Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Maya Angelou is right

A writer or orator’s second-to-worst nightmare is to be edited by a committee. A writer or orator’s worst nightmare is to be edited by a committee when you are dead. Great orators know what they mean and say it precisely as Martin Luther King Jr. did. Maya Angelou is right. The inscription on the statue makes him look like a twit.

From the Washington Post this morning. On Feb. 4, 1968, two months before he was assassinated, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a haunting sermon at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church about a eulogy that might be given in the event of his death.

“If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice,” King told the congregation. “Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”

But because of a design change during the statue’s creation, the exact quotes had to be paraphrased, and now one of the memorial’s best-known consultants, poet and author Maya Angelou, says the shortened inscription is misleading and ought to be changed.

Carved on the north face of the 30-foot-tall granite statue, the inscription reads: I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.

“The quote makes Dr. Martin Luther King look like an arrogant twit,” Angelou, 83, said Tuesday. “He was anything but that. He was far too profound a man for that four-letter word to apply.

“He had no arrogance at all,” she said. “He had a humility that comes from deep inside. The ‘if’ clause that is left out is salient. Leaving it out changes the meaning completely.”

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Perry, Palin, Giuliani, Trump, pt. two

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 8/30/11

On July 22 this year I reported: “ . . . a connection between Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has popped up in the press . . . when I asked Giuliani last Friday at Dartmouth College if he would support Rick Perry, that characteristic great-big-sea of a smile spread across his face. ‘I might,’ he said. I took that as an ‘absolutely.’"

Now it would be more than Palin behind Perry, I claimed. It would be Giuliani as well, “ . . . and my guess is he will have another New Yorker who passes the NASCAR test: Donald Trump.”

This week several reports have it that Rick Perry has been on the phone with Donald Trump since he entered the race.

From Newsmax, 8/27/11: “Word is that Trump has spoken on the phone several times with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the new front-runner for the GOP nomination. Sources say Perry called the billionaire and offered high praise for Trump's business acumen.”

Trump and Palin are already bonded and so are Perry and Palin. And Giuliani brought her to a Yankees game the night of the infamous Letterman slander.

A Perry, Palin, Giuliani, Trump quaternity could form a new political matrix. It could break the nostalgico political establishment, a cartel run by two royal New England political families, House of Bush, House of Kennedy. It could awaken a new political element, a new America and a new New York ; one that belongs again to America.

Quigley’s Grading Scale for Presidential Viability, grading presidential candidates as you would cheese or New Hampshire maple syrup, traditionally reserved second tier for “military commander” right behind “governor of a big state.” This year military commander is thrown out (although warrior/scholar David Petraeus should be considered) in favor of a leader of a vast corporation. America needs the business. Trump would fit right in.

The NASCAR test is a personality type test for political candidates. Imagine how Mike Bloomberg or Hillary Clinton would look at a NASCAR race. Those who do not pass are sent to tier seven with Zoroastrian fire worshipers, professional wrestlers and Charlie Sheen. But Trump and Giuliani fit right in as do Perry and Palin.

Monday, August 29, 2011

When men wore pants: Chef Ramsay will save us

by Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 8/29/11

There is a world inside striving to find the will and intelligence to be born again. I noticed when my youngest son just entering college started listening to Tony Bennett and saving up for a suit.

The Fifties are here. Just under the surface. Just bubbling up. And “Mad Men's” Don Draper, the fictional shaman who created America in the 1950s (“America is everywhere I am . . . as far as I can see.”) has created it. Now come knockoffs of men in suits and women in uniform: Two new TV shows this fall: “Pan Am” and “The Playboy Club.”

Every athlete does not get a trophy in this world. Every book is not a great book. Every president and ex-president no matter how nuts or squalid does not get a Nobel Prize. That is Oprah world and it is fast dwindling. Chef Ramsey (“Shut up! What is that? Do it over! Stop crying!”) is the antidote; the anti-Oprah.

And Don is the anti-Timothy Leary, the anti-Jerry Garcia: Turn on? Don will take two. Tune in? Don sees everything. But never, ever, ever drop out.

You could see this coming with Philip Seymour Hoffman's portrayal of Truman Capote in “Truman.” The return of mastery with both Hoffman and Capote. And in Ed Harris's portrayal and direction resurrecting “Pollock.” Warrior artists and writers from the fifties who have found no match. Warrior monks then as well: D.T. Suzuki, C.G. Jung, Nancy Ross Wilson, Walpola Rahula.

Recently, in a speech in Toronto, Shmuel Sackett, who speaks for an Israeli group which calls for Jewish leadership in Israel, asked why Israel at war in the 1960s found such strong support here in North America and finds so little today although the situations are not that different. But that was before Bono started writing opinions for The New York Times. Before the Bob Geldorf School of International Studies. I mean, who are you going to listen to, Lady Gaga or Hannah Arendt? And who is Hannah Arendt?

