Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sarah Palin still untried . . .

by Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 11/30/11

Hot Air comments yesterday: “. . . the polls in every one of the early states have been pretty much of a roller coaster ride since summer. There’s probably time for at least one more rise and fall before the state’s [South Carolina] residents actually go to the polls.”

The Republican campaign degenerates now to a state like that in the mid-‘70s when political contrast was phrased “hippies v. hard hats.” The hard hats, red necks today, were characteristically pictured sitting by a construction site on lunch break with American flag decals on their safety helmets and on their metal lunch pails poignant political slogans like “I’m not FONDA commies.” Yelling to passing hippies or just anyone, “Get a job! Take a bath!” (And to hippie girls or just any women, “I like it in the morning!”)

Today, Lou Dobbs lines up the fat white men nightly on Fox Business, the hard hats apparently all radio commentators now, with their hearty guffaws to declare the Occupy people “smelly,” “need a bath” “germy.” It is not just stupid and provincial, it is second generation stupid. Any reference to the Sixties brings uproarious laughter. Time came to an abrupt halt for this group around 1962 when the first Volkswagen bugs entered the American mainstream.

Those were the days when Merle Haggard would sing his anthem, “We don’t smoke marijuana in Muskogee . . .” Sadly, now The Hag likes to brag that he rolled a jumbo with Hillary.

But those happy days are here again for Republicans. They have finally found their perfect provincial hard hat candidate: Newt Gingrich.

Sarah Palin actually has good skill in political name calling; those who misspeak publically like Palin and Perry are creative right brain thinkers. She, from the heartland, absorbed the Sixties, the Seventies and the Eighties and Nineties. Her comments like the “nerd prom” are skillful, not geared at the working people or the “hippies” but the Washington reporters who have been absorbed by the political establishment and become its agents and hacks.

Sarah Palin, still a paid commentator I believe for Fox, should go direct on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show – he the honest, courageous dean of free comment today – and say this: “I am thinking of entering the Republican primary campaign.”

See what happens.

Because right now the hard hat Republican base has commandeered the party. It retreats to a degenerative state and doesn’t have a chance against President Obama. The varying support and lack of coalition around a candidate is nature’s way of saying something’s wrong. (Gingrich, Dobbs and the hard hat right will recognize the phrase from that degenerate hippie group from the Sixties, Spirit.)

Forget Iowa and New Hampshire. Focus on South Carolina. Rick Perry, the only outside-the-beltway candidate besides Ron Paul is at 4% in South Carolina. Newt Gingrich has a commanding lead according to the Augusta Chronicle, at 38% followed by Romney at 15%.

If Gingrich wins South Carolina he will win the nomination and loose to Obama. The Republicans will feel good about themselves because they like to lose and the really want Jeb Bush with some cover agent – Chris Christie, the first choice –in 2016. They can wait. They like to wait.

But if Sarah Palin can win South Carolina she will win the nomination and save the party from itself and beat Obama.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Why Ron Paul, in brief

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 11/29/11

The Euro debt crisis began to spiral out of control when Prime Minister George Papandreou – called a “prince” by Reuters - failed to meet expectations. Papandreou was the third generation of his family to serve in that office. This is connected to the temperament of Greece. The desire to want the same family to run for office again and again is in Jungian terms a "feeling" one. This is good for the Greeks in my opinion provided that they stay out of the EU which is in the same Jung vein is a "thinking" operation; a "greater Germany" if you will as Germany is in these terms a thinking, objectivist place and center of the economic matrix. And so is the US but the sensibility here to default to governance by family members – princes; Bushes, Kennedys and Clintons in particular - in high office shows decline in our case as it presents a shift in sensibilities from the thinking function on which we were founded to a degenerative emotional realm, one not native to American karma. One bad for a new people; one suited to the ancient regime. It is in a word a decline to monarchist instincts, or better, a desire given the size of our country, for an emperor to relieve ourselves of the anguish and transcendence of self governance.

Nowhere has the destruction of this declining function been expressed more than in the illegal and immoral Bush/Cheney period including the arbitrary invasion of Iraq which poisoned the moral pinnings of the American armed forces, the embedded press, the Supreme Court and the accommodating and appeasing Congress. Those who stood against were few: Wes Clark, Russ Feingold, Jim Webb, Colin Powell’s former chief Lawrence Wilkerson, the venerable Senator Robert C. Byrd and Ron Paul. America cannot go forward until it returns and comes to terms with that broken historic moment.

The Ron Paul movement builds on the values awakened on that moment and the first value was this: Courage. Paul was brave when it was time to be brave. So it is a good beginning. Anyone who watched Tim Tebow in the last five minutes of the football game on Sunday will understand that America is still dynamic and beginning and will not default to the ethos and parameters of decline. But both parties today are burdened by the tendency to default to relatives - Clintons, both of whom supported the Bush/Cheney invasion, for Democrats and Bushes for Republicans - and this is symptomatic of parties here, as it is in Greece, unable to adapt to new demographic conditions and circumstances and new generations. But in America, the heartland has risen in population and economy while the same demographics in the northeast decline: America is moving west.

