Saturday, April 26, 2008
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Last week, Time magazine featured on its cover the iconic photograph of U.S. Marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima. But with one difference: The flag has been replaced by a tree. The managing editor of Time, Rick Stengel, was very pleased with the lads in graphics for cooking up this cute image and was all over the TV sofas, talking up this ingenious visual shorthand for what he regards as the greatest challenge facing mankind: "How To Win The War On Global Warming."
Where to begin? For the past 10 years, we all have, in fact, been not warming but slightly cooling, which is why the ecowarriors have adopted the all-purpose bogeyman of "climate change." But let's take it that the editors of Time are referring not to the century we live in but the previous one, when there was a measurable rise of temperature of approximately 1 degree. That's the "war": 1 degree.
If the tree-raising is Iwo Jima, a 1-degree increase isn't exactly Pearl Harbor. But Gen. Stengel wants us to engage in pre-emptive war. The editors of Time would be the first to deplore such saber-rattling applied to, say, Iran's nuclear program, but it has become the habit of progressive opinion to appropriate the language of war for everything but actual war.
So let's cut to the tree. In my corner of New Hampshire, we have more trees than we did 100 or 200 years ago. My town is over 90 percent forested. Any more trees, and I'd have to hack my way through the undergrowth to get to my copy of Time magazine on the coffee table. Likewise Vermont, where not so long ago in St. Albans I found myself stuck behind a Hillary supporter driving a Granolamobile bearing the bumper sticker "TO SAVE A TREE REMOVE A BUSH." Very funny. And even funnier when you consider that on that stretch of Route 7 there's nothing to see, north, south, east or west, but maple, hemlock, birch, pine, you name it. It's on every measure other than tree cover that Vermont's kaput.
So where exactly do Time magazine's generals want to plant their tree? Presumably, as in Iwo Jima, on foreign soil. It's all these Third World types monkeying around with their rain forests who decline to share the sophisticated Euro-American reverence for the tree. In the Time iconography, the tree is Old Glory, and it's a flag of eco-colonialism.
And which obscure island has it been planted on? In Haiti, Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis was removed from office April 12. Insofar as history will recall him at all, he may have the distinction of being the first head of government to fall victim to "global warming" – or, at any rate, the "war on global warming" that Time magazine is gung-ho for. At least five people have been killed in food riots in Port-au-Prince. Prices have risen 40 percent since last summer and, as columnist Deroy Murdock reported, some citizens are now subsisting on biscuits made from salt, vegetable oil and (mmmm) dirt. Dirt cookies: Nutritious, tasty and affordable? Well, one out of three ain't bad.
Unlike "global warming," food rioting is a planetwide phenomenon, from Indonesia to Pakistan to Ivory Coast to the tortilla rampages in Mexico and even pasta protests in Italy.
So what happened?
Well, Western governments listened to the ecowarriors and introduced some of the "wartime measures" they've been urging. The EU decreed that 5.75 percent of petrol and diesel must come from "biofuels" by 2010, rising to 10 percent by 2020. The United States added to its 51 cent-per-gallon ethanol subsidy by mandating a fivefold increase in "biofuels" production by 2022.
The result is that big government accomplished at a stroke what the free market could never have done: They turned the food supply into a subsidiary of the energy industry. When you divert 28 percent of U.S. grain into fuel production, and when you artificially make its value as fuel higher than its value as food, why be surprised that you've suddenly got less to eat? Or, to be more precise, it's not "you" who's got less to eat but those starving peasants in distant lands you claim to care so much about.
Heigh-ho. In the greater scheme of things, a few dead natives keeled over with distended bellies is a small price to pay for saving the planet, right? Except that turning food into fuel does nothing for the planet in the first place. That tree the U.S. Marines are raising on Iwo Jima was most-likely cut down to make way for an ethanol-producing corn field: Researchers at Princeton calculate that, to date, the "carbon debt" created by the biofuels arboricide will take 167 years to reverse.
The biofuels debacle is global warm-mongering in a nutshell: The first victims of poseur environmentalism will always be developing countries. In order for you to put biofuel in your Prius and feel good about yourself for no reason, real actual people in faraway places have to starve to death. On April 15, the Independent, the impeccably progressive British newspaper, editorialized:
"The production of biofuel is devastating huge swaths of the world's environment. So why on Earth is the government forcing us to use more of it?"
