Obama, Gary Johnson and the “cool” vote

The Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore reports that Gary Johnson hopes he can steal the “cool” vote from President Obama. I met former New Mexico Governor Johnson up here briefly when he signed the book to enter the New Hampshire primary. My conversation with him was mostly about Tuckerman’s Ridge which he hoped to master again on his brief visit. He brought to mind friends middle aged and late up here in the New Hampshire mountains who the Yankees consider to be kind of local mountain kami – indigenous mountain spirits – attractive, intelligent and disciplined itinerants who live on the highest peaks and work as master carpenters and stone masons in the warm seasons. But the work stops when the snow arrives and real life begins again. We were mostly alone in conversation as the crowd had gathered to greet Texas Governor Rick Perry about 20 feet away when someone noticed that Johnson was here too, over there with one friend in the corner. Who, someone asked? And it took some explanation. He is definitely “cool.” Even as cool as Barack Obama.

Since the Fifties when Norman Mailer shared cocktails with Midge Decter and Norman Podhoretz and the latter left New York to design their own political aesthetic in Washington, Republicans have conjured a distinctly anti-cool ethic. Cool is said to have originated in 1957 when Miles Davis released an album titled “Birth of the Cool” – like John Coltrane’s “Blue Train” in the same year – classics today. But when these conservatives shifted south, anything which suggested cool was bad. The conservatives’ anti-cool ethic today is fully embodied by the current Republican ticket which not surprising suggests two Mormons in black suit on a church mission. Counter-cool has found its avatar in Paul Ryan who proudly seems to have read one book, Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged.” Brings to mind the Reagan quip: Someone bought a Christmas present for Ronald Reagan. What did they get him, it goes? A book. But he already has a book!


Does America still need a president?

California headed toward “nation state” status when it moved to link its carbon markets with Québec’s. But as Douglas A. Kysaw and Webb Lyons report in the Huffington Post, as much as California may envision itself a global player, “the fact remains that it is a state, and as such operates under a set of constitutional restraints that limit its involvement on the international stage.”

Has the American Presidency become an anachronism? Does centralized government today hinder the progress of mature states like California? Ours has become a government of political tribes and generations, not states – that idea was killed in 1913 by the 17th Amendment. But centralized government may soon become a thing of the past. Tea Party is not just for us New Hampshire hillbillies any more. Arnold Schwarzenegger and New Jersey’s governor Chris Christie have signing on.

California and Quebec ignore both American and Canadian governments and go ahead together as free states and regions. As governor, Schwarzenegger pioneered this approach.

Schwarzenegger declared California to be the modern equivalent of the ancient Athens and Sparta. “‘We have the economic strength, we have the population and the technological force of a nation-state,” he said in his inaugural address. “We are a good and global commonwealth.”


A century of states’ rights ahead: Who will take Montana?

States rights’, states’ rights, states’ rights . . .! – Texas Governor Rick Perry, April 16, 2009, at The Alamo

A Zen history or anthropology of current times can be drawn on events that have occurred in the past three years, which will undoubtedly change our American world, possibly for a century or two.

Three historic events have occurred and one was iconic: Speaker Nancy Pelosi in October, 2009, shouting, her face contorted in disbelief, at a reporter when asked if there were any Constitutional problems with Obamacare.  “Are you serious,” she replied?  The idea apparently never dawned on her or her Congress.

But just before that, in February, 2009, New Hampshire state Rep. Frank Itse proposed that New Hampshire need not participate in Obamacare, citing Thomas Jefferson’s Kentucky Resolutions. Twenty-nine states followed, held fast, and brought their case to the Supreme Court. Nowhere in the past century did states block together so convincingly.

The third came this week, when President Obama used his “bully pulpit” to endorse same sex marriage. Thirty states had already brought preemptive legislation in opposition. This time the states were ahead of history.

The states that approve of same sex marriage are either in the upper top right corner of the country (the very old Europeanish states), or the far left (their playground). The vast center (the newer states; some like those in Comanche territory, very new) is universally united in opposition to same sex marriage, and it is these same states which oppose Obamacare. We can see formed by now what might be called the Three Americas, the artsy west edge, the grungy,  post-industrial, northeast, which seems and feels now like all the people with money have moved to Singapore, and then the middle. How closely this resembles an ancient pattern of Rome on one corner, artsy Athens in a far corner. And Gaul rising between the two in the center.

As I recall from seminary school, the Gauls were the bravest of the three.


Imagine America and England without the Revolution

Historic time presents us with a riddle, one which I have thought about more so since my family moved to the northern part of New Hampshire. What would America be like without the American Revolution?

Possibly much like it is today.

Most of my neighbors got here migrating downward from Quebec during the industrial period. But a surprising number migrating north to what is today Canada during the American Revolution, then heading back to work a hundred years later. Consider what Hitler might have felt when he drove his troops into Paris on June 14, 1940. Americans held still for two years against their French allies in the Revolution. Why would they bother to defend their natural enemy, England? But aid we did, and we culturally rebonded with England via the invasion of France with both our armies.

In the end, we were naturally closer to England than we were to France. So suppose they had just worked out the tax thing together in 1776? Both the Revolution and World Wars I and II on England’s behalf could have been avoided. A diminished post-Victorian British Empire must have seemed an easy target and the Germany navy smelled blood in the water as early as the Queen’s Jubilee in 1897 when Victoria was in her last years. But would the Kaiser and Hitler have dared to challenge a realm as vast as a unified Anglosphere?


