Friday, March 29, 2013

Has the “Christian” moment passed in politics?

“We don't smoke marijuana in Muskogee;
We don't take our trips on LSD
We don't burn our draft cards down on Main Street;
We like livin' right, and bein' free.” – “Okie from Muscogee,” 1969 Merle Haggard
These days, The Hag likes to suggest that he and Willie Nelson fired up a jumbo with Hillary Clinton, but back in 1969 they were on opposite ends. Right thinking Oklahomans  – Elizabeth Warren would have been a teenager in the mid 60s and a waitress in Oklahoma City – did not do these things “like the hippies  out in San Francisco do.” But today, I’m not sure the distinction holds  up.
The perceptive Ross Douthat, conservative columnist for the NY Times, has written recently of the end of “a Catholic Moment” in public life. A  moment which formed, “At the time of John Paul’s death, the Republican Party’s agenda was still stamped by George W. Bush’s ‘compassionate conservatism,’ which offered a right-of-center approach to Catholic ideas about social justice.” But that was a “long eight years ago. Since then, the sex abuse scandals that shadowed John Paul’s last years have become the defining story of his successor’s papacy, and the unexpected abdication of Benedict XVI has only confirmed the narrative of a church in disarray. His predecessor was buried amid reverent coverage from secular outlets, but the current pope can expect a send-off marked by sourness and shrugs.”
Douthat could well be correct in thinking that the moment of politiclized Catholicism has passed. But it might be considered that the Catholic “moment” was a reflection of the rising Southern force of Christian politics and the Evangelical movement which historian Dan T. Carter writes of in “The Politics of Rage: George Wallace, the Origins of the New Conservatism, and the Transformation of American Politics.”
There was to it all a sense of “I’m a Christian and you’re not.” Or as one Texsas wag put it in song, “I’m going to heaven. You’re gonna  fry.”
Carter wrote that the entire Wallace rise and fall was a reaction to the new initiatives of the culture of the 1960s, of the Freedom Riders in the South, the integration decision of Brown vs. the Board of Education, the hippies and so on.
“Journalists might greet this growing counterculture with curiosity, even approval. But Wallace knew – instinctively, intuitively – that tens of millions Americans despised the civil rights agitators, the antiwar demonstrators, the sexual exhibitionists as symbols of a fundamental decline in the traditional cultural compass of God, family, and country.”
Wallace invoked images of a nation in crisis, he says, a country in which thugs roamed the streets with impunity, antiwar demonstrators embraced the hated Communist Vietcong, and brazen youth flaunted their taste for “dirty” books and movies. “And while America disintegrated, cowardly politicians, bureaucrats, and distant federal judges capitulated to these loathsome forces."
But the hippie movement itself may have been a cultural reaction to the rising events  in Vietnam and the threat of the draft. By 1969, I and a half dozen of my friends had already returned from the war in Asia.
But that was now almost 50 years ago. I can barely remember it. And anyone,l hippie, or anti-hippie who still does, is stuck. In the immortal words of Captian Kirk: “Get a life.”
Rand Paul: “The GOP of old has grown stale and moss-covered,——I don’t think we need to name any names here, do we?”

The conservative’s world opened again with Texas-born Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. He will be helped along by Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Utah Senator Mike Lee, and could well be overlapped by Cruz. And conservatives today have the great advantage as they have made the generational leap first. This time liberals will be playing catch up and defense as George Wallace's red neck followers did. They look today to Hillary Clinton only because they cannot let go. But it will be an easy shift for Elizabeth Warren (with former Virginia Senator Jim Webb, they would have the rising generation).

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Why David Petraeus should be VP in 2016

By Bernie Quigley
For The Hill on 3/27/13

If as has been widely suggested, CPAC 2016 marked a paradigm change, a generational change, a new direction of conservatism, it is possible to speculate that one that fits the new paradigm could be president in 2016. Among them: Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Texas Governor Rick Perry and Sarah Palin, all of whom starred at the CPAC convention. For any one of these, the perfect choice for VP should be David Petraeus.

