Proud Boys

An enduring challenge for conservatives is the constant campaign of disinformation from the Left regarding our organizations, tactics, and beliefs.  Conservatives are limited to a few bastions of barely-tolerated resistance:  the Republican Party, the Cato Institute, National Review, etc., organizations that fastidiously hold to an ever-more-narrow range of acceptable discourse.

That, of course, is a huge source of President Trump’s appeal—he smashed through the barriers the Right’s enemies imposed upon it, and it won him the presidency.  You could feel Americans breathing a nearly-audible sigh of relief that, finally, someone was saying the things we were all told we weren’t supposed to say.

It was in the heady days of 2016, then, that edgy, fun-loving dissidents like Milo Yiannopoulos and Gavin McInnes rose to prominence in the conservative movement.  McInnes tells some sordid stories about his wild, punk rock past, but largely his advice would have been deemed commonsensical just sixty years ago:  get married, have kids, work hard, love God, love Western civilization and the freedom it brings.

Now, uttering some of those same tenants gets you sent to the cultural gulags.  Take, for instance, McInnes’s fraternal organization, the cheekily-named Proud Boys.  The organization has come under fire lately as an allegedly sexist, racist, xenophobic order (it allows men, women, immigrants, and all races to join), and because it is proudly “Western chauvinist,” meaning it champions Western civilization as the best civilization.  Given Western civilization’s inherently universalist claims to human rights and liberty, it’s clearly open to all peoples of all backgrounds who accept its basic premises.

Primarily, however, it’s been criticized for engaging in self-defense.  Instead of taking beatings from radical, violent Antifa terrorists, the Proud Boys fight back.  Their whole maxim is that they don’t start fights, but they will fight back in self-defense.

Not surprisingly, noodle-wristed hand-wringers of the NR persuasion foppishly bemoan this completely reasonable response to unwarranted assaults with their usual appeals to decorum (the comments on that linked piece are instructive of how out-of-touch NR has become even with its own readers).  “Just take the beating” is apparently the primary admonishment.

While we could certainly have some discussion about Christ’s famous instruction to “turn the other cheek,” it seems completely permissible to strike back at the masked hooligan waving a piece of rebar at you.

At the risk of breaking my general injunction against telling people to watch lengthy videos twice in one month, I’d refer you to this excellent explanation from McInnes himself:

To alleviate the unnecessary legal suffering of some of the group’s members, McInnes reluctantly but decisively backs out of the organization.

For further reading, here is Milo’s piece about the libelous death of the Proud Boys:  https://www.dangerous.com/50463/i-too-must-bid-adieu-to-the-proud-boys-a-spunky-pro-western-mens-club-defamed-to-death/

 

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Reblog: The Falling Down Revolt

Blogger photog of Orion’s Cold Fire has written a trenchant, insightful essay about the political and cultural revolution occurring in the United States now.  It’s called “The Falling Down Revolt,” taking its name from the 1993 film Falling Down, starring Michael Douglas.

In that film (as photog explains in a follow-up essay, “I’m the Bad Guy? How Did That Happen?“), Douglas plays a disgruntled private defense contractor who, despite obeying all the rules and following the script that was meant to guarantee a decent life, has lost his job, his family, and, ultimately, his sanity.  After facing numerous obstacles and inconveniences of post-modern life—gang violence, traffic jams, fast-food bureaucracy, etc.—the protagonist snaps, going on an intense, cathartic killing spree.

For photog, the film serves as a metaphor for average Americans who do everything they’re supposed to do—work, support their families, pay their taxes, obey the law—but are, in turn, rewarded with scorn, derision, and indifference (or even hatred) from political and cultural elites.  Those elites don’t see these Americans as the backbone of the country, but as “backwards” rubes who cling to outmoded, bourgeois and traditional social values.

Neither photog or myself are suggesting that working- and middle-class Americans should erupt into a bev-rage this summer; rather, the frustration many Americans (including ourselves) feel is that of being hoodwinked.  Instead of the beautiful cheeseburger in the picture, we got a squishy, shriveled mess.

