Wednesday, June 30, 2010

For David Yosef ben Faigie Perel:

That I may enjoy the prosperity of your chosen ones, that
I may share in the joy of your nation, that
I may join your inheritance in giving praise.

Psalms 106:5

Monday, June 28, 2010

Texas is booming: New York not so much

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 6/28/10

The recession and housing slump have ended booming growth for many cities in the Sun Belt, USA Today reported last week, while some older urban centers and places with diversified economies are enjoying healthy gains, current Census estimates show.

This should be considered in light of Paul Krugman’s essay today in the New York Times titled The Third Depression. It is a better name than the “Great Recession” which doesn’t make any sense, and something better to call it than the “ . . . greatest depression since the Great Depression.” The Third Depression returns earlier to The Long Depression, an economic slump in the late Victorian era, which was called the Great Depression until the Great Depression. This should verify my claim that the Obama Democrats and Krugman in particular are locked in a cultural time warp asking devotedly every morning, What would Roosevelt do (WWRD?). Exactly as the political establishment of the South was until the 1940s, parallelized by cultural homage to the Confederacy which crippled them economically while the South at large was yearning to move on. To paraphrase the Divine Miss M, when its 3 am in LA, its still 1933 in New York.

A better approach comes from Robert J. Samuelson in today’s Washington Post. “There's a great deal economists don't understand,” he writes. And quoting Keynes, he says that practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.

To the layman, the refreshing thing about Keynes writing is that he often includes himself among the gods who fail. Earlier, Samuelson has advised economists to study history.

Texas cities are emerging as the growth leaders, according to the July 1, 2009, estimates. Four of the 10 fastest-growing — including No. 1 Frisco — and 11 of the top 25 cities that have populations above 100,000 are in Texas.

The country today is fully formed. The regions, from Texas to the Pacific Northwest have their own unique personalities as Jefferson said they would in time. And when that time came, he said, the kind of global overview Krugman today proposes would be overbearing, inhibiting, even totalitarian.

Texas Governor Rick Perry advocates instead a competition between states and regions as a relevant approach to the times.

In a recent interview with Hot Air and conservative blogger Melissa Clouthier, he said, “States that have good polices … those are going to be the states that people are going to move to,” and pointed out that Texas is among the fastest-growing states for good reasons: “That’s the place where there’s more liberty, more freedom, than any other state.”

More Fortune 500 companies call Texas home than any other state, said Perry. He pointed out that Bobby Jindal is trying to put Louisiana in position to knock Texas off the throne, and Haley Barbour is doing the same in Mississippi. What he wants is a federal government that stops strangling innovation and success with top-down measures that take all the money and leave states in a completely subservient — and ultimately redundant and obsolete — position.

Perry emphasized the need to keep competition between the states as laboratories for policy, “so that if somebody in CA comes up with a healthcare plan that doesn’t work - is a debacle, it doesn’t destroy the entire country.”

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Obama is the god that failed

By Bernie Quigley
For The Hill on 6/23/10

When I first read Obama’s autobiography I thought he was a good guy and smart, but there was a certain lack of authenticity to him. That he took drugs in high school was spun. Say what you like, but there is nothing philosophical about it. Half the pudknockers in east Texas were probably stoned in high school in that period. And the tone echoed Richard Wright, a far better writer with more to say. It was prose-driven ideology with familiar metaphors and messages – like rock and roll after they abandoned the roll; all message and reinforced ideas, no music: Pink Floyd after the visionary Syd Barrett had succumbed to the river; every school principal a fascist dictator, repeated in a loop for decades until it became chant, to banalities like Bono and the noise machines which follow Al Gore around.

Obama was calling on reinforcement from liberal reviewers with an already proven formula, his prose and his speeches a kind of Book of Common Prayer for liberals, asking for and getting predictable, canned responses. He was an interesting guy; the black kid in the popular and upscale crowd, but an abstraction; suspect to more grounded church-going, plain-folk blacks like Jesse Jackson, and determinedly main stream in a race when others like John McCain, Sarah Palin and even Hillary Clinton were unique almost to the point of strange. Sent rather by central casting to play the Sydney Poitier role as the “first black President” with Joe Biden as the white guy sidekick. He intentionally centrally cast himself that way. He was an odd choice for a god.

Obama suffers now for our sins. He is the black man white America wanted. But he is the black man Malcolm X warned about; inauthentic, striving, so proud to be the “first black man” to do things whites like Joe Biden strive beyond their means and abilities for, like editing the Harvard Law Review. He was the black man Malcolm wrote about with unflinching honesty; the captive mind of the white man’s parlor, not the free man of the field.

It was not likely to last. Rasmussen reports this week that 57% of U.S. voters feel Hillary Clinton is qualified to be president while only 51% say Obama is. Democrats are returning home to mother.

The failure is not entirely Obama’s. He is the completed wish of white dreams and projections. The failure is in liberal dreams which have carried Roosevelt, Lincoln and Jack Kennedy beyond their times. “What would Lincoln do?” Doris Kearns Goodwin asks today in The New York Times, echoing the Christian’s call to their messiah: What would Jesus do? (W.W.J.D?)

Roosevelt was not a god that failed. He was not a god. He was the quintessential man of his times, but liberals and their hagiographers have turned him into a quasi-religious figure. It will be mocked at the G 20 and G 8 this week when Summers and Geithner bring it to Canada. America will be seen to be still dangling in the wrong century, lagging behind China, Canada and Germany.

Bill Clinton was right when he said the age of big government was over in January, 1996. It put Roosevelt into perspective as man, as mortal genius. In all honesty, Clinton attempted then to find a new role and the phrase “reinvent” came into vogue. Now there is a turning back. But as the G 20 will indicate and China will emphasize, the rest of the world is already moving on.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Nikki Haley and the new Samurai: Lonely are the brave in South Carolina

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 6/22/10

Like Paul Potts singing Nessun dorma on “Britain’s Got Talent,” transcendent moments come like a bolt of lightning in the middle of the night. Another came last week when Joseph Cao, representative from Louisiana, said to BP America President Lamar McKay during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing: “Well, in the Asian culture we do things differently. During the Samurai days, we’d just give you the knife and ask you to commit hara-kiri.”

From the start, Nikki Haley, who is running for governor in South Carolina, has brought the same sense of clarity to her campaign. She is a Methodist, but like Cao’s samuri, she hails from an Asian warrior tradition. She is on the forefront of a rising edge of conservatism that might best have been described by Ross Douthat in a recent column at The New York Times: “Liberals had hoped that Obama’s election marked the beginning of a long progressive era — a new New Deal, a greater Great Society. Instead, from the West Coast to Western Europe, the welfare state is in crisis everywhere they look. The future suddenly seems to belong to austerity and retrenchment — and even, perhaps, to conservatism.”

Haley is expected to win her primary today, but it has been a tough campaign, plagued by bottom feeding pols from the old school and the kind of shenanigans Southern style, that we from New York, Philadelphia and Chicago are well acquainted with. But South Carolina and most of the South are in the process of transitioning to positive leadership and economy, so it was most important that outside help appear for Haley in the time of trouble. It was the time to be brave. But only two were brave: Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin. Both saw the potential in Haley and both saw the forces rising to stop her. And both put boots on the ground to help.

It should be remembered in 2012: Who was brave when it was time to be brave. Another who was brave was Jenny Sanford, wife of governor Mark Sanford, who stood up for Haley from the first and without whose help Haley may not have had the chance to shine. Mrs. Sanford should be rewarded by a position in Haley’s government; the one that takes over the governorship if by any chance Haley is selected as vice president in a couple of years on a Romney or Palin ticket.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Canada rises: “Responsibility, Determination, Courage”

by Bernie Quigley

For the Hill on 6/21/10

America is torn between its self and its unself – Bumper stickers in Vermont say 49% of Americans don’t like America. Canadians do like themselves. And Americans who do not like America are starting to like Canada. The way that Americans who do not like America used to like Vermont instead. But if you are looking for a home for your American unself, Canada is probably not the place. It is not a negative of America, nor is it any longer the “introverted half of America” as Robertson Davies once said it was. It is a rising force in the world all of its own.

