Tag Archives: Politics

Repost-’Kenneth Anderson At Volokh: ‘The Fragmenting of the New Class Elites, Or, Downward Mobility’

Full post here.

Anderson had his own theory of the Occupy movements and the recession:

‘In social theory, OWS is best understood not as a populist movement against the bankers, but instead as the breakdown of the New Class into its two increasingly disconnected parts.  The upper tier, the bankers-government bankers-super credentialed elites.  But also the lower tier, those who saw themselves entitled to a white collar job in the Virtue Industries of government and non-profits — the helping professions, the culture industry, the virtueocracies, the industries of therapeutic social control, as Christopher Lasch pointed out in his final book, The Revolt of the Elites.’

I think the definition of liberty here is key.  The “New Class”, on this analysis, would be generally seeking to enshrine positive definitions of liberty as a libertarian might view liberty and liberalism (with individual freedoms eventually threatened by the consequences of political and social order such folks pursue…namely big States and perhaps a big World Government entity).

You can easily think of some Davos types, Bono and other entertainers, various non-profiteers, the right’s boogeyman George Soros and perhaps Al Gore, some advocates for world government,  humanists and cosmopolitans (old and new money) at the top.  Beneath them here at home one could easily think of social workers, community organizers, government nutritionists, environmentalists, unionized teachers, all of whom require the welfare State for their existence (other people’s money taxed and redistributed to them as they pursue their own self-interest and their own conception of the Good and public Good).

All of them, on this analysis, are rent-seekers (and rent-seeking is quite normal, but for these folks it requires a large State or the benefits gained here at home…and other markets abroad).

Food for thought.

Related On This Site:   Ken Burns makes a good documentary, but he’s also arguing he absolutely needs your tax dollars in service of what he assumes to be a shared definition of the “common good” as he pursues that art.  The market just can’t support it otherwise. Repost-From ReasonTV Via Youtube: ‘Ken Burns on PBS Funding, Being a “Yellow-Dog Democrat,” & Missing Walter Cronkite’

Steven Pinker curiously goes Hobbesian and mentions an ‘international Leviathan’:   At Bloggingheads Steven Pinker Discusses War And Thomas Hobbes

A Few Thoughts On Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: “Why Blue Can’t Save The Inner Cities Part I”

The market will make people better off, but always leaves them wanting more and in a state of spiritual malaise, which invites constant meddling.  Can economic freedom and free markets reconcile the moral depth of progressive big-State human freedom:  Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’A Few Quotations From F.A. Hayek’s: ‘Why I Am Not A Conservative’A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

Catholics, Punditry, Progressives & Rubes-Ross Douthat At The NY Times

Full piece here.

Douthat responds to E.J. Dionne’s ‘The Reformicons‘ and Andrew Sullivan’s ‘Reform Conservatism.’ It’s interesting to note that Dionne is a liberal Catholic progressive Democrat (concern-trolling at its finest), and Sullivan a gay, Catholic British emigre, aligning with progressives on many social and political issues (Obama is the ‘true conservative‘), and Douthat a more conservative Catholic columnist for the NY Times, who’s written a book on the subject ‘Grand New Party.’

This seems a pretty BosWash and Catholic affair.

Perhaps Dionne and Sullivan are gazing with warier eyes upon religious and social conservatives now that the progressive coalition in power may be running out of steam, and Obama’s approval numbers are running lower lately.

Douthat:

‘The reality is that, except in truly exceptional cases, our politics is better off in the long run when views held by large proportions of the public are represented in some form by one of our two parties. Right now (to run down a partial list of divisive cultural issues), a plurality of Americans want the immigration rate decreased; about half the country opposes affirmative action; more than half supports the death penalty; about half of Americans call themselves pro-life. Support for gay marriage and marijuana legalization has skyrocketed, but in both cases about 40 percent of the country is still opposed. Even independent of my own (yes, populist and socially conservative) views, I think these people, these opinions, deserve democratic representation: Representation that leads and channels and restrains, representation that recognizes trends and trajectories and political realities, but also representation that makes them feel well-served, spoken for, and (in the case of issues where they’re probably on the losing side) respected even in defeat’

The wheels are turning, and like politicians, many a pundit’s limp body has been pulled from the gears of electoral politics and predictions about the future.