New buzz words: “States rights and sound money”

Anyone working around Washington, D.C. 30 years back will recall the phrase “leadership and excellence.” Buzz words and a rising anthem for a new generation of men in yellow power ties. Until Bill and Ted started greeting people, “Be excellent to one another!” The phrase became so tiresome that James A. Baker, who worked at the White House, rigged the computers so that they would balk when anyone used the word “excellent.” Then overnight it flipped. Women’s garments with shoulder pads replaced the yellow ties and power lunches and when Bill Clinton entered the White House the “leadership and excellence” generation was replaced by the “diversity and globalization” generation. Good bye to all that and to Al Gore too and Lady Gaga. The storied Fourth Generation has arrived with The Hunger Games. We are going to need some new buzz words. How about “States rights and sound money”?

Tom Brokow, Al Gore and many others have written about a book titled “The Fourth Turning” which explains the cycles of history through generations. Economist Harry Dent does this as well and makes accurate projections on economy using demographics, but the Strauss & Howe people use archetypes. Tricky stuff, archetypes, “which used to be called gods,” said C.G. Jung, who brought the idea to practice. In a word, generations alternate: If one generation adores Dwight Eisenhower, the next will turn to The Beatles. And at the end of 65 years it will all fall apart (between 2013 and 2015 says Dent). Then a hero, like Katniss, and a heroic generation will arise like a Phoenix out of destruction and awaken the world again.

The Fourth Generation has its Gray Champion. An elder who stands in the middle of the road and says, “No more.” Felt I heard that voice when I was waiting to get my car repaired about five years ago and heard on Fox in the waiting room: “Upton Sinclair said that when America became a fascist country it would be calling itself Christian and wrapped in an American flag.” Ron Paul speaking.


A New age of Jefferson: How will the world respond to American decentralization?

The optimists on Charlie Rose last Wednesday night said the Supreme Court vote would likely preserve Obamacare. Turning back the way of life since FDR seems unrealistic. The war of ideas between centralization and decentralization is supposed to have been settled at Cemetery Ridge. But this is not over. Senator Mike Lee of Utah said 5-4 turning back the Obama initiative.

Pundits say it is as important as Brown v. Board of Education. It is a good comparison in that, yes, what the Court rules will change America. I felt the best perspective was in an editorial, “Bracing for the Court” in the New York Sun. They compare the challenge today to an appeal to the Supreme Court in 1935 by a family of kosher butchers, challenged the constitutionality of the National Industrial Recovery Act, which was the centerpiece of the New Deal. They appealed to the Supreme Court on much the same grounds as the states are now making their appeal on health care.

But consider the scope of the challenge to centralization then and that of today. This is not a challenge from a family of kosher butchers in Brooklyn. The challenge to centralization today comes from 26 states. It goes beyond Brown v Board of Education and past Schechter Poultry v. U.S. It goes to our very beginnings.


“Free the American West”: But western lands could trigger revolt

The Hill’s John Feehery asks the important question: Is this election about revolution or restoration? Since April, 2009 when Texas Governor Rick Perry chanted “ . . . states’ rights, states’ rights, states’ rights!!!” at the Alamo, it’s been on people’s minds. Perry, Gingrich, Santorum, Bachmann, Paul have tendencies.

Revolt needs philosophers like Ron Paul, distinguished supporters like Perry, passionate advocates like Sarah Palin, warrior ascetics like Alaska’s Joe Miller and even mad hatters like Glenn Beck. But most a revolt needs casus belli; a singular cause that bonds to purpose. Otherwise, there is no rebellion. There is an issue today that qualifies: Land.

“Whose land is it,” Connor Boyack, Director, Utah Tenth Amendment Center, asks in The Daily Caller? “Has the federal government become so arrogant as to claim ownership of the land over which it has jurisdiction? Put differently, does the United States of America exist to protect and defend the property of each individual living within its borders, or to own and control that property itself? This is not a theoretical question reserved for intellectual banter. It is a real question pondered often, especially by those in western regions where the majority of land is owned and regulated by the federal government. Although the federal government owns less than 10% of almost every eastern state, it owns large swaths of the West: 65% of the land in Utah, 83% of Nevada, 63% of Idaho, 45% of Arizona, 44% of California and similar percentages of the surrounding western states.”

We never consider it back east, but demographics bring it. Slightly more than one hundred years back the western regions were virtually empty, struggling for a purchase under a Comanche moon. Today, those who prioneered there might want to make their own determinations.


Free New England: Repudiate The National Defense Authorization Act

New England was a Jeffersonian region of independent-minded yeoman farmers and free-thinking, independents before the Civil War. We lost that earthy colloquialism to the abstraction of federalism after teaming up for the conquest of the west and the South in 1857 and 1865, and again to globalism after the conquest of Europe and Asia in…


Free Kansas

The “revolution in a corn field” that is happening today in Governor Sam Brownback’s Kansas is potentially as important as what happened here in 1776. Because in the last two years the states have learned that they don’t have to do what the federal government tells them to do. They can think for themselves and govern themselves, just as Dorothy promised.

As the Washington Post reports with an excellent article titled “In Kansas, Gov. Sam Brownback puts tea party tenets into action with sharp cuts”: “If you want to know what a Tea Party America might look like, there is no place like Kansas. In the past year, three state agencies have been abolished and 2,050 jobs have been cut. Funding for schools, social services and the arts have been slashed. The new Republican governor rejected a $31.5 million federal grant for a new health-insurance exchange because he opposes President Obama’s health-care law. And that’s just the small stuff.”