Saturday, May 27, 2006

America’s Gurkhas

by Bernie Quigley - to The Free Market News Network, 5/27/06

As American military bases begin to grow in Bulgaria and Romania lets recall the words of America’s greatest ambassador, George Kennan, that this policy initiative was “a mistake of historic proportions,” pronounced while Secretary of State Madeline Albright danced and laughed the night away with a flower in her mouth. Worth recalling that no one pushed this policy more vigorously than Al Gore as Vice President.

One can begin to see just why China and Russia go after their near frontiers as vigorously as John F. Kennedy went after the Soviet missiles in Cuba. The Berlin Wall had barely fallen when 90 U.S. Senators rushed to send American bases to Russia’s border with a new line of nukes.

This week the hysterical chorus of the mainstream press loves Al Gore again because of his environmental views; this the same Al Gore who after writing Earth in the Balance signed papers to build a million or so Buicks in China. I would like to echo Kennan’s sentiments as he is not here to do so. John Kenneth Galbraith agreed and so did every other great foreign policy mind at a time of petty governance. And then we had allies and friends in the world and influence. Now we do not. Now we do not even have an army to face down the Russkie, “toe-to-toe,” as Slim Pickens put it in Dr. Strangelove, as he rode a thermo-nuke out of the bomb bay of a B-52 like Pecos Bill riding the cyclone

In this policy design there are nuclear policies and defense priorities. At the time the 90 Senators voted, only Jesse Helms raised the voice of concern. As the Soviet curtain fell, America was on the rise with Rottweilers in the back yard, Glock 9s under the driver’s seat and a millennialist vision of the Dow at 35,000, Starbucks in Red Square & Jesus too. Do they love Al Gore because they are all 55 to 60 years old and can think of nothing new; can tolerate nothing new and so recall all things past which will come again if only in their dreams? This is the Viagra generation, spiraling downward in panic and impotence. In youth, a generation in contempt of the old; in old age afraid of the young.

Post Cold War, the new idea of those at State and at the Pentagon (while they were still in early planning to jump start the new millennium with the invasion of Iraq) was to drop American soldiers down from Germany to permanent bases in more relevant positions of the New American Empire. This week the new Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Olmert visited the White House, as one commentator said, for the confirmation of his coronation. That is exactly it. Ehud Olmert: He the King of Greater Israel (and we, His Majesty's colonial and provincial servants). Meanwhile, Australia’s John Howard, who had the misfortune to be in Washington at about the same time, was given gruff back door treatment.

We are now an Israeli-based society as Tom DeLay and the Christian Zionists have seen it in cosmic prophecy and as his NEOCON visionaries have explained it to him. (Those of us who get our religion from Lost and Neil Young and The Church of Johnny Cash and Mother Earth are only and obscure, confused and esoteric interior cult.) In this new Empire, Australia, like England, is hardly a secondary American tribe. Australia and England are now America’s Brigade of Gurkhas, noble warriors committed to defense of the foreign Fatherland whenever and wherever they are called to duty (but tribal and regressive . . . don't use the good silver.).

But has anyone noticed a surprising and sudden strain of competence in the current White House . . . a centrist immigration policy which alienates Richard Viguerie and the Christian Right; Laura Bush dispatched to the Sunday talk shows to denounce the Constitutional Amendment for gay marriage; Blair and Bush admitting errors in Iraq? It has to be coming from family fixer, James A. Baker, most competent of administrators from the Reagan era, who is now once again lending a hand to miscreant son. Rove and the current White House incumbents are incapable of this kind of competence. Baker will be needed. Coming up the Democrats have Bernie Sanders, Jim Webb, Wes Clark and seven pit bulls, the Fighting Dems of Texas. A formidable team is assembling. For the sake of our country I am glad Baker is there.

Key to any rising Democrat today is pragmatic intelligence and authenticity. In a time of crisis people seek authenticity. They need to get to the core of problems and find individuals with the character and solutions to solve them. This is a change from “issues” oriented politics. We are even seeing up here in the mountains of New England a move to authenticity. In Vermont, the fiery Independent Bernie Sanders and the Republican General Martha Rainville are both authentic individuals but are as different as day and night in their political orientation. Yet both are likely to win their upcoming races.

General Clark as bought a higher level of leadership to the Democrats and to the country and he has raised the standard of political dialog, bringing courtesy and respect into the arena. He also binds a new generation of under-25s to war veterans, helping to develop a new attitude in this country toward the armed forces; an attitude toward duty, dignity and responsibility which we have not seen in decades. It speaks to a new age, a new generation and a new turning of the political culture. It is a new beginning.