You want the short answer? Because the government made the mistake of listening to fellows like you. Here's the self-same Independent in November 2005:
"At last, some refreshing signs of intelligent thinking on climate change are coming out of Whitehall. The Environment minister, Elliot Morley, reveals today in an interview with this newspaper that the Government is drawing up plans to impose a 'biofuel obligation' on oil companies ... . This has the potential to be the biggest green innovation in the British petrol market since the introduction of unleaded petrol."
Etc. It's not the environmental movement's chickenfeedhawks who'll have to reap what they demand must be sown, but we should be in no doubt about where to place the blame – on the bullying activists and their media cheerleaders and weather-vane politicians who insist that the "science" is "settled" and that those who question whether there's any crisis are (in the designation of the strikingly nonemaciated Al Gore) "denialists."
All three presidential candidates have drunk the environmental kool-ethanol and are committed to Big Government solutions. But, as the Independent's whiplash-inducing U-turn confirms, the eco-scolds are under no such obligation to consistency. Finger-in-the-wind politicians shouldn't be surprised to find that gentle breeze is from the media wind turbine, and it's just sliced your finger off.
Whether there's very slight global cooling or very slight global warming, there's no need for a "war" on either, no rationale for loosing a plague of eco-locusts on the food supply. So why be surprised that totalitarian solutions to mythical problems wind up causing real devastation? As for Time's tree, by all means put it up: It helps block out the view of starving peasants on the far horizon.
Courtesy of the Cedric Wright Family
Ansel Adams, photographing in Yosemite National Park from atop his car in about 1942. Many come to the park to try to take the same photos he did.
By LOUISE STORY
The New York Times
Published: April 27, 2008
WAWONA TUNNEL is a passageway from civilization to natural splendor. The tunnel, dug through a hill on the south side of Yosemite National Park in the 1930s, hides the coming view like a mile-long blindfold.
And then you’re there. Pale, curvaceous granite rocks dance in the skyline. Dozens of people stand along the edge of the pull-off, called Tunnel View, trying to capture the scene. Some snap two quick shots with disposable yellow cameras, and others set up their tripods for hours, watching the light strike Yosemite’s monoliths. On the left, El Capitan, a rock climbers’ mecca, appears the tallest. The Half Dome and Sentinel Dome arch upwards in the center. And the two Cathedral Spires sit on the right next to the sometimes gushing Bridalveil Fall.
Many people know these sights by name, but more know them by sight alone, as captured through the lens of the legendary American photographer Ansel Adams.
Adams first visited Yosemite in 1916 when he was 14 years old. On that trip, he hopped up on a tree stump to take a photo of Half Dome, then stumbled, headfirst, and accidentally pushed the shutter release. The upside-down image remained one of Adams’s favorites, he wrote in his autobiography.
The park itself also remained a favorite. Adams ended up living much of his life in Yosemite, and took many of his most well-known photographs there. Today, it is not unusual to encounter professional photographers and novices alike trying to retrace his path. They wait for the perfect minute of moonrise over Half Dome or a shadow on a fallen tree in Siesta Lake. They remember his photo of a juniper tree they saw in a museum, on a coffee cup or a monthly calendar. Ansel Adams’s work, in some ways, is the best unpaid advertising a national park could get.
The first step on an Ansel Adams-inspired trip to Yosemite is to visit the gallery run by his family. It is in the park’s central area called Yosemite Valley, and displays and sells Adams’s work as well as photos taken by several contemporary artists. Before Adams died in 1984, he spent years living in a house behind the gallery and leading workshops there. Now others teach the workshops, and the gallery is managed by Adams’s grandchildren. The gallery’s staff leads free camera walks three days a week. The gallery also shows a free film about Adams once a week, rents out cameras and tripods and sells keepsakes and guidebooks.
I ordered three books written by Adams from the gallery’s Web site before my trip: Adams’s autobiography, his collected photos of Yosemite and a step-by-step explanation of some of his works called “Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs.” By the time our plane landed in Fresno, Calif., I felt well-equipped to step inside Ansel land.
But Yosemite does not often appear as it did at the moments Adams tripped his shutter. Nor is it easy to stand where he stood and capture the same images.
“I’ve had people say they are kind of disappointed,” says Glenn Crosby, the curator of the Ansel Adams Gallery. “They only know the park through Ansel’s eyes, and he was only showing you the keepers. The park is not always as dramatic as his work.”
Back in 1986, Mr. Crosby was working at a job he didn’t like with too long a commute. So he moved to Yosemite to take photographs for a year and has stayed there ever since. He likes to say he has his own “Moonrise and Half Dome” because in 1998 he photographed the rock with an astronomer who had tracked the exact minute the moon would ascend next to Half Dome in the same way it did in front of Adams in 1960. But as talented as Mr. Crosby is, he says he doesn’t fool himself.
