Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Being Markos Moulitsas

by Bernie Quigley, for The Free Market News Network, June 28, 2006

Outer Banks, NC: A week at the beach and home with kin in North Carolina, finest place on earth. We are here in these parts without interpretation. What we see in our neighbor's faces is not behind a mask. My kids have had the benefit of being born and reared here with the sweet smell of tobacco plants in nearby fields gently drifting into the hollow, then coming to adulthood in the same mountain range at the top of New England. They don't wear masks in New Hampshire either, but the sensibility is of the hand and head. Here it is of the heart, which speaks like flowering mimosa, delicate and subtle.

We still have rural areas here and regions thankfully not yet plugged into the common ways of the city. There are no cable hook ups for TV and computers in some parts. And in an old crab shack on the beach here they even sell newspapers. They sell The New York Times to visiting tourists.

I hadn't actually held one in my hands in years. Remember newspapers? Before there were yellow power ties and oat bran muffins, before there were French Deconstructionists and Soccer Moms, there were newspapers. Way back to when Uri Geller was bending spoons on The Dick Cavett Show; when Evel Knievel was breaking every bone in his body jumping motorcycles over canyons.

They used to deliver newspapers to your home every morning and milk too, in glass bottles. And in places like Washington, D.C., you could go out to tin boxes on the street and just put a few coins in and get newspapers even from L.A., New York and Philadelphia.

My kids, who can get tens of thousands of newspapers from places like Jerusalem and Beijing on-line today at a time when the milkman is still asleep, take this with a grain of scepticism, like much that comes from Dad when he waxes nostalgic on the beach about the old days. Truth is, the tin boxes didn't work all that well. You had to kick them and shake them and half the time you would lose your money anyway.

Just the same, that old tactile feeling came back when I held it in my hands. An artifact from a good and prosperous time in history, like the Zippo lighter I carried eons ago in military service. What a blast from the past.

I noticed immediately when I opened it up that the daily concerns were very different from those of typical Americans today. But they still seemed very much in keeping with what people were doing 25 years ago when I lived in New York and read the paper daily.

I'd learned, on-line, that the newspapers were coming on hard times, including The New York Times. The issue was, of course, on-line competition from the blogs and independent journals like this one. For a few years they just gave the Times away free to on-line readers like myself, but it was clear even back then that these shining lights of democracy from a time between the wars (that would be the Civil War and World War I) were heading into the sunset. Like the fast and bold Union Pacific railroad snaking through the Canadian Rockies in those first great color pictures in National Geographic.

They went to Times Select, giving daily news free to on-line customers, but charging a fee for certain columnists and featured items. On-line readership plummetted. Truth is, the new editors and writers had not the guts, the intuition, the candor or the experience of their Fathers. Or their Mothers, as the best and bravest in the old days were women - Helen Thomas, Mary McGrory, Ida Tarbell.

But what a find. And what a treat it was to hold the thing itself, actually made from trees, in my hands. Like a Davy Crockett coon skin hat, or a Dave Clark Five record. Something you might see today on Antique Road Show. And there was Paul Krugman in the Times Select crowd. I'd really missed him.

I could see that there was grave concern in the Times kingdom. David Brooks was apopleptic. But again, the issues were the same: the web, the Internet, on-line journals and the bloggers. It had long been an abstraction; a thing without a name like something coming from space in the Fifties ("They're coming! Look up in the sky! Keep looking!"). Something that would drain our energies and change us to the core of our being. Something from the Unconscious.

The Internet first brought a sense of awe at a time when we dreamed of our own magnificence. We were "the World's Only Superpower." We heard it again and again at a time when the Human Genome Project was to prove once and for all our destiny as god-kings striding this planet. Real scientists were claiming that our genes just in number alone were multiples above and beyond any other living organism. But awe began to change to dread when results started coming in and our gene pool increasingly appeared to be about the same in number as those of hens - the kind that lay eggs - and about on a par with a grain of rice.

It was a sense of dread like that which paralyzed the world in the book 1984 (gosh, that was a long time ago); a forboding without form in a world without substance. Not only did it give you the cold willies, but it threatened the Establishment of Sustainable Mediocrity. Great journalist that he was, George Orwell knew to give it a name. He knew that if it had a name, it would relieve the pervasive dread and lighten the burden. The People needed and Enemy with a Name and a Face. And so he created Him. He would be the Enemy of the People. And he had a name. His name was Emmanuel Goldstein.

Wow. I started hearing this same language last week before I went on vacation. It came from the National Review. They were finding the Face of the Internet and it was fascist. They kept using that word: fascist. This, in a news journal who's staff mainstay had recently recommended advancing uses of torture in Iraq (recommending this here, in the Land of the Free. Alors, the poor honest and decent Bill Buckley, who hoped to elevate our vast federation with the heightened sensibilities of Evelyn Waugh, finding at the end of his life's work his creation a Golem, belonging more to Kafka's Penal Colony.)

Now Brooks, one of the Weekly Standard's original Dungeons & Dragons Warriors, has also seen the Face of Dread on the Internet. And now the Face had a Name. And its name was Markos Moulitsas.

Brooks, in what reads like a parody or Orwell, called him a cultist. Markos - Kos - founder of the popular blog Daily Kos - is called a "Kossack cultist." His readers, 20 million monthly, are described as cult followers; insidious hordes. He says Tom DeLay is Markos's doppelganger, but that word implies anything nowadays to those poorly educated to their task. (I know. Brooks went to Yale. He tells you again and again in a book he wrote. He says that he is in the Upper Class now because he went to Yale. He really said something like that. I got the highest mark in the class. Can I be in the Upper Class? Dude, are you kidding? What planet, Janet?)

