Monday, January 31, 2011

John Lehman’s better idea: Drop ROTC; bring the ivy to the heartland

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 1/31/11

There is a vision fixed in the mind of power that America is a North/South country and the rest over there is just bushes. And of the two, the North is superior as per the conquest of 1865 and the conditions of surrender at Appomattox. It is a purely colonial vestige which has injured our progress as a nation and injured especially national institutions like the army, the Foreign Service and the Supreme Court. We have, since Reagan, since Carter, even since Watergate when Tennessee’s Senator Howard Baker and the venerable North Carolinian Sam Irvin rose as folk heroes, culturally and politically awakened west of the New River, yet the Supreme Court today looks like something hobbled together around 1865: All from Harvard and Yale, most from New York or the northeast. Some few friends of politicians. (Could we see those law board scores again, please?) I guess U. Michigan, U. Texas, Vanderbilt or Washington U. grads are just too rusticated to be Supremes. But youth wants to know: How exactly do you graduate from Yale Law School and flunk the D.C. bar exam? And after that get to be Secretary of State? Friend of Bill is what. Helps to join the Supremes as well.

We are today an East/West country and will be hereafter. Our institutions should change as this demographic shift brings a fundamental change of mind and virtually a change of consciousness. Washington wisely put the capital between North and South in 1790. Today is should be around Louisville or Indianapolis. But that will take longer.

As the Appomattox Syndrome sends New Yorkers to the Supreme Court, it puts those red state rubes from Tennessee and Nebraska into the army. So the Ivy Leagues long declared themselves to be ROTC free, to pursue more delicate goals. Resulting in a red state, Baptist and fundamentalist army. Frankly, I would rather have them in my fox hole, but like the eastern Supremes, it throws the federation out again of ballast. Obama’s remedy, brought up in his SOTU speech, is to bring back ROTC to the Ivys. But John Lehman, Secretary of the Navy under President Ronald Reagan, says no and he has a better idea.

Writing with Richard H. Kohn, a professor of military history at UNC, Chapel Hill, Lehman says that while some college leaders may want ROTC back, faculties are likely to be unenthusiastic. The military will always be an outside, uncomfortable and largely isolated presence on college campuses.

“Rather than expanding ROTC into elite institutions,” they write this weekend in the Washington Post, “it would be better to replace ROTC over time with a more efficient, more effective and less costly program to attract the best of America's youth to the services and perhaps to military careers.”

The armed services should consider a program modeled on the Marine Platoon Leaders Corps to attract the most promising young people. In a national competition similar to ROTC scholarships, students should be recruited for four years of active duty and four years of reserve service by means of all-expenses-paid scholarships to the college or university of their choice. Many would take these lucrative grants to the nation's most distinguished schools, where they would get top-flight educations and could devote full attention on campus to studies.

The Lehman/Kohn perspective approaches the problem from a relevant contemporary perspective: Instead of bringing the heartland to the Ivys, bring the ivy to the heartland where the future awakens. Let the people choose.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Draft Rick Perry

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 1/28/11

The fey and the faint hearted continue to wish for a day or a month without Sarah Palin, but like the grass roots religious fervor of the Harp with a Thousand Strings, she continues to sing the robust “people’s music.” “WTF?” As Pundit’s Blog commenter Liz writes, the rustic brawler and warrior of the Tennessee frontier, Andrew Jackson, well compares to the Alaskan governor Palin. “What she lacks in political correctness, she makes up in relevance. Her comments reminded me of the "Don't touch my junk" statement by Joe Sixpack regarding airport security. She speaks in the blunt, contemporary shorthand of our new Twitter world.”

The Beatles have landed. Change is here. If you go back to The Beatles Chronicles you can see in the tapes the same FCC-approved commentators announcing that the fad is over now on their second tour; the mop tops are finished. But they weren’t; they were just about to hatch. Nor is it over for Sarah Palin, the Tea Party and the “Constitutional Conservatives.” It is just beginning.

There are today a number of conservatives desiring to be President but there is reluctance to enter because of advanced marketing issues: Their problem is like that of the major recording studios in the 1960s – they had Bob Dylan in the hand but refused him the contract because they were still stuck on Perry Como. But that which comes today through a glass darkly, will soon – very soon – become clear. There has been about as much commentary on Palin’s WTF Twitter as on Obama’s SOTU speech (“ . . .out of touch,” “not enough to save this presidency,” Dick Morris).

But subtle shifts: Mike Pence out, not a Tea Partier. Paul Ryan good, but not Tea Partier. Newt Gingrich teaming with Jeb Bush. Conservatives stuck on Bush; lost in a mediocre personality cult worse than the Clinton and Roosevelt Democrats. Mitt Romney, having won passage of individual mandate in 2006 in Massachusetts when it was constitutionally noncontroversial faces an election when 26 states bring a landmark historic challenge which some are comparing now to be as pivotal as Roe v. Wade in 1973. Not going to work.

The Tea Party brought this historic challenge and this day of change. Suddenly, the brave are not lonely. There can be no realistic doubt in the minds of conservatives today that the Tea Party actions and the state sovereignty initiatives of the last two years and the new Constitutional awareness and willingness of ordinary Americans to stand up and deliver has changed America. The future has plopped itself into the laps of Republicans and they demure.

There are only two potential champions of this new direction at this very moment, Sarah Palin and Rick Perry. The Republicans need to draft Rick Perry. He is a master orator. He was brave when it was time to be brave and with South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, was the very first governor to oppose Obamacare spending, even before the Tea Party awakened. He is the best governor in America. And he can beat Barack Obama in 2012.

