Saturday, March 31, 2007

Why We Will Invade Iran


by Bernie Quigley - Daily Kos diary 3/31/07

Revenge is the secret and unspoken motivator in warfare. Beneath Sun Tzu, beneath Clausewitz, there it the driving and motivating press to restore human equilibrium after a disturbance has occurred in the force: Revenge will be in equal and opposite counterforce to the insult which has disturbed it.

In one of the greatest war movies ever, Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai,” the master director makes this point. After the Samurai have completed the fighting, a village chief comes forward to open a peace conference. But something has to be done first: An old peasant woman’s innocent grandchild has been killed in the fighting and this has to be settled first. The prisoner of war who killed him is brought forth and constrained in the village center. The village chief parts the crowd and the old woman comes forth to beat him to death with a hoe. The two tribes have found equilibrium. A peace conference can go forward now.

Every war has its price which must be paid before equilibrium can be reached and peace talks can begin. The price of Southern secession was the burning of Atlanta; the price of Custer’s death at Little Big Horn was the massacre at Wounded Knee; the price of Pearl Harbor was Hiroshima.

Baghdad has paid the price for 9/11 even through the Iraqis did not do the task. It’s irrelevant to revenge. Neither did the women and children who died at Wounded Knee do the task. Saddam Hussein has been avenged for his hubris and rhetoric in other regions. That satisfied the village. In my old town in the hills of North Carolina (one town over from where “Mayberry, RFD” was filmed) after the capture of Saddam someone photoshopped a picture of Barney Fife in a squad car with a bearded Saddam as prisoner in the back seat.

But like the final detail before the peace conference in Kurosawa’s masterpiece, there is still one detail to take care of. The Ayatollah Khomeini and the taking of 63 American hostages by Iranian students on November 4, 1979. This has not yet been avenged.

The Ayatollah triggered Ronald Reagan’s ride to power and changed American culture. The taking of the hostages began the action and passion of the third generation of post-war politics. The taking of hostages split liberal America in half and the one half went over to Reagan almost overnight. It split families and friends. I have never talked to half of my friends since (and I married into the new friends I made).

But this action, which Jimmy Carter said gave him “the worst year of my life” has never been avenged. Equilibrium will not be found in the Middle East until it is.

That is why those big ships are circling in the Gulf. That’s why the Saudis, our allies in the region, have suddenly split. That’s why the shy Congress of Peeps turns a blind eye and the milquetoast Democrats who seek the Presidency today are silent on the rapidly approaching invasion of Iran. In one way or another they are all coat tailers of the Reagan period as well and when the period ends, so will their careers end.

Now this story will end as it began in 1979, in Iran.

Only Wes Clark speaks up. Only Jim Webb.

Revenge is one of the most primal factors in historical and human activity. Most of us will forget about Iraq and Iran after the Ayatollah moment is brought into equilibrium. As the whites forgot about Wounded Knee and the North forgot about the barbaric sacking of Atlanta. Most of us will move on and a new political generation will arise, probably with Webb and Clark at the helm.

But revenge is long memory. It does not forget. And those avenged never forget.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Mike Bloomberg’s Third Party Run

by Bernie Quigley for The Free Market News Network on 3/29/2007

Several days ago, The Washington Post had a long front-page article about Mike Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City, considering a run for President as a third party candidate in ‘08. That Bloomberg is considering this is old news. What is new is that MSM is reaching toward him now, bored perhaps with the current line up of candidates.

Today, in The New York Sun, there is an article about Bloomberg suddenly taking a position on the war in Iraq; a position in direct opposition to Senator Hillary Clinton’s. In the wake of the recent Post article, it appears that Bloomberg is stepping forth into the public arena, perhaps as a Presidential candidate in ’08.

As Jill Gardiner writes in the Sun article, Bloomberg is inserting himself into the central debate of the 2008 Presidential Campaign, casting the legislation Democrats are backing in Congress to set a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq as irresponsible.

From the beginning, Hillary Clinton has supported the war on Iraq as forcefully as George W. Bush and Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman, but she is now shifting her position to support the Democratic-sponsored legislation that would start a withdrawal of troops in the next four months, with a goal of having all troops out of Iraq by the end of March, 2008.

Gardiner says that Bloomberg called the legislation in Congress "untenable" and said it is not in the country's interest to declare a date to withdraw troops.

She writes: “Political analysts say that coming out against the timetable also allows him to reserve a spot for himself on the national stage should he opt to run for president as an independent in 2008. They say his stance against the timetable is not only significant because it is yet another policy area where he is moving beyond the scope of issues that directly affect the five boroughs, but also because it could play into his political strengths as a non-partisan technocrat if he makes a bid for the White House.

An interesting note at the end of Gardiner’s article: Bloomberg, although critical of Senator Clinton, says he thinks Bill Clinton would make a good Mayor of New York once he leaves the post.

Bill Clinton is far too vain to be Mayor of NY and the Yankee hat has never fit. (What’s the matter with Jimmy Breslin, Pete Hamill or Nora Ephron? Donald Trump?) Bill sees himself in a much larger container (Leviathan, maybe).

But Mayor Bloomberg is clever enough to recognize that comparing Mayor of NY to President as equal management tasks doesn’t promote Bill to Mayor so much as it promotes Bloomberg to POTUS.

Nevertheless, Bloomberg might be on the right track. Both parties are moribund; like the Whigs in the mid-1800s, reaching their last days perhaps; sending third-tier movie actors, preacher politicians, absentee Senators and kin of former Executives up to a primary season which promises to match American Idol.

With a Trickster like Libertarian Bill Weld, former Governor of Massachusetts, as Vice President and Arnold Schwarzenegger as Secretary of State, Bloomberg would have a nice package.

It has been said that after 9/11 New York City became part of America. I think what was suggested by that statement was that much red state/blue state contention was resolved in tears. Jim Webb, the new Senator of Virginia, made a similar statement. He said regarding long-time sour feelings he harbored toward Bostonian John Kerry that after 9/11 all his anger fell from him.

Former Mayor of New York Rudi Giuliani is sent forward to the Presidential race today by a deep need in the American psyche to restore New York to its primacy after 9/11 and nothing else. Bloomberg would do that as well but is a more attractive manager.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Symbiotes: Tom DeLay and Hillary are One

by Bernie Quigley for The Free Market News Network at 3/28/07

A USA Today/Gallup Favorable/Unfavorable Poll taken last week shows Rudi Giuliani well ahead of John McCain, 60-51, with Mitt Romney hovering at 22, just one point ahead of Karl Rove. John Edwards leads Senator Clinton 55-48. But something else here; Edwards has an “unfavorable” rating of only 25. Hillary an astonishing “unfavorable” rating of 48. Further, Edwards’ “not sure” rating is 11, Hillary’s 3.

