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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TBT: Tom Steyer’s Belt

Like many bloggers, I wrote a “2019’s Top Five Posts” feature to acknowledge the most-trafficked posts of the year.  One of the surprise sleeper hits was this post, “Tom Steyer’s Belt.”

I wrote this piece on September 30, 2019, largely as a cheeky throwaway.  It didn’t seem to get much traffic initially, but that’s true of many of my posts.

Then, probably in late November, but certainly by December, I noticed something:  it was getting a handful of clicks everyday.  It was just a few at first—maybe four or five, sometimes less—but then the views grew.

Now I’m getting dozens of views everyday from this post alone—usually more than fifty!  As the Democratic primaries approach and challengers drop out, Tom Steyer and his stupid belt continue to hang in there, running ads all over the place.

Perhaps not surprisingly, other people want to know the meaning behind the belt.  According to my WordPress analytics—limited as they are—a few of the clicks to my piece come from the search terms “why does Tom Steyer wear that stupid belt” and “Tom Steyer’s stupid belt.”  Less judgmental permutations also bring up my site.

The belt has, apparently, captured the nation’s imagination (and, presumably, Steyer’s waist):  it has its own Facebook page, where “The Belt” posts hilarious comments.

Well, at least some good will come from Steyer’s campaign—a good laugh at a clueless Leftie’s expense.

Here’s 2019’s “Tom Steyer’s Belt“—now the most popular post on The Portly Politico:

When I was in college, I formed this ridiculous pseudo-band with a suitemate of mine (who has, apparently, now gone down some dark roads) called Blasphemy’s Belt, which my bio on another band’s website refers to as an “electro-pop humor duo.”  I can’t remember how we came up with the name—our music wasn’t particularly or purposefully blasphemous (or good), and while we wore belts, they weren’t outrageous (just to keep our pants up)—but it was apparently catchy enough that people picked up on it.

The Belt never performed live, other than for an annoyed roommate, and a highly grating pop-up concert (at least, that’s what hipsters would call it nowadays) on our floor’s study room, but we generated enough buzz to get people to vote for us in a “Best of Columbia” survey in The Free Times.  We didn’t win anything, but it was an object lesson in how enough hype can make people believe you have substance when you really don’t.

That’s my self-indulgent way to introduce some literal navel-gazing—at Democratic hopeful and wealthy scold Tom Steyer‘s virtue-signallingsanctimonious belt.

Tom Steyer is a former hedge fund manager and current environmentalist nutcase who, along with half of the population of the United States, is running for the Democratic presidential primary in 2020.  Unlike Blasphemy’s Belt, nobody knows who he is; I don’t even think he qualified for the debates. Unfortunately, he’s trying to rectify that by running incessant ads on Hulu.

I’ve seen enough attack ads from Democrats to tune them out—they’re just a more overt form of the dishonesty progressives usually engage in—but Steyer’s ad brings bile to my throat.  It’s not because of his ludicrous claims (that President Trump is a “fraud and a failure), idiotic as they are.

It’s because of his stupid belt.

Tom Steyer has no chance in the Democratic primary because a.) he’s unknown; b.) he’s an old white guy and c.) he’s not the old white guy who was President Obama’s VP.  As such, he no name recognition or intersectionality points.  He’s not even a pretend Indian like Elizabeth Warren.  He wears a blue button-up shirt with rolled-up sleeves and jeans in his commercials—the default uniform of politicians trying to appeal to the working man—and is utterly forgettable.

Except for that belt!

Here is the one picture I could find of it online, and it’s just a picture of someone’s television showing the ad (care of a Kenyan newspaper):

Steyer Belt.jpg

Here is an excerpt from the article (again, it’s from a Kenyan newspaper, so the written English is prone to syntactical errors):

The Presidential hopeful revealed while responding to a curious netizen who inquired the significance of the belt since he had worn it in one of his campaign videos.

Steyer noted that he bought the belt during his visit to Kenya.

