TBT feature).  Whenever I post it to The Portly Politico‘s Facebook page, one of my Trumpian former students always likes it.  Easy, big fella!  Regardless, the post is about President Trump’s support among Republican women.  My only real fear for 2020 is that, should Fauxcahontas get the nomination, box wine aunties and suburban moms will vote for her because she’s a woman, and because Trump is a “meanie.”  Get over yourselves!
  • Breaking:  Trump Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize” – Remember when we were supposed to be embroiled in nuclear war with North Korea?  Notice how that hasn’t happened?  A Scandinavian politician called for President Trump’s nomination to the Nobel Peace Prize.  That might have been a tad rich, but it would have been far more deserved than President Barack Obama’s receipt of the award—simply because he was a black guy who got elected President!  He won the award before he even had a chance to wreck our foreign policy.

Well, that’s it for this Sunday.  Enjoy your Columbus Day tomorrow!

–TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

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:

More Trolling

It’s fun to see some trolling coming from the Right. President Trump has elevated it to an art form—somewhat literally.

During a recent cabinet meeting, a prominent poster of the president reading “Sanctions Are Coming” sat in front of him (see it here: https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2019/01/02/donald-trump-prints-poster-size-game-of-thrones-meme-warning-iran/).

Throughout American history, presidents and presidential hopefuls have leveraged new communications technologies to reach the American people. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously used the radio to calm and inspire a trouble nation during the Great Depression with his “fireside chats.”

Senator John F. Kennedy bested his opponent, Vice President Richard M. Nixon, in the ultra-tight 1960 presidential election in part because of his performance in a televised debate (and probably some undead Democratic voters, but who can say). Americans listening on the radio believed Nixon had won; viewers, seeing a radiant, tanned Kennedy, believed the young dynamo walked away with debate victory.

President Ronald Reagan’s acting career prepared him to use television effectively to reunite and course-correct a nation recovering from the social, cultural, and economic malaise of the 1970s. President Obama famously promised to give “fireside chats” and Internet town halls on YouTube (before cloaking his scandal-plagued administration in media obscurity). I think Senator Robert “Bob” Dole was the first presidential candidate to have a website.

Now, President Trump has effectively leveraged Twitter and Internet trolling to reach his base. Even his detractors have to appreciate his cheeky humor. Buzzkills will no-doubt argue he shouldn’t be trolling a radical, apocalyptic, Islamist regime that actively seeks to enrich uranium, but, hey, it worked with North Korea. Whatever happened to the Second Korean War everyone was talking about last year?

Keep on a-trollin’, President Trump! Decorum and taking the high road clearly haven’t worked out for conservatives—even Lindsay Graham learned that during the Kavanaugh witch hunt. Leave that to Senator Mitt Romney and the neocons.

Breaking: Trump Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

Breaking news, c/o of a former student who sent the linked article:  President Donald Trump has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work toward the denuclearization of North Korea.

President Trump was nominated by two members of Norway’s Progress Party, a conservative party that supports lower taxes and limited immigration, so it’s no surprise on that front, and it’s still a long way from winning the coveted Prize itself.

Nevertheless, it’s a victory for Trump, the peace process, and the hopes for peace on the Korean Peninsula.  It’s also much more deserved than President Obama’s 2009 Peace Prize win, which was awarded simply because he was “cool” and went on his Mid-East “apology tour.”

Despite negative publicity from the child separation policy—which Trump is also making moves to end as I write—the President is having a great week.

First, peace on the Korean Peninsula.  Next, liberty among the stars.  Congratulations, Mr. President!

North Korea Reflections

Wow, what a week.  President Trump met in Singapore with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, an historical meeting the effects of which we still don’t fully know or understand.  Will Kim stick to his pledge to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula?  Can we trust him?  Is President Trump playing another masterful round of 4-D chess, or simply legitimizing a brutal regime and its evil leader?

Questions abound, as do interpretations.  Ben Shapiro at The Daily Wire (video below) argues that conservatives are getting too excited, too soon, and purely on a partisan basis.  While I do think we should proceed with caution—the Kim family has promised denuclearization eight times before—there is reason for optimism.

Historically, I would point to Mikhail Gorbachev’s 1988 visit to the United States, in which he fell in love with the country.  The same criticisms abounded then—“human rights abuses!,” “gulags!,” etc.—and, while those criticisms were as true for the Soviet Union as they are—and even more so!—for the Kim regime, the door was opened for diplomacy, leading to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force (INF) Treaty.  Ultimately, the Soviet Union collapsed, largely peacefully.

Kim seems to have some similarities to Gorbie, and some key differences from other authoritarian and totalitarian regimes in the world today.  For example, Kim seems genuinely to love Western culture—he hangs out with Dennis Rodman, he eats McDonald’s (clearly).

I keep hearing the usual objections from the Left—“conservatives criticized Obama for negotiating with Iran!  How is this different!”  For one, Trump didn’t load up palettes full of cash without congressional approval and fly it into the regime while it was under intense sanctions.  He also didn’t give Kim everything he wanted so he could destabilize an entire region based on an AP Comparative Government-level of understanding of the nation’s political system.