Giuliani's sudden rise against McCain is key to the development of the race here. McCain’s run is losing gas. A Republican nomination for Giuliani would be good for country in that it would keep Mike Bloomberg out. A Bloomberg third-party run could create red state/blue state chaos and contention. And it is good for the Democrats in that it could force them to put up better opposition against a formidable opponent like Giuliani. Real grown ups like Mark Warner, former governor of Virginia, Kathleen Sebelius, Governor of Kansas or Wesley Clark.

If Mike Bloomberg sent forth a third party in this environment, it could well send the election into the House of Representatives. Given the Democratic surge in the ’06 race and the Democrats current majority in the House, that would give the Presidency to Hillary. A new President Clinton would extend the Boomer generation into geriatrics, blocking out the sun for the ‘young uns. But this would also awaken again the Boomer symbiotes; Tom Delay and Newt Gingritch, who owe their existence, influence and life force to their countervailing generationalists.

You can’t have the one without the other. As the great Southern historian Dan Carter writes in his book The Politics of Rage – the rise of the Christian Right and all of its agents was a rise against the Sixties.

“. . . as the civil rights movement expanded in the 1960s to inspire the women’s rights movement, the antiwar movement, and the politics of sexual liberation, George Wallace adroitly broadened his message,” writes Carter. “Journalists might greet this growing counterculture with curiosity, even approval. But Wallace knew – instinctively, intuitively – that tens of millions Americans despised the civil rights agitators, the antiwar demonstrators, the sexual exhibitionists as symbols of a fundamental decline in the traditional cultural compass of God, family, and country.”

Wallace invoked images of a nation in crisis, says Carter, a country in which thugs roamed the streets with impunity, antiwar demonstrators embraced the hated Communist Vietcong, and brazen youth flaunted their taste for “dirty” books and movies. “And while America disintegrated, cowardly politicians, bureaucrats, and distant federal judges capitulated to these loathsome forces."

Red state/blue state contention is, in effect, a war between generations.

The rest of us have moved on. Somebody tell the entrenched rank and file Democrats and Clinton cultists sure to be glued to the TV this week to watch the PBS special, The Boomer Century. Syndicated columnist Kevin McDonough writes, “If you stick around to the end, you’ll see a group of 60-something Washington, D.C. professionals performing a wedding-band version of Born to be Wild.” He warns of 40 more years of such endless chatter.

History has moved on and so have the generations. Giuliani appeals to the fourth post-war generation. He is beholding neither to the hippies nor the Evangelical Millenialists hoping to jump start the Second Coming through chaos and war in the Middle East. Warner, Sebelius and Clark also appeal to the fourth generation. And so do the new Democrats elected to the House and Senate in ’06. A new Mrs. Elvis in the White House would wipe out these gains overnight, just as the Clinton Presidency destroyed the Democratic majority Congress within two years of his Presidency, and cast the country in a North/South contention like it hasn’t seen since 1865.

This week, the Washington Post has a big front-page story on Mike Bloomberg, also a candidate with fourth-generation appeal, and his potential third-party run for President. This story is almost identical in content to an article run by the New York Sun a few weeks ago, several run in The Free Market News in the past year and one in New York magazine last fall.

There is no new news to this story. It is akin to the array of “Hillary not running!” stories sent out week upon week by the likes of Cable News Network, bored and disinterested in the everyday workings of democracy in the ’06 races and seeking instead celebrity. But what it implies is that here today in Political Cloud Cookooland, the MSM is getting tired of Hillary, Obama, Edwards and McCain. Like Gilligan’s Island, you can only rerun these stories so many times. They are no longer interesting and there are no more non-stories out there to tell again.

So they're starting to work on Bloomberg. Mike Bloomberg is after all one of the most interesting and savvy guys ever to sleep in Gracie Mansion. As with Giuliani, the Yankee hat fits. And there is something about either one of these guys which could restore New York City to its primacy in the wake of 9/11 and in the end, it may be our fate to do so.

At least a year back now, Bloomberg said he would run if both parties put forth "extreme" candidates. He seemed then to be suggesting Hillary Clinton and George Allen, the Virginia Senator who recently lost his office to Jim Webb. More recently he added McCain to that formula, saying it depends on which McCain runs – (the McCain who stood up against the undue influence of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, or the one who now grovels before them).

I think Bloomberg could well enter now if it goes Hillary vs. McCain. I do not think he will enter if it goes Hillary vs. Giuliani. What Bloomberg is doing is an act of corrective citizenship. No need. And now Giuliani is rising hard against McCain. And his “Draft Giuliani” site says he is nine points ahead of Hillary and he hasn’t even entered the race yet.

We are leaving now the Beginning and entering the Middle. I don't think we are getting to xyz yet as per the Greek chorus which is the MSM. I think we are just leaving the Beginning and getting to the Middle.

Hillary, dominating the cash flow, could well survive the stress-free Beginning and absorb the Edwards/Obama energy. Her husband Bill, seeking his third term in the White House, is raising cash for her hand-over-fist in New York City and environs, calling events in which she is not even present. Just Bill. Her 1st Quarter 2007 numbers will be obscene. Four fundraising invites in the month of March alone. Cheapest entry price: $1,000.00.

The Middle will begin when Giuliani enters. He will rapidly surpass McCain now and probably take the Republican nomination.

And Giuliani will bring the first real challenge to the Democrats: They will have to ask themselves if this trajectory they have been on these past 12 years with the Democratic Leadership Council is not now a one-way ticket to Palookaville. A candidate like Senator Clinton with a 48% negative ceiling had no chance against McCain.

Against Giuliani, a candidate with 9/11 karma and cache and New York street smarts, a Clinton candidacy will bring a total and probably final breakdown of the Democratic Party with the loss of 50 states. This will be the Democrats fourth (and last) catastrophic failure in the post-war period. (But there is something in Democrats which likes to lose; it calls the failure of Adlai Stevenson a success; it calls the McGovern failure a success; it calls the Howard Dean failure a success. And it will call the Hillary failure a success.)

I do not believe Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi will let this happen on their watch. When Giuliani rises, the new ’06 Democratic Congress will have to assert itself and call for a real First Tier contender.

