Saturday, January 31, 2009

Is George W. Bush the Aquarian?

Said, I think, below, the cycles of history run through four post-war generations (see William Strauss and Neil Howe's The Fourth Turning for the cycles of history, the second of which repudiates the structuring and ordering of the period done by the first - the "greatest generation." The hippies, in our time were the wellspring of the Sixties - the second post-war generation and the Yeats/Khrishnamurti/Blavatsky 60 years previous. Thus, every 60 years astrology awakens in the collective mind and thoughts turn back to year one or zero, as in Pisces year zero and the birth of the Christ. I think there can be no question that when eyes and minds turn back to year one Aquarius, 2000 and 2001, they will see two faces: Osama Bin Laden's and George W. Bush's. One of these will be remembered as Caesar and one as the new Christ. But which will be recalled as the Emperor? With as the Sith? Rumor has it that George W. Bush is about to convert to Roman Catholicism. So part two of this question: Who will do the remembering? The Roman Catholic Church?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

. . . thoughts on Remo Roth blog, Unus Mundus RE Twilight, Lost and how cultural beginnings are recalled in the cycles of history

So long as there is power there will be power cycles. William Strauss and Neil Howe’s excellent book on generations well outlines post-war power cycles. The second post-war generation is inevitably marked by spiritual renewal, much as the Sixties bought the first generation past the big war to new spiritual origins. Henry James’s The Bostonians reveals a similar culture in the Boston region late in the century and William James’s book, The Varieties of Religious Experiences, became the text book of modern psychology. ON the continent came the rush of Orientalism; Yeats, Khrishnamurti, Madame Blavatsky at the same time.

The Strauss/Howe view is based on the archetypes; one generation opposes the last and takes its values from the one before. This was observed by Roman historians and Taoists. The post-war cycle ends in the 60th year. And after 20 years of war and wanderings, a new cycle begins. Likewise the “spiritual renewal” period occurs every 60 years. As the antithesis of war and chaos.

And when this begins people naturally come to look at things they avoid or keep subliminally at other times, like astrology. When they do they look to beginnings. This constant 60 year cycle forms a “natural history” which transcends all cultural changes like war and revolution. It has the effect of immortalizing beginnings of astrological cycles. People will always look to the beginning of the Platonic Month. I happened to notice yesterday a picture of the Christ as Anima Mundi in Tarot cards surrounded by the four elements. For two thousand years astrologers looked to the beginning moment of Pisces; year 1 Pisces, or zero. There were the three magi and the birth of the Christ. Likewise, through history ahead, year 0 or year 1 Aquarius will be fettered out. That will be year 2000 and 2001.

It is possible to see now that will be seen as “awakening” Aquarius as the birth of Christ awakened the Age of Pisces. This will be prominent in the popular and naïve culture (culture not designed by academics, institutions’ or professionals; culture that is unselfconscious). We start with The Matrix and go on to the Tolkien Trilogy which was showing in movies (air and electricity = Aquarius). Harry Potter can well be seen as the Aquarian; the earth shaman who precedes the pre-Newtonian mechanistic view of Calvin. He even come s with a “generationa shadow” – Captain Jack Sparrow; earth and water, the yin elements of the zodiac. IN the recent Lost series Ben (identified as the Piscean Christ in the second season) actually goes to the North Pole where the earth is aligned to the North Star and turns the turnstile; changing the age from Pisces to Aquarius (John Locke is acknowledged by Richard Alpert [which was the name of Ram Dass, Timothy Leary’s colleague at Harvard] a Taoist immortal as the Aquarian leader). Lost and the Survivor TV shows are “returning to earth” myths like the crop circle - virtually flying saucers on the ground - see Returning - indicators imply.

I believe this transition ends/begins with Twilight; it is the first vampire movies – vampire movies are “silence of God” or “empty crypt” myths – in which the Undead – people from the Unconscious – are the “Shining Ones” – this is a “return of the gods.”

The next “spiritual” cycle like the Sixties or the Khrisnamurti/Yeats/Blavatsky period will be about 2025. We are now with the economic crash at the end of the post-war cycle. Nothing can retrieve it. Things will continue to break. The “pilgrim” generation which renews the world – as explained by Strauss and Howe – is only about 13 years old – this is the audience of 25 million for Twilight. (Note: the “Greatest Generation” which ended German fascism and rebuilt the world under Eisenhower was only 9 years old at the beginning of the Great Depression in 1929.)

In this light the year 2012 should be interesting. I noticed on a CNN briefing yesterday that the Aztecs prophecy was actually given contemporary credibility by a scientific discovery. IN the 1950s scientists discovered that that the Sun will be aligned with the center of the Milky Way in 2012. The scientists in the article used this to declare that the Incas “knew nothing about this” and thus could not have made a prediction through their technology and systems of thinking. But obviously it is a synchronicity.

In any case, when the origins of the Age or Aquarius are recalled it will constantly recall the events and culture of the years 2000 and 2001 over the millennia, just as the birth of the Christ is recalled and immortalized today.

Incidently, several of what can be considered "Aquarian" culture "move" the source; Dali, in The Temptation of St. Anthony" moves it from Rome (Vatican) to a desert which appears to be Texas and a Buddhist monk in "The Second Coming of Christ." Jung, sees "another Swiss" (Self) in Liverpool - a here the British (Anglo) empire flips from Extroverted to Introverted as it did in Rome - the external empire merely in time the casing for the spirit empire to follow (Toynbee suggests this as well; in history, he says, yang turns to yin over time). Ben in Lost switches the "island" to someplace else. In Twilight, Seattle is the home of new awakenings and where the gods hatch. I get most of this from my young daughter but from what I understand, all vampires are simple those who exist in the Unconscious or who have an actual inner life. They may be seen as Templars. In this Twilight venue the last cycle are the Voterie, Roman Italians in a clear reference to old school Roman Catholics. The vampires go to Italy for retreat. But everyone does, no? Is like a magnet.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

First Warnings: Is Obama’s historic train ride a train wreck in the making?

By Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill on 1/28/09

Note to Judd Gregg, my Senator from New Hampshire: Please oppose the bailout and demand a new program starting from scratch focusing on infrastructure and the Schwarzenegger/Bloomberg/Rendell "Building America’s Future" coalition. Demand management up front on this project with a face on it and not Rahm Emanuel’s; Arnold Schwarzenegger’s perhaps or Bloomberg’s or Christie Whitman’s. The Wall Street Journal article today “A 40-year Wish List" expresses the will of the heartland. We have been scammed by Rahm Emanuel.

The Journal opinion piece starts with a quote from Rahm Emanuel last November: Never let a serious crisis go to waste. What I mean by that is it's an opportunity to do things you couldn't do before.

My first impression of Barack Obama was that he was a very decent guy with some bad friends. I have bad friends myself, and I have spent some serious quality time in Chicago where I got to know the worst of my bad friends. But some of these are people I would feel uncomfortable being in the same room with: Legendary violent political nihilists, religious fanatics and entrenched anarchists, Chicago gangsters. And politicians who left the trade briefly only to come back multi-millionaires to work for Obama.

My kids love Obama; the women in my family like him and so do I and so do most of my friends. But there is this that has been troubling: Some of the very worst of my bad friends really, really, really love Obama. They see him as the Anti-President and they like that. Obama knows this and has been trying to counter. I am convinced that he is a grown-up. But he needs some new friends. Life is like that, especially a creative and serendipitous life like his. Going forward at one point requires a quantum leap. You can’t bring anything with you. You simply have to let go and turn the corner and leave it all behind. Or they will take you down.

Great Presidents are remembered by the faces they keep around them; they are their agents in the outer world. Lincoln’s face to the work ahead was Grant, Roosevelt’s Eisenhower and George Marshall. So far Obama has shown us two faces: Hillary Clinton’s looks out and Rahm Emanuel’s looks in. He’s going to need new faces.

The Journal article calls the bailout a political wonder that manages to spend money on just about every pent-up Democratic proposal of the last 40 years.