But it was then that a few men still wore pants and not jeans. And they are starting to again.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Signs in the heavens, signs following: A new age of Jefferson

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 8/25/11

“The spaceship has landed,” said Steve Jobs here at the end. Perhaps he was talking about several things. We at the turn of the millennium are sensitive to signs. Even the steady and solid same as the visionary holiness preachers who see “signs following” in the eastern hollows of old Kentucky. And this week we have seen signs. An earth quake in Louisa co., virtually in Thomas Jefferson’s back yard. One that shook the Washington monument and left a few cracks. And gold dropped more than a hundred bucks all in an afternoon.

That second is a good thing. Gold is a harbinger . . . a measure of wellness or weakness in the general economic environment. A drop in gold as dramatic as this, like a hurricane or an earthquake, comes from somewhere. Too bad that only the Natural Law Party which by the way very much likes Dennis Kucinich (and I do too) takes the view of physicist Wolfgang Pauli of what is called the collective unconscious. Pauli called it synchronicity: Nature and the human spirit is compliance. Everything means something, everything is connected. So what brought sudden confidence in the gnostic economic situation? Possibly the President leisurely taking to the sands in blissful New England and keeping his hands off things. Possibly the rise of a new figure from Texas who brings responsibility and maturity to government like we have not seen in at least 18 years in presidential politics. And it was as the earth awakened around Monticello that Rick Perry jumped to a big lead in the front of the pack after only one week away from announcing he would run for president.

Historian Frank Owsley in a famous essay titled “The Irrepressible Conflict” wrote that the American condition is always about two people and two places: Hamilton and Jefferson, New York and Virginia. New York took the advantage early on and so we had Yankees and Red Sox dominating the imagination. Until Ted Williams moved to Texas. And two politician families dominating still from that region. One basks at Nantucket the other at Kennebunkport. But Ron Paul, like the dutiful Amish, does not vacation. And Rick Perry will not be vacationing in Little Compton or Martha’s Vineyard. The sands have shifted. These two bring to us a new paradigm and Rand Paul and Mike Lee in the senate help enormously.

History has its zen moments and centuries stream from those moments as the seven rivers do from the Himalayas. One such moment was Jay’s Treaty of 1794 when Washington cast his lot with the New Yorkers in opposition to the Virginians, Jefferson and Madison. The men and the regions never got along after that and the northern dominance was sealed at that moment. But after the Second World War cultural dominance of the northeast. The energies dissipated. The karma shifted west. When they went to the moon they went from Texas. Norman Mailer said at the time that the “Protestants” had gone to the moon while we the “beatniks” in the northeast were out getting stoned.

All the people and all the regions would be coming up now as Jefferson wanted, not just the Hamiltonians in Boston and New York. This is a new day and could well be called the age of Jefferson. The true center now should not be DC but somewhere around Louisville. Or Peyton Manning’s Indianapolis.

It's all ahead. Whitman wrote back in 1869 that when we returned to earth from our journeys to Sirius, Jupiter and beyond, the “true Son of God” would come “singing his song.” The visionary Salvador Dali pictured this “second Christ” as an American football player in 1943. And again later as a Buddhist monk in yellow robes, descending from the sky to a desert in Texas.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


China without the Tao

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 7/6/11

Tao in the world is like a river flowing home to the sea. – Daodejing #32

Henry Kissinger’s new book, “On China,” explains what might be seen as a modern telling of China’s fourteenth-century epic novel, “The Romance of the Three Kingdoms,” the three kingdoms being Mao’s China, the Soviet Union and the United States. What I found to be of particular interest is how the diplomatic relationship developed between China and the United States. Ambassador George Kennan had proposed that the Soviet Union would not survive if it could not expand and would fall apart internally. A U.S./China diplomatic friendship would fence the Soviets in and sure enough, less than 20 years later the Soviet Union fell apart.

But something – someone – is missing from Kissinger’s book. Laozi, Taoist sage and author of the “Daodejing.”

Rightfully so, as Tao played no role in Mao’s revolution nor does it in today’s China. I began to worry about China and ourselves, because China without Tao is not a place but an economic zone; it is Israel without torah or India without the Bhagavad Gita. Kennan’s observation could just as easily be made about American capitalism and the “Beijing model”; without expansion, they would fall apart. China has survived these six thousand years with the Tao – the path of integrity – the path of receding power or the way of return. Without Tao, the only way of return is crash and burn.

Liu Junning, an independent scholar in Beijing, suggested in June in a Wall Street Journal essay titled “The Ancient Roots of Chinese Liberalism” that Beijing’s power path without Laozi is brittle. At the Chinese Communist Party’s 90th anniversary, Hu Jintao said “Success in China hinges on the party.” Liu Junning writes:

“That view is to be expected from the party secretary. Perhaps more surprising is the extent to which outside observers have come to believe it, too. These foreigners—academics and journalists prominent among them—look to the "Beijing model" or the "Beijing consensus" as a desirable alternative to Western-style economic liberalism.