Not that it is any of my business, but I guess I might have wanted to ask Vice President Gore, “Does every Chinese need a Buick?” In an age of environmental concerns in which Al Gore claims relevance as a swami, that would be 1,313,973,713 more Buicks in the world. And a Harley and a Ski-Doo and a second house on Lake Michigan? Do they still even have Buicks?

Sounds stupid and regressive, but a thought which might have come from the remarkable crowd I used to have breakfast with at DuBrow’s Cafeteria on 7th Avenue in New York City before it was called Avenue of the Americas. Old Jews who spoke Russian, Yiddish, English, Hebrew and German all in a sentence. Men of sense and sensibility and passion and vast experience. Ed Koch, who as mayor of New York at the time, came back from a visit to China with visions of thousands of bike riders pouring like a river over the Brooklyn Bridge in place of cars. But that was in days when New York City people including myself felt themselves unique in the world and a tribe apart and would never have dreamed of electing someone as their Senator who was not one of their own.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Where is Bernie?

As American military bases begin to grow in Bulgaria and Romania lets recall the words of America’s greatest ambassador, George Kennan, that this policy initiative was “a mistake of historic proportion” (while Madeline Albright danced with a flower in her mouth). Worth recalling that no one pushed this policy more vigorously than Al Gore as Vice President. One can begin to see just why China and Russia go after their near frontiers. The wall had barely fallen when 90 U.S. senators rushed to send American bases to the Holy Roman Empire. This week the hysterical chorus of the daily press loves Al Gore again because of his environment views; this the same Al Gore who after writing Earth in the Balance signed papers to build a million or so Buicks in China. (Where is what we gentile used to call in New York the Good Jew? He of the remarkable crowd at DuBrow’s cafeteria on 40 St. speaking Russian, Yiddish, English, Hebrew, German, all in a sentence at breakfast? Men of sense and sensibility and passion and vast experience. He would always come to save us. Where is a great man of sense and character like Ed Koch who as mayor of New York came back from China with visions of bike riders in New York City, in the days when New York City people including myself felt themselves a tribe apart and formidable and would never dream of electing for their Senator an outsider - a Midwestern generational cult figure to vote in Senate as one of their own.) I would like to echo Kennan’s sentiments as he is not here to do so; John Kenneth Galbraith agreed and so did every great mind at a time of petty governance. And then we had allies and friends in the world & influence. Now we do not. Now we do not even have an army to face down the Holy Roman Empire. In this design there are nuclear policies. At the time the 90 Senators voted, only Jesse Helms raised the voice of concern. America was on the rise with Rottweilers in the back yard, Glock 9s under the driver’s seat and a millennialist vision of the Dow at 35k, Starbucks in Red Square & Jesus too . . . do they love Al Gore because they are all 55 to 60 years old and can think of nothing new; can tolerate nothing new and so recall all things past which will come again if only in their dreams? This is the Viagra syndrome; spiraling downward in panic - in youth afraid of the old; in old age afraid of the young. Where is the Good Jew? He always comes and saves us. Where is Bernie Sanders? Where is Bernie?

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Da Vinci Code

5/22/06 from Quigley in Exile

We enjoyed The DaVinci Code movie yesterday. What is fascinating is the "return to earth" aspect. We return from space and land in the 12th century. This movie is very like "first encournters" with space aliens in '50s movies - they are terrifying and frightening - like the mad monk of Opus Dei. But as space contained riddles to enlightenment, so now does the Earth and its Church, the Roman Church of the 12th Century. Since 9/11 people have greater dreams of the Pope - in one such dream the Pope gave a woman gold coins, while a contemporary "suitor" gave her chocolate coins covered with gold paper - false coins. Contemporary dreams parrallel this; as Dreamers dreamed of UFOs n the '50s and '60s, today they dream of "travelling" in the 12th century & into the earth. The Earth is giving birth again to the Human condition. Jedi Knights are astral versions of Knights Templar & today almost half the books on the NYTs best seller lists are about Templars. Parrallel event is the ascention of Pope Benedict. I find him a man of character & of the old ways. As early UFO dreams portended visions or an ascending space age, this movie portends a renewal of the Old Ways of the Catholic and Orthodox churches of Europe. The dual triangles represent a yin and yang vision as the movie presents it, but in reference to the I.M. Pei triangles in the courtyand of the Louvre, the question should be not that they exist, but why is one big and one little? What is their nature? Why is one underground and one above ground? What are their qualities? If they are not identical as in the tai chi symbol, the one dominates or "territorializs" they other, and gives a clue as to the nature of the age we are in and the age ahead. In the previous age, from the time of Christ to the 14oos, the yin and yang was represented by the image of Madonna and Child motif. It was a yin age and the Mother figure ascended and dominated the yang figure, the Baby Jesus. The ultimate yin symbol of this is down the road a few blocks from the Louvre, on the Ile de la Cite, Notre Dame (Our Mother). In the old portraits and paintings, the Mother represented the Earth, the Christ Child the Human Race. These features tell the story; they were seperated, one from the other, in the time of Leonardo - he opposed the seperation as the movie implies and it is clear in his pictures by suggestion. See Mother and Child & Triple Goddess here. This is an awakening moment for our century. In Alchemist terms (Templar) the Horse has arrived in the Courtyard.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Old Dems, New Dems and Fighting Dems