Predictions are hard, especially about the future.

A Few More Thoughts On Hobby Lobby And Which Way India? Some Links

Megan McArdle tries to see both sides of the argument in the Hobby Lobby decision:

‘For many people, this massive public territory is all the legitimate province of the state. Institutions within that sphere are subject to close regulation by the government, including regulations that turn those institutions into agents of state goals — for example, by making them buy birth control for anyone they choose to employ. It is not a totalitarian view of government, but it is a totalizing view of government; almost everything we do ends up being shaped by the law and the bureaucrats appointed to enforce it’

I like the idea that many people end-up imbuing their secular ideals and political activism with a kind of religious zeal and faith, dumping a lot of hope and identity into political platforms. Think for a minute about your local elected officials and you can see why this is pretty delusional. Once something like Obamacare gets passed, however, it’s defense becomes very personal in many quarters, like a kind of secularly religious mission that needs to be fulfilled (Progress!), while religious opponents now in the minority, take the matter just as personally, having to fight on those grounds.

Richard Epstein, on some of the legal reasoning at work, finishes with:

‘But Hobby Lobby simply wanted to resist the imposition of state authority on its beliefs—a perfectly reasonable and Constitutional position, which the Supreme Court rightly upheld.’

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From The American Interest, ‘Narendra Modi’s Path Forward:’

‘Modi is perhaps the most business-friendly Prime Minister India has ever had. Yet he will have to fend off the long-entrenched suspicion of the private sector within the political class, including his own party, which is full of nativists and economic populists. Even modest success on the economic front is bound to generate greater space for Modi to improve relations with India’s immediate neighbours, narrow the growing strategic gap with China, and make Delhi an important player in shaping the balance of power in Asia, the Indian Ocean, and beyond’

I suppose we’ll see.  Best of luck to economic liberalization, growing the pie, and getting as many people on board as possible.

Christopher Hitchens & William F Buckley On Anglo-American Relations

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Subject: ‘Is England Still Influencing America?’ on Hitchens’ book ‘Blood, Class, & Nostalgia: Anglo-American Ironies‘ when Hitchens’ was pushing the idea that ‘empire’ was the primary transmission, apparently due to his ideological commitments at the time. America must have seemed a classless paradise with institutions well-functioning and ripe to achieve justice and equality for the whole world…for some folks in the Generation of ’68.

*Includes the Firing Line opening theme of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 (those damned Germans influencing us) followed by a Michael Kinsley introduction (founding editor of Slate, which has since gone more progressive under recent management).

The Call To Jihad Is Global, But A Lot Of Politics And Fighting Is Local-Some Friday Links

Adam Garfinkle at the American Interest: ‘To Strike Or Not To Strike, That Is The Question:’

‘The point is, limited airstrikes might be justified—and very soon—if we’re playing ordnance keep-away with ISIS, but it’s hard to see how airstrikes alone can do much good from a macro-military or political point of view, given the situation in Baghdad.’

A piece from Mashable on ISIS gains:

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Theodore Dalrymple at The City Journal: ‘The French (Jihad) Connection:’

They’re out there:

‘What they found instead in Nemmouche’s possession was a Kalashnikov rifle, a revolver, lots of ammunition, a gas mask, a short video of the weapons in his possession accompanied by a verbal commentary (probably in his voice) on the recent murder of four Jews at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, clothing similar to that worn by the perpetrator of that attack, and a white flag with the words Islamic State of Iraq and of the Levant in Arabic inscribed on it.’

France and Algeria have a complicated relationship, to say the least, but when even French ‘rock-star intellectual’ of the Left, Bernard-Henri Levy notes the anti-semitism in France these days…

Perhaps North-African Arab Muslims imported for cheap labor, many of whom live in ghettoes, coming into contact with an underlying native anti-semitism, French nationalism and somewhat fascistic far Right and socialist Left in a huge State complex…isn’t so great for a small French Jewish minority.