“The Washington consensus counted on free trade and open capital flows, plus deregulation, the rule of law, and the pre-eminence of the private sector to spur development. China at first glance appears to have achieved 9% annual growth rates or better for years by challenging that rule book. Visiting dignitaries and columnists see gleaming skyscrapers, straight roads, booming industries and upwardly mobile citizens . . . Yet on closer inspection, the most significant transformations from the perspective of boosting prosperity have involved loosening of control over the people, not some alchemy of power and Marxism.”

The Beijing model has the "virtue" of allowing the government to act quickly and decisively, writes Liu Junning. But when Beijing makes mistakes, the result historically has been a Cultural Revolution or a Great Leap Forward.

What we now call Western-style liberalism has featured in China's own culture for millennia, he writes. We first see it with philosopher Laozi, the founder of Taoism, in the sixth century B.C. Laozi articulated a political philosophy that has come to be known as wuwei, or inaction. "Rule a big country as you would fry a small fish," he said. That is, don't stir too much. "The more prohibitions there are, the poorer the people become," he wrote in his magnum opus, the "Daodejing."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Did the Stanley Cup loss reverse Canada’s fortunes?

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 8/23/11

Pimco’s Bill Gross, leery of the wobbly American fundamentals told Bloomberg recently they are looking for new investments, mentioning Canada, Germany and others. The Canadian banking system is solid, there have been no bailouts, and the Canadian dollar has been growing strong against the American in recent years. But uh-oh. Something happened in early summer. What happened? The Vancouver Canucks lost in the Stanley Cup final to the Boston Bruins.

FOREX (FOReign Exchange market) blog author wrote on June 8, 2011: “In April, I wrote a post entitled, ’Economic Theory Implies Canadian Dollar will Fall.’” But did FOREX author take into consideration hockey theory and the Canadian psyche?

Perceptive FOREX blogger argued that the currency’s impressive rise was belied by fundamentals: “It seems the gods of forex read that post; since then, the loonie has fallen 3% against the US dollar alone. Based on my reading of the tea leaves, the loonie will fall further over the coming months, and finish the year below parity.”

Or possibly the hockey gods knew what would occur on June 18 when Canada, uncharacteristically confident that they would win, lost to Boston. Since then the graph for Canadian dollar conversion to American has bounced around like a lie detector graph for a liar.

It is a problem when national identity is so closely linked to sports as Canadian psyche is to hockey. Hockey is in Canada, as one commentator astutely says, a “national religion.” With such intense identification a sports victory or loss can have the same psychological effect as a military one.

When Canada took home the gold in both men and women’s hockey in the Winter Olympics of 2002 I compared the win to Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar in 1805. As Richard Nixon once wrote, England got an extra hundred years of history from three hours at Trafalgar. Making the Canadian victory sweeter was the presence of the dour American Vice President, Dick Cheney, basking in the contempt he awakened in almost everyone in the world outside the Bush administration, to remind the crowd of the obsequious “Miracle on Ice” – a make believe moment in the Jimmy Carter presidency when the Soviet Union lost to America in an Olympic hockey game. The addled American mind, worn to a thread by Vietnam, conjured a real victory against the Soviets. A summer reading of Henry Kissinger’s “On China” gives the cleared picture. It was America’s linking with Mao’s China that blocked off future growth for the Soviet Union. As George Kennan had advised, if the Soviets could be kept from expansion it would collapse internally. And it did barely a dozen years after the Nixon/Kissinger initiatives. It had nothing to do with hockey.

Canada might have gone through a cultural renaissance since their great 2002 victories, gaining confidence in dealings with both the United States and Quebec. But Nixon left something out: Yes, Trafalgar, but what if Napoleon had came back 10 years later and beat England into the ground at Waterloo? The tune would be different. England would not have gotten its next hundred years and there would be no Victoria, no Beatles and no Stanley Cup because there would have been no Lord Stanley.

Too early to tell, but if the 2002 games were Canada’s Trafalgar victory, they would have needed a win like the Duke of York’s victory against Napoleon at Waterloo this year in Boston to rise to a booming Canadian Century like that predicted. But something celestial was going on. The presence of a giant before the Bruins’ net should have been the tip off. And Canada did not get its victory.

The FOREX blogger may have it. Not that I would advise Bill Gross or Pimco on this. I’m just saying.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Clinton v. Perry: Bill Clinton should start a new party

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 8/22/11

I’ve been writing about Democrats and Republicans as anachronistic appendages of history dominated by two wealthy and influential New England industrial-era, Gilded Age families, the Kennedys and the Bushes, holding the culture in sway – in a trance, maybe - for decades. It was only Bill Clinton who successfully broke free from this family pattern.

