SubscribeStar Saturday: East Coast, West Coast

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.

An enduring question—perhaps the enduring question—of our present age is whether or not a peaceful political solution is possible to resolve our current issues.  Any casual observer of national politics cannot help but notice that there is a deep division in the United States, one grounded in (at least) two fundamentally opposed philosophies.

To the dissident—that catch-all term to encompass of any number of alternative philosophies or worldviews to the prevailing “progressive-conservative” dynamic—both modern progressivism and modern conservatism are two sides of the same coin.  Indeed, Buckleyite neoconservatism accepts, essentially, the basic tenants of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, ideas that serve as the foundation for modern progressivism, though the two interpret that foundation in wildly different ways.

Thus, there is a paradox:  modern conservatives largely share a worldview that is incompatible with that of modern progressives’; yet, there roots originate in the same soil of the interventionist state.  The difference, perhaps, is the fertilizer:  the Leftist progressive overwaters with “equality” (now, increasingly, “equity”); the conservative presents a more balanced mixture of equality, liberty, justice, etc.

(Indeed, these shared roots likely date back even further, to the liberalism of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-centuries; again, both the Left and the Right evoke the tenants of such liberalism [“all men are created equal”] while disagreeing vehemently on how those tenants should be expressed in public policy [equality for the Left means egalitarianism and equality of outcomes; equality for the right means “equality before the God and the law”].)

That might make the possibility of some reconciliation seem possible—with shared roots comes some shared values, some shared history.

That’s the most optimistic view.  It’s one I do not share, but nor do I adopt the view that all is lost.  I believe that a blend of hyper-federalism, radical decentralization, and institutional control by dissidents could tip the balance in a positive direction.

The problem, of course, is that none of those goals is easy to achieve; some of them are currently inconceivable.  The federal government is unlikely to devolve more powers to the States (and many States probably secretly don’t want more); radical decentralization means losing out on corrupting but succulent federal largesse; and the institutions are firmly controlled by the Left—and not likely to rewrite the rules to let us challenge their supremacy.

So we come to a fundamental divide among dissidents:  what Curtis Yarvin calls the divide between West Coast dissidents (that includes Yarvin) and East Coast traditionalists (like me and, I suspect, photog at Orion’s Cold Fire) in his essay “The real Great Reset.”  The East Coast traditionalists believe that local control and working within the system can swing things in our favor and reverse course in the Culture Wars, what he calls voice; the West Coast dissidents believe that voice is useless at present, and instead reset—a total regime change of reset and replace is the answer.

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

Belated SubscribeStar Saturday: Back into the Arena Again

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.

This post was meant to be published on Saturday, 17 July 2021, but I was out of town without Internet.  Apologies to subscribers for the delay.

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a detailed update on Lamar Town Council.  Lamar is really a wonderful town, and a great place to live; we’re just experiencing a number of strains that are typical for a small town with an aging population.  Even so, Lamar is uniquely poised for a renaissance, given its proximity to I-20 and the major population centers in the region.

That said, there are some systemic problems that are making that renewal more difficult.  Progress is being made to address each of these problems in turn, but it’s slow and often piecemeal.  That’s no criticism of the fine people who work for the Town—they’re doing quite well—but it’s indicative of the kinds of pressures on time and resources the town is experiencing.

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

SubscribeStar Saturday: Dog Days: Early Reflections on Dog Ownership

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.

Note to subscribersI am still working on last Saturday’s post.  It should be up later today.

As I noted in the title to Wednesday’s post, this blog is going to the dogs.  Don’t worry—not forever, and not always.  But with the experience of fostering sweet Murphy still fresh, I wanted to take some time today to reflect on the past two days of dog ownership.

Naturally, it’s a bit early yet—the term of the foster is thirty days, and after which I am allowed to adopt the old girl if I so choose—but it’s already been a positive experience, both for myself and, more importantly, the dog.

Murphy is an old girl—she is eight-years-old as of June—and was caught up in, as far as I can gather, some family drama, leading to her placement in a shelter in Havelock, North Carolina.  The Bull Terrier Rescue Mission swooped in and got in touch with me, just a week after I’d put in an application to become a foster for the organization (you can read that story here).  As such, she’s been through a great deal in the past week, and is already inclined to be a bit more relaxed, given her advanced age (the life expectancy for bull terriers, per the American Kennel Club, is between twelve and thirteen years, though I frequently hear of bull terriers passing around the age of ten).

That means we’ve enjoyed a lot of short walks and long naps.  She’s definitely my kind of girl.

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

Lazy Sunday CXXII: MAGAWeek2020 Posts

In my enthusiasm to for the animal kingdom a couple of weeks ago, I neglected to kickoff MAGAWeek2021 with a Lazy Sunday retrospective of MAGAWeek2020 posts.