In a comment on photog’s essay, I drew a parallel to the 2018 remake of Death Wish starring Bruce Willis.  To self-indulgently and arrogantly quote myself:

[T]his guy [Willis’s character] that did everything right was screwed by an elite indifferent to and incapable of addressing a rising tide of criminality and violence. He finally broke and took matters into his own hands. I’m not endorsing vigilantism, but he realized he was a chump.

I think (metaphorically) the country has woken up to the chumpitude our elites foisted on us for so long. Tucker Carlson’s monologue diagnoses this malady thoroughly, as you and I have both written about.  (Hyperlink added)

The “Falling Down Revolt” is an excellent name for this movement of normal, traditional Americans who just want a fair shake—and who are tired of being blamed for everyone else’s problems while their own are steadfastly ignored or ridiculed.  Kudos to photog for coining and applying such an apt metaphor.

TBT: Ted Cruz – Conservative Hero, or Traitor to His Party?

Given Mitt Romney’s perfidious WaPo op-edit seemed germane to look back to a seemingly forgotten moment from the 2016 Republican National Convention:  Ted Cruz’s convention speech in which he did not endorse (or, as I noted, not not-endorsed) nominee Donald Trump.  While Senator Cruz has become a steadfast supporter of President Trump’s agenda, at the time it was unclear where the conservative firebrand stood on Trump’s candidacy.

Cruz’s speech in 2016, however, was different in tone, tenor, and emphasis than Senator Romney’s traitorous op-ed.  Cruz fought a grueling series of primaries and caucuses against Trump.  Trump had insulted Cruz’s wife’s looks—a point Cruz made to a group of angry Texans who questioned why the Senator had not endorsed the candidate outright.  And Cruz largely aligned, in practice, with Trump’s policies, albeit in a more conventionally Conservative, Inc. way.

Romney, on the other hand, reeks of the kind of Jeff Flake/Bob Corker Republican who will undermine Trump’s agenda given the slightest chance, in exchange for the fleeting applause of the mainstream media.

Much of the analysis below assumed a stronger, more enduring Never Trump movement within the Republican Party, as well as a less successful Trump presidency.  Trump, fortunately, has exceeded expectations.  His successes on tax cuts, foreign policy, the judiciary, and elsewhere have taken the wind out of neocon sails, and energized the populist-nationalist conservative movement.

With that, here is my lengthy analysis of Senator Cruz’s fateful, mostly forgotten, speech:

On Wednesday, 20 July 2016, Texas Senator Ted Cruz delivered a speech at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, in which he congratulated his primary opponent and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on his victory, then urged voters to “vote your conscience” in November.  Boos filled the arena.

What convention delegates were booing was not the admonition to vote their conscience–for many of them, that means voting for Donald Trump–but the lack of an explicit endorsement from Senator Cruz to endorse Trump.

Ted Cruz – not the Zodiac Killer, but almost in as much trouble.
(Image Source:  By Frank Fey (U.S. Senate Photographic Studio) – Office of Senator Ted Cruz, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25195114)

Immediately, two camps formed:  the majority pro-Trump camp, and the dwindling minority of Never Trumpers.  Within the former there are, broadly, two groups:  die-hard Trump fans, who have supported the candidate since last summer; and more tepid supporters who have given their support to Trump because they support their party’s nominee, they won’t support Hillary Clinton, they support elements of Trumpism, or some combination of the three.

The latter camp–I suspect–will continue to lose momentum now that the nomination process is complete.  Some of those voters will reluctantly vote for Trump for fear that a Clinton presidency will irrevocably shift the Supreme Court toward constitutional adaptavism and judicial activism.  Some will vote third-party, probably for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, or not vote at all.  A very small minority will vote for Clinton.

The kerfuffle highlights well the tensions inherent in party politics:  when does loyalty to party overcome adherence to principles, and vice-versa?

How these two groups have interpreted Cruz’s speech is predictable.  For the pro-Trump/party unity crowd, they see Cruz’s non-endorsement as a traitorous, duplicitous swipe at the nominee and his supporters, someone who went back on his word to endorse the winner of the primary process.

For the anti-Trump side, Cruz is a hero who stands on principle, even in the face of overwhelming pressure from his party to support explicitly the GOP nominee.  They argue that his pledge to support the candidate became null and void when the Trump campaign attacked Cruz’s wife, Heidi, and insinuated that his father was involved in the Kennedy assassination.

