Romney’s Perfidy Runs in the Family

The occasion for Tucker Carlson’s trenchant insights was Utah Senator Mitt Romney’s Washington Post op-ed, in which the failed presidential candidate excoriated President Trump not on substantive policy disagreements, but because the president is a big meanie.

I’m a bit late to the party on this topic, but most of the commentary I’ve read is consistent with my own thoughts: that Romney is clinging to a vanishing, ostensibly more decorous, vestige of the (thankfully) dying neocon cell within the Republican Party. Former Speaker Newt Gingrich probably offers the best analysis of (and advice for) the freshman senator. It seems that Mitt is prepping for a Kasich-style 2020 primary challenge.

When Romney ran in 2012, I was hopeful. I’d voted for Newtie in the SC presidential primaries, and was sad to see him flame out. While I was lukewarm on Senator Rick Santorum, I was hoping he’d pull out a late victory just so we could avoid another Establishment type.

But when Romney won the nomination, I was cautiously optimistic, and his first debate performance against President Barack Obama was masterful, tenacious, and aggressive—the qualities that ultimately won the presidency in 2016. But the love of losing is strong among neocons, and decorum and tact got in the way (not to mention the lackluster response from evangelical Christians to a Mormon candidate—talk about throwing out the baby with the bathwater).

Now, Romney is characteristically backstabbing his president and his party for personal gain. Fellow blogger photog at Orion’s Cold Fire lived in Massachusetts during Romney’s tenure as governor, and describes Romney as “useless.” I highly recommend you check out his piece “Mitt Romney is the New John McCain” for some excellent, succinct analysis regarding Romney’s penchant for flip-floppery. (You can also read some of my music reviews there, too!)

All of that is introduction to the meat of this post: Romney comes by his perfidious, shape-shifting nature honestly. Indeed, it seems he inherited or learned it from his dad, former Michigan Governor and original RINO George Romney.

Over the past year, I’ve been intermittently dipping in and out of Pat Buchanan’s excellent first-hand account of Richard Nixon’s remarkable political revival in the 1960s. The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose from Defeat to Create the New Majority details the ins-and-outs of Nixon’s unlikely, brilliant rise to the presidency.

Recall that Nixon was considered politically D.O.A. after his twin defeats in the 1960 presidential election and the 1962 California gubernatorial election. Given those defeats—and Nixon’s own self-defeating announcement that “You [the press] don’t have Nixon to kick around anymore because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference”—every mainstream media pundit was convinced the old Red Hunter and former Vice President was done.

In reading this book, a central figure in the Republican Party was George Romney, one of Nixon’s three potential rivals for the nomination in 1968 (the other two being liberal Republican Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York and grassroots conservative Republican Governor Ronald Reagan of California, the latter of which reached a detente of sorts with Nixon, biding his time for a future successful run of his own). Throughout the book, Buchanan details Romney the Elder’s shifting positions on the hot-button issues of the 1960s.

Of the many examples Buchanan provides, one of the most representative is in a section entitled “The Great Brainwashing” (pages 131-133 in the 2014 hardcover edition). Buchanan writes that by “the summer of ’67, Governor Romney, who in 1965 had come back from Vietnam to laud the war effort, was moving toward opposition to the war.” When Lou Gordon asked Romney about the shift in his position in a taped television interview, Romney responded that he “had the greatest brainwashing that anybody can get when you go over to Vietnam. Not only by the generals, but also by the diplomatic corps over there, and they do a very thorough job.”

Not only had Romney flip-flopped on the Vietnam War (presumably in an effort to capitalize politically on anti-war sentiment in the country), he’d stumbled into a gaffe. The claim of “brainwashing” was bizarre, but it also threw the entire US military leadership under the bus.

Further, the “brainwashing” claim seemed to be a rhetorical sop to the hard-Left elements that dominated the anti-war movement. Such an assertion fit in neatly with their view that the establishment was acting in bad faith.

