Saturday, August 25, 2007
DVD of Man in Black's '60s-era TV show is testament to his philosophy of peace and unity.
By Robert Hilburn
Los Angeles Times
August 21, 2007
The first-ever DVD drawn from Johnny Cash's landmark 1969-71 TV series would be a pop treasure even if it only offered performances by such celebrated guests as Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Louis Armstrong and Merle Haggard.
But "The Best of the Johnny Cash TV Show," a two-disc package that will be released Sept. 18 by CMV/Columbia/Legacy, delivers far more.
Louis Armstrong with Johnny Cash
You realize the larger ambition of the collection when the first images on the disc aren't musicians but scenes from a Southeast Asian battlefield.
"While a war in Vietnam divided America, a revolution on television brought us all back together," explains a narrator, who goes on to cite examples of the social and political upheaval of the late '60s. "Through it all, one man served as the ultimate ambassador."
That man, of course, was Cash, who brought both an uncommon sense of musical integrity and social consciousness to the weekly ABC show. By showcasing gifted artists who cut across generational and racial lines, Cash sought to use the cleansing power of music to help unify and heal the greatly divided nation.
"John approached the series with an absolute sense of mission," says Lou Robin, the late singer's longtime manager. Indeed, Cash made sure before agreeing to host the series that he would have the freedom to book musicians, regardless of musical genre -- not just familiar, mainstream figures that ratings-happy network executives might favor.
And Cash tested that power by inviting Dylan to appear on the opening telecast.
While that move would seem a brilliant coup today, Dylan in 1969 was aligned with the youthful counterculture -- meaning he might alienate older, conservative country music fans who presumably were the TV show's target audience. Just six years earlier, CBS censors had prohibited Dylan from singing "Talkin' John Birch Society Blues" on Ed Sullivan's variety show.
ABC-TV executives weren't apparently thrilled by Cash's choice, but they gave him the green light, and Dylan, quite fittingly, is the opening performer on the new DVD. He does an acoustic version of the country-ish "I Threw It All Away" and then teams with Cash on "Girl From the North Country."
While those and other clips have appeared on YouTube and in bootlegs, this is the first time the Cash show has been featured on an authorized home video, and it's a triumphant slice American pop culture.
More than two dozen of the 65 performances were also shown in a recent PBS special, but with little of the cultural context that makes the DVD so notable. The set was produced and directed by Michael Borofsky.
"The Best of the Johnny Cash TV Show"
The back story: Kris Kristofferson, whose "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down" was one of Cash's signature hits, has long cited Cash a personal hero.
"John was an exciting and inspiring writer and performer who was committed to fighting for the underdog, the common guy. . . sort of like Woody Guthrie," Kristofferson said by phone. "The same was true of the TV show. There were people arguing with him about things like the songs he should do and the lyrics he should use.
"I was there when someone objected to the words 'wishing Lord that I was stoned' in 'Sunday Mornin' and he thought it might offend someone or something. I said I was against cutting the line because it was the heart of the song, and John just listened to us both."
Kristofferson, who narrates part of the new package, was sitting in the balcony the night of the show, not knowing if Cash was going to sing his song.
"I would have understood if for the sake of the show John had to sacrifice the song," he said. "But he did sing it, and when he got to the line, he looked up at me where I was sitting in the balcony and sort of smiled. You can imagine how thrilled I was."
The series consisted of 58 episodes, so this four-hour set includes only highlights, but the lineup is extraordinary. It includes several musicians who would eventually join Cash in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, including Creedence Clearwater Revival (performing "Bad Moon Rising") and Neil Young ("The Needle and the Damage Done"), as well as others who would be honored with him in the Country Music Hall of Fame, including George Jones ("She Thinks I Still Care") and Tammy Wynette ("Stand By Your Man").
The music: The Dylan performance may be the most celebrated moment in the DVD, but two of the most moving may well be Louis Armstrong's teaming with Cash on a classic Jimmie Rodgers tune, "Blue Yodel No. 9," and Cash's rendition of "Man in Black."
Rodgers, the father of modern country music and one of Cash's biggest influences, recorded "Blue Yodel" with Armstrong on trumpet in 1930 in Hollywood -- one of the first integrated recording sessions in country music. By celebrating that moment on the TV show, Cash wasn't just saluting one of his heroes but subtly underscoring his message of unity and tolerance.
Later in the set, Cash chats with college students about the nation's values, and he ends up debuting on the show a song he wrote to explain some of his own feelings.
The lyrics, in part, from "Man in Black":
Well, there's things that never will be right I know,
And things need changin' everywhere you go.
But 'til we start to make a move to make a few things right,
You'll never see me wear a suit of white.
Nearly 40 years after Cash's boldness in bringing together young and old, country, rock and R&B performers, "The Best of the Johnny Cash TV Show" illuminates the liberating spirit of this invaluable American artist. He was never just a "star."
Backtracking, a biweekly feature, highlights CD reissues and other historical pop music items.
August 25, 2007
Mosque in Whitechapel, east London
Western Europe has a Muslim problem, and it is particularly acute in Great Britain, which is more intimately linked to constitutional traditions and procedures. The French are quietly aghast at the presence of 5 million Muslims in their midst and are endeavoring to cope. But that is a country which is enjoying (or accommodating) its Fifth Republic. If a Sixth Republic were introduced in the years ahead, one would not think the event mortally destabilizing.
In Britain the situation is different. For one thing, we have there the mother of parliaments, which has weathered tumult and war and devolution, without any sense that the vital organs of British life had been anachronized. Consider only the monarchy. It is easy to think of it as Punch and Judy, but it is more than that, never mind the annus horribilis about which the queen complained. And that year was followed by others in which she breathed a sigh of relief when a member of the royal family was not divorcing, renouncing a title or dying in a French tunnel with her lover.
Forget all of that. What would never happen anywhere in the world, if the queen were to appear, is a failure to curtsy or, however slightly, to bow one's head.
What we have, said a British patriot in one of the darkest days of World War II, is "the British way of life." That way of life is ever so vulnerable if examined under lacerating glass, and indeed that is exactly what happens every week at the Oxford and Cambridge Unions, where the students tear themselves and their country to pieces for a noisy evening and then submit decorously to the ruling of the union's president, and get on with the British way of life.
But the threat to it is not, this time around, in the shape of a continental army threatening invasion or Nazi bombers darkening the sky. The threat now is the Muslim immigration. There are fewer Muslims in Britain than in France -- 2 million -- but that's still a lot. For many years Britain faced the problem of its commitment to members of its empire: Any citizen could leave Malaysia or Pakistan or India or Jamaica and simply show up, declaring himself a British resident. That problem was hotly debated in the days of Enoch Powell, when he insisted, departing England for a constituency in Northern Ireland, that some limits had to be observed or the British way of life would disappear.
The crisis is focusing now on the schools. The Muslim community has demanded its own schools. Wherein what, exactly, will be taught?
There are many interpreters of the true meaning of the commandments of the Qu'ran. But among them are men and women who are prepared to end their own lives for the satisfaction of defying the British way of life. Four such persons, in the summer of 2005, attached themselves to bombs and blew up handy British targets, including three Underground trains.
What one got then from assorted imams, and continues to get now, is reverent disapprovals of incidental killings as contrary to the faith. But in the name of jihad -- holy war -- such homilies against murder and arson are satellized by the dominant commands of the Quran to make war against infidels.
One hears exactly what one would expect from British authorities. The new prime minister, Gordon Brown, spoke at his first news conference of the "importance we attach to nonviolence." That attachment makes unpalatable "the extreme message of those who practice violence and would maim and murder citizens on British soil."
You said a mouthful, prime minister. But it is time for the mother of parliaments to look unruly, unassimilable creeds in the face and say: No more.
Oddly, the British way of life tolerates an established religion. In the end, the English are not hampered by toplofty commitments to freedom of speech and of conscience. Still, when the United States was seriously inconvenienced by our commitment to freedom of religion, we found means to handle Mormon polygamy. All the world waits to see how Parliament handles this threat to the British way of life.
Friday, August 24, 2007
August 24, 2007
I have mentioned before Clive James’ book of mini-essays on intellectuals of the last hundred years, Cultural Amnesia. He really does not like Jean-Paul Sartre, who was lionized by so many for so long. James blames Sartre’s prewar period in Berlin, and especially the influence of Heidegger.