By June, when Giuliani is 15% ahead of McCain (and he is almost there now), the calls will start to come for someone else (Warner, Sebelius, Clark). And as the key issue is certain to be continued quagmire in the expanding Iraq theater, the final xyz scenario next year some time could well be Wesley Clark vs. Giuliani.

I am certain that Mike Bloomberg will stay out of a Clark/Giuliani race. There is a possibility of Mitt Romney rising as well but the same applies to him. Bloomberg will also stay out of a Clark vs. Romney race.

Rudi Giuliani entered our world out of human tragedy. What 9/11 did was bring America to where it very suddenly required real leadership for survival (not "just anybody" as we have today in the Democratic lineup). That is, people who are born-in-the-bone leaders. Giuliani is a leader like that and so is Bloomberg and so is Wes Clark.

But it takes a long process of denial for the people as a whole to get to that true leader and the authentic action which flows naturally from that leader. We are going from the Fantasy Island of dotcom undercapitalized entrepreneurs – a world projected where stocks will go up to 35,000 and everyone will be millionaires (and sadly, these were projections by the new Goldman Sacks Democrats led today by Hillary), to blood in the streets and bodies falling before our eyes a hundred stories to their death. It is a major psychological transition and it is the greatest transition we have been through in this country since World War II.

I'll say this about Bloomberg. If he starts a party it will be a party which will be here to stay. He is not a maverick like Ross Perot (in the post-war period, third party has already gone through its "monkey god" or creation phase, so people don't have to get used to this transition).

Bloomberg is prompted to act by citizenship but by market analysis as well. He has the smarts and intuition of the very best. Hillary and McCain are simply old product. By any corporate marketing standard, new ventures are suggested. Ron Paul will bring a new voice and new ideas. There may well be others.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

In the End: Clark vs. Giuliani


by Bernie Quigley - Daily Kos diary 3/27/07

This week, the Washington Post has a big front-page story on Mike Bloomberg, Mayor of New York, possibly running as an independent candidate for President in '08. This story is almost identical in content to an article run by the New York Sun a few weeks ago, several run in The Free Market News in the past year and one in New York magazine last fall.

There is no new news to this story. It is akin to the array of “Hillary not running!” stories sent out week upon week by the likes of Cable News Network, bored and disinterested in the everyday workings of democracy in the ’06 races and seeking instead celebrity. But what it implies is that here today in Political Cloud Cookooland, the MSM is getting tired of Hillary, Obama, Edwards and McCain. Like Gilligan’s Island, you can only rerun these stories so many times. They are no longer interesting and there are no more non-stories out there to tell again.

So they're starting to work on Bloomberg. Mike Bloomberg is after all one of the most interesting and savvy guys ever to sleep in Gracie Mansion. And as with Rudi Giuliani, the Yankee hat fits. And there is something about either one of these guys which could restore New York City to its primacy in the wake of 9/11 and in the end, it may be our fate to do so.

At least a year back now, Bloomberg said he would run if both parties put forth "extreme" candidates. He seemed then to be suggesting Hillary Clinton and George Allen, the Virginia Senator who recently lost his office to Jim Webb. More recently he added McCain to that formula, saying it depends on which McCain runs – (the McCain who stood up against the undue influence of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, or the one who now grovels before them).

I think Bloomberg could well enter now if it goes Hillary vs. McCain. I do not think he will enter if it goes Hillary vs. Giuliani. What Bloomberg is doing is an act of corrective citizenship. No need. And now Giuliani is rising hard against McCain. And his “Draft Giuliani” site says he is nine points ahead of Hillary and he hasn’t even entered the race yet.

We are leaving now the Beginning and entering the Middle. I don't think we are getting to xyz yet as per the Greek chorus which is the MSM. I think we are just leaving the Beginning and getting to the Middle.

Hillary will survive the stress-free Beginning and absorb the Edwards/Obama energy.

The Middle will begin when Giuliani enters. He will rapidly surpass McCain and take the Republican nomination.

And Giuliani will bring the first real challenge to the Democrats: They will have to ask themselves if this trajectory they have been on these past 12 years with the Democratic Leadership Council is not now a one-way ticket to Palookaville. A candidate like Senator Clinton with a 46% negative ceiling had no chance against McCain. Against Giuliani, a candidate with 9/11 karma and cache and New York street smarts, a Clinton candidacy will bring a total and probably final breakdown of the Democratic Party with the loss of 50 states. This will be the Democrats fourth (and last) catastrophic failure in the post-war period. (But there is something in Democrats which likes to lose; it calls the failure of Adlai Stevenson a success; it calls the McGovern failure a success; it calls the Howard Dean failure a success. And it will call the Hillary failure a success.)

I do not believe Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi will let this happen on their watch. When Giuliani rises, the new ’06 Democratic Congress will have to assert itself and call for a real First Tier contender.

By June, when Giuliani is 15% ahead of McCain, the calls will start to come for Wesley Clark. The final xyz scenario next year some time could well be Wesley Clark vs. Giuliani. And in that race, Clark could very well save the day and save the Democrats from self destruction.

I am certain that Mike Bloomberg will stay out of a Clark/Giuliani race. There is a possibility of Mitt Romney rising as well but the same applies to him. Bloomberg will also stay out of a Clark vs. Romney race.

Rudi Giuliani entered our world out of human tragedy. What 9/11 did was bring America to where it very suddenly required real leadership for survival (not "just anybody" as we have today in the Democratic lineup). That is, people who are born-in-the-bone leaders. Giuliani is a leader like that and so is Bloomberg and so is Wes Clark.

But it takes a long process of denial for the people as a whole to get to that true leader - we are going from the Fantasy Island of dotcom undercapitalized entrepreneurs – a world projected where stocks will go up to 35,000 and everyone will be millionaires (and sadly, these were projections by the new Goldman Sacks Democrats led today by Hillary), to blood in the streets and bodies falling before our eyes a hundred stories to their death. It is a major psychological transition and it is the greatest transition we have made since World War II.

Giuliani responded instinctively to 9/11 - and ordinary people experienced bravery because of him – this is leadership as Sun Tsu explains what leadership is. Bush did not respond that way; he was afraid. Cheney hid under the desk.

In the Democratic lineup, it is only General Clark who expresses this kind of leadership. But this inherent bravery is only the threshold entry to true leadership: The ability to act with clarity and intelligence follows.

In a way, party perennials Hillary vs. McCain are not the unlikely entry level for a race to get started. As Giuliani rises against McCain, urgency will enter in and the formula will change. Clark will be called in to challenge him and bring this race to the next level. This will be a race between Clark and Giuliani.