When war clouds rose over Iraq after 9/11 I entertained an editor friend at The New York Times with the claim that the real story was Canada. Canada was awakening. The Canadian Century was rising just ahead. Today, as the G 20 arrives in Toronto, Canada is the center of the world, East, South, West and the Great White North. It’s banking system and economy are the envy of the world. There are two people responsible for this: Dick Morris and the captain of the Canadian women’s hockey team in the 2002 Winter Olympics, Hayley Wickenheiser. Secondary players, Rick Mercer and Mary Walsh, of the antic Canadian comedy, “This Hour has 22 Minutes.”

When Bill Clinton, on the advice of Dick Morris, went after the deficit, Canada, as it tends to do, followed America’s lead with Prime Minister Paul Martin. Then, unlike America, they kept going with that, killing off a massive government deficit and leading to 12 straight years of budget surpluses. Then the rise in popularity of the clever comedy series began to create some space between the U.S. and Canada.
And so did the war in Iraq. In 2002, Jonah Goldberg published an essay called "Bomb Canada: The Case for War” in the National Review, suggested that the United States "launch a quick raid into Canada" and blow something up -- "perhaps an empty hockey stadium." But Canadians understand that it wouldn’t be the first attempt.

Which is why things got hot in the 2002 Winter Olympics. Mitt Romney was there running the show, and a great show it was. Dick Cheney was there in the bleachers, pouting, and there was much talk – very much talk – about a repeat of the “Miracle on Ice,” the Winter Olympics in 1980 when an amateur American team beat the U.S.S.R. The rising neocon movement in the U.S. saw this game as “the end of time.”

When the American women’s team stomped around on the Canadian flag in the locker room before the game, Captain Wickenheiser got pissed. That singular moment may have made Canada whole, and the Canadian women beat the Americans. And with all the gods present– Wayne Gretsky, Mario Lemieux, Pat Quinn and Don Cherry – the Canadian men’s team beat the Americans, winning their first gold in 50 years.

But the coolest part was after the women’s victory when head coach Daniele Sauvageau gathered the team around her for a final word on the virtues that would carry the women and their families through the difficult times in their lives. Huddled in a circle, she said three words to them: “Responsibility, Determination and Courage.”
Anyone who had seen Dougie Gilmore, the Sultan of Silent Suffering, crawling off the ice on his hands and knees with a broken leg on his last game for the Leafs at 40 years old would understand. It was a breathtaking moment, like a prayer.

Friday, June 18, 2010

How war is remembered . . .

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 6/18/10

Note to a friend on 2012:

Marty: We are at the moment in a political trough; the benign phase of the “electricity” in the political cycle. This is an organic counterflow to the fierce peak which came about by years of war under Bush and Cheney. That was a vastly difficult transition – from peaceful pursuits to strenuous warfare virtually overnight after 9/11. When Wes Clark ran for President in 2004, he said to a small group of us here in New Hampshire: “Bush’s war is not America’s war, but in five years it will be.” By 2012 it will be.

We experience now a counter reaction to the Bush/Cheney war peak; a peaceful yearning here and abroad so strong that Obama received a Nobel Prize after only days in office. This is classically how people experience warfare and its aftermath. After the stress of World War II, England elected the anti-war Clement Attlee, then went back to Churchill. After the stress of Vietnam, the laid back Jimmy Carter was elected, but America soon went on to the strong force, Ronald Reagan and in his second run, Reagan won 49 states. Our Obama moment now is much like the Carter period.

Judging from the psychological sites and blogs, the stress of war under Bush/Cheney has by now completely dissipated. But war is always remembered as heroic (Mircea Eliade) by the winners and is conjured in hindsight in archetypal patterns rather than to the truths about policy and the realities on the ground. The Iraq war will be no exception because we won. Because of the absence of Saddam Hussein, Israel is in a good position on the ground today; better than it was before 9/11. American soldiers will remain now as permanent fixtures on Israel’s secondary frontiers, so although it doesn’t sound that way right now with a world chorus of dissent against Israel, Israel is in an excellent position militarily in the foreseeable future.

By 2012, America will have fully integrated the war in Iraq psychologically and will demand its celebration. 75% of Americans supported the invasion. It was an American victory and will be recalled historically as a victory equal in density to match and countervail the tragedy of 9/11. And 9/11 will be remembered as long as America is remembered. It is the formative moment of the 21st American century. Everything and everyone preceding it is historically irrelevant. It will fully and permanently bond America (especially the red, Christian states) to Israel and exclude others; Europeans in particular. The eastern coast (and LA) is an annex for the unassimilated Euro-American, but Europe and the western world chorus is irrelevant to the rest of America – increasingly, as economies rise across the Pacific. Europe is old, we are new. And Israel’s reincarnation in the Holy Land is new as well. That is how Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin and Rick Perry will approach 2012. It will bring Israel uniform and trustworthy support from America by 2016.

All successful wars contain an unconscious revenge element; Hiroshima was the price for Pearl Harbor, the burning of Atlanta was the price of Southern secession. It usually comes at the end and is performed by a secondary player (Truman, Sherman, sent in to do the dirty work to keep the hands clean of Eisenhower or Grant). The Iraq war with Bush was exclusively a revenge war; it had no other purpose. But that is what works in people’s heart. And the heart remembers history and writes it, not the head.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Is Paul McCartney really dead? Again?

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 6/14/10

It is all over the web today: Like they said in the Sixties, Paul McCartney is really dead. He was killed in a car accident in 1966. And that English-looking fellow going around playing football games and Bar Mitzvahs and advising President Obama is a double (named “Faul”) put in there by Her Majesty’s Secret Service or something to prevent mass suicides.

Hard to say. But it must be tough for McCartney if that is really him still walking around. The hair is the same as in 1966, suggesting he is maybe one of those visitors from the place-where-time-stops on “Buffy,” who we in the real world call the “undead.” Maybe he is one of them. And anyway, what kind of loser would still want an award for work he did 40 years ago? Unless it was the “luckiest man ever by random happen chance come to the attention of the singular, historic genius John Lennon on a bus” award. I can’t even remember that far back. Then whenever he appears someplace like the White House people begin to wonder again if it is really him or if the real him is really dead.

It is just the opposite with John Lennon. John Lennon really is dead. But like Elvis, people keep claiming that he is still alive.

It is hard to think of another artist in all of history who has the reputation for being dead. Although some say David Letterman is really dead.

It was a trying time, the Sixties. A time of going up, much as today is a time of coming back down. In 1964, two years before the real McCartney allegedly died, the great surrealist artist Rene Magritte painted a famous picture of an Englishman in a bowler hat with a green apple in front of his face. Apple was of course, the Beatles corporation, and a green apple was its symbol. But Magritte titled his painting “Son of Man” – from the Book of Daniel, indicating the arrival of the Awaited One; i.e., the Savior. So as you can see, it caused conversation. Then we went to the moon, which we had never done before and it somehow seemed a parallel to the rise of The Beatles arc which reached crescendo with the Vedic claim, “I am he . . .” – that man-in-the-bowler-hat/Awaited One thing again. And everyone was stoned then which made it all that more confusing.

“I was the Walrus, but now I’m John,” Lennon wrote in pain at the end of the astonishing journey. It was a journey of enlightenment for tens of millions, a journey to the East, and a journey back. It was a journey that transformed the West, for if there was no John Lennon then to find a path, there would be no Dalai Lama today speaking regularly at Emory University.

William Butler Yeats writes: “What portion in the world can the artist have/Who has awakened from the common dream/But dissipation and despair?”

Such was the lot of John Lennon. He had become the bodhisattva in exile who never smiled for the cameras again when he returned from India. But on this sacred journey of transformation McCartney, clownishly scrapping and bowing today before queens and presidents and milking it for every dollar, wrote a few sweet tunes, but was only along for the ride.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Fiorina, Haley, Whitman: The return of initiative and excellence

- for The Hill on 6/13/10

Possibly the pictures across the country are making a difference: Carly Fiorina, Nikki Haley, Meg Whitman. There is something about these women even from their pictures. Energy; positive, rising ambition. Their kung fu looks strong. They have an entirely different aura than Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton. They are cheerful and like Taylor Swift, they are fearless.

