Thursday, March 31, 2011

Rand Paul rises

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 3/31/11

It is interesting how well and how fast Rand Paul, the new senator from Kentucky, has fit in. He comes after long advance in the tail of his father Ron Paul, who might be considered the Father Abraham of the Tea Party Movement. His speeches on the Senate floor are thoughtful, informed with history and tradition and appropriate to current events and so are his frequent conversations with Judge Andrew Napolitano on Fox Business. He calls on the heroic Cassius M. Clay as his avatar, the Kentucky anti-slavery iconoclast, who placed a Bible and Bowie Knife on the podium before he spoke and frequently used the Bowie Knife. And time appears to be opening up to him.

The invasion of Libya presents the perfect possible political moment to him. Father Ron railed daily against the invasion of Iraq, but America at first required vengeance. We are not a commonly vengeful people, but will respond as the bard Toby Keith so poignantly put it at the time, with “a boot in the ass” when we are injured, and that more than anything perhaps represented the heartland feelings about the Iraq war and 9/11. But Ron Paul had what might be called a “higher law” vision and it has now captivated almost 40% of younger Republicans.

We feel this time an active dislike but no particular vengeance against Libya about any specific hurt. Ron Paul’s arguments against the Iraq invasion might be listened to more thoughtfully when they come today from son Rand.

Harry Reid says the 49% support of the Tea Party shows Americans are disinterested in it. But President Obama’s approval rating is much lower. And the times are moving toward Rand. Invariably, widespread social movements like the Tea Party move to one champion and representative. She or he has not yet been found. But it will not be any of the so-far announced Republicans, nor will it be one like Scott Walker or Mitch Daniels who primarily serve the Republican traditions. The traditions are eroding. The world is beginning again. It may be Rand Paul.

And working in his favor is a President who no longer seems to want to be President; a President seen as one of the greatest orators on record who now speaks in Oprahworld jargon of “the conscience of the world”; a President who leads neither abroad nor at home and has no clue regarding Libya. Obama was the perfect man for the times just a few short years ago, but that time is rapidly passing and a new day beckons.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Are Mormons the Aquarians?

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 3/28/11

A psychologist in Switzerland who treats people with visions of UFOs suggested once that these images might be understood as messages from the Unconscious, as angels were when the world awaited the birth of the Christ. But today they anticipate a new age. As C.G. Jung put it in his first psychological study in 1958, UFO visions and cultural images are manifestations of psychic changes which appear at the end of one age and the beginning of another: “We are now nearing that great change which may be expected when the springpoint enters Aquarius.” And so I was interested in the juxtaposition of two stories in the Sunday op-ed pages of The New York Times; one by professor Ray Jayawardhana on alien life, to whom it “seems absurd, if not arrogant, to think that ours is the only life-bearing world in the galaxy,” and the other on Mormons by the Times long-in-the-tooth columnist, Maureen Dowd.

They kind of converge. Traditional Christianity in all its branches emerge from earth-based consciousness, with the Christ rising out of the cave or crypt as if out of the womb of the Earth Mother. Mormons believe higher consciousness comes to us from the universe. It can be seen figuratively as a UFO-related cosmology. The past 50 years of UFO dreams and visions do relate to some kind of cosmic "awakening” which is why they are rendered so important to those that have them. And incidentally, Mulder and Scully’s fabled “Area 51” of UFO cult lore is just a few hours’ drive from where Brigham Young declared, “This is the place.”

It fits Jung’s model. The previous age was one of earth and water; the Earth Mother morphed through millennia from Mary of Nazareth to Victoria. Aquarius is the age of Titans, one of sky, space and electricity (fire). Of course Aquarius is fixed in the collective consciousness as something about the Sixties. That’s the mischievous suggestion of Hermes, the Trickster. It actually began to open in 2001, the same year as the great tragedy of 9/11.

It’s the Mormon moment, says Dowd, meaning something else entirely: “The Republican Mormons Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman may run for president, braving more questions about whether they wear the sacred undergarment and more resistance from evangelicals who consider Mormonism an affront to Christianity.”

That Mormons are being met with mockery by the squalid likes of the writers of “South Park” in their new Broadway play, “The Book of Mormon” is good news for Mormons. It is what Joseph Smith expected and intended. They are being engaged and those who live inside the box – and Dowd’s been there so long she’s about to turn to stone – are afraid of them.

So Mormons may be added to the rising karma of the suddenly relevant being met in shock and denial by the suddenly irrelevant. Along with Ron Paul, Sarah Palin, Judge Andrew Napolitano, Libertarianism, the Tea Party movement and the “Twilight” series. And incidentally, commentary suggesting that the popular “Twilight” series is a mythic tale; an indigenous “creation myth” shifting American consciousness from the Italian/British model to Native American spirit and Mormon order, morality, responsibility and work ethic, brought Mormon interest and some enthusiasm.

