Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Cowbirds, Clintons & Mike Bloomberg

by Bernie Quigley for The Free Market News Network, 3/6/07 (cowbird photo copyright by Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART)

Up here in the bush, at this time of winter, it gets difficult to stir, so the local papers try to get us in a spring state of mind. Something beyond sugaring, which makes many of us tired to think about. (I think it is a bear thing: I have a hard time getting out until after the ground is thawed and after a few years, it becomes a natural cycle, as it is with the bears.)

They give us plenty of articles on birds, seedlings and what not. The ground is still frozen and it is ten below right now and there are three feet of snow on the ground. But it helps.

We had a good one this morning about cowbirds. Nasty devils. They leave their eggs in other birds’ nests and then the other birds raise the baby cowbirds.

Youth Wants to Know: “Why don’t the hosts just toss the strange eggs out?”

AP science writer tells us that researchers seem to have an answer now – “ . . . if the host birds reject the strange eggs, the cowbirds come back and trash the place.”

They call this “Mafia behavior.”

“It’s the female cowbirds who are running the mafia racket at our study site,” said Jeffrey P. Hoover of Florida Museum of Natural History and the Illinois Natural History Survey.

“Our study shows many of them returned and ransacked the nest when we removed the parasitic egg,” he explained.

Good to know, and an entertaining read. But all I could think about when I read it was the Clintons, who crowd the nest in this most ridiculous Presidential Race since before the war and perhaps the most tragic. And it is the rank and file Democrats themselves who have enabled this, and nobody else is to blame. A year past I was writing about Iraq war veterans running for Congress as Democrats and forced to drop out of the race because the major fundraisers were already raising money for Hillary. But it is a long-conditioned tragedy that has been coming on since the Democrats first went Lace Curtain in the early ‘90s with the Clintons and the Democratic Leadership Council.

This is panic politics we are seeing today in the Democratic race and only novelty candidates are coming forth. NYTs David Brooks called it "American Idol/Celebrity Deathmarch." It is honed and orchestrated by and for MSM and armies of political consultants. (Not what most of us in the northern towns consider real work in New Hampshire.) It could be deadly TV by next year.

It is a kind of general hysteria. The best and the brightest have already dropped out. First Mark Warner, possibly the most competent Governor in Virginia’s history in the modern era, and more recently, Tom Vilsack, another competent governor with a great, responsible record, a moral heart and heartland cache. But no money, as he said.

It’s all about celebrity.

There is great angst on the web today which appears to be coming from the young ‘uns in particular. It is a pent up anxiety and an urgent need, calling on Wesley Clark to enter or declare one way or another.

But Clark can't enter in this realm. He’s a First Tier candidate. The other two First Tier candidates have already dropped out.

There are no "first tier candidates" like that in this race - those running now are all second and even third tier.

But it is possible that this could take a major structural turn by summer.

Clark has growing influence in Congress and is a favorite of the new generation rising today. He is almost building a new party within the old party. And so is Jim Webb, the new Senator from Virginia. That is, it is not so much that they are building a new attitude and new policies; it is just coalescing around them. I know this will go forth and replace the old Democratic sensibility. The question is when.

We could see a sea change and the rise of dark horses. The leading candidates in the American Idol roll call up today could be completely spent by April. I don't see that any of them are prepared to be President as Warner, Clark, Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, Ed Rendell of PA, Mike Easley of NC and John Lynch of New Hampshire (and many other Democrats) are.

But the Democrat rank and file seems strangely disinterested in people who bring excellence and competence to their tasks and contribute management abilities to the Democratic Party. Instead, the Democrats seem prepared to hire Bain & Co. – Mitt Romney’s old company – and Goldman Sacks to run the place on the random chance that one of them ever gets elected again.

But this is not Democracy, and a republican form of government can not long exist with such a low threshold of political integrity and dialog. The rigorous will to self-government appears to be yielding instead to a feeling or a sensibility. This in Monarchy. The Democrat’s rank and file don’t want a President. They want a Queen.

Perhaps we have come to the end of things with the Democrats.

Mike Bloomberg of New York has to be asking that same question. He has said all along that if the Presidential Race descends into nonsense, as he predicted it might, he would put up a half billion of his own cash to enter.

He told an audience at Harvard this week that he isn’t running. But in a Newsweek article, he also says it depends who the other candidates are. He has said that all along.

From Newsweek, March 12, 2007, borrowed from Donklephant: ‘Because the primary process is so front-loaded this cycle, the winners will be known in early February, leaving nine months until the election for voters to get antsy. “He won’t say anything until March of next year,” says a former aide privy to the early discussions who didn’t want to be named talking about them. “The guiding philosophy is who the Democratic and Republican nominees are, and the mood of the country once they know who those two people are.”’

Good for the country. Bad for the Democrats.

I agree with Brooks that this race is a dreary challenge to American imagination and character, and with George Will who wrote this past Sunday that the Democrats are tired of Billary.

