Phone it in Friday XV: Blogger Buddies

It’s been another crazy week, but the rhythms of the school year are beginning to fall into their familiar patterns.  That said, I’ve put in more hours working this week than any in a long time.

Regular readers know what that means:  another edition of Phone it in Friday, now reaching its fifteenth installment.

It’s been a week for shout-outs to other commentators and platforms, so I figured I’d continue with that theme and recommend some of my blogger buddies to you.  I have to give a big hat tip for this idea to one of my best blogger buddies, photog, over at Orion’s Cold Fire.  He wrote a post—“A Word of Thanks to Our Boosters“—highlighting some of those blogs that routinely link to his page or reference his writing, and yours portly made the list.  Thanks, photog!

So on this rainy, overcast Friday, here are some excellent blogs for your consideration:

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Galaxy Quest II: Cox Blogged

Following yesterday’s post on the galaxy, blogger buddy Bette Cox—who was also my predecessor as Secretary of the Florence County (SC) GOP—shot me an e-mail with links to some of her own writings on astronomy, the galaxy, and faith.  I wanted to share a few of those pieces with you today.

Bette is a prolific writer, and maintains a dizzying array of blogs.  She contacted me with some excellent feedback on my first Nehemiah essay, which prompted a follow-up incorporating her remarks.  She writes beautifully about faith at Esther’s Petition, and about the fulfillment of end-times prophecy at Tapister.

What I did not realize, until yesterday, is that Bette writes extensively about space—one of my favorite topics—at another blog Speaking of Heaven (her main blog, Bette Cox, is also dedicated to space).  Her writings about the intersection of space exploration and faith are particularly thought-provoking.

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Monday Morning Update

Today’s post is a bit of a grab-bag.  I spent most of the day Sunday finalizing grades for the first quarter, which ended Friday.  Now we’re in the brief eye of the storm:  all the tests are graded, comments written, and grades keyed; I quietly await the blustering winds of angry parents and more student papers.

The blog is nearing its 300th day of posts.  Regular readers will notice I’ve shifted away from politics slightly, expanding my horizons to astronomy, literature, music, festivals, and the like.  Writing about politics and the culture wars constantly will wear on you—staring into the abyss and all that.

So, I thought I’d ease into Monday with some reflections on the blog as we approach 300 consecutive days of posting.

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Support Milo

I hold a soft spot in my heart for conservative gadfly and Internet provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.  I recall fondly his heyday in 2015-2016, when he championed free speech in the Babylon of Progressivism, Berkeley, California.  I still wish President Trump would appoint him White House Press Secretary—it would be must-see TV every day.

Behind the flamboyant, cartoonish homosexuality and the over-the-top trollery, though, is a talented journalist and writer; indeed, Milo’s work is some of the best long-form journalism I’ve ever read.  His writing, like his public speaking, is engaging and well-researched:  he really checks his facts and his sources, while still delivering that withering Coulterian death strike upon his unfortunate target.

Unfortunately, even fewer Americans will have the opportunity to read his work, as he’s apparently sold his website, Dangerous.com.

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Lazy Sunday XXIII: Richard Weaver

I’ve been fan-boying a great deal lately about Richard Weaver.  He’s one of my favorite authors, even though I’ve read comparatively little of his work.  Weaver died during the prime of his academic career, but before his premature death he managed to bequeath a rich heritage of scholarly works about literature, religion, and his beloved Dixie.

As I’ve written again and again, I always enjoy rereading the introduction to Weaver’s Ideas Have Consequences, and hope to reread the entire book again soon.  The introduction sums up the modern West’s maladies starkly and clearly, tracing their origins to the nominalism of William of Occam.

I found one podcast in which two conservative commentators summarize and discuss the book, chapter-by-chapter; it’s a good, quick overview if you’ve got fifty minutes in the car:

That said, while I reference Weaver quite a bit, I actually have not written as many posts about him and his work as I thought.  Nevertheless, while I’m in the midst of my annual Weaver Fest, I thought it would be the perfect time to give the great academic his own Lazy Sunday:

1.) “Capitalism Needs Social Conservatism” – a #TBT post from the TPP 2.0 era, this post was part of a series on social conservatism, which I dubbed the “red-headed stepchild” of modern conservatism.  The post is more inspired by Weaver than it is about him, but I mention the paradox of prosperity near the end when I discuss Weaver’s drunk.

That’s my phrase for a metaphor Weaver employs near the end of the introduction to Ideas Have Consequences in which he compares modern society to a drunk.  The more inebriated and alcoholic the drunk becomes, the less capable he is of doing the work necessary to feed his addiction.  So it is with modern man—the more he luxuriates in excess and comfort, the less willing he is to do the uncomfortable work necessary to sustain his opulence.