Outside the box. But as the brilliant and brave Thomas Woods, author of “Meltdown” and “Nullification” has been saying in the Tenth Amendment Center’s current Nullify Now! national tour, "It's not enough to think outside of the box. The box needs to be crushed to the ground and set on fire..."

Friday, March 25, 2011

Canadian government falls: Bloc Quebecois will rise

The Canadian government fell today in a vote of no confidence, clearing the way for spring elections.

What could be interesting to watch in this is the Canadian temperament or the Canadian condition. I live near Canada and do not think Canadians are boring. I think they are endlessly fascinating and are to Americans as loons are to ducks, they being the loons. But something they always have to watch out for: The subliminal drive to be just like Americans. It is a denial of Canadian character. There you find a PM who resembles Reagan, then one who resembles Kennedy, and born again Stephen Harper, walking in the footsteps of George W. Bush. And they held with him a long time.

And right now they are thinking it is time to give up the pseudo-Bush thing and get on to the pseudo-Clinton/Obama path. That would be Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, who has spent most of his life working in Massachusetts as a Harvard professor and is the closest thing to an American NPR liberal one could find and still claim to be a Canadian.

Not that he would not be a good PM. But this is what I’ve seen: Canadians really are one of the most unique peoples in the world and when they fall into the American tailwind Quebec will react. Quebec will demand that they come back to the fight between the Habs and the Leafs and leave the Americans behind. A liberal Canadian government following in the wake of Obama would bring with it a Tea Party reaction and Canada already has one. It is called the Bloc Quebecois and it is the mother of all Tea Parties. I happen to know because I was there at the beginning and we based our American sovereignty efforts on those of Bernard Landry and the Bloc during the invasion of Iraq.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sarko ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 3/23/11

For those who still see Bill – I mean Obama – as the center of the “global village” called HIllaryland, it will come as a shock that France wants to secede. All Bill – I mean Obama – has now in the “global initiative” are Haiti, Ireland and one or two others in its NATO military arm. But he’ll always have Nantucket.

Say goodbye to the comforting cant and familiar phrases like: “coalition of the willing,” “leader of the free world,” “the court of popular opinion,” and the “forces of good” (the phrase of Hillaryland Master Chief Anthony Weiner who compares taking action in Libya to preventing the Holocaust) and of course the “Clinton Global Initiative” and all the happy face lies and make believe we use to make global policy with their insidious totalitarian underside. Sarko wants to cut loose. He ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more. Say hello to the French Foreign Legion.

France has proposed a new committee outside NATO be responsible for overseeing military operations over Libya. The Guardian reports that at a meeting of the North Atlantic Council, the French representative reportedly stormed out after being accused of hindering NATO's involvement in the campaign. France had flatly refused to agree to the proposal, which was later agreed by a majority of member countries.

And he does the right thing for France. France is now free to be French. They will be secondary and pseudo-Americans no longer; citizens of Hollywood and Hillaryland, to a lesser degree than we regular Americans, but better than being commies. Good bye Bono and Lady Gaga. Hello Charles DeGaulle and Andre Malraux. And Eleanor, Cosette and Madeline and the 12 little girls in two straight lines. Maybe it was all about France, always.

This would mess up all the Democrats and their world priests and most of the Republicans, but I think might be alright with Rand Paul, Judge Andrew Napolitano and former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson.

“If NATO exists in ten years it will have been a failure,” said Dwight Eisenhower in 1949.

World War II is over. Americans are the last to know. It brings an absolute change in the global paradigm, the end of the ruse of globalization, which is to say the Americanization of the entire world by speed, light, air, movies, music, lies and guns.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Waiting for Dorothy: The unbearable quiet of Hadas Fogel

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 3/21/11

As Yoav, 11, Elad, 4, and their parents Ruth and Udi Fogel were stabbed to death by terrorists in their home in Itamar, and three-month-old Hadas who had her throat slashed, France’s Sarko urged Obama to open fire on Kadafi. These were parallel events although we on the far perimeter of the world’s four corners may not have noticed what was going on in the center of the world. Nor did we notice when Palestinian militants in Gaza fired in 50 mortar shells into Israel on Saturday, the heaviest barrage in two years.

“Slaughter of a sleeping baby is unacceptable as a tool in the struggle for any type of liberation. It comes from a dark place, from a place that simply wants to destroy you,” said Moshe Feiglin, an Israeli leader who wants Israel to turn “the state for Jews” into a “Jewish state.”