The blogs and the on-line world of independent journalism got its face two weeks ago at the Yearly Kos, a bloggers convention held by the Daily Kos, in Las Vegas. It was an event that determined, to misquote Ken Kesey, who would be on the bus and who would not be on the bus. That's why these reactionary nut jobs who have disgraced our Republic and caused such pain and sadness in the world and caused such misdirection and confusion at home, are freaking out. They are not on the bus.

Wes Clark is on the bus. Mark Warner is on the bus.

Hillary is not on the bus either, nor is John Kerry or Edwards.

Thrilled by my newspaper find, I went back to the crab shack the next day and got another newspaper. I read yesterday that Senator Clinton has hired a blogger because she is so not on the bus. (Earth to Hillary: you cannot hire a blogger. Bloggers grow spontaneously and organically as the flaura and fauna of a healthy Republic. A hired blogger stands out in the garden like a plastic Pink Flamingo.)

But this is what cuts deepest into Brooks' world view and future. The neocons and even the fair-minded Republicans have until now seen an easy ride ahead, even presented with the beyond-belief possibility of a Presidential Candidate like Bill Frist.

If the Democrats don't rid themselves of the Clinton Delusion, the Republicans will control the House, the Senate and Everything in the foreseeable future. And easy ride. But that, of course, presumes they run against Hillary. Now this. It could ruin everything.

Senator Clinton has a 0% approval rating in a recent Daily Kos poll.

The Daily Kos supports Democrats who actually appeal to real Americans - NASCAR Moms, not Soccer Moms; Iraq war veterans & people who go to church and people who live in places like Texas and Georgia and North Carolina, not Brooklyn Heights, Tribeca and Central Park West. The Kos crowd also heavily supported Vietnam veteran Jim Webb who is running for senator in Virginia against cowboy-boot wearing (in Virginia?) George Allen, the Bush sycophant, whose claim to fame is that his father was a football coach. Webb's recent primary victory struck terror in the hearts of the neocons. Allen has hired Mary Matalin, a long-time advisor to Dick Cheney. He's hired Chris Lacivita, the architect of the Swift Boat campaign that smeared John Kerry's war record. And he's hired Dick Wadhams, a man whose last race featured the despicable intimidation of Native American voters and campaign workers breaking the law.

The right wing of the Republican Party now has an enemy - the Daily Kos and the candidates who rank highest in its polls, like Warner, Clark and Russ Feingold.

Brooks is right to put DeLay and Moulitsas together in one regard. They are both Gatekeepers. But it is DeLay's fate to close a gate. He closes a gate which opened on a generation - Brooks' generation -- 20 years ago and descends in bitterness and acrimony today. It is Moulitsas's fate to open a new gate.

That is where the dread comes from. Markos is not the Face of Dread of an Internet abstraction made manifest. He brings in something much more terrifying. His is the face of a new generation, one which will find its way here in the Land of the Free for the next 20 or 30 years.

And if we ascend in grace and power and loving kindness in the world it will be because of his 20 million monthly readers, and millions more certain to follow. And if we yield, they too, will bear the burden.

Friday, June 23, 2006

You all.

As of tomorrow very early in the am the Quigleybirds are away for two weeks visiting kin in North Carolina & to the beach in NC. For anyone interested, on Monday or Tuesday I should have an eRadio interview appear at The Free Market News Network which kindly and generously continues to publish my essays. A written essay is coming up there as well on the World Cup which is also posted below.

Some thoughts on the Fourth Turning – 9/11, Katrina, Iraq – the Failure of Federalism:

(readers note: The Fourth Turning is a book by historians William Strauss and Neil Howe on the saeculum theory of history. The book describes a four-genertion pattern in post-war periods, the fourth generation being the generation which rises the culture out of the abyss and awakens a new historical period. These comments were sent to a forum which discusses Strauss and Howe's theory.)

The rise of the Daily Kos and blog journalism (“citizen journalists”) indicates a new generation rising to politics. Mainstream press (2nd and 3rd generation) has been in denial of its importance until this week. Daily Kos receives 20 million readers monthly, more than all political commentary magazines in history combined. Kos and the blog political culture are bringing in a new group which may be called “New Democrats” in opposition to “Old Democrats” which they look at as a traditional “political machine.” This represents a new generation with a distinct point of view, in opposition to Bush Republicans and in opposition to other Democrats. The mainstream press has Senator Clinton as the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in 2008, but as the LA Times reported last week she has a 0% rating at the Daily Kos. Recently Marcos Moulitsas, first among equals at Daily Kos, had an op-ed in the Washington Post identifying the old “Democratic establishment.” He identified Senator Clinton and John Kerry. New Democrats who consistently rate high in Kos polls are Mark Warner, Russ Feingold and Wesley Clark. Kathleen Sebelius, Democratic governor of Kansas, is also highly regarded in the blog culture. The recent Yearly Kos event last week in Los Angeles was a “Who’s Who” of New Democrats featuring Mark Warner and Wesley Clark. One of the keynote presenters was a young woman blogger, 15 years old. Yearly Kos was a watershed event which began to bring the group to mainstream influence.

If you look closely, the opinions on issues presented in Daily Kos often do not appear to diverge greatly from mainstream liberals and often they are identical. What is different is the call for authenticity and straightforwardness of character and a disregard for the “on the one hand/on the other hand” Democrats. This is an innate reaction to 9/11 and the failure of government after Katrina. This group has sharp dissident opinions but strongly supports American troops in the war on Iraq and regularly features Iraq veterans who are running for political office as Democrats. Jim Webb, a Vietnam veteran who once wrote a well-received novel about Vietnam (“Fields of Fire”) and who recently won a primary race in Virginia, was strongly supported by this group and he establishes the paradigm for the new politician. (Like Aragorn, he awakens the fight.) Likewise, Tammy Duckworth, an Army major who lost both legs in Iraq, running for office in Illinois.