“Someone could be standing shoulder to shoulder with Ansel and come away with a totally different interpretation,” he says.
Once a week, Mr. Crosby takes a handful of people into a backroom at the gallery for a free show of original Adams photos (hint: pre-register).
Recently, Mr. Crosby showed visitors Adams’s 1927 photo called “The Diving Board” (which includes Adams’s future wife, Virginia Best, standing on a distant rock) and his 1921 picture “Lodgepole Pines, Lyell Fork of the Merced River,” among others. He handles the photos carefully with white-gloved hands, since the prices for rare prints are as high as $40,000.
“We’re a gallery,” Mr. Crosby says. “We’re not a museum.”
The gallery has been in the family since 1902, when James Best, a local painter, won the rights to sell his work there. Ansel Adams married Virginia Best, James’s daughter, in 1928, and the family still holds the concession license. In the 1970s, Ansel’s son, Michael, renamed the gallery after his father.
Ansel Adams’s family members today say they feel a responsibility to provide education and service.
“We offer a connection to Ansel for people who love Ansel and this park,” says Matthew Adams, president of the gallery and grandson of the photographer.
By the 1950s, Adams had already taken most of his famous Yosemite images. Not unlike tourists today who visit his tripod points, Adams packed up his two teenage children, wife and a couple of burros in 1952 to recreate some of his earlier treks. For 10 days, they hiked through the backcountry of Yosemite, past Merced Lake, Vernal Fall and the peak that would be named Mount Ansel Adams in 1985. It had been decades since Ansel had been to some of those spots, but without hesitation he scrambled up on ledges and visualized new images, recalls his son, Michael Adams, who was 19 at the time.
“He loved the scenery as it was at the time,” says Michael Adams. “Whether it was dead trees or trees that were alive. Or whether the waterfall was full or down. It wasn’t always the big vistas, it could be a wonderful rock.”
Visitors to Yosemite should come with the same openness to appreciating the scenery as it is, rather than expecting to see the living version of Ansel Adams’s pictures. The Jeffrey pine that Adams photographed atop Sentinel Dome in 1940, for example, fell a few years ago, and it is now a rotting log.
Adams was often frustrated with the development of the park during his long life there. When he was young, he felt as if seeing others in the wilderness was “an intrusion or even trespass” and wrote many letters to the national park service bemoaning the commercialization of Yosemite.
But he outgrew the desire for privacy in the park. “Nature is always better when left to itself — but for what purpose?” he wrote. “Starry-eyed reaction to the splendors of nature is an invaluable experience for everyone.”
The Ansel Adams Gallery (209-372-4413; http://www.anseladams.com/) hosts free camera walks, showings of rare Adams prints and a biographical movie. The gallery also runs private and group photography lessons for fees that range from $250 to $700. It costs $20 a car to enter Yosemite National Park (www.nps.gov/yose/) and visitors must make reservations to camp or stay in hotels there.
Friday, April 25, 2008
April 25, 2008
America is in line at the airport. America has its shoes off, is carrying a rubberized bin, is going through a magnetometer. America is worried there is fungus on the floor after a million stockinged feet have walked on it. But America knows not to ask. America is guilty until proved innocent, and no one wants to draw undue attention. America left its ticket and passport in the jacket in the bin in the X-ray machine, and is admonished. America is embarrassed to have put one one-ounce moisturizer too many in the see-through bag. America is irritated that the TSA agent removed its mascara, opened it, put it to her nose, and smelled it. Why don't you put it up your nose and see if it explodes? America thinks.
And, as always: Why do we do this when you know I am not a terrorist, and you know I know you know I am not a terrorist? Why this costly and harassing kabuki when we both know the facts, and would agree that all this harassment is the government's way of showing "fairness," of showing that it will equally humiliate anyone in order to show its high-mindedness and sense of justice? Our politicians congratulate themselves on this as we stand in line.
All the frisking, beeping and patting down is demoralizing to our society. It breeds resentment, encourages a sense that the normal are not in control, that common sense is yesterday. Another thing: It reduces the status of that ancestral arbiter and leader of society, the middle-aged woman. In the new fairness, she is treated like everyone, without respect, like the loud ruffian and the vulgar girl on the phone. The middle-aged woman is the one spread-eagled over there in the delicate shell beneath the removed jacket, praying nothing on her body goes beep and makes people look.