The kerfuffle highlights well the tensions inherent in party politics:  when does loyalty to party overcome adherence to principles, and vice-versa?  To what extent should a voter temper his principles for the sake of political advantage, expediency, or compromise?

These are difficult questions, and they did not start with the 2016 election cycle.  Movement conservatives were frustrated, for example, with the 2008 and 2012 GOP nominees.  They perceived Arizona Senator John McCain and Massachusetts Senator Mitt Romney, respectively, as being inconsistently conservative.  Some conservatives refused to vote for those candidates; many did.  Some voted for them enthusiastically, reasoning that their flaws were better than accepting the progressivism of President Barack Obama, or changing their thinking to align with the candidates.  Others did so more reluctantly.

***

(Full disclosure–and a disclaimer:  I voted for Senator Cruz in the 2016 South Carolina GOP primary.  The analysis to follow does not represent an endorsement or criticism of Senator Cruz’s speech or positions, but rather is an attempt–as fully as possible–at an objective analysis of the reasons for his position, and the consequences of it.  Angry advocates of both sides take note.)

So, which is it?  Is Ted Cruz a hero of the conservative movement, standing on principle at the expense of party unity?  Or is he an opportunistic traitor to the Republican Party?

It’s a tricky question, and both sides have merit.  The pro-Trump majority is broadly correct that, having committed to endorsing the ultimate nominee, Cruz should hold up that endorsement, as many other Republicans have done, if reluctantly.  Take, for example, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who has endorsed Trump, but also been quick to criticize the nominee when his statement’s violated Ryan’s principles.

“…while Cruz didn’t outright endorse Trump, he didn’t not endorse him, either, and in no way maimed Trump.  If anything, he mostly hurt himself.”

On the other hand, Cruz in no way denigrated Donald Trump, or even suggested that voters should not vote for him.  Given in any other context, his speech would have received uproarious applause and plaudits from conservatives.  It did not explicitly fulfill his pledge to support the nominee, but it did not seek to criticize or harm the nominee overtly.

Lost in this debate–and in media coverage of the Cruz incident–was one of the best moments of party unity and statesmanship, which came when former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich started his speech by saying, essentially, that Senator Cruz had encouraged voters to vote their conscience for the candidate most likely to uphold the Constitution.  As Gingrich put it, the only viable candidate for president who would plausibly do so is Trump.

Some may object that Newt’s entreaty was a neat verbal trick, or point out the possibility of voting third-party (though Gary Johnson isn’t viable), but it demonstrated his ability to think on his feet and his skills at diplomacy.  He was able to restore some sense of decorum and unity to the proceedings.

In short, while Cruz didn’t outright endorse Trump, he didn’t not endorse him, either, and in no way maimed Trump.  If anything, he mostly hurt himself.

***
That gets to another question, one that I think is equally interesting:  what, if anything, did Cruz hope to gain from this speech?  Some will say it was free of any political motivation, but that seems unlikely.  Call me a cynic, but I think Cruz has his eye on the future.
I suspect–and, naturally, I could be very wrong–that Cruz is setting himself to win over the support of conservatives who either won’t vote for Trump, or will vote for him with deep misgivings.  He’s also looking for those voters who are becoming more enthusiastic about Trump, but have lingering feelings that they’ve had to talk themselves into liking the candidate a bit too much.  If anything goes majorly wrong in a Trump presidency, these voters may turn to Cruz in four or eight years.
Whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump wins in November, Cruz will cast himself as the principled conservative who took a stand when the overwhelming force of his party’s opinion pressured him to do otherwise.  In the event of a Clinton victory, Cruz will attempt to win the GOP nomination in 2020.  In the event of a Trump victory, Cruz is betting on Trump making enough mistakes that enthusiasm for him sours, and in their hour of need, Republicans will say, “this was the man with the wisdom to resist.”  That’s a much tougher path, as it is extremely difficult to challenge successfully an incumbent president for his party’s nomination.
In both cases, it’s assuming an awful lot, and if the reaction at the Quicken Loans Arena Wednesday night is any indication, Cruz miscalculated badly.  But politics is a fickle mistress, and the political scene could look very different in four years.
***
Will Cruz’s speech galvanize the dwindling Never Trump forces?  Or will he spur more conservatives to support the party as a rallying cry against him?  Will he be blamed for splitting the party if Clinton wins?  Or will his gambit pay off, with voters of some distant election year seeing in him a man of principle?
These are interesting questions; ultimately, they are for the voters to decide.