Well, better late than never.  Here’s all the goodness from MAGAWeek2020, which went pretty heavy on the first couple of decades of the twentieth century.  Even my post on a contemporary figure, Tucker Carlson, had some Progressive Era ties:  The Tuck is a big fan of Theodore Roosevelt, who enjoyed two separate posts last year.

Remember, these posts are available in full if subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for as little as $1 a month.  I’ve included links to the preview posts here on the blog, as well as the direct links to the full posts on my SubscribeStar page.

With that said, enjoy!

  • #MAGAWeek2020: Theodore Roosevelt, Part I” (post on SubscribeStar) – This first post on Theodore Roosevelt details his early life:  his childhood illness and his strenuous efforts to overcome it; the death of his mother and wife one the same day; his move to the Dakotas; and his command of the Rough Riders during the Spanish-American War.
  • #MAGAWeek2020: Theodore Roosevelt, Part II” (post on SubscribeStar) – This second post on TR examines his presidency in greater detail.  TR was a trailblazing president of the Progressive Era, and while some of his notions would rankle conservatives today (as they did at the time), he was, perhaps, the greatest populist president since Andrew Jackson.
  • #MAGAWeek2020: The Tuck” (post on SubscribeStar) – Speaking of populists, this profile celebrates the elitist who wants leaders to care about the people they govern.  Tucker Carlson is the only major voice in the mainstream media who advocates for an American First, pro-nationalist, pro-populist message.  He’s not the only such voice, but he’s the only one currently with the legitimacy of the mainstream press behind him—even as the National Security Agency is spying on him!  But, as I always say, you can’t cuck The Tuck!
  • #MAGAWeek2020: Calvin Coolidge” (post on SubscribeStar) – Calvin Coolidge has enjoyed a bit of a revival in recent years as a stand-in for the tax reform debate.  In many ways, he was the antithesis to Theodore Roosevelt’s gutsy, activist style of leadership.  Coolidge took the role of president seriously, chiefly the idea that he was merely presiding over the country, not lurching into towards reform.  His steady, quiet, hands-off leadership allowed the country to flourish, and he holds the distinction of being the only president to shrink the size of the federal budget by the time he left office.

Well, now you’re all caught up.  Lots of good stuff to read—and just for $1 a month!  You can’t beat that, eh?

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Tip The Portly Politico:  Support quality commentary on politics, education, culture, and the arts with your one-time donation.

***NOTEThis link is NOT a subscription to my SubscribeStar Page; it is for a one-time donation/tip via PayPal. To subscribe to my SubscribeStar page, use this URL:   https://subscribestar.com/the-portly-politico***

SubscribeStar Saturday: Homeownership

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.

I love home.  Being at home is one of the simple joys in life, especially for a homebody like me.  Even before I owned my own home—when I was a lowly renter—I cherished time in my little pre-deluge bungalow.

Owning my home has made that appreciation even deeper.  As I am sure I have written before, I can understand why the Framers of the Constitution required property ownership as a requirement to vote.  Sure, I understood it in the abstract before I owned my house, but the wisdom of that prerequisite became real once I became a homeowner.  There is an immense pride that comes with owning a home, and with it, a protectiveness:  a desire to guard that investment, and to nurture it.

Few people with that sense of protective pride would squander their rights easily.  I understand why that is better than ever.

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

SubscribeStar Saturday: The Portly Politico Summer Reading List

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.

It’s that time of year again:  summer!  That means we’re due for The Portly Politico Summer Reading List 2021!

After publishing the list a bit later than usual last year, I’ve decided that the list should be a midsummer event—just in time for Independence Day.

But, like Sunday Doodles—a perk for $5 a month subscribers—my philosophy is “better late than never!”  And with the Independence Day holiday approaching, it’s a great time to do some reading.

For new readers, my criteria is pretty straightforward.  To quote myself from the 2016 list:

The books listed here are among some of my favorites.  I’m not necessarily reading them at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t!

Pretty vague, I know.  Additionally, I usually feature three books, plus an “Honorable Mention” that’s usually worth a read, too.

For those interested, here are the prior two installments:

With that, here’s The Portly Politico Summer Reading List 2021:

1.) Thomas Harris, Hannibal (1999) – I recently wrote a review of the novel Silence of the Lambs, the second book in a series containing the charismatic, devilish cannibal, Dr. Hannibal Lecter.  I very much enjoyed the novel, but having seen the film, I already knew many of the plot points.  That did not diminish the quality of the novel—Thomas Harris is an exquisitely descriptive writer—but it did take away some of the thrill.  The point of a good thriller is to be constantly in a state of suspense; when one already knows the major plot points, that sense of suspenseful uncertainty is diminished.

As such, I was quite excited to read Hannibal, the third installment in what might be called Harris’s “Hannibal Cycle.”  I did not know any of this story going in, beyond some whispers about the outcome of the magnet relationship between Dr. Lecter and FBI agent Clarice Starling.  The book takes place seven years after the events of Silence of the Lambs, with Dr. Lecter on the loose and living secretly as an academic in Florence, Italy.