Our current national scenario resembles the saeculum which preceded the last. Our country has been in a North/South paradigm for 400 years. We are changing to an East/West paradigm. But for now, division between Red and Blue states parallels contentions of the 1830s. Some writers, like political scientist Francis Fukuyama, have recently compared the Bush Presidency with the Jacksonian period, when the newly empowered Southern states to the west flaunted a new populism in the face of the Whigs in the Northeast. The analogy can be extended; the Jacksonians drove the northern Whigs to extremes just as the Democrats today are embracing issues which would have been considered esoteric just a few years ago; the Whig party in 1830 divided and formed the Republican Party just as the Democrats are dividing today; and in the 1830s the new movement ignored the mainstream press and started new forums, like The Liberator. Likewise, today, the blog culture completely ignores mainstream press, viewing it with suspicion (tool of “machine politics”) and going its own way.

The division today in the U.S. between Red states and Blue states is similar to the North/South contentions which arose in the 1830s (to coin a phrase, politics is war by other means). Richard Viguerie, an early organizer of the Christian Right, which led the Red state movement, said recently that the Christian Right will no longer support the President. But the CR is not going away. The CR has learned that politics cannot bring about what it wants. Its essential problem lies not with politics but with the nature of federalism; which federalism, Jefferson’s version or Hamilton’s? This has been at the core of contention since Washington joined Adams and Hamilton in opposition to Jefferson and Madison at Jay’s Treaty and was a root cause of the Civil War. Commentators on the Right have now proposed a Constitutional Convention. The CR is inherently Jeffersonian. The Christian Right could well abandon politics now and instead challenge federalism & Tom DeLay will lead the way. The new Kos generation is inherently Hamiltonian in its outlook. The new Kos generation will exacerbate this as its orientation in inherently liberal in a way that the Religious Right is not.

There is organic potential here for advancing internal division in the U.S., which is one of the 60th year (that would be this year) disaster scenarios suggested in the Strauss and Howe book. Katrina was a failure of federalism. So was the government response to 9/11 and the organization, conception and execution of the invasion of Iraq. Secession of northern states began to emerge as a political tool at the beginning of the war on Iraq. California, the Pacific Northwest and New England’s northern most states all developed regional strategies. These efforts were endorsed by the great ambassador George Kennan on his deathbed and Nation magazine called regionalism “one of the bold new ideas of the new century.” If the Democrat’s New Boss does no better than Bush, the net result could be an adoption of the Jeffersonian position and a regionalization of American culture.

But eventually we will leave the North/South paradigm behind and enter a new world of an American East/West paradigm – this will unite the world East and West and form a lasting pattern. It is the way of the new century & prelude to the millennium.

Primary Myth of the Period: Returning

The primary myth of our period is “returning to earth.” The popular “Survivor” TV series and all of its knock offs are “returning to earth” myths. The inventive TV show “Lost” is a “returning to earth” myth, even a Creation Myth (a parable of Awakening). In the late 1950s Swiss psychiatrist C.G. Jung wrote an essay about UFO dreams and popular culture and how these phenomena portended an awakening of the human spirit rising to the Universe. For 50 years thereafter most all pop culture was about space travel and the two great epics of the age, “Star Wars” and “Star Trek,” were of exploring the Universe. These encounters were fraught with anxiety and fear of the unknown but eventually union with the Universe was reached with movies like ‘E.T.” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” In the last few years people have been dreaming of returning to earth and even to the 12th century and the cave of the Earth Mother with the popularity of “The DaVinci Code,” Harry Potter and the Tolkien movies. Sci-fi today does not go to space. It goes into caves and to the core of the earth. “Lost” is just such a “returning to earth” story. We return to earth but are frightened and afraid as the earth has psychic potential with which we are unfamiliar. This is exactly like the encounters Jung described in his description of UFO dreams and in the pop culture of the 1950s. But this portends an earth age ahead, knowing the place for the first time. (For more, see “Returning” on Quigley in Exile.
World Cup – where is our home?

by Bernie Quigley – for The Free Market News Network, 6/23/06

I’ve been looking for a sign of a turning of the times to the World Cup in soccer. It forms kind of a graph of our changing relationship with the world and reflects a shift of American power in the world from 1946 to the present.

In post-war period, America initiated globalism in culture and economy, sending even to the tiniest enclaves in Ghana and Laos our avatars; Elvis, Cal Kline, Big Bird. But American baseball only jelled in Japan, our economic colony. With the World Cup in soccer, we have attempted to enter (reluctantly) into a condition initiated by others from the outside and one which preceded American dominance in the world.

The World Cup is probably a more authentic expression and barometer of globalism than the Olympics, which tends to expresses the official mind and well-intentions of governments. Two billion people watch the soccer World Cup and unlike Jamaican bob sledding, people actually play soccer all over the world. But here in the U.S. baseball, football, basketball and hockey are in the center of a soccer-playing world.

It forms a donut with the U.S. in the middle. It also forms a kind of world-mandala, as Rome did, where all roads lead, with the U.S. in the center. But by trying to win in soccer we attempt to enter the world or “territorialize” the world on the world’s terms rather than our own. This is unlike anything we have done regarding the rest of the world since 1946. We are not doing it well. The world is winning. The U.S. lost yesterday to Ghana.