Buchanan details the political toll:

“The first polls after the ‘brainwashing’ episode were devastating, deepening a decline that had already begun. Since 1966, among Republicans, Romney had been running the strongest against [President Lyndon B.] Johnson. Now, in the new Harris survey, he had fallen to fourth, behind Rockefeller, Nixon, and Reagan. Romney had fallen from 4 points behind the President to a 16-point deficit. In a Gallup poll of September 23, only 14 percent of Republicans wanted Romney as their nominee, a 10-point drop in three weeks.” (The Greatest Comeback, 133)

It would seem George Romney’s son is committing the same form of political suicide, similarly attempting to curry favor with the mainstream media and the Left in some oddball attempt to gain respectability.

The MSM will play ball—for a time. Mitt will get some accolades and cheers from the “centrist” Left and the Jonah Goldbergites of the dwindling Never Trump/Weekly Standard (ding, dong, the witch is dead!) crowd, the latter of which will crow over Romney’s superior “character” and “decorum.” But should he ever succeed electorally on the national level again, the knives will come out, and wedge themselves deeply into his back.

Such is the fate of traitors: he who lives by the back-stab, dies by the back-stab. It’s a shame Romney the Younger didn’t learn this lesson from his father’s hubristic, doomed career.

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Tucker Carlson’s Diagnosis

A recent monologue from Tucker Carlson’s Fox News program is blowing up the right-wing blogosphere, and understandably so.  Carlson has been a vocal critic of the neoliberal deification of economic efficiency at all costs.  I used to be a member of this cult, until the candidacy of Donald Trump (and lived experience) knocked the idealistic scales from my eyes.

Normally, it bugs me when people send me video clips to watch.  If they’re cutesy videos of the variety that drive clicks—think cats playing piano, or Goth versions of Christmas songs—I usually ignore them, no matter how hyped they are.  That’s not some virtue on my part; I just don’t want to take the time to watch them, especially on a cell phone (a pet peeve:  someone making me watch a video on their cell phone; I will refuse).

That said, I’m indulging in some hypocrisy:  you must watch this video as soon as you’re able.

For those of you that don’t want to take the time, here are some highlights:

  • Elites care only about maximizing economic efficiency, regardless of the human costs to individuals, families, and communities
  • That lust for efficiency drives income inequality, particularly benefiting the technology sector/Silicon Valley
  • “We are ruled by mercenaries, who feel no long-term obligation to the people they rule”—a key idea; I’ve read a similar analysis from controversial blogger Z-Man, in which he argues that leaders in a democracy are, inherently, renters rather than owners, and therefore are heavily tempted towards asset-stripping while in office, rather than building and maintaining a nation:  http://thezman.com/wordpress/?p=15929
  • Because of the hollowing out of American manufacturing and declining wages (again, due in part to the quest for efficiency), men struggle to find employment or to improve their wages
    • Because of that, rural parts of the country are dominated increasingly by healthcare and education, female-dominated fields
    • While better wages for women is fine, Carlson claims that—whether or not they should—women are less likely to marry men who earn less than them, therefore

These are just some of the most interesting insights, but Carlson sums up in fifteen minutes what would take a legion of hack bloggers like me hours or weeks to explain.

Again, I urge you to watch this videohttps://video.foxnews.com/v/5985464569001/?playlist_id=5198073478001#sp=show-clips

America’s Entrepreneurial Spirit

Scott Rasmussen, writing for Ballotpedia, reports that 62% of American adults say their dream job is owning their own company.  That’s encouraging news, as it suggests that, despite decades of welfare state decadence, Americans still possess our entrepreneurial spirit.

That spirit has been with Americans going back to the colonial period.  Textbooks tend to focus on the Puritan planting of the Plymouth colony, which was certainly important, but the first permanent settlement in colonial British North America was Jamestown.  That settlement, and the entire colony of Virginia, was founded as a commercial enterprise, the efforts of joint-stock company in England.

