Rest in Peace, Herman Cain

Yesterday, former Godfather’s Pizza CEO and 2012 Republican presidential primary candidate Herman Cain passed away after a long struggle against The Virus.  Cain was 74.

Breitbart calls Cain a “Conservative firebrand,” which was apparent to anyone following the crowded 2011-2012 Republican presidential primaries.  Like 2016, that was a crowded primary field, with tons of conservative darlings and Establishment types alike jumping into the field.  Back in those days, everybody thought Barack Obama was going to be the next Jimmy Carter—an ineffectual, overly-progressive one-termer.  The economy stunk, Obama seemed out of his depth, and conservatives were united and motivated to get out and vote.

Herman Cain quickly set himself apart from the rest of the crowd, though—he wasn’t a career politician, but a successful businessman (according to John Derbyshire, Cain is also somewhat a mathematical genius).  He put out his bold “9-9-9 Plan“—flat, nine percent national sales, income, and corporate tax rates.  Cain’s reasoning:  “If ten percent is good enough for God, nine percent is good enough for the federal government.”  Yes, it was a bit far-fetched, but it was catchy, and in an era of high corporate and income taxes—both of which undermined American business competitiveness domestically and abroad—it resonated with voters.  The implicit reference to the biblical tithe also let voters know Cain was a devoted Christian, which was a welcome change from the open hostility of the Obama administration to religious liberty.

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TBT: Ideas Have Consequences – Introduction

Yesterday was the last session of the Summer 2020 History of Conservative Thought course.  This summer marks the second run of the course, and it was a fantastic class.  I had three young men enrolled, all quite eager to dive into the material.

I try to avoid lengthy lectures in HoCT, giving the basic background information and scaffolding necessary to put the readings into context.  I want the works to speak for themselves, and for the students to the do the heavy lifting of sussing out meaning and the author’s ideas.  Each week students wrote a short essay or answered a few different guided questions, then we would come in and discuss the material.

With this summer’s group, that model worked very well, as two of the young men in particular loved to plunge into discussions and ask questions.  One of the students was concurrently taking a colleague’s popular Terror and Terrorism course, which leads off each summer with the French Revolution.  That always dovetails nicely with our discussion of Edmund Burke, as we read several excerpts from his Reflections on the Revolution in France.  Burke comes on the heels of our discussion of Russell Kirk’s conservative principles, and helps frame the early portion of the course in the Burkean tradition.

In July, we left the nineteenth century and began looking at the modern conservative movement, with a heavy emphasis on William F. Buckley, Jr., and the notion of fusionism.  Buckley’s National Review catches a good bit of flack on the Right these days, including from this blog, but it truly shaped conservatism in the second half of the twentieth century.  Before National Review, conservatism was a disorganized, disunited hodgepodge of various ideologies, movements, and issues—it was, as Lionel Trilling put it, a “reactionary impulse,” a grumpy attitude about the way things were, but without a cohesive understanding of how to combat the dominance of New Deal liberalism.

For all its noodle-wristed hand-wringing and desperate virtue-signalling today, National Review created the modern conservative movement by giving conservatives their voice, their publication.  It also gave conservatism a politically viable platform of issues that could win in national politics.  That focus on nationalism certainly cuts against the Kirkean/Burkean mold of organic, ordered liberty, but it was the reality of post-war American political life.

We ended with another mid-century conservative, but one fitting far more into the spiritual and moral mold of Burke and Kirk, and far less in the neoliberal and materialist mold of Buckley-style fusionism:  Richard Weaver’s seminal Ideas Have Consequences, which I consider one of the greatest books ever written.  Indeed, I’m a bit of a Weaver fanboy, as he’s been featured twice on my Summer Reading Lists, first in 2016 for Ideas Have Consequences, and again in 2020 for his collection of Southern Essays.

For the course, we just read the “Introduction” to the book, which I try to read every August before school resumes.  It reminds me why I teach, and what is at stake.  Reading Ideas Have Consequences—first published in 1948—today reads like prophecy fulfilled.  Weaver’s core focus on William of Occam as the source of modernity and its related ills might seem a bit far-fetched, but that’s merely the germ from which the analysis of modernity’s fallen view of the world grows.

The real heart of Ideas Have Consequences is the abandonment of the transcendental—of God—in favor for navel-gazing particularism, a constant focus on lower, material concerns.  Unbound from any obligation to or belief in a transcendental moral order, men are left adrift in a world full of isolation, alienation, confusion, and meaninglessness.

I’ll let the rest speak for itself.  Here is 29 July 2019’s “Ideas Have Consequences – Introduction“:

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The Tuck for President

The 2020 election is looming, and while Trump is struggling at the moment, I am praying that he can pull out another victory and another four-year term.  The stakes are high:  a Trump victory, at minimum, allows us to forestall a progressive Armageddon for another four years; it also undermines both the Never Trumpers (who can no longer write off Trump’s 2016 victory as a “fluke”) and the ultra-progressives.  I don’t think the modern Democrat Party has much of a moderate wing left, but that small, dying minority might be able to convince the Party that going full-on progressive is a bad move.