Post-war we were first in the world and the economic world (China, Japan, England, Europe) was either in ruins or under the shadow of the Soviet Union. Since then the world has become re-animated and has risen economically (the donut) while the center of the donut (deficit spending U.S.) recedes to meet it, creating a kind of equilibrium. This year the U.S. press focused on the World Cup as an expression of globalism more relevant than the Olympics and it showed us something new.

I’ve been interested in the flags. Press reports tell us that German flags fly everywhere today in pride during this current World Cup, as Germany is now free of the stigma of the Second World War and German fascism. Germany is awakening as an ascending cultural force of Europe and increasingly, independent of U.S. influence. The election of a Bavarian Pope also begins to change European culture, returning European Catholic places – and Europe was once called Christendom - to the pre-World War I sensibility of an earlier prelate from whom the Pope took his name. We are getting a feeling, to paraphrase poet T.S. Eliot, of returning to the place from whence we came, perhaps to know the place for the first time.

We also get this sense of “returning” with a rash of new books and movies, like The DaVinci Code which brings us back to 15th and 14th century issues and contentions between Opus Dei types and Templar types. It is a fascinating phenomenon as virtually billions of people, most of whom are non-Catholics, are suddenly preoccupied with these issues. Templars are also featured in the (really good) movie Kingdom of Heaven and three weeks ago there were at least three books about the Knights Templar on the best-seller list.

The press reports that England has been flying everywhere the Flag of England during the soccer match. That is not the Union Jack, the imperial emblem which we are all familiar with. The Union Jack is strangely absent. The Flag of England is the St. George’s Cross, a white flag with only a red cross on it. The Union Jack is the symbol of British globalism. The Flag of England represents a sensibility sans Scotland, etc., tribal England rather than England as the nation-state we have known, and suggests a dismemberment of the British Isles. On the Euro continent, England recedes in influence and Germany ascends.

The symbol on the Flag of England is, incidentally, also the official symbol of the Knights Templar. Once again we are in a “returning” state of mind which precedes 1914 and even the 1600s and the rise of the Renaissance, trading Jedi Knights Yoda and Obi-Wan, our guides through the Celestial Heights from 1977 to 2005, for the Jedi ancestor who proceeded from the Cave of the Earth Mother in the 12th century, the Knights Templar.

We are returning, perhaps, home. This could be difficult for Americans. Since 1607 ours has always been an “outward moving” experience. As Walt Whitman put it, we were on a passage to India and to Sirius and Jupiter and beyond. How will we manage an “inward-moving” experience? Where is our home?
Where is our home?

- to the Fourth Turning forum 6/23/06

I’ve been looking as a sign of turning and as a graph of the changing relationship of American power in the world to the World Cup in soccer. In the post-war period, America initiated globalism in culture and economy (Elvis, Cal Kline, etc.) but American baseball only jelled in Japan, our economic colony. RE the World Cup in soccer, we have attempted to enter (reluctantly) into a condition initiated by others from the outside and one which preceded American dominance. The World Cup is probably a more authentic manifestation of global nature than the Olympics, which more expresses the official mind and well-intentions of governments. Two billion people watch the soccer World Cup event and unlike Jamaican bob sledding, people actually play soccer all over the world. But here in the U.S. baseball, football, basketball and hockey are in the center of a soccer-playing world. It forms a donut with the U.S. in the middle. It also forms a kind of world-mandala with the U.S. in the center (outside/inside, samsara/nirvana). By trying to win in soccer we attempt to enter the world or “territorialize” the world on the world’s terms rather than our own. This is unlike anything we have done RE the rest of the world since 1946 and we are not doing it well. The world is winning. Post-war we were first in the world and the economic world (China, Japan, England, Europe) was either in ruins or under the shadow of the Soviet Union. Since then the world has become re-animated and has risen economically (the donut) while the center of the donut (deficit spending U.S.) recedes to meet it, creating a kind of equilibrium. U.S. lost yesterday in the World Cup to Ghana. But the press focusing on the World Cup as an expression of globalism more relevant than the Olympics shows us something new. I’ve been concerned with the flags as I usually am: Press reports that German flags fly everywhere today in pride during this current World Cup, as Germany is now free of the stigma of the Second World War and German fascism. Germany is awakening as an ascending cultural force of Europe and increasingly, independent of U.S. influence. The election of a Bavarian Pope also begins to change Euro culture, bringing Catholic places to the pre-1914 sensibility of an earlier prelate from whom the pope took his name. Again, the sense of “returning” which comes with movies and books like “The DaVinci” Code,” and others, like Templar movie “Kingdom of Heaven” in place of space movies (two weeks back there were at least three books on the Templars on best-seller list). The press also reports that England has been flying everywhere the Flag of England during the World Cup. That is not the Union Jack, the imperial emblem which we are all familiar with. The Union Jack is absent. The Flag of England is the St. George’s Cross, a white flag with only a red cross on it. The Union Jack is (or was) the symbol of British globalism. The Flag of England represents a sensibility sans Scotland, etc., (the English tribe, rather than the English nation-state) and suggests a dismemberment of the British Isles. On the Euro continent, England recedes, Germany ascends. The symbol on the Flag of England is, incidentally, also the same official symbol of the Knights Templar. Once again we are entering a “returning” state of mind or consciousness which preceded 1914 and even 1600 and the rise of the Renaissance, and trading Jedi Knights Yoda and Obi-Wan (cultural guides, 1977-2005 thereabouts) for their Earth Mother counterpart of 600 years back, the Knights Templar. Returning, perhaps, home.

