There seems no exit now from the “monster of Monticello” — the headline that blazoned across the unbearably light op-ed pages of The New York Times not long ago. Not since George III has there been such a deep and venomous chant hurled at Jefferson, the father of American vision and transcendence. And coming from these thin reeds — Bono visits these pages on occasion — it brings palpitations. The piece was soon followed by another op-ed proposing America acknowledge that the U.S. Constitution is filled with “archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions,” and we should extricate ourselves from its bondage and move toward an “unwritten constitution,” like that of Britain. Got the picture. And New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, from one of the newer royal New York families, says he intends to ban guns there and other states will follow. Note to the young prince: I’ve been to the other states. Probably Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont will follow. Most of the others pack.
State & Local Politics
I have a confession.
I was born and raised in California. I was educated in the state, and attended the University of Southern California.
I have spent decades defending the state against the charge that it is the land of flakes and nuts.
But there is a reason why California has become a national laughingstock.
Angus King may be the most important and influential of Virginians to travel north to us since Bronson Alcott brought up his doctrine of “inner light” and passed it on to Emerson and Thoreau. There is today on the op-ed pages of The New York Times a profile of him by Jennifer Finney Boylan that compares Maine’s former governor, who is running as an Independent for the Senate seat being vacated by Olympia Snowe (R), to Maine's Joshua Chamberlain, who singlehandedly held off the Confederates at Gettysburg. It brought the critical turning to the Civil War and you could therefore say that Chamberlain brought forth with arms the modern age.
California heads toward "nation-state" status as it moves to link its carbon markets with Quebec’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 might become a thing of the past. Tea Party is not just for us New Hampshire hillbillies any more. Arnold Schwarzenegger and New Jersey’s Gov. Chris Christie are signing on.
“I’ll be back.” – The Terminator
California is the land of second chances. Too bad Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn’t get one. There was perhaps never a better match between man and place in the new world than Arnold Schwarzenegger and California. He might today be considered to have been well ahead of his time. He urged California to go its own way. The federal government hovering like a UFO overhead often seemed to him a useless nuisance. Arnold has recently started his own world called R20, an organization of regions united in climate action which completely ignores fixed national and international boundaries. Imagine a world born again of original, authentic sovereign regions instead of those inherited from generations past and drawn from ancient contention, some beyond even our human memory.
“States rights’, states’ rights, states’ rights!” — Texas Gov. 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 that 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 had never, possibly in decades, dawned on her or her Congress. But just before, in February 2009, New Hampshire state Rep. Dan 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 bloc 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 pre-emptive legislation in opposition. This time the states were ahead of history.
It’s almost Mother’s Day, a time when we celebrate mothers in all shapes, sizes and forms — from birth mother to foster mother to adoptive mother, Jewish mother, Italian mother (etc., etc.); we celebrate Mamas, Mamacitas, Aunts who ought to be included in the group, godmothers and my personal favorite, grandmothers. According to the laws of one state and measures proposed in a handful of others, I suppose I too could be considered a mother.
As the cliché goes, thanks to the wonders of modern science, I’m the owner of a few wonders-of-modern-science frozen embryos. As biological motherhood has evaded me for years now, this option was suggested when it became apparent pregnancy would not be as easy as 1-2-3. These multicellular diploid eukaryotes are precious indeed, not necessarily for what they are now but for what they could be. But they are not people, and I can tell you that I am not yet, despite my best efforts, a mother.
Or am I?
Forget the speech at the Republican convention. Let Gingrich have it. Ron Paul now needs a greater, more responsive forum. The Ron Paul Revolution has awakened. The Hill reports yesterday that Ron Paul supporters are taking over state party organizations across the country — and that could spell trouble for Mitt Romney and other establishment Republicans come election time. (Note: Yesterday in The Daily Caller Ann Coulter had an essay titled “Deport the Republican establishment.” She is the “Republican establishment.”)
“Paul backers have seized control of the Iowa Republican Party and gained influential roles in Nevada and a number of other states,” says The Hill. “While some are loyal Republicans who happen to hold more libertarian views, others are more strident Paul supporters who are less interested in helping Romney and other more mainstream Republicans get elected in November.”
Jim Webb, novelist, warrior and senator, leaves the Senate this year. Man of honor, man of contrasts. He is a man as comfortable in the redneck hollers as he is among South Asia’s Buddhist sangas. We have not seen his likes since Davy Crockett graced the halls of Congress. But he shouldn’t go too far as he is still a good fit for the times. Liberals tend to dislike Wall Street. Conservatives dislike Washington. Jim dislikes both. I’ve been hoping he would run for governor of Virginia. Then governor of Appalachia might be a better fit.
The Hill’s John Feehery asks the important question: Is this election about revolution or restoration? Since April 2009, when Texas Gov. Rick Perry chanted, “States’ rights, states’ rights, states’ rights!” at the Alamo, it’s been on people’s minds. Perry, Gingrich, Santorum, Bachmann and 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 of all 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.