But Hillary’s hopes for the White House were dashed overnight by Carolyn Kennedy when the whole clan suddenly rose against her. Just as Jimmy Carter was sandbagged by Uncle Teddy. Just as the Bush team today hopes to demobilize Texas governor Rick Perry.

When Clinton said famously, “The age of Big Government is over,” it was a correct statement and a historic one. The age of the plantation was over as well and the age of the vast factory floor with its horde of immigrant workers pouring out together at the lunch whistle. America is no longer an empty, endless primeval forest awaiting occupants but rather a fully developed and diverse group of regional cultures. One size no longer fits all. We need new regional thinking. Today up to 85% of Americans work in small business. But the Kennedy/Obama Democrat’s mind set – like the Bush Republicans – is still bound to the age of field and factory.

For awhile between Reagan and Clinton the economy worked well. Now, with Pelosi, Barney Frank, Reid and Obama, it is clear that the old Roosevelt-era industrial vision was only in hiding; quietly lurking under the stairs of the university and planning a vengeful sequel.

But I see this as the last hurrah. Tea Party rose in direct opposition and America repudiated the old ideas. The people opposed. Virginia Senator Jim Webb said when the Bush-era bailouts were announced by Hank Paulson that calls were ten-to-one against to his office.

It is unfortunate that Bill Clinton came to the support of Obama during the debt ceiling crisis this month because he should have been on the other side. In fact, he should have been leading the other side. This and all of the original thinking of states’ rights, sovereignty, opposition to global empire, freedom and individuation that we hear today from Ron Paul, Gary Johnson, Judge Andrew Napolitano and the Tea Party pretty much started here in Vermont and New Hampshire in opposition to the imperial Bush/Cheney/Rove adventures. A quick check of the Vermont Commons: Voices of Independence web site and its thoughtful newspaper can confirm.

Today, with no place left to turn, New York looks to Vermont for direction. As NY mayor Mike Bloomberg hopes to buff his shine by presiding over the wedding of the first gay couple in NY, it is old hat here. Democratic Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin does so this week.

Our America today is no longer Marx v. Keynes in imperial global projection. It is now Keynes v. Hayek in regional competition. The regional competition which Texas Governor Rick Perry today advances was suggested first in the most liberal quarters of New England during the George W. Bush administration. These ideas are not yet fully formulated in either party and need someone with the status and cache of Clinton to advance them on the left. He is on a vegan diet; he advocates David Lynch’s Transcendental Meditation; he is a man of the geist, he’s still hungry and he comes from a different creative place. He needs a new vehicle; his own vehicle. And at least half of his generation can think of nothing else.

Conservatives have been the first to begin to grasp the meaning of the new century in the new libertarian and regional thinking. But that could easily flip.

When people live in an outmoded system their lives become strange and temporary. Revolution beckons to them. As Peggy Noonan wrote recently, today no one dies here where they are born. We have no cousins. Maybe this will find improvement.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Rove joins the Bush anti-Perry campaign

Karl Rove, that dutiful Jeeves of the Bush family, has joined in the loyalist chorus to have someone – just anyone – run against Rick Perry in the primary, so to get Jeb Bush on the ticket as VP in 2012 and have him advance in 2016.

What kind of man wants to be VP anyway?

Via HotAir by Tina Korbe: “Karl Rove: Christie, Ryan, Palin might still grow the field”:

“We’ve got a good field,” Rove said on Hannity on August 15,”. . . I think we are likely to see several other candidates think seriously about getting in . . . I think Chris Christie and Paul Ryan are gonna look at it again . . . I’m starting to pick up some sort of vibration that these kind of conversations are causing Christie and Ryan to tell the people who are calling them, you know what, I owe it to you, I’ll take a look at it.”

Dude, I wonder who is calling? Jeb Bush? Former Bush employee Mitch Daniels? Karl Rove?

This is Rove street theater to have Jeb Bush as VP on a Christie or Ryan ticket, to win or lose in 2012 is irrelevant. It will return it to the Bush family via Jeb in 2016.

As said here months back, Chris Christie is the Bush family’s Barack Obama; the last chance for the family fortune before the millennium finally awakens, as Obama was/is for the Kennedy family. Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard blurted it out on TV months back when Christie was the flavor of the month. The ticket should be: “Christie with Jeb Bush as VP.” Got it.

The problem here of course is that Mormon, Mitt Romney, who demands to be heard as a free man in America. As Anne Coulter blurted out some months back, Christie should run because Romney cannot win.

That is, he cannot win in the heartland because he is a Mormon. Perhaps. But at this moment, Mitt Romney virtually holds the future of the world in his hands. What the Bush proxies want is for Romney not to win in New Hampshire’s primary. Because Christie or whomever the push ahead will then have gone through Iowa with nothing, then a big win for Romney in New Hampshire, then a big win in South Carolina for Perry and onward and upward for Perry/Bachmann in the red states.