Paul Berman had a piece on Albert Camus and Algeria a while back.

Interesting note from Wikipedia (I know…it’s Wikipedia) from Berman on European nihilism:

‘Berman tries to trace the influence of these European movements into the modern Muslim world. He identifies two principal totalitarian tendencies in the Muslim countries, Baathism and radical Islamism – mutually hostile movements whose doctrines, in his interpretation, overlap and have allowed for alliances. Berman regards suicide terror and the cult of martyrdom as a re-emergence of totalitarianism’s nihilist strand.’

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On that note…some further speculation:

George W. Bush had commitments to a vision of human-freedom-based economic liberalism and democracy promotion in Iraq, along with I’m guessing a personal religious faith, social conservative alliances and the neo-conservative application of military force to achieve our aims there. His support of the unpopular surge to give the Iraqi government a monopoly on power in 2007 managed to stabilize the country somewhat, which has since been squandered by a sectarian Maliki coalition and no real follow-up during our withdrawal (whatever your thoughts on the war and invasion itself).

I wouldn’t be surprised if, via Bernard Lewis (and similar to Berman’s analysis above), Bush shared a view that the nihilist and totalitarian exports from the West grafted onto the Middle-East (Saddam party Ba’athism, Gadhafi’s Green Book and ultimately Islamism and Islamic terror) manage to constitute a very important threat to American liberty and security here at home. After all, 9/11 happened on his watch.  Hence, the War On Terror and the global hunt for bin Laden.  It was time to root out the threat and fight for a global vision of liberty against a global vision of Islamism.

As Bernard Lewis argued, perhaps an Islamic caliphate that isn’t radicalized and Islamist may be the Muslim’s world’s version of  power-sharing. This is something to think about:  The Muslim world may not really be that compatible with Western liberal democracy, but at least the Ottomans weren’t as bad as what we’ve got now.

Barack Obama seems to possess a kind of further-Left, pro-peace (and by my lights, impossibly ideal and utopian) democratic activist vision which often finds Clintonesque humanitarian intervention too much to swallow (as in Bosnia). The Obama foreign-policy coalition is pretty hostile to neo-conservatism, social conservatism etc.and frankly suspicious of even the humanitarian interventionists at times. Obama aims to, and has largely withdrawn, U.S. forces and influence from the region entirely, arguably without much strategic consideration or competence, by the looks of our State Department spokespeople and hashtag activism.

What do we do next?  What’s most important and how do we get there from here?

Feel free to highlight my ignorance.

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

Addition:  There are many factions to think about, neo-conservatives, many of whom haven’t properly examined their assumptions for the original invasion and have careers to protect, pro-peace Democrats who seem as angry at neo-conservatives as dealing much in foreign policy reality and have political power to maintain for progressive aims, anti-war libertarians and Hayekians with wisdom to offer, paleo-cons who want to return to a vision of conservatism at home and don’t support any more engagement abroad, middle-of-the-road Americans riding a surge of isolationism on foreign matters and showing disgust with D.C. here at home…

The Personal Ain’t Political-Holding The Line Against Rape Ideologues-Conor Friedersdorf On George Will

Friedersdorf at The Atlantic here-‘Rage Against The Outrage Machine.’

Will’s original column here.

As the house libertarian in a publication where feminist discontents have increasingly become settled, I’m guessing Friedersdorf knows he has to get his facts right in an atmosphere where his position is not likely to be popular.

Worth a read:

‘These commentators are doing Will and their own readers a disservice. At best, they are construing his argument in the least charitable way possible. More often, they’re outright mischaracterizing Will’s actual argument in a way certain to maximize the offense, outrage, and umbrage-taking from their readers. If I were a rape victim, and a writer I trusted informed me that a Washington Post columnist said people like me wanted to be raped, or that we deserved to be raped, or that being a rape victim makes one fortunate or privileged, I’d be upset. But it ought to be clear enough that Will isn’t actually making those arguments’

As I’ve gotten a few nasty e-mails myself on this subject, I want to reiterate this is not a dismissal of the seriousness of the moral horror and crime that is rape, but a freeing of such a horrible crime to be discussed in the public square calmly and reasonably by differing points of view.  The crime is bad enough without the cult of victimhood out to morally and ideologically dominate the issue.