“In Sartre’s style of argument, German metaphysics met French sophistry in a kind of European Coal and Steel Community producing nothing but rhetorical gas.” But wait, he is just warming up. “[Sartre] might have known that he was debarred by nature from telling the truth for long about anything that mattered, because telling the truth was something that ordinary men did, and his urge to be extraordinary was, for him, more of a motive force than merely to see the world as it was.”
Sartre was a fervent communist to the end, denying or belittling the atrocities committed by Stalin, Mao, and their lesser imitators. As odiously, he made his peace with the Vichy regime and then, after the war, claimed to be a hero of the Resistance and set himself up as a grand inquisitor indicting intellectuals whom he thought had been less than heroic.
“Heidegger and Sartre were only pretending to deal with existence, because each of them was in outright denial of his own experience, and therefore had a vested interest in separating existence from facts.” “Working by a sure instinct for bogus language, a non-philosopher like George Orwell could call Sartre’s political writings a heap of beans, but there were few professional thinkers anywhere who found it advisable to dismiss Sartre’s air of intelligence: there was too great a risk of being called unintelligent themselves. Effectivement—to resurrect a French word that was worked to death at the time—Sartre was called profound because he sounded as if he was either that or nothing, and few cared to say that they thought him nothing.”
And to think that I have been called—rarely, but from time to time—a polemicist.
From left, Tommy Potter, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and John Coltrane at Birdland, the New York nightclub named after Parker, in 1951.
By NATE CHINEN
The New York Times
Published: August 24, 2007
In “Bird Alone,” one of the terse and symbolically charged songs Abbey Lincoln chose to revisit on her recent album “Abbey Sings Abbey” (Verve), there are no specific references to Charlie Parker. But any jazz fan would recognize this alto saxophonist and bebop progenitor, whose sobriquet was Bird (or Yardbird), in Ms. Lincoln’s lyrics. The airborne creature of the title is untouchable and inscrutable, “Sending mournful soulful sounds/Soaring over troubled grounds.” After gliding high and swinging low, it vanishes, leaving only a song.
Chasin’ the Bird: A Field Guide to Charlie Parker (August 24, 2007)
That image provides an apt tribute to Parker, whose mercurial genius galvanized jazz in the 1940s and ’50s, and whose influence endures more than half a century after his death. An equally fitting homage is offered by the 15th annual Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, which takes place this weekend at Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem and Tompkins Square Park in the East Village, places that bear some relevance to the life Parker led in New York.
Ms. Lincoln, who turned 77 this month, is scheduled to make a rare appearance — two in fact, one at each location — as is the veteran drummer Chico Hamilton, 85, who will perform a new composition for sextet inspired by Parker and commissioned by the festival.
And each of the concerts will surely entail a memorial to Max Roach, the pioneering drummer and close Parker associate who died last week at 83. Mr. Roach set an inventive percussive precedent that Mr. Hamilton adopted and personalized. Mr. Roach’s connection to Ms. Lincoln was more direct: In 1960 they worked together on his landmark album “We Insist! Freedom Now Suite,” and in 1962 they were married. (They divorced in 1970.)
On a fundamental level, though, the festival pays homage to Parker and his footprint in the city. In many ways he was the quintessential New York hero: a maverick and bon vivant, a subject of notoriety and myth. He loved the city, and he toasted it outright with a tune called “Scrapple From the Apple” that was recorded in a New York studio 60 years ago this fall and almost immediately became popular with musicians. (Along with a catchy melody, it had a familiar harmonic progression, with elements of Fats Waller’s “Honeysuckle Rose” and George Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm.”)
“Charlie Parker became a New Yorker,” said the jazz historian Phil Schaap, whose Parker-fixated weekday radio program, “Bird Flight,” has been heard in its current form on WKCR (89.9 FM) since 1981. “That was important to him, and he felt great about it, and he enjoyed New York nightlife as well as he dominated it for a while.”
Like so many celebrated New Yorkers Parker came from somewhere else. He was born in Kansas City, Kan., on Aug. 29, 1920, and began his musical career across the state line in Kansas City, Mo., during the waning days of its biggest nightlife boom. The depth of that experience will be a principal subject of “Kansas City Lightning: The Life and Times of the Young Charlie Parker,” a long-gestating biography by the critic Stanley Crouch due out from Pantheon next year.
Parker made his first foray to New York in 1939, on the heels of Buster Smith, his fellow saxophonist and Kansas City mentor. While crashing at Mr. Smith’s apartment, he hit jam sessions at Harlem spots like Clark Monroe’s Uptown House on West 134th Street.
“The only place he could really meet musicians who were going to help him realize his goals would have been New York, and specifically Harlem at that time,” the saxophonist and historian Loren Schoenberg said recently by phone from the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, where he is executive director. The museum’s August programming has been pointedly Parker-centric; next Tuesday the final lecture of the month takes place at the Harlem School of the Arts.
Lore has it that Parker’s initial Harlem sojourn included toiling as a dishwasher at Jimmy’s Chicken Shack, where the fearsome pianist Art Tatum held court. At another uptown spot, Dan Wall’s Chili House, Parker had what he later described as an epiphany, during one of many sessions with a guitarist named Biddy Fleet.
In an interview a decade later with Down Beat magazine, Parker recalled that he had tired of the stereotypical chord voicings then in use. “I kept thinking there’s bound to be something else,” he said. “I could hear it sometimes, but I couldn’t play it.” One night in 1939, improvising over the Ray Noble tune “Cherokee,” he brought his idea to life. “And bop was born,” Down Beat added, putting the kicker on a story so irresistible that Thomas Pynchon slipped it into his epic novel “Gravity’s Rainbow.”
But bebop was no more traceable to a solitary bolt of inspiration than Parker’s complex style was. And bebop’s infancy had to wait a while as Parker returned to Kansas City, where he resumed ties with the pianist Jay McShann. For the next couple of years he worked in the Jay McShann Orchestra, playing “Cherokee” as a solo feature.
Among the earliest known recordings of Parker is a broadcast of the McShann band’s debut at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem on Feb. 13, 1942. The engagement, effectively Parker’s first big splash in New York City, attracted the notice of many local musicians, including a few, like the trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, who were invited to sit in.
Later that year, after erratic behavior earned him an unceremonious dismissal, Parker set himself up in New York, eventually joining Gillespie in the ranks of a band led by the pianist Earl Hines. Because of a recording ban imposed by the musicians’ union at the time, there is little documentation of this group. Nor is there much recorded evidence of Parker and Gillespie’s occasional forays to Minton’s Playhouse, the so-called laboratory of bebop. Or of Parker’s work at Monroe’s, where he enlisted a whip-smart Max Roach, still in his teens.
The innovations of this period happened in spite of Parker’s rapacious vices, including a heroin addiction that began in Kansas City. His peers in the Hines and McShann bands would later recall his penchant for nodding off onstage. He spent the first few months of 1944 back in Kansas City, missing bebop’s first incursion onto swing-centered 52nd Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues: a Gillespie-spearheaded engagement at the Onyx Club.
But when Gillespie headlined another serious run on 52nd Street — at the Three Deuces, beginning in March 1945 — Parker joined him. By then most insiders knew about his characteristic unreliability. When the Gillespie-Parker quintet appeared at Town Hall that June, the radio host Symphony Sid Torin began his broadcast with what may have been a reflexive disclaimer: “I don’t know whether Charlie has come in yet.”
The fearless brilliance of the music Parker was making — at the Town Hall concert, a recording of which was issued two years ago, and contemporaneous studio sessions, especially the one that yielded “Koko,” his masterpiece elaboration on “Cherokee” — may explain why so many musicians copied his excesses, and so many loved ones put up with his manipulative abuses.
Probably no one endured more than the two women who were pulled into his orbit. Doris Sydnor, who had an apartment on Manhattan Avenue near 117th Street, became Parker’s third wife. Chan Richardson, who was living in an apartment with her mother on 52nd Street, came to be considered his wife even though they never married. Both women happened to be working as nightclub checkroom attendants in 1945. A decade later both grieved as widows, competing for the claim.
A harbinger of Parker’s death came in 1946, during a visit to California: He was arrested and committed to a state hospital. After six grueling months he gratefully returned to New York, moving with Doris into the Dewey Square Hotel in Harlem. He had kicked heroin, but only momentarily, and he had started drinking heavily.