“We've looked it over,” they write, “and even we can't quite believe it. There's $1 billion for Amtrak, the federal railroad that hasn't turned a profit in 40 years; $2 billion for child-care subsidies; $50 million for that great engine of job creation, the National Endowment for the Arts; $400 million for global-warming research and another $2.4 billion for carbon-capture demonstration projects. There's even $650 million on top of the billions already doled out to pay for digital TV conversion coupons.”

Some of this spending is based on thinking and practices that injured the poor and almost destroyed the Democratic Party 30 years ago. If left unfettered it could do so again.

The Journal article points out that some $30 billion, or less than 5% of the spending in the bill, is for fixing bridges or other highway projects.

Last month Frank Luntz, a communication specialist associated with Republican causes conducted a national survey of 800 registered voters on their attitudes toward infrastructure investment. A near unanimous 94 % are concerned about our nation’s infrastructure. Fully 84 % want more money spent by the federal government to improve America’s infrastructure. And 81 % say they are prepared to pay 1 % more in taxes for this.

We are today in a period of instability. The “bailout” fever is a phenomenon related to this, much like the war fever which led 75% of Americans to support the misconceived invasion of Iraq even after they were told by Donald Rumsfeld that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.

This train should be stopped before it leaves the station. Obama has already lost control of it. Now is the time for Congress to speak up as they should have spoken up but did not when Bush and Rove called on them to sign off on their misadventure in Iraq. Congress was not brave then when they needed to be brave. This is another of those times when they need to be brave. The Blue Dogs in Congress should lead the way on this correction.

Obama started making better friends when he ran for President. A year ago this time he asked his pal and co-candidate Bill Richardson if he could join him in watching the Super Bowl. I want to suggest to him a good companion for Super Bowl XLIII this Sunday: Robert C. Gates, Secretary of Defense.

This is a face he should get to know and appreciate. Because Gates’ is the face of an end game. It is the face of a project born without leadership and conducted without management till it reached the point of no return. Gates is the adult called in to try and save the pieces of a broken legacy.

It is not too late to fix this. But like the invasion of Iraq, once this train leaves the station, it will be.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Move Wall Street to San Francisco

By Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill on 1/26/09

Legendary investor and commodities guru Jim Rogers says if you speak Chinese, go to China. He sees little hope for the Euro in the next 20 years.

That leaves us, here in the northeast, with a question: Which way should we head, East or West?

We have already answered that question. New York’s two important newspapers, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times have each spawned a love child, indicating where their natural affections lie. The New York Times’ child is in Paris, The Herald Tribune. The Wall Street Journal’s is in Hong Kong, The Asian Wall Street Journal.

This week The Wall Street Journal has been running a series on the death of Wall Street. Wall Street should take this opportunity to pack up its few remaining belongings, saddle the bull and head to the Pacific shore where the action and passion in the next century will be. Leave New York to the quiet life of subsidy and brie and the nihilistic deconstructionist wanderings of the Europeanists. New York will never change. It is a set piece. It will always be a city that looks out only in one direction; backward, across the Atlantic.

Possibly it is impossible to look two ways at once.

Multiculturalism or “multi-centeredness”, and diversity, as it is practiced in the university nowadays, is an illusion as well. In diversity, the academy seeks and finds one of every race, creed and tribal origin from every possible global niche; so long as they all write and behave exactly as if they were all brought up tastefully in the Upper East Side. Like Pete Seeger’s little boxes; a red one, a blue one, a green one and a yellow one, they all come out the same. Anything actually other is a threat to the dogma.

Each time there has been a major financial disaster like the one we are experiencing now, the country morphed into a full change of culture. I believe we will this time as well. It is perhaps only a natural and organic turning of events. My grandparents came from Ireland to work in the factories of southern Massachusetts 100 years ago. The factories emptied out during the Great Depression. When I was a child the Depression had ended but the mills were still empty. The work had headed south and west and so did some of the more forward-looking workers. Others found different work. The empty factories of Fall River – beautiful visions of stone and glass – were turned into artist lofts, studio apartments and malls.

But what a century of action and passion it was. With the rise of the Industrial Revolution millions came across the Atlantic to New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey. The vast wealth that rose until the Second World War came from that collective regional experience and focused on New York City. But Roosevelt nostalgicos aside, that period is dead and it has been dead for decades.

We Americans are not a benign culture; quiet, contented and seeking the pension like Europeans. We are vital, restless and newborn. We live in a vast unexplored frontier and the best among us have always headed west.

But the East defaults to the old while the West opens to the new. And different cultural attitudes and economic patterns have resulted over the decades and centuries. As in any family, the old inhibit and even shackle the new and the new are burdened by the attitudes and orthodoxies of the old. Mitt Romney first stated this clearly at the Republican Convention: We are entering a phase of conflicting political attitudes, he said, correctly calling it East vs. West.

The country today is indeed experiencing a change in temperament. We will experience cycles of vast wealth again, but they will not funnel through New York City as they did between the early 1800s and 2008. They will fall on America’s Pacific shores where trade and commerce to and from the East in the billions and trillions will land in the century ahead, to build these places to greatness just as wealth built New York City in the early 1800s.

This time the wealth of nations will travel across the Pacific and find port-of-entry in coastal ports in southern California and points north in places like San Francisco, Seattle and Vancouver.

We today are at the quiet of a sea change. The sea is flat. Now is the time to pull up anchor. Wall Street’s financiers should lead the way, pull up stakes entirely from Manhattan and fly to the Pacific Coast. The forward looking in the entertainment industry did so long ago when they moved to Los Angeles in the 1930s, leaving behind the bookish and the timid. Wall Street should follow suit today.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Obama and the Twilight Generation: Marketing Adulthood

By Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill on 1/26/09

There must have been some disconnect between President Obama and the crowd during his inaugural speech.

His phrase, “It’s time to put aside childish things,” could have only been geared to that generation – mine - which rose into the seventies admonished as a culture of narcissism by Christopher Lash and again in 1992 by the legendary John Kenneth Galbraith in The Culture of Contentment.

But one group is definitely on the same page: 13 year olds.

“My mom always says I was born thirty-five years old and that I get more middle-aged every year,” says 17-year old Bella.

“Well, someone has to be the adult,” replies Edward.

These are the gods and idols of the rising generation. They are what Bob Dylan and Joan Baez were to my generation; they are what Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio and Elvis were to the post-war group. Texas psychiatrist David Rosen has an instructive book, The Tao of Elvis, on how archetypal figures like this whisp through a generation. They are Anima and Animus, as psychologists say; the organic yin and yang paradigm which will awaken, rise and mature within the generational group over the next 20 years.

Bella and Edward are teen idols. They are the characters of Twilight and if your kids are older than 16 they probably won’t get it. But Malia and Sasha will and most likely so will Barack and Michelle.

But the vast chorus of professionals is still in denial. The novel Twilight by Stephenie Meyer has sold over 25 million copies and my daughter and her friends have all read the book and seen the movie at least twice and are anxiously awaiting the release of the DVD.

Hollywood and the zeitgeist are still pitching President Hillary and her hard-boiled, sweaty, overwrought and over-cooked protector Jack Bauer in a virtuoso Mao Theater of influence for the leisure class that completely misses the point.

But Obama’s inaugural speech was a marketing coup, not unlike one Bob Dylan engineered early in his career.

There is a legendary marketing story about Dylan’s recording company refusing to release Like a Rolling Stone, which became a generational anthem. The big producers knew that it would change everything and would diminish the value of their existing artists.

So the tape was surreptitiously played at Arthur’s, a popular New York club in the day. Disk jockeys heard it there for the first time and began playing it on the radio in the morning. It changed everything; the generation, the music, the world.

Obama did much the same thing at his inauguration. When he finally got the stage to himself, when he didn’t need to watch the polls and market surveys, when he didn’t have to listen to the press, when no one could stop him, he brought forth a radically new idea: Adulthood.