2.) “Back to School with Richard Weaver” – the subject of last Thursday’s TBT, this little piece was from a 2014 Facebook post in which I quoted from “The South and the American Union,” an essay from Weaver’s Southern Essays.  It contrasts the Southerner’s “Apollonian” worldview of fixed limits and “permanent settlement” to the ceaseless striving and progression of the Northern, “Faustian” worldview.  It’s a fascinating dichotomy that, while controversial, certainly rings true to Southerners like yours portly.

3.) “The Portly Politico Summer Reading List 2016” – my classic, original reading list; naturally, Ideas Have Consequences tops the list!  As I wrote at the time, if you’re going to read just one book this summer, make it Ideas Have Consequences!

4.) “Ideas Have Consequences – Introduction” – I wrote this little summary for my History of Conservative Thought course.  It’s my quick rundown to help breakdown the main ideas from the introduction to high school juniors.  Hopefully it worked!

Well, that’s it.  Enjoy Weaver Fest 2019!  It’s back to school for me tomorrow.

–TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

101 Postmatians – 101st Consecutive Daily Post!

Perhaps it’s a bit odd to celebrate grinding diligence, but I’m proud of myself.  Yesterday’s post on model bills (a bit of a snoozer of a topic, I’ll admit) marked the 100th consecutive daily post on this blog.

I realized in late December 2018/early January 2019 that WordPress tracks streaks once you hit three consecutive days of posting, so I decided to see how long I could keep the momentum going.  Initially, I was just going to try to get through January.  It’s a slow month in the academic year, a rare moment when I have a sliver of extra time to devote to extracurricular hobbies, like music.

Of course, the more I wrote, the easier it became to churn out posts on any number of topics.  Pretty soon, I’d gotten to fifty posts.  Despite Internet outages (within weeks of each other, both times because a Frontier technician incorrectly disconnected my line), I was able to get some posts up (even if they weren’t of the best quality).

So, to celebrate, I thought I’d take today “off” with a classic retrospective (which I already do once or twice a week with “TBT Thursdays” and “Lazy Sundays“)—a written “clip show,” if you will, of The Streak ’19’s Top Five Posts (so far).

The following are the five posts with the most views as of the time of this writing, presented in descending order (most views to fewest):

1.) “Hump Day Hoax” – it seems these local stories do well (my piece on the fight at the Lamar Egg Scramble has turned up in quite a few searches; I’m still trying to find more details about it).  This piece was about the Mayor of Lamar’s claim that her car was vandalized in a racially-motivated attack, and she expressed relief that the vandal didn’t try to kill her and her husband.  When the Darlington County Sheriff’s deputy came out to investigate, he discovered the mysterious yellow substance was pollen!  That didn’t prevent it from making national news, getting a mention in Newsweek.

At first, I thought our mayor was just trying to get some cheap PR and sympathy for herself, but after discussing it with some other folks, the consensus seems to be that she suffered from stupidity, filtered through a conspiratorial, black victim mentality.  Rather than see the sticky substance for what it was—the ubiquitous pollen that covers our fair Dixie—the mayor’s first thought was a racist attack.

That’s a sad way to live.  As I wrote in this piece, the mayor is a sweet lady, and I think she really wants to do her best to help our little town.  That said, this kind of ignorant hysteria doesn’t help anyone or anything, much less race relations.

2.) “Secession Saturday” – boy, this post generated some views.  The focus of this post was a piece from American Greatness, “The Left Won’t Allow a Peaceful Separation,” by Christopher Roach.  It explores whether or not some kind of peaceful parting of ways between America’s two cultures—traditionalists and progressives—is desirable, and revisits questions the American Civil War resolved—at least for a time—with force of arms (“do States have the right to secede?,” for example).

A panicked former student texted me in anguish, worrying about a Civil War II, after seeing this post on Facebook.  I tried to allay her fears.  But the real point of my commentary was on the idea that the Left is fundamentally totalitarian, and will broach no disagreements.  That’s a key insight Roach and others make, and it’s why I reference back to his piece so frequently.

Of course, it also helped that I linked to this guy in the comments of a more successful blog.

3.-4.) “Nehemiah and National Renewal” & “Nehemiah Follow-Up” – these two posts came amid a week in which I found myself immersed in the Book of Nehemiah (one of my favorites in the Old Testament, as he builds a wall to renew his nation).  The initial post sparked some great feedback from Ms. Bette Cox, a fellow blogger (who, incidentally, preceded me in my soon-to-be-vacated position as the Florence County [SC] GOP Secretary).  She astutely pointed out that my first post missed a key point:  in Nehemiah 1, the prophet falls to his knees and asks for God’s Will.

5.) “Tucker Carlson’s Diagnosis” – one of the posts from the early days of The Streak ’19, it was also a rare video post from me.  I’ll occasionally embed YouTube videos in my posts, but I tend to avoid writing posts that say, “hey, watch this lengthy video.”

