Saturday, January 30, 2010

A new age of Jefferson: New Hampshire’s “Free Staters” started it all

By Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill on 2/1/10

At the beginning of every movement is a wild bunch. Rowdy workers on the docks in Boston, John Brown and his half-mad family. When historians trace back from Scott Brown to the beginning, they will get to a wild bunch in New Hampshire called the “Free Staters.”

They moved here a few years back and live on the edge of the forest, not more than a handful at first but expecting thousands to follow, intending to start the republic fresh again. And in a way they did. I came to their attention with an article in 2003 titled “A States’ Rights Defense against Dick Cheney” premised on Thomas Jefferson’s Kentucky Resolutions, making the claim that New Hampshire and Vermont need not participate in the war on Iraq without the permission of our state governors.

They had moved up here drawn to our state motto, I think – Live Free or Die. But it was no big ideological thing, more a free-spirited awakening which brought the usual scoffs from the lace curtain MSM and conventional political religionists here in the cold where local politics sometimes seems a substitute for religion. I received an email from one blithe spirit who said that she was basically about “ . . . opposing gun laws, legalizing marijuana and Hillary is a bitch.”

What we had in common was the premise that Thomas Jefferson had recognized the natural state that formed of its own initiative when ideology was removed from the equation. And acknowledged that in the Constitution by declaring that the states had the natural right and the ability to defend themselves against an abusive, arrogant, immoral or delirious federal government.

From then till now, this idea has taken off. I think now it cannot be held back. It will bring us a new breed of politician and a new political generation. It is already doing so.

This thinking first began to move last February when Dan Itse, a New Hampshire state representative, read commentary related to Jefferson and the Kentucky Resolutions and proposed a 10th amendment defense against the Obama administration’s deficit spending; spending so extensive that it would tax future generations. 37 other states immediately followed his initiative. Then again on April 15, 2009, when the Tea Party revolts started across the country. When Texas governor Rick Perry appeared at one at the Alamo it brought greater legitimacy to this movement. His friend Ted Nugent brought his own inimitable style. Sarah Palin undoubtedly brought this movement nationally when she led support of other governors to the NY 23 race, bridging the Tea Partiers and the mainstream.

Mainstream conservatives and the Tea Partiers need to merge, Palin told Fox’s Greta Van Susteren. "Definitely, they need to merge. I think those who are wanting the divisions and the divisiveness and the controversy -- those are the ones who don't believe in the message. And they're the ones, I think, stirring it up."
They have already merged.

The election of Bob McDonnell as Virginia’s governor completed this transformation and fully legitimized the Jeffersonian ideals in Jefferson’s home state. This can be seen now as the new mainstream. The election of Scott Brown insured that Massachusetts and the East would not be left out.

In his speech in response to President Obama’s State of the Union, McDonnell made several references to the singular man of the Enlightenment who awakened the world: “It was Thomas Jefferson who called for ‘A wise and frugal Government which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry ….and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned…’ He was right.”

Jefferson could awaken us again in 2010 and 2012. And it all started up here in woods of New Hampshire with the Free Staters. Never underestimate the power of a handful of rural red necks, duty-bound, born-again to the Constitution and hell-bent on a free vision of starting the world again. ‘Twas ever thus.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The end of liberalism

by Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill on 1/27/10

The country had descended into war, disassociation and debt because the king had fallen into a trance. It is the theme of that great, primitive myth of the English-speaking people, “Lord of the Rings,” which swept the airwaves at the turn of the millennium. Then the king suddenly woke up. That is the sense of things with the election of Scott Brown. It came to mind again last night listening to an interview with Meg Whitman, former CEO of eBay, who is running for governor of California. America is coming out of a trance.

Even in treacherous times, California would more likely look to the movie star or the relative of the famous. Maybe a charmed or elegant ethnic; a Jimmy Carter or a Barack Obama. A nostalgic return with Governor Moonbeam. A Mambo King, a porno star gone legit, a late night comic or a professional wrestler: The muse rather than the manager. Whitman is still ten points behind but maybe even California is ready for awakening.

