Sunday, May 27, 2007

Al Gore Rising

For The Free Market News Network; diary on Daily Kos and Raising Kaine 5/27/07

They come in twos. But which is the Emperor? Which is the Sith? – Star Wars tradition

We are reaching the end of things now . . . best for Congress to hold quiet. The culture is about to flip. And when that happens everything gets different. The poles reverse their electrical pull. The Emperor becomes the Sith, the Sith the Emperor.

I’ve seen it flip before. Practically in my high school football field in Newport, RI. From Eisenhower Optimism & the Positive Face. Then a little known and undernourished Magical Animal came out of the borderland forest and lake lands of Minnesota. It is said in hindsight that the Sixties started in a minute, when Bob Dylan switched form a wooden guitar to an electric one in Newport, in the summer of ’65. Then everything was different.

And now it is flipping again. In September it will flip.

History has its gatekeepers. They open doors and they also close doors. Ronald Reagan was a gatekeeper to the third post-war generation of culture and politics, now in the last 15 minutes of its 11th hour.

George Bush the Little is gatekeeper too. Since he first arrived in national politics it was clear that his fate would be to close the gate that Ronal Reagan opened.

‘Twas ever thus. Strauss & Howe’s remarkable perspective of post-war politics draws on Spengler and on Carl Jung: History runs in cycles and follows archetypal paths, the one compensating and balancing the other. History’s picture is generational, each generation with its own Monkey Gods and goddesses, heroes and siths. Replaced then every 20 years with countervailing gods and siths. Toynbee read Spengler and Jung half way through his history of the world: Yin becomes Yang, he wrote. The Sith becomes the Emperor, the Emperor, the Sith.

Boy George’s fate, since the day he was born, was to crash. It showed from the beginning. He was chosen by his father’s friends to oppose his own generation and he had the tendency from the beginning. He was always unstable; an alcoholic who transferred his obsession direct to religious fanaticism in the classic pattern. Other issues: He has no friends his own age; he is an introvert without the introvert’s path – poet, artist, preacher – and was driven instead to govern by his family, tempermentally ill-suited for the task. But this is characteristic of the cycle’s natural path to failure. And all must fail in history but the last standing: Washington, Grant, Eisenhower, the final figures in the previous three “saecula” of Strauss & Howe. Worth pointing out that all were Generals.

We are at the end, but only at the end of the middle: It is the deep gulf between historical big changings in the world - a gulf of mischief and incontinence, illusions and imitations of life, false premises and sociological vanities and follies – history’s forgotten realms.

This end is the beginning.

The Strauss & Howe books, particularly The Fourth Turning, are easier to understand than the Vedic wanderings of Spengler, Jung and Toynbee. And as far as I understand it, they follow the path with some accuracy: History comes from its own nature and the seeds of the third generation are sown in the first. The seeds of the fourth generation are sown in the second. In between, the avatar which will rise later lives in shadow. (Like the “Sleeping King” in the Tolkien stories.)

John McCain is exemplar of the third generation, taking his inspiration from the first and finding his “Fathers” in first generation - the WW II warriors. But it is a feeling thing, don’t you know. The third generation warrior wants to be like the first: He wants to live again the culture of valor because it is good and true. But first generation didn’t get to valor from book, movies, and memories of blood relatives. It came to them instead direct from necessity and the survival instinct.

The second generation sleeps as the third rises or sends forth it’s sith and its shadow side. It is time for it to rise now and it will rise with this picture: Earthrise. Earthrise is the picture taken from space of the earth rising in the distance with the moon as ground in the foreground. It is time for this to awaken.

The picture was taken in 1968 from the dark side of the moon. Mythologist Joseph Campbell said at the time that this image would change us. It would change the way we would see ourselves, much as the discovery that the world was round changed the way we were centuries ago. The Al Gore movie, “An Inconvenient Truth” opens with this image and the fourth generation will also open with this image and this movie.