That’s going to be a tough sell marketwise, and will take some radical transitioning.

Change will start with Bella and Edward and their 25 million. And as it did with the release of Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone, it will change everything.

Adulthood, that is, will be a tough sell. But it will change everything.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Caroline Kennedy for Governor of New York

By Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill on 1/23/09

Before America rose to the illusions of globalization and the cloud cookoo land of world domination via guns, butter and bailouts, New York was a visionary land of warrior poets and artists. People like Truman Capote and Jackson Pollock.

But globalization hates the tall and the beautiful. Caroline Kennedy, like Sarah Palin, didn’t have a chance. Increasingly, here in the Age of Penguins, we prefer the fire hydrant; the Mrs. Khrushchev in pants, short, round and blustery; unobtrusive in a crowd; corrupt – because that is something we in the middle can understand – thinking “ . . . outside the box” but confused by a compound sentence and with a club. It is a bad harbinger and a dangerous precedent because penguins – those little calendar darlings today of PBS and the Starbucks set these past few years - are a prey species; a wintery treat for artic wolves and narwhals. In the age of just anybody, they are the totem animal of the horde.

Obama seems like a decent guy; as smart and able as any, more engaged in the world than Bush and less corrupt than the Clintons. And for the first time in 16 years we have a grown up as President. But people see in him themselves; one sees Woodstock, another sees a Black Messiah, another the Anti-Christ, even as he calls for an age of responsibility and personal commitment. The least around him attempt to territorialize him; Diane Feinstein, the Senator from California first, who complains that she was not consulted when Leon Panetta was sent to head the CIA. There was no reason she should have been. Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader is next, who tells the President that he would not be pushed around as he was by Bush and Rove. And now David Paterson, Governor of New York.

There was a distinctive moment when Ronald Reagan first went to Washington. When he addressed a joint session of Congress the very popular and influential Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill, representative from my old neighborhoods in Boston, said to him, “Welcome to the big leagues.”

It was a distinctive moment because it was patronizing and entirely out of place. O’Neill no longer owned the club. Reagan did. And Reagan took charge. Obama needs a moment like that and needs to take charge of it or he will be pecked to death by these ducks.

No one is talking about why Kennedy ditched her case for Senator in the middle of the night. Most people thought that Patterson would approve Kennedy. They thought that because President Obama wanted him to and even George W. Bush and Karl Rove had the decency to grant the new President a moment of grace in his very first days. And although she had little political experience, Kennedy showed great political instincts and intuition. She single-handedly changed the direction of the Democratic primary when she trumped the New York Times’ endorsement of Senator Hillary Clinton by writing an endorsement of Obama the next day in the same paper.

But reports are out by “ . . . a person close to the governor” that Paterson had no intention of picking Kennedy because he believed “ . . . she handled herself poorly in introducing herself as a candidate.”


Kennedy made the mistake in talking to reporters first time out as we all talk among friends and family and each other. She made the mistake of not understanding the enemy. It appears, or at least the impression is being suggested, that she withdrew her name to avoid embarrassment to herself, her distinguished family and to President Obama when she learned that she was about to be rejected by this calculated political move by the governor.

It would have been an extraordinary slap in the face to Obama if Patterson, a black governor and a Democrat, had rejected Obama’s will in his first days in office. It would indicate that as with Feinstein and Reid, Obama has not yet established himself psychologically as boss. He needs to do that or this will continue.

Caroline Kennedy, on the other hand, should take one of those very brief courses they give to business executives and commentators before they appear on The News Hour and learn the simple task of political phony talk. Then she should get together for a brief meeting with Mike Bloomberg, mayor of New York, and his very competent and intuitive Irish sidekick, Kevin Sheekey, and run for governor of New York as an Independent against the corrupt Democratic political machine of New York State.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Letting Go

By Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill on 1/21/09

If you look at it on a road atlas, America today resembles a star in the center of the world with the center in Indiana. It is because of the patterns of the roads and it only got like that at the end of the big war. Eisenhower built the roads so that Jack Kerouac could travel without interruption from New York to Denver and all the way to Los Angeles and up to San Francisco. And there he found things we, as Americans, had never seriously considered before; Taoist monks like Gia-fu Feng in California and jazz musicians like Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie in the smoky denizens of the night on the road.

Gilbert Millstein, who reviewed Kerouac’s On the Road at the New York Times said: "Just as, more than any other novel of the Twenties, The Sun Also Rises came to be regarded as the testament of the 'Lost Generation,' so it seems certain that On the Road will come to be known as that of the 'Beat Generation.'"

This was Kerouac’s America but it was Eisenhower’s as well because Eisenhower built the American roads for him. It was an awakening moment and they awakened it together, because prior to it, when Americans looked out if they ever looked up at all, they almost always looked backward in time to Europe as Hemingway did. Today we stand in Indiana or Chicago and look to all directions; East, West, South and the Great White North. From that we have become a different people.

I bring it up now because more than once this week, in expanding the Obama comparison to Jack Kennedy, pundits have grabbed on to the image of Jack Kennedy not wearing a coat and Dwight Eisenhower, at 70, wearing an overcoat, a scarf and a hat during Kennedy’s inaugural speech. This image is meant to suggest the change in generations. But before they glom on to it at journalism school and send it forth in multiple copies like Nixon suggesting the “dark side” because he needed a shave when he debated with Kennedy, it should be looked at. Because I could well see Obama as Eisenhower’s natural successor instead of Nixon or Kennedy.

Much will be said today, the swearing in day, about the President’s African roots and traditions, but Obama was reared by a fair-minded Unitarian grandmother who raised him with the original spirit of the heartland. Of any President since post-war these most formative early days possibly come closest to Eisenhower’s rural roots and his pacifist mother and his simple farm folk kin and traditions. Both Eisenhower's and Obama'a maternal line hail from Surrender Dorothy land, where the cowardly lion, the heartless tin man and brainless straw man were cured of their neuroses and afflictions by the rising, natural spirit of the earth and the Kansas child of nature.

Obama also suggests Eisenhower in his approach to solving problems. They are both drafted into service much without seeking it, and both are expected to solve a mess of problems – a world of problems - created by others who came just recently before them.

It is indeed a day of change and a change that first began at Yalta but hasn’t yet taken hold. If we look at change in our world from the American perspective we can see the world of Victoria ending pretty much at Yalta. The pivotal transition came in 1956 when Britain’s Anthony Eden attempted to stop Gamal Abdel Nasser, President of Egypt, from nationalizing the Suez Canal. When President Eisenhower forbade it, Eden famously responded, “Over to you, Ike.” This incident can be seen as the end of British dominance in the world and in the Anglo-American alliance.

The rise of Ronald Reagan sought to restore the grandeur of the old alliance without the actual necessity of it. This was in direct opposition to Eisenhower’s order to Anthony Eden and to the spirit of the Eisenhower era – not only the spirit of Kerouac and Bill Evans, but of Dag Hammarskjold, Hannah Arendt and Telford Taylor. Unfortunately, the assault on the Falklands was a long way from Nelson at Trafalgar. And as Jimmy Carter said, “I never had any doubt that we could take Granada.”

What Reagan brought was a feeling of the reconstruction of the World War II period and George W. Bush was the unfortunate book end of this experience. Bush was the son who had no experience of his own generation. He was chosen by his father’s generation to continue the old order and he willingly marched into the task.

In his first month in office New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote, “He (Bush) said he never liked the Beatles after they got into that ‘kind of a weird psychedelic period.’” And ten weeks into his presidency she reported going hungry for a shred of modernity. “Bush II has reeled backward so fast, economically, environmentally, globally, culturally, it’s redolent of Dorothy clicking her way from the shimmering spires of Oz to a depressed black-and-white Kansas . . . What’s next, Asbestos, DDT, bomb shelters, filterless cigarettes? Patti Page?”

America under Bush has resembled Spain under Generalissimo Franco. Time had stalled, and the old world even with eerie overtones of 14th century Crusades, had managed to sustain and reinstall itself. But today it ends.