The MSM and its punditry can see only short distances and that only in hindsight. Should Obama go to “Clintonism” or “non-Clintonism”? Those are the proposed options. It is an improvement over going back to the Sixties, back to the 1930s or back to the 1860s. They are hired for that purpose. This perspective brings accurate short-term predictions in ordinary times. But when the sea changes the paradigm changes and these predictions are always wrong. The sea has changed with Scott Brown and it has been changing all throughout the past year.

For six months polls have shown that 41% of the public consider themselves independent of either major political party. In Massachusetts it is 51%. The case can be made today that Massachusetts is less liberal than the other states. Ted Kennedy may have been declared the “lion” of liberalism by those who have never seen a lion. Growing up here I felt that Massachusetts had such a red neck underbelly that I moved away after college.

But in any case, it should be considered that those sentiments and sensibilities which Ted – not Jack or Bobby – came to represent may have fully dissipated. This is the way it was with Victoria. This is the way it was with Jefferson. The age ended with its representative avatar.

Polls today show the public viewing Fox news as “most trusted.” Polls show Americans consider global warming last among their concerns. Polls show Glenn Beck to be the fourth most admired man in America.

It has been said here for more than a year that what goes on in the economy today and its cultural currents resembles more the 1830s than the 1930s. It was then that America found its second Creation Myth at the Alamo and found its second wind with Andrew Jackson. With Jackson, the heartland came alive in opposition to the eastern cities, Boston and Richmond. Eventually the East would have to imitate to dominate, thus the crazy hat and whiskers on Abe Lincoln.

That is Scott Brown. He is in reality a left-leaning Massachusetts Republican, but like Lincoln’s countrified whiskers, his importance today is symbolic. His pickup truck is more relevant to the times than his point of view. The new political culture that is taking form in the heartland through the rising spirit of Beck, Rick Perry, Sarah Palin and tens of millions of others, has found its way to New York in the west and Massachusetts at dead center. Most of us here were always more like Scott Brown than Ted Kennedy and this is where we will begin again. This is where we in the east will join America.

Obama is at a critical turning and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him bring in a few new faces. Possibly Wesley Clark, who ran for president in 2004 and brought solid good sense and character to the Democrats, will reappear. The call coming up this week from Firedoglake: Obama is “ . . . a faux populist, a real populist would fire Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers.” Maybe one or two will be thrown to the fishes so as to regain equilibrium. But it could well be too late and not enough. And this time around the year will not start with the President’s State of the Union which he gives tonight. It could well start instead with the Republican response by the newly elected Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Who wears the cowboy boots in Texas?

by Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill on 1/25/10

First out it was Levi Johnston v. Sarah Palin. Then Letterman vs. Sarah Palin. And Steve Schmidt, way post-seasonal in the marketing curve, coming in just in these last few weeks. But now in Texas it is George H.W. Bush vs. Sarah Palin. The stakes couldn’t be higher. The Republican primary race in Texas is now virtually a referendum on federalism.

George H.W. Bush supports Kay Bailey Hutchison. Sarah Palin supports the current governor Rick Perry.

“She [Hutchison] was a Lone Star Republican before it was cool to be a Republican in Texas,” Bush said.

Yes, but Perry was a Texan before it was cool to be a Texan. His family goes back to five generations of ranchers in Paint Creek, north of Abilene, while Bush has barely arrived. It was an issue that came up when H.W. decided to run for President whether he was a Texan or a Connecticut Yankee. His appearance in public debates wearing cowboy boots brought muffled laughter. He had to keep telling the press that he really was a Texan.

Bush paraphrases the tune made popular by Barbara Mandrell and old-school country legend George Jones: “I took a lot of kiddin’ cause I never did fit in . . . now look at everybody tryin' to be what I was then . . .” ‘Everybody’ suggesting people like H.W., Texan by way of Milton, Mass., Greenwich Country Day School, Andover, Yale Skull and Bones. Bush was Vice President when, “I was country when country wasn’t cool,” became popular.