The states have filled out and developed their own characteristics and circumstances. They will not long accept top down one-size-fits-all governance from far away designed for the early days when America was largely a forest. Ron Paul, with sophisticated new and comprehensive thinking on states’ rights, Austrian economists like Friedrich Hayek and innovative perspective on foreign policy offers an adaptive political perspective fit to the times today and the times ahead. Surveys show that enlisted Army personal, the touchstone of American will and sympathy, support Ron Paul ahead of all the other Republican candidates.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Ron Paul and the new age of political culture

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 11/28/11

Ron Paul brings to government culture today a vision as complete and comprehensive as that which Martin Luther brought to religious culture. He is close to Luther in this regard as well: Ron Paul, like Martin Luther, dispels the worship of idols. Europe could not conceive of life without Roman dominance in the 1500s even as it descended into massive corruption. Until Luther, when half of the European establishment flipped. Paul and his libertarian cadre disdainfully view the political establishment of Washington, D.C. and it may be about to flip.

Even Wesley Clark, who should have been the Democratic nominee for president in 2004 has had good words according to published reports: “Ron Paul — he has his own idea on foreign policy, you should listen to it. Maybe there’s something in there that’s worth studying,” he is said to have commented after the foreign policy debate.

I wrote passionately about both Clark and Paul in 2004 and saw no conflict and much common ground. But the culture was not ready for Clark or Paul and yielded to the immature, irresponsible, escapist siren call of “rock stars” and favorite sons and daughters. The corrupt Bush/Cheney establishment depended on this institutional denial particularly in the Democratic senate. It was a form of appeasement.

Paul, like Luther, brings an organic, heroic response “by the people” to corruption that has carried over generations. Rule of thumb: If the sprawling, brooding, dominating temple and soaring edifice representing the emperor, pope or former president is taller and larger than the individual it is intended to represent, the idolatry surrounding the august personage is directly proportionate to the overblown size of the idol. This idolatry has made us a democracy rather than a republic or confederation of republics as Jefferson intended. Today it is unlikely that students are taught the difference.

It has lessened us as individuals. We idolize the big screen as well and democracy instead of republican government has made us a horde, our totem animal the penguin, helpless in the face of skilled predators. Aldous Huxley wrote of this early on and it is reflected in his book Brave New World; we would become government’s customers instead of citizens, narcotized by the “feelies” and scurrying on cue to “Cyber Monday.”

Ron Paul worships none of our idols. Those who have seen the masterful Showtime presentation, The Tudors, will recall the danger of new ideas repeated today with Paul and son Rand as their fearless tellers, offering a new way to live; a better way, a truer way – the way proposed by Jefferson. It will suddenly cross culture like a firestorm from one place to another as Luther's vision did in the court of Henry VIII.

Outlook: If Newt takes the Republican nomination Paul should run as third party with Dennis Kucinich as VP. Obama may drop Biden. Rumor has started at the Wall Street Journal that he will replace Biden with Hillary. That suggestion from two Democratic commentators from Fox Business with right sympathies. Obama should replace Biden but with either Jim Webb (fire) or Wes Clark (maturity and strength) to rebuild the party from scratch with new people for a new generation. It is the only way to clear out the moral ambiguity of Democratic Senators who unconscionably supported the illegality and immorality of Bush/Cheney in Iraq, namely Hillary and Biden. Will need Dave “Mudcat” Saunders and Steve Jarding however to take the heartland, as he must. Southerner soldiers Wes Clark and Jim Webb would help.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Greece, Italy, Portugal should leave ‘greater Germany’ while they can still get out.

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 11/25/11

AFP reports: The European Union demanded Wednesday sweeping powers to override national budgets and proposed issuing joint eurozone bonds to help resolve and prevent a repeat of the debt crisis.

"Without stronger governance, it will be difficult if not impossible to sustain the common currency," EU Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso said of his latest legislative proposals.

The head of the executive EU arm, Barroso presented radical plans that would allow him and Economy Commissioner Olli Rehn to decide to intervene in national policymaking, the article reports.

It is time for Greece, Italy and Portugal to think twice about the EU. It was all the fever ten, twenty years ago when the economic cycle was rising to its peak and Bill Clinton – he of the 50 gold watches - was just rising to status of world shaman. It was a giddy time; the Dalai Lama charmed the world and Bono was writing op-eds for the New York Times. Every individual, all people in the global village would be as George Soros saw in the rising karma, a kind of American; an American by degree.

But this was all the work of lurid, globalized pop culture and easy money. In fact, all of the great Mediterranean states will be a “kind of Germany.” As comes clear now as if through a glass darkly, what they offered up to the lure of globalized capital was their soul. Ten years hence, reports Niall Ferguson, Harvard economist, Greeks and Italians will be working as gardeners and carrying boxes for Germans. So how’s that going to work out?

The U.S. came to be as an economic and political union in 1776 in opposition to English dominance and no one expected trouble down the line. No one except Jefferson, who realized as early as 1797 that the rising industrial states in the cold climate would dominate the agrarian regions and warm places and they would never be allowed out, even though he had written an escape clause in Virginia’s contract (New York and Rhode Island had them as well). The cost of the felicitous union of 1776 would be signed in blood with more than 618,000 dead and the passage to conquest would begin when Jefferson was barely cold in the grave.