“At this time, 1947, bop was going like mad all over America,” Jack Kerouac later wrote in “On the Road,” invoking Parker. But the madness was most acute in Kerouac’s New York City, where fanatical followers began cataloging Parker’s solos and a downtown bohemian subculture claimed him as its existential hero.
“Charlie Parker was really the only person who could unite in his experience the downtown avant-garde scene, with painters and self-conscious artists, and the Harlem jazz scene, which has always been more in harmony with the functional roots of the music,” Mr. Schoenberg of the Jazz Museum said. That partly explains the duality of the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, which attracts a different audience for each of its free afternoon concerts.
It also jibes with the recollection of the great drummer Roy Haynes, 82, who in a phone conversation last week described not only working uptown with Parker in the 1950s but also visiting the apartment on Avenue B where Parker was then living with Chan.
“We opened Birdland together,” Mr. Haynes added, referring to the defunct nightclub on Broadway near 52nd Street, rather than the current club of the same name on West 44th Street. “Bird was very excited about that. I remember on opening night there were lines of people outside, waiting in bad weather.”
Parker did not own Birdland — that distinction belonged mainly to the infamous music-business operator Morris Levy — but the club’s name confirmed the height of his celebrity. “In 1946,” Mr. Schaap said, “Parker was under arrest, he was institutionalized, he was depressed, relatively few people knew him, his future was in grave doubt, even his life expectancy was in grave doubt. Three years later, arguably the best-known nightclub in New York City history is named for him using his nickname alone, in the diminutive.”
More recognition followed. By the 1950s Parker was finally winning jazz polls, and he had some popular success with “Just Friends” (from his sessions with strings) and “My Little Suede Shoes” (from a Latin-themed date that included Mr. Haynes). According to Mr. Schaap, Parker was enjoying the amenities of the city, from taxicabs to municipal swimming pools.
But when, in the summer of 1951, Parker’s state-issued cabaret license was revoked, he was barred from working in New York. As his condition deteriorated and the jazz world grew crowded with his imitators, he was forced to seek work on the road. And in 1954, when Chan sent word that their 2-year-old daughter, Pree, had died of pneumonia, the shock sent Parker into a tailspin.
His final descent was brutal: botched engagements, a suicide attempt, confinement at Bellevue, lurid tabloid speculation. Days after a ruinous last stand at Birdland, Parker stopped at the Hotel Stanhope, home of the Baroness Nica de Koenigswarter, a jazz patron with aristocratic pedigree. He stayed a few days, under some supervision by her doctor, and died there on March 12, 1955. The technical cause was pneumonia, but his 34-year-old body was so thoroughly ravaged that the doctor estimated his age as 53.
In seemingly no time the defiant inscription “Bird Lives!” began appearing on otherwise unmarked subway station walls. The poet Ted Joans eventually owned up to starting the trend, but he could hardly account for its proliferation. This weekend’s festivities convey precisely the same message, and it will still feel more or less true, perhaps because both the music and the city have conspired to keep it that way.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
By Scott W. Johnson
August 22, 2007
With federal agents in the background, Shukri Abu-Baker, chief executive officer of the Holyland Foundation of Richardson Texas, conducts a satellite interview with Al Jazeera television network on December 4, 2001. The Bush Administration shut down the offices and froze the financial assets of the foundation, which it linked to the radical Palestinian group Hamas.
One of the most significant terrorism prosecutions brought by the government since 9/11 commenced trial last month in federal district court in Dallas. The government’s 42-count indictment charges seven individuals and the Holy Land Foundation — the biggest Islamic charity in the United States — with offenses including conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, namely, Hamas. Two of the seven individual defendants have not been arrested and are fugitives.
The charges are dramatic. According to the indictment, U.S. based members of the Muslim Brotherhood established a Palestine Committee that was ultimately charged with the task of raising funds supporting Hamas’s efforts to eliminate the state of Israel. After the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, the Palestine Committee swung into high gear. At a secret three-day meeting in Philadelphia in October, 1993 (monitored by the FBI), those in attendance discussed how best to continue to support Hamas without being viewed as terrorists.
The Holy Land Foundation appears to have been the answer. Between 1995 and 2001, the foundation delivered millions of dollars to support Hamas in the West Bank and Gaza. The government charges that the foundation was a vital member of an international network of organizations that finances Hamas activities. Furthermore, the government charges that the Foundation and the individual defendants provided financial support to the families of Hamas terrorists, detainees, and activists knowing that the assistance would support Hamas ultimately contending that the story of the Holy Land Foundation is part of “the story of Hamas in the United States.”
In June, the government filed its brief outlining the types of evidence it intends to introduce during trial. One such type of evidence is the out-of-court statements of co-conspirators that it will seek to introduce under a traditional exception to the rule against hearsay. The government has identified more than 300 unindicted co-conspirators whose out-of-court statements it may seek to introduce at trial. As the government explains, “the defendants were operating in concert with a host of individuals and organizations dedicated to sustaining and furthering the Hamas movement.” Under the Federal Rules of Evidence, the out-of-court statements of a defendant’s co-conspirators are admissible against the defendant.
Although few outside the Islamic community are aware of the Holy Land Foundation, everyone, so to speak, knows of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). CAIR holds itself out as a civil rights group and has insinuated itself into programs sponsored by government agencies as a bona fide spokesman for America’s Islamic community. Knowledgeable observers have nevertheless long had their doubts about CAIR. Daniel Pipes and Sharon Chadha, for example, are the authors of a groundbreaking essay calling CAIR “Islamists fooling the establishment.”
CAIR is, in fact, among the more than 300 unindicted co-conspirators of the Holy Land Foundation named by the government in the Holy Land Foundation prosecution. The trial has already produced evidentiary bombshells detonating along a path leading to CAIR. It has introduced evidence placing CAIR executive director Nihad Awad at the 1993 Philadelphia meeting of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee. FBI agent Lara Burns has testified that CAIR was listed as a member of the Palestine Committee. The evidence introduced at trial is conspicuously missing from the New York Times; the Times isn’t covering the trial. I found reports of the evidence introduced at trial posted on the invaluable Counterterrorism Blog by Steve Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism.
Although the Times has not stirred itself to cover the trial, it did cover last week’s filing of a motion by CAIR to strike the government’s pretrial list of unindicted co-conspirators. Neil MacFarquhar’s story dutifully recited CAIR’s charge that the government’s naming of unindicted co-conspirators constituted “the demonization of all things Muslim.” Such stuff is the grist for CAIR’s daily mill. If MacFarquhar read CAIR’s brief, he missed its newsworthy elements; CAIR is in full panic mode.CAIR’s brief verges on hysteria in asserting that the government has harmed it by identifying it as an unindicted co-conspirator. It repeatedly asserts that the government’s identification of CAIR has reduced its membership and donations. CAIR asserts without reference to any facts that, since it was named an unindicted co-conspirator (this past June) its donations have “dwindled well below [its] monthly budget.” CAIR states over and over again:
[T]he mere publication of CAIR being named as an unindicted co-conspirator impresses upon the typical member of the American public that CAIR is involved in criminal activity. This is pure guilt by association. [The] negative reaction by the American public can be seen in the decline of membership rates and donations resulting from the government’s publicizing of CAIR as an unindicted coconspirator.
In footnotes supporting this statement CAIR cites Audrey Hudson’s June 11, 2007 Washington Times story on CAIR’s membership decline. At the time of the publication of Hudson’s story this past June, however, CAIR vociferously disputed its accuracy. In a June 12 press release, CAIR assserted:
CAIR today accused a right-wing Washington, D.C., newspaper of “agenda-driven reporting” for falsely suggesting there has been a drop in its grassroots support. According to CAIR, an article in today’s Washington Times newspaper misrepresented figures on its tax filings to falsely indicate a drop in membership.
On the one hand, CAIR’s brief in the Holy Land Foundation trial confirms Hudson’s story. Indeed, it cites Hudson’s story to support its argument. CAIR’s brief also shows CAIR’s contemporaneous statement disputing the accuracy of Hudson’s story to be false. On the other hand, however, CAIR’s brief misleads when it suggests that Hudson’s story supports its argument in the Holy Land Foundation case. The government named CAIR as an unindicted co-conspirator of the Holy Land Foundation this year during the first week of June. Hudson’s Washington Times story was based on data covering the period 2000-2006, before CAIR was named as an unindicted co-conspirator. CAIR’s citation of Hudson’s story in support of the argument made in its brief piles one convenient falsehood on top of another.