That Bush has entered into the fray raises the profile of this election to a national referendum on issues of taxation, federal spending and state sovereignty.
Perry was one of the first national politicians to speak out in opposition to the government bailouts. In a Wall Street Journal essay titled “Governors against State Bailouts” published on Dec. 2, 2008, he said we were crossing the Rubicon in regards to debt as Washington has thrown bailout after bailout at the national economy with little to show for it.

“In the process, the federal government is not only burying future generations under mountains of debt. It is also taking our country in a very dangerous direction -- toward a "bailout mentality" where we look to government rather than ourselves for solutions.”

H.W.’s post-Presidential cache is a little mysterious. As President he was a prancing lightweight and the closer for Ronald Reagan. He represents a tradition or a sort, as the Kennedys do. As the Kennedys did.

Company men of the Bush “brand” like Dick Cheney and Karl Rove join H.W. in opposition to Perry. So does Karen Hughes, counselor (and proxy?) for W. But not all mainstream Republicans are hunkering down against what Maureen Dowd calls “Tea-party-style voter revolts.” In an interview with Dowd in the Sunday New York Times California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says: ““People change very quickly, and you can’t complain because that’s the way people are. Work somewhere in a soup kitchen or something if you can’t take the pressure.” And in a recent interview on Fox Business, Mitt Romney, who showed in the 2002 Winter Olympics an instinctive ability to turn a circus into an opera, said the grass roots revolt was better than seeing the Republicans sit on their hands in despair, as they were doing a year ago.
Consider for a moment that Kennedy/Bush is a binary political abstraction which ran all the way from Boston to Texas but one that trailed back to Kennedy (Father Joe) and Lodge (Henry Cabot) here in New England generations ago and indeed carried in contention all the way back to the Old Sod since Cromwell invaded Ireland. These two are symbiots and when the one dies the other begins to look pale and watery. Like Holmes and Moriarty, they tend to go over the waterfall together.

My father was the archetypal Boston Irish Catholic who became an altar boy by default well into his eighties because no one else went to daily early morning Mass anymore. Very late in his life he developed a liking for George Romney, Mitt’s father, who ran for President briefly in 1968. Say what you like about Mormons in the Deep South and elsewhere, but up here, this was never their fight.

That age has passed with the old century. And in this season of endings and beginnings, what we are seeing in Texas today and America is a new awakening.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Understanding Romney: One size does not fit all

by Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill on 1/22/10

As the Wall Street Journal points out in an opinion this morning, this is not only a good day for Scott Brown, the new senator from Massachusetts, but for Mitt Romney as well. Glenn Beck doesn’t trust Brown he says. But with Brown toting friends like William Weld, John McCain and Romney around on his bus, it might not be such a good day for Glenn Beck.

The WSJ’s Kim Strassel pointed out that Romney’s closest aides flooded to Mr. Brown, bringing with them the savvy of his national operation.

“From a perch atop his Free and Strong America PAC, Mr. Romney has been raising money, nurturing his team, keeping himself in the national spotlight. With the Massachusetts Senate race, he sensed an unexpected opportunity to step to the front of the GOP presidential ranks,” she writes.

I doubt that the tea party’s tent will fold with the election of Brown, but something else has happened: The river that runs between traditional Republicans and insurgent conservative populists now has a bridge in Scott Brown. In fact, it has another bridge in Virginia with the new governor, Bob McDonnell, who will give the Republicans’ response to President Obama’s State of the Union speech next month. The insurgents have built a new base for organization and now with the election of Brown and McDonnell, it is being absorbed into the mainstream.

But when the very first thinking about regional identity started to surface here in New England as a militant defense against federal overreach, Romney was the governor of Massachusetts and he was already incorporating the same elements of thinking, not as revolutionary polemic, but as practical and effective management strategies here in Massachusetts.