A new generation needs to take hold of this here, there and everywhere, before their future is gobbled up. The laws of nature are hard and fast: When times get tough, the strong economically will dominate the weak and in the EU, that means Germany. Greece,Italy and Portugal should head for the doors and strive to find their souls again. Form a like-minded Mediterranean alliance perhaps. But leave while it is still possible.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The gift of Ron Paul, America’s Gray Champion

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 11/23/11

Generally when countries surge to become rich and powerful, as America did after victory in Europe and Asia, after Germany did during the Bismarck period, it recedes or retires naturally to new generations and new cultural forms. If left alone they are usually more creative, more peaceful times. But more often countries rage against the return to balance, yield to fascism, as Germany did at the end of the Bismarck period, and die in a primal scream. We are much in the same position today as was Bismarck’s Germany at the end, with stronger competitors, notably China, on the horizon, and the childish and hubristic claims of “exceptionalism” are chronic symptoms. But it will not happen here in America because of one person, Ron Paul. And he is what I am thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Ron Paul is the Gray Champion, the aging veteran who stands in the middle of the road at the end and the beginning and says, NO MORE. He alone makes the future possible. Historians Neil Howe and William Strauss describe the Gray Champion as the singular figure who cuts through the lies, illusions and deceits, but more important, gives the people the courage and awakens them from their moral slumber for it is that which enables the beast. From their text, “The Fourth Turning”:

"Who was this Gray Champion?" Nathaniel Hawthorne asked near the end of this story in his Twice-Told Tales. No one knew, except that he had been among the fire-hearted young Puritans who had first settled New England more than a half century earlier... Would the Gray Champion ever return? "I have heard," added Hawthorne, "that whenever the descendants of the Puritans are to show the spirit of their sires, the old man appears again." Posterity had to wait a while before seeing him again - the length of an entire human life, in fact. "When eighty years has passed," wrote Hawthorne, the Gray Champion reappeared.

As Strauss and Howe’s excellent text indicates, we now especially, rising into 2012, are at the classic end of a post-war cycle and the beginning of a historic transition. Ron Paul alone offers direction in seeing America as Jefferson did of healthy, heartland states, and seeing a world ahead breaking the globalist, world-destroying competition of Marx v. Keynes, both philosophies of conquest, to one of Hayek and the Austrian economists.

Questions can be raised now as never before and thanks to Paul and are raised nightly on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. Questions like, what again is the purpose of federal government? Why does a fully developed and mature country need one at all?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Rick Perry Uprising

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 11/22/11

. . . states' rights, states’ rights, states' rights!!!” – Rick Perry at The Alamo, June 15, 2009

Until you get higher in the hills, Laconia might be considered the vortex of New Hampshire red neck politics, heavy into the Tea Party. The Lakes Region Tea Party is small but might be indicative of how things will go. A straw poll on November 16 gave Newt Gingrich 49 % while Cain tied with Ron Paul at 15%. Romney 12% and Rick Perry 0. Similar results in a straw poll at a Republican club in Alabama on Saturday: Newt 45%, Cain 13%, Paul and Romney both 11% and Perry 3%. Interesting because Perry first gave national credence to the Tea Party when he chanted for states’ rights at the Alamo. But with the sudden rise of Newt, the consummate Washington insider, Tea Party is no longer really about states’ rights and specific issues. It’s about passion.

I'm all about the Rick Perry uprising as he described it Friday night on Neil Cavuto's show. He is serious about a part-time legislature, term limits for judges, a balanced budget and state sovereignty issues.

His thinking and direction could save America. But it may take longer. For five years before the Texas governor cut loose at the original Tea Party rally at the Alamo 2009 event with Ted Nugent and Judge Andrew Napolitano present I had been writing about states’ rights in northern New England. We were well informed by the best lawyers and scholars in North America on these issues. Legal counsel advised that systemic change as great as this takes time and a lot of conversation.

Perry needs more time for this to sink in and he needs a posse; he needs allies. Not senators, not representatives, but like-minded governors and passionate advocates like Sarah Palin. His brilliant and brave manifesto, “Fed Up!” describes a path to "save America from Washington.” But it is clearly a world which devolves power to states, regions and their governors. And most governors today are not prepared to receive it.

For Governor Perry's form to advance, governors’ power must be enhanced, their confidence and the people’s confidence in them must rise and the political status of states must rise. It is not a project for an aging and predictable “super committee” but for rising young stars like Alaska’s Joe Miller and Tennessee’s Rand Paul and Utah’s Mike Lee and independent heartland governors like Idaho’s “Butch” Otter. Since 1913 and the (unconstitutional) 17th amendment, states and their governors have lost status to Washington, D.C. This first must change and possibly only a Constitutional Convention can change it.

I'd suggest a long-term plan and a council of governors or a “super committee of governors”; a council of elders if you will, made up of former or current governors to consider devolution of power to states and regions. How would the country work then? Who would do what?

Thomas Jefferson’s premise is that the only defense against a bloated or malevolent federal government is the states organically related in their regions. In this model Texans are Texans, Alaskans Alaskan and New England may find its Emersonian soul again. Perry was first to go there again. But it can’t happen overnight.

Maybe the change Perry calls for is impossible. Things don’t change. They break. Then they start over again as something else. The colossal and predictable failure of the “super committee” is symptomatic of breakage ahead. But when it starts again this time it may start with Perry.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Jim Webb: OWS needs a warrior and so does America

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 11/20/11

MSM, seeking to frame OWS in context, brings some unfortunate editing. The hardships these kids suffered – one lost his computer cable – and comparisons to the Civil Rights movement exhibit inexperienced and youthful prose selections which poorly represent a rising generation. But there is here the feeling of a movement striving for a voice. A feeling that something is wrong; a dread, but it is not clear what the source is. It seems has been wrong for a long time – most of these young people’s lives - and wrong at the center. In the last debate for example, at least three Republicans announced that they willfully support the use of torture. It is not that they shouldn’t be elected. They should be sent into exile.