I'll say this about Bloomberg. If he starts a party it will be a party which will be here to stay. He is not a maverick like Ross Perot (in the post-war period, third party has already gone through its "monkey god" or creation phase, so people don't have to get used to this transition).

Bloomberg is prompted to act by citizenship but by market analysis as well. He has the smarts and intuition of the very best. Hillary vs. McCain is simply old product. By any corporate marketing standard, new ventures are suggested.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Congress of Peeps: Sestak and Wes Clark are First Tier

by Bernie Quigley – Daily Kos Diary – 3/20/07

Fred Thompson, movie star and former Senator from Tennessee informed us last week that he might run for President. You might have seen him in the movies lately or on Law and Order.

This is maybe – to paraphrase T.S. Eliot – the way the world ends. Not with a bang, but with a movie star who looks like a President actually running for President, and with a people so easily deceived and the tenacious will to self-governance which made us a free people in the first place worn so thin and threadbare, that we willingly select the mirage rather than the thing in itself.

There is no reason to think that Fred Thompson would not be a good President. Anything is possible in The Land of the Free. Here in New Hampshire most people liked Ronald Reagan, but he was Governor of California. But Thompson is not qualified to be President by his resume in the First Tier. Being a Senator does not qualify him to be President in the First Tier. Nor does being a movie star.

Being a Senator, like being a Supreme Court justice, should be an end in itself. It is a different task than Governor or President, which are indeed management jobs.

Senators discuss the different properties and aspects of issues and therefore advise the manager, and 20 years of doing it doesn’t make an advisor a good manager: It makes her or him a better advisor and Senator. In fact, according to the principles of Myers-Briggs, as you become increasingly better at being an advisor, you become increasingly worse at being a manager as each task uses opposite psychological functions (which might be why John McCain is such a poor manager).

If someone still felt unfulfilled after a career of Senator, s/he might try Chaired Professor. Both are "introverted" positions and go to rumination and thoughtfulness. President, like district manager of Walmart, CEO of Hathaway Industries or Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, are "extroverted" positions. They go to management and taking action. They live on different sides of the river: That is why Eisenhower can’t paint; that is why Picasso can’t tally his check book.

Until Eisenhower handed the reins over to John F. Kennedy, Senators were not usually considered to be in the First Tier of Presidential Potentials. But most today who are presenting themselves to us to be Presidential material - Dodd, Clinton, Biden, Obama, Edwards, McCain, Thompson and Brownback - are hoping to take the Senatorial route as a short cut to the Presidency and not focusing on their task at hand.

And the three front-running Democrats have so little time between them as Senators that together, they wouldn’t even reach the venerable level of one Robert C. Byrd. Or even the decent and highly respected level of a Jim Jeffords.

Perhaps this is why the discussion of the Iraq invasion was so tragically inadequate in the first place; this is why the waning Congress has been called A Congress of Peeps. John Edwards had barely found the bathrooms when he announced he would run for President.

Each has only entered the Senate as short-cut route to the Presidency. I was astonished a few months back as the current Panic Primary got underway when the most important Democratic fund raiser here in the North Country of New England who fully supports Senator Clinton, said she should wait a few months to enter to " . . . get some stuff done" in the Senate first. A Washington Post columnist made the same comment about Senator Obama.

That’s how you want to advise your kids if they want to be President: Get some stuff done first.

Governor of a teensy, unpopulated state or one reserved for retired people (like Vermont) is also a short cut. This does not rate in the First Tier either. There is nothing to suggest that a governor of a small or under-populated state would not be a good President. But again, it is a management thing and bigger is better. Governor Dean pioneered this approach in ’04 but he had no desire to actually be President, and was terrified when he got a boost from the web. He wanted to "make a point" I think, and was looking for a job.

Being an auntie of a former President or other relative does not qualify you to be President in the First Tier. Being of an ethnicity that has not yet been President does not necessarily prepare you for the Presidency. Being a movie star or a singer or a hockey player does not prepare you at all to be President, but there is nothing to indicate that these people would not be good Presidents.

According to tradition and lore, a First Tier candidate is a Governor of a state with more than say three million people in it (larger than say Arkansas, New Mexico or Vermont). That would be a state like Texas, New York, California or Massachusetts – widely considered to be "initiative" states. Another First Tier qualification is a military commander who has attained the rank of Admiral or General in the three-star area and has distinguished herself or himself in the management of a military campaign or in running a vast enterprise like the U. S. Army or NATO. Colin Powell, for example, would be First Tier.

In the current crop of Presidential contenders in both parties, only Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts, is qualified in the First Tier.

There are other Democrats available who might be part of the public discussion as First Tier candidates but oddly enough are not in the race. Wesley Clark, who leads the Democrats in discussion of Iran, Iraq and foreign policy is a First Tier candidate and so is Joe Sestak.

Sestak, the new representative from Pennsylvania and a three-star Admiral, was shining on Meet the Press this past Sunday, speaking in opposition to neocon apparatchik Richard Pearle and right wing nut job Tom DeLay staging a comeback. Sestak, like Clark, was heavily supported by The Fighting Dems, Daily Kos and the web community and is representative of the new spirit which rose to Congress out of the '06 race, featuring new people with new ideas like Carol Shea-Porter of NH and Jim Webb of Virginia.

Sestak could well be the ascending leader of this new group; Wes Clark the cultural father.

Other First Tier candidates include Kathleen Sebelius, Governor of Kansas, Ed Rendell, Governor of Pennsylvania, John Lynch, Governor of New Hampshire, Mike Easley, Governor of North Carolina.

There are many others but the MSM has not expressed much interest in these people who constitute today a Best and Brightest listing of the Democratic Party. Nor has the Democratic Party expressed much interest in them.

Lincoln called us to a "standard maxim." Today, in American Idol fashion, we seem to be seeking instead a "standard minimum."

Perhaps it is not too late. There is still a year to go and marketing in the real world doesn’t start until September, its arc rising to Thanksgiving. Maybe First Tier will arise then. Maybe we can draft new people into the race when the leadership crisis is more acutely felt.

Recently, Zbigniew Brzezinski, has written that the misbegotten invasion of Iraq could open to a 20-year conflagration sending America alone into a maelstrom.

