July 14, 2000


The hopes of the Anti-Buchanan Brigade are pinned on one man: John Hagelin, the presidential candidate of the "Natural Law Party" – who has somehow managed to get on the Reform Party presidential primary ballot. He is running on a platform of universal training in the art of "yogic levitation" – as a follower of the Maharishi Maheesh Yogi, Hagelin and his followers believe that they can levitate (and cure all diseases) through the power of meditation. Of course, the Path to True Enlightenment could cost you as much as $100,000 – that's what they charge for a full course of instruction into the higher mysteries of Transcendental Meditation – but hey, what the heck, money's no object when it comes to gettin' a piece of the Godhead. What would the "Harvard trained" Hagelin do about Kosovo? Send "coherence teams" to the area to chant the natives into a state of transcendental bliss. The KLA would be so stoned on the good vibes emanating from the TMers that they'll forget all about their four-hundred-year old grudge against the Serbs and will suddenly turn as tractable as little lambs. Now why didn't Clinton think of that? Oh well, it's better than dropping cluster bombs at 30,000 feet.


In his calculated nuttiness, Hagelin is the natural candidate of the Anti-Buchanan Brigades – a gruesome gaggle of "yogic flyers," followers of the leftwing psycho-cultists Lenora Fulani and Fred Newman, and a dwindling band of Perotistas without Perot. Led by Jim Mangia, the Reform party national secretary (but not for long), and stage-managed by Foolani and her robotic minions, the Hate Buchanan faction of Reform has held a press conference every other day: when they aren't threatening violence (Mangia has said he expects the national convention to be "a bloodbath") they are touting their own "tolerance" and the political correctness of their candidate. Hagelin is held up as the only alternative to Buchanan, whom they invariably describe in mono-dimensional terms as a "social conservative." Hagelin accuses Buchanan of being "divisive" and "hateful" and poses as a social liberal. But what is the real ideology of the Natural Law Party, whose spokesman Rob Roth has described as "the Transcendental Meditation party"? The Vedic scriptures from which the TM/Natural Law crowd draws its ideology are not exactly a product of the European Enlightenment. Never mind the Buchananites: we know about them. What about the Natural Law Party? Are they really levitating liberals?


Airbone reactionaries is more like it. It turns out the TMers are somewhat to the right of Buchanan on such issues as abortion, homosexuality, the family, and the role of women. The "Laws of Manu" which are the Holy Bible of the TMers, condemns women who "cause an abortion" and considers it a sin on a par with a wife killing her husband. If Hagelin is now claiming to be "pro-choice," he must have gotten a special dispensation from the Maharishi. But one can only wonder if the Giggling Guru – as the Maharishi is called, for his annoying habit of giggling "blissfully" while dropping pearls of divine wisdom – can afford to give him much more leeway on a whole host of other issues on which the Vedas are quite explicit. On homosexuality, for example, Jim Mangia will be chagrined to learn that his new-found allies are not about to sponsor a float in the Gay Freedom Day Parade. According to the text that is sacred to virtually all Natural Law Party members:

"A twice-born man who commits an unnatural offence with a male, or has intercourse with a female in a cart drawn by oxen, in water, or in the day-time, shall bathe, dressed in his clothes."


So Hagelin and the flying carpeteers agree with Buchanan that homosexuality is an "unnatural act." Naturally, the openly gay Mangia, who likes to whine about Buchanan's "gaybashing," has no problem with this – since Hagelin keeps his "homophobia" in the closet, so to speak. If Mangia shows up in Long Beach drenched to the skin in his best suit, we'll know he's converted – but then again we always knew he was all wet.

Yeah, those TMers sure hate queers. If you think the punishment for "unnatural acts" is just a good-natured soaking, then getta loada this:

"Giving pain to a Brahmana (by a blow), smelling at things which ought not to be smelt at, or at spirituous liquor, cheating, and an unnatural offence with a man, are declared to cause the loss of caste (Gatibhramsa)."