Fiorina and Whitman carry about them a “true west” aspect. They speak to initiative, enterprise and self reliance, while Pelosi and Boxer are transplants from the Eastern cities and carry its burden. They only moved west for the view but they brought Brooklyn and South Boston and Fishtown with them.

Fiorina, Haley and Whitman bring a distinct generational shift; they are of a different culture. The political generations can be identified by buzz words. In the rising 1980s, the words were “leadership and excellence.” A best seller of the times, “In Search of Excellence” set the theme. The most progress and money made post-war was raised in that period; houses were built, families nurtured and the entrepreneurial spirit transformed America. But in time, the phrase “leadership and excellence” became so hackneyed that James A. Baker, Secretary of State under George H.W. Bush, rigged the White House computers so that the keyboard would balk when someone typed in the phrase.

In the 1990s, the post-war world consolidated and reinvested in itself. With the rise of the Clintons in the White House, the new phrase replacing “leadership and excellence” was “diversity and globalization.” But that age is yielding today as China looks inward, Canada and Israel begin to go their own ways, and border states in Central Asia like Kyrgyzstan ask Russia to come back in. It was a time of broadest unification and consolidation: Picture Paul McCartney singing “Hands across the waters” or a arena full of women and children holding candles and singing that Barry Manilow Coke song (“I’d like to buy the world a home and furnish it with love . . . I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony . . . “) or a World Soccer Cup tournament; but not like the match in 1964 when 300 fans were killed in fights or the one in 1968 when 70 were beaten bloody and killed by thugs with clubs and bottles, one where everyone – winners, losers, terrorists – each gets his own little trophy.

But it was not a time of excellence. John Kenneth Galbraith called it a “Culture of Contentment.” It was the age of the G-7; the well-fed government and municipal worker, unionized and heavily pensionized, fat and happy with that totem animal of the horde, the penguin, idolized in a desk calendar and a Starbuck’s mocha double latte with extra foam in hand. It was a time when Presidential races resembled “American Idol.” When anyone could be Secretary of State or Vice President. When anyone could be President and it was un-American to think otherwise.

But quality and substance suffered. As President Obama is finding out in the BP Gulf disaster, eventually giving speeches literally from mountain tops is not enough and the country needs imagination and management.

Pretty soon we are going to need some new buzz words. The women rising now to new achievement in last week’s primary resemble the leaders of the earlier day; the bygone days of “leadership and excellence.” Politics, like electromagnetism, travels in peaks and troughs, the one an equal and opposite counterforce of the other. And we are turning now and beginning our ascent to another peak.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The return of initiative and excellence

Possibly the pictures in a banner headlines across the country are making a difference: Carly Fiorina, Nikki Haley, Meg Whitman. There was something about these women even from their pictures. Energy; positive, rising ambition. Their kung fu looks strong. They are energized and have an entirely different aura than Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton. They are cheerful and like Taylor Swift, they are fearless.

They bring a distinct generational shift; these women are of a different class and are generally speaking women of a different age and education. The political generations can be identified by buzz works as well as personalities. In the rising 1980s, the words “leadership and excellence” were used. A best seller of the times was “In Search of Excellence.” It was a good run; the most progress and money made post-war was raised in that period; houses were built, families nurtured and the entrepreneurial spirit transformed America. But all ages arc and as Kris Kristofferson said, the going up is worth the coming down. The phrase “leadership and excellence” became so hackneyed that James A. Baker, Secretary of State under George H.W. Bush, rigged the White House computers so that the keyboard would balk when someone typed in the phrase.

In the 1990s, the post-war world consolidated and reinvested in itself. With the rise of the Clintons in the White House, the new phrase replacing “leadership and excellence” was “diversity and globalization.” But that age is yielding today as China looks inward, Canada and Israel begin to go their own ways, and border states in Eastern Europe ask Russia to come back in. It was a time of a kind of broadest unification and consolidation: Picture Paul McCartney singing “Hands across the waters” (or a World Soccer Cup tournament; one where everyone – winners, losers, terrorists – each gets his own little trophy), but it was not a time of excellence. Liberal icon John Kenneth Galbraith called it a “Culture of Contentment.” It was the age of the G-7; the well fed government worker, unionized and heavily pensionized, fat and happy with a Starbuck’s mocha double latte with extra foam in hand. It was and is a time when anyone could be a college president. Anyone could be Secretary of State or Vice President, Anyone could be President and it was un-American to think otherwise.

But quality and substance suffered. As President Obama is finding out in the BP Gulf disaster, eventually giving speeches is not enough and the country needs imagination and management.

Pretty soon we are going to need some new buzz words. The women rising now to new achievement in last week’s primary resemble the leaders of the earlier day; the bygone days of “leadership and excellence.” Politics, like electromagnetism, travels in peaks and troughs, the one an equal and opposite counterforce of the other. And we are turning now and beginning to ascend to another peak.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A States Rights defense against Jerry Brown

By Bernie Quigley

- for the Hill on 6/11/10

The Bay Area’s KCBS reports that a comment Jerry Brown made is causing a stir in the race for governor. Referring to Meg Whitman's willingness to spend up to $150 million of her own money to win the election, Brown told their reporter, "It's like Joseph Goebbels. Goebbels invented this kind of propaganda. He took control of the whole world. She wants to be president. That's her ambition, the first woman president. That's what this is all about."

Goebbels and Hitler and Stalin, oh my!

We are used to hearing Noam Chomsky refer to Israel as “Stalinist” and regular screed by a prominent New York Times columnist who was reminded of Hitler when he first saw Sarah Palin. Like Helen Thomas telling “them” to “get out of Palestine,” it is regular fare these days. Quite possibly they feel a greater comfort zone with Barack Obama as President. But we have been hearing this garbage from Jerry Brown for 40 years.

That he sees himself as being governor again is debilitating. But Brown could govern again.

California is on its last legs. It has already had its last chance. Throwing Gray Davis out of office in 2003 was the right thing to do. The economy of California was being compared with Argentina. But it was an admission of failure. Bringing in Arnold was the radical option but it was also the right thing to do; it was a Hail Mary pass when there were no other options. But the Governator could not solve the problem and California sank deeper into insolvency. Returning to Brown today, who was governor of CA between 1978 and 1983, would not only declare CA insolvent, but ungovernable.

California’s Inland farmers have been saying this for several years now. They have formed a committee to separate from the coastal cities which spends all their money and more. They have called for and will get now a constitutional convention to change their fate. One of the options discussed is to divide California into two or three separate states.

At the moment, CA has auspicious management options with Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina running for governor and senate. But if CA returns to the ‘60s with Governor Moonbeams – clearly it has never left – then the inland farmers have the right and responsibility to follow their own initiatives.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Arnold and the Palin Paradigm: Rising Masters

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 6/10/10

Partisan politics can be painfully predictable. But the Vedic sages say the world begins again and all will be new when Vishnu is seen riding the white horse. Like that classic photograph by Annie Leibovitz, of Arnold Schwarzenegger on his white steed in earlier days when he was the most stunning man in the world. Arnold as Governator is in part a phenomenon; a psychological being. He came to us out of our suffering. We felt a need for a Big Man in a painful transition to war and conjured him and made him governor of California almost overnight by abandoning the regular process. He brought creativity and new potentials to our most important state, but as it is with all beginnings, the old and entrenched were not ready for the new. Primary victories by Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman suggest they are getting there. But the Governator may have saved the state by pitching and promoting Proposition 14. It will be devastating to the hacks, the entrenched interests, the ideologists, the pundits and the winged monkeys. Maybe the witch is really dead.