A Trump defeat, however, would be catastrophic.  Z Man wrote Tuesday that a “Democratic sweep” would essentially mean the end of elections in America—at least, the end of meaningful national ones:

More important, there is no electoral option either. The Democrat party is actively cheering on this lunacy. Joe Biden is running an extortion campaign, where a vote for him means an end to the violence and Covid lock downs. How realistic is that when his party is cheering for the mayhem, promising to take it to a new level after they win the final election. It is not hyperbole to say that a Democrat sweep in November means the end of elections. What would be the point?

Trump’s defeat would also embolden the Jonah Goldberg/David French neocons of Conservatism, Inc., who are essentially abstract ideologues offering token resistance to the Left.  There’s a reason the joke “The Conservative Case for [Progressive Goal Here]” exists, because National Review tends to put up tortured, weak resistance to the progressive fad of the moment, before finally caving and accepting the latest lunacy as a “bedrock conservative principle.”  What conservative site goes around pitching “magic mushrooms” as conservative—and has done so repeatedly?  The conservative publication of record possesses the quality and depth of a college newspaper.

Regardless, Trump’s defeat would mean not just Biden’s marionette presidency, in which ultra-progressive handlers pull the strings; it would also mean a return to boring, ineffectual, tired, defeated neoconservatism.  National conservatism, social conservatism, traditionalism, populism—these movements and others, which have enjoyed a renewal since 2015, would wither on the vine—or see themselves pruned from “respectable” Beltway “conservatism.”  That would only hasten the victory of progressivism in the absence of any real opposition.

But there is hope.  2020 looms large, but 2024 is is not that far away.  On the Right, there is a good bit of speculation about who will fill Trump’s shoes.  VDare offers one compelling optionTucker Carlson.

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Law and Order?

It’s an election year, in case you’d missed that point, and our man Trump is up for reelection.  Trump is not doing well in the polls at the moment, but George H. W. Bush was similarly down against Michael Dukakis at this point in 1988, and won in a blowout victory.  Of course, Dukakis was an exceptionally feeble and excessively nerdy politician, and Lee Atwater’s Willie Horton ad was a gutsy, effective attack on Dukakis’s program of weekend release for prisoners.

1988 was also a very different America.  Even 2016 seems like another world.  Trump’s election was the paradigm shift of our age, spawning four years of constant resistance from progressives and neocons alike.  Joe Biden, like Hillary Clinton before him, enjoys the full support of the media and the institutions; even in his advancing senility, they are determined to drag him into the White House, where he will serve as a dull-witted, mentally-diminished puppet for every crazy Left-wing policy ever concocted in the faculty lounge of a women’s studies department.

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Catching Up

I’ve returned from Universal Studios, and will be writing the SubscribeStar-exclusive post promised on Saturday sometime this evening.  It was a very fun trip, and was a wonderful opportunity to catch up with family.

Of course, as with any trip, now I’m playing catch up after enjoying nearly a week of good food, good family, and good times.  I’m teaching a new Pre-AP Music Appreciation course this academic year, and begin online training with four Zoom sessions starting tomorrow.  That means today I’ve got to work through some online modules to be prepared for the first session.

I’m also clearing out a backlog of e-mails.  It’s remarkable how quickly it all piles up after just a few days.  My junk account is bursting with solicitations, most of them truly garbage.  But I’m also catching up on some work and personal correspondence, so if you’ve written to me over the past week, don’t fret—I will respond as soon as possible.

Returning from this trip marks the beginning of the end of summer vacation.  I still have a couple of weeks of summery freedom remaining, but the tempo of work-related activities will only increase from here on out.  I will, of course, continue posting to the blog daily, but posts will likely be a bit shorter as the school year resumes.

I’ll have some updates and information soon about how school is resuming in The Age of The Virus.  That was the topic of some discussion on photog’s blog, Orion’s Cold Fire, back on his 11 July 2020 update post.  It will be quite interesting to see how different States and school districts handle the return.  My little private school is planning on resuming as normal, just with way more sanitation and some social distancing and such.  Again, more details to come.

That’s about it for today.  I’ll be getting into some meatier substance soon, but some gossamer fluff is surely allowable from time to time.

God Bless,

TPP

Lazy Sunday LXXI: Road Trips

Well, we’re headed back from Universal Studios after a fun-filled visit (I’m assuming as such; I’m actually writing this post before the trip, so it may very well have been a disaster, but I prefer to be optimistic).  It seemed like a good time to review some of my road trip posts.

Back in Fall 2019—in The Before Times, in The Long, Long Ago, before The Age of The Virus—I was on a festival kick.  Every small town has some obscure but beloved festival (here in Lamar it’s the Egg Scramble), usually dedicated to some local foodstuff or cultural group.  Most of my recent road-tripping has been on those kinds of excursions.

As such, this edition of Lazy Sunday will have a good bit of overlap with “Lazy Sunday XXXII: Festivals“—I mean, it is Lazy Sunday, after all.