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.

Patriots Would Pitch In for the Wall

An interesting piece from Breitbart about President Trump’s proposed wall: https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2018/12/19/poll-one-third-of-republicans-would-pitch-in-to-build-wall/

It seems that a third of Republicans surveyed would be willing to make a personal contribution (or pay more in taxes; it’s a bit unclear which) to build the border wall.

Meanwhile, 97% voters opposed to President Trump also oppose funding the border wall.

I’m open to the argument that the wall might not be an effective enforcement tool—to be clear, I disagree with that argument, but I understand where its proponents are coming from—but I suspect that’s not the case for the bulk of that 97%.

A border is one of the most basic elements of what makes a state a state—or a nation a nation. It’s inherent in the definition of what it means to be a sovereign state.

As such, securing the border seems like a logical, natural thing for a nation to pursue. In my mind, that includes the construction of a border wall.

Yes, I’m familiar with the usual objections: it’s expensive; modern air travel would diminish a wall’s effectiveness; technology can fill the same role. But an actual, physical wall is a powerful symbol that America takes border enforcement seriously, that as a nation we not only will build physical barriers to keep out dishonest invaders, we’ll also enforce those laws on the books.

The message to the world for the past thirty years has been “we have laws, but they’re just a suggestion; get here, and we’ll figure out how to keep you in and get you bennies.” A wall sends a different message: “if you’re going to come, you’d better do it right. Don’t think about sneaking in.”

In short, if there’s a GoFundMe or Kickstarter for the border wall, I’ll pitch in. Every patriot should—and would. Or President Trump can stick to his guns, refuse any budget deal that doesn’t fund at least part of the wall, and keep his greatest campaign promise.

Build the Wall!

UPDATE: after writing this post, but before it was published, I happened to receive an e-mail from a friend to a fundraiser to raise $1 billion toward the Border Wall. You can contribute to it here: https://ca.gofundme.com/TheTrumpWall

Election Day 2018

This blog has fallen dormant—has it often seems to do—during the height of election season.  A savvy, dedicated blogger would churn out the bulk of his content when the news comes fast and fresh, and folks are seeking out information about candidates—not during the middle of summer, the deadest time for political news, outside of some primary elections.

But, hey, that’s what makes The Portly Politico unique.

What won’t make it unique is this admonition:  VOTE.  Ideally—and if you’re a reader of this blog, this might go without saying—vote for Republicans.

I went out to vote this morning—the last time at my current precinct, as I’ve recently moved to the countryside (after two floods, it was time)—and it was hoppin’.  I arrived around 7:05 AM EST, and there was a line out the door.  I finished voting around 7:40 AM EST—that’s how many people were there to vote.

I’ve never experienced a midterm election this year.  Both sides are highly energized.  It feels like a presidential election.

I’ll refrain from offering detailed analysis at this point (I think Republicans will pick up some Senate seats, but the House is a complete toss-up), but this election—to recycle another cliché, but only because it’s true—is of the utmost importance.

If Republicans lose the House (which, I’ll confess, seems likely, albeit by a narrow margin), it will certainly stymie President Trump and the GOP’s conservative agenda.  The prospect of returning Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi to the Speaker position is also terrifying.

If Republicans lose the Senate, it will be utterly catastrophic.  You can kiss conservative Supreme Court nominees goodbye.  If you’re the most anti-Trumpist #NeverTrumper neocon that ever lived, you’ve gotta hold your nose and vote Republican for that reason alone.

If we lose both… well, I shudder to contemplate the kangaroo court of baseless investigations and accusations that Democratic Congress will unleash.  Impeachment might not result in removal, but the fraying fabric of our political system would be rent asunder as Democratic knives stab any opposition.

This election is a referendum on Trump and Trumpism, yes, but it’s also a series of choices:  the Constitution, or lawlessnessCapitalism, or communism.  Rule by the people, or rule by an entrenched, technocratic elite.

Get out there and vote, folks—especially Republicans!