And that is the cause of the celebrations in Washington today and as far away as Kenya.

The world can awaken again. The witch is dead.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Year of Political Courage: Obama Needs Arnold

by Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill
on 1/19/09

Zimbabwe is failing and so is New York. I read it in the New York Times. And so is the Euro and the dollar too. And California is on the brink of breakage. We said it here first and now they are all saying it: “If what it takes to fix California -- to fix everything about the way it raises money and spends it -- is to let it wreck itself first, then maybe we have to let that happen.” – Patt Morrison’s column in the LA Times.

It can’t be as bad as all that, especially today, purportedly a day of awakening as a dynamic new President takes office. And New York is overstating it’s case for failure. Changing of the guards yes and to the good in New York’s case. There was no panic on the wing of the aircraft that ditched in the Hudson River. The passengers seemed as calm as those waiting for the subway at Columbus Circle. But California presents a case of some urgency and it should get President Obama’s first attention.

California faces a $42 billion budget deficit and is stuck in gridlock and political paralysis. The day of reckoning has been long coming and now the eighth largest economy in the world faces insolvency. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose boundless optimism brought an auspicious moment, has been unable to break the stalemate.

The situation in the southern part of the state is particularly egregious. In one day the Governor said he got a call saying there were 875 fires burning at once. Next day it was 2,014 fires. Yet, as Morrison reports, in one precinct in the town of Crest, which got savaged in the 2003 Cedar fire, voters stood 2 to 1 against the tax to pay for better firefighting equipment.

And now, as Schwarzenegger said in his state of the state speech last week, people in California are beginning to ask if California is ungovernable and even beginning to talk about a constitutional convention.

These are fair questions and it is important and fairly courageous that the Governor brings them up like this because I am not sure that Californians or most blue-state Americans for that matter, understand the consequences of living beyond their limits.

Here in the bush where we cut our own wood to keep warm – even at 30 below like it was yesterday – we are more inclined to listen to Mark Sanford and Rick Perry, Governors of South Carolina and Texas – when they make the point that deficits are only deferred taxes and eventually, someone will have to pay them back. Maybe it is only a red state thing but it seems common sense. Southern states, with a Jeffersonian tradition seem more inclined, but I was fairly surprised that shortly after Sanford made the case for less federal intervention and less debt, the local mayors bypassed him entirely and asked the feds to send them the money direct.

California is a special case. As Representative Devin Nunes has pointed out, in the year 2000, 150,000 people moved into California. In 2008, 235,000 people moved out, fleeing the sixth largest tax burden in the country. But people move to California as they move to New York City – to find a creative career – if it doesn‘t work out, they often move back to Iowa. Just the same, their seems to be little grasp of the idea of a balanced budget and federal money is looked upon as an endless trust fund.

California is now in a budget crisis but it is also in a crisis of character; that is, it has a problem about the nature and responsibilities of citizenship. It is hard to see that far daily from here in New Hampshire, but from what I read, Schwarzenegger has been a dutiful and perhaps exemplary governor. If he cannot solve this problem it may not be solvable on the state level.

But he might be able to solve this problem in Washington. And California is only on the forefront of crises that many of the other states are beginning to experience.

There is something missing in the rising Obama package. The train ride is okay and the family theme – Michelle and the girls - is a delight. But, as Karl Rove has pointed out, Joe Biden is a dork. And Hillary is a Revenge Demon.

Obama is missing the same thing that Kennedy was missing: A Sword. In every epic historic period successful leadership always comes in two parts, which in a TQM seminar was once called the “Warrior and the Monk Constellation” (See Hiroshi Inagaki’s Samurai Trilogy for a cursory exposition): Washington without Jefferson would have been a failure. Jefferson without Washington would have been nothing. Likewise, Lincoln and Grant and Roosevelt and Eisenhower. This is the basic anthropology of top leadership and management. Even the Christ came with a Sword and the Sword was Paul.

Jack Kennedy had no Sword. Nor does Obama currently have one.

Obama says he wants to be a cool President. I am looking forward to the birth of the cool, but if he doesn’t find a Sword to manage his will and vision, he will float off into the blissful blue with Miles Davis.

Arnold has all but offered Obama the Sword of Conan. He’s crazy if he doesn’t accept it.

In his state of the state speech Schwarzenegger called for “a year of political courage.” He comes to us with the sincerity and the élan and enthusiasm of a new American. Obama should draft him and pull him out of California. His talent and enthusiasm is boundless and I suspect, so would be his abilities if he could get to a stage large enough to fit this truly big man.

I’m feeling that Arnold today is a little like Randy Moss was when stuck in a tired football club in California, watching Tom Brady in New England throw the ball maybe like no one else had ever thrown it before, and knowing that if only he could work with him he could catch the ball as no one had ever caught it before.

Likewise Obama need Arnold and Arnold needs Obama and the entire country not just California needs a year of political courage.

Friday, January 16, 2009

We are not Lost

As yesterday's note brought interest in Lost, here is a commentary from Titan and the Egg from awhile back. Lost, like the Survivor series is a "returning to earth" myth, much like the UFO pop culture was a modern myth of rising to the sky. (See C.G. Jung: Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Sky.)

God doesn't know we're here. No one knows we're here. - Henry Gale

Note to Readers: Viewers of Lost will appreciate Miss3's dreams as well.

Like Shiva, Henry Gale casts aside his old body for a new Dance of Creativity - a dance of rebirth; the eternal dance of life and death. Hidden in its center of Lost is a contemporary Quaternity. With pseudo-ads for Hanso's Corp.'s (see Hans in Thomas Mann's 1924 classic, The Magic Mountain, for Lost prototype) "subliminal advertising" and spin offs like the Bad Twin book, Lost brings the Trickster forth like we haven't seen him since Sgt. Peppers or the Surrealist Movement of the 1920s.

Buffy is Prophecy - Lost is a "Returning to Earth" myth for our day

For young viewers who have not yet read The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky, there is no better beginners guide to the tv show Lost. The Prisoner in Lost, marked by the Christ wound in the right chest, is Jesus, indicated by this book which is given to him by Locke. It comes from a chapter called The Grand Inquisitor. After the Bros K, go quickly to the classic spooky film, The Night of the Living Dead, for advanced insight into the Hatch & the Others. The X Files also has a Grand Inquisitor episode in which Jesus is an Alien, imprisoned and tortured by The Cigarette Smoking Man. (As it is with Dali's Orange Monk, and the Alien Christ of The X Files, Henry Gale comes from the sky - it is the mark of the Aquarian, from an air sign in the zodiac.)

Derived from Jefferson and the Enlightenment (John Locke), ours is a culture based on happiness and its pursuit and on individualism. It is an outward moving journey disconnecting each from the other. It may be reaching its outer limits. (What do people want on the outward journey? My spam mail suggests they want a loan, a college degree and a large penis.) Dharma is just the opposite; an inward moving journey connecting each to the other and those past and future as well. Dharma implies duty and a path to the state of being outside of our individual ego. It is the path to ultimate innermost state of consciousness shared by everyone and by all things in the Universe. Each individual who enters enters through a gate and leaves behind what she or he had or was before. When you enter you first enter a circle. The family is a circle, the place where you live is a circle. The world is a circle. Time is a circle. Within circles there are other circles and all circles (Chronos). It is the path to Enlightenment. Misteps cause madness or death. But everybody dies. In Lost, as Claire opens the gate to Dharma, here is a caution from Kushog Wanchen, a holy man of Eastern Tibet, told to Alexandra David-Neel: "It is only prudent to beware of opening channels without due consideration. Few, indeed, suspect what the great storehouse of the world which they tap unconsciusly, contains. One must know how to protect oneself against tigers to which one has given birth, as well as against those that have been begotten by others." (Note: The stacks of lines around the Dharma insignia represent the sticks of the I Ching. No doubt, Hurley's number sequence has references there. And the clicker in the hatch which counts to 108 and repeats implies the Tibetan beads in a string of 108 on which the sylable hri! is repeated again and again. As David-Neel states: "Some understand it as signifying an inner reality hidden under the appearances, the basic essense of things.")