But this could be difficult for Americans. Since 1607 ours has always been an “outward moving” experience; as Walt Whitman put it, a passage to India and to Sirius and Jupiter and beyond. How will we manage an “inward-moving” experience? Where is our home?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Third Party Coming

by Bernie Quigley, for The Free Market News Network, 6/19/06

I ran into something quite remarkable the other day. A column from Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan suggesting a third party is about to hatch in our country. “Something's happening,” she wrote. “I have a feeling we're at some new beginning, that a big breakup's coming, and that though it isn't and will not be immediately apparent, we'll someday look back on this era as the time when a shift began.”

All her adult life, she said, people have been saying that the two-party system is ending, that the Democrats' and Republicans' control of political power in America is winding down. According to the traditional critique, the two parties no longer offer the people the choice they want and deserve. Sometimes it's said they are too much alike--Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Sometimes it's said they're too polarizing--too red and too blue for a nation in which many see things through purple glasses.

What is interesting is that I found this article reprinted at a discussion forum of a political web site established by historians William Strauss and Neil Howe, authors of the book The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy. Just after the millennium, the authors say, America will enter a new era that will culminate with a crisis comparable to the American Revolution, the Civil War, the Great Depression, and World War II. The survival of the nation will almost certainly be at stake.

Then at the same time I found another story about Mike Bloomberg, the highly regarded Republican major of New York, who might be thinking about running for President.

Bloomberg said he was too liberal for Republicans and too conservative for Democrats. Then he added, "Running as an independent candidate would be a daunting thing.”

When Alan Greenspan left office recently he made a prediction that a third party candidate would raise a challenge in either the 2008 race or the 2012 race. Now two other very prominent Republicans are making the same suggestion.

It is high time, and it may be destiny. The American political condition is rotten to the core and so are the mainstream public air waves. We have been six years in crisis and things seem about to get worse. The Democrats blame the Republicans for our recent catastrophes but for the main, they offer little more than finger pointing and biting criticism. Maybe it is not the Republicans fault. Maybe what we are seeing is an organic failure of the political process and a complete meltdown of Alexander Hamilton’s vision of federalism. Intelligence preceding 9/11 was a failure of federalism. The response to 9/11 was a failure of federalism. The Katrina recovery was a failure of federalism. The conception and execution of the invasion of Iraq was a complete failure of federalism.

In this environment, if the economy turns, the ship of state could entirely break up on the rocks.

These failures have occurred because of people hired to serve and give advice in government and in secondary establishments like the press. We have reached a level of incompetence not seen in government in our time.

Pundits, some of whom were the original neocon enablers, have recently compared the Bush Presidency with the Jacksonian period, when the newly empowered Southern states to the west flaunted a new populism in the face of the Whigs in the Northeast, driving them to extremes. It is an appropriate analogy. And it should be remembered that the Whigs, who bore a close similarity to the passive and effete mainstream Democrats today, were driven out of business. But in the 19th century a new party rose like a Phoenix. We see that potential today as well.

That challenge could come from the division of an existing party as it did back in the mid 1800s with the rise of Lincoln and the Republicans, and there is evidence that new directions and strengths are building now in the Democratic Party. The Democrats are showing new potential with candidates like Virginia governor Mark Warner, General Wesley Clark, and Jim Webb, who recently won a primary race for Senate in Virginia. But none of these figures are conventional Democrats. Webb was a Republican and served as Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan and only recently turned back to the Democrats in opposition to the incompetence and corruption of the Republican Party. General Clark likewise only entered politics in opposition to the crisis in government brought about by the Bush Administration’s incursion into Iraq. And Mark Warner is described in a prominent magazine article as the antithesis of his party; the anti-Hillary.

But will this new path gel with the Democrats? Daily we hear the most random ideas from them and a constant falling back on the old ways. And did somebody say Joe Biden? Didn’t I already not vote for him when he wanted to run for President 20 years ago? The Democrats fate could well be that of the Whigs.

A few weeks ago Dick Meyer of CBS News’ online journal outlined a nuts and bolts strategy that Bloomberg, running with General Anthony Zinni, could use to capture the White House and deliver a score of Senate seats in a new Independent Party. Support for these ideas, he said, as judged by e-mails, clicks and blog links, was overwhelming. He recently proposed a bi-partisan cabinet for a new Independent Party featuring Warren Rudman as Attorney General, Sam Nunn as Director of National Intelligence, Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense and Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, as Secretary of State.

“The Perot experience seemed to put an end to third-party fever,” wrote Noonan. “But I think it's coming back, I think it's going to grow, and I think the force behind it is unique in our history. This week there was a small boomlet of talk about a new internet entity called Unity '08--a small collection of party veterans including moderate Democrats (former Carter aide Hamilton Jordan) and liberal-leaning Republicans (former Ford hand Doug Bailey) trying to join together with college students and broaden the options in the 2008 election. In terms of composition, Unity seems like the Concord Coalition, the bipartisan group (Warren Rudman, Bob Kerrey) that warns against high spending and deficits.”

Unity, says Noonan, seem to address America's growing desire for more political options.

A third party today will only be successful if it galvanizes a new generation in American politics. That is what the Strauss and Howe book is about; ideas bonding generationally, forming an engine of history. We are at the turn of the millennium, and the Millennial Generation will bring us forward.

There is new evidence of that generation rising in the blog culture. As in the 1830s, they form their own news outlets and go their own way, abandoning in total a mainstream press mired in mediocrity, cronyism and corruption. Just this past week at the Yearly Kos event in Los Vegas, this generation reached a milestone. The Yearly Kos was a Who’s Who of new Democrats, featuring Warner and Clark, and entirely leaving behind the “machine politicians,” most notably, John Kerry and Senator Clinton (who, in spite of her $20 million bank roll from mainstream Democrats, gets a 0% approval rating in a recent Daily Kos survey).