“The time for tinkering is done,” writes Jesse McKinley for The New York Times. “That was the message Californians sent when they voted Tuesday to radically rejigger elections in the nation’s most populous state. Under Proposition 14, a measure that easily passed, traditional party primaries will be replaced in 2011 with wide-open elections. The top two vote-getters — whatever their party, or if they have no party at all — will face off in the general election.”

The passage of Proposition 14 could preclude awaiting chaos and allow CA the proper amount of political disturbance it need to go forward, and if CA doesn’t go forward, the U.S. of A. will not go forward. In her very first sentence in her first national interview with Fox’s Stuart Varney at 5 am California time, Fiorina got to the center of the target. “The city of Los Angeles and California look alarmingly like Greece,” she said. Anyone who has been here since Howdy Doody knows that California is not Greece; it is the antithesis of Greece. All of our American myths have us heading west to California. It is the high pitch of American instinct and imagination. It is the new New World. And we each of us know inside that America will start there again or it won’t start at all.

Proposition 14 may be a harbinger, but the big winner in this week’s primary was Sarah Palin. As the Wall Street Journal reported, three candidates she supported prevailed in their contested primaries. Since she took the initiative to support Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman in NY 23 last October, the winning cycle has followed her initiative. The Texas primary in March established the Palin Paradigm. The Republican establishment, featuring Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Bush I and Bush II and others lined up to push Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson to beat incumbent Rick Perry. Perry had Palin on his side and beat the establishment in a landslide. Palin has successfully and single-handedly incorporated Tea Party initiatives with entrepreneurial spirit of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan. To look at this as pushing conservatism to the right is to use the old 1930s paradigm and miss what is happening. The Palin Paradigm is Jacksonian. It represents the rise of a free, western view in opposition to the aging, bipartisan Eastern establishment. Palin is spirit force to this “new west” direction but Arnold can be seen as champion.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Golem, Moshe Feiglin and the Deathless Child

Readers of my recent essays about Israel in The Hill might be interested in the essay below, Rebbe's Farewell: Steven Spielberg's Final Vision which I wrote about Golem back in 2005 in my Quigley in Exile series. This might be considered Jungian analysis or Tibetan Buddhist or zen history or whatever. I don’t care what it is called. I follow symbols and archetypes through history over long lengths of time through my own system which I’ve built through reading Spengler, Toynbee, Jung and D.T. Suzuki. I’ve long thought that Rabbi Loeb’s conjuring of the Golem was one of the most important landmarks in western history. Golem is an exclusively Jewish symbol going back to the Old Testament. It suddenly appeared in Prague in the 1600s when Rabbi Loeb conjured a protector. It has since been with us. Frankenstein is a Golem, every homunculus – a failed attempt to conjure God – is a Golem. In Jungian terms, Golem is the Shadow of Rabbi Loeb. The quest for the True Child or the Deathless Child; that which awakens in the Unconscious and begins the world again is the quest for God. Failed attempt finds Golem instead. In our times we substitute artists, etc, for rebbes, and sometimes, just anybody. Steven Spielberg, of my generation, has been the most representative artist of the vast Americanized global world in my lifetime. He comes closest to what we consider a genius, perhaps. One of his last movies, A.I. was a Golem conjuring movie. I felt it was significant that in Spielberg’s quest for God – and every real artist's quest is a quest to find God – failed, and he found Golem. My suggestion, in writing about Moshe Feiglin and Manhigut Yehudit is that with Feiglin and his group, Israel is today beginning to find itself on the path of the True Child and a spiritual awakening. As in my essay at The Hill my point is that since 1600s and Rabbi Loeb, the choice has always been New York (and its twisted sister, LA) or Jerusalem; the path of Golem or the path of God.
Rebbe's Fairwell: Steven Spielberg's Final Vision - written Dec. 20, 2005 in Quigley in Exile

. . . I went out searching . . . looking for one good man . . . a spirit who would not bend or break who would sit at his father's right hand . . . Johnny Cash/U2

William Butler Yeats, Irish poet and essential guide for much of this here leading perspective, once claimed that he didn’t like the poetry which most of his readers liked. You can see why occationally. Sometimes he appears to really spells it out lest the C student miss the drift, but the spirit fades with the explanation. It is interesting and I believe it would make him good in certain translations, particularly into Japanese, as there is a singular Zen, iconic quality to Yeats' poetry. Reading D.T. Zuzuki's Zen and Japanese Culture, Yeats poetry comes to mind and would seem a perfect fit. I think John Millington Synge would as well. (I'd love to see a Kabuki or Noh theatre version of Riders to the Sea. The Japanese would understand. The Americans do not.) Perhaps because Yeats brings from the mecurial river and carries to the rational perspective and Zen in Japan, as Dr. Suzuki illumates it in his classic text on the cultural influence and Buddhism, does the same. Yeats' prose sings more freely and even his second-hand stories of Ireland, dictated to Lady Gregory, have a kind of folk-loric flair. A particularly iconic poem in this regard is his most famous, The Second Coming, which has the famous line, Slouching toward Bethlehem - fire borrowed perhaps more than any other, very often without giving the muse credit. In the millenialist fever between 1994 and 2005, perhaps no other line was more universally nicked.

Much of the poem is actually a simple astrological diagram about the Age of Pisces coming to a close and the Age of Aquarius beginning. The Piscean Age began with the birth of Jesus, and the Christ is visualized in the poem as a hawk flying upward and forming a circle, but flying so high and for so long that the spiral begins to give way and loses its integrity. As with Europe’s failing Christendom, “the center no longer holds.” Nothing really is left to the imagination here. It is all spelled out. The poem follows to the end in darkness, anticipating a new messiah for a new age, but a messiah and an age without Europe's traditional wise rabbinical guide of Solomon and his Spirit Son, the Christ; the Light out of Egypt. Instead, is a Rough Beast, which some considered to be Stalin and others Hitler, rising out of Europe and leading the Aquarian age into Darkness.

Yeats had other thoughts on the matter although most of his life’s work is recalled in that single page. His short story "Gift of the Magi" in the volume Mythologies, presents a better Aquarian messiah - a Unicorn born to a prostitute in a Paris slum. His Rough Beast poem, incidently, was written in 1920, the same year as the German movie, The Golem, directed by Paul Wegener was presented (to the left). As he was an outgoing member of the continental avante garde, it is a film he well might have seen. But like the great historian Oswald Spengler of his creative era, he really didn’t see the Euro world as dying and he didn’t really believe in death. The Rough Beast poem represents the flip side/the dark side of his inner life, but in an increasingly nihilistic age, it became the favorite of the common culture. In truth, Yeats saw the world entering metamorphosis, with light turning to dark and dark revealing light.

His book Mythologies outlines some of his experiences in the occult. He appears to have gone as deeply into the Unconscious as a European could without sustaining lasting psychosis in his day.

Yeats’ life personifies the shift in sensibilities between the Age of Pisces and the Age of Aquarius. Reared in the tradition of Ireland’s Church of England and the European mystic/poet quest who when looking inward would characteristically seek out a rabbi in a cave, he turned East instead. He joined the Madame Blavatsky’s Theosophical Society of London and looked to Tibetan Buddhism and the Orient for inner wisdom.

From then to now, pilgrims have continued to Turn East, trekking across the Hindu Kush and the Himalayas. But increasingly, the East has come to us and saved us the journey.

This shift in sensibility can be seen simply as a shift of the pilgrims’ gaze: Looking East instead of to Egypt, and replacing the Wise Guide of rabbi with that of Monk.

As folk lore sometimes reveals the archetype at work and tells the story of the inner life of a people, this shift in sensibility begins with the ancient Prague folk tale of the Rabbi and the Golem. I expect Yeats knew the tale. Any researcher interested in the occult would find it. It has deep significance for Europe to follow, and for the West. I see it as quite possibly a model for Yeats’ poem, The Second Coming.

The story of the Golem is prelude to the Frankenstein story and other more recent conjurings, but its origin goes back to 16th century Prague. Rabbi Loeb was a wise and well-respected rebbe and he created a Golem to help the people in his village with their work and to defend them against anti-Semitic attacks. But the Golem got out of his control and ran amok. Today in Prague, local legend has it that the Golem haunts the city.