It was 90 degrees thereabouts yesterday here in the northern mountains of New Hampshire. Our third day of North Carolina weather so far this year. In 1968 we’d have a day, maybe two or three of these between late July and early August, but no earlier and no later.

The new generation will awaken now with the awareness that we and the planet are in danger. And Al Gore opened the gate.

Of all people my age who think of being President, Gore generates both general interest and generational cache with Millennials – fourth generation types. On DKos polls where 60-year-old Democratic Leadership Council probe droids rate only three to six percent, Al Gore jumps to 65% and higher. On Larry King last week when the audience was asked how many thought Gore should run, 82% said run.

They come in doubles – the Emperor and the Sith are one. But which is which? We see this everywhere: The Beatles/Rolling Stones, Woodward/Bernstein, Emerson/Thoreau, The Bronte Sisters Light and Dark, Bill Clinton/Al Gore. When the one rises to its fate, the other submerges. Then the culture flips.

It is flipping now. The Republicans seem to understand that it is all over for their ride by September. But it is the Democrats who lag. They were right from the start with Wesley Clark on Iraq/Iran but selected otherwise. To their detriment.

As well, the Democrats these recent years have largely supported Bush/Cheney on Iraq, from the beginning a kind of third generation fantasy play created in Dungeons & Dragons warriors who have never worn the uniform of their country or fired a shot in anger. It was to the Democrats an occasion to “act strong.” In that it was indeed the true test of leadership and the Democrats failed on this issue of authenticity. As the Lion King said to his cub: “I’m only brave when I need to be brace.” Indeed. Otherwise it is dress up and play theater, the fate of draft dodgers and cowards as they grow increasingly older.

The war in Iraq and the Bush/Cheney quagmire is now second cause in the world. Environmental disaster is imminent. And if no one else will lead, Arnold Schwarzenegger will.

This week, with Jodi Rell, Governor of Connecticut, the Governator has all but threatened secession if the feds don’t take action. Yet the feds refuse. Texas, threatened most by desertification, remains in denial. But California’s southern places will be turned to sand as well if action is not taken. Arnold appears to be building his own alliances of blue states, Canada and Europe in opposition to the tradition since 1865. And New England is joining.

Both Wesley Clark and Al Gore have been insinuating Mario Cuomo style “hovering” strategies this past year in the run up to ’08. They have both been critical of the early primaries and the consultants, cash and press hype which have turned our honored tradition into political novelty of trash TV like American Idol. They are not actually running, but haven’t said they won’t enter. For Al Gore it is working, but without greater secondary publicity, General Clark’s numbers are low.

There are two great problems for the U.S. in the world today that need to be solved. Environmental destruction is one. The Iraq/Iran disaster which has destroyed U.S. legitimacy in the world is the other. Al Gore brings Best Practices on the environment. Wesley Clark brings Best Practice solutions to Iran/Iraq.

This is an Al Gore/Wes Clark diary rather than a Wes Clark/Al Gore diary because it is hot today in New Hampshire and it is getting hotter. The climate crisis now supersedes the Iraq disaster.

Al Gore leads the charge.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

France’s New Boss

by Bernie Quigley for The Free Market News Network, 5/15/07

It is part of life’s illusion that the world began the day we were born. Everything prior to our conception is pre-history. For people my age, Howdy Doody was the first Creation Myth (a Western tale), then Davy Crockett (another tale of heading West), Elvis and The Beatles. After that, nothing was left but work and death. Likewise today with my kids: The world begins with Pokemon, then onward and upward to the Brit wizard Harry Potter, Tolkien and “Lost.” Computers were already there at the Creation. TV too, but that is old pre-history stuff like railroad trains and the space program.

But time has its own paths and initiatives; it is not born in forgetfulness, or in the illusion that the world did not exist before we were born. It is always here on its continuum, ascending and descending in death and life like the ceilings in the mosque at Cordoba.

Those of us who were born again with Davy Crockett were also born at the end of things. And the end was a horror that the European world had neither endured nor encountered before.