Lost fans might be interested in my "Three Sisters" essay in this blog about Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. In the last Buffy episode, The Slayer is revealed to be the Earth Mother incarnate, scion of the Triple Goddess & the Lady of the Lake, the ancient-most archetype of the English-speaking people. She who put King Arthur's Sword into the Stone. (Buffy pulls it out.) I wrote the essay several years ago. (I just ran into Lost last month, when it came to my country store on DVD.) Buffy is prelude to an Awakening of the Earth Mother, the essay claims, to come in the first days of the new millenium. "But today, as it is heard in a song/a prayer by Amy Lee, Evanescence and 12 Stones, she falls in sleep and has been sleeping a thousand years. She cries to have her eyes opened again and to see again and to Awakened Inside Again and to Saved Again from the Nothing that she has become."

A Visit from Spirit Bear

“I have looked into the eye of this island and what I saw was beautiful.” - John Locke on Lost

Among the Haisla people of British Columbia the Kermode Bear; called Spirit Bear because it is a black bear that is colored white, is considered a sacred animal. The tribal elders say that when you meet with Spirit Bear the Creator has a message for you and your tribe, or some healing is needed. It is a sacred moment and a moment of transition. The TV show Lost begins with an encounter with Spirit Bear.

Synchronicity is an idea developed by physicist Wolfgang Pauli and Swiss psychiatrist C.G. Jung after a consultation with Albert Einstein. It means a relationship between Inner life and Outer life – parallel events expressed by coincidence. In the late 50s Jung wrote that the UFO dreams and visions of his patients were predictors of a new relationship with Space – a Space Age. Today prominent dreams are of returning to earth. All the prominent and forceful dreams I have heard of the last two years are of returning to earth. Likewise these dreams predict a new period of awareness of the Earth – psychologically a “return to earth” and an Earth Age. This psychological change is reflected in Lost. Spirit Bear, the Magical Animal, leads to a door and the door is called Dharma. It is a Creation Myth (a parable of Awakening) for the new millenium. (See Returning for "returning to earth" myth.)

Lost has the same psychic tone as early UFO dreams and movies of the 1950s. Naïve (popular, entertaining - the common stone of the culture) and unpretentious art and stories always reflects these changes. The Survivor TV series and all of its knock offs are a reflection of this “return to Earth” theme in the naive culture (as Close Encounters, E.T., Alien and The X Files were "entering the Universe" dramas in the Space Age). Lost is the mythic drama which portends a new period of cultural awakening to the Earth, just as Close Encounters did to space. The Earth shares consciousness with the humans and the humans are part of the earth. This is the natural state of humans in their natural environment. Princess Mononoke, the film by Hayao Miyazaki, the computer game Myst and Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen - three of my children's favorites and mine - make a contribution. And common themes from Jane Eyre, Women in the Dunes, Gilligan's Island, The Wizard of Oz (Henry Gale), Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden, Gurney's Dinotopia ("Each person who arrives in Dinotopia becomes reborn, and the birth is different for each individual," says Levka) and multiple others are applied and suggested. Notice that there are only two old people in the story; an old African-American woman named Rose (who sits closs-legged and quiet on the beach) and an old shamanistic guide name John Locke. Rose the symbol of Inner Life and the Unconscious (Yeats, Jung and the Alchemists - the Rose and the "Rosy Cross" was their symbol - Rosacrucians, Templars; y'all seen The DaVinci Code?), John Locke the father of the Enlightenment and the Age of Reason. They are the yin and yang (Love and Power; in the narrative voice on Lost, "faith and reason") represented occationally throughout the story by two stones, one black and one white.

Lost is a generational story - all the characters are young, and it is a story marketed to teens. Notice as well that except for the child, Walt, all of the characters wear long pants all the time (on a tropical island - compared say, to Survivor). It is a sign of responsibility and serious intention. It is geared to the fourth post-war genertion; the first generation which will take full responsibility in the new millenium (see William Strauss and Neil Howe, The Fourth Turning).

Most of the names and relationships in Lost appropriately suggest the spiritual and psychological condition at the end of the Second Millenium after the brith of Christ and the awakening of the Third Millenium, which awaits the second face of the avatar. The baby born on the island is Aaron, for example, who started the Judeo-Christian procession millenia back, incarnate again in the awakening age of Aquarius (which began, technically, on January 1, 2001). Some of these relationships are quite uncanny. The birth of Aaron restores and reunites the Earth and the Earth Mother (Claire) to its human occupant and natural child, after 500 years of separation. The island itself has a yin spirit (a Dakini in Tibetan culture), a French woman named Danielle Rousseau (like John Locke, Jean Jacques Rousseau was father to the Enlightenment), who has been driven to madness because she "lost her baby." This is the core theme of the rise to the Renaissance as it found flower in philosophers Locke and Rousseau, discussed earlier in Madonna/Child portraiture in which the Christ Child, representing the human race, is snatched from the arms of the Divine Mother (or Earth Mother or Mona Lisa - who represents the Earth), causing 500 years of alienation, division and divorce between earth and human.

Jung and Pauli’s book on the subject of synchronicity is The Interpretation of Nature and the Psyche, published in 1955. The tragic mine accidents taking place today in West Virginia and Saskatoon all in a sequence are synchronistic events reflecting the prevalent “returning to earth” myth – the prominent and directing myth in the culture today. Of course, no government officials will view this prognosis seriously, and increased shifts in the mines is an obvious contributor, but just the same, they should shut down the mines until they have reviewed all safety procedures as West Virginia is doing and look at safety for the miners with new eyes to insure their safety throughout the industry in The United States and Canada. Congress should also reconsider its proposed spending for Space exploration and use as a barometer for public interest in these efforts evidence in the pop culture. The only space story generating interest today is that of an empty space suit, silently orbiting the earth, which was thrown out of the international space station. Space exploration is a scientific venture. If adventurism and novelty are removed from these projects they will be safer and more successful.

Notes on Lost – 3rd Season, Episode One: Lost is an Aquarian Creation Myth

Ahead, Mr. Eko has been shown to be the man of unequivocal faith, while John Locke’s faith is all in the head. Locke fails, but Eko will bring the Dharma Inistative forward – Locke to be his second, following in Eko’s faith. Ben as a Christ figure is way interesting because although he is identified by the Christ wound and the Bros. K book, we see him and we know him to be a bad character – manipulative and self centered – he leaves his girl to die in the prison and Jack saves her. Easy to see that the entire Others cult is tired of Ben and the whole Dharma deal. But Mr. Eko does not see the bad parts & could take him – Ben – as the second Christ; the second face of Christ in the new Platonic month. FYI Lost is about a shift in Platonic Months, a 24,000 year journey around the sun under 12 signs of 2,000 years apiece. The procession started with the Birth of the Christ, 2,000 years ago. We have just left the Age of Pisces, the age of Christ and Mohammed (the dual fish in the zodiac sign) and entered the Age of Aquarius on January 1 of this year. From Madame Blavatsky to Salvador Dali, there has been the suggestion of the Second Christ as a Buddhist monk. Eko, most sincere of the faithful, is making the transition from traditional Roman Catholic to New Age Buddhist/Taoist (the 108 clicker suggests the Tibetan rosary which has 108 beads – the Dharma insignia is the Ba Gua, sing of the tai chi).