America makes it through security, gets to the gate, waits. The TV monitor is on. It is Wolf Blitzer. He is telling us with a voice of urgency of the Pennsylvania returns. But no one looks up. We are a nation of Willie Lomans, dragging our rollies through acres of airport, going through life with a suitcase and a slack jaw, trying to get home after a long day of meetings, of moving product.
No one in crowded gate 14 looks up to see what happened in Pennsylvania. No one. Wolf talks to the air. Gate 14 is small-town America, a mix, a group of people of all classes and races brought together and living in close proximity until the plane is called, and America knows what Samuel Johnson knew. "How small of all that human hearts endure / That part which laws or kings can cause or cure."
Gate 14 doesn't think any one of the candidates is going to make their lives better. Gate 14 will vote anyway, because they know they are the grownups of America and must play the role and do the job.
* * *
So: Pennsylvania. As seen from the distance of West Texas, central California and Oklahoma, which is where I've been.
Main thought. Hillary Clinton is not Barack Obama's problem. America is Mr. Obama's problem. He has been tagged as a snooty lefty, as the glamorous, ambivalent candidate from Men's Vogue, the candidate who loves America because of the great progress it has made in terms of racial fairness. Fine, good. But has he ever gotten misty-eyed over . . . the Wright Brothers and what kind of country allowed them to go off on their own and change everything? How about D-Day, or George Washington, or Henry Ford, or the losers and brigands who flocked to Sutter's Mill, who pushed their way west because there was gold in them thar hills? There's gold in that history.
John McCain carries it in his bones. Mr. McCain learned it in school, in the Naval Academy, and, literally, at grandpa's knee. Mrs. Clinton learned at least its importance in her long slog through Arkansas, circa 1977-92.
Mr. Obama? What does he think about all that history? Which is another way of saying: What does he think of America? That's why people talk about the flag pin absent from the lapel. They wonder if it means something. Not that the presence of the pin proves love of country – any cynic can wear a pin, and many cynics do. But what about Obama and America? Who would have taught him to love it, and what did he learn was loveable, and what does he think about it all?
Another challenge. Snooty lefties get angry when you ask them to talk about these things. They get resentful. Who are you to question my patriotism? But no one is questioning his patriotism, they're questioning its content, its fullness. Gate 14 has a right to hear this. They'd lean forward to hear.
This is an opportunity, for Mr. Obama needs an Act II. Act II is hard. Act II is where the promise of Act I is deepened, the plot thickens, and all is teed up for resolution and meaning. Mr. Obama's Act I was: I'm Obama. He enters the scene. Act III will be the convention and acceptance speech. After that a whole new drama begins. But for now he needs Act II. He should make his subject America.
* * *
Here's some comfort for him, for all Democrats. In Lubbock, Texas – Lubbock Comma Texas, the heart of Texas conservatism – they dislike President Bush. He has lost them. I was there and saw it. Confusion has been followed by frustration has turned into resentment, and this is huge. Everyone knows the president's poll numbers are at historic lows, but if he is over in Lubbock, there is no place in this country that likes him. I made a speech and moved around and I was tough on him and no one – not one – defended or disagreed. I did the same in North Carolina recently, and again no defenders. I did the same in Fresno, Calif., and no defenders, not one.
He has left on-the-ground conservatives – the local right-winger, the town intellectual reading Burke and Kirk, the old Reagan committeewoman – feeling undefended, unrepresented and alone.
This will have impact down the road.
I finally understand the party nostalgia for Reagan. Everyone speaks of him now, but it wasn't that way in 2000, or 1992, or 1996, or even '04.
I think it is a manifestation of dislike for and disappointment in Mr. Bush. It is a turning away that is a turning back. It is a looking back to conservatism when conservatism was clear, knew what it was, was grounded in the facts of the world.
The reasons for the quiet break with Mr. Bush: spending, they say first, growth in the power and size of government, Iraq. I imagine some of this: a fine and bitter conservative sense that he has never had to stand in his stockinged feet at the airport holding the bin, being harassed. He has never had to live in the world he helped make, the one where grandma's hip replacement is setting off the beeper here and the child is crying there. And of course as a former president, with the entourage and the private jets, he never will. I bet conservatives don't like it. I'm certain Gate 14 doesn't.
By Jonah Goldberg
April 25, 2008 12:00 AM
Time magazine recently doctored the iconic photo of the flag-raising at Iwo Jima in order to “celebrate” Earth Day. Instead of Marines valiantly struggling to lift the stars and stripes, they are depicted planting a
No doubt Time’s editors think they will be celebrated in poetry and song for generations to come for their high-minded cleverness. Still, if the symbolism wasn’t clear enough, Time writer Bryan Walsh spells it out: “Green is the new red, white and blue.”