The legal argument supporting CAIR’s motion seems thin as well. CAIR objects to the government’s pretrial identification of it as an unindicted co-conspirator, but acknowledges that the government can identify it as such during trial in order to lay the foundation for the admission of co-conspirator hearsay. Trial is now underway and CAIR’s motion will likely be overtaken by events. By the last paragraph of its brief, CAIR seems to be suggesting that it is unconstitutional for the government ever to name an unindicted co-conspirator.
One cannot dispute that CAIR has reason to worry. It has long been known that it first opened for business in 1994 with the assistance of a $5,000 donation from the Holy Land Foundation. Evidence introduced at trial continues to shed new light on CAIR’s origins. CAIR is understandably concerned that its association with the Holy Land Foundation might give people an idea about the organization. As CAIR explains in its brief:
[T]he public “outing” of CAIR as an unindicted co-conspirator fundamentally undercuts their [sic] central mission to protect Muslim-Americans’ civil rights and foster an atmosphere of acceptance of Muslims in American society. Any message that CAIR tries to deliver to the American public, will be undercut by the insinuation that they are a criminal terrorist organization. The American public and the media which CAIR uses to deliver its message will no longer believe in the veracity of such message because CAIR will be perceived as a terrorist front organization.
One can only hope.
— Scott W. Johnson is a Minneapolis attorney and contributor to Power Line.
The Murder (Le meurtre)
Oil on canvas
25 5/8 x 31 1/2 in. (65 x 80 cm)
Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool
August 21, 2007
The execution-style murder of three African-American college students in Newark, N.J., forced to kneel and shot in the head—allegedly by an illegal alien from Peru who was out on bail for the serial rape of a 5-year-old—has the makings of a Willie Horton issue in 2008.
Newark, like New York, is a “sanctuary city,” where cops are not to ask criminal suspects if they are in the country legally. Mitt Romney has been hammering Rudy Giuliani on the issue, trashing his tough-cop resume by painting the mayor as den mother of the Big Apple’s playpen for illegal aliens.
The arrest of Jose Carranza in that Newark massacre, amid reports he had Hispanic accomplices and the murders may have been part of a gang initiation, has also elevated the issue of the black-brown war raging in U.S. big cities.
In the Aug. 10 Washington Post story that covered the Carranza arrest, the same page had two related articles. One was headlined, “Study: Almost Half of Murder Victims Black,” the other, “Slaying of Popular Editor Stuns Blacks in Oakland.”
The second headline reveals an ideological slant. One would assume that everyone in Oakland was stunned by the daylight execution of African-American editor Chauncey Bailey, allegedly by a teenage foot soldier at Your Black Muslim Bakery, which Bailey was investigating.
At Bailey’s funeral, a mourner held up a sign reading, “Stop Black on Black Violence.” That was the subject of the second Post story.
“Nearly half the people murdered in the United States are black,” declared the opening paragraph, “part of a persistent pattern in which African Americans are disproportionately victimized by violent crime, according to a new Justice Department study.”
Among other conclusions reported by the Post:
—Blacks are more likely than whites or Hispanics to be victims of crime.
—Blacks are more likely than any other group to be victims of “serious violent crime,” such as rape, assault and robbery.
—Blacks were more than twice as likely as whites to be confronted with a firearm during a crime.
“Overall, the new Justice findings jibe with previous studies,” said the Post. “For example, a review of FBI data from 2004 by the Violence Policy Center, a liberal-leaning group that campaigns for stricter gun control laws, found that blacks accounted for about half of the nation’s murder victims that year.”
“Black victimization is a real problem, and it’s often black on black,” said David Harris, a law professor at the University of Toledo who studies crime statistics.
“Often”? Correction, Harris. As the Post reports and Justice concedes, in more than nine out of 10 cases, black victims are murdered by fellow blacks.
Utterly absent from the Post story and Justice Department stats is anything about white victims of crime. Not a word. Do white folks not count, though they are two-thirds of the population?
Yet, in “The Color of Crime: Race, Crime and Justice in America,” produced by the “right-leaning” New Century Foundation in 2005, using the same FBI and Justice surveys, startling facts emerge:
—”Blacks commit more violent crime against whites than against other blacks.” Forty-five percent of the victims of violent crime by blacks are white folks, 43 percent are black, 10 percent are Hispanic.
—Blacks are seven times as likely as people of other races to commit murder, eight times more likely to commit robbery and three times more likely to use a gun in a crime.
—”Blacks are an estimated 39 times more likely to commit violent crime against a white person than vice versa, and 136 times more likely to commit robbery.” (If decent black folks have trouble hailing a cab, and they do, these numbers may help explain it.)
—Black-on-white rape is 115 times more common than the reverse.
Even the two most famous sexual assaults by white men on black women in the last two decades—the Tawana Brawley and Duke rape cases—turned out to be hoaxes.
What do these statistics tell us? A message the Post will not report. The real repository of racism in America—manifest in violent interracial assault, rape and murder—is to be found not in the white community, but the African-American community. In almost all interracial attacks, whites are the victims, not the victimizers.
Why does the Post not report such statistics? My guess: Because the stats would shatter the Post’s cultivated image of America as a land where white racism is the great lurking malevolent monster. Stories that conform to the image get play. Stories that contradict it are buried.
But, if the Bush Justice Department is doing in-depth studies on black victims of crime and who is responsible, why not one on the victimization of Americans of all colors and who is responsible?
Or is that information we ought not know, and news not fit to print?
COPYRIGHT 2007 CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Abdullah Al-Muhajir, a.k.a. Jose Padilla, was convicted Thursday of supporting terrorist activity and, said Associated Press, “conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim people overseas.” At the Leftist website Daily Kos, Padilla was hailed as an “American Martyr to ‘War on Terror,’” and his trial was compared to the witch hysteria: “As was the case during the witch trials of yesteryear, only the socially unpopular, the mentally ill, and the politically dangerous end up at the end of a noose or in yet another bonfire of political vanity.” The barely literate posting went on to complain that the case against Padilla “hinged on one piece of papar [sic]: an application with his fingerprints.” No mention of the fact that this “one piece of papar” happened to be an Al-Qaeda application.
The Kos entry was an example of the Left’s tendency to see defensive efforts against the global jihad as manifestations of an encroaching Bush police state. Michael Moore said it a few years ago: “There is no terror threat in this country. This is a lie. It’s the biggest lie we have been told.” This has become conventional wisdom on the Left, coalescing neatly with a solicitude toward Islamic jihadists: one notorious example was radical feminist lawyer Lynne Stewart who became a water-carrier for Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, now in prison for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The activities of various members of the “nonviolent” International Solidarity Movement have given rise to numerous questions about its ties to violent jihadists.
So what kind of a world will it be for Leftists who turn a blind eye to the jihad, if the jihadists achieve their objectives? Writing in the entertainment paper TimeOut London in June, TimeOut editor at large Michael Hodges imagined that London under Sharia law, Hodges wrote, would be healthier: “the Muslim act of prayer is designed to keep worshippers fit, their joints supple and, at five times a day, their stomachs trim.” It would be sober: “Forbid alcohol throughout the country, and you’d avoid many of the 22,000 alcohol-related deaths and the £7.3 billion national bill for alcohol-related crime and disorder each year.” Islamic education would raise “general levels of discipline and self-respect among London’s young people.” Religious bigotry would disappear as Jews, Christians, and -- probably -- Hindus became protected dhimmis under the benevolent rule of Islamic law.
Unfortunately for future dhimmis, however, and for like-minded liberals, Hodges left a few things out of his Islamic Leftist paradise. He didn’t mention that in exchange for the “protection” they would receive from their new Islamic overlords, religious minorities would have to accept a humiliating second-class status that institutionalized their humiliation and denied them equality of rights with Muslims in numerous ways -- ensuring that they “feel themselves subdued” (Qur’an 9:29). Nor would life be any more comfortable for trendy liberal atheists.
An Islamized country in the West, meanwhile, would be filled with liberal bugaboos: prayer in schools; illegal abortion (except, most likely, in cases involving the life of the mother); punishments (varyingly draconian) for homosexuals; and even legalized polygamy (Qur’an 4:3) and wife-beating (Qur’an 4:34). Freedom of speech would also probably disappear, at least where discussion of the elements of Islam that incite to violence are concerned -- but given their propensity to smear rather than answer their opponents, Leftists probably wouldn’t miss it much.Nonetheless, there is no doubt that a world in which Jose Padilla’s activities continued unhindered, and the jihadists finally succeeded in imposing their will on the rest of us, would hardly be comfortable for liberals. So why do liberals so reflexively take the side of the jihadists?