Like Bob Dylan and The Beatles, this is a generational issue. Palin and Perry are the avatars of the new conservative movement – a new political and cultural generation – and the Republicans have a choice similar to that which the Democrats faced in 2008 with Barack Obama. They could go back to the 1990s with Bill and Hillary or go forward into the new century with Obama. The Republicans today can go back to the 1980s with George H.W. Bush and Co. or go to America’s future with Palin or Perry.

Not long ago, Perry told Fox he would definitely not run for president in 2012. He should be drafted.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A new age of Jackson: History without violence

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 1/27/11

Since New Hampshire state rep Dan Itse brought his challenge to Obamacare citing Thomas Jefferson’s Kentucky Resolutions in February 2009, we have been seeing a new age of Jefferson. Judge Andrew Napolitano now plays prime time “fighting for freedom” five nights a week; Virginia Delegate Jim LeMunyon proposes a Repeal Amendment; a 26-state challenge to the federal government moves to the Supreme Court and best practices conferences for governors today feature Thomas Woods’, “Nullification." But the turning ahead may best belong to Andrew Jackson. It was the rustic warrior from Tennessee who first fired up the common folk west of the New River and laid their claim to governance. He is much misunderstood and occasionally maligned, but Jackson might well be considered the spirit father of the current red state uprising.

The Idaho Reporter reports that Republicans intend to introduce a plan to “use an obscure 18th century doctrine” to nullify the federal (Obamacare) law in a House committee and are working to gain the blessing of Gov. Butch Otter. They might pick up a copy of H.W. Brands’ “Andrew Jackson: His Life and times” for background. Because what is at the core is dominance: The world naturally divides by temperament, head and heart, city and country, in a binary way. The heart today is red (Sarah Palin), the head is blue (Barack Obama). Jackson opposed nullification and championed a free republic that might be considered a model for red state interests more pragmatic than Jefferson’s. But it was Jackson who put the fire in the belly of the heartland; a fire felt in the red states today and a fire that potentially will never go out.

Jackson might be considered the founding father of the Southern and western temperament, which have morphed to the red states today. I’ve been writing about state sovereignty up here for five years and was among the first to propose the Kentucky Resolutions in New Hampshire and Vermont to oppose George W. Bush projects, especially the war on Iraq. Cited Jefferson, but inspired by Jackson.

As Russell McClintock writes today in the New York Times’ excellent series on the Civil War (“Old Hickory’s Ghost”): “Americans have always obsessed over their nation’s history, even when there wasn’t much to obsess over. The founding generation had barely passed on before politicians began scrambling to claim their legacy – and at no time was that more true than during the Secession Crisis. Secessionists claimed to be emulating the revolutionaries’ struggle for liberty against a tyrannical central government, while Northerners were determined not to let disloyal rebels tear down the noble republic the founders had created.”

North and South were at one another’s throat from the beginning. Jefferson expected invasion as early as 1797. The conflict was, as historian Frank Owsley wrote in a classic essay, “irrepressible.” Owsley presented it as a conflict between an imperial vision of New Yorker Alexander Hamilton and an agrarian one of Virginian Thomas Jefferson. But Jackson played a role as well, because the country people began to feel their oats with Jackson and after the Alamo and the Mexican Wars the western rurals began to express themselves more clearly and pointedly.

War changes people; benign contempt changed to blood but it need not. History will follow its own contours forged by economy and generations. Time cannot be held back and its demands will be met. But there is no reason on earth to think that these change will come - and I believe they will in decades ahead - in anything but peaceful resolution.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The President’s speech: The new Jacksonians advance. What’s the matter with Congress?

Speaking of the huddled masses, did anyone see the President’s speech last night? Was anything so childish and cloying as the prom date theme? All boys and girls together holding hands. It all but cried out for Tiny Tim, rest in peace, in buck teeth and ukulele singing “tip toe through the tulips.” Cannot these people just say no to a bad idea? Has it occurred to anyone that the reason Congress has in recent times the lowest respect in the history of the English-speaking people – around 11% approval last Fall - is because they are unable to oppose with character, dignity and integrity and overwhelmingly agree to just anything? Nations are not conquered by armies. They are conquered by mediocrity; the yielding of Prometheus’s second gift to the human race: The ability to stand up on your own two feet.

The President knows before he prepares his speech that this Congress will believe anything. They want to believe. One psychobilly crackpot in Arizona can turn them to jelly overnight. America is prime for the conquest. I believe Mexico could take us today. Or Canada. We flaunt our fear and celebrate appeasement and accommodation. Jared Loughner wins. Al Qaeda wins. Sirhan Sirhan and Mark David Chapman win every time. We want to be conquered. The stress of adult responsibility sends us cowering. That horse is too big and too hard to ride.

And what is truly startling, the leadership of this benign group of fawning appeasement that is Congress today comes from the badlands; the dangerous heartland of America: Colorado and Alaska, land of jackals, desperados, gold diggers and midnight riders; of Jack London, Neal Cassady and John Wayne – all girls together now and no telling tales. Can anything be left of the dangerous and creative heart of America when it produces a Congress like this? We want something today we can all agree on. We want pablum. I all but expected the President to throw himself into the mosh pit of adoring No Label hands at the end of the speech.

What the President said was not new, nor was it remarkable: “win the future” with high-speed rail, clean-energy technology and high-speed Internet; “take responsibility for our deficit” and “reform our government.”

What was new was the response. The Washington Post had two windows to watch responses, Republicans and Tea Party. And CNN decided to air a response by Michele Bachmann, a Tea Party favorite and one who may seek the presidency in 2012. The Wall Street Journal featured a Tea Party response above the Republican response on its front page.