In Washington, the Shaman King was ruminating at length and with astonishing detail, in a full court press about March Madness, which incidentally, foreign readers should understand, is not about rabbits but about basketball.

It was different this time around. Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin last time led opposition to the invasion on behalf of France while Colin Powell lied outright to the UN on behalf of George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. This time there will be no lies and presumably no torture and repeal of habeas corpus. So something must have happened since then.

When he first entered office, Sarko actually came up here to New Hampshire to vacation on Lake Winnipesaukee, a purely symbolic vacation spot full of beer cans and Boston boaters and summer rentals for politicians who see our state motto, Live Free or Die, as an anthem. His wife was so bored she went back to Paris after one day and filed for divorce.

Sarko wanted then to tell us that although they opposed, the French were not cowards. And so do the liberals this time around who urged this war on Kaddafi. And Kaddafi has none of the Nazi-era swagger that Saddam had and is such a stupid looking man that he seems an easy target to those who wait timorously on the margins, waiting for Dorothy to give them courage.

It is a shadow event; an event that follows, like a shadow; the Rolling Stones to the Beatles, Emily Brontë to Charlotte Brontë, as the dark will follow the power, like a shadow follows a person walking in the light. Liberals in America want to show that they, like France, are not cowards too. But following shows neither courage nor cowardice: It is marketing; the safe repackaging of an idea already awakened by somebody else.

Now there are two approaches. From a conservative Republican perspective it is a defense of Israel; the center of the world for Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox and Islam; the four-cornered castle from which the west morphed out of barbarianism in the past 2,000 years. The non-ideological American heartland; those folksy red state Tea Party types who are not the least bit Europeanized, see that actually more clearly; they support Israel in the heart and not the head and that is more dependable.

But For Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who wanted this war when Obama did not, it is not about that at all. It is about Bill because it is always about Bill and can never be about anything else. It is about restoring the world to what it was like in the 1990s, before 9/11, to what was envisioned Bill’s “global initiative.” That is, a vision of the world in which Bill was the center and Israel was an archaic interference.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The “Palin Doctrine”: Obama follows Mama Grizzly to war in Libya

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 3/18/11

On March 11, 2011, Wesley K. Clark, former NATO chief, penned an op-ed in the Washington Post to say that Libya doesn’t meet the test for U.S. military action. General Clark’s statement suggested a division in liberal opinion brewing and two days later former advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Anne-Marie Slaughter, challenged his view in the New York Times saying “Colonel Qaddafi makes the most of the world’s dithering and steadily retakes rebel-held towns.” She called for a no-fly zone and discussed five main arguments against, none of which, she said, held up. Yesterday, President Obama and Secretary Clinton got their no-fly zone.

What I thought was odd about this discussion was that it appeared to begin in the mainstream press only with Clark’s thoughtful opposition while one major political figure likely to enter the presidential race of 2012 had already discussed a no-fly zone on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show: Sarah Palin.

There was no lengthy discussion or response elsewhere. To the MSM, she wasn’t there again today!

But this Wednesday, Benjamin Korn, director of Jewish Americans for Sarah Palin had a post in the New York’s “The Sun” coining the phrase “Palin Doctrine.”

In an article titled “Palin Doctrine Emerges as Arab League Echoes Her Demarche on Libya” he writes: “The call by the Arab League for Western military intervention in an Arab state — in this case asking that a UN ‘no-fly zone’ be imposed over Libya – is not only without precedent but it puts in formal terms what Governor Palin stated three weeks ago should have been America’s response to the political and humanitarian crisis now unfolding there.”

Palin had proposed a no-fly-zone to protest the armed and un-armed opposition to the Qaddafi regime on February 23, writes Korn.

The Palin Doctrine, writes Korn, “ . . . contrasts sharply with the foreign policy being conducted, if that is the word, by President Obama, who is perplexing not only the Arab world, to which he reached out in his Cairo speech at the start of his presidency, but even his own supporters in the liberal camp, and many in between, who are upset by what might be called his propensity for inaction. It’s an inaction that suggests the Arab League won’t be the only institution that might find itself surprised by the logic of the alert Alaskan.”

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Irish drink? Bloomberg should tune in to “Mad Men”

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 11/17/11

"Normally when I walk by this building there are a bunch of people that are totally inebriated hanging out the window. I know that's a stereotype about the Irish, but nevertheless we Jews around the corner think this," New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg said during a speech at the American Irish Historical Society.

A Quinnipiac University poll found 52 percent of voters had heard about it and were not sure if they took offense. 45 percent said Irish Americans should “laugh it off.”

The Irish should brush it off, especially if they insist on naming bars all over the northeast with names like “Quigley.” Back when, everyone drank, especially the northern Europeans – English, Irish, and Russians – but the Irish seemed to do so with greater personal pride as if it were something we were particularly good at.