- May 18, 2006, for The Fighting Dems web site

When Tammy Duckworth won her Illinois primary last month it made headlines at the Daily Kos and at WesPAC, General Wesley Clark’s web site, but there was otherwise sparse recognition of the brave army officer who lost both her legs in a Blackhawk helicopter in Iraq.

The next day comprehensive articles began to appear and in one article in The New York Times, Major Duckworth was named. The article said the success of women in the recent primaries was an important indicator of how Senator Clinton of New York would fare in 2008 in her Presidential race.

It was a startling piece of reportage. All roads lead to Hillary, even those through combat, camaraderie and rehabilitation. Until recently, the press could think of little else. Twice in one month CNN ran a story about Senator Clinton not running for President. “Will Hillary not run for President?” A non-story about nothing. A runaway horse which the press couldn’t get off. I was reminded of the old Saturday Night Live routine: “General Franco is still dead!” And when the Times recently ran a story about Mark Warner, the recently retired governor of Virginia, on the cover of their Sunday magazine, the editors declared him to be “the anti-Hillary.” There are only two topics today in Democratic politics; the things that are Hillary and the things that are not Hillary.

Up here in the New England hills there was some controversy week before last when the popular Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman (who once proposed a contract when a boy kisses a girl, with an amendment clause for each and every additional foray into the jolly mayhem) wrote a column telling John Kerry not to run again. It kind of mystified us for awhile. But she is only clearing the decks of her local commitment, ramping up for Hillary.

This is not an issue of press hordes blindly following the one after the other off the cliff. It does have prompting from Republicans – all leading contenders like to say (some gleefully) that they expect to be running against Hillary in 2008. Indeed, Rupert Murdock’s Fox New Network, which has raised its stock in maligning her over more than a decade, is holding a fundraiser for her this summer. But the press, in the notable phrase of the great Watergate investigation, follows the money. And the money is going to Hillary.

Recently, Markos Moulitsas of the Daily Kos, who coined the phrase Fighting Dems and has heavily promoted them on his blog, suggested in an op-ed article in The Washington Post that there are now two Democratic Parties; old Democrats, and he mentioned Senator Clinton and John Kerry, and new Democrats (he mentioned Russ Feingold and Mark Warner, who have recently scored one and two in his monthly survey of readers). Kos has actively promoted the new wing of the Democratic Party, featuring a new Fighting Dem every week.

“Hillary Clinton has a few problems if she wants to secure the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination,” wrote Kos. “She is a leader who fails to lead. She does not appear "electable." But most of all, Hillary has a Bill Clinton problem. (And no, it's not about that.)”

Hillary Clinton leads her Democratic rivals in the polls and in fundraising, said Kos. Unfortunately, however, the New York senator is part of a failed Democratic Party establishment -- led by her husband -- that enabled the George W. Bush presidency and the Republican majorities, and all the havoc they have wreaked at home and abroad.

It comes down to this: Elvis will not leave the building. He is bored. He is vain. In my opinion, he has become a political cult figure as used to be called in politics a “cult of personality.” He likes being famous, but he lacks that quality of character of a Reagan, Ford or Carter, to know when the work is done and turn homeward. It is the problem of an aparatchik; one who has no home but his cause, his work, his popularity and fame. No place to go when his life works is finished. When Bill Clinton finished his second turn as President he saw it as only the beginning. It was his grand delusion shared by many of his followers. But now he is taking all the air out of the room and sending his proxies to the talk shows to debase mainstream Democrats. And he is taking all the money out of the room as well.

I felt a sea change in politics a few months back when reports of the Fighting Dems first began appearing on Wes Clark’s web site. I’d been in the room with General Clark when he signed the book to enter the primary in New Hampshire and volunteered for him all through his campaign. General Clark brought integrity and character to the Democrats. Frankly, he brought a sense of adulthood, duty and responsibility that somehow had drifted over the generations. Now others like Paul Hackett, Tammy Duckworth and Andrew Horne – seven of them in Texas, and others all over the country - were bringing the same bright and positive charge to the table.