This ‘holding the line’ is more an appeal to keep civil society civil, and wrenching a very serious subject away from ideologues who traffic in often questionable statistics, gin up moral outrage and panic, and gain advantage by using blind, rabid emotion to their advantage to shun, shame and attack anyone who disagrees. That’s really all it can take to have a less free society, and it’s really all some people have.

After six years of an administration which also benefits from bringing further Left activists into the public square (gun-rights, Keystone pipeline, Organizing For Action), and will likely do little to turn those ideologues away, some media outlets which have drifted in the same direction lately will find it hard indeed to even criticize the ideologues among them.

This ain’t liberal, nor open, nor civil.

Here’s George Will reasonably explaining his position, and the reasons for it:

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This blog continues to support civil libertarian feminists, often ex-feminists, or even continuing feminists who criticize feminist ideology in good or bad faith because they are free to do so. They are free to bring-up the often shoddy use of statistics by many feminists, the cultural Marxism and troubling tendencies of victimhood/oppressor theories, the controlling impulses on display in the video below.

Via David Thompson, from Canada via the Agenda with Steve Paikin, notice how two panelists just can’t bring themselves around to the idea of other people speaking their minds, thinking differently and critically, and pursuing ideas freely in an open debate.

They really don’t seem to see a problem with where the logic of their own ideology leads:  To silence and shout-down opposing points of view, to constantly try and control the speech and thoughts of others.

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Related On This Site: Cathy Young At Minding The Campus: ‘The Brown Case: Does It Still Look Like Rape?

Christina Hoff Sommers (wikipedia) is trying to replacing gender feminism with equity feminism. She also wrote The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men.

Are You Man Enough? Nussbaum v. MansfieldFrom The Harvard Educational Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’

Defending Eliot Spitzer…as a man who ought to be free of prostitution laws…but didn’t he prosecute others with those same laws?: Repost: Martha Nussbaum On Eliot Spitzer At The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A very Harvard affair: The Spelke/Pinker debate-The Science Of Gender And Science

Repost-Revisting Larry Summers: What Did He Say Again?

From The NY Times: ‘Harvard Business School Case Study: Gender Equity’

Repost Quotations: Twain, Mencken, And O’Rourke

“That’s the difference between governments and individuals. Governments don’t care, individuals do.”

-Mark Twain

“Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.”

-H.L. Mencken

“The mystery of government is not how Washington works but how to make it stop.”

-P.J. O’Rourke

Someone’s got to do the horse-tradin.’    There’s a fine line between ego-gratification and public service.

We’ve got to send them the right incentives and feedback.

From The Future Of Capitalism: ‘Compliance’

Full post here.

Ira Stoll has a follow-up on his column from last year, by highlighting Zenefits Insurance Services, a company designing software to help businesses keep compliance costs down, especially with the new Obamacare regulations coming down the pike:

‘The company’s co-founder and CEO is Parker Conrad, a former managing editor of the Harvard Crimson and cancer survivor who I tried unsuccessfully to hire at the New York Sun. If someone has to make money from the “compliance complexities” of ObamaCare, I’m glad it’s him.’

I keep putting up this quote from Stoll’s original piece:

‘Indeed, if there is a single fact that sums up the state of American political economy at the present moment, it is this: the Boston office building once home to Inc. Magazine and Fast Company, which chronicled and celebrated small and fast-growing businesses, is now the headquarters of a publication called “Compliance Week.”’

These past decades have seen Washington D.C. and surrounding counties grow at a very fast rate, as people move there in pursuit of their talents, jobs and opportunity. The business of D.C. is politics, mostly.

Some people’s guiding ideals and moral lights lead them naturally to activism and leveraging political power to advance their interests, but certainly not all. Individually, I’m guessing there are people willing to accept pursuing opportunity in the public sector, instead of the private, where a lot of money and jobs currently are, especially in a down economy. These incentives will have them primarily managing other people’s lives, money, and time, through laws, tax revenue, and regulations.