French aristocrat and political theorist Alexis de Tocqueville, writing in Democracy in America (1840) over two centuries later (during the height of the Jacksonian Era), noted Americans’ keen interest in commercial matters, and the pulsing energy and enthusiasm of always hustling.  He also noted the positive effect of trade upon liberty:

Trade is the natural enemy of all violent passions. Trade loves moderation, delights in compromise, and is most careful to avoid anger. It is patient, supple, and insinuating, only resorting to extreme measures in cases of absolute necessity. Trade makes men independent of one another and gives them a high idea of their personal importance: it leads them to want to manage their own affairs and teaches them to succeed therein. Hence it makes them inclined to liberty but disinclined to revolution.

Despite enthusiasm about the idea of starting a business, Rasmussen’s findings show that only 5% of Americans are “very likely to start their own business” in 2019, while 11% are somewhat likely.

Nevertheless, it’s refreshing to see that the desire to hustle is prominent among Americans.  The economic mojo of the Trump economy no-doubt improves Americans’ optimism (although I should note that many Americans started businesses during the Obama stagcovery, albeit for a different reason—they couldn’t find work).  That optimism likely fuels some desire to get in on the action.

On a personal note, I will say that even I, a high school teacher—teaching being a job uniquely suited to the risk-averse in general—have caught this bug (don’t worry, loyal readers—I’m not going to try to sell you massage oils with untested healing properties).  I’m excited to expand some of my side-hustles in 2019, including writing, performing live music, and teaching private lessons.

Regardless of how those pan out, the thrill of applying effort towards ones passions is exhilarating.  What could be more American?

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.

Babes for Trump

We’ve all heard how President Trump struggles to gain support among women, and the clucking classes of SJW harpies certainly exert an out-sized influence on our politics. Feel-good, soft-Left Oprah-ites in tony suburbs represent a larger threat to Trumpism and Making America Great Again than even the boundless seas of lawless, Third World immigrants, at least in the short term.

That said, there is encouraging news: President Trump enjoys a 93% approval rating among Republican women, the Wall Street Journal reports. That bodes well for the President going forward. It also suggests that, contra the radical feminists, women are not motivated politically just by their sex, but that their views, like men’s, are shaped by a plethora of factors.

Readers will recall then-Governor Mitt Romney’s support from married women in the 2012 election. In essence, married women were more likely to support Romney, while unmarried women of the same age were more likely to support President Obama. That the number of young, unmarried women is on the rise—as is the tragic trend towards single motherhood—presents a problem for conservatives, one that has to be addressed culturally before it can be addressed politically.

In the meantime, though, it’s good to know that there are plenty of babes for Trump out there. No doubt the president’s masculine alpha-ness helps.

How the Reformation Shaped the World

There’s a video up on Prager University called “How the Reformation Shaped the World” (PDF transcript for those who prefer to read).  Stephen Cornils of the Wartburg Theological Seminary gives an adequate, broad overview of the impact of the Protestant Reformation (albeit with some noise about Martin Luther’s anti-Semitism, which, while accurate, smacks of throwing a sop to politically-correct hand-wringers).  You can view the video in full below.

I’ve written about the influence of Christianity (and it was, notably, Protestant Christianity) on the founding of America, and I’ve discussed how shared Protestantism helped create an American identity.  Indeed, I would argue that, without Protestantism, there would be no America, as such.

I would also argue—perhaps more controversially—that America’s commitment to Protestantism as opposed to Catholicism allowed the nation to avoid the anticlerical upheavals seen in France and other predominantly and officially Catholic countries.  While there were official, established churches at the State level into the 19th-century—which I wrote about in “The Influence of Christianity on America’s Founding“—the lack of federal establishment, and the general movement towards greater religious liberty, ensured a proliferation of Protestant denominations in the early Republic.