But other good men like Tim Dunn, who attained the rank of Lt. Colonel serving with the Marines in Kosovo, Desert Storm, Desert Shield and the Iraq War were beginning to turn back. He pulled out of his race in North Carolina’s 8th district, and one of the reasons was lack of funds. In the same period, major fundraisers in the state were holding fundraisers for Hillary.

At a recent fundraiser in New York held by George Soros for Wesley Clark, someone asked the General how much money he hoped to raise.

“As little as possible,” he said.

Clark said to hoped to keep WesPAC going and wanted to make enough money to cover his costs. But he said, candidates should not be raising money for 2008 until the 2006 races are over in November, as it draws funds away from local races.

The Democrats have lost sight of this, blinded in part, by the prize at the top. The Republicans have not.

The day after Markos had his op-ed in The Washington Post, something very interesing happened. After ignoring bloggers like Kos and denying their influence for years, his comments the day before in the Post were reported as front-page news in The New York Times. Suddenly, people were listening. And now they will continue to listen.

Next month, Jim Webb faces a primary race in Virginia. Webb is a fascinating man who once wrote the most well-known novel about Vietnam, Fields of Fire, after serving in Vietnam as a Marine. He was also Secretary of the Navy and has done all kinds of things. And he comes with a big noise. If you go to his website a speech opens upon you. He is possibly the most effective public speaker since Malcolm X. He will eat George Allen, his opponent in the general election, alive.

Many of us here in New England and the Northeast tend to forget our war dead and overlook our soldiers. A tour of an undergraduate college today in the northeast would show far greater interest in Bart Simpson than Stonewall Jackson, Joshua Chamberlain or Robert Gould Shaw, who’s monument is passed unnoticed on the Boston Common. It has given us issues of authenticity and when someone like Kerry postures as a warrior, it strikes a cord of disbelief. Jim Webb, like fellow Fighting Dems Andrew Horne in Kentucky and Tammy Duckworth in Illinois and Eric Massa in New York are soldiers who bring a sobering sensibility to the Democratic Party. They bring a character-based sensibility to politics, honed in duty, sacrifice and civic responsibility.

These people have always been here. It is the Democrats who have turned away. The Fighting Dems, with Jim Webb as Pathfinder and Gatekeeper, awaken a new political front. Once again, others will follow their lead.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Creeping Monarchism, but not today

by Bernie Quigley

I left home because of the Kennedys. It was nothing they themselves did personally. In fact, I admired the first of the brothers enormously. And here in New England, they belonged to us – us being the people of South Boston who came from Ireland in ships that still traveled under sail as my grandmother’s did. Indeed, when the original ancestor of Joe and Honey Fitz established a bar on Water St. in East Boston, he found a Quigley to open it with, and it was that which became the center of political power for working class Irish for a good long time.

When I was a child I’d be taken to political rallies to meet John F. Kennedy when he was still a local pol, dragged off by my parents against my will to smoky auditoriums in Providence or Boston. I thought it was ridiculous then that they saw this young Senator, who smoked less than the other men and was fair and fine like those of the Old Sod who had only recently arrived in the Land of the Free, would ever be President. Our people did not be President. We were small and provincial and said the rosary in a circle after supper in the evenings.

So it wasn’t something that they did. The Kennedys more than anyone brought us Boston Irish from Old World to New World and gave us true democratic sensibilities. It was a problem with the rest of us. Years later when Robert F. Kennedy was murdered the age changed dramatically. But the Kennedys kept coming. Some it seemed, were unfit for office, but just the same, we elected them. It was our Old World sensibility, from a European world of authority and monarchy which trusted in family and ethnicity rather than reason, conscience and citizenship, still active, still alive and dominating our New World sensibility. In Massachusetts and Rhode Island, we would vote for anyone it seemed, so long as his name was Kennedy. We would even vote for someone who looked like Kennedy or had a name which sounded like Kennedy (who wasn’t even Irish).

I thought it was only us Irish, of the paternalistic church and the habits of the 19th century European. But recently journalist Joe Klein mentioned it in one of his essays. Now it’s a Clinton thing as well, and like it was with the Kennedys, Friends of Bill will vote for anyone named Clinton whether she has leadership qualities or not, whether she has political instincts or not, or whether she can be elected or not. One who merely represents them as a generation or a tribe (or a generational tribe). Klein called this a creeping monarchist tendency in American politics.

This tendency to vote ethnically (or generationally) is a monarchist tendency. It is why I left Boston. I left to experience America and the world. I was tired of every person I encountered being exactly like my family. And I left because I felt these people with their Kennedy obsession were not fully acclimated to the New World. I left and didn’t return for 30 years.