Further, Iran is a regime based on a radical ideology—Shi’a Islamism—that doesn’t acknowledge the existence of Israel and is actively, if covertly, at war with its Sunni neighborsIran is the leading state-sponsor of terrorism.

North Korea is certainly a terrible, totalitarian place, but the old ideology of Juche seems quaint.  No one is going to blow themselves up to wear coveralls made from refined clay.

Cuba, too, is an old-school Cold War frontier, but the Obama administration got nothing from Cuba when it lifted the embargo—not even the release of political dissidents!  The Cuba analogy fails, too, because we’ve already defanged Cuba, and have nothing to gain from opening up relations.  Keep grinding out the sanctions there, for the sake of Cubans.

Consider, too, President Richard Nixon’s “opening” of China in the 1972.  He met with the bloodiest dictator of the 20th century, Chinese Chairman Mao Zedong, which caught the ire of conservatives and anti-Communists in the West.  While Mao’s atrocities and lethal policies were devastating to human life and contributed to the annals of misery Communism has inflicted upon humanity, Nixon and Henry Kissinger realized the diplomatic opportunity that presented itself, and took the plunge.  China is still authoritarian and aggressive, but it’s beginning to fit in with the respectable, stable nations of the world.

Similarly, North Korea must be a liability to China, which is surely fed up with its tin-pottery.  While China dreads seeing a unified Korean Peninsula, that might be better than dealing with a client-state that is becoming less of a strategic asset and more of a liability.  Trump’s “war of words” last summer—including the hilarious “my button is bigger” tweet—played the game that Kim and the ChiComs understand.  That’s why the President and Kim met, and why Kim will come to the United States.

That brings us back to Gorbie’s 1988 visit—just as he was enamored by the USA, I predict that Kim will be similarly blown away (and not via assassination, as Ben Shapiro mused about in one of his recent podcasts [Note:  I watch Shapiro’s podcast, The Ben Shapiro Show, daily, and at the time of writing I could not find in which recent podcast he talked about assassinating foreign leaders, but he quipped that he disagreed with the Carter-era prohibition on taking out particularly wicked heads of state; I’m just not willing to go back through hours of video to find it]).

Have you ever seen recent immigrants from other countries that have this really one-dimensional idea of America?  They think it’s all fast cars, hot babes, overweight cowboys, New York City, and rap music—and they eat it up, assimilating whole-hog in the most cartoonish way possible.  I would not be surprised if Kim took the same route.  He’s already chillin’ with Dennis Rodman.  Homeboy’s going to be wearing a Chance the Rapper ballcap and eating French fries by the end of his first round of golf at Mar-a-Lago.

And what of Dennis Rodman?  My earliest memory of D-Rod was a picture of him sporting bright green hair and a bunch of piercings—keep in mind, this was probably the 1990s, when the average person didn’t color his hair and get covered in tattoos (“this one represents my individuality”)—and I always assumed he was a crazy attention hog.  When I heard he was hanging out with Kim Jong-un, I figured he’d gone full Jane Fonda.

But… maybe he really was trying to create understanding between the United States and North Korea.  Maybe he was trying to bridge a gap across political systems and cultures.  And—maybe it worked.

I’ve watched Rodman’s interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo (video below)—the one in which Rodman is sporting a “Make America Great Again” hat—and I don’t think his tears are fake.  When I saw the clip originally on The Ben Shapiro Show, I was in awe.  Here was a guy whose heart was open for all to see on national television.  When he said (paraphrasing) “Even when no one would believe and no one would listen, I kept going, because I believed we could work out our differences,” my jaw dropped.

How many times, as a conservative in a progressive culture, have you felt alone, but you kept soldiering on, knowing that there was hope, that what you believed was right, even when you couldn’t articulate it in the face of overwhelming opposition?  I doubt I’ll ever write this again, but in that moment, I identified with Dennis Rodman.  I understood him.

Do not take anything I’ve written here as a trivialization of North Korea or the Kim family’s decades of atrocities.  The people of North Korea are brainwashed and abused, put to death for exchanging James Bond DVDs, starving because their terrible government doesn’t function properly, and their leaders have purposefully isolated them from the world.  It’s an hellacious place, and we shouldn’t legitimize an evil, totalitarian despot.

BUT—if President Trump can sway Kim Jong-un, and begin the liberalization of North Korea—if not the reunification of the Korean Peninsula—it will do the most since the opening of China in 1972 to improve the lives of millions of people.  The North Korean people will be brought out of the darkness and into the community of nations.

Yes, China is still authoritarian, and denies its people their basic political and civil rights, but North Korea can have the chance to forge its own path forward.  South Korea was under a military dictatorship until the 1980s; it’s now one of the freest, most prosperous nations in the world (and really good at Starcraft).

Only time will tell.  My prayers go out to the people of North Korea, and I urge my readers to pray for them, as well—and that President Trump and Kim Jong-un have the wisdom and discretion to act in the best interest of liberty.