Evidently they believe that there is no real challenge to the West from the Islamic world, and that Christianity (as I detail in my new book Religion of Peace?) represents the real theocracy threat to Western pluralism and non-sectarian government. The multiculturalist anti-Americanism from which this delusion springs may be more lethal to the American Republic in the short run than the jihad itself; but in the long run, the two threats coalesce quite easily.
Mr. Spencer is director of Jihad Watch and author of "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)" and "The Truth About Muhammad" (both from Regnery -- a HUMAN EVENTS sister company).
August 21, 2007
It is not just in Iraq that the political left has an investment in failure. Domestically as well as internationally, the left has long had a vested interest in poverty and social malaise.
The old advertising slogan, "Progress is our most important product," has never applied to the left. Whether it is successful black schools in the United States or Third World countries where millions of people have been rising out of poverty in recent years, the left has shown little interest.
Progress in general seems to hold little interest for people who call themselves "progressives." What arouses them are denunciations of social failures and accusations of wrong-doing.
One wonders what they would do in heaven.
We are in no danger of producing heaven on earth but there have been some remarkable developments in some Third World countries within the past generation that have allowed many very poor people to rise to a standard of living that was never within their reach before.
The August 18th issue of the distinguished British magazine "The Economist" reveals the economic progress in Brazil, Argentina, and other Latin American nations that has given a better life to millions of their poorest citizens.
Some of the economic policies that have led to these results are discussed in "The Economist" but it is doubtful that members of the political left will stampede there to find out what those policies were.
They have shown no such interest in how tens of millions of people in China and tens of millions of people in India have risen out of poverty within the past generation.
Despite whatever the left may say, or even believe, about their concern for the poor, their actual behavior shows their interest in the poor to be greatest when the poor can be used as a focus of the left's denunciations of society.
When the poor stop being poor, they lose the attention of the left. What actions on the part of the poor, or what changes in the economy, have led to drastic reductions in poverty seldom arouse much curiosity, much less celebration.
This is not a new development in our times. Back in the 19th century, when Karl Marx presented his vision of the impoverished working class rising to attack and destroy capitalism, he was disappointed when the workers grew less revolutionary over time, as their standards of living improved.
At one point, Marx wrote to his disciples: "The working class is revolutionary or it is nothing."
Think about that. Millions of human beings mattered to him only in so far as they could serve as cannon fodder in his jihad against the existing society.
If they refused to be pawns in his ideological game, then they were "nothing."
No one on the left would say such things so plainly today, even to themselves. But their actions speak louder than words.
Blacks are to the left today what the working class were to Marx in the 19th century -- pawns in an ideological game.
Blacks who rise out of poverty are of no great interest to the left, unless the way they do so is by attacking society.
The poverty rate among black married couples has been in single digits since 1994 but the left has shown no more interest in why that is so than they have shown in why many millions of people have risen out of poverty in Latin America or in China and India.
Where progress can be plausibly claimed to be a result of policies favored by the left, then such claims are made.
A whole mythology has grown up that the advancement of minorities and women in America is a result of policies promoted by the left in the 1960s. Such claims are often based on nothing more substantial than ignoring the history of the progress made prior to 1960.
Retrogressions in the wake of the policies of the 1960s are studiously ignored -- the runaway crime rates, the disintegration of black families, and the ghetto riots of the 1960s that have left many black communities still barren more than 40 years later.
Whatever does not advance the left agenda is "nothing."
August 21, 2007
So let’s go ahead and redefine “keeping it real,” shall we?
We might as well, now that Michael Vick kept it real stupid and probably is headed to a federal penitentiary, the vacation destination of choice for men who believe criminal behavior and a lack of education are cultural benchmarks.
Trust me, I take no satisfaction in Vick’s decision to reach a plea agreement on dogfighting charges or his impending incarceration. The lack of parole and rehabilitation opportunities in federal penitentiaries and the mental disease caused by those shortcomings are as revolting to me as the crimes that land men there.
But this column won’t be a blast on our morally bankrupt penal institutions. This column will be about the lesson we all should take from Vick’s dramatic fall. Not long ago, the man did have the world by the tail. He owned a $130 million contract in a city, Atlanta, that adored him, and he was labeled a “franchise” quarterback.
He threw it all away because he bought into the self-destructive, immature, hip-hop model of “keeping it real.”
The Atlanta Falcons and owner Arthur Blank introduced and ushered Michael Vick into a brand-new world, a world that required Vick to carry himself in a more mainstream manner, a world of wealth, privilege, responsibility and the appearance of ethics and morality.
It’s a world all starting quarterbacks are asked to join. The position is the most prestigious in sports.
Vick wanted to do things his way. He wanted to customize the position in terms of style of play and off-field demeanor. He wanted to keep it real by keeping his feet in the seedy world he once knew and the new world that demanded a squeakier image.
The worlds don’t mix.
Michael Vick should not have abandoned his boyz from the hood, the gentlemen who predictably and quickly accepted plea agreements and squealed on Vick. He should’ve demonstrated the courage to demand that they join him on his new journey. He should’ve forced them to abandon him.
It appears, according to federal investigators, that Vick financed his friends’ illegal dogfighting activity. Vick may have enjoyed dogfighting, but he certainly didn’t need the “sport.” He didn’t need a home dedicated to breeding and training pit bulls. He didn’t need to open and operate Bad Newz Kennels.
It’s my belief that if Vick stayed involved with dogfighting, he did so primarily because it was a way to stay involved in an activity in which his “boys” still participated. It was Vick’s way of keeping it real. He was fearful of being labeled a sellout, fearful of having his blackness questioned.
This is a burden we’ve created for ourselves. We fight our own evolution. This must end. We need to redefine keeping it real.
For athletes and other people who experience professional success, keeping it real should mean offering your lifelong friends and family members an opportunity to acquire the skills necessary to join the mainstream.
This may sound naïve and a bit comical, but it’s the truth: Rather than financing dogfighting, Vick should’ve paid for educational opportunities. He should’ve tried to help establish his cousins and friends in a legitimate business.
If they were uninterested in that, Vick should’ve informed them that he had nothing but love for ’em. No matter the problem, you can’t help people who are uninterested in helping themselves. You have to develop the courage to stop someone else’s weakness from drowning you. Vick, to me, is a coward. He wasn’t man enough to define for his friends what was in his best interest and what he would and would not tolerate.
Helping a friend or family member wallow in stupidity or self-destructive behavior is not keeping it real. It’s enabling a problem, a problem that could eventually engulf you. Ask Michael Vick.
To reach Jason Whitlock, call 816-234-4869 or send e-mail to email@example.com. For previous columns, go to KansasCity.com.
Monday, August 20, 2007
by Srdja Trifkovic
“Pakistan has come a long way since Independence,” President Pervez Musharraf said in a message to the nation’s 165 million people. In a sense he is right, of course: All countries in the world have “come a long way” over the past six decades, for better or worse. South Korea and Southern Rhodesia of 1947 are equally unrecognizable today. But in comparison to its perennial rival India, Pakistan is lagging behind. It is politically less stable, institutionally less democratic, and economically less prosperous. More importantly, it is ideologically far less attuned to Western values and modes of thought than it was at the time of its birth.
The notion of “Pakistan”—“the Land of the Pure”—as the homeland and state for the Muslims of India was based on the two-nation concept of the Muslim League, founded at Dhaka in 1906. In 1916 a souave British-educated lawyer, Mohamed Ali Jinnah, became its leader. He only joined the League in 1913, having started his political career as an Indian nationalist and an advocate of Hindu-Muslim Unity. Between the wars, however, he became apprehensive that in an independent India the Muslim identity would be threatened in a secular state based on the British model of parliamentary democracy, as envisaged by the Congress Party of Gandhi and Nehru. By 1940 the demand for the creation of Pakistan had been formally endorsed by the Muslim League.