“Thanks for noticing my favorite belt! I bought it on a trip to Kenya from female artisans,” he tweeted.

Additionally, he affirmed that the belt is a reminder that the world benefits when women are educated, as the belt was made by female artisans.

“I wear it as a reminder not to be so formal, and also as a symbol that the world is a better place when we educate women and girls,” he mentioned.

This kind of pandering makes my skin crawl.  Look, I have nothing against unusual belts.  But you look at a guy like Tom Steyer wearing this ridiculous belt in a campaign ad for president, and you know he’s trying to virtue-signal.  He said as much in the excerpt above—“I like the belt, but I also want to show how progressive I am by buying colorful belts from African women.”

His very sartorial choice is a political statement.  If you’re a punk rocker, yeah, you’re showing your disdain for order with your outrageous duds.  But you’re not likely to run for President of the United States (that would be too normie and conformist—being a part of the system, rather than trying to tear it all down).

Also, how much education does it take for a Kenyan woman to make a weird belt?  She probably learned how to do it from her mother, not from a progressive public school (there, she’d just learn to resent her skillfulness making belts as a form of patriarchal, white oppression—then no belts would get made at all).

Mostly, though, Steyer’s belt highlights his own clueless elitism.  Nobody cares about your belt you picked up at some street bazaar on a luxury safari in Kenya.

Clothes say a great deal about a man (or woman).  I feel better about myself when I’m dressed well (and it’s not 8000 degrees and 400% humidity outside).  I, too, have an unusual little ornament that I sometimes wear, that often draws attention—but it’s way more endearing than some empty gesture of my multicultural bona fides.

Years ago, I had a student who was obsessed with South Korean culture and music.  She especially loved a K-pop group called Exo—basically a Korean boy band.  Before a big concert, she asked if I’d wear an Exo tie if she bought me one; naturally, I said yes.

A couple of weeks later she came to be with a little felt bag.  She explained that Exo did not have ties, but they did have tie clips.  I pulled from the bag a little piece of silver-colored metal, with a button-sized picture of Korean teen heartthrobs.

I wear it frequently, as it’s functional (it holds my ties in place) and a conversation starter.  It’s always fun to tell, as I lead with, “Oh, it’s a Korean boy band” so I get weird stares, then I tell the story above, which is an endearing example of a close and respectful student-teacher relationship.

I’m not saying I’m immune from self-righteous outbursts, but I don’t politicize a sweet, unique gift from a student (it also doesn’t look like I’m wearing the clothing of another culture in order to make myself appear more diverse and progressive).  If I wore that tie clip in a political ad (a distinct possibility), no one would be able to tell that there are ten Korean boys on it (at least, I hope not!).  Tom Steyer knows people will see his colorful, clearly-exotic belt, and he’s banking on progressive voters saying, “Wow, this old white Wall Street hedge fund manager is really down with the struggle.”

Perhaps, like the great David Carradine, Steyer’s ham-fisted belt will be his undoing.  Then again, he was never really done up in the first place.

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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Dawn of a Decade

Happy New Year!  It’s 2020!  Wags will quip that “it’s not really a new decade—that doesn’t start until next year, in 2021.”  It’s a case where the wags are correct on the facts, but don’t appreciate how appealing that nice, round “0” at the end looks.  Everyone was excited for 2000 AD; 2001 was greeted with shrugs.

Regardless, it’s an exciting time to be alive, in every sense of the word “exciting.”  2020 is a presidential election year, with a contentious, cartoonish Democratic primary season to endure.  The impeachment trial is (allegedly) coming up soon, if Speaker Nancy Pelosi decides to rummage through her purse and take them to the Senate.

America is enjoying an economic boom, with a long bull market and the lowest unemployment rate since 1969.  President Trump’s administration is restoring some sense of sanity and reason to the absurdity of 21st-century governance.  He at least expects the government to work for the American people, not actively against them.