Notes on Lost: 10/18/06 episode - Hurley, Locke and Mr. Eko Encounter Spirit Bear They always call them Polar Bears, but like many things in this thoughtful TV show, it works on two levels. In Dharma culture, these two levels are Nirvana (the Unconscious or inner life) and Samsara (the Conscious or outer life). The white bear can best be understood as a Spirit Bear. Hurley fears the bear. Mr. Eko has a full encounter with the Spirit Bear. Spirit Bear is actually a white black bear which is sacred to the Haida Indians of British Columbia. Spirit Bear finds those in the forest who are psychologically Lost, as all the characters on the island are. When Spirit Bear finds you it will take you on a devastating adventure of transformation & awakening. You come out a transformed person with heightened sensitivities and spiritual awareness. Walt has had a Spirit Bear encounter. Now Mr. Eko has had an encounter with Spirit Bear in a cave (and encounter with the Earth). He finds a preternatural sense and is able to see John Locke’s true nature (“You will find them John because you are a hunter.”) Notice the cross has been torn from Eko’s neck. Eko’s faith is pure as it must be with a shaman, but he will find now a fuller context for his newly awakened state. Perhaps Locke is unable to undergo a Spirit Bear transformation as his faith is thin and based on intellectual properties. He needs “signs” and proofs. Mr. Eko’s faith is innate. Locke will anchor in Eko’s faith. Notice that Locke turns Mr. Eko's church into a sweat lodge, a house of transcendence of North American First People. Notice that Mr. Eko also loses his Jesus Stick to Desmond during the explosion. Desmond, Mr. Eko and John Locke are sure to evolve as the Three (see "Three Celestial Ones" on this blog). See Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Are We Lost?: The secret language of Lost - the return of the hippie gods

By Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill on 1/15/09

God doesn't know we're here. No one knows we're here. - Henry Gale

Whenever I see one of those pretentious bumper stickers – are all bumper stickers pretentious? – that says “Kill Your Television,” the TV show Lost, beginning its end run next week, comes to mind. Because in our time, some of the best writing and troupe acting – The Soprano’s, House – is on television. And Lost, directed by the young visionary J.J. Abrams, is at the top of the pack.

In Lost, there is no false distinction between high brow culture and low theater. Any random episode may contain references to both Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain and George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. Likewise, Catholic priests travel in harmony and consort with Taoist Immortals and Tibetan Dakinis.

But I’m surprised a public panic hasn’t set in. Like the hysteria among academics when Marcel Duchamp entered a toilet seat in a prestigious art show a hundred years ago. Or when The Beatles arrived with Sgt. Peppers and the record was banned in England. This show has conspicuously religious overtones – the lead character’s father is named Christian Shepherd - but not the kind conventional religionists so vocal in our day might appreciate.

Maybe there has been no complaint perhaps because Lost’s clever writers speak a secret language to a knowledgeable audience, much as the great Russian writers of the 19th century wrote in code and double meanings to slip their revolutionary message past the censors. And from beginning to end, this long and fascinating series has been concerned with a singular thought that has been sleeping for 40 years: The end of the former age and the rise of the new Age of Aquarius, which technically started in January, 2000.

In the secret language of Lost, Ben is identified in season two as the Christ, marked by the wound in his chest. He is tortured in a cell like the Christ in Dostoyevski’s Grand Inquisitor, a chapter in The Brother’s Karamazov. In his cell, John Locke gives him a copy of this book.

In last night’s episode Ben turns the turnstile to “move the island” – shifting the age from Pisces to Aquarius. He “breaks a glass” to the North Pole; the center of the world aligned with the North Star, where the Titan turns the style from age to age. He shifts the mystical island to the “New Jerusalem” where he will end his reign and turn his responsibilities over to John Locke.

John Locke is identified as the new agent; the avatar of Aquarius, replacing Ben, avatar of the previous Platonic Month, the Age of Pisces. In the lexicon of Lost, at the end of the journey, Ben has become a random killer – commentary perhaps on a war in our time often referenced in Lost, that resembles the last days in the book of Revelations.

In Lost, people have historic names. Richard Alpert, leader of Ben’s cult, is the real name of the Harvard professor who, with Timothy Leary, started the hippie movement. He took the name Ram Dass and wrote a popular book in the day titled Be Here Now. “Oceanic” airlines is the company name which owns the plane which brought the group to the island. It is the name taken from Orwell’s 1984 of the global America - Oceania. The plane, representing the American condition, crashes between Platonic Months.

Locke goes to the jungle where Ben’s old constituency is waiting for him. Richard Alpert, a Taoist Immortal who never ages, says, “welcome home.”

Actually, I find it kind of troubling that there is so little frustration or public anger or confusion about this as there was with Duchamp and John Lennon. It is a little like I feel about censorship and the Homeland Security. I’m against it but I’d be disappointed if I was left off their lists.

Maybe people don’t read the secret language, but it hides in plain sight. Maybe we don’t care. Maybe we are no longer curious.

. . . for anyone interested in Lost
God doesn't know we're here. No one knows we're here. - Henry Gale

Last night’s - Jan 14, '09 – review of previous Lost episodes shows the link to the rising Platonic Month, Aquarius. Technically, the Age of Aquarius started in January, 2000. Ben is identified in season two as the Christ, marked by the Christ wound in his chest. He is tortured in a cell like the Christ in Dostoyevski’s Grand Inquisitor, a chapter in The Brother’s Karamazov. In his cell, John Locke gives him a copy of this book.

In last night’s episode Ben turns the turnstile to “move the island” – shifting the age for Pisces to Aquarius. He enters a “glass” to the North Pole. He is shifting the island to the “New Jerusalem” and lands later in a desert.

John Locke is identified as the new agent; the agent of Aquarius, replacing Ben, the Christ, avatar of the previous Platonic Month. In the lexicon of Lost, at the end of the journey, Ben has become a random killer. Locke goes to the jungle where Ben’s old constituency is waiting for him. Richard Alpert, who never ages, says, “welcome home.”

In Lost, people have historic names. Richard Alpert, leader of Ben’s cult, is the real name of the Harvard professor who, with Timothy Leary started the hippie movement. He took the name Ram Dass and wrote a popular book in the day titled Be Here Now. “Oceanic” airlines is the company name which owns the plane which brought the group to the island. It is the name taken from Orwell’s 1984 of the global America - Oceania. The planes crashes between Platonic Months. More on Lost here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Obama and the Horde - Reagan and Bill Ayers

By Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill on 1/14/09

Stephen Moore, senior economic writer for The Wall Street Journal, believes Congress should become conversant with Ayn Rand’s classic Atlas Shrugged, as it seems to be tailored to the Department of Rhetoric, which is forming the Obama bailout packages.

“Many of us who know Rand's work have noticed that with each passing week, and with each successive bailout plan and economic-stimulus scheme out of Washington, our current politicians are committing the very acts of economic lunacy that Atlas Shrugged parodied in 1957, when this 1,000-page novel was first published and became an instant hit,” he writes.

A survey by the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month Club found that readers rated "Atlas" as the second-most influential book in their lives, behind only the Bible, he says.

In the Randian vision politicians invariably respond to crises -- that in most cases they themselves created -- by spawning new government programs, laws and regulations: “Every new act of government futility and stupidity carries with it a benevolent-sounding title. These include the "Anti-Greed Act" to redistribute income (sounds like Charlie Rangel's promises soak-the-rich tax bill) and the "Equalization of Opportunity Act" to prevent people from starting more than one business (to give other people a chance). My personal favorite, the "Anti Dog-Eat-Dog Act," aims to restrict cut-throat competition between firms and thus slow the wave of business bankruptcies. Why didn't Hank Paulson think of that?”

I think this is good stuff. The problem is that Ayn Rand, having escaped from the Soviet Union by her wit, comes to us as an anti-Soviet. Which is good, but Sovietism, as it was cooked and cultivated in the Russian serf state by Lenin and Stalin, was already an “anti” philosophy. It was an anti-capitalism materialist philosophy which rose in the world as America rose under Hamilton’s vision of an economic world order in which New York – thus the Empire State – was the center of the wheel.

Rand’s writings became so popular in the 1950s that they soon-after fostered an anti-Randian element which helped advance Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society spending. And that in turn brought about neo-Randians and people like Ron Paul and the Cato Institute who were anti-Great Society, much as the original Randians were critics of Roosevelt’s pre-war spending.