This doesn’t seem commensurate long-term with a growing economy, more individual liberty and social mobility, nor a limited government which tends to keep more freedoms and responsibility in the hands of greater numbers of people, should they want that freedom and responsibility.

We’ve been getting a good look at the incentives, inertia and design flaws inherent in bureaucratic organizations lately.

Are we in decline? A rough patch of road?  A tipping point?

Related On This Site: Mead takes a look at the blue model (the old progressive model) from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working.  Check out his series at The American Interest.

Once broader ideas of the public good take hold, they tend to lead to greater claims of the public square, and view market activity as an animal to be harnessed: Amartya Sen In The New York Review Of Books: Capitalism Beyond The Crisis

Tom Palmer From Cato@Liberty: ‘Crony Capitalism’

From World Affairs Via A & L Daily: Jagdish Bagwhati’s ‘Feeble Critiques: Capitalism’s Petty Detractors’

.So, Is America In Decline?Richard Lieber In The World Affairs Journal–Falling Upwards: Declinism, The Box Set

Repost-Lawrence Lessig At Bloggingheads: ‘Fixing Our Broken System?’Conrad Black At The National Review: ‘Decline, But Not Inevitable Decline?’

 

Repost-Monday Quotation From Charles Kesler And A Few Thoughts on Conservatism

Quote mentioned by a friend:

“…it is emblematic of liberalism’s intention, articulated in the Progressive era and pursued ever since, to replace constitutional politics with a system of interest group (and racial) competition, of bargaining for government benefits within the administrative or welfare state presided over by activist judges, policy “experts,” and bureaucrats (in collusion with congressional committees).”

-Charles Kesler-Buckley Jr., William F. & Charles R. Kesler.  Keeping The Tablets: Modern American Conservative Thought-A Revised Edition of American Conservative Thought in the Twentieth Century. New York: Harper & Row, 1988. Print.

Quite germane, I’d say.

The term ‘activist’ judges has become very loaded these days.  The nomination process has become politicized and nearly toxic, to be sure.

I looked up Kesler’s quote in context and found he defined 3 conservative camps.  Here’s my brief summary, so feel free to add, subtract, or disagree:

1.  Traditionalists–Often coming from literary and historical backgrounds, Kesler’s traditionalist standout is Russell Kirk, and he mentions Robert Nisbet.  Many traditionalists are more likely to be religious, and find greater wisdom in religious doctrine and teaching about how to live and what to do than most anything else.  Some can see an unbroken line back to Aquinas, and they tend to view Enlightenment rationalism with great suspicion.  Kirk and Nisbet adopted Edmund Burke’s defense of the British Constitution against what they saw as the ahistorical universalism of the French Revolution.

Many look around and see cultural decay, decline, and often times a moral corruption in society.

I’d say Ross Douthat, currently at the NY Times, is an example of a practicing Catholic and conservative.  He’s written a book about the decline of institutionalized religion in the public square and the rise of new-age, mega-churches, self-help and “spirituality.”  Robert Bork, despite his faults, was railroaded as an ‘activist’ judge and could be defined as a traditionalist.

On this site, see:  The NY Times op-ed writer and a practicing Catholic? William Saletan and Ross Douthat At Slate: ‘Liberalism Is Stuck Halfway Between Heaven And Earth’…Douthat’s The Grand New PartyRoss Douthat At First Principles: ‘The Quest for Community in the Age of Obama: Nisbet’s Prescience’A Few Thoughts On Robert Bork’s “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”

How does Natural Law Philosophy deal with these problems, and those of knowledge?  Yes, Edmund Burke opposed the French revolution Sunday Quotation: Edmund Burke On The French Revolution

2.  Libertarians–On Kesler’s view, libertarians are more comfortable with Enlightenment rationalism than the traditionalists are, but the original sin for libertarians is collectivism.  This collectivism arises from basing the Enlightenment rationalist foundation in virtue.  Marxist, Socialist, and Communist leaders advocated and sometimes succeeded in bloody revolution, and many genuinely believed they were leading humanity to some dialectically “progressive” point in the future, seeing materialist reality for what it was, and acting for the good of all.  They were ‘virtuous’.  Many in these systems believed they knew better than individuals what was best for them, deciding how they should live, and what they should do.  As is common knowledge, this had disastrous results, including food shortages, external aggression, mass murder, forced labor camps, and the systems eventually rotting from the inside out.

