SubscribeStar Saturday: Primary Season Preview

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The presidential primaries are just a few weeks away, kicking off on February 3rd with the Iowa caucuses.  However, as Scott Rasmussen noted Thursday in his Number of the Day feature for Ballotpedia, early voting began yesterday in Minnesota, which doesn’t officially vote until Super Tuesday on March 3rd, one month into the process.  Voters in Vermont can begin voting (presumably for socialist Bernie Sanders) today.

Rasmussen poses the question:  what does all this early voting mean?  In a crowded Democratic field, where early wins in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina can boost or destroy a candidate’s chances, early voting could throw an interesting wrinkle into the mix.  I suspect most voters will wait, but we could have Minnesotans voting for their raging hometown sweetheart, Amy Klobuchar, only to see her withdraw after the early primaries.

Regardless, the primaries are a-comin’, so I figured it was time for a little pre-primaries preview.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Performing

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Last night was opening night for Catching Icarus (get tickets to today’s matinee, or tonight’s performance).  It was a sold-out show before doors even opened.  I was incredibly keyed up in the build-up to the performance, but experienced an odd sense of calm as curtains approached.

Without giving too much away, the play really “opens” as the audience enters the theatre.  I am already on stage, eating a waffle, drinking coffee, and reading a book.  You’d think it would be weird eating breakfast in front of 100 people shuffling into their seats—some of them a mere ten feet away—but if there’s one thing I do well, it’s eat.

By the time I actually complete this post, I will have gotten through today’s performances (most likely).  But I will write, briefly, that performing is difficult, taxing, draining—and exhilarating.

Note to subscribers:  due to a heavy performance schedule today, this post may not be completed until later this evening or tomorrow morning.  Thank you for your patience.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: The Twenties

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It’s (sort of) the start of a new decade, and every blogger and tin-pot commentator (like yours portly) has been putting out prediction posts for the decade.  My good friend and fellow blogger Bette Cox has written not one, but two posts about the coming decade, based on her prayer-conversation with God.

I’ve taken more of the approach of photog at Orion’s Cold Fire:  rather than offering lock-of-the-century predictions, I’ve just commented on things as they stand currently.  I am notoriously bad at making predictions and calling elections.

That said, I thought I’d play to my strengths and instead write about The Twenties—the 1920s.  Yes, it’s a bit hackneyed, but looking back at the past can be instructive of where we are now, if not what our futures hold.

Note to subscribers:  due to a heavy rehearsal schedule today, this post may not be completed until later this evening.  Thank you for your patience.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: End-of-Decade Reflections; Age and Class

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Today’s post is a bit of a counterpoint to yesterday’s Trumpian triumphalism—not a repudiation of my own points, but a mild qualifier.  Yesterday’s post discussed the hard numbers behind the Trump economy, and the enormous gains in the S&P 500.

I argued that, unlike the “sugar high” years of the Obama Fed—when stock prices soared, but wages remained low and unemployment high—the growth we’re currently enjoying more accurately reflects the reality on the ground.  Americans are benefiting in their 401(k)s and their IRAs, to be sure, but they’re also enjoying higher wages, and more of us are working than at any point in our history since 1969.

All of that is true, and good.  But as I wrote yesterday’s post, I couldn’t escape the nagging feeling that something is still off.  There remains a real disconnect between the prosperity we see both in reality and on paper, and the sense that there is a lack of prosperity.

Since popular politics is a matter of emotions and feeling far more than it is about reasoned discourse, addressing that enduring sense of economic disparity and privation is critical.  My foolish but troubled generation, which came of age and fought for jobs during the Great Recession, perceives that gap profoundly—with potentially major consequences for the future of the United States and the West.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Kabuki Theatre

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This coming January, two theatrical events will occur:  I’m playing the role of “Brett,” the father of a drug-addicted son, in a play one of my former students wrote called Catching Icarus (the hook:  both acts take place in a Waffle House in South Carolina); and the Senate trial against President Trump will (allegedly) begin.

From the rehearsals I’ve been to so far, I can say that acting is difficult—and I get to spend most of the first act in a booth drinking coffee.  It takes a special kind of conviction (or delusion) to invest in a role, to become another person.

For congressional Democrats, they sure seem right at home on the political stage.  They are masters of the kabuki theatre of outrage.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: O Holy Night

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The unofficial theme of the blog this week has been Christmas music.  What better way to cap off the week than with a post about the best Christmas song ever written, Adolphe Adam’s “O Holy Night“?

Like its cousin “Silent Night,” the story of “O Holy Night” involves a village’s church organ.  In 1843, the church organ of the French village of Roquemaure had recently been renovated, so the parish priest asked a local wine merchant and poet, Placide Cappeau, to write a poem to commemorate the occasion.  That poem, “Cantique de Noël,” would be set to music a short time later by composer and music critic Adolphe Adam—and Christmas history would be made.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: The Tedium of (Teaching) Slavery

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A major part of American history was, of course, slavery.  As I typed that sentence, I nearly wrote “the unfortunate legacy of slavery,” though we’re still living that, just not in the way the race-baiters and social justice warriors claim.

But phrases like “the unfortunate legacy of slavery” have become incredibly cliched.  It and similar phrases (“slavery is our great national sin”) act as magic talismans, incantations that, when invoked, protect the speaker (presumably) from the ultimate curse, the label of “racist.”

Of course, slavery was wrong, and slavery is immoral.  It was our great national sin (paid for, as Lincoln pointed out in his Second Inaugural Address, with the blood “drawn by the sword” in the American Civil War).  It continues to have an “unfortunate legacy,” in that race-baiting charlatans continue to blame it for virtually every pathology in black American culture.

Dang it… I screwed up the incantation with that last bit.  I’d better kiss my job goodbye right now.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Shrinkflation

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When Americans experience a sense that the world we live in is not what it should be, we’re often scolded for not being thankful for all of our material abundance.  Indeed, we are extremely blessed to live in an age with plenty of food, infrastructure, and novelties, and we accordingly enjoy a standard of living beyond the wildest dreams of most of our forebears.

That said, there’s a nagging sense that, for all that abundance, things are amiss.  There’s a strong tug of to that undercurrent among conservatives today.  Material abundance is great, but it hasn’t addressed deeper moral problems or battles in the culture wars, because those problems aren’t materialist in nature—they can’t be.

Even within the plane of the material world, things seem a bit off.  That was the crux of my post about the new Mustang, a redesign so beyond the scope of the name “Mustang” that it’s ludicrous to call it as such.  Everywhere we look, there seems to be disintegration and decay—of value, of standards, even of size.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Reflections on Private Education

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It’s been a long, tough week, especially as some of the ideas from the faculty culture session from a recent teachers’ conference have been percolating in my mind.  The relentless exhaustion of the week took its toll, and has me reflecting on what contributes to making teaching difficult at times.

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