From the view of an Outsider (Extrovert - on the outside of the vision) – a European Christian – looking to an Insider (Introvert - from the inside of the vision) – a European Rabbi – for inner guidance, this story has great significance. The Rabbi is conjurer, and the rabbinical culture which conjured the Son - the Christ - at the beginning of the age, has lost its sacred abilities at the end of the age. The Inner Life of Christianity approaches a close in Europe as the Renaissance becons. The Inner Life of the European Christian is over as Jesus scorns the Mother (Mother Earth) and rises strong, muscular and masculine to the Sky in Michaelangel's famous painting in the Sistene Chapel. What the Rabbi conjures now is dangerous and out of control. Yeats’ twenty centuries by the rocking cradle (the Baby Jesus, the Deathless Child - twenty centuries equals a Platonic Month, an astrological age) have passed and the Aquarian is coming (the Second Christ); but a rough beast, which Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born.

Here is the new messiah, the body of a lion and the head of a man (which has Aion, the lion-headed man and a symbol of the new Christ in reverse), an out-of-control brute. The rabbi has lost his power and the Christian age grows dim, the centre cannot hold and anarchy is loosed upon the world.

Yeats wrote the poem in 1920, but the Golem has seen many incarnations since. Tolkien’s Rings stories have the Golem to be sent away and the Hobbits to stand on their own two furry feet and look again to their own Original Myths. Indeed, the Golem in these tales as well suggests Rabbi Loeb's creation as he is the traditional Bearer of the Ring – the wisdom of God perhaps, just as the European rabbi was the bearer of the Light out of Egypt to Europe - which has proved to be too much for a small in-between and becoming species to bear. Other tales as well, the Bartimaeus book, The Golem's Eye, for example, likewise seeks to find the Prague Golem and put out his singular eye. All these tales imply abandoning the traditional wisdom of the rabbi – his Creation is passing, his Sacred Child a hydra-headed beast like that described in Revelations. In their way these are end-game myths for the European Christian and particularly the English Christian.

Comic books and movies provide us today and post-war with naïve art. Artists and writers in pop culture create freely – there are no teachers or critics available, no awards given to inhibit creativity. In the 30s, 40s and 50s in particular, no one was watching. And watching changes the product conjured. Stan Lee's comic masterpiece The X Men today is able to gather the greatest of actors because of the innocence and clarity of Lee’s original story telling. The X Men brings in an Aquarian vision, expressing mutation of consciousness, and a new people on the earth, with varied psychic and psychological gifts. But notice Lee’s terrific shadow production as well – kind of a down market version of The X MenThe Fantastic 4.

The 4 are not completely fantastic. Their story presents the classic mythical Quaternity – the four-cornered vision of the godhead which occurs archetypally in all cultures in the world (see Sir James G. Fraser's work) – Father, Son Holy Ghost and Mary/Psyche. And here it occurs with us in the world as well. But there are issues with this god-head. The Father figure is made of rubber and has problems making decisions (because he is afraid of Psyche . . . in another Quaternity movie, Spielberg's Jaws, the Chief is also afraid of Psyche, presented as she is most commonly presented in dreams, as the Ocean - the fear is manifest as vagina dentata, a Death Mother archetype; the Shark, a man-eating toothy vagina). Psyche seems intact and so is fire-boy - presumably the Holy Ghost - although he has a little trouble controlling his powers. The real problem is the Thing. In the classic Quaternity, the Thing is supposed to the Son (in Pisces, the Christ). His name is Ben ("The Son" in Hebrew) and he has been replaced in Prague by Rabbi Loeb with Golem. And here he is a Golem. Lee, the Artist-in-Innocence, see’s with the Child’s Eye and sees ourself as we are now, as we truly are. (In contrast, the current Narnia movie is a Quaternity in which the Psyche [Witch] is sick and the Spirit is completely absent. Only Son [Lion] and Father [Santa?] have positive relevance. As its author is an apologist for old Britannia, perhaps this is an appropriate vision of Empire at its end, in the hands of the Death Mother. I see it as a Shadow production of the great genious work of author's co-worker and true visionary, Tolkien. Shadow, as in Tolkien/Lewis, Beatles/Rolling Stones, Emerson/Thoreau, Emily Bronte/Charlotte Bronte, Christianity/Islam, Capitalism/Communism . . . Seinfeld, on the other hand is a virtually perfect piece of folk lore and a perfect Quaternity, Jerry being God/Father; suggesting New York City was not a bad place to be when the show was aired. J.J. Abrams' Lost has a hidden Quaternity as well, beautiful and complex, and awakening anew a full spectrum of sacred mysteries for the third millenium. Frasier is a Quarternity as well & it is way interesting that there were West Coast and East Coast Quarternities going on with different cultural characteristics simultaneously in the naive culture [Frasier and Seinfeld] at the turn of the millenium- the Frasier character having moved from Boston. My thoguth to the NYTs at the earthquake in Seattle . . . "Those disasters are birth pains." - Kurt Cobain the Monkey God.)

Although Yeats’ famous poem was written long ago, byy all means, our rebbes still guided us, and the Three Celestial Ones who would awaken and orient the energies in the waning century of Pisces would all be three rebbes - Freud, Marx and Einstein. Post-war we are better off perhaps, and in my lifetime, the three rebbes who have created our world have had far more comprehensive visions. Indeed they were masterful Dreamworkers, and created the movie studio DreamWorks; Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen. David Geffen was there when Joni Mitchell arrived on the scene, and when John Lennon was shot and he was everywhere in between. But the great rebbe from this group was Steven Spielberg.

It was Spielberg (photo by Genaro Molina / LAT) who brought us out of the earth and out of the Vistorian Age and up into the skies in Close Encounters of the Third Kind and to find friends there in the Universe in E.T., psychologically one of the most important turning points in human history some depth psychologists claim. And it is he who has brought us back to earth.

Last week this most influencial art and culture enterprise of the 20th century folded. The great rebbe and the most influential artist of our time, Steven Spielberg, has conjured his last vision, the movie Munich, which opens to the public on December 23.

No doubt he will work again, but Spielberg has made his last movie for DreamWorks. It is the end of an era, and it is an era which arched millennia and Platonic months.

Most interesting to our times is that Spielberg has a Twin, George Lucas, his early partner. But Spielberg is the wise rebbe, Lucas the Tibetan Monk. Star Wars, Lucas' Quaternity, produced and amended by Spielberg, was whole and intact, but its roots were in the East - in Zen, in Tibetan Buddhism and Taoism and in the tradition of the master film work of Akira Kurosawa. Together, Lucas and Spielberg have conjured the new millennium.

Today, Lucas actually does sign on to the Campaign for Tibet to help occasionally on special projects. His early Star Wars films are textbook Taoism, with parts like the lightsword fighting with blindfolds taken directly from the classic text, Zen and the Art of Archery by the German philosophy professor teaching in Japan, Eugen Herrigel. The Star Wars myth, based originally on Kurosawa's 1958 film, Hidden Fortress, has brought us to the East far more effectively than Yeats, Madame Blavatsky or even The Beatles. Lucas has also hosted the PBS series The Power of Myth at his Skywalker Ranch in California, with Bill Moyers interviewing mythologist Joseph Campbell. Nothing has more effectively and without egregious error turned Hollywood's gaze East and explained Eastern principle to the masses who view pop culture.

Spielberg has taken a different tact. As Lucas was didactic guru, Spielberg was both conjurer and citizen. He has been both rebbe and good citizen, bringing to the public works like Shindler's List to enlighten the public to the horrors of the Holocaust and The Color Purple, which, without his assistance, would have remained a small and special interest prose work. Because of Speilberg, it is intrinsically part of the fabric of American cultural life.