But Jim Webb, senator from Virginia, had been speaking out against the sources of this creepy and insidious anguish from the beginning of the war on Iraq. Sadly, this great and creative man who has served America in heroic capacity and in so many ways, will not be running for reelection. I hope he runs for governor of Virginia. Actually I’d like to see him run for President right now on an emergency ticket maybe with Elizabeth Warren. Outside the box, but that has never stopped Jim before.

The uncertainty surrounding OWS suggests the leader has not been found to vocalize their distress and desire. I wish they were around when Webb gave the Democrats’ response to President George W. Bush’s state of the Union in 2007. It was shocking and strange to the penguin-like conformist of the time. The reference to “Wall Street robber barons” sent a chill up Wall Street’s spine. It seems a perfect match today for a rising generation still at a loss for words and still seeking an adult worthy of its trust. It can be heard on Youtube under the title “Senator Jim Webb Responds to the President.” Here are some excerpts:

“The stock market is at an all time high and so are corporate profits but these benefits are not being fairly shared. When I graduated from college, the average corporate CEO made 20 times what the average worker did. Today, it is more than 400 times. In other words it takes the average worker more than a year to make the money that his or her boss makes in one day . . .

“In the early days of our Republic, President Andrew Jackson established an important principle of American style democracy; that we should measure the health of our society not at its apex but at its base not with the numbers that come out of Wall Street but in the living conditions on Main Street . . .

“With respect to foreign policy this country has patiently endured a mismanaged war for nearly four years. Many, including myself, warned even before the war began that it was unnecessary and that it would take our energy away from the larger war against terrorism . . .

“Regarding the economic imbalance in our country I’m reminded of the situation president Theodore Roosevelt faced in the early days of the 20th century. America was then, as now, drifting apart along class lines. The so-called robber barons were unapologetically raking in huge percentage of the national wealth. The dispossessed workers at the bottom were threatening revolt . . .

Thursday, November 17, 2011

How OWS could advance Gingrich to the Presidency

by Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 11/18/11

Politics is antidotal. That is, what comes next is the antidote or the equal and opposite counterforce to the disturbance of the force that just happened. It is nature finding its way back to balance. Had there been no Summer of Love, no hippies, diggers and all the adventurers of Summer of ’67 there would have been no Ronald Reagan coming out of the wings. Reagan was California calling itself back to center; a stronger countervailing force than normal to balance the astonishing and rapid rise of the California counterculture.

And that is where Newt Gingrich comes in. As Reagan was antidote to the hippie movement, Gingrich is the equal and opposite counterforce to the Occupy Wall Street movement. His sudden recent support can be seen rising as a graph exactly analogous to the rise in intensity of Occupy Wall Street.

Today’s astonishing Drudge headline: “Shock Poll Iowa: Gingrich 32% Romney 19 Cain 13%” citing the current Rasmussen report. Gingrich is a great debater and an intellectual gadfly, but had their been no Occupy movement he might have spend out his life in a dog and pony show travelling a debate circuit of small colleges to debate policy with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as hippie high priest Timothy Leary and Watergate plumber G. Gordon Liddy did; the last exit at political Palookaville. Now he could well go all the way to the Presidency.

If I recall correctly, Gingrich’s first comments on the OWS were that it would take down the Obama presidency. He recognized that whatever was said by the spinners and sycophants, Obama was a lifelong dissident and Gingrich correctly intuited that Obama would be connected with the squalid aspects of OWS through association. This is especially true now that Obama’s best bud, Bill Ayers (and ghost writer?) was videotaped recently giving advice to Occupy Chicago protesters according to a report from NBC Chicago.

Gingrich may have recognized as well when he saw that OWS would take down the Presidency, that these events would send him there instead.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Newt the Munificent and his feisty gunslinger sidekick, Rick the Impetuous

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 11/16/11

Something funny happened at the last debate. I started to like them. With some thanks to CBS moderator Scott Pelley and National Journal’s Major Garrett, they developed tempo, drama, intrigue. I’m looking forward to the others now as I’d look forward to a hockey game or a favorite TV show. First time for that. This will now be a season of debates and debates this time will determine the next President.

When Rick Perry said he didn’t think the American people would choose “the best debater” for President he was making a conceptual error. Better to look to the record and experience of the contender. When the pundits said that this year there were “too many debates” they spoke too soon. Too much nonsense had come in and secondary players were taking the initiative. It presented an “American Idol” pop culture. But now it’s starting to get good.

I can’t wait to see what Newt comes up with next time. He is by far the best debater here and in the past two weeks he has made the debates interesting, dramatic, exciting.

All along it had been Newt Gingrich’s secret weapon. Now he has found momentum. Dorothy Rabinowitz of the Wall Street Journal gave him a sterling endorsement recently and the mainstream MSM gave him a second look. Newt is outside the box and is now bringing it to the people with him. It may be the “Rabinowitz effect” but he is now right up there with Mitt Romney in the ratings.

Romney better watch out. Newt’s debating kung fu is stronger and Newt’s skill in this is more valuable this year than Romney’s money. Romney seems studied and defaults to Heritage Foundation power points which kills the mojo on TV, while Newt, the creative introvert, suddenly swings his arms and comes up with some startling, radically new thinking for the audience. How about cyber warfare and targeting enemy scientists who work on nuclear weapons? Like poison them. All under the cloak of deniability. What do you think about that? How’s that for outside the box? And pretty good TV.