Throwing a bone to the Tea Party by saying he would veto any bill that contained earmarks is clear indication that we have entered a new age of Jackson with the Tea Party. The lace curtain elements of left and right converge today in Third Way and No Labels in opposition to a singularly new American entity. Here are the desperados and midnight riders, acknowledged for the first time by the president and the press. The country people first awakened in America with Andrew Jackson. The brawling, rusticated Jackson brought terror to institutionalized high church Colonials same as Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann do today. He hated State of the Union speeches and saw only in them the American desire for European monarchy. Today he might see Pharaoh and the teeming horde. They didn’t hold them for a long period. And idea that might come up again as the new Jacksonians advance on Washington.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Obama’s speech tonight: Play the Eisenhower card

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 1/25/11

It should come as no surprise that prominent Eisenhower family members support President Obama. Like Ike, Obama dislikes ideas like manned space travel, seeing them as carnival stunts which disturb the healthy body politic; believes people have the right to be happy with their families in their homes without external worries and he accepts the Roman peace. On a personal level Obama is possibly the most mature President; possibly the most mature President since Ike, possibly because they share those same practical, earthy, flatland, Kansas values of Obama’s maternal grandparents. And in his way he seems to accept that he comes at the end of a period of history; Eisenhower’s a time of total war which destroyed Europe and much of the East; Obama’s a time when our country has soared on silver wings, which he must have felt last week honoring Merle Haggard who took his stand as an Okie from Muskogee in 1969 but likes to pal today with Hillary. That he has shifted from the ideological left to the center almost overnight proves that like Ike, he was never a committed ideologist. But it is something Eisenhower would never have done. And it is, unfortunately, something most every President since has done.

As long-time political commentator Michael Barone has been saying, ours is the time of the “new people” as the Sixties was the time of the New Left; this time the Tea Party, the state sovereignty movements and Hayek advocates like Ron Paul. Obama hopes now to accommodate, moving to the middle (“Third Way”) with Bill Daley. A new political entity could metabolize from this, one which would work for John Eisenhower who opposed the Republican direction of George W. Bush to support John Kerry in 2004 and Susan Eisenhower who supported Obama in 2008. To keep the peace long term that might be seen as his public task. I’m hoping for a surprise announcement: Replacing Joe Biden with Virginia Senator Jim Webb and replacing Secretary of State Clinton with China ambassador Jon Huntsman, Jr. Huntsman is only 50 and can run for president later. Hoping against hope.

The President is said to be reading a Reagan biography. He might also look at “Going Home to Glory: A Memoir of Life with Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961-1969” by David Eisenhower and Julie Nixon Eisenhower. David Eisenhower, who teaches at the University of Pennsylvania, is an excellent historian and story teller and this book highlights the contrast and convergence that occurred in the post-war period between Eisenhower and Kennedy. In reading it, I felt Obama temperamentally had more in common with Eisenhower. Obama now has a marketing advantage in that his party appears to have gotten past the Roosevelt nostalgia.

Nostalgia is the poison of politics and the Republicans are still stuck on Reagan and Bush, not on policy issues but emotional ones. Obama could build now on his “other father” – the one from the Kansas heartland and find another part of himself there; one that would help him build a new middle and one he shares with the Eisenhowers.

Friday, January 21, 2011

State bankruptcy and a heartland home-grown solution: Nebraska’s LB 515

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 1/20/11

The New York Times reports today that policy makers are working behind the scenes to come up with a way to let states declare bankruptcy and get out from under crushing debts, including the pensions they have promised to retired public workers: “Unlike cities, the states are barred from seeking protection in federal bankruptcy court. Any effort to change that status would have to clear high constitutional hurdles because the states are considered sovereign.”

But states are finding their own ways to save money. Last fall, the Nebraska Campaign for Liberty distributed copies of Tom Woods’ book Nullification to 44 of the 49 members of their legislature. They followed up with discussion with some other senators about the kind of things they’d like to see done and provided some “model legislation”—courtesy of the Tenth Amendment Center.

“We didn’t have great expectations, said Laura Ebke of Red State Eclectic. “We thought that perhaps we’d get a little bit of notice, establish ourselves as some sort of states’ rights/limited government presence, and maybe scope out which senators we might be able to work with on some issues.”

Then she got an e-mail from a Legislative Aide for one of her senators about a bill that was getting ready to be introduced. Here is a piece of it:

Sec. 3. (1) The Legislature declares that the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is not authorized by the Constitution of the United States and violates its true meaning and intent as given by the founders and ratifiers and is hereby declared to be invalid in this state, shall not be recognized by this state, is specifically rejected by this state, and shall be considered null and void and of no effect in this state.

Could be an interesting battle, said Ebke.

Governors are raising their voices as well.

Susan Molinari, journalist and member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York for three terms told Connell McShane on Fox Business this past week that we will see a “bifurcation of states” between those which bring creative and responsible ways of handling their debt, and those that just raise taxes. New leaders, she says – presumably among governors - will rise from this. This will happen within the next 60 days, she said.

A “bifurcation of states”: consider the possibilities. Parker and Spitzer are not going to like this.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Will Hillary run?

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 1/20/11

The Obama presidency could easily be seen as a trick put together by Oprah, with an assist from Caroline Kennedy, who turned the tide overnight on Hillary Clinton the day after the New York Times endorsed her in her run for President in 2008. Looked like a done deal as it ever did, ever since Life Magazine picked up on her speech in college 40 years ago and declared her to be the face of a new generation. But next day Caroline placed her own op ed in the Times endorsing Barack Obama. Political history pivoted on that morning. That day, Uncle Teddy saw the distinct possibility of Obama, who American knew then only as a politically inexperienced black man from Chicago, being president, because America responded to Caroline Kennedy. It was the definitive moment: Kennedy kung fu was stronger than Clinton kung fu.