No doubt he has noticed that he has created his own Golem as well. Novelist and commentator Curtis White has written that with all good intentions to create a popular story to honor the sacrifice and nobility in warfare of the common men who served their country in World War II in Saving Private Ryan, what has evolved unexpectedly is an American culture of militarism, with a new generation striving for heroism to be like “the greatest generation” in a war of unintended consequences. A war poised now to engulf the entire Middle East in a pan-Islamic popular front which could threaten the very existence of Israel.

Spielberg's final DreamWorks projects, a remake of War of the Worlds, which was, in my opinion, his best film ever, and Munich were released within months of each other. Munich has drawn controversy. As Rachel Abrahmson writes in an interview with Spielberg in the LA Times,"The film examines one of the pivotal moments in modern terrorism — the killing of 11 Israeli team members by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics — and then focuses on the secret hit squad assembled by the Israeli government to track down the perpetrators and assassinate them. It's a 30-year-old story that resonates today, and the thought of wading into the virulent Middle East animosities, with all of their moral conundrums, has daunted most American artists — even those who don't come with the pulpit and responsibility, which clearly weighs on him, of being not only Hollywood's most famous director but its most public Jew. He's the one who made the Oscar-winning "Schindler's List," about the Holocaust, and devoted all of his earnings from the film to his Shoah Foundation, which has been collecting the oral histories of Holocaust survivors."

It is significant that Spielberg's final DreamWorks project is about Isreal.

"[The film's] a discussion — it's like the Talmud is a series of discussions. It's just like Sodom and Gomorrah, where Abraham bargained with God about 'how can you punish the righteous with the wicked?' The film is a series of structured arguments between the members of the Mossad teams that reflects different points of view and allows you to choose the one that more easily fits how you see the conflict. And maybe even better can maybe change your mind about how you felt about this," he told Abramowitz.

Questions, he points out, are an inherent part of the Jewish faith: "My whole life as a Jew has been a series of arguments; we're always arguing and discussing. The movie is certainly told from the Israeli point of view. But it is told with a great deal of empathy. I just wanted to put empathy in every direction, because the situation is not cut and dried. I was not interested in telling that kind of a tale of vengeance and I didn't want this to be a morality play, the way that 'Private Ryan' is a morality play."

He has been accused by his critics, some of them engineers and propagandists - fellow travellers and extremists of the neo-cons and Christian Zionist movement - as being ambivalent in a situation one should not be ambivalent about.

"The simple truth is sometimes we have to choose from bad options," Spielberg told Abramson. And sometimes there are unintended results." Answering aggression with aggression "creates a vicious cycle of violence with no real end in sight."

The LA Times did a survey of public opinion, mostly Israeli and Arab, of those who attended screenings when the movie opened. Robin Harrington, a talent agent said, "The message is 'You can't fight violence with violence' - that we have to find another way. If that's controversial, we're in trouble."

It can't be missed that Spielberg pleased neither Jew nor Arab with Munich. And for a final word in his final day at the last gala opening of a career which like no other life and career has shaped value, mores and opinions in an American-dominated world since the 1970s, the director calls forth a new rebbe.

The phrase about answering agression with agression creating a vicious cycle of violence, is pure Tolstoy. In his writing on peace and non-violence, Tolstoy took as the central meaning and purpose of the Christ's life and work the phrase, "do not return violence with violence." All of Tolstoyan philosophy is built on this phrase and this interpretation of the New Testament. It was this which he passed on to Ghandi in correspondence when Ghandi said he could not find non-violent strategy in the Hindu texts (although these sentiments are clearly phrased in Buddhism, which are Hindu texts). this phrase is the core sensibility of the non-violence movement from Tolstoy, to Ghandi, to Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Peace Movement of the in 60s. Tolstoy pointed out in his journals that this is an inherently American vision, designed by him but through the study of the American Transcendentalists, particularly Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and Yankee anti-slavery firebrand preacher Theodore Parker.

I don't think it is impossible to be a citizen/rabbi. They live on different sides of the river. But I find it moving that Spielberg ends a career of such vast world influence on this note.

Ambivalence is the clear public lesson in War of the Worlds as well. The movie starts with Tom Cruise, who plays the protagonist, driving a derrick high in the sky above New York City, a machine virtually identical to those - the Tripods - which the Alien invaders will drive shortly after in the movie. There is something then of the Golem in both the father (Tom Cruise) and in the Alien Tripods. E. T. was an Aquarian vision. As the Light came "out of Egypt" in the passing era, it comes now to us from the Universe. As film critic Stanley Kaufman implied in his early review of Close Encounters of the Third Kind these are sacred events; events in the history of faith. In E.T. we come to share the Light of the Universe. In War of the Worlds we share the Darkness as well.

The tension between the forces of the East and the traditional Western wisdom has been palatable for the last 20 years or so. But I saw the moment of transition directly in the year 2000, with Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, a runaway favorite at the Oscars.

Lucas – and the 30-year Star Wars project – is prelude to the millennium. Crouching Tiger is the millennium to which we have been sailing since Columbus headed out to the Spice Islands.

Like Spielberg, Lee does both creative popular movies and more serious dramas. But Spielberg's what might be called "citizen" films - Color Purple, Shinldler's List - always at least intent to improve the quality of American life and world culture. With Lee, I'm not so sure. I'm not so sure he will prove to be as good a citizen as Spielberg has tried to be. Lee's "serious dramas" are loved by critics, but any artist with the abilities of Spielberg and Lee can well anticipate and engineer critical responce, particularly those in the most influencial newspapers in New York and Los Angeles, where the criticism is as predictable as sleet in winter. But Lee's 1997 film The Ice Storm seems undergraduate work designed to increase his status among critics - faux Bergman - a Bergman movie without the Bergman - without the lost quest for God; without the helplessness of a post-war Swede seeking authenticity in a cold climate and a broken world; without the individual playwright's genious - a knock off. In this movie and those like it, one is never sure whether the film maker unveils hypocracy and dual standards . . . the Lonely Crowd, prejudice and class strife, alienation a la Antoniani, husbands screwing their secretaries, tectonic cultural shifting as in Bertolucci's Before the Revolution, or a cronic "emo" condition, as my kids put it (emo has reached saturation point with teens: " . . . if I had opposable thumbs I'd cut myself!" is the current dark humor of unbridled youth) . . . so as to improve the human condition, or celebrates instead the curruption of the American condition and rather eggs it on. In the end, some of these movies are doppelgangers - the autonomous shadow face of power which merely takes its life force in opposing power. There is never a trace of this with Spielberg. But Lee's Taiwanese movies are different. His great film, Eat, Drink, Man, Woman finds healing and wholeness in an environment broken by fate. And Chrouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon goes to the core of Eastern mythic sensibilities; a masterpiece of Taoist passion and yielding power. Perhaps it is that in making Chinese movies Lee experiences his Positive Face, and in making American movies he experiences its Dark Face. Time will tell: Bergman, Antoniani and Bertolucci are on a worthy path. Their movies can be looked at over a lifetime as one coherent artistic passage. Spielberg as well follows and creates a distinctly American vision and his life is our life. But imitators yield to time and become as charicatured in rerelease as World Extreme Cagefighting.

It is significant that the big "Christmas Movie" this year is Memoirs of a Geisha, based on a novel written by an American man which followed in the popular interest in Buddhism ten years back when Brad Pitt starred in the film adaptation of Heinrich Harrer's excellent and illuminating journey book, Seven Years in Tibet, and Buddhism became a pop cultural fashion. There is little of the East in the Geisha book, except of those parts of the East which resemble the West, and much of Old Japan does - which makes it easy to digest and understand because we already know it. But it is significant for this century which we are moving into that we in the West begin now on a massive pop culture scale to look to the East for beauty and wisdom with such significant productions.

Spielberg was originally scheduled to direct Geisha, but the production was plagued by difficulties and delays.

"It's an incredibly delicate story. I can't just say 'OK, that's the next hamburger I need to make.' I have to get my head around it first," he said back in 2001. Then after several years of development he pulled out altogether as director, although he is still listed as a co-producer.