Seven years later, with the hasty departure of the British, Pakistan came into being as the first modern state to be established on openly Islamic principles. As V.S. Naipaul wrote on the 50th anniversary of the Partition,
Muslim insecurity led to the call for the creation of Pakistan. It went at the same time with an idea of old glory, of the invaders sweeping down from the northwest and looting the temples of Hindustan and imposing faith on the infidel. The fantasy still lives: and for the Muslim converts of the subcontinent it is the start of their neurosis, because in this fantasy the convert forgets who or what he is and becomes the violator.
While defined by religion (even though many of its citizens had not, until then, defined themselves that way), Pakistan theoretically could have developed either as a democracy with equal rights for all, or as an Islamic state with Islamic law. But as Bronwen Maddox noted in the Times last week, the death of Muhammad Ali Jinnah after only one year of independence was “a fatal blow to the first vision; Islamist rhetoric was a tempting tool for his successors.”
Unlike India, Pakistan has never been a functional democracy. Since inception it has allowed discrimination against Christians and other religious minorities—after all, only the “Pure,” i.e. Muslims, are its true citizens—and it surreptitiously aids and abets Islamic terrorists in Kashmir and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Suicide attacks in London on July 7 2005, masterminded by a young British-born Pakistani, and that country’s long list of proven or suspected links with numerous other terrorist attacks in recent years, finally focused attention on the ambivalent role of Pakistan and its leader, General Pervez Musharraf, in the war on terrorism.
It would be inconceivable for a de-Nazified, post-1945 Germany to be a bona fide member of the family of nations, yet at the same time to tolerate the existence of a nationwide network of Hitler Jugend camps and schools preaching National Socialism. And yet General Musharraf’s government has consistently backtracked on its promise to control the Islamic schools that are grooming new generations of terrorists. Pakistan thus remains the epicenter of global jihad, a breeding ground for the new echelons of “martyrs.” It is an enormous Islamist campus in which thousands of madrassas prepare over one million students for the rigors of jihad. When pressed, Musharraf announces the closure of some of the schools where “the eggs of the snake of terrorism are incubated,” only to let them re-open later. It can hardly be otherwise in a country founded on the pillars of Islamic orthodoxy.
After 9-11 Musharraf allowed America to use Pakistani air bases and air space, winning praise from Mr. Bush and obtaining an improvement in U.S-Pakistani relations that had deteriorated since the end of the Cold War. On his own admission, however, he did so under duress. In a senastional CBS interview last year, Musharraf said that the Bush administration threatened to bomb Pakistan “back to the stone age” after the September 11 attacks if the country did not cooperate with America’s war in Afghanistan. He said the threat was delivered by the assistant secretary of state, Richard Armitage, in conversations with Pakistan’s intelligence director. “One has to think and take actions in the interests of the nation, and that’s what I did,” he told CBS—hardly the grounds for a solid and enduring alliance.
While Musharraf”s cooperation, such as it was, proved somewhat helpful in the initial military campaign in Afghanistan, the Pakistani Army’s subsequent deliberate failure to block Al-Qaeda’s escape routes ensured that all the big fish have safely slipped away. To this day the Pakistani military are loath to risk alienating their erstwhile Taliban clients and allies, and the remote border areas remain a safe haven for the insurgents. Most of the militants arrested in late 2001 were released without charge only months later, among them the heads of groups listed as terrorist organisations by Britain and the US.
Not only Taliban but most other Islamic extremist and terrorist movements all over the world were born out of ideas conceived in the battlefields of Afghanistan and subsequently matured and spread from Pakistan’s political, military, and religious establishment. These movements enjoyed the support of the Pakistani military-intelligence structures, and most notably its powerful Inter-Service Intelligence Agency (ISI), a leading promoter of state-sponsored terrorism. It grew rich and mighty, thanks to the U.S. role in helping Islamic fundamentalists fight the Soviets in the 1980sa. The ethos of the Pakistani military may be better understood from the preface to “The Qur’anic Concept of War” by Brigadier S.K. Malik: “The defiance of God’s authority by one who is His slave exposes that slave to the risk of being held guilty of treason.” It is therefore necessary to fight unbelief “in order to save the rest of humanity.”
It was in such spirit that the officers of the ISI were steeped when the CIA subcontracted to the ISI the arming of the the mujaheddin. It was hedging its bets during the 2001 Afghan war: the U.S. intelligence admitted to having no idea “which side of the street they’re playing on,” an opinion unwittingly echoed by former ISI chief Hamid Gul— later to become a vociferous defender of the defeated Taliban—who freely admitted that “it is unnatural to expect the ISI to act against what it knows are Pakistan’s best interests and be as motivated as it was before.”
Iran may be dominating the headlines, but the future of Pakistan’s nuclear program should be of even greater concern to the United States. On May 28, 1998, when Pakistan detonated a string of nuclear devices and became the first Islamic country to join the nuclear club, the jubilant masses poured to the streets of Pakistan to cheer the news, shouting Allah Akbar! They carried models of the Hatf—Pakistan’s nuclear missile—marked “Islamic bomb.” In Friday prayers, mullahs stressed that the tests are a “triumph for Islam.”
The question vexing the U.S. intelligence community for the past decade is not so much whether there will be a nuclear exchange between Pakistan and India, but what will happen if some of Pakistan’s assets fall into the wrong hands. As far back as 2001 elite U.S. and Israeli units were reportedly being trained to “take out Pakistan’s nuclear weapons to make sure that the warheads do not fall into the hands of renegades” if Pervez Musharraf is toppled.
Pakistan is also a major violator of the ban on nuclear proliferation, thanks to the work of Abdul Qadeer Khan, the architect of Pakistan’s nuclear program. In 2003 Dr. Khan stunned the world when he admitted on television to leaking nuclear weapons secrets to—among others—North Korea, Libya, and Iran. Widely considered a national hero in Pakistan for his role in developing the country’s nuclear arsenal, Khan made his “confession” after a meeting with President Pervez Musharraf. He claimed that he had acted “without authorization” from Gen. Musharraf’s government, promised not to do so again, and asked for forgiveneess. The proceedings could be reminiscent of Moscow, 1936, except that Khan’s life and liberty were not in any danger. His de facto invincibility became obvious when the government immediately decided to grant him “clemency,” while repeating Khan’s assertion that his was an “unauthorized” network.
The suspicion that Pakistan was engaged in illicit proliferation is as old as its nuclear program, but the U.S. appeasement seems to be on automatic pilot. Soon after 9-11 BBC Television’s Newsnight reported that the Bush administration had thwarted an investigation of Khan and his associates. Former CIA operatives told the BBC they could not investigate the development and intended proliferation of “Islamic bombs” by Pakistan because funding for it appeared to originate in Saudi Arabia. The Bush Administration’s decision followed from the twin policy of not alienating Saudi Arabia and courting the support of the authorities in Islamabad for the military action in Afghanistan.
Khan’s direct or indirect contacts may have included Islamic terrorist groups, or organizations or persons connected with them. What technological blueprints, materials, or hardware may have exchanged hands is still unknown. Such concern is justified in view of Khan’s open support for Muslim solidarity. He was eager to defy the West and pierce “clouds of the so-called secrecy,” as he once put it, and felt that giving nuclear technology to a Muslim country was not a crime.
The sentiment is shared by Pakistan’s ruling elite, which is unsurprising in the first modern state to be established on openly Islamic principles. It still suffers from many defects derived from its origins. This social structure predicated upon the supposed superiority of Islamic imperialism (ashraf) suggests that Islam is the cause, or at least a major aggravating feature in the array of Pakistan’s problems. For as long as the country’s Islamic character is explicitly upheld by Musharraf and his successors, Pakistan cannot evolve into a democracy or an efficient economy without undermining the religious rationale for its very existence.
Always on the verge of bankruptcy, Pakistan has been for most of its 55 years of existence under military dictatorships. None of its leaders has ever left power voluntarily. Some were executed on trumped-up charges, notably the democratically elected Prime Minister Bhutto. His executioner, the ultra-pious Islamist General Zia ul-Haq, was the military dictator of Pakistan from 1977 until 1988. He had strong links with the Jamaat-e-Islami and Shari’a was reintroduced after a bogus referendum, but Zia was enlightened enough to allow doctors to be present so that the whipping of transgressors stopped short of death. Smelling salts were often administered if the victim lost consciousness before receiving his allotted number of lashes.