I’d worked on 31st and Madison for years on St. Patrick’s Day and it was a bloody sight. Bloomberg grew up where I did in the tribal Boston region where the Irish were the dominant political life force. Jews were, in my father’s phrase, “better to work for than Protestants.” The French, however, “could not be trusted” and therein lies why they fight at hockey games. It was a vastly different time. I’ve a friend whose mother was born on the same street as mine in Massachusetts and her grandfather was born in the same town in Ireland as my grandmother. She made the comment recently that back then it was considered odd to marry even another Irish person who was not in your parish. And in the church, if 1,000 people were present, at least 200 would be blood relatives.

The old ethnic neighborhoods with their cultural idiosyncrasies can still be found in Detroit and Chicago but less and less in Boston and New York. Bloomberg presents himself as somewhat behind the times. He still lives in the day of “Miller’s Crossing” when all the ethnics must answer to the Irish, as they did in Boston, New York and Chicago, because there were more of us. He might tune in to “Mad Men.”

Michael Weiner’s mastery of the times is akin to that of Gogul or Turgenev and the elegance and truth of the craft unprecedented in superb troupe acting by Bryan Batt, Myra Turley, Joel Murray and so many others. Our American condition is masterfully represented there as it is; a vast metamorphosis for every individual lucky enough to be here. What you were will disappear and what you will become has not awakened yet. You are like the Texas masked man alone in his desert between past and future and that moment is identified in this masterpiece as a moment of the new creation when the central character quits drinking and smoking. It is as if he comes out of a trance and awakens for the first time, sober, American and only that, in all its potential, joy, danger and unpredictability.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Invasions to nowhere: Gingrich, the sequel, starring himself

by Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 3/16/11

The Hill’s observations on the Republican line up reveals inherent weakness in the Republican position going into 2012. It goes from damaged goods (Newt Gingrich) to a “blank slate” (Tim Pawlenty). But time is on their side. One would never guess that the country is actually experiencing a renaissance of creative governance with Bob McDonnell in Virginia, Bobby Jindal in Louisiana, Rick Perry in Texas and even Nikki Haley in South Carolina. Two issues: First, in politics, dinosaurs rule and The Tea Party has been commandeered by the likes of Dick Armey and Newt Gingrich, refried agent provocateurs from the Clinton age (visualize that: before Pokémon, before Kurt Cobain, before Y2K, 9/11 and the 21st century) – it will be nothing but a red neck howl if it continues following that cue and in short order will be “. . . in with the dust and gone with the wind.” The anti-government tenor in Congress today resonates much like the old Gingrich; Gingrich, the sequel, starring himself. At the time it seemed inspired essentially as personal invective against a President who lived below the usual threshold of adulthood. But Gingrich has outdone him. Worth repeating is the Chicago Tribune’s John Kass’s comment on Gingrich: “Is that the Constitution in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?”

The second problem is the MSM embedded in the two-party system; Ford guys or Chevy guys, they are flabbergasted when a new idea occurs. I recall the cry when a Volkswagen first appeared on our streets when my father drove a car which resembled the Batmobile. As in politics so it is in the press; dinosaurs rule – maybe because they all hang together. New ideas require new generations and this will take awhile. We hate new ideas and substitute novelty.

The Tea Party was and is about states finding integrity and self-determination. Its work is that of state governors and state legislatures. A Congressman’s role in it is limited. Tea Party inherently questions the American global military empire. It was a perfect fit for the post-war period of 1947 when much of the world was in ruins or under tyranny regimes. Today it is as anachronistic as the Soviet Union.

Can we afford these invasions to nowhere which land us in Afghanistan today and who knows where tomorrow? North Carolina’s courageous representative Walter B. Jones, who lives where the soldiers live, calls for the defunding of the Afghan adventure at a time when we cannot afford to feed poor children or care for elders. Or when we are firing excellent teachers here in Haverhill, NH, in schools that can’t even meet the fire codes. What’s it going to be, global empire or local schools?

The Tea Party has brought to the Senate two good men; Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and Senator Mike Lee of Utah. That is enough for now, but it is not enough.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Arizona’s lace curtain secessionists

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 3/15/11

First I heard about ideas like this when driving through Chapel Hill, NC, 15 years ago and listening to a radio interview with Dr. J. Michael Hill, writer and founder of The League of the South, a secessionist organization which seeks through democratic and non-violent means a “free and independent Southern republic.” It was a local NPR show and quite a generous interview as I recall. The interviewer brought to her story that morning surprise so featured in NPR stories in those days when it was discovered that penguin husbands sat on the eggs (Huh!”) or pig snouts could actually smell out Truffles in the hills of North Carolina. Now that is something to think about. And here was a guy who wanted to reawaken the Confederacy.