Was said then by Jules Feiffer in an excellent political cartoon and others, that the great thing about Barack Obama was that he was not Hillary Clinton. But we saw perfect mastery of the image when Oprah – when they call you by one name you have become a kind of god – got Caroline and Maria Shriver to smooze together with her on TV in opposition to the Super Bowl: The Three Sisters together, in opposition to Hillary (the dark yin, like Yoko to John, like Madame to Mao), and they took it from her, the Three Sisters, that which her husband had promised he could deliver to her ever since she flunked her law boards and went to him instead. Pictures of Bill seething with the clicker in his hand watching the football game that day with Bill Richardson tell the whole story.

Now, just this past month, Obama has taken it from Hillary a second time. His approval will rise now and it has been rising since last month. Since he ditched the left and moved to the middle. The middle which Hillary had already marked as her own, leaving Obama to the dweeb fest which is the marginal left in the press and in the House and Senate.

But Obama is by no means a marginal player like Barney Frank or Keith Olbermann or Paul Krugman; he is, as Malcolm X said of Jack Kennedy, who he is so said to resemble, an original Trickster. What moral basis could one possibly have in moving from a far left agenda over night to the middle? The morality of coyote, the trickster, who makes things happen in spite of what people want, starting the dance all over again by himself. During the campaign he was said to carry in his pocket a little effigy of a monkey; like Hanuman, the monkey god who, in Hindu lore, is said to be the creator of the realm.

But Hillary created the world; actually Bill, but Hillary helped. Ask them.

Would the Clintons let this stand? Taken once by Caroline and Oprah? Taken again by Obama and his darkwing Chicago thugs? Why would they? Did they ever?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Chicago rises with Obama as America’s premier city

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 1/19/11

Not long ago the historian Tony Judt proclaimed that New York had passed as a global city. Possibly because the idea of Reagan/Clinton-era globalism had passed. Culture follows capital and as Harvard’s Niall Ferguson has said, today it is all about China and America. So better that the American leader today hails not from what Judt considered to be a European city, a “world city” – New York; that is, old New York, but Chicago. New York is a “world city,” Judt wrote, but it is “ . . . not the great American city — that will always be Chicago.”. LA is global or “world” as well, which makes Chicago the premier American city.

Only Bono or Hillary Clinton would think that China was ever about “the world.” China is and always has been for millennia now, about China. But there is a difference this time as Chinese President Hu Jintao visits Washington. When Hillary would meet with Chinese leaders in the past as Secretary of State or as visiting First Lady to China, there was no question in her mind or Bill’s that they represented the world. Every post-war President before George W. Bush has felt that. It is the nature of the inherited conquest; the world post-Yalta: America won the Second World War. America won the world.

The difference this time is that now there are two, just as Ferguson says: America and China. It started awhile back; Ferguson has used the phrase “Chimerica” for several years now and it became clear at the Copenhagen climate conference last winter that China would now claim territorial imperative. Germany and Israel have since begun to claim their independence from American post-war dominance. But I think for the first time now people feel it; America alone; America with China.

So Obama, oddly enough, for the first time since Yalta represents us as we are and will only be: Not as “the world,” which we have never been, but as America and as Americans as we will always be. So it may be appropriate that he is from the great American city “. . . that will always be Chicago.”

Chicago is like that trickster coyote they found all snug and resting quietly in a convenience store a few years ago in the center of the city. No one knew how it got there. There should be a monument to it marking the time when Chicago would awaken; the time when it would call itself second city no more. The TV show “Prison Break” tells the story of Chicago; the story of a city struggling to bust out and break free from a vast, tangled, paranoid spider web of malevolent prison guards, evil politicians, twisted doctors and psychiatrists, sadomasochistic secret service men and a blond, middle-aged dominatrix vice president so strange she will do anything including removing her brother’s teeth to seize and hold control.

It is getting to be Chicago’s time and it has been getting to be like that for a long while. Obama opens the gate.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hu Jintao, Amy Chua and the temptation of the East

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 1/18/11

In his great small book of the early 20th century, “The Temptation of the West,” Andre Malraux proposed that the question of the century would be: How will the Chinese adapt to individualism? The question we might ask today as President Hu Jintao visits the United States might be how will the West adapt to the rise of China? So far I am afraid, not very well. Western people are dreaming now of tigers and dragons. Bad dreams.

Possibly only few can make the journey across the Pacific. Kelsey Grammer’s Frasier, uncomfortable in Seattle with the Hindu waitress at the coffee shop, may long for the Irish charm and camaraderie of the “Cheers” bar in Boston. But those who will be successful in this American journey will travel the path west with him because America’s future faces across the Pacific.

The dragon has landed in D.C. and the tiger at Yale. Amy Chua’s “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” has brought widespread reaction this past week. Writer Ayelet Waldman and her daughters have spent time “raging against the essay and crafting compelling and bombastic rebuttals.” NY Times columnist David Brooks called her “a wimp.”

Chua’s essay is an entertainment. In writing how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids, she says her two daughters were never allowed to: Attend a sleepover, have a playmate, be in a school play, complain about not being in a school play, watch TV or play computer games, choose their own extracurricular activities, get any grade less than an A, not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama, play any instrument other than the piano or violin, not play the piano or violin.

But her essay comes with a warning. As President Hu visits Washington today 90 girls in just one high school in Tennessee are pregnant or have just had a baby. Nurseries are a common feature today in high schools throughout the South. So ends the American century.

Hopefully Chua’s clever children will join the committed Yale alumni who work diligently in Teach for Kentucky at least for a time, because something needs to be done and what we have done to date hasn’t worked.