Patraeus always wanted to be president. He still does. His admission to the affair was timed to the wire to get it out of the way – to publicly atone and honor his wife and enter again the path. There is no more common foible for a man his age. It happens. And Petraeus along with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates retrieved the country’s karma when we had skidded entirely off the rocks.

It had been a long time coming. The army under Tommy Franks was a mess for a long time. There hadn’t been a fight in a long time. When the snob schools in the northeast dropped ROTC it made for a South Baptist army corps and this has only now begun to repair. All these things dangerously destabilized and endangered the integrity of America. Petraeus, warrior scholar with a PhD from Princeton, began to bring it back.

Patraeus and Gates brought us back in a desperate situation. One of them, and I doubt Gates wants it, is necessary to stabilize the memory of a misbegotten war and restore order and continuity to the mind collectively. Especially if we are going to see big changes ahead as Cruz and Paul promise, Petrause as VP would assure America and help keep the keel in the water.

Patraeus is not part of the new thinking of Paul, the libertarians, and the young conservatives of CPAC 2013 – “states rights, sound money, constitutional  government.” The general’s job is to stabilize and execute ideas already awakened and bring them forward, as Washington did with Hamilton, Grant with Lincoln and Eisenhower with Roosevelt. The combination of innovator/warrior – some management types call it the Merlin/Arthur combination - is possibly the most creative and successful management constellation.

There can be no doubt that Rand Paul and Ted Cruz bring exciting new idea to America. But as Rick Perry has said, the president’s first job is national defense - so much else can be deferred to the states in the view of Jackson and Jefferson, but not national defense. A military figure with the status of  Petraeus would make this case. A general as VP would reassure the public that the rebel libertarians are not going to dismantle America. Rand Paul is not his father. Patraeus as his VP would assure the public.  And for the others as well.

Monday, March 25, 2013

A soldiers’ forum on Iraq: Bring in Wes Clark, Jim Webb and Larry Wilkerson

By Bernie Quigley
For The Hill on 3/25/13

At least we’re winning on the Fox Evening news . . . Dad’s gonna kill me. – from Richard Thompson’s driving 2007 ballad on the war in Iraq

Again and again the apologists, those who have not already escaped retribution to the academy or the “think” tank, make the claim that no one challenged the nefarious triumvirate of Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and especially George W. Bush although the lies and deceptions were apparent to all. Let’s be specific about the NY Times editors, the Fox news commentators, the appeasing Congressmen and Senators then and now. Lets’ put their pictures on milk cartons.

This week in ten-years hindsight there are many questions asked by journalists and much apologia. There will be many more and much concerned hang-wringing because again, as in the war on Vietnam we, the Americans, did not win. This should not slip away now to denial, to a refusal to take responsibility with pretty blond on blond journalists mindfully agreeing and disagreeing with one another with little bottles of water in their hands. Journalists and editors and Senators and Congressmen specifically bear responsibility for this failure of the American heart and mind. I propose no general absolution and the questions asked be not from other journalists or vaulted senior statesmen of journalism and cardinals of the media’s college, but by veterans of Iraq combat. And the questions asked as Hemingway asked, starting with this one: “Did you every kill a man in anger?” Or have you ever lost a child – a daughter – in combat? Because that is burden we asked our soldiers bear in another war that we did not win. 

Some of the apologia is absolutely stunning. My thought is that we never ever had an impulse to win, but only to punish make a noise in tribal retribution, our soldiers only pawns in another Beltway game. The Huffington Post reports 3/24/13: “Greg Mitchell, author of a recently updated book on media mistakes during the run-up to the Iraq War, So Wrong For So Long, revealed Saturday night on his blog that the Washington Post's Outlook section had killed an assigned piece related to the press debacle that was slated for publication this weekend.”

In all of the press apologies I have read there was never a mention of four whom I followed closely at the time who gave precise predictions on the war and its aftermath: General Wesley Clark, who ran for President in 2004 in opposition to the war on Iraq, former Virginia Senator Jim Webb, who also served as Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s chief of staff and Gary Hart, former Colorado Senator and presidential candidate. These four, three of whom had distinguished military careers, virtually railed against the invasion. Let’s start with them- lets’s start with soldiers -  in a commission to investigate the origins and advancement of the war in Iraq.