Catholicism inherently insists upon a top-down hierarchy of control.  Luther’s view of man’s relation to God is horizontal, as Bishop James D. Heiser argues in his extended sermon The One True God, the Two Kingdoms, and the Three Estates (one of my Christmas gifts, incidentally, and a good, quick read for just $5).  That is, every man is accountable to God directly, and is responsible for accepting Christ and maintaining his relationship with God.  That horizontal, rather than vertical, relationship infuses Western Civilization with a sense of individualism, the effects of which have been far-reaching and both positive and negative.

Regardless, the impact of the Protestant Reformation is staggering to consider.  The Catholic Church in the 16th century was an increasingly sclerotic and corrupt institution, one that had fallen from its great height as the pacifying influence upon a barbaric, post-Roman Europe (of course, the Counter Reformation reinvigorated and, in part, helped purify the Church).  With the advent of the printing press and translations into national languages, conditions were ripe for an explosion of religious reform in the West.  The ripple effects of the Reformation still pulse through Western life and culture.

That said, I’m not anti-Catholic, nor is that the intent of this post.  In today’s political and theological climate, committed followers of Christ must band together, be they Catholic or Protestant.  I don’t “buy” Catholic theology in toto, but I respect the Catholic Church’s longstanding traditions and consistent institutional logic.  Thomas Aquinas’s cosmological argument in the Summa Theologica is pretty much what I learned growing up as an Evangelical Protestant.  And I’m broadly sympathetic to the traditional Catholic argument that the Reformation busted up the orderly cosmos of medieval European society (see Richard Weaver‘s various essays for further elucidation of this idea).  A side effect of the Reformation naturally includes many of the cons of modernity.

Ultimately, too, Christians face the double-threat of modern progressive ideology and radical Islamism.  I’ve written about the former in detail, but not so much the latter.  For the moment, suffice it to say that the two are temporary, uneasy, but powerful allies against a traditionalist, conservative, Christian worldview, and both are deeply antithetical to Western values and culture.

These are some broad and slapdash thoughts, ones which I will gradually develop in future posts as necessary.  Any useful resources or insights are welcome—please share in the comments.

Happy New Year!

2018’s Top Ten Posts

2018 was a good year for The Portly Politico.  I relaunched the blog back over the summer, when I had more time to write multiple pieces a week.  With the South Carolina primary elections, it’s not surprising that some of the most traffic hit during June.

Just like the 2016 election, I was unable to dedicate the time necessary to covering the 2018 midterm elections; perhaps my greatest deficiency as a blogger is the inability to post regularly during the school year, a function of both a lack of time and focus (and, very likely, a lack of discipline).  While the blog has not gained the traction I’d hoped for six months ago, it’s been an entertaining way to put some of my thoughts to “paper,” as it were, and get some interesting feedback from you, my small coterie of loyal readers.

All navel-gazing aside, here are 2018’s Top Ten Posts, as determined by the number of views:

10.) SC Primary Run-Off Election Results – the title says it all!  I think some wayward Googlers boosted this one into the top ten.

9.) #MAGAWeek2018 – George Washington – during the Fourth of July week, I kicked off what will become an annual observance:  MAGA Week.  Each day featured an essay about some figure or idea that had made America great in his or its own way.  While I’m most proud of my lengthy overview of the career of John Quincy Adams, the post on George Washington gained the most traction with readers—a deserved victory for America’s most influential Founding Father.

8.) A Discourse on Disclaimers – I got so sick of endlessly qualifying every statement, I wrote this protesting post.  One thing the Trump presidency has taught us is that you’re never going to appease the progressives, so you’ve gotta fight back.  You’re never going to able to mollify an emotional, inherently violent beast with an appeal to decency and reason, so why bother?

7.) SCOTUS D&D – one of the lighter works of the Brett Kavanaugh character assassination, this post linked to another author’s attempt to place the Supreme Court justices on the legendary Dungeons and Dragons alignment chart.  Very fun.