Possibly because, as Chau writes in the Wall Street Journal, “Western parents try to respect their children's individuality, encouraging them to pursue their true passions, supporting their choices, and providing positive reinforcement and a nurturing environment. By contrast, the Chinese believe that the best way to protect their children is by preparing them for the future, letting them see what they're capable of, and arming them with skills, work habits and inner confidence that no one can ever take away.”

Monday, January 17, 2011

Hunting with John Thune

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 1/16/11

As Jason Lee Loughton awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect. To learn more go to Kafka or better yet, Dostoyevsky’s “The Undergroud Man.” It cannot be explained on Dr. Phil’s couch without moral treason to the living and the dead.

When CPAC meets in early February it should consider this to be the zero vortex from which things end and begin again. Politics and culture, as in Einstein’s theory of time and space, must either expand or contract. It can’t stand still. And this tragic incident brought to center again she who will not go away, Sarah Palin. But there are other things for CPAC2011 to consider; problems that challenge our existence: A $202 trillion debt, the Red Army, the end of the world.

“Let’s get real,” Laurence Kotlikoff wrote last summer for Bloomberg. “The U.S. is bankrupt. Neither spending more nor taxing less will help the country pay its bills.” Kotlikoff, a professor at Boston University says that based on the Congressional Budget Office’s date, he calculates a gargantuan fiscal gap of $202 trillion, more than 15 times the official debt.

StockSage market analyst reports that Marc Faber of the Gloom, Boom and Doom report says “ . . . there is potential for geopolitical tensions between China and India as they compete for natural resources (oil, water).” Faber pointed out that China and India share the Brahmaputra River. Faber might have noticed that at the 60th year celebration of the People’s Republic, Hu Jintao was wearing a Mao suit. Will this the end of free market cooperation? Will China now press ahead with a stronger regional and national profile? Will the Red Army rise to power?

The world is said to end this December. So says ancient Mayan prophecy (on the internet!). Prophecy does not end things, but the sudden widespread belief in eschatological visions of doom does suggest a failure of the collective will. Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” and Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” were both published in 1925 thereabouts. They were icons of helplessness, impotence and impending doom, wildly popular in their day and still relevant in our day. Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” was published in 1925 and 1926. Stocks crashed in 1929.

But Sarah Palin, that is really the big issue in 2011. Because whatever doesn’t kill her makes her stronger.

Sarah Palin has, with Ron Paul, Judge Andrew Napolitano and Texas Governor Rick Perry, built a new cultural and political zeitgeist in the last two years. Senator John Thune of South Dakota, a potential Presidential candidate in 2012, is a perfect fit for it. Thune will speak at CPAC2011.

Last year at CPAC a clear division emerged among conservatives. Liberty-minded conservatives dominated in numbers and set the tone for the event. In CPAC’s important straw poll Ron Paul won with35% while the standard bearer of traditional Republicans, Mitt Romney, took only 25%. As CBS reported Friday that their new poll found that 77 percent of Americans want to cut spending and just nine percent call for raising taxes, the new themes are having an impact.

Thune represents a new force in America politics and a new generation. Here in the New Hampshire woods acrimony runs long, deep and bitter: “I’d rather go hunting with Dick Cheney than ride in a car with Ted Kennedy” can be seen daily on bumper stickers.

Time to turn the corner. Time to turn to the new generation.

I’d rather go hunting with John Thune.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The President at Tucson: How will we change?

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 1/12/11

Generational historians say that the times can change in an afternoon. This change may have occurred Saturday in Tucson; an afternoon many of us began thinking about Michael Vick and ended listening to Dr. Peter Rhee at the trauma center in Tucson. History will mark it by the President’s speech, introducing himself as “an American.” This will define him for the first time in a long time, as “one of us” and define ourselves as one with him as well. He did, for the moment, “make sense to that which seems senseless.” None of us can know what triggered this vicious attach, he said, “But what we cannot do is to use this occasion to turn on each other.”

Came to mind in these warring times the words of Lt. Colonel Ely Parker, the Seneca Indian who served as an aid to Ulysses S. Grant, to Robert E. Lee during the signing at Appomattox: “We are all Americans here.”

The President does have “an instinct for empathy” and it was a good speech. Obama is in many ways better than many who support and many who oppose him, and it is that Obama, the empathetic Obama, which elevates us collectively, let’s the American spirit soar and rings with suggestion of JFK. But the speech and the events do ask, as he said, “what is required of us” in moving forward? How do we change? What have we become since Saturday?

The Tucson tragedy brings a turning point. Like Kent State, for example, when four college students were shot by National Guard on May 4, 1970. The Sixties pretty much ended then but left a bitter aftermath. Another was March 30, 1981, when John Hinckley, Jr. attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan. I have distinct memories of that sitting in my office on Madison Avenue. The recent Yale grad calling her friend to say she hoped he would die still grates. But he didn’t. And Reagan was reelected, carrying 49 out of 50 states. The bitter and the confused went on to grad school or entered rehab.

The tragic shootings in Tucson could well bring a change of zeitgeist. In the last month, President Obama shifted his positions to the middle, fortifying his staff with the mainstream Bill Daley of Chicago. Strategically, it was a clever move, virtually sweeping the 20% on the edge of the left off the table. The center moved right in the November election and Obama moved with it. He specifically cited the editorial board of The New York Times as being out of touch and not representative of mainstream America. But the Tucson shootings brought that whack-a-mole effect: Up they popped again, as if on cue, Marcos Moulitsas of the Daily Kos, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, Paul Krugman and the New York Times itself. Possibly they could be relevant again in this time of hysteria.