Thus the phrase, “One size does not fit all,” which he began to use as governor, used throughout his Presidential campaign and used again this last week in a Fox Business interview. It is his theme song. Texas governor Rick Perry now uses the phrase as well and so does Sarah Palin.

Republican pundits report that Romney’s stock has been down because of RomneyCare, the health care program that Romney instituted in Massachusetts. Some of the features suggest ObamaCare, and as large numbers oppose ObamaCare’s vast federal spending, the thinking goes, they would therefore oppose RomneyCare. But that misses the point.

“The bill that was being pushed in Washington was not good for Massachusetts,” Brown said after his election. “It may have been good for other states but we already had everything and a lot of what was being proposed.”

That is just the point in Romney’s thinking about healthcare: What is good for one state is not necessarily good for others. Romney is in fact in the avant garde with this thinking, which has become the base camp of the states sovereignty movement.

Romney was unique in the history of Massachusetts governors in that he came to us from the west. He had personal experience in the western states, in Michigan and in Massachusetts, where he went to college.

My observation here when he was governor was that he had that rare quality which Zen Buddhists call “beginner’s mind.” He does not rebel from new ideas and new people but incorporates aspects of new thinking in his own ideas to make a better fit. And he is aware that the country has changed since 1776 when the west was forest and later when it was frontier, and even the 1930s when the vast majority of Americans worked in one of two places, the floor of the factory or the field.

One size fits all federalism might have been the perfect system then. But today for a country as full and rich and varied and alive this, the old system is a disaster. Romney was the first to catch on.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Perry/Palin vs. Hutchinson/Bush: End of things, new beginnings

The markets could be cratering today because they sense a change in the “New World Order” with the election of Scott Brown. The term, used by President George H.W. Bush is unfortunate. It was the title of a book in 1940 by H.G. Wells, the utopian socialist. Like so many utopian visions of the last century - in with the dust, gone with the wind - it shows the vulnerability of world markets to ideology, whimsy and mass delusion.

It should be noted that Scott Brown owes a political debt to the Christmas bomber. His prospects began to rise on Dec. 28 when he promised he would be the 41st vote against the Democratic health-care bill. Almost no one noticed. He was trailing Martha Coakley by 20 points. But from where I live, which is similar to the blue western parts of Massachusetts, a change in temperament could be sensed. In the 2004 election northeast liberals were torn about the war in Iraq due to policy and politics. But then the dastardly Dec. 25 attempt gave them/us the opportunity to express ourselves freely in opposition to terrorism without committing necessarily to consequences.

We were perhaps the last to get on board emotionally but we are there now. That shift in temperament helped raise Brown’s boat. This can happen overnight (that is what the movie “Casablanca” is about), as it did when the New England Transcendentalists suddenly threw their support to John Brown and the rising war effort.

I see this as a permanent change in political temperament. As the Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Henninger said, the Kennedy era is dead. But something new will rise, it always does. Possibly a new party could rise.

We are riding a sequence from NY 23 and Virginia last fall to Massachusetts this week. But the most important transitional date is ahead in the race for Texas governor. The Austin Statesman reports that former President George H.W. Bush will endorse U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in the Republican primary for governor in her race against Rick Perry. Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Margaret Spellings and Karen Hughes also support Hutchison.

But Sarah Palin supports Rick Perry and will appear with him at a rally on Super Bowl Sunday. Does one Sarah Palin equal a Bush, a Rove, a Spellings and a Hughes? In Texas, I believe it does. And other places as well.

"I look forward to standing with Sarah to promote our shared conservative values of limited government, low taxes and individual freedom," Perry said in a statement. "Gov. Palin is a true conservative leader whose priorities and message resonate with Texans, and I am honored to have her in Texas supporting my campaign."

As Brown brought the end of things in Massachusetts and New England, we are seeing a critical new division in Texas between traditional Republicans and new conservatives. The outcome of this race will be more important than NY 23, Virginia or Massachusetts. It could bring a new and permanent realignment of the political parties.