But it is only a side bar to our real problems; the rise of China and the East as economic champions in an economic awakening akin to that which occurred in New England, New York and England in the 1840s, but multiplied by ten; an economic turning which could turn Americans into subsistence farmers and economic colonists virtually overnight. Already, the uber-rich and Jim Webb’s Wall St. Robber Barons are bailing, either to the new high-rise economy of Dubai or to Hong Kong. (Much as they fled New York and New England for the Texas oil fields 80 to 100 years ago.)

Only a First Tier candidate is capable of handling these situations. To date, the Democratic candidates are in denial of the Iraq issue as they are all culpable, and are oblivious to the second.

I would add another category to Presidential Contenders: Anomalies and Phenomenon. They appear in periods of change, and perhaps we are there now.

That would be people with a few billion bucks like Warren Buffett, Mike Bloomberg and Donald Trump. All three have shown interest in a party run either in support of a unique, new candidate or in support of a new political party.

Mike Bloomberg, mayor of New York, has clearly stated that if this Presidential race descends into mischief, and there are indications that it is doing so, he will put up a half billion of his own money to run a third candidate in March of next year. And Buffet has appeared as a primary supporter of Arnold Schwarzenegger, agent of "post partisan" politics.

The panic we are seeing in the early race - the millions of dollars sent to candidates whose generation and influence has passed and the press’s obsession with novelty - may be a symptom of an end game of partisan politics as we have come to understand it in the post-war period. The Republican Party and the Democratic Party may have both reached their limits. By any corporate marketing standards, there is opening now for new products. Perhaps what we are seeing is the end of the old parties and the rise of something new. We will find out in 2008.

I would like to see Joe Sestak and/or Wes Clark seriously consider entering the Presidential Race in ‘08. In September maybe, when the current crop of entertainers are finishing their summer rerun season. The presence of Clark and Sestak in the race may call in more First Tier candidates in both parties, and that will be good for the country.

It is the Brute awakened in the Republican Party that has fostered the barbaric initiatives that have shamed our country in recent years, like the repeal of habeas corpus, the recommendation of advanced torture strategies and the disgrace at Abu Ghraib. But that Brute has been consistently appeased by the submissive and accomidating Congress of Peeps – particularly in the Senate: A few of whom have shown themselves to be so astonishingly detached from their actions in enabling the Brute that they intend now to run for President.

Perhaps it is only a man of honor and ability of the caliber of Clark or Sestak who can retrieve us.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Who Should Be President?

by Bernie Quigley for Fighting Dems – 3/19/07

In educating our children, high school teachers would do well to start in present time and go back: To find time in the river which brought us here to this new world as if to the center of a fantastic world mandala; where all bets are off; where the unimaginable becomes the everyday; where anything can happen. Where all things are suddenly possible in The Land of the Free.

In returning, we might start with the Vietnam period, simultaneously one of the most creative and divisive moment in our national history. But before we get to Malcolm X or Sgt. Peppers, I’d go to Faith of My Fathers, Senator John McCain’s autobiographical story of his incredible journey to hell and back; his telling of his life as a POW in Vietnam after he was shot down over Hanoi. Like George H.W. Bush, who fell to the sea when his TBM Avenger was shot down on the Pacific Front in WW II, McCain tells a tale of honor, character and responsibility.

It is not by accident that most historical periods end with a military figure as President; Washington, Grant; Eisenhower. History goes forward as if out of a wreckage, and it is out of wreckage that we are born again.

We think about McCain today here in New Hampshire as we face a major crisis before the sap flows next and a new set of Presidential primaries begin. It could be the most important election we face in our history as we are at the crossroads of time itself: We enter now a new era; we enter a new century; we enter a new millennium. But quite possibly we enter into wreckage again and great human tragety is just ahead.

Perhaps we are already there and now there will be no turning back. Recently, Zbigniew Brzezinski, has written that the misbegotten invasion of Iraq could open to a 20-year conflagration sending America alone into a maelstrom.

But it is only a side bar to our real problems; the rise of China and the East as economic champions in an economic awakening akin to that which occurred in New England, New York and England in the 1840s, but multiplied by ten; an economic turning which could turn Americans into subsistence farmers and economic colonists virtually overnight. Already, the uber-rich and Jim Webb’s Wall St. Robber Barons are bailing, either to the new high-rise economy of Dubai or to Hong Kong. (Much as they fled New York and New England for the Texas oil fields 80 to 100 years ago.)

Our republic could virtually rise or fall on this upcoming election cycle, yet the discussion to date has been on the entertainment level of Oprah and American Idol. The discussion at best resembles an undergraduate seminar at the on-line free university where everyone gets a passing grade.

Perhaps we have reached the end of the curve. Ralph Waldo Emerson looked to us in time and said he saw us ascending a staircase. Perhaps we are descending the stairs now on the other side.

I hope the Governor of my state, John Lynch, pushes our primary ahead of the others as he threatens to do. Because here in the hills of New Hampshire I can have fair discussion with my neighbors that amounts to something better than Oprah: Where the night is cold, the morning light tends to be clear and bright.

McCain first awakened into the larger world here in New Hampshire. But this year we are asking ourselves difficult questions which the info-entertainment industry will never approach: Does being a POW actually prepare you to be President of the United States? Does being a pilot of an A4 Skyhawk? They are important questions, because it’s the President of the United States.

We are probably the most “post partisan” state in the country. I think far and wide up here in the northern regions we generally consider George H.W. Bush to have been a good President. But not because he was shot down by Japanese anti-aircraft fire in WW II. He was otherwise qualified to be President and did, at least by our general approximation, a fairly workman-like job. Likewise, I think we generally have good feelings about Ronald Reagan as President, but not because he was a movie star. Like Bush the Elder, he was otherwise qualified. He was Governor of California.

But something is happening here. Last week, Fred Thompson, movie star and former Senator from Tennessee informed us that he might run for President. You might have seen him recently in the movies or in Law and Order.

This is maybe – to paraphrase T.S. Eliot – the way the world ends. Not with a bang, but with a movie star who looks like a President actually running for President, and with a people so easily deceived and the tenacious will to self-governance which made us a free people in the first place worn so thin and threadbare, that we willingly select the mirage rather than the thing in itself.

There is no reason to think that Fred Thompson would not be a good President. Anything is possible in The Land of the Free. But he is not qualified to be President by his resume in the First Tier. Being a Senator does not qualify him to be President in the First Tier.

Being a Senator, like being a Supreme Court justice, should be an end in itself. It is a different task than President, which is indeed a management thing. Senators discuss the different properties of issues and therefore advise the manager, and 20 years of it doesn’t make you a better manager: It makes you a better advisor and Senator.