Because the legacy of Vietnam is the black flag still waving in every town in America and the Rolling Thunder of Vietnam veterans who refuse to die in infamy. Those who served then know what happened in Vietnam and they know what happened to them. The women and men of Iraq combat must lead and take this issue for themselves. They must get to the core of cowardice, deception and appeasement which brought them home to ennui and deception. These veterans, the men and women of Iraq, who lost eye and limb in harm’s way must and will bring our country forward for if they do not we will not go forward.

Friday, March 22, 2013

“Can the Republican Party Recover From Iraq?”: Can America?: Bush, Israel, Rick Perry

By Bernie Quigley
For The Hill on 3/22/13

Ten years after the invasion of Iraq the only prominent loyalists are Weekly Standard’s William Kristol and his neocon posse. Interestingly, all the prominent papers and media like the Washington Post and The News Hour with Jim Lehrer which followed like a flock of pigeons have ten-years later demurred. They should clear the decks now and retreat in infamy.

Peggy Noonan asks today in the Wall Street Journal if the Republican Party can recover from Iraq. Partially. We start again with the Pauls. The better question is can America recover. Yes, but a new America – Rand Paul’s, Judge Andrew Napolitano’s and even Sarah Palin’s has already emerged. And at CPAC 2013 this month it established dominance.

The optional questions here are: Can the Bush apparatus survive? Can Israel? The conservative establishment and its MSM sycophants push New Jersey Governor Chris Christie today as the stealth candidate for Jeb Bush. It is absolutely imperative for the third Bush, who made such vague impressions at CPAC 2013, to take the presidency in 2016, or as VP behind Christie, to legitimize the nefarious failure of press, Congress, the people and George W.  Bush in his ill-fated and immoral invasion of Iraq. Without Jeb, the family legacy is lost.

But the Bush/Rove Popular Front is not holding up. The more lasting symptom of the tragic events is the rumor that Israel pulls the strings of the American state department and it was Israel which instigated the invasion. But the influence of American sympathizers for Israel occurred just as Israel itself was entering a quantum shift in consciousness due to its fraught relationship with America going back to Carter, the Clinton administration and the Oslo Accords. Moshe Feiglin, who was sentenced to prison for civil disobedience in opposition to the Oslo Accords, proposed in 2001 that Israel could never be a true state under obtrusive American influence. He called then for cutting off from American military aid. This year he was elected to the Knesset and following this election, a “Second Zionist Revolution” is occurring with a new generation of Israelis, bringing greater distance from American dominance.

Will America survive or be broke to pieces? All 50 states have recently registered secession requests with the federal government. They started in Vermont in 2003 in opposition to the Bush invasion. Europe broke and lost its soul in WW I after being railroaded into a tragic war. But Europe is 2000 years old and America is 200 years old. And it is not entirely clear if it has fully been born yet.

Writing on the Mexican War, U.S. Grant wrote, “We were sent to provoke a fight . . .”

“Once initiated there were but few public men who would have the courage to oppose it.” And experience proved to him that “the man who obstructs a war in which his nation is engaged, no matter whether right or wrong, occupies no enviable place in life or history.”

Conservatives should turn to its governors now, especially in the big states, as they had no stake in the fight and can begin the world again from scratch. Especially those who conform to the new thinking – “states rights, sound money, constitutional government” – because it is the pure legacy of political awakened.

Conservatives should look to Texas Governor Rick Perry, who shook the walls at CPAC; a “man ahead of his times” says the National Journal this week. Perry was there first with the new thinking and his book, “Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington” has become the handbook for action in both liberal and conservative states – states like Michigan where the legislature has voted to nullify NDAA.

Because pure and simple, the destruction of Baghdad was a revenge kill, much like the sacking of Atlanta and the nuking of Hiroshima,  and it served no other purpose. It was the price of 9/11 and 75% of Americans endorsed it at the time. It forever changes our place in the outside world, but it may have awakened us here at home.