Rasmussen reports this week that Perry is ahead 43% to 33%. Perry is one of the most solid and respectable governors in the republic. His state is growing while other large states are in recession. And he has closely allied himself with the tea party movement. As we have seen the end of the Kennedy era with the election of Brown, we may as well be seeing the end of the Bush era – the old world order - with the reelection of Perry.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Massachusetts and America

By Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill on 1/19/10

Repetition of the 1930s in the year 2009 is an experiment doomed to failure. Likewise repeating the Sixties. But here in the Boston region where Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac, Jack Kennedy and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi first took root, the Sixties have never really ended. It is very much like Faulkner’s South, where the past was never really dead, it wasn’t even past.

One way or another, the past ends today in Massachusetts.

If Scott Brown wins the race for the U.S. Senate seat from Massachusetts, Massachusetts and New England will join the trends that are taking hold in the rest of America. If Martha Coakley wins, Massachusetts and New England will be marginalized.

And Coakley’s presence in the Senate will further inflame the anti-tax movement which started here in Concord, New Hampshire, less than a year ago when Dan Itse, a state representative from Fremont, resurrected the 1798 Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and made the audacious claim that the states had the sovereign right to oppose federal legislation which went beyond its prescribed Constitutional fences.

The future rises now in the heartland. If Coakley wins Massachusetts will become a pariah state in a free republic.

Monday, January 18, 2010

How many divisions does Google have?

by Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill on 1/18/10

A Sunday New York Times headline asks: Can Google Beat China? The answer might be seen in a paraphrase of Joe Stalin’s historic quip: How many divisions does Google have?

Last week before the Google kerfuffle, the Times complained: “As China has flooded the world with exports, it has edged out suppliers from other developing countries. This was bad enough when the world economy was growing briskly.” Now China’s strategy is doing considerably more harm, they say.

There is a scolding tone to the Times essay, but as Hu Jintao pointed out in the recent Copenhagen meeting on climate change, the United States and the West are no longer in the position to scold. Copenhagen should be seen as a pivotal turning point in our relationship with China and therefore with all other countries. At Copenhagen, China demanded a change in status to match the shift in economics variables and more precisely, economic dominance.

The idea of globalism and globalization with America dominant has been on our minds since colonial times. It was embedded in the minds of the founders, especially Hamilton. In 1869 when Walt Whitman saw the opening of the Suez Canal he wrote: Lo, soul, seest thou not God’s purpose from the first?/ The earth to be spann’d, connected by network,/ The races, neighbors, to marry and be given in marriage,/The oceans to be cross’d, the distant brought near,/The lands to be welded together. From then to now it has been the Roosevelts, Kennedy, Bill Clinton and onward and upward. After World War II, globalization was a matrix from which the smallest tribe in Indonesia could not escape.

But the rise to globalism may have limitations now to commerce and creativity. It was always to our advantage to expand and we only expanded because it was to our advantage. But if globalism is no longer to our advantage and is to our disadvantage then we should begin to consider alternatives. The globalist paradigm may now be a receding tide. It may be time for us to begin to start thinking of another framework for our place in the world. Germany, for one, is already doing so.

Required reading: Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China, by Leslie T. Chang. Chang is a reporter for The Wall Street Journal. This is a brilliant and informative book which gives a fundamental framework for what can be seen ahead in China’s economic rise. Chang takes her title from a famous study of the farm girls in New Hampshire and Massachusetts who went to work in factories here 200 years ago and the attitudes which changed their lives as they moved from country to city and which in turn changed the country. She points out that in China’s case the 130 million migrant workers who have moved from peasant plots to work in factories form “the largest migration in human history.”

This group forms a new management and commercial class for greater China. China today spends focuses infrastructure cash on a rising capital and industrial realm not unlike America’s great rise in the 1800s. “They are great capitalists,” says legendary investor Jim Rogers, who has moved his family from New York to Singapore. The conventional wisdom is that China needs us to buy its stuff. But China is now in the position of developing its own internal markets for consumer spending.
Worth noting: The population of the U.S. is 308,491,141 and many of us are rapidly growing old. According to the CIA World Factbook, the population of China is 1,338,612,968.