Mathematicians will see what is going on here. We have entered a negative Fibonacci Curve, spiraling from anti to anti back from some original spot that can be traced back in time to Hamilton, Marx and Adam Smith.

Being old enough and lucky enough to have shared friendship and conversation with Lincoln Brigade soldiers and Communists with a big C who were influential in New York and Brooklyn in the 1930s and 1940s, I’d point out that Rand is a theory and not an actual accurate life picture. The commies I knew were probably the most individualistic and committed and heroic and courageous people I have ever known. And they did not really believe in ideology, but used it only as a blunt weapon. They believed in the poor when most of the world was poor. And in Russia and China they showed some historic success.

But the world changes in moments almost unseen and their world changed substantively on two occasions. The one change agent was Ronald Reagan. The other was Bill Ayers.

First Reagan. Early in his Presidency, air traffic controllers went on strike. Reagan ignored them. The air traffic controllers had taken the tool of the poor and the starving anarchists of the mid-1800s and used it to their own means. These were people making up to 40 and 60 thousand a year – big money in those days - and were using a strike for a life style issue.

When Reagan ignored them he hit a cord with millions of Reagan Democrats whose families had come from the factory system and felt that the tools of the poor to fight poverty were not the tools for the near and neuvo wealthy.

There is Obama’s problem today, and Hillary’s. Their constituency is a class between the poor and the rich; they come from common roots but are well off by every benchmark in the American tradition of poverty and would actually be on the way to family wealth if they had any kids. But still they use the tools of the proletariat to advance middle class status.

Neo-Randianism was a natural consequence. Many of the old socialists, taking their cue from the most original Arthur Koestler, who wrote Darkness at Noon, a novel about the Stalin purges, joined Reagan. Some even advised him.

Rand’s novels and seminars recall the Roosevelt period and the ideas currently adopted by Obama, modifications of Keynes and Marx: If you just throw money off a building, the people will respond as a horde, go all Bridzilla and tear down the doors at Macy’s.

Both Keynes and Marx are philosophers of the horde. And according to their theories the behavior of the horde is predictable. Sometimes. Like when the Boston Brahmins took to the John Brown cult, they could readily count on the army of the recently arrived Irish Catholic proles which they despised to do the fighting for them in the Civil War. And on September 16, 1940, when Roosevelt signed the Selective Training and Service Act he could well have been assured of passage in the Senate (47-25) and especially the House (232 – 124). Without any doubt, the country would follow into the army without caveat or question.

When these ideas were formulating, we were a nation primarily of factory workers and field hands. Some of the most influential writing of the day was about this. World Socialist H.G. Wells, who gave us the phrase The New World Order as the title of one of his books, saw us as a half-beast species which could easily be formed to the will of the elite. Others, like Frank Baum and Czech writer Karel Capek (R.U.R.: Rossum’s Universal Roberts, 1921) and Thea Von Harbou and Fritz Lang (Metropolis, 1926/27), couldn’t help noticing how readily the behavior of a human being on a production line resembled a robot. In Ozma of Oz (1907), Baum’s nicely-named Tiktok, a relative of his industrial Golem, Tim Man in The Wizard of Oz, sings, "Always work and never play!/Don't demand a cent of pay!"

These ideas, like Rand’s novels and seminars, carried over post war to Isaac Asimov and others. But Aldous Huxley, who wrote of Ford – seeking subsidy today by Obama and co. - as the robot’s god in Brave New World, declared that we need not be a species of beasts or robots on a production line. And within each of us is a little Ramakrishna, striving to get out and be free.

Huxley’s writing took the day. The rising post-war generation was unbeholden to priest or politician. The Doors of Perception became not only a model of psychedelic psychological venues pioneered by Timothy Leary and others, but was so influential as a primary source that it morphed into the name of a popular band at the time, The Doors. And Heaven and Hell, the essay which accompanied The Doors of Perception, became the opening theme of The Who at Woodstock. Between 1964 and 1968, Khrishnamurti had trumped Keynes, Marx and the horde.

Good to know because it was, perhaps, a point of no return. In 1966, when I was drafted, it didn’t go like it did in 1940. Americans said no. Bill Ayers said no and so did about half of the 40 million born in the same few months that I was. And we will say no again, next time we are asked to go blind into the night.

Jefferson’s vision was complete. For the factory workers, the European immigrants, the Chinese and Irish peasants who met in the middle of the country building the railroad, the field workers and the former slaves, the age of the horde had ended.

We had become individuals and we had become citizens. And any federal mandate which treats us otherwise, from Obama, Bush or Hillary, will henceforth be repudiated.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Kelsey Grammer for Governor? Is California dying?

By Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill on 1/12/09

The train hasn’t left the station yet and already they are feeling post-seasonal. Diane Feinstein, the Senator from California, is speaking out: Why wasn’t she informed ahead of time that Leon Panetta, a former Clinton employee who now works in a vineyard in California, I think, was appointed chief of the CIA?

I used to have a lot a CIA types in my old neighborhood and was wondering about that myself. I though we liked to use Mormons for jobs like that.

There was no reason she should have been informed. She just wants to be the first to scold Obama. The first, that is, to put him in his place.

But Obama knows how this works as everyone in Chicago does. It is the most territorial of all the political regions and networks; a virtual Miller’s Crossing of vying political tribes and ethnic groups and Obama has long mastered the lore of territoriality.

But for Feinstein, it’s not about her appointment to head the Select Committee on Intelligence next month. It’s about running for Governor in 2010.

She might have a little competition. Recently, on Mike Huckabee’s new TV show, Kelsey Grammer, star of the award-winning Frasier and a McCain/Palin supporter, announced that he might be considering running for political office in the near future.

Huck egged him on, saying he would work for him or work against him, whichever he thought would help the most.

Grammer admitted that his life had not been as button down as Frasier’s, and he did have a few skeletons in the closet. But he felt they had all been adequately aired.

I checked him out on Wiki and it’s a pretty spicy contrast. But nothing so exciting as when Andrew Jackson took to the Oval Office still with a bullet lodged an inch from his heart, the result of a frontier duel with a political antagonist. And anyway, so long as you haven’t done any longish felony time or any crime with an axe or fire, it can all be spun as a plus in our day.

In fact, it was Jackson’s feisty past; the frontier duels, the gambling and free love in the forest . . . the horse racing, the conquering spirit of the Scotch-Irish which formed the character of the western states in the South and Southwest, that brought national appeal to his candidacy.

Because Americans get bored and in 1829 when Jackson went to the Presidency we were bored. Bored with Adams, Jefferson and even Washington. Bored with Congress. Bored with Harvard. Bored with the East and candidates who made their pitch to the people saying they were editors of the Harvard Law Review. Bored with lawyers and suits.

And by 2010 we might be bored again.

Obama’s Roosevelt refrain is not the most original narrative. Stocks today are only where they were eight years ago when some smart observers said they were getting overvalued. A drive over Christmas from New Hampshire to Atlanta and across the Smokies to Nashville found hardly more than one car enroute with more than 150,000 miles on it, my own. And at least half of the people who listen to Cat Jackson, Shania Twain and the Stanley Brothers on the radio appear to have just bought one of the brand new Ford F 150s, still with the white tags on the rear. The New Great Depression narrative could fade in two years, just as Bush’s phony WW II narrative about Iraq grew quickly old.

“Maybe Obama can pull this off,” David Brooks of the New York Times wrote recently, “but I have my worries. By this time next year, he’ll either be a great president or a broken one.”

I didn’t see much on Grammer’s vita to suggest a political career, but he dresses well and sings like Bobby Short. Then again, Caroline Kennedy, who has recently found the voting place on 64th Street, says, you know, a lot of people these days are taking different paths to politics.

And to political journalism as well don’t you know. There’s nothing in the resume of a charming and popular afternoon TV hostess like Oprah to suggest she could springboard a virtually unheard of politician to a brilliant career. And nothing to suggest that a midnight vaudevillian and second rate TV ad actress like Tina Fey or a morning coffee TV lifestyle reporter like Katie Couric, brand new to serious political discussion of world affairs and conspicuously anxious to sit at the table with the grown ups, could destroy one in a week.