Meanwhile, one of Dr. Lecter’s former victims, pig tycoon and sadist Mason Verger, has put a hefty bounty on Dr. Lecter’s head, and employs a ruthless team of Sardinian kidnappers—and a corrupt, disgraced Italian cop—to hunt down the fugitive.

Tossed into the mix is Clarice Starling, who finds herself increasingly disillusioned with the bureaucracy and careerism present in the upper echelons of the FBI and the Department of Justice.  Her mentor, Jack Crawford, is creeping towards retirement, and is no longer the robust agent he once was.  Meanwhile, a lecherous deputy attorney general—working hand-in-glove with Verger—sets about destroying Starling’s reputation at the Bureau, both to undermine her search for Dr. Lecter, and because she rebuffed his sexual advances.

Whereas Silence of the Lambs portrayed the FBI glowingly as a competent, professional organization with the means and tenacity to track down the slipperiest serial killers, Hannibal resonates much more with the modern reality of the FBI—a venal, corrupt organization that, rather than solving actual crimes, uses its power to oppress and harass law-abiding citizens.  The corruption on display, with highly-placed government officials attempting to advance their professional and political careers by working with wealthy scumbags, rings true.  In the eleven years between writing Silence and Hannibal, it appears Harris had a real change of heart.

Overall, I can highly recommend Hannibal.  Be warned that it is a long read, with 103 chapters and around 560 pages, but it’s rarely a slog and always a chilling pleasure.

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

Lazy Sunday CXIX: Summer Camps

Well, my two summer camps for the season are all wrapped up, so the rest of summer vacation is a combination of private music lessons, blogging, gardening, and loafing around the house.  I’ll also get in some family time, and will help schlep my girlfriend’s stuff to Athens.  I hope to get a little fiction writing done in there, too.

With my camps done for the summer, I thought I’d dedicate this Sunday to looking back at some posts about my various summertime endeavors:

That’s it for this Lazy Sunday!  Take a moment to leave a comment about your favorite summer camp.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Tip The Portly Politico:  Support quality commentary on politics, education, culture, and the arts with your one-time donation.

***NOTEThis link is NOT a subscription to my SubscribeStar Page; it is for a one-time donation/tip via PayPal. To subscribe to my SubscribeStar page, use this URL:   https://subscribestar.com/the-portly-politico***

SubscribeStar Saturday: Minecraft Camp 2021 Review

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.

My second camp for the summer, my annual Minecraft Camp, is in the books!  It came on the heels of my inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp, which was a far smaller (and calmer) summer camp.

Minecraft Camp was the brainchild of a former colleague of mine, who did all of the initial setup, promotion, etc.  He invited me to join him for the inaugural Minecraft Camp in 2014, working as a counselor and assistant.  I owe him a huge debt of gratitude, as I took over the camp after he and his family moved a couple of years later.  The camp is a great deal of fun, but it also tends to be very lucrative; in some years, the camp’s net revenue is substantially more than my bring-home pay for a month (keeping in mind that I slam a solid two-thirds of my paycheck into retirement accounts).  It was quite costly when I was sick and missed camp during Summer 2020, but I was thankful that another colleague was able to step in to run the camp and make a few bucks.

This year’s camp was one of the biggest in the school’s history, surpassed, I believe, only with the very first camp in 2014.  In this post, I’d like to run through the basics of camp, then dive into some of the financials involved.  I’ll also include some very minor tech notes about which version of Minecraft we use, and which mods we’ve tried.

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

SubscribeStar Saturday: Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp Review

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.

This past week I hosted the first of two summer camps I’m putting on in June.  Next week is the ubiquitous, ever-popular Minecraft Camp, but this week saw the first inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp at my little school.

I’m not sure why I didn’t conceive of this idea sooner.  It’s not an original one, as rock ‘n’ roll fantasy camps have been around for awhile.  I’m not Ted Nugent teaching middle-aged yuppies how to play “Stranglehold” in the woods, but porting that concept to rockin’ out with kids is not difficult to do.

But last summer my headmaster kept forwarding me e-mails from a local country club, which was itself hosting a summer rock camp.  He did not include any commentary or suggestions along the lines of “you should do this camp,” but I got the message.  So when it came time to put together our summer camp catalogue, I tossed Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp into the mix.

My headmaster’s implied suggestion was a good one:  the camp was really wonderful.  Indeed, it exceeded my expectations, in large part because of the small but talented group of campers who attended.  We only had three kids sign up this year, but I’ve had semester-long ensemble classes with that few students, so I knew we could make some musical magic even with a small group.  Indeed, we had the perfect number for a classic garage rock band:  four (including myself).

Here’s some of the details about the camp—how long it lasted, a breakdown of our days, and the songs we played.  Hopefully it will provide a useful blueprint for other music educators looking to host their own camps.

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