The prospects for war always increase when economic variables change as they are rapidly changing now. They increase again when the country enters into denial about those changes.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Will Massachusetts join the world?

If the sound of ghostly laughter is heard in Massachusetts these days as this campaign rolls on, with Martha Coakley self-portrayed as the guardian of justice and civil liberties, there is good reason. - Dorothy Rabinowitz, Wall Street Journal

With all due respect, that is not Ted Kennedy’s seat and it is not the Democrats’ seat. It is the seat of the people of Massachusetts. – Scott Brown, who is running for United States senator in Massachusetts

I like to point up and explain to my kids with pride when we drive through Providence that their grandfather put the beacon light in the Hancock building, the tallest building in Providence at the time. And when we drive through Fall River to tell them that he was the electrician in the last factory to head south. He turned the lights out. But like so many things that have come and gone here where we have walked with ghosts since the Witch Trials 1692, that world is dead. It died I think when Bob Dylan came to Newport with a wooden guitar. I was there because the Catholics in my town went to high school in Newport and before it got big, the folk festival was in our high school football field. New angels took us. Good ones too. And by then my father was more American than he was Irish and so were all the French, Portuguese and everyone else who had come to Massachusetts.

Then something happened here which brought us to a full stop. The war in Vietnam. It stopped America cold but the rest of the country moved on. Back in Massachusetts we seemed to stay stopped. It seemed in hindsight that the assassination of John F. Kennedy killed something in us from which we were unable to recover. I moved to New York.

In 1972 George McGovern lost the Presidential race to Richard Nixon in a landslide. He carried one state, Massachusetts. Massachusetts took a certain detached pride in this with some justification. But we never quite reattached. We become the American shadow; an American counterforce, running against the grain at every turn and taking pride in doing so. And we became a magnet for counterforce; it became anthem and ethic almost absurd, a local, provincial kind of Groucho Marxism, like Quincy Adams Wagstaff of Huxley College in Horse Feathers singing, “Whatever it is, I’m against it.”

In 2004 I volunteered to work for Wesley Clark in the New Hampshire primary. At a fund raiser in Concord his local chief expressed her enthusiasm for General Clark by saying that it was “ . . . just like with George McGovern.” I knew we were screwed. All the real Yankees had moved to Texas and we who remained had become the people who liked to lose. That we would run the timid and circumspect Mike Dukakis in 1988, who was a national laughing stock and who lost in an Electoral College landslide to George H.W. Bush which was no surprise, was evidence that our detachment had become chronic; was evidence that we had come to take pride in losing.

We had developed a pride in failure. A pride in detachment. A pride in political transference. We had become aloof. In this phase we, many of us, the most common of common people in all of America and possibly in all the world, developed a new contempt for the working class, classically seeing them as a threat and, as the old Southern planters did, scorning the “link heads” and the “white trash” and developed deep and sentimental affections instead for the meanest and lowliest of proletariat. You can see this with the Car Talk guys. We, the common working class of Massachusetts and now everywhere, desired to have the guys who fixed our cars to have degrees from MIT. That is not what you want in a car guy. You want a picture of your mechanic in a photo-op at the Wilkesboro track with his arm proudly around the celestial number 3, Dale Earnhardt.

It has become the curse of plain folk, the suddenly rich; people like Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House. We are not sure how we got here; got suddenly rich – we got here quickly riding a post-war wave of instant cash – but we might take a cue from the Native Americans as Fennimore Cooper did and ask ourselves what work were our grandmothers and grandfathers doing three generations back. Because we could well be doing the same work again in the three generations next.