When I was a child, we, the ethnic Irish in a secular American world, seemed overly religious to our secular neighbors, and it had a political dimension. It was the way we defined ourselves as a group, in opposition to our local political adversaries. Irish Catholics were well aware that they had two sensibilities; one ethnic/religious, and one secular/political. In those days you would never see a Catholic with a bumper sticker announcing his religion. It was un-American and disrespectful to the Protestants, who were our political adversaries, but adversaries we respected as fellow citizens. But in the end, citizenship won out over ethnicity and religion identity and we became Americans. For which I say, Thank you Jesus.

Then in 1991, Massachusetts voted overwhelmingly for William Weld, a New York WASP, a Blue Blood Harvard man, the kind of man we Boston Irish had pitted ourselves against politically for 100 years. The times had changed. New World sensibility had finally succeeded. We the Boston Irish had lost our monarchist tendency which drove us to vote for only our own kind, and instead, voted overwhelmingly for Bill Weld, the best and the brightest candidate. We even abandoned Democratic Party identity as well as ethnic and religious identification, as Weld ran as a Republican, but called himself a Libertarian (and still does). Boston was ready for democracy. I started looking East again and eventually moved back.

That was before George W. Bush. Suddenly, Protestants were religious, and frankly, in a heartfelt and sincere way. And the Irish were no longer. Last year in Southie, the Catholic Church shut down dozens of its cavernous stone cathedrals to which millions came to worship a hundred years back.

Now the Republicans are getting monarchist. Klein mentioned that they now look longingly to Jeb Bush to follow in his father’s and brother’s footsteps. I must admit I was kind of shocked when I was on the road last year and stopping for coffee, happened to notice on CNN TV news Jeb Bush throwing himself at the feet of the new German Pope. Just like my old Irish aunties would do when the priest came to the house. Just as we Irish threw ourselves to the feet of the Kennedys.

I think it will happen one day that our democratic sensibility and our sense of ourselves as citizens and as Americans will yield to religious identity, to ethnicity, to tribalism and to monarchy. Regionalism will flourish and we will come to distrust our neighbors not of our own blood, as we did in Europe for millennia and back then in Boston. Perhaps it is nature’s way that we sleep and awaken and then go back to sleep, centuries at a time. But as Aragorn said in the recent The Lord of the Rings movie, now is not that time.

We are at the cusp of an awakening in America. The big, generic and monolithic press corp is becoming as irrelevant as the steam engine and is rapidly yielding to vital and imaginative blogs and independent presses like this one. Blogs, with their new voice and new vision will ascend the life force of a new generation. There is freedom, originality and vitality in these new venues, and in the perennial cycle of life, Those of the Old Ways are protecting their outmoded habits, obsolete ideas and their irrelevant orthodoxies. They are terrified of the young ‘uns. You can hear their complaint almost daily now in big press reports like I’ve seen recently in The Washington Post, The New York Times and on National Public Radio.

Today we are beginning to hear discussion of the Old Democrats (Clintons, Gore, Kerry) and the New Democrats (Mark Warner, Wesley Clark, Russ Feingold). The one is yielding and the other is ascending. Once again the snake is shedding its skin. And there is a new generation of vital new Democrats, many of them recent veterans of Iraq and some from previous wars. They are people like Jim Webb of Virginia, running for Senate and riding point for the Fighting Dems, who will soon bring a big noise to the world. And there will need to be some new blood because there is new batch of gifted Republicans as well who will be hard to beat – George Pataki, Mitt Romney, Arnold Schwarzenegger – these and others calling themselves Libertarians and Independents.

Recently we have been through a bad spate of leadership, but that happens every time the old yields to the new. What is new here is the new century, and those times are upon us.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Quigley’s Tibetan Buddhist Theory of Relativity (Nothing is Relative)

The Inside is Out and the Outside is in . . . The Beatles White Album, taken from The Gospel of Thomas ("When the Inside is like the Outside . . . the Kingdom is at hand.")

I was shocked this morning when reading an LA Times story on brain neurons in which the author brought up the name Alfred Wallace. The author, Robert Lee Hotz, was discussing creationist doctrines & evolutionary biologists, saying the latter are hard presses to explain how nature could make something as intricate as the human brain. “Even Alfred Wallace, the 19th century biologist who discovered natural selection with Charles Darwin, could not accept that such a flexible organ of learning and thought could emerge by trial and error.” Before WW I the two names, Darwin and Wallace, were spoken together. Then Wallace was abandoned.

There are two kinds of people in the world: people who like to do Suduku puzzles and people who prefer to watch Lost. Current research by a British scientist has it that on the first day a baby is born a boy will generally look at a mobile hanging over his head while a girl will look at a face; the one direction is a technical puzzle (Suduku doers), the other is empathy (Lost watchers).