For Kesler, libertarians often come from economic and philosophical backgrounds, and he breaks them into two groups.   The first group consists of Milton Friedman, James Buchanan, and Friedrich Hayek.  For them, freedom simply works, scarcity is all around, and you don’t need to deduce your way back to an underlying rights-based moral theory to justify your defense of individual freedom.  Adam Smith’s invisible hand might be a good example.

Kesler’s other group are those who need to deduce the morality of the market from the rights of man.  If the rights of man don’t come from God, is there some sufficiently transcendent source for our knowledge and thus our moral thinking?  Is there a source that would justify giving some people moral legitimacy to rule over others?  Where do man’s rights come from? J.S. Mill’s utilitarianism may not be enough, so, the search continues.  Kesler offers Robert Nozick, Murray Rothbard, and Richard Epstein as examples.

In my experience, personal liberty is primary to libertarians.  Libertarians often draw a ring around the individual, and proceed from there.  How one draws that ring is of some importance.

On this site, see: Repost-’Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’..From Fora Via YouTube: ‘Thomas Sowell and a Conflict of Visions’

Charles Murray is trying to get virtue back with the social sciences: Charles Murray At The New Criterion: ‘Belmont & Fishtown’Charles Murray Lecture At AEI: The Happiness Of People

3. Neoconservatives–Often coming from backgrounds of academic social science, chased away from the New Left and ‘mugged by reality’, Kesler’s neoconservatives would include Norman Podhoretz, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, and James Q. Wilson.  On Kesler’s view, they come to distrust ideology, rationalist political theory and have been persuaded by the fact/value distinction. Doubts are bred from within the social sciences and political sciences about how one can be sure of what one knows, especially when that knowledge becomes a source for public policy and a way for a few people to run the lives of many others.

From The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel Huntington….is neoconservative foreign policy defunct…sleeping…how does a neoconservatism more comfortable with liberalism here at home translate into foreign policy?: Wilfred McClay At First Things: ‘The Enduring Irving Kristol’

Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’…Thursday Quotation: Jeane Kirkpatrick – J.S. Mill…Francis Fukuyama At The Amer

From The De Blasio Files-Follow The Money And The Money Follows You

I haven’t visited Bloggingheads often due to what I perceive as many Left, and Left-liberal ideological commitments by founder Bob Wright and many of the commenters. Despite the depth, it’s not usually my cup of tea.

However, if you like hearing two local Daily News reporters discuss NYC politics with bemused and fairly cynical eyes, this one’s for you.

Do you remember that Jill Abramson piece about how she got blindsided by a truck (not her firing from the Times)?  It wasn’t bad journalism, honestly.

It’s probably helped the issue become a DeBlasio cause, who is seeking broader platforms around which to gather his union and labor activist coalitions.  Eliminating traffic deaths to Vision Zero and creating more pedestrian safety is the current, stated goal.

DeBlasio’s managed to get money set aside for universal Pre-K as well. (the People’s future will secured through taxpayer funded health-care and education, also with real-estate money it seems).

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s more centrist Democrat push-back and distancing from DeBlasio’s labor activism is the source of a lot of tension, as Albany maintains a lot of power over NYC politics.

He doesn’t want to be labeled a Cuomo-unist later on.

What happens in NYC politics, often has a delayed impact on life for the rest of us.

Here’s Liam Neeson on the horse-drawn carriage fiasco, which has been blown into quite the cause.

Witness the spirit of one lone Irishman willing to stand-up for the dignity of honest work, the sacred bond between man and beast, and the nameless, faceless Joes (and the Teamsters) crushed under the bootheel of Big Red Bill DeBlasio, Big Parking and Big Animal Activism.

Earth-shaking stuff (yes there’s a little sarcasm here):

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“I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.”

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