That Obama has let the House and Senate rank and file, regarded by the general population somewhere between earthworms and ground-feeding catfish, take over his Presidency will overshadow anything else he does and mark him as a failure of historic proportions. Ramming through the health care legislation when only 37% approve will be seen as a mistake of historic proportions. Because so many of the inland states and the Gulf states have in this same year and precisely because of the tenure of Pelosi, Barney Frank, Harry Reid and it must be included, Obama, have found the mechanism to defend against domination by Massachusetts dilettantes and as Texas Gov. Rick Perry said recently, “. . . the excesses of unrestrained government at every level.": State sovereignty. Whether they pass it or not makes no difference. It will not stand. There is today a true and real chance of the division of America into like-minded regions – red and blue is the operative phrasing - beginning in the next few years because of this legislation and because of its agents.

And that is what the race is about next week between Scott Brown and Martha Coakley. The stakes could not be higher.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Globalist illusion - draft
The problem with a country as vast as ours is that like a huge battleship or aircraft carrier, it is difficult to turn around. It is not versitile. This past week on my local access TV which comes out of the Northeast Kingdom in northern Vermont, a local China enthusiast was celebrating Chinese political character. He used the phrase Chimerica, first brought on by Harvard professor Niall Ferguson declaring that the key relationship in the economi world was between china nd America and probably China was the relevant member of that team. It was a good idea, but more recently, Professor Ferguson was warned that the dynamics of that relationship are no longer relevant or particularly healthy. They didn’t get the message up at the Northeast Kingdom.
Today the New York Times reports, “As China has flooded the world with exports, it has edged out suppliers from other developing countries. This was bad enough when the world economy was growing briskly.”
Now China’s strategy is doing considerably more harm, they say.
There is a scolding tone to the Times essay, but as Hu Jintao pointed out in the recent Copenhagen meeting on climate change, the United States and the West are no longer in the position to scold. (headlines)
The thing that has changes from then to now is our idea of globalism and globalization. Woodrow Wilson popularized the idea of “one world” while “internationalism” – the theme and framework of style from the early 20th century; Telford Taylor’s war crimes trials at the end of WW II and the UN, all took for granted that we were rising now to one unified world with America its avatar.
As early as
It was god-king realm from Elvis and the Beatles to Hillary and Bill. But the rise may be over.
It is natural for regions to divide between East and West, heart and head, uptown and downtown. The shift in dominance in the United States occurred in the regions in the 1830s because more economic power poured into the northern regions. We are at such a turning again but this time the world is dividing and Hillary won’t help an Elvis won’t help. At this turning we as Americans and possibly the West hoave to begin to think how we can live happily and productively within our own framework. It may be the framework we are left with because China is already carving out its own.

- Not how China has now its own internal development abilities actualized by the 130 million in Pearl Valley which forms and indegeneous management class.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The Banality of Bono

By Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill on 1/05/10

Our new year has begun with grave warning from a select few of America’s venerable and good. Bob Herbert, one of the oldest and most mature liberal voices and still the best at the NYTs, says this morning, “Our society is in deep trouble and the fixes currently in the works are in no way adequate to the enormous challenges we’re facing.” While Peggy Noonan, the venerable and the good at the Wall Street Journal, warns this year that we may fall apart. William Daley, who stayed at his post while the others were playing golf with Bill, warned the Democrats directly that if they don’t move to the center they will not only lose in 2010 but long into the future. One symptom of the illness which plagues us: So many New York Democrats still yearn for Bill. They suffer from low grade viral utopianism. They listen to Bono. It is killing them. It could kill us all.

Bono is now an occasional columnist at the New York Times. By choosing Bono, the Irish singer for which we cannot recall any particular song attached to his group, U2, the NYTs and its captive audience reveals its entrapment by Clinton era one-worldism. It is the curse of an arrested political sensibility which craved rock stars and scorned wise advisors like John Kenneth Galbraith; it is a curse to a great paper that is becoming a life style sheet. If ever there was a tribute to an era which never really was – the phrase Cloud Coukoo Land comes to mind - it is Bono.

Bono is his own Norway; his own Nobel Committee, our own Great Auntie in Europe, self appointed to help us and bring us back when we go astray as we so often do. He has this week ten recommendations for us for the new year; ways in which we may become better.