If someone still felt unfulfilled after a career of Senator, s/he might try Chaired Professor. Both are “introverted” positions and go to rumination and thoughfulneww. President, like district manager of Walmart, CAO of Hathaway Industries or chief of the Pacific Air Force, are “extroverted” positions. They go to management and taking action. They live on different sides of the river.

Until Eisenhower handed the reins over to John F. Kennedy, Senators were not usually considered to be in the First Tier of Presidential Potentials. But most today who are presenting themselves to us to be Presidential material - Dodd, Clinton, Biden, Obama, Edwards, McCain, Thompson and Brownback - are hoping to take the Senatorial route as a short cut to the Presidency.

And the three front-running Democrats have so little time between them as Senators that together, they wouldn’t even reach the venerable level of one Robert C. Byrd. Or even the decent and highly respected level of a Jim Jeffords. Perhaps this is why the discussion of the Iraq invasion was so tragically inadequate in the first place; this is why the waning Congress has been called A Congress of Peeps. John Edwards had barely found the bathrooms when he announced he would run for President.

Each has only entered the Senate as short-cut route to the Presidency. I was astonished a few months back as the current Panic Primary got underway when the most important Democratic Fund raiser here in the North Country of New England who fully supports Senator Clinton, said she should wait a few months to enter to “ . . . get some stuff done” in the Senate first. A Washington Post columnist made the same comment about Senator Obama.

Governor of a teensy, unpopulated state or one reserved for retired people is also a short cut. This does not rate in the First Tier either. There is nothing to suggest that a governor of a small under populated state would not be a good President. But again, it is a management thing. Governor Dean pioneered this in ’04 but he had no desire to actually be President, and was terrified when he got a boost from the web. He wanted to “make a point” I think, and was looking for a job.

Being related to a former President does not qualify you to be President in the First Tier. Being of an ethnicity that has not yet been President does not necessarily prepare you for the Presidency. Being a movie star or a singer or a hockey player does not prepare you at all to be President, but there is nothing to indicate that these people would not be good Presidents.

According to tradition and lore, a First Tier candidate is a Governor of a state with more than 1.5 million people in it. That would be a state like Texas, New York, California or Massachusetts – widely considered to be “initiative” states. Another First Tier qualification is a military commander who has attained the rank of Admiral or General in the three-star area and has distinguished him or herself in the management of a military campaign or in running a vast enterprise like the U. S. Army or NATO. Colin Powell, for example, would be First Tier.

In the current crop of Presidential contenders in both parties, only Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts, is qualified in the First Tier.

There are others there who are part of the public discussion who are First Tier but are oddly enough not in the race. Wesley Clark, who leads the Democrats in discussion of Iran, Iraq and foreign policy is a First Tier candidate and so is Joe Sestak.

Sestak, the new representative from Pennsylvania and a three-star Admiral, was shining on Meet the Press this past Sunday, speaking in opposition to neocon apparatchik Richard Pearle and right wing nut job Tom DeLay staging a comeback. Sestak, like Clark was heavily supported by The Fighting Dems, Daily Kos and the web community and is representative of the new spirit which rose to Congress out of the '06 race, featuring new people with new ideas like Carol Shea-Porter of NH and Jim Webb of Virginia.

Sestak could well be the ascending leader of this new group. George Joulwan, a retired Army General who served as supreme allied commander of NATO, who spoke recently on Late Edition, is also First Tier. So is Kathleen Sebelius, Governor of Kansas, Ed Rendell, Governor of Pennsylvania, John Lynch, Governor of New Hampshire, Mike Easley, Governor of North Carolina and many others.

The MSM has expressed little interest in these people who constitute today a Best and Bright listing of the Democratic Party.

Lincoln called us to a “standard maxim.” Today in the other stairwell, we seem to be seeking instead a “standard minimum.”

Perhaps it is not too late. There is still a year to go and marketing in the real world doesn’t start until September, its arc rising to Thanksgiving. Maybe First Tier will arise then. Maybe we can draft new people into the race when the crisis is more acutely felt.

I would add another category to Presidential Contenders: Anomalies and Phenomenon. They appear in periods of change, and perhaps we are there now.

That would be people with a few billion bucks like Warren Buffett, Mike Bloomberg and Donald Trump. All three have shown interest in a unique party run either as candidate or as support of another individual or a new party.

Mike Bloomberg, mayor of New York, has clearly stated that if this Presidential race descends into mischief, and there are indications that it is doing so, he will put up a half billion of his own money to run a third candidate in March of next year. And Buffet has appeared as a primary supporter of Arnold Schwarzenegger agent of “post partisan” politics.

The panic we are seeing in the early race; the millions of dollars sent to candidates whose generation and influence has passed and the press’s obsession with novelty may be a symptom of an end game of partisan politics as we have come to understand it in the post-war period. Perhaps the Republican Party and the Democratic Party have both reached their limits. By any corporate marketing standards, there is opening now for new products. Perhaps what we are seeing is the end of the old parties and the rise of something new. We will find out in 2008.

I would like to see Joe Sestak and/or Wes Clark seriously enter the Presidential Race in ‘08. Their presence in the race may call in more First Tier candidates in both parties, and that is good for the country.

It is the Brute awakened in the Republican Party that has fostered the barbaric initiatives that have shamed our country in recent years at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. But that Brute is appeased by the submissive and silent lambs in the waning Congress – particularly in the Senate: A few of whom have shown themselves to be so astonishingly detached from their actions in enabling the Brute that they intend now to run for President.

Perhaps it is only a man of honor and ability of the caliber of Clark or Sestak who can retrieve us.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Year of the Dead Cat: Groucho Marxism and the End of Globalization

by Bernie Quigley for The Free Market News Network, 3/15/07

Beneath economy lies faith, within which lives the invisible world of shared myths and archetypes. It presents itself to the visible world not in language but in symbols. The move by Halliburton to Dubai is a major change in American symbolism. It is as if Mickey Mouse converted to Islam. Or, as we heard last week, Captain America died.

It could have eventual, long-term consequences for markets and bring on an "organic" world crisis (as opposed to one intentionally generated by Bush and his neocon friends in their drive for manly feelings). If so, it will be a crisis for which we are not only entirely unprepared for but have long been in denial of.

And it will require real and actual leadership. Like Eisenhower. Like Lee. Like George Washington. It will require the rise of First Team people and send Bush League and the current batch of Presidential Pretenders into remission. (But Ron Paul will enliven the debate and Mitt Romney and Wesley Clark are up to the task.)