And Rick Perry is getting the swing of it. His Opps! gaff gave him a pretty good week in hindsight. The country learned that he is a pretty likeable guy. He’s got more money than the others except Romney so he can hang in there a long time. And Gingrich likes him. They are developing new sympathies and fresh personae via the TV debates: Newt the Munificent and his feisty gunslinger sidekick, Rick the Impetuous. This moves along from TV experience as well, from the relationships that evolve from the weekly drama.

But these two have long been two peas in a pod. Gingrich wrote the foreword to Perry’s recent book, “Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington.” “Rick Perry, Texas governor, for the past decade, is uniquely qualified to offer a firsthand perspective on why the United States – the most successful civilization in human history – is being threatened with economic collapse,” he writes.

A group may be forming here; Gingrich’s and Perry’s wives are hanging together with Jon Huntsman’s. Could bring a whole new agenda, a whole new American beginning.
The “Occupy” movement: Rufus T. Firefly’s spiritual legacy

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill

on 11/15/11

That Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan emailed Harvard’s Laurence Tribe to say, “I hear they have the votes, Larry!! Simply Amazing” on the day the House passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, will come as no surprise. They are all friends. Like Charlie Sheen, like Lady Gaga, like Hillary and Barack, Larry and Elena are symptoms of an endgame. The right thing to do; the noble and moral thing, is to ignore them entirely.

The “occupy” activists are best ignored as well. They might be considered the spiritual children of Professor Rufus T. Firefly who in that Sixties cult classic, Duck Soup, declared: “Whatever it is, I’m against it!” Marxist? No. Groucho Marxist, maybe.

“Most of the tents were expected to be gone from City Hall Park by late yesterday after ’Occupy Burlington’ protesters have had a chance to pick up their belongings,” my local paper reports, “but some of the tents will be left for the city to clean up as part of the protest, police say.”

Part of the protest? Who do they think will clean their crap up, when they are taking the Amtrak back to Yale and Brooklyn Heights? The nameless proles who wash the clothes of these dilettante children and cook their food and clean their toilets. The huddled masses. Like the bent and elderly Indian woman just arrived, still with a bindi on her forehead, who cheerfully changed my hotel sheets yesterday.

The persona of Occupy today is the mask of Guy Fawkes, who might be considered the father of modern terrorism. But that was never really forgotten by the protesters because it was never learned. It was seen in the movie , V for Vendetta, produced by the Wachowski brothers, a shadow event which followed their masterpiece, The Matrix, featuring Keanu Reeves, as Neo, who might be considered the ‘savior’; the agent of Aquarius rising. As if when the spirit of the night’s unconscious – known as The Self in the Upanishads, Morpheus to Neo - asked the key question to the apprentice holy man; to take the leap of intuition and choose a pill - the red one or the blue one. The one would lead to Awakening and the other to the shadow path. Occupy took the other pill and became an advertising supplement for a movement or something but they can't remember what.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Iran: A conversation with Moshe Feiglin

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 11/11/11

I’ve had little interest in Israel in my life. It seemed a lost cause. Jerusalem is the timeless and endless center of the inner life of the West; her rabbis the exclusive guardians to her mysteries. That Bill Clinton could lay claim to it was an abomination.

I perked up when Moshe Feiglin found support. He recognized and representing Israel at its essence; a sacred place which should only be understood in sacred terms and in thousand year historic cycles. Soldier, sabra, leader of Manhigut Yehudit, which seeks to turn the “State of Jews into the Jewish State.” For several years now I as a non-Jew have appreciated his weekly commentary on Torah. This week I had the opportunity to speak to him.

I mentioned the Clinton moment and the Oslo Agreements as a psychological turning away from values and he said, “What about Obama? If Clinton brought a lack of values, Obama brings anti-values. Values become a bad thing.”

Regarding Iran’s nuclear capacity, he writes this week that we approach the moment of truth: “Ahmadinijad, like Saddam, is preparing to destroy Israel. Netanyahu, like Shamir, is hoping that the world will, for its own reasons, do the dirty work for us and fight our existential war.

“The question is, is it better if Israel attacks Iran or if the West does so? From Shamir's mistake [Shamir stayed out of the Kuwait war] we can conclude that greater Tel Aviv will be on the receiving end of the entire payload that Iran can muster. The second lesson we learn from Shamir is that the Western coalition will not be overly concerned with the threat hanging over Israel's head. As we all remember, not one Scud missile was destroyed before it was launched.

“If Israel does not attack Iran and leaves the work for others, our position will be further compromised. First, because a passive Israel will have no power of deterrence against Iran. Second, because it is technically more difficult to defend oneself from a passive stance.”

But conversation quickly turns to Abraham who endangered himself and his entire family in a World War to save Lot from captivity after he made his bad decision to move to Sodom:

“After Abraham successfully traverses this trial and wins the war against the kings of the north, God makes a covenant (the Covenant of Pieces) with him and promises him the Land of Israel. Sounds strange? God "sides with" the winner? Not at all. God chooses the man who is willing to fight for his destiny, and not just for his existence.”

That in essence is Israel’s and its leaders’ responsibility, he says, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not yet learned Abraham’s lesson.