Likewise all things in the world have either one or two directions. The Creationists have had a difficult time explaining themselves because their agenda is political rather than spiritual. Likewise with the Darwinists. Darwin’s argument at the Oxford seminar was always in opposition to the narrow Christian view, but by putting itself in opposition to another view, the “science” became political, and it is impossible to do science as a creative art with a political agenda.

Now these are the core Creation myths of red and blue America. One sees it on car bumpers – the Creationists have the sign of the fish pointing to the left, (the sign of the Inner Life; the “negative’ arrow sign in math), the Darwinists have their little fish with feet and pointing to the right, (the sign of the Outer Life; the “positive” sign for the arrow in math). The Christ was marked by the Fish in early Christianity, as the Star over Bethlehem to which the Three Zoroastrian astrologers followed began the Age of Pisces, marked by two fish n opposition, beginning the first of 12 Platonic Months and a new 24,000-year Sun Cycle. These are the two Fighting Fish of Astrology, no?, like Holmes and Morriarty, going over the waterfall.

Lately we have been getting déjà vu all over again (Paul McCartney making sure the Indians don’t whup up on the baby seals in Canada, boursie students in Paris demonstrating in the streets against the government before they go to work for the government), so I thought I would bring it up. Yesterday, the NYTs had an essay on Freud (To paraphrase Bette Midler with apologies, “When its 3 am in LA, its still 1970 in New York.” They hold their breath long, no?). Largely Freud has been left behind by the world (but the English Dept., alors, she holds on to things in the attic). Freud, like Darwin, starts with a negative template, which the culture already shares, and builds on that. But recognize that the shared base is a cultural one; an agreed-upon paradigm of vague cultural understandings and misunderstandings, some of them intentional; a religion. Freud and Newton bring a mechanistic view. It can be seen as coming from John Calvin, who brought to the north of Europe a vision of a deterministic God, and the West took it from there – Newton was the logical and natural next step. The journal of science in Newton’s name 20-some years ago made a public apology for all the pseudo-science which evolved (evolved is the right word) in his name; blurred visions which inculcated ideas of Freud and Marx and perhaps Keynes. Scholarship at the time published several volumes about Newton’s writings on the Green Man, a million words on the vegetation spirit of the earth (like the big swirlly deal in Princess Mononoke and on the first season of Lost.) But apparently they didn’t get that memo in the English Dept. In New York they are at wits end. They are terrified of blogs. They hate LA. They know not J.J. Abrams nor Markos Moulitsas. They are terrified that a new generation will replace them and they are right. There is no place to go but back.

The mechanistic view was sent forth in Newton’s name; Freud sent it forward in his own name. Both had a Double. Newton’s was Gottfried Leibniz, who discovered calculus in the same month as Newton in Germany. Leibnitz was, however, at the time reading the I Ching, which had been sent to him by a Jesuit from China. Leibnitz said the I Ching was the same as calculus. Yet the culture went forward on Newton’s view, recreated and somewhat misunderstood as a mechanistic path. Freud had a double as well, C.J. Jung, who’s principles drew a vision of the psyche similar to a Tibetan Mandala. Related to this, he brought in the phrases, Introvert and Extrovert. He was dispised and excluded from the discussion as it didn’t fit the negative template. Likewise Darwin had a Double, forgotten today, Alfred Wallace. Wallace, like Jung and Leibnitz, provided an Inner Vision rather than the Outer movement of Darwin and the ascending mechanistic view. So the Three Steppingstones of the expanding contemporary world, Newton, Darwin, Freud, each had a Double; Leibnitz, Wallace, Jung. The first group were technical Extroverts (Suduku doers). The second group were empathetic Introverts (Lost watchers).

Good to know, as Leibnitz, Wallace and Jung have all but been forgotten on the Journey Outward.

We have been driving outward since 1492 and we are still trying to drive. I have on my other blog, Quigley in Exile, varied essays about dreams of clairvoyant dreamers I talk to (one in particular) who dreams of being in the sky and returning to earth. This is just the opposite of prominent dreams of 50 years back when people dreamed of going into space (UFO dreams). I call this a “Returning to Earth” myth and it is the prominent myth of our times. The 50s were marked by Outgoing Myths; movies like The Day the Earth Stood Still, War of the Worlds and popular periodicals like Analog science fiction magazine. Today, the Survivor tv series and Lost mark the age. They are Incoming Myths; Returning to Earth Myths.