Or not. As The Hill’s Christian Heinze reports this week, Sarah Palin is being defended by a variety of mainstream media figures and liberal journalists in the wake of the Arizona shootings, pushing Olbermann, Krugman and the crew back over the edge. Her supporters included ABC’s Barbara Walters, the Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz, the New Republic’s Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine’s Dan Amira and The Atlantic’s Garance Frank-Ruta.

It is also significant that The Weekly Standard’s William Kristol, icon of the conservative movement, was the first to come to Palin’s aid, suggesting that pinning culpability on Palin in the tragedy was MaCarthyist. Kristol’s visceral reaction was most important; a natural reflex, indicating that in spite of differences, Palin is, to them, “one of us.” Likewise, conservative Charles Krauthammer’s column in the Washington Post, “Massacre, followed by libel.” He responds to the charge that “The Tucson massacre is a consequence of the ‘climate of hate’ created by Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, Glenn Beck, Obamacare opponents and sundry other liberal betes noires.” Krauthammer, a psychiatrist by trade says, “rarely in American political discourse has there been a charge so reckless, so scurrilous and so unsupported by evidence.”

Krauthammer has never liked Palin (although she is the conservative’s best bet on Israel). Kristol is of mixed mind. He is adamantly opposed to the drive to small government to which Palin appears attached. But crisis speaks to the heart, the better place. This one could well bring consolidation to oppositional factions on the right.

Monday, January 10, 2011

New York Times insinuates Sarah Palin responsibility in Tucson massacre

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 1/9/10

It is fair to ask as NY Times reporters Carl Hulse and Kate Zernike do in a front-page story Sunday (Bloodshed Puts New Focus on Vitriol in Politics) “whether extremism, antigovernment sentiment and even simple political passion at both ends of the ideological spectrum have created a climate promoting violence.” And for the Times, even though the “exact motivations of the suspect in the shootings remain unclear,” it is hard to imagine that Sarah Palin wasn’t behind it.

As American Thinker reports, the New York Times inserted this paragraph in the middle of a story about the mass murder:

“During the fall campaign, Sarah Palin, the former Republican vice-presidential candidate, posted a controversial map on her Facebook page depicting spots where Democrats were running for re-election; those Democrats were noted by crosshairs symbols like those seen through the scope of a gun. Ms. Giffords was among those on Ms. Palin's map.”

It was up at the New York Times on-line during the Saturday football playoffs directly after the killings occurred. It gives their first impression of the killings.

Tucson shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner seems an unlikely follower of Palin. A YouTube profile claiming to be Loughner’s lists among his favored writers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. If anything, Loughner appears dazed and confused at best and his Army rejection and dismissal from college suggest much deeper issues. The Times Sunday story showed no interest in “ . . . both ends of the ideological spectrum” but directly compares the Tucson killings with the Oklahoma City bombings in 1995 and frames Palin and the Tea Party throughout in context with this act of terrorism.

This is pure mnemonic slander; that is, slander by association, insidious propaganda implying that the Tucson killings were second act by a wannabe to the right-wing terrorist Timothy McVeigh of the Oklahoma City bombings. Say what you like about McVeigh, he was of sound, terrorist mind with a clear political objective; a dedicated Samurai, much like the purposeful Islamic terrorists of Al Qaeda at war with Israel and America. McVeigh was a soldier of ideology who followed his dark passenger to his death. Loughner appears to have been overwhelmed by the times and mentally unstable, quite possibly schizophrenic.

A better and more accurate comparison might be with Charles Manson, caught up in the swirling emotions of the Sixties and seeing in Paul McCartney’s “Helter Skelter” a call to Armageddon.

As I recall, public opinion at the time generally followed John Lennon’s suggestion that he, Manson, was simply “cracked.” To suggest otherwise political objectives in the days of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite would have been absurd.

But today we get our opinions from stand up comedians, professional wrestlers, pop musicians, strippers, and second-rate actors like Alex Baldwin. We wait with baited breath to see what Jon Steward has to say at Comedy Central, as comic Stewart last week was called the Edward R. Murrow of our own day by the New York Times.

Did somebody say “cracked”?

Friday, January 07, 2011

New beginnings: Rick Perry, the new Governors and the new Congress

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 1/7/11

As she often does, Peggy Noonan, grasps the essence when she asks why is the movie “The King’s Speech” so popular and admired? “It is that no one knows how to act anymore,” she writes, “ and people miss people who knew how to act.”

Right again. America is today, as NY Jets Coach Rex Ryan says about the Indianapolis Colts, living on the quarterback. Adrift. There is a tribal element in any group to which basic anthropology applies: You take away the king and it all goes. The Colts get a few good years without Tony Dungy. Then it will start to fall apart. Question today is, how will 20th century post-war liberalism do without Ted Kennedy in the near aftermath of his departure? As of today, in light of President Obama’s new appointments, consider the movement dead.

The change we face is systemic. The new Tea Party Congress people may be Jacksonian rustics but it is good and positive that they are not moving to the high rent district and are instead turning office buildings into smelly dorms and flying home to their families on weekends. They need to build and nurture their own network. Instead of the free meals - bribes – which so many will offered them now may I suggest evening entertainment in the bachelor dorm featuring movies like “The Samurai Trilogy” by Miyamoto Musashi, “300” with Gerard Butler and the book, “Where there are no men,” the autobiography of the Israeli soldier Moshe Feiglin?

This new Congress should bring a chorus for substantive issues in the states where governors will rise in importance. If it is not to be absorbed into the power vortex of D.C. it needs to keep focused on the states. 17 newly elected GOP governors are coming in, most with a Tea Party bent. It is significant that mainstream conservative commentators like George Will support Judge Henry Hudson's decision on Obamacare. A year ago this was considered esoteric and libertarian. Now the states’ rights initiative is accepted by the responsible mainstream.