Before the cry of the Orcs went up, he did manage to get a word in. Isn’t it against the law to, you know, secede, asked the interviewer?

Reared in Rhode Island where we were taught funny things about the South – possibly because of the vastness of our involvement in the slave trade – I was quite surprised by the answer. As I recall, he said that it was one of those historic snafus. When Ulysses S. Grant became President after the Civil War, Jefferson Davis, President of the South, was in prison, pending, potentially, a trial for treason for advocating the secession of the Southern states. But Grant was advised that such a trial would open or reopen a can of worms because Davis may have been within his Constitutional rights in that regard. The invasion of the South as it hatched in the minds of Northern thinkers was called “higher law” in motive. It would be a moral campaign to end slavery. It was not Constitutionally sanctioned. In fact, Jefferson had written a secession clause in Virginia’s Constitution and New York and Rhode Island had one too. (Huh!)

This little breach of Constitutional etiquette did not go unnoticed here in Vermont and New Hampshire when George W. Bush invaded Iraq, an invasion which took place with full cooperation of an appeasing and weakling Congress of Easter Peeps and a cowardly and accommodating Supreme Court; an invasion which bought torture, stripped Americans of their most basic Constitutional rights, repealed habeas corpus and unleashed other un-American and unconstitutional strategies. An invasion for which men of honor lied outright at the United Nations and the press went along fully embedded in the cause.

It was in my opinion inspired by “the inconstant, uncertain, unknown, arbitrary will of another man,” – John Locke’s phrase to describe the essence of tyranny. So secession was proposed in Vermont.

Now liberal Arizona wants to secede from conservative Arizona simply because it lost influence in a recent election. Author Paul Starobin, author of After America: Narratives for the Next Global Age, wonders what California would look like broken in three? Or a Republic of New England. “Picture an America that is run not, as now, by a top-heavy Washington autocracy but, in freewheeling style, by an assemblage of largely autonomous regional republics reflecting the eclectic economic and cultural character of the society,” he has written.

Capote’s Holly Golightly meets Nathan Bedford Forrest. In an age where world opinion is formed on Oprah’s couch, Nobel Prizes are given to just anybody and Lady Gaga forms the mind or mindlessness of a generation, the question that should be asked is, is there anything left? Is there anything to retrieve? Is there anything worth retrieving?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Israel and the Tea Party: Rick Perry, Sarah Palin and Heartland America support Israel

Two overviews dominate American influence on Israel; the one emerging from that old Pepsi commercial of a bunch of waifs holding little candles in some kind of world concert singing “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony”. This is team Hillary, with help from Bono and Bill. They want to turn back to the 1990s. The other is the Kagan/Kristol axis who sends their littles like Charles Krauthammer to the major media. Loosely called the neocons, it is a small group with a big vision; a vision of America suited to 1946. They want to turn back to the 1980s.

Israel, like China and Germany, has moved solidly into the second decade of the 21st century and both these views put Israel in jeopardy. The Hillary/Bono people see no distinction between Moses and for example Muammar Gaddafi – we are all the same inside. The others really see the world with important places like America and Israel and a few unreliable friends, surrounded by dangerous enemies. This is a version of the British “frogs and wogs” variety.

Ron Paul’s criticism of this is well known and he has been called an anti-Semite because of his views. The neocon view wants American military influence everywhere including and especially Israel and Paul opposes this. His Congressional rants do indict Israel for seeking and finding vast sums from American pockets for Israeli’s defense. I don’t know if Ron Paul is an anti-Semite but there should be a distinction between anti-Israeli polemic and anti-Semitism. Paul opposes American foreign policy everywhere, including and especially Israel.

But there is no question that this has fostered new anti-Semetic attitudes in some of his follower. Many professional libertarians share Ron Paul’s views on Israel. Recently, the Republican Jewish Coalition rejected a proposal by Sen. Rand Paul to end foreign aid, including aid to Israel, as "misguided.”

Something in the relationship between Israel and America changed at 9/11. We in the United States suffered a direct attack on our most important symbols by Israel’s enemies. Heartland America was changed by 9/11. To the heartland, which does not share in East Coast Europeanism and like Texas Governor Rick Perry does not care what they think in New York, Israel became our closest friend. The Hillary/Bono axis and the neocons and even the newly influential libertarians don’t see it because they are bound by ideology. And they are largely East Coasters and don’t understand the heart-based thinking of America. But heartland drives America; increasingly so, and this is what America will be. A savage attack like those on 9/11 brings it out.
The Tea Party – the non-ideology Jacksonian populist uprising – instinctively understands this and the two major politicians closest to it do as well. That would be Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin. They are Israel’s best friends in America.