The Strauss and Howe’s theory is wise and based on common sense. The old form their own orthodoxies and standard practices which become fixed in outmoded systems and invariably collapse. A new generation rises from the ruins and brings in a new civilization.

After Yearly Kos, Markos Moulitsas, first among equals at the Daily Kos, is suddenly sought out. He is quoted now in political perspective articles and appearing on talk shows. Recently, he has been traveling the country pitching his book, Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics. He says he will write another book now about Libertarian Democrats.

What is a Libertarian Democrat? It sounds like a new political party.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Paradigm Change

Jim Webb's great victory in Virginia brings a paradigm change to the Democrats. The race between Webb, the independent Democrat and Miller, the machine politician, is a microcosm of the awakening century. The Democrats are indeed divided, as a snake divides when it sheds its skin. Webb will bring a new populist Democratic conviction in November, bringing in a new generation and a new outlook. This is also the first important race where influence of bloggers was pitted against cash from Establishment Democrats and the bloggers took the day. Jim Webb is Aragorn, bringing the fight forward and restoring integrity and authenticity to the Democrats and to the country.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Born in Texas

by Bernie Quigley

- for WesPAC, 6/12/06

“I am delighted to be here with you this evening because after listening to George Bush all these years, I figured you needed to know what a real Texas accent sounds like.” Ann Richards

Could be that we are all destined to be born again as Americans in Texas. Could be that something will happen in Texas to make us different kinds of individuals in the world and a different kind of country. Something from which there will be no going back. Could be that destiny awaits us in Texas. The great visionary Salvador Dali saw a cosmic man-child, Geopoliticus Child, born there in the desert; hatched there, hatched out of a world egg. A new man for a new millennium beholding to none who came before.

Our primary myths arise from Texas. New England was much the same as England after the Revolution. And even when my grandparents arrived here, the mills in Manchester, New Hampshire, were identical to those in Manchester, England, and so were the people and so was the countryside. But Texas is different. Right away you notice it: The sky is big, the desert flat and arid. It does something to you.

The Alamo brings us a more American myth. We began to rise then in conflict with one another in the Mexican War and in the great civil conflict which followed on its heels. And in Texas, lost, gunned down and left for dead, we met our spirit friend. He nurtured us back to life and health. And when we were born again by the Indian healer’s hand we were finally Americans with no thoughts remaining of our European prehistory. Chief Joseph said this spirit would always walk among us, and when we least expected it, it would be there. Like at Appomattox, when Robert E. Lee was signing the surrender. He noticed an Indian present, Col. Ely Parker, a Seneca who worked for Ulysses S. Grant. Lee said, “I’m glad to see there is at least one real American here.” The Indian said, “We’re all Americans here.” Europeans have not such friends. No one does.

Six years into the new millennium we sense an awakening. It is appropriate that we sense it in Texas where seven Iraq war veterans are seeking office as Democratic candidates and are rising up in a new beginning, like the six mythical Texas Rangers left for dead in the desert, rising from the dead and born again. It is appropriate as well that General Wesley Clark is speaking on their behalf and on behalf of all veterans and all Democrats in Texas. We are at a cultural turning. The seven Texas Fighting Dems spearhead a new Democratic movement forming across the country. It is bringing a change to the political culture like I have not seen since I watched the Friday Night Fights on TV with my father. Since they asked us weekly on the TV, “Who is that Masked Man?”

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 I 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, the seven Texans and Iraq war veterans like Eric Massa of New York and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois were bringing the same bright and positive charge to the table. This will awaken in Texas.

It is a trifecta week: three major and formative events are at hand - Jim Webb, the Texas Democratic Convention and the Yearly Kos. Jim Webb, running for Senate in Virginia faces a primary on June 13. He is possibly the most effective public speaker since Malcolm X. He will eat them alive. He will hunt them down and leave them in a pile of spit and bones on the floor. But what I like about him is that his American journey is in one important way the characteristic American journey of our times. It is a path which begins with the Democrats and ends with the Democrats. 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 said in a column about him in The 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.”

This is the pattern of many who are returning to the Democratic Party. Born Democrat in Northern cities and Southern towns, they left the party during the Reagan administration. Now they are coming back. My thought is that they were right to leave then and now they are right to come back. Now is the time for a new turning of the political culture.

The Democratic Party was once the party of the real people of this country. The people who grew soybean and cotton, the people who gathered for barbecue at the Legion Hall, who went to church, listened to Johnny Cash, and served without rumination or discussion when they were called to duty.

Here in Boston, New York and New England, Democrats changed our world, turning Irish, Polish, Jewish, German and other immigrants into full-blown Americans, proud, hard-working and unpretentious. They were people like my father who bought the Boston tabloid every evening on the way home from the factory for the single purpose of checking the Treasury balance – not that they were heavily invested in T bills, but because every day each factory worker would bet on the last three numbers in a factory pool. They sent their champion to Washington in 1961. The very last of these public figures from my old neighborhood, Massachusetts representative Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neil and Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Mary McGrory, have slipped into history’s shadow lands.

Now they are coming back. Jim Webb is one of them and so is Wesley Clark. Webb is an astonishing individual, well known to all of us who were awake during the war in Vietnam. He is a warrior to the bone who wrote one of the most important novels about Vietnam, Fields of Fire. In his amazing life’s journey he was also Secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration, but quit his post when they cut the Navy’s funds. He is a man who could sit at the table with Tip O’Neil or John F. Kennedy. And every Fighting Dem is a profile in courage and can do the same. Webb and General Clark speak on their behalf.

From Webb’s political writings, it seems clear that the Dungeon & Dragons Warriors of the White House Cabal which engineered the 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?”