Even the jolly, likeable and apparently loyal Bushido Christie would not have a chance. He doesn’t have a chance in South Carolina or Iowa anyway. He would have to win New Hampshire to go forward.

The only way he could do that is if Mitt Romney, ahead by a large margin in NH right now, dropped out of the race completely before the primary. Mitt’s decision is, do I take one for the team? That is, do I fold in with the Bush plantation or take my chances in America? Anyone who has watched Romney in Massachusetts and anywhere knows one thing; that he is his own man and he is a free man.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Why doesn’t Jeb Bush just enter?

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 8/18/11

Possibly Jeb Bush demurred about a run for the presidency in 2012 as he saw Obama to be unbeatable when the first Republicans headed toward the primary season. 2016 would be the better time. But with Gallup showing Obama today with a low approval of 26% on the economy that might have been a miscalculation. And now that a wily coyote has slipped in under the shadows of a Comanche moon and taken the lead over Mitt Romney and the rest of the pack after only having signed on three days ago, it is starting to look like a big mistake on Jeb’s part.

They, the Bushes, have been looking for a proxy; Chris Christie, Mitch Daniels, John Thune, just anybody. All they need to do is win the primary and let Obama have it another four years. They can wait. Then it will be Jeb. But Perry is big, strong, unpredictable. Feral, dangerous and alive like west Texas. To think that Paul Ryan, running as a Bush proxy – he is being encouraged to run by former W. employee Mitch Daniels, Jeb and other Bush loyalists - would do any better than Daniels, Tim Pawlenty or the others against Perry, who has long been the Bushes worst nightmare, is the end of imagination.

Which is why this race is so interesting. The Bushes, like the Kennedys, have reached the end of imagination. Like Holmes and Moriarty, they may now be going over the falls together. Why doesn’t Jeb just enter himself against Perry? If Perry wins it will be a new strong force in American politics. A new political culture awakened in America. Jeb won’t have a chance in 2016 and will thereafter be long forgotten.

Always disliked that Bush senior compared himself and W. to the Adamses, who served as father and son presidents. A stunning presumptuousness to make such a claim about a Founding Father. And many Jeffersonians consider John Adams, father of the totalitarian Alien and Sedition acts, to be among the worst presidents. Second only possibly to W. who may have taken his cue from Adams when he repealed habeas corpus, virtually suspending the Constitution. That Janus image was rather suggested; the god had two faces, because the Romans understood that things ended as they began.

But with Rick Perry, America gets to begin again and bust free from the two northeastern families; Montagues and Capulets that have masqueraded as political parties these past 40 years. As Ronald Reagan said, it is morning in America. But it is getting now to high noon.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Petraeus for VP in a Rick Perry administration

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 8/17/11

Felt that Massachusetts senator John Kerry lost his presidential campaign – and I campaigned relentlessly for him in New Hampshire in 2004 after Wes Clark dropped out – because he was successful as a soldier and proud of it. Had he strode resolutely to the podium with a metal leg and a cane when General Wesley Clark introduced him at the Democratic Convention, he might have had it. Success meaning just that: Like Arjuna in battle, he saw the eye of the enemy and hit the target. Not to cast aspersions but so many who fought honorably and were later successful in politics – Jack Kennedy, H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, and McCain – would not have met the Arjuna standard or those of Tom Wolfe’s “The Right Stuff.” To those who flew fighters out of Southeast Asia and remained alive to talk about it today on the History channel, the only course was to hit the target or die trying. Nothing else matters to samurai. We love our military, especially those who sank the boat, were gunned down or crashed the plane. I take this to mean that we love our military but are afraid of them. Until everything gets unraveled and then we call them up. But when we do it maybe brings clarity of the heart. Eisenhower, for example, brought America to accept the conquest. The war was over. We won. Let’s build on the confidence and success which comes with victory.

We will have that moment as well with this war and soon and when we do I suggest we will look to General David Petraeus, recently installed Director of the CIA.

Michael Brenner, Senior Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations; Professor of International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh, seemed to suggest yesterday in the Huffington Post (“I Petraeus”) that Petraeus may be tempted by higher office:

“Petraeus, as CIA Director, is operating in a foreign policy environment that leaves much room for individual initiative. His counterpart at the Pentagon, Leon Panetta, is known less for his subtlety and bureaucratic skills than his heavy-handed use of the hammer. He has none of Robert Gates' suave manner and gravitas. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is vocal on a selective basis, travels relentlessly, but lacks both a coherent strategic vision and diplomatic finesse. As for the National Security Council apparatus, it is the marked by weak leadership, thin expertise and a view of the country's external relations shaped by domestic political considerations. That leaves President Obama. His recent abject performance on the debt ceiling issue underscores the distinguishing traits of his person and his presidency. He is indecisive, yields to the pressure of those more willful than he, and has few pronounced views on any matter other than an all-consuming desire to occupy the White House until January 2017. Within 48 hours of the dramatic surrender to the Tea Party, and its profound consequences hitting home, he was prowling the moneyed precincts of Chicago and Hollywood on the hunt for big bucks from fat cat contributors. . . . For a man of ambition like Petraeus, it is a tempting -- irresistible? -- opportunity.”