But I also think this: All these Democrats in the race today are post-seasonal. Their time is past. Hollywood and advertising knows when to ditch. Their influence on this lot is extraordinary and they could well ditch the whole lot. I felt that David Geffen, one of Dreamworks’ most influential Hollywood Three, was honorably moving in that direction a few weeks back when he publicly criticized the Clintons. It is easy to make fun of Hollywood, but I felt Geffen was acting on a patriotic instinct and out of actual concern for the fate of the country.

It has been said that the “Survivor” TV shows and the great contemporary epic “Lost” are about coming back to earth. They are “returning to earth” myths for a country that has been for a long time Lost in Space. Long term it is a good omen. But it requires new people, not old reruns. And the poet past his time doesn’t yield easily to the good night. Nor does the politician, whose light has dwindled. Instead, s/he rages, rages, at the dying of the light.

Good words from Dylan Thomas (sort of), but his actual last words should be remembered as well, just as he departed into the dying of the light. Folklore has it (at least) that he said to the bartender at the White Horse Tavern off Hudson St. in NY: “I believe that’s a new record,” after downing 21 shots of whisky. Then he went outside and dropped dead.

So this could portend a bad ending as well for the Democrats if not for the cowbirds.

Another fawning article today on Senator Clinton, front page of the NYTs, “reintroducing herself to the American people” and full of big smiles (as when she is tightly cocooned among her own kind) in Berlin, New Hampshire. It brings to mind the controlled press and the convergence of press and policy makers in the dying light of the last days of the Politburo.

“I’m Hillary Clinton, and I’m running for president,” she says at campaign appearances. Is that Barbra Streisand? Like from that first child-Barbra thing “My Name is Barbra” which was pretty good as I recall, from way back in the Sixties? (Did somebody say, “. . . from The Sixties?”)

From today’s NYTs: ‘“Hillary, over here, over here,” called out a young woman from the mob that formed outside the Berlin Town Hall when Mrs. Clinton, Democrat of New York, arrived for a “conversation,” in the parlance of the made-to-order intimacy of her presidential campaign. “Can you sign my Hillary sign, please?” the woman asked.’

Ask yourself: Does that sound to you like New Hampshire? No? But maybe you have a caricatured picture of New Hampshire as a bunch of unshaved, Kodiak-spitting, red-neck bikers in wool shirts and Sorel snowpacs on snow machines, who see themselves institutionally as “not Vermont.” Live free or die, don’t you know. That would probably be closer to reality.

And this: ‘After each presentation, Mrs. Clinton engages in a frenzy of 20-second conversations with the rhythmic efficiency of an assembly line.

‘“What kind of solar panels do you use?” she asked a woman in Berlin, a small city in the mountains of northern New Hampshire. “And do you sell to the grid?” Then she moved to the next person.’

Wow. They’re selling to the grid over in Berlin. That’s very progressive and way deconstructivist. Just a very few years back (like well into my lifetime) two towns over from Berlin the factory manager managed to rally the workers as an armed militia with a plan to take the bridge if communists tried to invade from Vermont. Turn on Channel 7, local access TV, when you visit. They’re still here.

Doesn’t this sound more like Mirabella Magazine than the cold, gnarly hills of northern New Hampshire, where alcoholic consumption is said to be the highest in the nation and where most people scrape for a living doing odd jobs and part-time work for the honor of living here?

Burt, what kind of solar panels you all been using these days in the trailer park? Selling to the grid? Maybe you can barter for some Bondo to fill those holes in your truck.

Take a look at the map. Berlin, New Hampshire: It is about ten miles north of Wildcat, an eastern front of the White Mountains; of breathtaking beauty; considered to be one of the most sought-after pieces of real estate this side of the Mississippi. Berlin is a great little town. Especially if you happen to be from Brooklyn Heights or the Upper West Side. You’re likely to see lots of people you know there, just like you would in Bennington or Burlington, Vermont, or Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Hip people too, like the urban homesteaders who gentrified places like Park Slope, in Brooklyn and South St. in Philly, but a whole lot richer. It is one of the “new places” undergoing colonization by yuppies who have hooked up to a trust fund and want to go skiing for the rest of their lives. (They come here to “reinvent” themselves after they have “deconstructed” themselves but they pretty much seem the same to us.)

Hillary might try a conversation with actual hill people thereabouts who were born up here and didn’t attend St. Paul’s or Exeter. I brought it up with my barber last week, who tends toward Harleys, Sweet Hogs and NASCAR more so than the elegant, Sherpa-hatted Wildcat crowd.

“In Mrs. Clinton’s campaign now,” says the NYTs article, “her operative conceit is ‘“the conversation.”’ Would Bob like to share in conversation with Hillary?

It brought gruff undertones of polite laughter, which rippled through the entire barber shop: It is the New Hampshire red neck way of quietly complaining, “We live in the world but are not of it.”