We heard similar words from General Clark during the New Hampshire primary, while most other Democrats seeking high office supported the neocon agenda. Now they have flipped and are following General Clark’s initiative. But we have lived in crisis for six years now. Corruption in policy making pervades the Administration and decay has reached the base of the spine as even the public air waves are dominated by the likes of Bill O’Reilly, Charles Krauthammer and that tall, blond number who dresses like a transvestite. Americans are beginning to seek authenticity. And that is bringing a fork in the road.

Last week Russ Feingold, Senator from Wisconsin, who was one of the very few Senators to oppose the invasion of Iraq, spoke to us here in New Hampshire and put much of the blame on the Democrats. We have challenged corrupt government only with weakness and timidity. We have sustained mediocrity and corruption by governing passively; hoping it would pass soon and then our turn would come. But with this approach it does not pass; it sustains and builds itself to higher crescendo. As Thomas Mann chronicled the moral decline of the German middle class in his great writings, an attitude of passivity, smugness, affectation and cultural retreat was the hallmark of the rise of fascism in Europe. We in the Land of the Free are following sheepishly in the same dynamic pattern.

Feingold speaks with clarity and authenticity. His integrity has brought him to the top of the youthful and dynamic movement which vents its spirit daily at the Daily Kos and the other blogs.

My thought is that this is the most important of generational movements in America today. It is the fourth post-war generation, the group historians William Strauss and Neil Howe say will begin America’s millennial epic. This generation shares none of the timidity of those on the one hand/on the other hand Democrats. They will run the country for the next 30 years.

Recently, Markos Moulitsas of the Daily Kos, who coined the phrase Fighting Dems and has heavily promoted them on his blog, suggested a fork in the road for Democrats. He wrote in an op-ed article in The Washington Post saying that there are now emerging 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). General Clark also consistency scores high in Daily Kos polls and has since he entered Presidential politics in the last election. 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.

The Yearly Kos, uniting the netroots this week in Las Vegas, is a Who’s Who of new Democrats, and although Markos does not endorse candidates at the conference, star power participants who are candidates or possibly will be candidates for public office include Mark Warner, Wes Clark and Eric Massa.

This could be a watershed event and such a turn in the culture comes none too soon. Pundits, some of whom were the original neocon enablers, have recently compared the Bush Presidency with the Jacksonian period, when the newly empowered Southern states to the west flaunted a new populism in the face of the Whigs in the Northeast, driving them to extremes. I think it is an appropriate analogy. And it should be remembered that the Whigs, who bore a close similarity to the passive and effete wing of the Democrats today, were driven out of business. But from there a new party rose like a Phoenix. We see that potential today as well. Recently, Alan Greenspan has said that he expects a third party challenge in either the 2008 or the 2012 race as both mainstream parties are at their extreme, leaving the wide middle open to new cultivation. But that challenge could come instead from the division of an existing party as it did back in the mid 1800s with the rise of Lincoln and the Republicans, and there is increasing evidence that it is building now in the Democratic Party.

It should be recalled that when the country desired to be born again in the 1830s it could not rely on the mainstream press, which had succumbed to the same passivity, corruption and ambivalence as the political culture as a whole. So William Lloyd Garrison began a new press, The Liberator, in 1831, and the Gray Champion and Yankee Crusader, Theodore Parker, mounted the podium at Boston’s Faneuil Hall, where his fiery addresses would find their way into Lincoln speeches.

Nature will always find its way in a country with a temperament as free and independent as ours, and this time it is the independent journals and the blogs rising organically into the political culture. Markos is their William Lloyd Garrison.

These events come in a good week. Al-Zarqawi is dead and with Henry W. Paulson heading to the Treasury Department, there are clear suggestions that Rove and his folkloric crew of unenlightened amateurs have been sidelined and the Bush Administration is making attempts to rejoin the world.

But after six years when every utopian, millenialist, religious zealot and political cultist was drawn to his aura, we have to wonder. With what strengths do we approach the new century having let go the reins of the world for six years? When President Jimmy Carter went back to the farm after four years, which had been left in the hands of brother Billy, he found there was little left. Paulson will need strong kung fu to reach over the transom and grab hold the dollar before it sinks into oblivion.

The sudden appearance of competent managers from a mainstream sensibility like Goldman Sachs and the dispersal of ideologues are good for the country. But it may not be good for the President. As he, like myself and 40 million others who rose together in a wave out of WW II, turns 60 in the next few weeks. He has always seemed to dislike his own generation and sometimes to despise it. Indeed, he strangely seems to have no real friends his own age. And he was clearly chosen by an older generation to oppose his own and to do the impossible – to form an alternative path to the inevitable destiny of one generation following the next; to hold back time. The recent suggestion of competence in the White House reveals the able hand of James A. Baker, administrator of extraordinary competence in the Reagan Administration and the Bush family fixer. As the President turns 60, once again, the reins have been taken from him by his family. He cannot feel good about his work in the world to date at a birthday which signals completion and returning. And that cannot be good for the country.

I am not one of the people who hate the President. I have always shared the values and the family culture of the Bushes. And as one born in New England, which often seems hindered in its progress by a wistful yearning for the Old World of England and the Continent, what I like about the Bushes is that they continued their American journey and moved to Texas. Because sometime maybe 30 years after watching the Lone Ranger with my father, I somehow came to understand why he wore a mask. The Texas lawman was left for dead in the desert and was brought back to life by an Indian healer. But he had no memory of his own history; no memory of Boston, England, France, Poland, Russia, Italy or Ireland. He was born again; born American and he had only the Indian to guide him. He had nothing else and was alone in the desert. He was new in the world and free. Free for the first time. We are the Masked Man, our identity incomplete. But free for the first time, born in Texas.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Quigley has an eRadio interview at The Free Market News Network

For you all interested, on Monday, 6/5/06, I should have an eRadio interview posted on The Free Market News Network which kindly publishes my essays. I talk about England's downward spiral as a nation state ("America's Gurkhas"), Fightin' Al Gore's misbegotten, misconceived and imperial vision (invasion of the Holy Roman Empire - Are we ready to take on the Russkie?), the June 13 Yearly Kos as a watershed event for the New Democrats, and thoughts on Fighting Dems, Mark Warner and Wesley Clark. - Quigley

"A policy era of historic proportions."