When he opted out, he chose instead to direct A.I. A.I. is a movie about a high-tech mechanical boy adapted from the Pinnochio story. What is interesting about this is that Pinnochio is an Old World adaptation of the Golem myth, and so A.I. is a contemporary adaptation of Golem. It is interesting because when Spielberg took us to space he found the true child, the Deathless Child, in E.T., but on return to earth we find the false child, and substitute instead a kindler, gentler hi-tech Golem. But kind though it may be and tamed, it is still not the True Child. The story is about the creation of a Son which is not a real son, but a son which takes on a life of its own. This is a common dream story, quite often occurring in men like the dreamer who recently shared his dream for my interest. He was a man in late middle age (Spielberg's age, my age) and had lost his work and family. He dreamed that he was carving a god out of a tree with a chain saw. This is the Pinnochio/Golem dream archetype. He has no ego to return him as he did to drive him ourward. He must find a guide. This dream occurs late in a man's life, when he must return to himself, and to the Unknown and the Unconscious from whence he came. But in a culture and in an age which has not yet found its lasting traditions, he finds no god, no hero, or rabbi to lead him Inward. He finds no child to Lead Him to the Peaceable Kingdom. The Self - the sacred center of Psyche - is silent, and the dreamer is left at wits end, lost and alone. Spielberg's AI movie reflects this. The Silence of God is as palitable as in Bergman's Winter Light. The ocean which was filled with psychic danger in Jaws is now empty of all psychic contents; the Psyche sends no salvation. The end of a zodiac era is also suggested when the boy is sent to silently stare at an underwater statue of the Blue Fairy for two thousand years, only to see it crumble before he is relieved of his task by aliens. In the end, neither Mother nor Child, which represent the full motif of the passing zodiac age of Pisces, are real - one is robot, one a clone - but they both die anyway. In the last scene I was reminded of the final chapter of Andre Malraux's Man's Fate where the two revolutionaries share a cynide capsure.

This dream of carving a god out of wood or making one artificially in some other way, occurs in movies and pop culture when the culture attempts to return to itself. In Jaws, Spielberg's vagina dentata dream about an incipient fear lurking in the Psyche just beneath the surface was not necessarily a dream about his own personal life. It was certainly a dream about our collective life in 1975. It was an American dream and a world dream. And Spielberg's dream today is our dream as well.

That Spielberg would make such a selection as this critical juncture in history is significant. Turning from the East, he sought within to find a guru but the guru he sought was silent. Perhaps the Tolstoy suggestion in Munich will open the new path for him and be a new Awakening. We should hope so because Spielberg is probably one of the five most important people in the world since the Eisenhower age. His role to us has been more cultural shaman than rabbi. And as a tribesman in Africa once said to C.G. Jung, what the shaman dreams is most important to the village. Likewise, in the Global Village. In very real terms, our fate lies in his dream world and in his understanding himself and his work. He is our shaman. He dreams on our behalf. It is his job to find the True Child and to bring us to him. As it was with the Three Magi, pointing under the star in Bethleham to the Piscean at the beginning of another age, so it has been the responsibility of Geffen, Katzenberg and Spielberg to guide us today, and to find for us the True Child again. Our fate and our salvation lie in the successful accomplishment of this task.

When I was in an enlisted man in military service in Thailand in 1967 and 1968, few Westerners coming to the East for the first time seemed to thrive and Awaken as if from a slumber. But I did. Typically, Americans missed home. Maybe still, most Westerners when they come to the East will find an edge that they can't cross into and turn back. I think that is true. And maybe, as the East continues to come to us now, it will always be like that and we will retreat. And it will only be for introverts.

Spielberg's final film Munich was filmed in Isreal and his closest confidants and long-time creative assistants are often Israeli. When Ang Lee and his crew rushed up onto the stage on Academy Awards night to receive their many Oscars for Crouching Tiger, I couldn't help but notice that all of our new rebbes will now be Asian.
Israel and the Golem: Is Obama the Anti-President?

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 6/7/10

Any comments on Israel, Helen Thomas was asked?

“Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine.”

The Israelis should go home, said Thomas. Where is home?

“Germany, Poland.”

The inevitable statement of regret followed on her personal web site. But the You Tube clip shows her speaking instinctively; an old woman speaking her truth; speaking from the heart.

Jews live elsewhere – presumably she means Jews, as Israelis, she says, are merely occupiers of Palestine – including America, but it is interesting that Thomas, the daughter of immigrants from Tripoli, called Germany and Poland the “home” for Israelis, as it was there that Jews were driven out, hunted down and pressed almost to extinction.

Thomas is the doyenne of the White House press corp, having covered every President since the Eisenhower administration. And the White House press corp is virtually a secondary branch of government representing the mainstream of America; this current lot, a secondary branch of the Obama administration. As the great editor S.S. McClure said of the best journalist ever, Ida Tarbell, when she speaks, she speaks for millions of Americans. It must be said that coming from such a mainstream reporter, that Thomas’s screed likewise suggests widespread anti-Semitism among mainstream Americans.

In my correspondence I have been discovering new joy and awakening in Israel these past two months. Ideas and optimism from new quarters which have not been reported in the mainstream press. But strangely enough, the rest of the world, like Thomas, appears to be turning against Israel. Possibly they see Obama as the Anti-President; a global god king; theirs, rather than ours. Do those who hate America here, there and everywhere, love Obama? Those who actively dislike us like France and the Nobel committee? Do those who hate Israel love Obama? My sense is that Jews are being blamed for 9/11. What started for Americans on 9/11 isn’t over. We have complex responsibilities ahead, starting with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Under Obama we hoped they would go away. Now, with Thomas, we are hoping that if the Jews would just go away our problems with Islamic terrorists would likewise go away. They won’t.

Immigrant families like Thomas’, like mine, face an existential situation when they get to America. There is no turning back. There is no place back to go to, because by leaving Ireland and Lebanon, we changed those places forever. We have no home other than America. Not so with Jews who have come to New York since war’s end. They face a choice, and as I’ve heard it in discussion with an orthodox baker in Jerusalem recently, the choice is, which is the path to God and which is the path of Golem? Jerusalem or New York?

Back in the 1980s, every day on page two in the New York Times city edition, came a warning from the orthodox Lubavitcher, bearded Russian Jews who travelled the streets in yellow school buses: Jews had to decide to go inward to Israel, or outward to America and the west.

Which was the path to God? Which to Golem?

I am finding that my Israeli correspondents, who support Moshe Feiglin and Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership), the movement to advance Israel as a Jewish state instead of a “state for Jews,” that the question today is more relevant than ever. These Israelis are turning away from globalization and away from the Americanization of Israel. The world model is a generic model. They cannot survive that way. They cannot be happy or true that way. They can’t be Jews that way.

Friday, June 04, 2010

South Carolina’s nightmare of old white men

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 6/4/10

“We already got one raghead in the White House, we don’t need a raghead in the governor’s mansion.” – South Carolina Republican Senator Jake Knotts, Lexington

Since integration, it may have been a little hard to tell the “lint heads” from the “rug heads” and the “octoroons.” Language in the tradition of Old White Men, useful again when a woman like Nikki Haley, who in South Carolina’s legal standing until the 1950s would be considered black, attempts to run for governor there.

Meanwhile, liberal New York, which before the rise of the leisure class took 258,000 Southern lives in beating the South out of the old ways, today looks away. As one influential celebrity journalist at the New York Times – a popular avatar of women’s issues - wrote yesterday, it is all mostly what you would expect from those “nullifiers” in South Carolina. This should give advanced anecdotal evidence that northern attitudes of race and sex fairness are merely strategies of political and regional dominance and airs of cultural piety.

I know it is hard to make that distinction among the Foreign Devils. Someone even scratched the “Free Tibet” bumper sticker off my truck the day after 9/11, assuming that Tibetan Buddhists were among the terrorist swine because they were not white. Nikki Haley’s family is Sikh, from the sub continent of India. She is American born, a Methodist, and runs for governor with the support of Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin and Jenny Sanford, wife of Governor Mark Sanford. And if Haley is knocked out of this race by political assassination, I’ll be the first to send my check to Jenny Sanford to urge her to form her own political action committee. Her new book, “Staying True,” suggests that possibly she alone has the courage and character to save the Palmetto state from its continuing nightmare; a political and moral plague of old, fat, white men who have been holding their breath since Reconstruction.