This, at its core, explains the breach today among conservatives. Tea Party America, especially the rough and tumble variety here in the heartland, have like Israel, China and Germany, entered the new century with a clear, existential view of the world and our place in it. The others are still stuck in the past.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Let Brady, Manning and Brees run the country as a Council of Watchers

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 3/11/11

As the pending government shutdown looms, we might think to let famed quarterbacks Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees run the country. They have offered themselves as plaintiffs in the event of an NFL shutdown, and their instincts for leadership, management, problem solving and the ability to get along with others is legendary. The NFL lockdown clearly runs a parallel with the government shutdown. But compare these quarterbacks and the skills, dedication and physical courage of their teammates to the motley crew in D.C. today.

A country that thinks about football more than it thinks about politics is a healthy country and one with a life force and a future, but sometimes that inattentativeness can let things slip. So we might hold on with Brady, Manning and Brees after the shutdown as a kind of Triumvirate and let them form their own Council of Watchers to keep an eye on things while we are watching football.

Because anything can happen when you are not paying attention. The Supreme Court might randomly decide that a privately-owned power company in Quebec can take over say, former Supreme Court Justice David Souter’s private house in New Hampshire. Or it might decide that individuals can be forced to buy health insurance. Then such a crisis occurs that the only honest recourse once people wake up to what has happened is a Constitutional Convention. Or the Supremes and Congress might even decide that every single school-aged child, like those 90 with babies in one high school alone in Kentucky, needs an iPad more than she needs a father. There is no telling.

In ancient times we had such a Council of Watchers. It was called “the Senate.” Late in life the great ambassador George Kennan proposed that we need a new one; a kind of Council of Elders with political autonomy made up of people we trust; people who might be better than the rest of us in some ways – gods really – to bring us back to the path when we, the earthly mortals, get lost in the woods.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Christie vs. Palin? Guts and Gonads conservatives prefer Rudy

by Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 3/9/11

The Hill
reports this morning that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Sarah Palin are engaged in a feud of “rock star proportions.” This follows the trend of party division which rose to anxiety in the Texas governor’s primary last spring. The traditionalists, including George H.W. Bush, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Karen Hughes –as proxy for W. – lined up against Rick Perry. Sarah Palin lined up for Perry all by herself and he won in a landslide. Since, even Barbara Bush, dowager of the Bush souls, has joined the faint-of-heart chorus which cries out for the sending of Palin back to Alaska. But wishing doesn’t make her go. Chris Christie is the East Coast establishment’s new single combat warrior against Palin. But “Guts and Gonads” conservatives are calling for Rudy Giuliani.

“Guts and Gonads” make Rudy the only choice in 2012, writes Joan Swirsky of Right Side News in a commentary which has been reprinted elsewhere.

“If you visit any online or neighborhood bookstore, you will see dozens of books about leadership, all of them—except Rudy Giuliani’s “Leadership” - written by corporate or policy wonks who wrote their treatises based more on high-falutin’ theory than on “real life” experience . . . In fact, Giuliani’s 2005 book is the only book on this subject that doesn’t have a lengthy gobbledygook subtitle, but rather stands on that single word alone to describe what millions of people around the world wanted to know after September 11, 2001: How did he rise to the occasion to lead a city—indeed a world—out of the deep despair and paralyzing fear that gripped every sentient person after the worst attack in history on the American homeland?”

She may have something there. Another word comes to mind: Spine.

If the race to 2012 looks like it hasn’t started yet although Mitt Romney is shaking hands up here in New Hampshire and Tim Pawlenty is quoting the Bible in Utah, it is because it hasn’t. There is an elephant in the room and that elephant is the tenth anniversary of 9/11. The 2012 race will start there. We have, with Obama, put it aside and hoped it will go away, but it will not. We hope to do so again it is my impression with that jolly Kris Kringle of conservatism, Chris Christie. But it will not go away. The density, the immensity of the tragedy will ring for a thousand years, especially the events in New York City. They try to keep the pictures out of our consciousness, but whenever the Twin Towers pop up in an old film, it comes back – it sends a chill.

Patterns of history run like this: After the Second World War the world wished for peace, but Eisenhower was brought back. In England, Churchill was rejected for socialist Clement Attlee – and President Obama sending the Churchill bust back to England suggests the same temperament – but Churchill was brought back. We are today in the same valley. Christie’s comments on the 9th anniversary of 9/11, like Obama’s, were puerile and forgiving (Palin’s were not). But as it is our nature to recall these things and it must be, it is Rudy, who instinctively rushed to his front like a soldier on 9/11. He still lives there like that in our hearts with the fire fighters who rushed up the stairwells of the Twin Towers to certain death without hesitation.