Smelling at things that ought not to be smelled at? No, no, we don't want to go there – in any case, no matter how you look at it, things don't look too good for the Gay Caucus of the Natural Law Party. And the feminists aren't going to fare too well, either. According to the Laws of Manu, which Hagelin and his fellow levitators hold up as the equivalent of natural law, "Though destitute of virtue, or seeking pleasure (elsewhere), or devoid of good qualities, (yet) a husband must be constantly worshipped as a god by a faithful wife." Now that is harsh. Buchanan, as a Catholic of the traditionalist mold, is not big on divorce, but he is a veritable pussycat compared to the swamis.


Virtually every news story on Hagelin neglects to describe the candidate's views other than in very vague terms: he is simply the Anti-Buchanan, and Transcendental Meditation is mentioned only in passing if at all. These same stories echo every complaint, every accusation, every soundbite retailed by the wrecking crew that is out to derail Buchanan and the Reform party, all to the same effect: Buchanan is a "social conservative" – period. He has no other views, if we are to believe Mangia, Fulani, and the rest. But these people – particularly Fulani – discredited themselves by latching on to the flying fruitloops and their loopy candidate, Hagelin. What is funny, in a pathetic kind of way, is that they didn't even bother to investigate whom or what they were getting in bed with – like whores in a crack house, they were ready to do anything for the first one to stick a pipe in their mouths.


A previous edition of this column erroneously reported that Rob Roth, the Natural Law Party press secretary, had been a member of the Weather Underground in the sixties, went underground, and was on the FBI's "wanted" list. This turns out not to have been the case, and I want to take this opportunity to publically apologize to him. The two guys were the same age, had the same middle initial, and from their pictures I could have sworn it was the same guy: It wasn't. I am red-faced -- but perfectly willing to set the record straight. I talked to Roth on the phone this morning, and he seems like a nice guy. I hope there are no hard feelings, Bob. Please accept my humble apologies.


What really gets me is that Hagelin has been demanding that Buchanan debate him – and can you imagine that? I can see it all now: Hagelin would start in about how we need to send teams of TM meditators to sing mantras to the Kosovars, and get them signed up for few courses in yogic flying. Can't you just hear PJB's triumphant laugh, at once good-natured and disdainful? "Are you suggesting that we should get rid of our air force?"


The practice of "yogic flying," Hagelin and the TMers claim, is achieved by deep meditation: one reaches such a state of concentrated enlightenment that one is literally carried away by the sheer power of it, lifted straight up into the air. They claim to be able to do this, and Hagelin's followers say they have photographs supposedly proving it. What they actually do, however, is bounce up and down on their haunches, launching themselves into the air in short (and, I imagine, rather painful) bursts: they are prone to injuries in certain parts of their anatomy, often severe, as a result. Another drawback is that their brains rattle around inside their skulls, bumping into the hard cranium with such force that they begin to lose brain cells almost as quickly as they lose most of their money to the Maharishi to pay for courses, magical "teas," and special mantras. But the national media has been squinting so hard that they have been taken in by the "yogic flying" illusion. Instead of wacked-out cultists whose politics have a sinister neo-medievalist cast, they see socially liberal "centrists" righteously appalled by Buchanan's views on abortion, homosexuality, and other hot-button issues. The near-sightedness of American journalism is no secret: they see what they want to see, nothing more.


A band of political hucksters and con-men (and women: I didn't mean to slight you, Lenora) is trying to take over the Reform party and split up the public campaign funds between them. The Maharishi's minions in other countries have taken up the same line as the Natural Law Party, with some success, and that is the use of state funds to spread their religious beliefs, i.e. the alleged benefits, including medical benefits, of TM. Fulani, too, has been implicated by her numerous critics in questionable schemes involving federal matching funds, and so these two weird cults – one based on a mix of Marxism and the psychological theories of an obscure Russian crank, and the other based on a hybrid of Hindu fundamentalism and the ravings of an Indian crank – have joined forces with Jim Mangia and other would be Reform Party bosses. A couple of rip-off artists, and the embittered remnants of a party that was never allowed to get off the ground – this is the alleged "centrist alternative" to Buchanan. The "scientific" Marxism of Lenora Fulani meets the blissful beatitude of the Giggling Guru Hagelin, the physicist who is a mystic, is the perfect embodiment of this cultic alliance: the scientist on a flying carpet.

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