Nothing bugs me more than when I’m out somewhere, having a conversation, and someone thrusts a phone in my face with a YouTube video.  I’ve actually told my friends that if they do this, I will refuse to watch it.  It’s not that I don’t want to share the joke with you; it’s that you’re making me watch a video on a cellphone!  C’mon.  I can barely hear the dialogue (or song, or whatever) on your tinny, bass-less phone speaker.  Furthermore, can’t we have a conversation without resorting to SNL clips?

But I digress.  I made an exception for Tucker Carlson’s powerful monologue about our frigid, uncaring elites.  I’ve definitely jumped on the Carlson populist-nationalist train, and I think he makes a compelling case for preserving—or, at least not actively destroying—small towns and the families they nurture.

So, there you have it—a lengthier-than-planned reheating of my posts during The Streak ’19.

Thanks for all of your love and support.  Here’s to another 100 posts!

–TPP

Buchanan on the National Emergency

One of my favorite writers, paleocon Pat Buchanan, has a piece on one of my favorite sites, Taki’s Magazine, about President Trump’s recent declaration of a national emergency.  That national emergency, you’ll recall, will allow the President to use existing funds within the federal bureaucracy to build a border wall, thereby circumventing Congress’s lackluster appropriation of funds for that purpose.

Critics argue that the president is undermining our Constitution, with its careful balance of powers between the branches, specifically its delegation of the “power of the purse” to Congress.  While I certainly share some of those concerns, Buchanan points out that Trump’s national emergency is only the latest (and one of the mildest) in a long line of the executive overreach.

More crucially, Buchanan places the blame for the extension of the executive power at Congress‘s feet.  In this regard, Buchanan is correct:  Congress, with the support of an activist federal judiciary, long ago realized that it could farm out key legislative functions to the executive branch (specifically, the federal bureaucracy), and thereby avoid catching the blame for the nation’s problems.  In the process, the executive and judicial branches have arrogated greater powers to themselves (thus, the tug-of-wars between unelected federal judges and the Trump administration on virtually every policy).

To quote Buchanan at length:

Yet while presidents have acted decisively, without congressional authorization and sometimes unconstitutionally, Congress has failed to defend, and even surrendered, its legitimate constitutional powers.

Congress’s authority “to regulate commerce with foreign nations” has been largely ceded to the executive branch, with Congress agreeing to confine itself to a “yeah” or “nay” vote on whatever trade treaty the White House negotiates and sends to the Hill.

Congress’s authority to “coin money” and “regulate the value thereof” was long ago transferred to the Federal Reserve.

Congress’s power to declare war has been ignored by presidents since Truman. Authorizations for the use of military force have replaced declarations of war, with presidents deciding how broadly they may be interpreted.

In declaring the national emergency Friday, Trump rested his case on authority given the president by Congress in the National Emergencies Act of 1976.

As I wrote over the weekend, I believe the president acted within his the scope of Article II of the Constitution in issuing the national emergency, as it pertains to powers inherent in the office of the executive:  national defense and border security.  I’m not completely comfortable with this method for funding a border wall, and I think the president and congressional Republicans blew an opportunity to build the wall during the two years of Republican control of the federal government, but action needed to be taken.

Buchanan’s piece is titled, chillingly, “Why Autocrats are Replacing Democrats.”  To answer his own question, he argues that voters internationally are weary of the plodding democratic process, and are eager for leaders who will deliver solutions to their problems.  Buchanan claims that republican forms of government have failed to fulfill their most basic functions—border and immigration control, national security, etc.—and the people demand solutions—action.

I don’t think President Trump is an autocrat or a fascist.  I also don’t entirely blame him for using powers Congress has delegated to his office.  Up to this point, President Trump has stayed very much within defined constitutional limits in the exercise of his authority.

We should, however, be ever vigilant about—and always on guard against—executive overreach.  While I think the president acted within accepted constitutional bounds here—and relied upon the poor decisions of a past Congress to shore up his case for the national emergency—I hope this method of governance does not became de rigeur habit, as it did under the Obama administration.

On the plus side, we’re getting a wall!

Breaking: Conservative Commentator Charles Krauthammer Dies at 68

Conservative commentator and writer Charles Krauthammer has passed at the age of 68.  Krauthammer released a statement in the Washington Post on 8 June 2018 announcing that he had only a few weeks left to live.

Pundits come and go, but Krauthammer was one of the greats.  He was hugely thought-provoking; back in 2011, one of my students presented on a rather charming little op-ed Krauthammer penned.  The topic:  why haven’t we found intelligent life in outer space yet?  Krauthammer’s answer—in retrospect, quite typical of a man in love with his field—“politics”—or, in the case of our missing extraterrestrial friends, the lack of politics (you can read that piece here; it’s quite good).

Rest in Peace, Charles Krauthammer.  You will be missed.