For fun, here is an old essay I published on August 9, 1997 when Al Gore was Vice President. It came out in The Herald-Sun in Durham, NC, and is about NATO's expansion into Holy Roman Empire, which Gore championed. Essay was titled, "Helms May Carry Peace Mantle on Issue of NATO Expansion." How in the world can China be asked to restore freedom in Tibet when the moment the Soviets drop the curtain in Romania and Bulgania the Americans step in, nukes and all, armed to the teeth?


A few months back, the newspapers published a picture of Jesse Helms at a dinner of some kind, leaning over and conferring with the Dalai Lama. They looked like a couple of old pols from the good old days of the political machine, like-minded and agreeable, conferring on patronage or intra-party politics. (Reader: Tibetan Buddhists remember their friends from when they were alone in the world: The Three Celestial Ones back then were Helms, Claiborne Pell and Pat Moynihan.)

Readers nationwide must have wondered what the two men had in common besides a hatred of the Reds who conquered and occupied Tibet. I know I did. I didn't know Helms was so fond of Foreigners.

Although I have long admired the Dalai Lama for the peaceful approach to political problems that won him the Nobel Peace Prize, I have never quite thought of Helms as a peace monger. If anything, Bill Clinton has been tagged as the peacenik, at least by association, and in his youth he actively supported the peace movement during the war in Vietnam.

Now we have Helms sitting side by side with a Tibetan lama who more than anyone living in the world today deserves to be called a Man of Peace.

Perhaps it is not just political expediency. And perhaps something of the man of peace is beginning to rub off on the North Carolina senator. Recently Helms, along with 19 of his Senate colleagues, sent a letter to President Clinton asking him to clarify his posiiton on his proposal to expand the NATO alliance to include Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary.

The senators wrote that they did not want to prejudge the merits of any potential new member of NATO or to express support or opposition to Clinton's proposal. They wanted to preview those matters that will be most contentious as the Senate debates NATO expansion.

The considerate tone of the letter and the thoughtful nature of the questions approach what the Dalai Lama and his fellow Tibetan Buddhists would call "mindful." This time, when the question is asked, "Who is on the side of peace?" we may be looking at Helms and company.

Consider the contents of the senators' letter. The first question it asks is, What is the military threat that NATO expansion is desinged to counter? It refers to the Communist threat to Europe at the end of World War II, when Europe was weak and beaten.

Now the Communist threat is gone, the Russians have established rudimentary democratic measures and embraced Western economic policies. (Reader: This in 1997. Alors, how times change.) Traditionally, when a war is over, the winning side demobilizes and sends its soldiers home to enjoy the peace and the war tax is repealed. Why is NATO expanding?

The letter states that under the new NATO agreement U.S. troops will be committed to respond to conflicts involving any of the new member nations of Central Europe. It asks, "Is a border involving one or several of the new NATO members so vital a national security threat to the U.S. that we are willing to risk American lives?"

The letter points out that the nations of Central Europe have a long history of border, ethnic, nationalist and religious disputes: "What would be the impact of extending coverage of the U.S. nuclear umbrella to them?" the letter states.

Another good question as it brings into the picture the terrible slaughter that has recently ended in Bosnia with a tenuous peace agreement.

(skip) . . .

And remember Quemoy and Matsu, the tiny islands in the Far East that China began shelling in a territorial dispute in 1954? The State Department and the military chiefs recommended to President Eisenhower the aggressive use of atom bombs against China to settle the "horrible business." Is Bill Clinton (and Vice President Al Gore, who vigourously endorsed this policy) recommending the same kind of strategy in Eastern Europe? Does a new NATO agreement damand such a strategy?

Finally, the senators ask if we are not creating an incentive for Moscow to withhold its support for further strategic arms reduction and perhaps even develop an early first use nuclear policy. At the moment, the letter points out, the current leadership inRussia is becoming reconcield to the likelihood of NATO expansion. But what of tomorrow's Russian leaders? (Reader: Again . . . how times change. Russian military spending will reach 800 million next year, growing in direct proportion to the decline of democratic sensibilities.)

These are all good questions. NATO is, after all, a war machine. In fact, it is a World War Machine which guarantees that any squabble among any of the traditionally contentious European and Central European peoples immediately escalates into a global conflict. By expanding NATO and arming its new members "to the teeth" as German Chancellor Helmut Kohl put it . . . advances the possibility of conflict.

Has the karma wheel turned, making Clinton (and Gore) - the peace advocate of the 1960s - and his foreign policy establishment the insidious aggressor and the instigator of war? It wouldn't be the first time such a turnaround has come about.

Perhaps the greatest was the change from Gen. Eisenhower to President Eisenhower. When the greatest general since Grant and Lee, the man who won the war against German fascism, left the presidency, he called the country to vigilance.

In the councils of government we should guard, said Eisenhower, against acquisition of unwarranted influence, "whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex." The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist, he said.

Take nother for granted, Eisenhower warned in his farewell address to the nation. It is perhaps fitting that Susan Eisenhower, his granddaughter, calling the policy "a policy error of historic proportions" is leading the fight against NATO expansion.