  • SubscribeStar Saturday: Aiken Amblings” – This post is about the annual Aiken’s Makin’ crafts festival, which my hometown hosts every September.  It’s a huge draw, bringing tons of vendors and visitors to downtown Aiken’s parkways.  I have many fond childhood memories of running around at the festival, though it’s shifted its location (to its detriment, I think) and its spot in the calendar (because it’s earlier in September, it’s hotter).  It’s still a great deal of fun, and I always manage to find some fun gifts for my train-loving nephew.
  • SubscribeStar Saturday: Yemassee Shrimp Festival 2019” – Since I was a young boy, I’ve been riding through Yemassee and past Old Sheldon Church on my way to Fripp Island, which is out past Beaufort, South Carolina.  Yemassee is an old railroad town that straddles the line between Hampton and Beaufort Counties.  The Shrimp Festival is fun, sweltering festival with—you guessed it—lots of friend shrimp (and fried everything, for that matter).  I highly recommend making a day of it for reasons stated in the full post.
  • Road Trip!” – This post is about heading down to Orlando (a nice bookend to today’s post, while I’m heading back) and some of my meager backroad explorations around rural South Carolina.  There are a lot of hidden gems if you’re willing to get off the Interstates and look around.

That’s it!  I should probably stop typing while driving (just kidding, just kidding).  This return marks the beginning of the end of summer vacation—the tempo of back-to-school preparation will just pick up from here.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Delayed SubscribeStar Saturday: Universal Studios Trip No. 2

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’m currently on a trip to Universal Studios—shockingly, my second this year.  I’m going to write all about it, just as I did back in February, but it’s likely going to be delayed until my return.

Thank you for your patience.  Enjoy your weekend!

—TPP

This post will be completed upon my return from Universal Studios.

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

Old-School Fun

While on vacation, the last thing I want to think or write about is all the unpleasantness in the world.  If I’m having fun (and, presumably, I am!), why not my loyal, dogged, faithful, persistent, lovable readers?  (After all that flattery, why not check out my SubscribeStar page, hmmm?)

My local paper ran a story on Monday about the discount cinema in Florence, the Julia 4.  Because fun is outlawed in The Age of The Virus (yes, yes, I know I’m at Universal Studios—it’s a joke), we can’t see movies anymore.  The Julia’s solution:  become a drive-in theater.

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TBT: Phone it in Friday VI: Universal Studios

Today I am back at Universal Studios!  I didn’t expect I’d be back so soon, but Universal has lifted their Season Pass blackout dates for Summer 2020 due to The Virus, so my brothers and our significant others and I decided to take advantage of it and come down for a few days.  It’s always fun with the niece and nephews, too.

As my younger brother put it, we’re probably safer strolling around Universal Studios than eating at restaurants (which we’ve all been doing to some extent), as the park is sanitizing everything in hyper drive.  We’re also all masked up, and social distancing is in force—all the usual protocols we’ve come to endure in The Age of The Virus.  Why not enjoy safety and spectacular theming?

This week’s TBT features the first Phone it in Friday to make it to TBT (that I can recall).  I’ve just finished four Sundays of PiiF retrospectives (here, here, here, and here), so readers of “Lazy Sunday LXIX: Phone it in Fridays, Part III” may remember this post about our February 2020 trip to Universal Studios.

With that, here is “Phone it in Friday VI: Universal Studios“:

As I wrote yesterday, I’m out on a rare vacation (other than ChristmasSpring Break, all summer, and every second- and third-tier holiday that falls on a Monday in the winter).  I’m down in Florida visiting Universal Studios Orlando with my family, and it’s been an amazing, tiring trip.  I tried filing away blog posts for while I was away, but couldn’t get enough done to have every day of my trip covered.

That said, we got back from Day 2 in the park a little while ago, and I’m slamming something out while playing with Mario Kart Hot Wheels with my almost-three-year old nephew.  Here are just some observations from my vacation.

  • I love Universal Studios.  The highlight has been riding rides with my niece and my nephew.  One of the first rides we rode was E.T.  It’s definitely an older ride, but the nostalgia factor and magic really make it an incredible ride.  Riding it with my niece was probably what I was most looking forward to doing on this trip.
  • That and the Pteradon Gliders ride, which adults can only ride if they have a child with them.  It was a bit more intense than I thought it would be for a little kiddie ride, and is super fun.  You also get to see the entire park!
  • As much as I love Universal, I hate crowds.  I was trained from an early age to stay out of the way.  Apparently, no one else was.  I understand people are confused or trying to figure out where to go next, but folks are absolutely oblivious to what is going on around them.  You’d think someone coming at you with a stroller would at least make a little room, rather than dashing out in front of you like a squirrel (or, worse, plodding along in the exact middle of your path.
  • It’s still jarring for me, even in our multicultural age, to hear different languages, even Spanish.  It doesn’t grate me the same way as when I hear it elsewhere, because I realize there are a ton of tourists, but it still makes me realize how—as I heard someone put it recently, citing (I believe) Mark Steyn—the future belongs to those who show up.  In our hemisphere, the people showing up are Latin Americans.

More reflections to come—and a more complete account of the trip—to come.

Happy Friday!

—TPP