Monday, August 20, 2007; Page A15
Michael Deaver will be remembered as Ronald Reagan's magic man, the impresario who orchestrated presidential performances, ordered up the backdrops (usually blue) and carefully staged historical remembrances such as the splendid observance of the D-Day anniversary on the beaches of Normandy in 1984. All of that is well and good, but Deaver's importance transcended stagecraft.
Deaver was one of a handful of aides who joined Reagan early in his California governorship and stayed with him through most of his presidency. His adoration, though, was not automatic: Deaver spoke truth to power at crucial moments.
White House deputy chief of staff Michael Deaver and President Ronald Reagan on the South Lawn in August 1984. (By Barry Thumma -- Associated Press)
Late in 1986, for example, after disclosures that Reagan had secretly approved arms sales to Iran and that national security aides had diverted some of the proceeds to the Nicaraguan contras, Reagan fired the mastermind of this diversion and the national security adviser who had known of it. He accepted the resignation of CIA Director William Casey. But Reagan refused to fire his chief of staff, Donald T. Regan, whom a board of inquiry would later say bore "primary responsibility for the chaos that descended upon the White House" after the Iran-contra disclosures.
Deaver confronted the president, urging him to rid himself of Regan. They had the following exchange:
Reagan: "I'll be goddamned if I'll throw somebody else out to save my own ass."
Deaver: "It's not your ass I'm talking about. You stood up on the steps of the Capitol and took an oath to defend the Constitution and this office. You've got to think of the country first."
Reagan: "I've always thought of the country." He then threw his pen so hard it bounced off the carpet.
Political strategist Stuart K. Spencer, the only other person present, confirmed this exchange. Spencer said nothing during the meeting, knowing that Reagan didn't change his mind when he was angry. He expected that Nancy Reagan and Deaver would wear him down over time, as they did.
Deaver was running Republican campaigns in central California when William Clark, Cabinet secretary to then-Gov. Reagan, brought him to Sacramento in 1967. He was assigned "the Mommy Watch," which meant looking after Mrs. Reagan. Many staff members were afraid of her, but Deaver realized at once that she was a tremendous political asset who needed help implementing her ideas. They became allies and then friends. Reagan appreciated what Deaver had done and over time formed a bond with him that bordered on the filial.
Reagan was normally sanguine about changes in his supporting cast as he climbed the political ladder. Deaver was an exception. In 1980, Deaver became involved in a power struggle with strategist John Sears, who had gradually forced most of the Californians out of Reagan's presidential campaign. Tired of the infighting, Deaver resigned during a meeting at the Reagan home in Pacific Palisades. Reagan followed him to the front door, urging him to stay, then returned in a fury to the living room.
"The biggest man here just left this room," Reagan said. "He was willing to accommodate and compromise, and you bastards wouldn't." That marked the beginning of the end for Sears. Within a few months he was gone, the Californians were back and Deaver would be at Reagan's side until May 1985.
That meeting was also a wake-up call for Deaver. He had been accessible to reporters in Sacramento but became a bit lordly during Reagan's presidential campaigns. After I wrote a pre-convention story in The Post in 1976 saying that Reagan didn't have enough delegates to wrest the Republican nomination from President Gerald Ford, neither Sears nor Deaver would return my calls. Deaver called shortly after he walked out of the Reagans' living room, and I asked if we were on speaking terms again. "I'm on the outs now, just like you were," he said honestly.
We had a close but prickly relationship during much of the Reagan presidency. Deaver was an excellent source, but what I wrote for The Post often contradicted his gauzy portrayals of an all-wise and resourceful president. Deaver took this in stride -- "my job is to make a good president look even better," he once told me -- and much of his spinning was at the margins, often translating earthy Reagan phrases into drawing room prose. On essential questions, Iran-contra for example, he told the truth -- to the president as well as to the media.
Deaver also had an ironic sense about the company a president keeps. After a fundraiser at the home of a Las Vegas entertainer that was attended by various unsavory sorts, many of whom clamored to have their pictures taken with the president, Deaver told me quietly, "We ought to round up all those pictures and turn them over to the FBI."
The strains of White House service took a toll that was exacerbated by Deaver's private battle with alcoholism. Against Mrs. Reagan's advice, Deaver left the White House and immediately proved successful in public relations. In 1986, he posed for a Time magazine cover (again despite Mrs. Reagan's advice) that made him a poster child for a story on influence peddling. A special counsel indicted Deaver, and he was convicted of perjury after putting up a minimal legal defense and saying that his memory was clouded -- as it doubtless was -- by alcoholism. Stripped of his assets, Deaver performed community service and entered an alcoholic rehabilitation program before returning to public relations.
Deaver's wisdom -- and his decency -- were demonstrated in his refusal to accept a pardon from President Reagan for his transgressions. He thought a pardon might tarnish Reagan's image. That was something Deaver always protected, even at the cost of his own.
Lou Cannon, who covered the White House for The Post during the Nixon, Ford and Reagan presidencies, is the author of five books on Ronald Reagan and co-author of the forthcoming "Reagan's Disciple: What George W. Bush Did to the Reagan Revolution."
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Orange County Register
Saturday, August 18, 2007
At the funeral of Iofemi Hightower, her classmate Mecca Ali wore a T-shirt with the slogan: "Tell Me Why They Had To Die."
"They" are Miss Hightower, Dashon Harvey and Terrance Aeriel, three young citizens of Newark, New Jersey, lined up against a schoolyard wall, forced to kneel and then shot in the head.
Miss Ali poses an interesting question. No one can say why they "had" to die, but it ought to be possible to advance theories as to what factors make violent death in Newark a more-likely proposition than it should be. That's usually what happens when lurid cases make national headlines: When Matthew Shepard was beaten and hung on a fence in Wyoming, Frank Rich wrote in the New York Times that it was merely the latest stage in a "war" against homosexuals loosed by the forces of intolerance. Mr. Shepard's murder was dramatized in plays and movies and innumerable songs by Melissa Etheridge, Elton John, Peter, Paul and Mary, etc. The fact that this vile crucifixion was a grisly one-off and that American gays have never been less at risk from getting bashed did not deter pundits and politicians and lobby groups galore from arguing that this freak case demonstrated the need for special legislation.
By contrast, there's been a succession of prominent stories with one common feature that the very same pundits, politicians and lobby groups have a curious reluctance to go anywhere near. In a New York Times report headlined "Sorrow And Anger As Newark Buries Slain Youth," the limpidly tasteful Times prose prioritized "sorrow" over "anger," and offered only the following reference to the perpetrators: "The authorities have said robbery appeared to be the motive. Three suspects – two 15-year-olds and a 28-year-old construction worker from Peru – have been arrested."
So, this Peruvian guy was here on a green card? Or did he apply for a temporary construction-work visa from the U.S. Embassy in Lima?
Not exactly. Jose Carranza is an "undocumented" immigrant. His criminal career did not begin with the triple murder he's alleged to have committed, nor with the barroom assault from earlier this year, nor with the 31 counts of aggravated sexual assault relating to the rape of a 5-year-old child, for which Mr. Carranza had been released on bail. (His $50,000 bail on the assault charge and $150,000 bail on the child-rape charges have now been revoked.) No, Mr. Carranza's criminal career in the United States began when he decided to live in this country unlawfully.
Jose Carranza isn't exactly a member of an exclusive club. Violent crime committed by fine upstanding members of the Undocumented-American community is now a routine feature of American life. But who cares? In 2002, as the "Washington Sniper" piled up his body count, "experts" lined up to tell the media that he was most likely an "angry white male," a "macho hunter" or an "icy loner." When the icy loner turned out to be a black Muslim named Muhammad accompanied by an illegal immigrant from Jamaica, the only angry white males around were the lads in America's newsrooms who were noticeably reluctant to abandon their thesis: Early editions of the New York Times speculated that Muhammad and John Lee Malvo were being sought for "possible ties to 'skinhead militia' groups," which seemed a somewhat improbable alliance given the size of Mr. Muhammad's hair in the only available mug shot. As for his illegal sidekick, Malvo was detained and released by the INS in breach of their own procedures.