It is serendipitous that Texas Governor Rick Perry has been named chief of the Republican Governors Association this year. It indicates that the states and regions have developed a different attitude than the Washington elite to the Tea Party issues of the last two years, particularly those which pertain to state rights and responsibilities. It is historic. America has learned again the first lesson of the Founders: The only defense against federal malfeasance and unconstitutional action is the states.

Under Perry’s tenure the governors might consider an idea that took the imagination of the great ambassador George Kennan late in his life. He proposed a national Council of Elders, an idea actually first discussed by a handful of undergraduate students at Wake Forest University 16 years ago. It would be something like a national Board of Trustees or a Board of Visitors intended to advise and occasionally warn; possibly a board of six or a dozen governors, meeting in a central (non-Washington) place (like Louisville, for instance).

New ideas need new people and new structures. As Congress was intended to watch the Presidency, Congress, burdened by its own banality and bound by its own malfeasance, today needs to be watched. And such a new group could sustain, modify and amplify the new directions of the past two years.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Time for a Third Party – a Ron Paul/ Joe Miller ticket

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 1/6/11

President Obama announces today the appointment of Bill Daley to be the new chief of staff, ditching the left for the middle. It shows him to be a Trickster, a man without principles. But The Hill today reports that only 31 percent of Americans now identify themselves with the Democratic Party. Possibly that is why. But with a little Mao Theater at Mile High Stadium, the horde could swing back by 2012. The Democrats now will “look good.” The Republican will attempt to repeal Obamacare; they will fail and look weak and vengeful. And the pendulum will swing again.

I have no hopes for the Tea Party in Congress. Already in D.C. and here in New Hampshire there is hubris in the air. These problems are structural and have been growing for 50 years and longer. The likelihood of this new Congress having any impact would be as likely as that of Martin Luther had he joined the College of Cardinals in Rome. It is time now to go alone.

I recently received an email from the prominent Libertarian writer Nelson Hultberg saying anybody with a lick of sense realizes there's no difference anymore between the Democrats and Republicans. “Both preach big dictatorial government to the people, and they do so relentlessly. Thus many Americans now realize that we need to open up the process and offer a small government vision as a third choice.”

The question is how we bring about such a goal, he asked. Many hurdles to a third-party exist, and many objections among conservatives to even begin such an attempt exist.

He says it is assumed that Ron Paul will run again for the Republican nomination in 2012. But is he likely to get the nomination against party luminaries? No.
Ron Paul needs to think "Independent Crusade" in the manner of Ross Perot in 1992, he says, which would get him into the National TV Presidential Debates. The importance of this is that it puts Paul in front of 70 million voters on the major networks.

For Ron Paul to create a successful Independent run, he will need to find a promising conservative to team with as his VP candidate and do what Ross Perot and James Stockdale did in 1992. It goes without saying that he must be a man with gravitas and big league political experience, which unfortunately Stockdale was not, writes Hultberg.

I agree that such an Independent run could electrify the country and the time for such an initiative is now. It would sweep into the TV Presidential Debates in the same fashion that Ross Perot did in 1992. But in our day, with independents at 38 percent, outpacing Dems by seven and Republicans by nine, it could actually win.
I could think of no one better to replace Stockdale in a Paul run which parallels Perot’s than Joe Miller, West Point grand, Yale Law School, Iraq combat veteran. Because there is something else about Dr. Paul: He was born in 1935. He is 75 years old. Joe Miller was born in 1967. He is 43.

Ron Paul is our century’s Gray Champion, the singular elder who stands up and says no, not now, not never and faces down tyranny. He awakens a new generation, but that generation must find a younger leader. I can’t think of a better man for the job than Alaska’s Joe Miller.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Politics and the Lava Lamp Syndrome

A church that figures prominently in governing issues gives lava lamps to young people especially selected to defy their own generational instincts and carry the ancients forward. The ancients see the lava lamp as a symbol of its commitment to “youth.” Remember “youth”? It is what they used to call teen agers in the 1960s as if it –youth – was its very own minority or ethic group. Remember lava lamps? They were a commercial fad in 1965. The slow movement of the viscous liquids had a soothing effect on college kids – youth – back then getting stoned and listening to James Taylor in the college dorms in Amherst, Storrs and Cambridge.

It is pretty hard for us New Englanders to let go of things – like James Taylor – and people sometimes mistakenly think we are serious because we keep remembering things that everyone else has long forgotten; Cotton Mather, The Book of Common Prayer, Squanto, beans and franks on Saturday night, James Taylor and lava lamps. It might be expected; possibly the best of us have long gone west, a good many following Joseph Smith well over 100 years ago now. Others followed the Asian muse to the Pacific Palisades in the shiny car in the night and the hardiest crossed the Yukon to Alaska. There are two kinds of churches here in New England: stone church and wood church. Emerson said they were both the same. Walpola Rahula, a Buddhist, said they were both really political parties. Mine is wood but I bring news to the stone church: Tiny Tim is dead and so is Kurt Cobain. A guy name Steve Jobs has invented a great new electric typewriter called Apple and Taylor and Jake have split up. And the Sixties called: They want their lava lamp back.

But you can see the problem here: “Youth” here is imagined by people well into the eighties and their vision has varied little since the 1950s. It is a problem in political parties both with the old and the young: The old, H.W. and Barbara Bush, support those who most resemble them as they remember themselves to be when they were young. And the youth – such as it is – strive to be like them as they imagine them to have been back in the Fifties. Mitt Romney wins the lava lamp award this year for the Republicans but Mike Pence in the Tea Party mask is runner up.
Hands down, the award for the Democrats goes to President Barack Obama. If the Republican is the party of the Fifties remembering itself, Obama fulfills the yearnings of the Sixties. How proud Rose Kennedy would be, and thrilled that he even walks a Kennedy dog.