This will be the year of the dead cat; Wall St.’s phrase for a market that falls, then appears to come back to life. And what we are seeing this week we will continue to see as the stock market goes up and down and up again and down again for the second time in ten years.

It is the end of globalization. It is the end of the globalization of capital and culture as well, as both are hooked up together.

Globalization was always an illusion. It was simply an extension of American influence in the world at a time in our history when we had influence. Globalization was an extension of Hamilton’s government-sponsored capitalism expanded across the world. In the post-war period, three people were responsible for its rise and fall: Reagan, Clinton and the Dark One, Dick Cheney.

Oddly enough, globalization seemed killed off intentionally by the Republicans once it was adopted by a group of Clinton Democrats in the early 1990s who were known at the time as the Democratic Leadership Council. The whole initiative was kind of odd. Where I grew up, we always considered the Republicans to be the capitalists. Then the Democrats started wanting to do it. And when that happened, the Republicans seemed disinterested.

There could be a syndrome here which might be called Groucho Marxism, from the line in the George S. Kaufman film “Horse Feathers” in which Groucho, as Professor Wagstaff sings, “Whatever it is, I’m against it.” It is nature’s way: When one party adopts the other’s ideas, the first party will always drop the whole idea. Whatever it is.

I first heard of the end of globalization when John Ralston Saul, husband of Canada’s Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, made a few public comments on the new Bush administration. He made the point that when Bush signed on to the “preemptive doctrine” it bought an end to globalization and a return to the nation-state.

The Canadian press got a good laugh out of it (and they are very good at that), but I thought he was right. Because what disappeared when Bush came to office was the illusion that we Americans live in a world without walls and given the choice, everyone in the world would want to be just like us. Just like Bill and Hillary Clinton, that would be, as it was they and Vice President Al Gore, as agents of the DLC, who rode the new wave of capital from Wall St. to Beijing.

Then these new Republicans came along and changed all that. Once again the world had walls and increasingly, we were coming to be seen as the ones behind the walls.

We were at the turning point anyway. The Chinese and the Indians were about to gain all the cards and nothing could be done about it according to Adam Smith’s playbook. Certainly, they would not take second seat under Clinton, Bush or anyone else, once they became first in the world: It is no where in human nature to do so.

Enter Dick Cheney, the Republican Party’s answer to Sid Vicious. Cheney, like the medieval torturer in Kafka’s great story, “In the Penal Colony,” was born to play an end-game: He was always the panderer of the Old School, even when that era was passing on into oblivion. He was the panting and adoring provincial from the heartland, tagging-along with first-class Republicans like Ronald Reagan and gentry like George Bush the Elder.

But plain folk often misunderstand the royals. Cheney probably thought as we Boston Irish did growing up that all these Republicans ever cared about was oil and money and money and oil. And he could be good at that.

But what was odd about these new Bush, Jr. Republicans was that they did not seem to care about money any more. They cared about church. They passed the dirty work of oil and capital, and the tawdry issues of influence peddling with desert sheiks, over to Dick Cheney, President of Halliburton and all plugged in with the gnarly oil guys. Just as Jimmy Carter passed his peanut farm over to brother Billy when he went to Washington, D.C. You decide, Dick. Whatever. Of course, when President Carter went back to the farm four years later, there wasn’t much left.

The departure of Halliburton to Dubai brings into focus what globalization and "multi-national" implies. In the world of capitalism, America is not the shining city on the hill. Capitalism is an angel. It goes where it likes.

The failure of globalization could be a turning point for the “new Democrats" in opposition to the Clintons, Gore and the DLC Dems which sponsored "globalization" in the first place (as Zbigniew Brezinski points out in his new book). It should be the opening for Jim Webb Democrats as well as Libertarians. It should be viewed in the context of Webb's response to Bush’s recent State of the Union and Webb’s pithy observations on the Robber Barons of Wall St.

But irony upon irony, the strongest comments in opposition to the Halliburton move to Dubai are from the current DLC Presidential candidate Senator Clinton. And for once, she seems to speak freely.

"Does this mean they are going to quit paying taxes in America?” she asks. “They are going to take all the advantage of our country but not pay their fair share of taxes? They get a lot of government contracts - is this going to affect the investigations that are going on?”

Shocking news.

“I think it is disgraceful that American companies are more than happy to try to get no-bid contracts like Halliburton has and then turn around and say we are not going to stay with our Chief Executive Officer or the President of our company in the U.S. anymore.”

No duh!

“Well, I am proud to be an American and I am proud to be part of the greatest country in the world.”

Singer Lee Greenwood and Haggard the Venerable couldn’t have said it better, and The Hag don’t back no dogs.

Bill Clinton and the DLC sponsored and even invented the globalization of economy as we have come to understand it in the past 15 years. It is possible that Senator Clinton is entirely unaware of this.

Anyway, most of the big boys have already moved from New York and Texas to Singapore, Sri Lanka, whatever - avoiding taxes, environmental legislation, labor laws (as in child labor and slave labor) and all the finer points of civilization herewith. This commentary by Senator Clinton in almost comical, considering that it was the DLC which sent American capital and American sovereignty across the waters in the first place.

We have lived in two ages since Vietnam: The Age of Leadership and Excellence and the Age of Diversity and Globalization. The ages changed in an afternoon.

James A. Baker, when working as Chief of Staff for Ronald Reagan, is said to have gotten so tired of hearing the expressing, “leadership and excellence” that he rigged the White House computers to fail when someone used the expression.

We love clich├ęs: They bond us. But soon the Age of Leadership and Excellence would yield anyway to another. When the Age of Diversity and Globalization rose at the beginning of the Clinton period, it was difficult for a journalist to go an afternoon without hearing the phrase.

And there was the mad dash of new professions to use the phrase first in the new regime.

I remember calling the President of a junior college in Florida with a question at the beginning of the Age of Diversity and Globalization. As soon as I identified myself and said I wanted to ask about such and such, she said, “Diversity and globalization.”

I said, “I haven’t asked the question yet.”

Now the Age of Diversity and Globalization has ended. Time to change the buzz words again.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Jim Webb Generation

- Daily Kos and Raising Kaine diary, 3/8/07

There is so much discord and dissent in the present Panic Primary Race because our country is undergoing a Clash of Generations. We are at the turning of the fourth post-war generation, a generation writers William Strauss and Neil Howe call Millennials, in their fascinating book, “Millennials Rising.”

The Millennials are the only generation which will to be remembered years from now. All who came before in the political world will be forgotten.