My impression of Moshe Feiglin after a half hour interview: It took a long time for England and America to turn to Churchill because we were afraid not so much of the consequences of action but of the responsibilities which would be demanded of us. When Israel is no longer afraid of its responsibilities ahead – its destiny - it will turn to Feiglin.
Sarah Palin and "the vacuum on the right"

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 11/10/11

The Washington Post's Dan Balz has been seen a good deal recently here in New Hampshire and has provided a comprehensive overview of the race. His analysis of last night's debate reveals a definitive moment which might be suggested in the phrase Mitt Romney and "the vacuum on the right." Ron Paul, who took 40% at conservative forums last year, was barely mentioned. He was not mentioned at all in write ups by other commentators. Cain fades like the Cheshire Cat one caricaturist has presented him as. And Rick Perry, by his own account, stepped in it.
“A vacuum on the right has become one of the distinguishing features of the campaign for the GOP nomination. One by one, candidates have come calling for support. One by one, they have stumbled or have been found wanting by rank-and-file Republicans,” he writes.

Newt Gingrich rises, in opposition to MSM. He appears the best option to now to face Romney. But is his appeal broad enough and can the professor appeal to plain folk? That is the question and that is the question that Sarah Palin should be asking this morning.

Possibly she created "the vacuum on the right" when she got off the bus and took it back to Alaska. As per last night it is safe to say there is still time to get in simply because nothing else is working. And the failure of the other contenders works positively in her favor.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Rabinowitz: “Why Gingrich could win”

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 11/9/11

New York money comes out now behind Romney from the old school of power, starched collars, stiff necks and hubris which tried it's best to replace him with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, but the Herman Cain condition brings the moment of turning. He will go now hard and fast or maybe with a whimper but he will go. And either Rick Perry or Newt Gingrich will replace him as the anti-Eastern Establishment candidate. Romney's support is soft. No one is crazy about him outside of New Hampshire and he lives here. The Wall Street Journal's best mind, Dorothy Rabinowitz, says today in her column that in the end Newt Gingrich could take this and she makes a very good case for it.

Gingrich’s attack on Charlie Rose at the Dartmouth debate would be the awakening moment in the shifting geist; the zen moment on which history will turn and the century rise. Rose was the perfect personification of full spectrum East Coast Establishment – the Kennedy/Bush dominatrix - and Gingrich represented the terrifying Rising Other. For what it's worth I was at the Dartmouth debate and my comment here on Gingrich’s assault on Rose was: “I never liked Gingrich before. Now I do.” Others too, as from that debate he jumped into the 10% bracket and became a contender.

Newt Gingrich's rise in the polls—from near zero to the third slot in several polls—should come as no surprise to people who have been watching the Republican debates, writes Rabinowitz. His talk at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition forum last month would ignite a huge response.

“The Gingrich list was interrupted by thunderous applause at every turn. The difference was, as always, in the details—in the informed, scathing descriptions of the Obama policies to be dispatched and replaced, the convincing tone that suggested such a transformation was likely—even imminent.”

Complaint was made at the beginning of the Tea Party movement that Gingrich and friends had commandeered the movement and distracted from key elements like states rights and the Kentucky Resolutions. But on the other hand his first efforts in the Clinton administration did bring a prelude to current events.

Today, writes the Tenth Amendment Center, “on the eve of the 213th anniversary of the passage of Thomas Jefferson’s Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, laying the intellectual groundwork of nullification, the people of Ohio exercised their power and nullified the insurance mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”

Rabinowitz says Gingrich began his Iowa speech with the declaration that Americans were confronting the most important election choice since 1860. “America would have the chance in 2012, Mr. Gingrich said, to repudiate decisively decades of leftward drift in our universities and colleges, our newsrooms, our judicial system and bureaucracies.”

Could be that Tea Party action and passion these past two years was all a prelude to Newt.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Rick Perry: The Republican Party's last best hope . . .

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 11/8/11

The Republican nomination and the 2012 election all comes down to this: South Carolina. Who wins the South Carolina primary will win the nomination. I think Mitt Romney can beat Barack Obama. I think Rick Perry can. I don’t see anyone else in the wings coming close. Romney is stuck at 24 %. He will do well in New Hampshire. Not so well in South Carolina. The question now comes down to this: Can Rick Perry win South Carolina? Three months ago it seemed like a slam dunk. Then Herman Cain awakened in the polls. So the question advances now: Will Herman Cain win the South Carolina primary?

Herman Cain represents old, reliable, pre-World War II conservative, southern conventions. It was interesting that when he was accused of sexual misconduct he was also asked to sing at an event; odd, even embarrassing, and he sang a verse of Amazing Grace, the one which seeks salvation for the flawed wretch. They in the Deep South get it and Cain knows it. But up here in the north it feels like Adam Clayton Powell double talk.

If you look at Cain’s personal style and his cultivated political persona, it is, like the fedora he proudly sports, pure 1950s. That is the intended subtext of the misguided smoking ad which brought Cain’s smiling (or smirking) approval. And that has appeal to a party which sees value in turning back time (maybe he should have sung that Cher tune). There is a special giddy relish to some to see this coming from a black man. In fact, there are so many ways, subtle and gross, in which Cain appeals to the Republican’s dark side.

Recently, Richard Viguerie wrote an article indicating that many conservatives and Tea Partiers are unlikely to vote for Romney, the “establishment” candidate, even in a general election against President Obama.