6.) Progressivism and Political Violence – one of my best pieces, I would argue.  This post detailed the strong link between the progressive ideology and violence, be it the official use of state violence to enforce its way, or street-level thuggery when it’s been systematically denied the levers of power.  If Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg kicks the bucket in 2019 and President Trump and the Republican Senate successfully appoint and confirm a conservative justice to replace her, I shudder to contemplate the hysterical bloodshed that will result as masked Antifa goons and hipster black boots take to the streets.

5.) #TBT: It’s a Thanksgiving Miracle – the only “Throwback Thursday” post to make the top ten, this was a reposting of the old blog’s 2017 Thanksgiving post, which I wrote with a freshly broken left wrist.  We all have a great deal to thank God for this year.

4.) America Should Expand into Space – one of my early pieces during the 2018 relaunch argued that the United States should make a concerted effort to continue expanding into outer space.  Why get our precious rare-earth metals from China when we can mine them from asteroids?  Speaking of…

3.) Breaking: President Trump Creates Space Force – I whooped with joy when President Trump announced the creation of Space Force.  Apparently, many readers were excited about it, too.  It’s a commonsense move:  space is the next, and final, frontier.  Why cede dominance—military, economic, cultural, or otherwise—to the ChiComs?  Make America Space Again!

2.) 4.8% Economic Growth?! – one of the first posts upon relaunching the blog, this little piece drew a good bit of attention (and probably benefited from the initial curiosity traffic).  Let the good times roll!

1.) Run-Off Elections in SC Primaries Today – this post blew all others away, with (at the time of this writing) 101 more views than its next competitor.  I was shocked, but the blog showed up in several online search results as South Carolinians sought out information about the primary run-off elections this past summer.

So there you have it!  My personal favorites didn’t always gain the traction I hoped—and some of my better essays were nowhere near the top ten—but that’s the fun of blogging:  you never know what’s going to catch readers’ attention.

Thank you all for a wonderful 2018.  Here’s looking forward to bigger and better things in 2019!

God Bless, and Happy New Year!

–The Portly Politico

A Very Dokken Christmas, Part III: Under Lock and Key

My three-part series of Dokken reviews comes to an end—on Christmas!  Thanks to photog, proprietor of Orion’s Cold Fire, for the opportunity to contribute some hard rock/heavy metal reviews.

The final review in the A Very Dokken Christmas series covers 1985’s Under Lock and Key, an excellent album from start to finish:  http://orionscoldfire.com/index.php/2018/12/24/portly-politico-a-very-dokken-christmas-part-iii-under-lock-and-key/

In case you missed them, here are my other recent reviews:

Stay tuned to this blog and www.orionscoldfire.com for more reviews.

Never unchain the night—and have a Merry Christmas!

“Silent Night” turns 200

One of my favorite Christmas carols, “Silent Night,” turns 200 this Christmas season.

The carol was originally written as a poem in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars by a village priest, Joseph Mohr, in the village of Oberndorf, Austria, in 1816. Two years later, Mohr approached the town’s choirmaster and organist, Franz Xaver Gruber, to set the poem to music. Gruber agreed, and the carol enjoyed its first performance to a small congregation, which universally enjoyed its simple sweetness.

Since then, the humble hymn has spread far and wide, and is probably the most recognizable Christmas carol globally today. It’s been covered (likely) thousands of times; it’s certainly become a staple of my various Christmas performances.

This simple, sweet, powerful carol beautifully tells the story of Christ’s birth, as well as the import of that transformative moment in history, that point at which God became Flesh, and sent His Son to live among us.

As much as I enjoy classic hard rock and heavy metal, nothing can beat the tenderness of “Silent Night”—except the operatic majesty of “O, Holy Night,” objectively the best Christmas song ever written.

Merry Christmas, and thank God for sending us His Son, Jesus Christ.