That ending was marked at Yalta and at the Nuremberg trials, when the Euro world and all the world came to adapt to the American moment. America was driving the bus and as Ken Kesey said, you were either on the bus or not on the bus.

But America moved to its own tempo: We have been through three distinct periods since Yalta: Eisenhower yielded to Kennedy and Kennedy yielded to Reagan. And we today are three-quarters to the end of things in our own post-war arc.

Americans are fast moving beyond the Clinton and the Reagan generations. Those periods allowed us to move forward. And something for us is just ahead and it will hatch either in 2008 or 2012.

Here in 2007 Ron Paul offers new direction, and so do Barack Obama, Mike Bloomberg, Jim Webb and Arnold Schwarzenegger. One or some of these will be the new pathfinders. The purpose and genuine function of this upcoming election will be to cast off that which has become anachronistic and post-seasonal and find the new direction and the new generation that will rise with it.

It is a problem for France because the recent election asked the French to chose between a Thatcher/Reagan candidate, Nicolas Sarkozy, and a Hillary composite, Ségolène Royal. Their choice: come into the 1980s or come into the 1990s, both periods being left behind by Americans as the Free World enters the millennium.

The results bring France now to a dilemma.

France and Germany are linked in a binary relationship that rose when the Sun King consolidated France into one big state. What will the French do when they no longer look to America in imitation? And when America’s gaze turns East, and it inevitably will as economy shifts across the Pacific, how will France find its way with Germany?

The election of Sarkozy offers a suggestion. Sarkozy is two things: He is the Reagon/Thatcher Frenchman. He is also an aristocrat from Hungary which was part of the Austrian Empire at the time Robert E. Lee signed at Appomattox. It is the realm of French and German contention since Napoleon.

Shortly before the election, Sarkozy was pictured riding a handsome white horse as Ronald Reagan was pictured on a white horse at the beginning of his Presidency. Sarkozy wants to be the Reagan guy in France and set closer ties with America. But there is an issue here: Ronald Reagan was a genuine, ordinary, American following the same path in the Land of the Free that most others of us followed. He was not an aristocrat. Sarkozy is an actual, Hungarian aristocrat and noble.

Today in the NYTs Serge Schmemann, writer and editor of the Paris-based International Herald Tribune writes that the new French President’s roots are worth remembering.

He recalls an Algerian woman asking the displaced Hungarian nobleman about his roots. Sarkozy said to her, “You are not Algerian, but French. And I am not Hungarian.”

One of America’s most poignant transitions was at Appomattox when Ulysses S. Grant’s Native American adjutant said to Lee, “We’re all Americans here.” That went for Lee, Jeff Davis, Ronald Reagan, myself, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

But not necessarily Royal or Sarkozy. They are not Americans. They are Europeans. If they want to be like us that is good, but for them it is by choice – it is only an option. We are as we are by fate and American destiny.

It would seem that France has to decide now if it wants to be colleague, friend and cousin to America or to Germany and the EU. But two facts enter in: Frankly, most Americans don’t particularly care what France does so long as it doesn’t cause us problems. Second, France is already part of the EU and sits next to Germany, the EU’s most essential partner, as it always has. It is from this for the French as it always has been and from this that there can be no turning away.

We’re all Americans here, said Col. Parker, the Seneca Indian who accompanied Grant. That is true for Lee, Hillary and Obama because when we leave our other places we leave them behind and become a different people. In the end, we are not Europeans or Africans or anything else but Americans. We are the Texas Ranger, died and born again at the hands of the Indian.

But Europeans leave nothing behind. They may look away for awhile but it is always there. And Europe today sings together its own tune, Ode to Joy. It is a beautiful tune but it is not an American tune. Nor is it a French tune. And as France enters the millennium with a Bavarian Pope who looks to an earlier time, it sings a beautiful anthem, but one which has Austrian roots, as does France’s new boss.