“Conservatives and Tea Partiers have brought the Republican Party back to the point where the promised land of an historic wave election is in sight,” he wrote, “but that opportunity may be lost if the GOP hews to the old establishment ways and old establishment leaders.”

But Cain personifies that old generation of flawed leaders even more than Romney; he is almost a caricature of the flawed establishment. The only candidate on stage who can consolidate the tradition with the Tea Party is Rick Perry.

More may be at stake here. When the South moved en masse to the Republican party in the Reagan period it was a historic moment. The 2012 election will tell if it was an action of growth, maturation and even cultural salvation as Viguerie suggests or one of violent and apocalyptic self destruction. South Carolina will tell.

Elizabeth Warren will start her own “club”

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 11/7/11

Some women just bug men, Bloomberg columnist Margaret Carlson says in a useful article titled “Do men have a problem with Elizabeth Warren?” She cites Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton as problematic. Now, she writes, “Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren has joined the club.” But this is misguided. Like those psychological tests they give which ask what do apples, pears and bananas have in common (. . . all fruit, don’t you know) they tell you little about Elizabeth Warren, and to compare her to Pelosi or Clinton is to fully misunderstand Elizabeth Warren.

Elizabeth Warren does not join a club. She starts her own club. If I had to compare her with any Democrats in Congress today they would be Jim Webb and Mark Warner, Senators from Virginia and North Carolina’s Senator Kay Hagan. These three plus Warren might belong to a similar club but leadership has not yet emerged for that club because it has been overwhelmed by the lagging generations of nostalgicos in both parties (the Republicans are starting to wear Stetson hats again and drink in the morning) and particularly the leadership of Clinton and Pelosi, which has driven almost half of traditionally Democratic Boston to be Independents.

Warren “proved so annoying to powerful men in Washington that she didn’t get the job of running” the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, says Carlson. And powerful Dems, including Chris Dodd, didn’t help.

But “the club” idea brings problems to both Democrats and Republicans. It relates to marketing issues. The same “ekk, a mouse” response the Senate committee had to Warren came to Sarah Palin who brought apoplexy to both parties as well. Palin brought forth an entirely new political paradigm; a Jacksonian paradigm in a world in which Dems and Repubs had been governing as Hamiltonian since 1865. I guess it is just a simple twist of fate that their sudden presence is accompanied by natural disasters – earthquakes in Warren’s Oklahoma and hurricanes at the Republican convention when Palin appeared.

In marketing terms, politics is the same as anything else. The “eek!” factor accompanied Bob Dylan as well and his agents and publishers had their own “club” so he had to surreptitiously bring his music to New York clubs and the people direct. Warren will have a similar battle if people expect to compare her to Pelosi and Clinton and to be a footnote to Ted Kennedy.

The analogy does not hold up with Warren any more than comparing Dylan with Perry Como and Andy Williams who owned his day. Warren will awaken a world which has been trying to be born here for at least ten years but is still unable to bust out.

Carlson’s club analogy brought to mind the awkward moment when Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neil, who owned the House when Boston owned politics, welcomed President Ronald Reagan to speak to Congress with the phrase, “Welcome to the club.” It was entirely inappropriate. The country had moved on to new paradigms and keepers of the own temple like O’Neill were first to go.

The “club” error is compounded when Carlson says Warren “ . . . headed back to Massachusetts to try to reclaim Ted Kennedy’s seat for the Democrats.”

Scott Brown’s finest moment was when he famously responded in an interview, “It’s not Ted Kennedy’s seat. It’s the people’s seat.”

For people like myself who were born in Massachusetts and educated in public university there and whose family has been involved in politics there for 150 years, it was a refreshing moment. It was time to move on. The old club of Tip O'Neill and the Kennedys had become a burden. It was holding us back. But I think Brown brought little to his task beyond a barn coat and a truck. Now Elizabeth Warren has the opportunity to bring us forward.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Elizabeth Warren changes the entire post-war liberal ethos

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 11/4/11

The greatly influential part of the post-war liberal ethos came from a hand full of very intelligent and committed New Yorkers – Brooklyn, primarily – which split into two teams; the Norman Mailers and the Norman Podhoretzes. They had an astonishing influence on modern times. I had the occasion to correspond with Mailer over 20-some years and it was much fun; much talk about drinking and play. Felt it wasn’t so much their ideas as their energy, intelligence and willfulness which carried that day. When the conservative Jews in this group moved to Washington, it perhaps more than anything formed modern conservatism. Liberalism at its worst perhaps from that period can be seen in Mailer’s novels in the 70s like An American Dream (1965) at it best in his journals like The Armies of the Night (1968) and elsewhere in a kind of intellectual majesty which Alfred Kazin brought to every task including his autobiography, New York Jew.

They were great days but they were post-European days; days lived in America but borrowed intellectually from Europe; Trotskyite Marxist and anti-capitalist in a romantic way on the left. The non-intellectual folk were Europeanized as well as if they were only half Americans speaking of themselves as “Irish-American” or like Geraldine Ferraro, the Vice Presidential candidate in 1984 as “Italian-American.”

Elizabeth Warren brings an end to all that. She brings to liberalism an indigenous or native ethos, which like her dress and presentation suggests a carefully and exquisitely stylized and symbolized American gothic, much as Lincoln’s big hat and beard was intended to bring country to mind. And she spent most of her life as a Republican, so she brings structure to her thinking. This is of enormous consequence. But it might not be fully realizable unless you grew up in ethnic Boston or New York during the Kennedy/Bush/Lodge era, well charicatured in the movie Miller’s Crossing.