Ask a scientist about Alfred Russel Wallace. No one remembers him. It is good that he is beginning to be remembered. His Creation myth is similar to the Hindu, which started with a vision of natural selection similar to the Darwin/Wallace picture, then moves Inward. Newton/Darwin/Freud are Outgoing Philosophers. Wallace/Leibnitz/Jung are Incoming philosophers.

We as a people are losing interest in going into space. It is becoming post-seasonal and old fashioned, like the railroads. We can no longer “keep going West,” either. We have been West and then found the East. Now the East is coming back to the West. Our Outward Journey is ending because we have no where to do. We can only go Inward.

American visionary Walt Whitman, greatest of men, poets and Children of God, predicted this. Our journeys to China and the Spice Island were the same as our journey to space, just ahead, he wrote in 1871 in the poem Passage to India. But soon the Outward Journey would end.

Our space journey did not begin with Flash Gordon or Captain Kirk. It began with Columbus. These are Whitman’s sentiments: “Lo, soul, seest thou not God’s purpose from the first?/ The earth to be spann’d, connected by network,/ The races, neighbors, to marry and be given in marriage,/The oceans to be cross’d, the distant brought near,/ The lands to be welded together.” The passage would be to the sun and the moon and all of the stars and to Siruis and Jupiter. Then: “After the seas are all cross’d (as they seem already cross’d)/ After the great captiains and engineers have accoomplish’d their work,/ After the noble inventors, after the scientists, the chemist, the geologist, ethnologist,/ Finally shall come the poet worthy of that name;/ The true son of God shall come singing his songs.”

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Jim Webb: A Time for Soldiers

by Bernie Quigley - 5/3/06 to The Free Market News Network.

It is best to visit Guinea Station when the petals are falling. The dogwoods and red buds float like clouds on the edge of the woods and carry on light and dark in a dance of new joy that betrays the burden of millennia passing underfoot. The small white clapboard house is a graceful and haunted place with a Sunday morning quiet. The room where Stonewall Jackson died is kept intact and exactly as it was at the moment of his death. Not a book has been misplaced or a bed spread moved in the eternal twilight and quiet since the mythical Southern General’s passing.

The buildup to the Civil War has parallels with the current Iraq quagmire. Yankee populist writers, like Frederick Law Olmstead, had traveled through the Southern states and returned north to report that invasion would be a cakewalk. Nothing but “white trash” in those Appalachian hollows; hillbillies, starving subsistence farmers and hunters, drunk and insolent, who had lost the will to work under the decadent slave system of the plantation holders. It would be over in months with few Northern casualties.

But with Stonewall on horseback, the unimaginable seemed possible. Olmstead’s pre-war reconnaissance, like Donald Rumsfeld’s and Condi Rice’s in our day, had proved to be pernicious. Two years after the onset of hostilities, the Confederates were camped in Pennsylvania and facing Washington, D.C. But then events turned. When Stonewall died, knocked off his horse by friendly fire at the Battle of Chancellorsville, the lamp flickered and Confederate hopes would soon dim. Shortly after, at Cemetery Ridge, the Union would hold fast and begin to fight in earnest. Then early in 1864, Ulysses S. Grant would move his camp to Virginia and take charge of the Union army. From that point on, there would be no stopping the carnage until Appomattox.

Some historians say the modern world began at Appomattox and Cemetery Ridge. It set the pattern for modern warfare; tens of thousands, 40,000, killed in an afternoon. Then millions would fall in just a few seconds as the petals fell: Bull Run, Antietam, Verdun, Normandy, Stalingrad, Hiroshima, Khe Sanh. But the age really began in the modest white clapboard farm house in the still and quiet place in the gentle Virginia hills on the day in May when Stonewall Jackson died.

Virginia, more than most states, remembers its war dead. Perhaps Virginians, like Jim Webb, are born fighting.

Webb, who is running against George Allen for Senate, if he wins his primary election, has had a fascinating, productive and multifaceted life. He served with the Fifth Marine Regiment in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Navy Cross, the Silver Star Medal, two Bronze Star Medals, and two Purple Hearts. He has written six best-selling novels including Fields of Fire, considered by many to be the classic novel of the Vietnam War. He taught literature at the Naval Academy as their first visiting writer, has traveled worldwide as a journalist, and his PBS coverage of the U.S. Marines in Beirut earned him an Emmy Award. His original story, Rules of Engagement, was released in April 2000 and starred Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson. In 1987 he became the first Naval Academy graduate in history to serve in the military and later be appointed Secretary of the Navy. He resigned as Naval Secretary in 1988 after refusing to agree to a reduction of the Navy's force structure during congressionally-mandated budget cutting.