It will never go away. And we will come out again in September.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Draft Carly Fiorina

by Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 3/8/11

Mitt Romney liked to say about his Democratic opponents in the 2008 race that not one of them had managed as much as a corner grocery store. A most relevant observation and as co-founder and head of Bain Capital, one that should put Romney at the top of the heap today. Of course, he was Governor of Massachusetts as well but he must not have felt dominion with that state as he lives part-time in New Hampshire now, which is different. And in the current day, it is hard to see that he was a successful governor as his health care plan is out of vogue, and he only seemed to want to be governor as a step to the Presidency. Nevertheless, he was enormously successful as a CEO and should continue to go with that. In fact, I’ve decided to update Quigley’s Grading Scale for Presidential Viability and put “CEO of a Major Corporation” second from the top, throwing out “Top Military Commander” entirely.

In fact, in our new century, maybe “CEO of a Major Corporation” should be first in place of “Governor of a Big State.” But big state should be included as a reality check. This is where power orients, and there are five: California, Texas, New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey.

Romney is up here now and Tim Pawlenty is out there quoting the Bible in Iowa. It’s the “new” Romney. “His tie – ever present in 2008 – was gone. His hair – always perfectly coifed – flopped over his forehead.” No, it is not about this at all; it is not about looking different, it is about thinking different, being different. Image will naturally emerge. One thing you have to admire about Dick Nixon: He never blow dried his hair. And a Republican publicist pitching a book to tell politicians how to “win” in 2012, says Pawlenty has “the perfect temperament” to be President. There is a phrase they use on the TV drama “Mad Men” when they have doubts; better “run it by Don” first.

In this regard, the Republicans suffer from what might be called the “Duck Phillips Syndrome”; reference to an ad man masterfully presented by Mark Moses. Duck is the ad man who constantly wants to repeat the past, when the future is opening like a hurricane. As it is today. Choice Republican candidates today look like they were drawn from a survey of Knights of Columbus, Veterans of Foreign Wars, those guys who work at National Review and the Baptist Convention. They might run it by Don first.

There is no one in this race from California, our most influential and creative state and there should always be. And Romney’s claim that the Democrats couldn’t run a candy store pretty much fits this Republican line up as well.

Need new ideas, not new hair. New people relevant to the day and the zeitgeist. Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina – like Romney – both lost their races in a quirky state. But they were the best candidates in their races, they were right in their approaches and history will vindicate them. And both, like Romney, are qualified in our time not because of their political backgrounds but because of their business leadership and vision. They should both go to the top of the list in 21st century America.

Friday, March 04, 2011

A good day for Israel

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 3/4/11

David Horovitz writes today in the Jerusalem Post RE the “era defining series of popular uprisings”: “Exacerbating our concern is the striking failure of our much-vaunted intelligence services to see any of this coming.” We have heard that before, most recently when the money crashed, but first in our time with the fall of the Soviet Union. But all these things were well predicted, it was just that they who made the predictions were completely ignored by the press. It was suggested then that the fault fell to the feet of political science. It is not really a science, they said. Why don’t we just do without it and downsize by eliminating those departments of political science and sociology from the university? When history and literature and language were studied instead, knowing was complex and its practitioners vast.

I don’t know why Israeli intelligence is so confused by this because the conservative, bearded Israelis I’ve been talking to for a year now have been predicting a new Israel rising out of the old as a butterfly rises out of its casing; inevitably, turmoil would surround. But one of the problems I think is that the commentary in Israel is a Western/American hybrid. Jerusalem Post and Hareetz read like New York newspapers. But Israel is not by its nature a western country and increasingly it is no longer an America annex. It is a Jewish country.

I predict that this turmoil will bring a good day for Israel. Israel is awakening to a new generation. Rabbi Dov Ber will bring the rising karma; Lenny Bruce and Seinfeld will be left behind. It will be a generation which feels comfortable with bearded Russian rabbis – the kind that rode yellow school buses from Crown Heights to the Diamond District in New York 30 years ago to keep apart from us Jews and gentiles alike. Israelis will feel as comfortable with them as Tibetans do to Buddhist monks. They are/will be the heart of Israel. That rules out most of my New York friends of 30-years ago, but I find my college-age kids and their Jewish friends are increasingly comfortable with it.