We might be better off with this no experience thing. In the olden days – commentator Paris Hilton’s term – it took the rhetorical skill and swagger of a veteran neurotic like Joe McCarthy to have such public impact.

And in California, where two of the most impressive Governors have been actors, political experience – like Feinstein’s - could well be a negative. Right now Meg Whitman, a manager and business person, seems to be held in high regard precisely because she has no political experience.

Grammer could enter as an outsider, and there he could just possibly find his moment. Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Goverator, brought to office on a frantic hope, like Obama, has failed to save California.

Reality is setting in. Devin Nunes, a California representative, says the gold rush is being reversed. In a recent op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, he reports that California has the sixth largest tax burden in the country and a 40 billion dollar deficit. In 2000, according to the state's Department of Finance, about 150,000 people moved into California, Nunes reports. But in the years that followed the in-migration slowed, and in 2005 it reversed, when a net 52,000 people moved out. In 2008, the outflow topped 135,000 people.

“After more than 150 years of being a destination, California is becoming a place entrepreneurs, investment capital and the hardy workers who made it a global leader in agriculture, technological innovation and scientific research are fleeing. This exodus is the marker of something deeper than a national recession. It's a sign that the attempts by state leaders to spend their way back to prosperity are killing California.”

And if California fails, America fails.

What California needs, says Nunes is a “citizen’s legislature.” “Californians need to be able to elect leaders whose primary interest is public service, not furthering political careers,” he writes.

Grammer should pay heed. As trade broadens across the Pacific, California faces its greatest opportunity. It is virtually the center of the world before us which historian Niall Ferguson calls Chimerica. Arnold’s “post partisanship” has proved illusory and the Democrat who preceded him was an abject failure.

California needs a new direction and Nunes’s “citizen’s legislature” could strike a cord. It is a new off-Broadway play looking for an actor. This is, again, a California tradition. Ronald Reagan’s success in California and in Washington came after he had tapped his rhetorical skills as a public performer to market and advance new ideas.

And if Obama’s 1930s-era strategy, originally designed for a labor force made up almost in it’s entirety of immigrant factory workers and illiterate field hands, fails, it will have a slingshot effect. The whole country will be in the same dire straights that California is today. It’s credit rating is tied to last with Louisiana by Standard and Poors when it should be first.

We will actually need change, and not simply as a rhetorical flourish. We will need change to survive. Change like Andrew Jackson brought. In his rise to the Presidency two new political parties followed in his wake.

What you really need today in politics is a narrative like Obama’s Dreams from My Father or John McCain’s Faith of my Fathers. Grammer’s Frasier story might work.

It won’t show in the credits but Frasier is an American Quaternity; an archetypal and mythical vision of trail’s end in Seattle. It is a vision of a broken Camelot: The Father, an honest cop who represents traditional authority, is crippled and incapacitated by “a punk” in a world which has lost its center. Mother is dead and in a fully corporatized and artificial environment, sustained marriage and the simple life of family is virtually impossible. Frasier himself is divorced from Lilith – the biblical version of Kali, the Death Mother – and though he longs for family and stability, he sees his only son but once a year, at Christmas.

In good faith, Frasier hopes and thinks he can repair this world – naively, perhaps, like Grammer. But he is alone in this to carry the flame: Frasier is the True Son in the Quaternity - with only Trickster brother Niles and the clairvoyant spirit Daphne for help and solace - on whose head responsibility for the fate and salvation of the tribe – in this case the world – lies. He is the last Templar, hoping to restore the temple in a New Jerusalem in Seattle; the last outpost on a journey across oceans and millennia that has reached its edge; facing the East now across the Pacific.

It is not a bad narrative and is one which reveals itself in moments of grace. Like in the episode at the end of a brief fling with his corporate boss who hopes to spend her days ahead in early retirement raising horses in Montana. Frasier says wistfully he’d prefer to raise kids, so simple but so impossible a dream in leisure-class Seattle at the turn of the century.

Like Frasier in Seattle, and Jackson in Tennessee, we Americans are all to varying degrees strangers in a strange land. The Boulevard of Broken Dreams, where Grammer may seek office, is the true end of our long, westward journey and it will be from there that we find our way back to ourselves.

Frasier helped. Maybe Kelsey Grammer can help again.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

One Hand Clapping for Robert Reich

By Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill on 1/08/09

Robert Reich, Clinton’s Secretary of Labor, called up for advise by President Elect Obama, should be singled out for this lucid observation on the current world economic crisis: Anyone who tells you they know what is going on, he says, doesn’t know what is going on.

It is a refreshing pitch in a day when we are compelled forward almost compulsively by Nobel laureates who take their cues from Isaac Asimov and Ayn Rand, most influential New York Times columnists who would feel fully estranged in Seattle or Austin, reporting from Paris as if it was just yesterday that Hemingway liberated the Ritz – I guess we really will always have Paris, Ilsa – and plumbers who speak garbage but we actually listen because they tell us they are good Christian men.

These and so many other things tell us that we have come to the end of something; something in the culture which has nothing to do with the technical tunings of the economy. The question is, what?

It is also comforting to know that Reich’s advice doesn’t come from Asimov or Rand, but is a modification of Lao Tsu, who, as a countervailing force to Confucius, helped keep China on course for more than two millennia: Those who know, don’t say. Those who say, don’t know. Like Lincoln, we see ourselves on the river again and can only see to the turn of the bank. Like Lincoln, we have no idea what opens past the bend ahead.

“To listen to the pundits, one would think that today’s banking crisis and financial meltdown is something rare and exotic,” John Lauritz Larson writes in the LA Times. “But people who stayed awake in history class know that financial panic is a familiar ‘plot devise’ in the drama of modern capitalism. Speculation has been followed by collapse at least as far back as the South Sea bubble of 1720.”

That would have been near the beginning of something. Something that first got underway when Elizabeth I granted 200 billionaires license to start the East India Company and point their ships to the East.

The West’s journey to the East may have finally reached its limit: There are no more Indias to invade, no more Americas to colonize. Everything ends; journeys, generations, narratives, centuries, millennia, economies. The East is heading back to us.

The history of panics ought to remind us that independence was the first objective of America’s founders, writes Larson, but these days, we cannot retreat into semi-subsistence, grow our own food and sit tight under our own vine or fig tree.

Why not, again? The creative part of the process at the current moment is in the recognition that the themes we have been using – Krugman, Greenspan, Hamilton, Marx, Keynes, Elizabeth I, Roosevelt, Clinton, Obama – may no longer suit the times. Times change and every motivating vision becomes irrelevant in time. But when this creative recognition is barely breached today, it is always followed by a caveat: But of course we can’t do anything other than what we have always done before, even if it insures failure. Because we have not yet imagined anything else which suits our boat on the river as we enter the new century and the new millennium.

And so we – Obama – default to Roosevelt and the nostalgicos at the liberated Ritz of the 40s.

What again is wrong with sitting under our own fig tree? Economic cycles come from somewhere or rather, they are a manifestation of Americans and others going somewhere - heading West generally, in an American narrative, until there is no more West to get to. Things end and the American journey West ended at the Pacific.

Late in life Ambassador Kennan, embittered with the American condition, proposed a division of America into 12 regions. I would not suggest or support independence, and it is a vision only of the alienated, but regionalizing the economy into 12 culturally distinct regions with semi-autonomous economic purposes and functions would have the beginning effect of strengthening community tier economies. It would encourage local rather than global trade for stuff that is here already; it would build and strengthen regional economies and cultures like the Pacific Northwest and New England and it would defend them against the vicissitudes of globalization which is sketchy at best and dangerous at worst.

As Howard Dean said up here when he was governor, "We have more in common with the eastern provinces of Canada than we do with Texas.”

It would be only common sense to live like that; to do business first with those we are common with, and second then to those with whom we are not.