Political assassins, like real assassins such as James Earl Ray and Lee Harvey Oswald, know that they are the honored, secret ninjas for their subculture. These political assassinations know that “their people” really do not want a woman, a Tea Partier, an Indian, a “rag head” in office. Like real assassins, they provide intervention and know that beneath the public scorn, condemnation and the jail time, they have the quiet comfort of the heart in knowing they are their secret society’s silent saints.
Answer to The Hill's "Big Question" on 6/3/10 - Has Obama brand lost its chamr after job offers:

Won’t help. Don’t these guys ever watch "The Sopranos"? They look like amateur hoods. Between Rahm Emanuel and Ed Rendell we have a Philadlephia vs. Chicago Stanley Cup in suggestion and innuendo. The South Philly crowd has mastery in this realm. What is interesting in these offers to Andrew Romanoff and Joe Sestak is the pitiful quality of the offers. They are merely symbolic. What Emanuel and Obama are offering here is really in the shadow of the offer: protection. If you continue the course you are on, they tell Sestak and Romanoff, we will come after you. Get ready. Just like we used to do it in the old neighborhood, Seventh and Pemberton in South Philly. The value of the bribe offered tells the politician (“bribee”) the value they have to the boss; in this case, the value of Sestak (who supported Hillary) and Romanoff is negligible. Rahm Emanuel, like so many “metagons” (which in South Philly Italian translates to “mayonnaise face” and refers to Sarah Lawrence-educated types like Emanuel who want to be gangsters), has no legs; like so many politicians in Philadelphia and Chicago, Emanuel is attracted by the magnetism and subtle art of the gangster, but has neither the legs nor the sacred lineage. (And incidentally, he styles himself like Michael Corleone in “Godfather III.” Coincidence, no?) Sending Bill Clinton out to make the connection, however, was excellent. Brings primal animal dominance, to show Clinton his lack of status in the gang: bag man. Like when the big dog puts his head over the little dogs. To these city boys Clinton is just a country rube. And know what? They are right. Dick Morris played him like a fiddle. Maybe the fat lady is singing as she did at the opening of the Stanley Cup in Philadelphia the other day via video.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Tea Partiers to watch out for: Tim Bridgewater and the 17th amendment

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 6/2/1

The New York Times editorialist, David Firestone, starts with the patronizing “So you Still Want to Choose Your Senator,” in his warning to the rubes about the dangers of a free republic . And he wants his regular readers to know that along with Ron and Rand Paul, Sarah Palin, Rick Perry and Nikki Haley, there is another Tea Partier to watch out for: Tim Bridgewater, who is running for Senate in Utah. Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic, blogging on “ . . . the slow mainstreaming of wacky ideas” takes the same patronizing tone. They join in with Joe McGinness, Frank Rich, Ruth Marcus, Tina Fey, Katie Couric and the host of others at the bar at Elaine’s and the Café des Artists, to their new role here as the girls who hang with Cordelia to dominate the halls at Sunnydale High. They went into toxic shock when Sarah Palin transferred in. (So you want to be a cheerleader?) She shoots moose and eats them in sandwiches. And she has one of those tasteless Garfield calendar on her desk! (Marcus).

“Few members of the Tea Party have endorsed Rand Paul’s misgivings about the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but a surprising number are calling for the repeal of an older piece of transformative legislation: the 17th Amendment,” writes Firestone.
Allowing Americans to choose their own senators seems so obvious that is it hard to remember that the nation’s founders didn’t really trust voters with the job, he says, and any “clear-eyed appraisal of today’s dysfunctional states legislatures - should make the idea unthinkable.”

Prior to 1913 when the 17th amendment was passed, the people were given the right to elect House members. But senators were supposed to be a check on popular rowdiness and factionalism. They were appointed by state legislatures.

Bridgewater says that with the arrival of the 17th amendment we have seen that special interest groups have heavily infiltrated the Senate. The longer a senator is in office, the more his re-election depends on special interests’ money rather than on the voters of his state.

This reawakens the classic debate between Hamilton and Jefferson; globalism and regionalism. Instead of the continuing undergraduate snide aside, won’t it soon be time for the op-ed people at the NYTs to ask somebody smart and knowledgeable like Sarah Barringer Gordon what the repeal of the 17th amendment and other states rights initiatives could potential mean?

Gerald Celente of Trends 2000 says the Tea Parties are just the beginning of a revolution which will rival the revolution of the Founding Fathers. Would the United States come to resemble pre-Civil War America? Would we be seeing in America say 20, 30 years from now a Buddhist Vermont, an Anglican Virginia, the Baptists an official presence In Texas, a free-standing Mormon Republic made up of Utah, Arizona and Colorado and maybe a red neck/hippie/Native American/neo-druid tree-worshiping thing come into the country up there in Alaska?

The questions rising from the Tea Party movement are: What is the purpose of the federal government? In light of the BP situation, Katrina, the government bailouts, Obama’s unfunded health care plan and the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, is it fulfilling its purpose? Is it still capable of fulfilling the purposes designed post-Civil War and in the Progressive Era? Is the Hamilton model we are in obsolete? Is the present situation the best business model for the times? What are the alternatives?

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

What is a Jewish state?

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 6/1/10

My recent “Pundit’s Blog” essays on Moshe Feiglin and Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership) as a rising political phenomenon in Israel have brought much interesting mail and commentary. To the neurosis that has crippled forward progress in an Americanized Israel at least since 1993, highlighted now by the Gaza incident, a singular soldier with a moral compass like Feiglin’s brings clarity. He calls for Israel to be a religious state; “a Jewish state” instead of “a state for Jews.”

A writer in the on-line “World of Judaica,” citing one of my blog essays, wrote, “The Jewish people are moving from a collective consciousness of ‘we must be accepted by the nations,’ to ‘we are actually separate from the nations.’ This is already happening, slowly, but the tipping point will be reached soon, and when it does, I predict an avalanche of Jewish national catharsis will be released in a huge wave.”

Commentator “Kat” says of my last week’s essay titled, “Israel as a Jewish State”: “No state should be a religious state. The very concept is absurd.”

But I received a letter from Maury in New York who writes:
“Kat and others who assume that Judaism is simply a religious belief and its practices are making a huge mistake. Judaism, besides being a religion, is a philosophy and a way of life which formed and have sustained the Jewish People for over 3000 years.

“I think the analogy with England as a Protestant state is not a correct one. Judaism, in the sense of an ethno-religious culture, is the national religion for all Jews. Israel, to survive, must maintain its own unique culture (Jewish), just as the English and the French have theirs.

“The majority of Israel's Jewish population identify themselves first and foremost as Jews. Manhigut Yehudit's advocacy for a "Jewish state" simply reflects this traditional perspective. We are talking about policies like Jewish education that will ensure Israel remains a Jewish state; like unbiased media that reflect Jewish values and morals; like a fair justice system based on Jewish values; like making empowerment of the traditional family a national priority; like decentralizing government and strengthening the private economy; like more liberty for citizens; like encouraging community responsibility for the welfare of its residents and individual responsibility of one Jew for another; and fighting evil instead of compromising with it.

“We are advocating for principles -- rooted in the Biblical representation of responsibility, kindness, and goodness -- that have guided the progress of Western civilizations, including the U.S., for millennia. If the State of Israel will return proudly to its Jewish roots, it can and will be what the Prophets called a Light to the Nations. The Jewish People want this and the world needs and deserves it.”

This is my thought: In the 1800s when my family was still in Ireland, the Irish, the Catholic Church and the earth were one. There are many good things about being an American – Randy Moss, the iPad, “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer,” Red Neck Lawn Mower Racing – but that sanga has been broken here. I am not sure people can survive without it or if it is worth surviving without it. So the bringing together of Temple, Jews and earth again as one in Israel, is most auspicious, if not miraculous.