Petraeus would be a good fit for VP in a Rick Perry administration. It would enhance the states’ rights position which Perry emphasizes in his book, “Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington.”

A President’s first job is to run the military. She or he must also secure the borders and deliver the mail. The rest is up for grabs.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Obama’s good bye bus tour

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 8/16/11

The President travels the country in a Greyhound bus now in a new campaign pitch. Stops at 7-ELEVEN maybe for a slurpee. Get down with the people. I suppose they are feeling Sarah Palin. Sarah rides a bus. Better ride a bus. Sarah Palin rides a Harley. No, better not. It is a mask that fits with her. Not Obama. On this long hike since 1960 the Democrats have been cursed by a monarchist trend, starting with Jack Kennedy. Ending with Obama. And Jack Kennedy would have seemed ridiculous riding a bus.

Anything is possible in America. You can break the chains of a thousand years and find the dharma path. Or you can get a tattoo of the Zig Zag man on your arm and ride a Harley. But for Obama now nothing seems to fit.

Among us Irish immigrants, and Kennedy was married in my high school parish, the general direction was to build our own parallel institutions like Notre Dame. Previous Catholics had done the same with Georgetown, which still, more than most, carries the karma. But the Kennedys instead went right to the citadel and sent their kids to Harvard, seeing themselves in direct shadow opposition to Protestant New England; Lodge then, Bush today. Kennedy then, Obama today.

Not sure it was the right move for us and Obama seems an extension of us, to go take the citadel of the WASP and their so-called Protestant Work Ethic. Even we proles from the public schools like University of Massachusetts had heard about the Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism from Max Weber. The storied work ethic may have been a fraud as the Marxists taught us but the only ones who seem to have it now are Mormons. Maybe they took it with them from New England to the desert.

The lesson Obama learned when Harvard professor Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, Jr. charged a Cambridge cop with racism in Obama’s year was one of image, not a lesson of the heart. Obama looked silly affirming Harvard Yard’s pretentions as his own in opposition to the meat and potatoes cop of Fenway Park. Now he looks silly riding the bus trying to get along with “real people.”

The real people are practically in revolt. Democratic commentator Pat Caddell has called it a “prerevolutionary state.”

I don’t think so. I think it is 1979 part two and much akin to the first when the country shifted from the frivolous, make believe and escapist representative image of itself as a peanut farmer, Sunday school teacher from the Deep South with a crazy brother to a more authentic reality. Four years later Ronald Reagan was reelected in an unprecedented landslide, carrying every state but one. He even carried the storied land of Obama’s Harvard, long conquered and broken by us Boston Irish.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Hill

New parties, Pimco’s Bill Gross and Tibetan Prayer Flags as economic indicators

By Bernie Quigley

For on 8/15/11

As liberals flee Obama and conservatives flock to Perry, expect a new “no name” party of Obama conservatives and Bush liberals to rise against a virtually brand new conservative life force starting with Perry (and Romney now!), Palin, Giuliani, Trump, (and maybe David Petraeus?). Bloomberg money may go behind the new no names; he was first mentioned three years back in first rumors of a third party in a Unity ’08 scheme from Maine’s former governor Angus King and actor Sam Waterston.

But if so, maybe Virginia Senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb with General Wesley Clark, Elizabeth Warren, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and indeed, he who has earned his place among the venerables, Rep. Dennis Kuchinich of Ohio, should also think of going alone and leave the Democratic party an abandoned skin of Clinton nostalgicos and Kennedy relatives. Think ahead to 2016 to build again from scratch. The Democrats should have run Mark Warner for President in 2008 in the first place. 2016 is not too late.
*
Would be nice to see Perry and Romney transcend the debates entirely and run on their records, on their resumes, on their lives, character and experiences. Leave the American Idol-style debates to the amateurs. End these painful pretentions. Debates do not tell how one would govern. They tell how one would teach.
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Today does indeed mark the critical turning. The most succinct analysis of the economic crisis goes perhaps to Pimco's Bill Gross in Thursday's Washington Post. As he explains, change is here to stay but it may not be what we expected.

“But while our debt crisis is real and promises to grow to Frankenstein proportions in future years,” he writes, “debt is not the disease — it is a symptom. Lack of aggregate demand or, to put it simply, insufficient consumption and investment is the disease. . . We and our global market competitors are and have been experiencing a lack of aggregate demand for several decades. It is now only visibly coming to a head, as the magic elixir of leverage is drained and exhausted.”