But Bono’s world view is as thin as that amorphous mash of unidentifiable rock music that they plague us with in grocery stores and drug stores. In Bonoworld, everyone is an American by degree, even non-Americans like Bono, and presumably anti-Americans like Osama bin Laden, who just doesn’t get it yet. This was discovered to be delusional by Obama only last week in Copenhagen. Sarko offered better advise earlier: He told us in fact that he doesn’t like us that much. Germany first left the Bono/Clinton coalition in taking its own path financially. France more recently has declared itself to be European, not pseudo-American like Bono. Russia same as always. Japan declared independence from Bonoworld months back and said it would link with Asia now instead. Have a nice day. China now too with new friends everywhere, some which hate us.

But Bono sees himself as avatar to almost all the world’s people; the people who watch soccer. It would include us too if only we would catch on. This world can be visualized as one of those big birthday cakes with Bill and Hillary the little figurines at the top and Bono waving behind them in his rosy glasses. A better picture is the donut: There are 2 billion watching soccer and more playing on the edges. But the hole in the donut is the center of the circle and there they play American football. These people are different. The inside is not like the outside. They have different histories, different desires, different creation myths and beginnings, different responsibilities and karma.

It is better to live in the center – the center of the world; the center of the donut – than to be left behind in the outlands, like Bono and the Norwegians, pointing and braying. Ours is the place of beginnings, ours is a new creation; theirs the place of long, slow endings and knock off and imitation. Here in the center of the circle, if you want to become a biker or join the Hari Khrishnas or the Mormons go ahead. Whatever we do is of new beginnings and whatever we do will find imitators in the outlands as Elvis, Carl Perkins, Hank Williams and Bo Diddly did when they invented Bono’s world for him here in the Mississippi delta and Appalachian hollows 60 years ago.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

What Obama can learn from Buffy

- for The Hill on 1/2/10

There is no way that the movie Nine with Daniel Day-Lewis and an assortment of the Beautiful People can be considered homage to the Italian master’s gritty, troubled and authentic masterpiece, 8 ½. It is homage to ourselves and the way we were – some of us – when we were young.

There has been a lot of that going around this past year; homage to ourselves via the people we identified with if you happen to be a certain age. Even Obama – the “new Kennedy” for those who cannot get past the old Kennedy (or the last century or the last millennium) – has fallen victim. Obama is victim to nostalgia. He is given the task of filling the hopes of a generation that came of age almost before he started grade school. And one that is rapidly sailing into the sunset. In that regard he is like George W. Bush, who was also expected to fulfill the hopes of a previous generation.

Nostalgia is the curse of the political classes; like Elvis, they refuse to leave the building when their work is done. It causes civil war (Spain in the 1930s) and world war (Germany with the Kaiser). It brings false hope and projects illusion: Obama was neither world master nor messiah as hordes throughout India, Indonesia and practically everyone abroad was saying about him two years ago. And he is not as bad as Sarko and China are saying now. If he has learned one thing this past year in Beijing and Copenhagen it should be that he is an American first, last and always. Same as Brett Favre. Same as Oprah. That is the package. Nothing more, nothing less. And in the end it makes no difference what they think of him or us in France or China.

If Obama is to survive and prosper in the coming three years he has to make the rising generations his own. The oldest story, Sir James G. Frazer and the anthropologists tell us, is that the new leader/hero must cut down the sacred tree of the old people, not fulfill their wishes. Darla must die for Buffy to become The Slayer. Victoria, the red queen, must get her head torn off before Bella can become the white queen. George Washington must cut down the tree of his ancestors before the revolution can occur. Obama’s first hagiographers, publicists and hacks, comparing him to Kennedy, Roosevelt and Lincoln, had it exactly backwards.

Every generation’s hero must make the world his or her own; it will not be given; it must be taken. Obama is no exception.

Neither Clinton nor Reagan made much traction in their first year, but they caught on. From what I could see from the dozens of young people who visited my house over the Christmas vacation, the rising generation still looks up to him and wishes him well. Obama still has time, but time is running out.