America has a high murder rate: Murdering people is definitely one of the jobs Americans can do. But that's what ties young Malvo to Jose Carranza: He's just another killer let loose in this country to kill Americans by the bureaucracy's boundless sensitivity toward the "undocumented." Will the Newark murders change anything? Will there be an Ioefemi Hightower Act of Congress like the Matthew Shepard Act passed by the House of Representatives? No. Three thousand people died Sept. 11, 2001, in an act of murder facilitated by the illegal-immigration support structures in this country, and, if that didn't rouse Americans to action, another trio of victims seems unlikely to tip the scales. As Michelle Malkin documented in her book "Invasion," four of the killers boarded the plane with photo ID obtained through the "undocumented worker" network at the 7-Eleven in Falls Church, Va. That's to say, officialdom's tolerance of the illegal immigration shadow-state enabled 9/11. And what did we do? Not only did we not shut it down, we enshrined the shadow-state's charade as part of the new tough post-slaughter security procedures.
Go take a flight from Newark Airport. The TSA guy will ask for your driver's license, glance at the name and picture, and hand it back to you. Feel safer? The terrorists could pass that test, and the morning of 9/11 they did: 19 foreign "visitors" had, between them, 63 valid U.S. driver's licenses. Did government agencies then make it harder to obtain lawful photo ID? No. Since 9/11, the likes of Maryland and New Mexico have joined those states that issue legal driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.
Newark is the logical end point of these policies. It is a failed city: 60 percent of its children are being raised in households without fathers. Into that vacuum pour all kinds of alternative authority structures: Mr. Carranza is alleged to have committed his crime with various teenage members of MS-13, a gang with origins in El Salvador's civil war of the 1980s that now operates in some 30 U.S. states. In its toughest redoubts, immigrants don't assimilate with America, America assimilates to the immigrants, and a Fairfax, Va., teenager finds himself getting hacked at by machete wielders.
One could, I suppose, regard this as one of those unforeseen incremental consequences that happens in the darkest shadows of society. But that doesn't extend to Newark's official status as an illegal-immigrant "sanctuary city." Like Los Angeles, New York and untold others, Newark has formally erased the distinction between U.S. citizens and the armies of the undocumented. This is the active collusion by multiple cities and states in the subversion of U.S. sovereignty. In Newark, N.J., it means an illegal-immigrant child rapist is free to murder on a Saturday night. In Somerville, Mass., it means two deaf girls are raped by MS-13 members. And in Falls Church, Va., it means Saudi Wahhabists figuring out that, if the "sanctuary nation" (in Michelle Malkin's phrases) offers such rich pickings to imported killers and imported gangs, why not to jihadists?
"Tell Me Why They Had To Die"? Hard to answer. But tell me why, no matter how many Jose Carranzas it spawns, the nationwide undocumented-immigration protection program erected by this country's political class remains untouchable and ever-expanding.
Published on Friday, Aug 17, 2007
There had to be clues.
The more you look at the Tim Donaghy case, the more you know it's true.
Someone knew something was wrong with the former NBA official, who pleaded guilty to a pair of felony charges dealing with gambling. His professional sins were too blatant, too outrageous not to be detected by an organization that should be watching closely.
Donaghy admitted that he had gambled on NBA games since 2003. He began feeding cell phone tips to gamblers in December 2006. At first, he would get $2,000 if one of his ''picks'' on a game turned out to be true.
His price rose to $5,000.
Here's a guy with a $260,000 salary, and with a wife, four daughters and a nice home in Florida blowing it all with a corrupt toot of the whistle.
In court documents, Donaghy admitted to ''being in a unique position to predict the outcome of games.''
The men working games with him, traveling with him and evaluating him also were in a unique position. A report on Fox.com reveals that Donaghy's crew led the NBA in personal fouls called and technical fouls over the past two seasons.
Wonder why that would be?
Maybe because this guy was betting the ''over'' in the point spread. That means he bet that the two teams in his game would score more than the average point total that the Las Vegas bookmakers expected.
ESPN reported that in 2004-05, games worked by Donaghy's crew beat the ''over'' only 44 percent of the time. That means the two teams scored less than the average in 56 percent of games.
But in the past two years, total points were OVER the average in 57 percent of the games worked by Donaghy.
That's a stunning 13-percentage-point change. Someone somewhere in the NBA office should have noticed. Or, how about the guys assigned to call the games with him. Gamblers are aware of these things; why wasn't the NBA?
In 2005-06, the average NBA game had 187 total points, but it was 197 in games with Donaghy.
In 2006-07, the NBA average was 188; Donaghy's was 201.
He wasn't just over, but way over the top.
He did it by calling a lot of fouls, leading to more free throws and easy points. He worked a Miami-New York game this year in which five technicals were called on the Heat. The Knicks had an incredible 39-8 free-throw advantage. Yes, the underdog, dysfunctional Knicks beat the spread that night.
No one with the league noticed.
Or perhaps, no one wanted to notice.
The NBA cannot let this go. The integrity of the league and its officials are at stake. Commissioner David Stern has painted Donaghy as a ''rogue'' ref, a lone ranger of gambling.
But Donaghy traveled with other officials. He worked with them after games, evaluating tapes of his performance according to league requirements. Gamblers have strange habits, wild mood swings, an unhealthful interest in sports action.
Yet it appears no one wanted to say anything. In fact, the New York Daily News reported that Donaghy received an ''above average'' evaluation from the league for this season! He worked second-round playoff games.
Makes you wonder what games they were watching.
This guy was at the infamous Detroit-Indiana brawl of a few years ago. He was in the terribly officiated Phoenix-San Antonio playoff game this season. He's like the Forrest Gump of officials: When there was trouble, there was Tim Donaghy in the background.
He admitted he bet on games some that he worked for four years. Let's repeat that: for four years he bet on games.
The number of points in his games changed dramatically a few years ago.
He supposedly was a down-and-dirty addicted gambler.
But no one noticed anything, right?
If that's true, the NBA has a bigger problem than Donaghy, especially if the league keeps insisting it all came down to one bad man.
Terry Pluto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Terry Pluto will be leaving the Akron Beacon-Journal to write for the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. Pluto's last day with the Beacon-Journal is August 31st.
Phil Rizzuto bunting against the Indians in 1951
The New York Times
Published: August 19, 2007
The obituaries said Phil Rizzuto was 89 when he died last week. That’s because the baseball encyclopedias said that Rizzuto was 89. And the encyclopedias said Rizzuto was 89 because that’s what Rizzuto said. That is, they listed his birth date as Sept. 25, 1917, because that’s when Rizzuto reported he was born.
But that wasn’t necessarily so. Or was it?
Sorry, Scooter, but I have to do it. I have kept your secret to myself for nearly 30 years, but now that you have sadly left us, I don’t think you would mind if I told the tale from the Yankees’ spring training camp in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in the late 1970s.
Rizzuto was then a Yankees broadcaster, but he was also a bunting instructor in spring training. One day, he stood at the net as players bunted in the batting cage under the stands along the right-field line at Fort Lauderdale Stadium. Scooter knew better, but he absent-mindedly held on to the net behind home plate, putting his hand through an opening between the cords.
Rizzuto, DiMaggio, Berra and Coleman at the 1950 All-Star game.
A foul ball came off the bat and smashed Rizzuto’s finger. It hurt. It was bloody. It was a mess. Rizzuto was told to go to a nearby hospital and have the finger treated there. But he couldn’t drive with his finger in that condition, so I offered to take him.
When we arrived at the hospital, the nurse at the outpatient desk asked Rizzuto for the usual information. Date of birth was one of her questions.
“Sept. 25, 1916,” Rizzuto replied without hesitation. With “16” hardly out of his mouth, he turned to me and said sternly, “Don’t you tell anybody.”
And I didn’t, not then, not ever. Until now. But what could have been more Scooterlike than continuing to make himself a year younger decades after he retired? On the other hand, the department of health said Rizzuto’s birth certificate listed his year of birth as 1917, but leave it to Scooter to disagree with the officials.
Pee Wee Reese and Phil Rizzuto at the 1997 Baseball Hall of Fame Induction ceremony.
Then there is the Pee Wee Reese connection. Because Rizzuto was the Yankees’ shortstop and Reese the Brooklyn Dodgers’ shortstop, they were always linked and compared. From the time Reese was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984, Rizzuto fans said he, too, should be in the Hall of Fame. They said it for 10 years until Rizzuto was inducted in 1994.
But now, as in life, Reese and Rizzuto are linked in death. Reese died Aug. 14, 1999. Some news reports said Rizzuto died last Monday night; others said Tuesday. The New Jersey nursing home where Rizzuto died declined to say what time he died, but the Yankees and his sister said they believed the time of death was 11 p.m., about an hour away from Aug. 14.