But with Warren we are all Americans now, even here in Boston.

Since Dwight D. Eisenhower tentatively handed the keys over to Jack Kennedy, the American condition has been about ethnicity and kind; Can an Irish-Catholic be President? A Jew? A black woman? A lesbian? Was as if we at large were all sub set of proletariat and George H.W. Bush the only American. And we all wanted to go to Harvard too. But this inclusiveness had issues; excellence would be bypassed and in time, things would fall apart. And each group had its vengeance demons.

Eventually “the Krebs factor” (Bob Dylan’s phrase) would take hold. In time (at the end of time) the beatnik sidekick, Maynard G. Krebs, would take dominance over the mainstream event, Dobie Gillis.

Thankfully, from Krebs to Charlie Sheen and Ashton Kutcher there was enough money to go around. Now there is not. Now again we need competence, and here enters Elizabeth Warren.

She has style, grace, courage and as can be seen in any one of her YouTube clips, ability.

Said here before, when the age’s avatar dies, be it Victoria, Jefferson or Ted Kennedy, the age ends as well. It is an archetypal rule of history. Shortly thereafter, the world will begin again and that is now and that is where Elizabeth Warren comes in.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The George W. Bush presidency, through a glass darkly

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 11/2/11

Ten years on into the new century it is possible to see what is rising and what form it will take. It is possible also to see that this century rises like a phoenix from a singular psychotic historic episode which was the George W. Bush presidency. Compliant in this was a Congress of Easter Peeps let by Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton, a Supreme Court which had lost its way and a MSM in the pocket of power. Ironically, it is the Republicans who gain from this and bring the century forward. Libertarians, constitutional conservatives, gold standard advocates, Austrian economists, Ron Paul, Judge Andrew Napolitano, the Tenth Amendment Center; all have opened a door which will not be closed. But the Democrats begin to rise out of 20th century torpor well now with Elizabeth Warren.

George W. Bush cannot take all the credit. Bill Clinton, blinded by narcissism, hiring Republican advisors who gave him a budget surplus so that their shadow administration in waiting could spend freely on war and mayhem next, didn’t see what was up. Certainly vice president Dick Cheney who took as his guiding mantra the thought that "deficits don't matter" deserves much of the credit. But it was Bush's job and responsibility, even If it was Cheney doing the dirty work.

And the Obama administration made things endlessly worse, bringing the whole realm to a pre-revolutionary state. It is now possible that world economy will not survive. But it is possible now for better ideas like a flat tax and a balanced budget, return to gold standard, term limits for the Supreme Court and states’ rights to ascend. And it is now possible for people of stronger stuff – Congressman Paul Ryan, Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee - to emerge, opening to a promising future.

But tribute to this is the rise of Ron Paul, libertarian, anti-war, advocate of Austrian economics. He opened the portal. The world today is kaleoscopic, moment to moment – Herman Cain for a week or two and already the MSM pitches Gingrich as his replacement; world economy hinges on 11million Greeks who in the end will refuse to become Germans; protestors wear the mask of the father of modern terrorism, Guy Fawkes, but through a glass darkly the century emerges.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

America at the beginning

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 11/1/11

A commentator on Bloomberg’s excellent Pimm Fox show made the observation that in economic terms there are actually 33 Chinas and marketers should understand the difference. As there are varied markets here, said Fox. It seems a thought usually ignored. As we see ourselves as an outward sailing species. But we are no longer the generic nationalized economy to come out of WW II. We are instead multifaceted internally and therein lies our growth potential. North Dakota is booming and should be a magnet for the industrious young willing to live in a van for a few years to stake their claim in the future. As the west is booming for farmers, and as you drive north from Louisville in any direction for thousands of miles, America is a farm. And Chicago is its center. But on the edges are they bookish, petulant and broke.

In our time we have found the edges that will contain and constrain our external drive and China will make that explicitly clear in the G 20 gathering this week. China is no longer ours for the taking, nor is Japan, Brazil, India, etc. They have all now turned the black ships back. And the current discussion of inequality of wages is a passing fad of nerd nihilism wearing the mask of Guy Fawkes; irrelevant so long as everyone has enough. What does rise in relevance and potentially to crisis is economic inequality of regions. Some states and regions are booming, like North Dakota. Others, like New Jersey, are gasping.

I grew up in a broke place; Fall River, Massachusetts. After the angel of economy had passed and the Irish and Quebecois had got a purchase here, he best moved on as they will today; moved south then and west to find again prosperity. The least among us remained behind to die. All the money in the world could not have saved New England’s manufacturing. Capital moved south, to Mexico, to China.
No longer. There are no more places to go. We have found our edges. We can no longer think of ourselves s a unique (“exceptional”?) human species destined to control the world as Hamilton wanted, or to fly across the universe as in Captain Kirk' s beguiling (childish?)narrative (which Paul Krugman wrote an economic thesis on). Even Lt. Ripley came home.

It is a good thing. It is the beginning. We, as Americans, will be required now to find ourselves as we are. We will be required to find who we are without looking somewhere else. We can no longer save the world. (The world has survived our attempts.) We must now save ourselves. This will change us economically, politically, culturally, but it is a beginning of a new direction in this century and will take us the next hundred years.