The rabbis told us centuries back that the “gods” hide in lowly places, so I don’t look to the political scientists; they usually miss the turning as they did again this time. I do watch the Academy Awards. And this year brought a harbinger. The show was hosted by the immature and talentless Anne Hathaway and James Franco, representing the Hollywood that never grew up. But what was interesting was that the key awards brought our world back to first principles: The one was given to a British man in the role of an English king, an elder in our tradition. The other given to a Jerusalem-born woman who happened to be with child, representing a force even deeper and older; a force even timeless. I felt it suggested in archetypal terms a return to tradition and adulthood and a good day ahead. Possibly we will even find our center.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Chris Christie is the Republican Barack Obama

by Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 3/3/11

The Republicans are looking for an anomaly; someone joyful and charming – a happy fat man maybe; a novelty and a brief entertainment to hold off Sarah Palin. It is exactly the same situation the Democrats were in in 2008 facing a future of Hillary Clinton as candidate. Obama saved the day. He was charming, he was handsome, he was black and he reminded people a little of JFK. And he was not Hillary Clinton. Christie is charming and jolly, interesting to watch and sort of interesting to listen to compared to most Republicans (like Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum). And he is not Sarah Palin.

Republicans have been experiencing low blood sugar for so long that it has become their everyday experience. They will recall this phrase because it is from the 1950’s; the Ted Mack Amateur Hour; they have “tired blood.” It has been like this since Bob Dole.

When I interviewed William F. Buckley, Jr. many years ago he said that with Ronald Reagan conservatives experienced a dream come true. But all the excitement seems to have worn them out. Instead of the Gipper, the Republicans have become the party of the Bushes. And the Bushes are unremarkable. All of them. H.W. was nothing but a closer for Reagan and he has made the Republican Party a nostalgia party. That his son was elected was a feature of a receding self-governing temperament, just as the Hillary (wife of Bill) impulse was. Self governance had reached its lowest water mark and was beginning to grovel toward the monarchist default.

Now they are looking for somebody merely interesting to go against Obama as Obama went against Hillary. But there was no substance behind Obama and we today suffer the consequences. What we know about Christie is he effectively yells against government workers; like a New Jersey “Big Daddy.” We know little else. And the conversation keeps going back to that as if that is the core of the problem in America.

The problem in both parties is that they are beholden to the traditions; a situation reinforced by mainstream media which refuses to enter the new century and strives to repeat the past. Isn’t that what American Idol is all about? Let’s find the “new “ Michael Jackson; the “new” Elvis. There is no new Elvis. That was the idea of Elvis. He was new. You can’t be new twice. Second time around you are nostalgia which wears on the heart and wearies the mind as the Bushs and Clintons do.

The Democrats had some great people coming up eight years ago including Mark Warner, senator today and a very successful governor of Virginia. Wesley Clark, former NATO commander, as well. And Jim Webb, a truly novel warrior, writer and Reagan’s Secretary of the Navy. The Democrats had little interest in them. All they could think of was “rock stars” and escapist governors from the backwoods of Vermont like Howard Dean.

With Alaska’s Sarah Palin, with Texas governor Rick Perry, with Virginia governor Bob McDonnell, with former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. the potential today is vast and the future opens up to them. Conservatism is on the verge of being born potentially to a historic new age of self governance and it terrifies the Republicans.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Rick Perry 1, Obama 0

by Bernie Quigley

for The HIll on 3/1/11

. . . states rights, states rights, states rights . . . ! – Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, at the first Tea Party event on April 15, 2009

To put it simply, the most astonishing thing that has happened these past two years is that the states have suddenly seen, as if through a glass darkly, that they do not have to do what the federal government tells them to do. Consider the consequences. The idea seemed incomprehensible when it was first presented up here in northern New England five years ago. Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s truly shocked comment when she was told she couldn’t just do anything she wanted was, “Are you serious? Are you serious?” Today, the Supreme Court faces state sovereignty challenges which promise to shake the nation.

If the Supreme Court upholds a lower judge’s ruling which allows gay marriage after the state has clearly indicated its collective will in opposition in a referendum, it will bring an existential situation to California. Five years ago it might have gone unnoticed. Today such a ruling would prove to Californians that their plight via Washington is no better than that of Tibet, dominated by alien and arbitrary rule by foreigners thousands of miles away.

37 states at first initated challenges to ObamaCare and the Obama bailouts when the Tea Party arose as a movement on April 15, 2009. The lower courts rulings have been clearly politicized. These states, most of which are in proximity to one another, will not accept a Supreme Court ruling in opposition to their view and will likewise see the federal government reaching into realms where it has no right to be. A Supreme Court ruling on the states challenge to ObamaCare could potentially open to a legitimate revolutionary situation.

So the President has backed down. “Obama backtracks on health mandate, wants opt-out from start,” reads The Hill headline. President Obama backed a significant change to the healthcare reform law for the first time Monday, supporting a plan that could delay implementation of the unpopular mandate to buy insurance.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Obama’s change of position “makes the case” that Republicans have made against the entire law.

Rick Perry 1, Obama 0.