Economist Harry Dent has been saying as much for the last 20 years. War babies, born all at the same time, will recede and die all at the same time. Starting now. All 40 million of us with another 40 million behind. And half of us forgot to have children, depending instead on government and corporation for elderly support. As Dent said on Cavuto a few weeks back, old people do not buy things.

Explained in this column on October 27, 2008: As economic indicators, the sequence of Tibetan prayer flags reflects the human progress of rise and decline from birth to death in individuals and in cultures as well. The flags fly in this sequence: white, red, green, gold, dark blue. As we began with white in 1946, we enter now dark blue or as Tibetans see it "the between" – end of the life cycle and return to the Earth Mother. The cycle begins again with white – rebirth - 20 years later.

Not to worry, the new “greatest generation” will save us, just as it did in 1946. But as the downturn began then in 1929, the “greatest generation” was only nine years old. So we may have to sit awhile.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Rick Perry and Barack Obama

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 8/9/11

Camp followers of that clever system of history outlined by William Strauss and Neil Howe in their book “The Fourth Turning” will be closely watching this week’s events as world economy unravels; unraveling as well the current president. Strauss and Howe have it that all historic periods begin and end with a major conflagration and that historic periods follow generationally, each generation having a 20-year influence. At the end of 60 years the entire system starts to collapse. Struggles ensue in the next 20 years as collective intelligence and will strive to be born again to a new era. We are now 65 years into the post-war period and are feeling, experiencing the descent. The theory marks culture as well as politics, each generation antidotal to the last. That is, in a phrase historian Arnold Toynbee used, yin becomes yang. My opinion on those who most affected our post war period and brought about its metamorphosis are in generational alternating sequence: Dwight Eisenhower, John Lennon, Ronald Reagan and the Dalai Lama.

Many followers of this system which is based on archetypes as well as demographics saw Barack Obama as the figure who would rise to awaken the transitional period; a period that would also awaken the century and potentially the millennium. I did not. I saw him as the figure who completed the Kennedy period and even the age of Lincoln. The Obama presidency also ends the exclusive influence of the northeast as the historic determiner for America. Mission accomplished. As T. Roosevelt was prelude to FDR, Reagan was prelude to the age to open ahead which will advance a political and cultural awakening to the South, the west and the heartland. When history fulfills its purposes it moves on. Every period gives evidence to that. I see the rising figure as Rick Perry, Governor of Texas. Demographics have been moving in that direction since the end of WW II. It is entirely appropriate and right that he begin the tenure of such vast responsibility and scale with a prayer as he did this week in Texas.

America needs a “super committee” of Governors


By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 8/7/11

A fine mess now, Ollie. It was a mistake from the first to allow S&P, Moody’s and the others an unelected overview and a voice in the life of American sovereign states. Now, like those tragically broken school systems in Atlanta and Pennsylvania, the ones with so many erasures on tests that the odds are three trillion to one that they are authentic, this Congress with the lowest rating in American history calls for a “super committee” of its own members to repair itself.

We have just recently had a super committee called the Simpson/Bowles Commission. To the surprise of some it brought quite a dignified, fair and sensible beginning. Congress ignored it and so did the President. Senator Mark Warner of Virginia did not get the credit deserved in the debt ceiling debate although his opinion and that of the Gang of Six incorporated Simpson/Bowles conclusions. And as one commentator said, there is already a super committee to discuss these issues . . . it is called the Congress.

Certainly no super committee will go beyond the modest recommendations of Simpson/Bowles. And any new committee will only express the collective will of that same congress.

Recently, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley had a good idea. The new governor gave a report card to the state legislature. It might be considered one of the most dysfunctional in the nation and no doubt needed reform. But they kicked at the idea of the governor overlooking them. No doubt they would prefer to have their own super committee like Washington wants.

Let's have a super committee but as Haley asks to overlook the legislation in South Carolina, let’s have a super committee of governors to overlook Congress. It has been suggested in this column before to create a super committee of governors and former governors; a council of 12 to advise and inform as a Board of Trustees does a college. Warner, former governor of Virginia should apply and Haley too. And Jim Hunt of North Carolina. And Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sarah Palin of Alaska and Jesse Ventura of Minnesota and Mitt Romney and Rick Perry. Now would be the time as we are quickly coming to the end of things. Almost overnight the home of the brave has become the land of frightened thoughts. The Chinese are saying no more plastic daddy. They’re going to pull the credit card.

Before he died, the great ambassador George Kennan recommended such a group. He called it a Council of Elders. America was never intended to be world without walls; a world of wandering tribes represented by lobbyists here and abroad with greater power than our current batch of shop-till-you-drop senators. It was intended to be a nation of places with regional representation. And in its earliest awakening, the Senate was intended to be such a watchdog. Particularly since the passing of the 17th Amendment in 1913 it has lost that function.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

A zen history of Canada

by Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 8/3/11

“Why is Canada beating America?” Jason Clemens asks this week in the Wall Street Journal.