New Years’ Day is when bloggers both look back to the year recently passed, and look ahead to the coming year.  Prediction posts are popular and fun, so long as you don’t take them too seriously.

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The Collapse of the Obama Coalition?

Yesterday, would-be authoritarian and multiracial presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris dropped out of the Democratic primaries.  That’s shocking news, but good for the future of republic.

Early on, I (as well as Z Man) thought that Senator Harris posed a major threat.  With the Left’s supposed desire for a charismatic, exotic-but-not-too-different, intersectional candidate, Harris fit the bill.  She is basically a female Obama:  the unusual ethnic background (Jamaican and East Indian), the meteoric rise, the stentorian rhetoric, the Third World penchant for strong-man (or -woman) rule.  As a woman, she could pick up the angry professional woman vote, and as a nominal black she could pick up  black Americans.

Boy, was I wrong—thank goodness!  The black vote is hewing pretty closely to former Vice President Joe Biden, apparently because of his association with the Obama administration, which black Americans remember fondly.  The box wine auntie vote is going to Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.  All of the suburban soccer moms, urban young professionals, and Episcopalians are going for Pete Buttigieg.

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TBT^2: It’s a Thanksgiving Miracle!

Dang, it’s been another year already.  Yikes!  Last year I wrote about the updates since the tragic weekend before Thanksgiving 2017.  The year after my fall was eventful, as I detail below (my commentary on the original post from the old website is in italics).

Looking back, 2019 has been pretty solid, too.  I’ve been a bit morose in a few posts lately, but the beauty of Thanksgiving is it helps clarify the mind—we’re told to focus on what we’re thankful for, and it seems to work.

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TBT: Election Day 2018

Two days ago I wrote about Election Day 2019, and posted results yesterday.  In selecting this week’s #TBT, then, I thought I would look back to November 2018 to see what I’d cooked up.

Boy, were the pickings slim.  Other than the post below, I reblogged my annual Thanksgiving message, and posted a Veterans’ Day talk I delivered to the local Republican Party.  I’d really let the blog slide as I dove into another busy school year.

It’s amazing how quickly time flies.  Not only did losing the House “stymie” President Trump’s agenda; they’re straight-up impeaching him—their plan all along.  We managed to hold onto the Senate, but by a slimmer margin than I hoped.  I also don’t trust Mitt Romney for a minute, so I think we can slot him in with the Democrats.

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Election Day 2019

It’s Election Day 2019!  I’m sure there are all sorts of interesting elections happening all over the country, but for me, the big election is right in my backyard, in little Lamar, South Carolina (which just got a website!).

Lamar is holding elections for two at-large Town Council seats.  There are two incumbents and two challengers, and the election is non-partisan (for what it’s worth, I cast my two votes for the challengers, in the Jacksonian spirit of rotation in office).

I like to vote early (though not often—that’s a federal crime, and since I’m not a Democrat or an illegal alien, I’d get in trouble for doing so), because I never know if I’ll be home by the time polls close.  Polling in South Carolina always runs from 7 AM to 7 PM, which is a pretty substantial window.  So, I was there right at 7 AM, and was the fifth person from my precinct to cast a ballot.

What was really surprising were the new voting machines, about which I have mixed feelings.

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Trump Stands for Us

My blogger buddy photog at Orion’s Cold Fire is enduring some bleak New England weather.  Apparently, the bracing cold and gale force winds have sharpened his already-considerable analytical skills, as he’s been killing it lately with his posts.

He’s written a post, “The Unique Value of the Trump Presidency,” which perfectly encapsulates what Trump’s presidency means to the forgotten men and women of this country.  photog rattles off a laundry list of reasons different kinds of conservatives might like Trump—his judicial appointments, his less interventionist foreign policy, his trade war with China—but hones in on the key reason Trump matters:  “… there is actually a much more important aspect to the presidency of Donald Trump that should be emphasized.  He doesn’t despise us” (emphasis photog’s).

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