This is why the 2012 race will be so compelling. Time can no longer be held back. The century is upon us. The party of the Fifties will yield to the new and possibly so now will the party of the Sixties.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Bill Daley should turn the job down

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 1/4/11

President Obama may be high minded, as has been said about him, but is he trustworthy? The answer is firmly no. It was not ornery contention that led New Hampshire state representative Dan Itsy to bring a states rights challenge to Obama within weeks of his inauguration. It was not race or rural pride which led 37 states to follow suit. It was Obama’s radical move to the far left directly after he was in office. It betrayed the good will and intentions of the people who voted for him. That brought the Tea Party to life and it brings it now to a new Congress. This week he moves to the center, effectively pushing away any challenge from the middle, particularly that from Hillary Clinton. And it is reported now that he has asked Chicago’s Bill Daley to come in as chief of staff; that is, to be the new moderate figurehead of the new Obama in the middle. Daley should turn the job down. The new Obama has a greater chance; a right good chance, of reelection with Daley at the helm. But once reelected, what is to say he would not ditch him and head left again? It is his first tendency. This would be disastrous for America. If the last two years has been any indication, it could potentially bring us to a condition of revolution.

Has Obama had a change of heart? How is that possible? Is Obama a Trickster? Possible. Daley would be in Obama world a symbol, a chess piece, a pawn in his game. His own initiatives would be neutralized.

On Dec. 24, 2009, Daley wrote in the Washington Post:

“The announcement by Alabama Rep. Parker Griffith that he is switching to the Republican Party is just the latest warning sign that the Democratic Party -- my lifelong political home -- has a critical decision to make: Either we plot a more moderate, centrist course or risk electoral disaster not just in the upcoming midterms but in many elections to come.”

Daley was the first to see it and the first to say it. In July, he joined the moderate think tank The Third Way:

He said then: “I believe in Third Way’s unique mission—advancing moderate ideas, challenging orthodoxies, and building a big tent political movement that can attract an enduring majority. Their views are right for both campaigning and governing: pro-market, strong on security and seeking common ground on culture issues. Third Way is doing exactly the work that we must do—with the White House, Congress and statehouses—if we’re going to own the center of American politics and create the kind of pragmatic change the country wants.”

This goes in the right direction. Suppose he would bring the Clintons, spurned and falling form the sky now like the birds in Arkansas, with him on this. Say what? Bring a frontal challenge to the Obama Democrats, possibly even as a third party. Consider the possibilities. The Clintons with Daley could challenge the Obama crowd that has commandeered the Democratic Party. Daley should stick to his guns. If the Democrats are not to go the way of the Whigs, they might start again with Bill Daley.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Chris Christie out, Jon Huntsman, Jr. in

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 1/3/11

Cowboy movies are making a big comeback. We spent 40-some years in the sky with Han Solo, Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Ripley, now we come back to earth and to the epic journey we were born to: The journey west, starring Fess Parker and John Wayne. In that regard, the excellent new Cohen Brothers movie, True Grit, might be considered a reenactment. Like all reenactments, it is a return to original principles. Make no mistake; the journey across the western desert is as essential a transformation to American consciousness as the pilgrim’s progress was to Plymouth Rock. Possibly why Jon Huntsman, Jr., former Governor of Utah, causes such a stir. He has made that journey on our behalf. Maybe he is the one; the one who would bring us forward with him. Bad news for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Christie did the right thing in turning down the new nine mile Hudson River tunnel. But he will have a problem with that. Christie is mentioned prominently in a recent Bloomberg article by James S. Russell about the wonderful high-speed rail to Kowloon and the celestial West Kowloon Terminus. Why don’t we have such a train? Why don’t we have such adventurous steel and glass modernism? We did, of course, a hundred or so years ago; Penn Central, Grand Central Station. Every big industrial city had one, now converted to malls, civic centers or museums. But for America today, the high-speed rail is a fast train to nowhere. In Kowloon, in Singapore and elsewhere in the east, the fast train is the cherry on top of manufacturing empires similar to those we had here in the U.S.A. when Trenton proudly boasted, “Trenton Makes, the World Takes.” Not any more. But it is hard to say so, for a Governor. It sounds so unpositive. “If you build it they will come,” they will tell you. But they won’t. They will go to Kowloon and Singapore.

But Huntsman on the other hand, starts our world again where it is supposed to start in the 21st century, in the western desert. Bad news for Christie and bad news for Mitt Romney as well. In fact, Romney may have been the unintentional stalking horse for Huntsman, getting all of that Mormon stuff out of the way. There is a maybe three-to-five percent creep factor to Romney, not because he is a Mormon, but because of his closeness to the Bushes and his aggressive support of the egregious wartime practices of the immature, younger Bush. And Romney’s claim to be all things to all Americans – Yankee governor, Utah Mormon, son of Detroit – never quite fit any. Huntsman, on the other hand is everything true west should be and then some. Romney did his mission in Paris, Huntsman did his in Taiwan. Romney sees the past, Huntsman lives the future. Huntsman looks across the Pacific with ease and comfort. He sees our future: It is the birth home of two of his astonishing babies, one Indian, one Chinese.

It is being said that President Obama picked Huntsman to be his ambassador to China to keep him from running against him in 2012. I don’t see it. I felt that he saw something in him that he felt in himself; a natural, “high minded” idealism which Obama is said to share with JFK. He might even have seen Huntsman as his replacement; acknowledging that he, Obama, represented the end of an era which began with JFK and even with Lincoln, while Huntsman represents the beginning of our journey ahead.