Ten years ago Canada was on the skids. The Bloc Quebecois was on the rise, the IMF was glaring and Canadians were self effacing and avidly in between, not sure if they were real unto themselves or a kind of cold country American. At that time the Canadian dollar was converting to 75 cents American. Today it is worth $1.04 U.S and rising. What happened? How did Canada get strong? It overcame two existential and psychological challenges, the United States and Quebec.

Over long periods history can be looked at as a chemistry experiment. England’s fate can be seen going back to only two days in particular: The day Elizabeth I removed one of the chemical elements by chopping off the head of Mary Queen of Scots is the first. It changed the chemical makeup of England. It ended a long thousand year irritant – longer – from those pesky Picts who came from Ireland to the space now Scotland and just wouldn’t go away. It is the kind of irritant that makes you strong and keeps you on your guard. Trafalgar again changed the chemistry. Tiny England soared to world conquest and remained in the game until Sean Connery was knighted.

Canada faced a similar situation with Quebec, natural enemies united from the first in confederation as protection against colonization by the Unites States in the 1800s. Today Canada and Quebec have come to terms. In the recent election the Bloc Quebecois, which seeks secession from Canada, received only three seats. The movement has effectively ended. I have felt that the Quebecois movement was a conspiracy to make Canada stronger and more independent from the United States and when that happened the two would find common ground.

And that moment happened after 9/11 when George W. Bush invaded Iraq.
Canada, under the leadership of Jean Chr├ętian, the “little guy from Shawinigan” who spoke English with a hilarious accent, directly told the U.S. he would not support the effort. Quebec vehemently opposed the American invasion. Bernard Landry, leader of the Bloc, openly expressed his support for Chr├ętien and the Bloc and Canada were one.

But Canada and the U.S. no longer were. There was no chopping off of heads, but the beating America took from Hayley Wickenheiser and the Canadian women’s hockey team at the 2002 Winter Olympics might be considered Canada’s Trafalgar moment. Canada would no longer be a footnote to American efforts. Canada broke free at that moment. Since, with the reelection of conservative Stephen Harper in the age of Obama and the weakening of the Liberal party and demise of the Bloc, Canada has gone its own way.

“While the U.S. remains mired in debt and slogs through a subpar economic recovery, Canada is moving ahead steadily,” writes Clemens. “Its unemployment rate peaked at a little over 8.5% and is now 7.4%, and there were no bank bailouts. Real GDP growth is expected to be roughly 3% this year.”

Canada may now be seen as leading the way if Rick Perry makes progress into 2012 as Perry and Harper share characteristics in culture, politics and outlook. And a Perry presidency will accommodate the Tea Party much as Harper was able to accommodate Quebec.

The Canadians might have gotten it right first. It is easy today to imagine the Loonie worth $1.30 one day soon given the situation in America today.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

No doggie for Mitt

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 8/2/11

For a long time now the east coast establishment and the Bush family in particular were sure Mitt Romney was their man. Mormon or not; we yanks, even the ones in Texas, don’t care about that stuff. But he looked just right in that suit and went to Harvard and apparently everyone in New England wants to do that. And he is smart as paint. Possibly like the Kennedys and Obama the Bushes hoped to give him a little family puppy to show their affection. To show how well he fit in their parlor. But after his call yesterday for “cut cap and balance” and his repudiation of the debt ceiling agreement there will be no doggie for Mitt. Where will the establishment turn now? Chris Christie? Too fat. John Thune? Lives in that spooky northern heartland. How about that Kay Bailey Hutchinson? She’s nice, too. How would that work out? No always the same. Better bring it on home to Jeb.

“I personally cannot support this deal,’’ said Romney in his historic moment.

Anyone who thought Romney was a Bush family puppy was not looking closely at his record. He is and always has been independent minded and original in his thinking. And even as governor of Massachusetts he was more the westerner than the Bostonian. He is the true west conservative come back east while the Bush east coast establishment is Boston moved to Texas. They used to have a name for that after the Civil War.

And anyone who sees irony in Romney’s move sees the shadow before she sees the light. Romney as a conservative long quietly wished for a balanced budget amendment most likely. But only now, this day, did it become entirely possible.

Romney’s vote does several things: It puts him strategically in opposition to Rick Perry who cleverly dominated the moment when he and Nikki Haley together placed an op-ed in the Washington Post defending “cut cap and balance.” And he enters now into this competition ON RICK PERRY’S TERMS.

It brings “cut cap and balance to the fore as we enter September and for the first time in our era it legitimized the idea of a balanced budget with Romney’s imprimatur.

It lends legitimacy to the Tea Party movement and recognized its fateful progress. Romney was among the first to do so.

It makes Romney a contender by pulling him out of the establishment. He never was an establishment politician. Pending what Sarah Palin does on Sept. 3 at the Iowa Tea Party Labor Day rally, this race is now between Rick Perry and Mitt Romney. One of these two will be the next president and that is very good for America.