What I like about him is that his American journey is in one important way the characteristic American journey. When institutions he was born into or became part of would take a wrong turn as all public institutions invariably do, he would leave without hesitation and beat his own path. Eventually the vast majority would abandon the institution as well and follow his path. Like 80% of the voters in my old precinct in the hills of North Carolina, he was a Southerner who was born Democrat and switched parties as the country was ramping up to the Reagan period. George Will says in a column about Webb in Sunday’s Washington Post, Webb “ says he was ‘pretty much’ a Democrat until President Jimmy Carter ‘pardoned the draft evaders.’” As we approached the day when 49 states would vote for a Republican president, Ronald Reagan, Webb and the vast majority of Americans were again on the same path. He told Will, "I wouldn't shake John Kerry's hand for 20 years" because of Kerry's anti-Vietnam activities, but “I voted for him in 2004.”

From his political writings, it seems clear that the Dungeon & Dragons Warriors of the White House Cabal which engineered this misbegotten vision of hubris and fantasy play in Iraq, is what led him back to the Democratic Party. Which was a kind of homecoming. On Sept. 4, 2002, he wrote in an article called “Heading for Trouble” in the Washington Post: “American military leaders have been trying to bring a wider focus to the band of neoconservatives that began beating the war drums on Iraq before the dust had even settled on the World Trade Center. Despite the efforts of the neocons to shut them up or to dismiss them as unqualified, these leaders, both active-duty and retired, have been nearly unanimous in their concerns. Is there an absolutely vital national interest that should lead us from containment to unilateral war and a long-term occupation of Iraq? And would such a war and its aftermath actually increase our ability to win the war against international terrorism?”

Common sense then and now. But now it is too late.

Recently, John Kerry, another with hindsight from Vietnam, announced that voting for the war on Iraq was his great mistake. Had he and his Senate colleagues who voted overwhelmingly for the invasion paused in their fever to listen to Webb, there might have been a different outcome: “Other than the flippant criticisms of our ‘failure’ to take Baghdad during the Persian Gulf War, one sees little discussion of an occupation of Iraq,” he wrote in 2002. “But it is the key element of the current debate. The issue before us is not simply whether the United States should end the regime of Saddam Hussein, but whether we as a nation are prepared to physically occupy territory in the Middle East for the next 30 to 50 years. Those who are pushing for a unilateral war in Iraq know full well that there is no exit strategy if we invade and stay.”

Webb’s comments parallel those of Wesley Clark, alone among the Democrats to make these same points in the recent Presidential election. Few listened then when 75% of Americans took a wrong turn and backed the invasion to oust Saddam Hussein, but people are listening now. And Webb and his fellow Fighting Dems are bringing these issues to mainstream America in 2006 in important elections in Texas, Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, New York and throughout the country. They bring a sea change to American politics and it should be a wake up call to the Democrats.

Most of us here in New England and the Northeast tend to forget our war dead and overlook our soldiers. A tour of an undergraduate college today in the northeast would show far greater interest in Bart Simpson than Stonewall Jackson, Joshua Chamberlain or Robert Gould Shaw, who’s monument is passed unnoticed on the Boston Common. It has given us issues of authenticity and when someone like Kerry postures as a warrior, it strikes a cord of disbelief. Jim Webb, like fellow Fighting Dems Andrew Horne in Kentucky and Tammy Duckworth in Illinois and Eric Massa in New York are soldiers who bring a sobering sensibility to the Democratic Party. As Webb’s 2002 Washington Post essay and his many other writings bring out, his is a character-based sensibility, honed in duty, sacrifice and civic responsibility.

These people have always been here. It is the Democrats who have turned away, lost in post-9/11 denial and a reverie of generational delirium, waiting for the Sixties to come back. (News flash: ABC has just cancelled its primetime show Commander in Chief, in which Geena Davis plays President Hillary. Democratic Party rank and file and its vast and pervasive auxiliary press take notice.) The Fighting Dems, with Jim Webb as Pathfinder and Gatekeeper, awaken a new political front. Once again, others will follow their lead.

Today we are beginning to listen to soldiers. Six Generals have spoken out in opposition to the conduct of warfare under the leadership of Secretary Rumsfeld. Last week we heard from Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s chief of staff, speaking out to oppose the Radical Republic of the neocons who have commandeered the sane sensibilities of honest Americans. This week we have heard from General Powell, probably the world’s most respected American. We will hear more.

There is a time for Bart Simpson and a time for Joshua Chamberlain, the New England soldier who held fast at Cemetery Ridge. We enter again the time of the soldier. Jim Webb leads the way. Like his son, a Marine who will likely ship to Iraq this summer, he is a man who enters first into responsibility, without hesitation, and is first across the line to accept his share of whatever pain it will take to return to the peace, and willing to accept as well his share in its grace.