That grates with Third Generation types who see Ronald Reagan as their avatar, and Second Generation Sixties people as well: The Second Generation’s positive influence was in a post-war time of Peace and Love, which came to awakening with a voice come out of a sleep of a thousand years: Janis Joplin, Primal Mother of the Dixie Chicks. Janis was Sixties Generational Avatar Incarnate in the Summer of Love, and that’s what Second Generation was for and about.

But Earth Mother was quickly sent back to remission when love turned to politics. At the apex, John Lennon said, “I am He . . .” echoing a Upanishads conundrum, but by the time The Beatles came back from India, the center had been passed through and the circle had shattered.

At Kent State it ended for good. Jerry Rubin, the most influential student leader of the day, wrote that after Kent State, “ . . . you could never get a girl to type your term paper for you.” The Sixties ended at Kent State, he said. So Rubin opened the gate to Wall St. for his generation and hippie morphed into yuppie and the urban entrepreneur.

But love does not do business well, as business does not do love well. They live on different sides of the cosmic river. And when the one tries to be the other, it becomes inauthentic and imitational. (And when they try a second time, it becomes absurd.)

Some in the Sixties crowd see Bill Clinton as the avatar of their generation, but he (s/he) only represents that secondary segment of the Sixties; the post-Kent State alchemists who tried to turn love to power: Out of Woodstock (when the Vietnam draft ended in 1973), off to Goldman Sacks. But theoretical physicists tell us that Particles and Waves don’t combine: One can be a Particle or one can be a Wave, but not both at the same time. (As per the Taoist fashion, Yin and Yang - again, the cosmic river runs between them).

Nevertheless, each generation fights to insure its own survival and countervailing generations are the dance of the human condition in time. In Love, the Second Generation ascends. In Power, the Fourth.

The Clash of Generations is perhaps more primary to the human condition than the Clash of Civilizations. Taoism understood this millennia ago when it fashioned a historical perspective much like the Strauss & Howe theory, finding it in nature. Traditional Chinese even give their children generational names. Generation is religion, culture and country – particularly in a large federation like our own where regional barriers yield to the participation mystique and the power of the airwaves trumps local custom and mores. But as with all things in life, there is no going back and the yielding generation always loses to the rising. In politics it is as it is in Buddhism: There is no Death, there is only the Continuum.

Recently, Strauss and Howe published an essay in The LA Times, refuting studies by sociologists which claim that the rising fourth generation is narcissistic. Millennial-busters draw a picture of “ . . . under-socialized young people fated to depression, self-destruction, violence and civic decay as they grow older."

Strauss & Howe say the study “fuels endless negative media commentary on today’s kids that will always find an audience – stories about crime, cheating, sexual license and celebrity worship.” They say these studies are widely off the mark, and anyone who has children today would have to agree. No kids? Try Malcolm in the Middle.

But, as Strauss & Howe put it, the Scolders of the Young argue from a generational point of view themselves: “many are themselves boomers, a generation that pushed up most indicators of self-seeking behavior during their own youth: violence, risk, rage and rebellion.”

In effect, today’s Scolding Sociologists are a rear-garde action of the Second Generation briskly on its way to Palookaville.

In politics today, the important question is not who will win in 2008 or even 2012. The important question is what will be the nature of the rising Fourth Generation, the Millennials? Where will they go? What will they rise to? Who will lead them?

George W. Bush is a Gatekeeper, but his fate has always been to close a gate which Ronald Reagan opened for the Third Generation. A new party could arise within the Republicans, just as the Republicans themselves rose out of the carcass of the old Whigs in the mid-1800s and found a better life. But I don’t see young people going there. McCain, probably more than anyone in politics, is a Third Generation phenomenon, recalling homage to the First. The period ends there.

A new third party could arise out of Mike Bloomberg’s pocketbook. But that is an honorable attempt to correct mischief and not a flagship. He does offer a fresh start. He is a popular, interesting and creative guy, and that could bring in new potential and possibilities.

But we have already seen a new generational spirit rising in politics this last year, and Millennials have created it and signed on to it. It first began to coalesce in the Daily Kos, Raising Kaine and the other influential blogs in the ’04 Presidential Race.

As Strauss & Howe say, the generations find their own way and create their own avenues. This generation’s first choice and first victory came in Jim Webb’s successful run for the Senate in Virginia.

Jim Webb is wunderkind. In Virginia they are starting to call themselves Webb Democrats and they joke, “ . . . is he man or apparition?” They wear bumper stickers which say, “My Senator is Fearless.” And now they are unafraid as well. Increasingly, the rest of the country is becoming unafraid, in large part due to Webb’s personal courage and character.

But the Others are freaking out. (The Others, as in the context of “Lost,” the greatest TV show ever and a cultural event which belongs purely to the Millennials, are the previous generations which are not one’s own.).

When Webb responded to President Bush’s State of the Union speech last month, calling the American uber-rich today Robber Barons and claiming that one day in the life of these Wall Street Titans is worth 21 years of sweat and labor by the common woman or man doing the real work, George Bush responded within days. He said we’ve got to do something about these high executive salaries!

Likewise, Jerry Rubin’s New Billionaires. Up here in New Hampshire thereabouts, Senator Clinton, she who is currently at the bow of this ship going confused and stuttering into the night and fog, made the same claim.

The Others have finally found someone they are afraid of. And to review: Sun Tsu says, the object of war is to disturb your opponent’s psychological under structure. Everything else will follow from there.

Webb has had a remarkable impact on the new Congress and on the Democrats. He is almost building a new party within the old party: It is small, but it is fierce. And what Jim Webb brings to Virginia, Wesley Clark brings to a wider audience. They both show growing influence on Congress and on the Millennial generation.

If you look at the various monthly polls of opinion for Presidential candidates in ‘08, you will see a stark difference between the DKos crowd and the mainstream. These are distinctly generational differences. Like Webb, Clark is also favored by DKos types and both Webb and Clark are favorites of the new generation rising today.

It is impossible to tell who will win the Presidential Race in ’08. But the outlines, ideas and trends of the Millennials are growing clearer every day and it is becoming more and more apparent who will ascend in the next 20 years and what values they will carry with them. Webb and Clark are not necessarily building a new party; it is just that new attitudes are being awakened by them in a new generation and new policies will awaken organically from that. New paradigms are coalescing around them.

The Millennials today are seeing their first days. And they have found their Coyote Trickster, their first avatar: Jim Webb.

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.”