There are any number of problems here, starting with the fact that this is simply a lie. Green is not the new red, white, and blue. Concern over climate change may be the most honorable and vital thing imaginable. But if “the red, white and blue” means anything, it means patriotism or love of country. Patriotism and environmentalism simply aren’t synonymous terms. Two things can be good without being the same. Fatherhood and all-you-can-eat chicken wings, for example, don’t describe identical phenomena.
Even if Walsh and his bosses at Time were merely trying to be descriptive of American attitudes, they’d still be flat-out wrong. If Americans saw environmentalism as the purest expression of patriotic sentiment — like, say, buying Liberty Bonds during WWI — Time’s declaration might be defensible. But Americans don’t think any such thing.
The latest Gallup environmental survey shows that only 37 percent of Americans worry about global warming “a great deal,” a drop from 41 percent last year. Indeed, the share of Americans greatly concerned with climate change is about the same as it was a decade ago, which still sounds a bit high since the globe pretty much stopped getting warmer in 1998. Even among environmental concerns, climate change isn’t priority No. 1 for most Americans.
The editors of Time surely know this, which explains their real motive: They want to persuade Americans otherwise. And they are honest about it. Richard Stengel, Time’s managing editor, who recently admitted that he doesn’t much care about “objective” journalism, insists that “there needs to be an effort along the lines of preparing for World War II to combat global warming and climate change.”
“The U.S. produces nearly a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gases,” Time reports, “... and has stubbornly made it clear that it doesn’t intend to do a whole lot about it.” And thus we see the new patriotism wheeling around to identify the real villain. In World War II, we fought an epic battle for freedom, democracy, decency and capitalism. In the new moral equivalent of World War II, the trinitarian evil of Hitler, Mussolini, and Tojo is replaced with One True Satan, and he is . . . us.
Rather than wade into the science and economics of global warming yet again, let us instead dissipate the hot air of the liberal obsession with the moral equivalent of war. In brief: There is no such thing as the moral equivalent of war. Whatever war is, it is war. The good that comes from war is unique to war. The evil that comes from war is unique to war, too. Even natural disasters that require citizens to drop what they are doing to help those in need cannot truly be compared to war because natural disasters are never evil in intent. (If they were, we would call tornados “acts of Satan,” not “acts of God.”)
Ever since philosopher William James coined the phrase “moral equivalent of war,” self-described progressives have sought to galvanize the masses for collective purposes. They have loved the idea of war-without-war precisely because they want a public that follows in lockstep and individuals who will sacrifice their personal ambitions for the “greater good.” This is what John Dewey, James’s disciple, called the “social benefits of war.” Dewey, later a famous pacifist, supported WWI because he believed it would usher in an age of collectivism and crush laissez-faire capitalism.
The yearning for a moral equivalent of war is an understandable desire, perhaps even noble in its intent. But it is not democratic. It is fundamentally authoritarian, which might explain why so many environmentalists envy China’s ability to ban plastic bags without reference to a vote or a court or anything other than the will of the China’s technocratic rulers. Indeed, the authors of “The Climate Change Challenge and the Failure of Democracy” openly question whether the crisis of climate change should render liberal democracy obsolete. For some it seems the moral equivalent of war requires the moral equivalent of a police state.
This is the atmosphere Time is helping to poison, with pollutants far worse than mere greenhouse gasses.
— Jonah Goldberg is the author of Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning.
This eulogy was delivered by Bruce Springsteen at Danny's funeral on April 21 in Red Bank, New Jersey:
Let me start with the stories.
Back in the days of miracles, the frontier days when "Mad Dog" Lopez and his temper struck fear into the band, small club owners, innocent civilians and all women, children and small animals.
Back in the days when you could still sign your life away on the hood of a parked car in New York City.
Back shortly after a young red-headed accordionist struck gold on the Ted Mack Amateur Hour and he and his mama were sent to Switzerland to show them how it's really done.
Back before beach bums were featured on the cover of Time magazine.
I'm talking about back when the E Street Band was a communist organization! My pal, quiet, shy Dan Federici, was a one-man creator of some of the hairiest circumstances of our 40 year career... And that wasn't easy to do. He had "Mad Dog" Lopez to compete with.... Danny just outlasted him.
Maybe it was the "police riot" in Middletown, New Jersey. A show we were doing to raise bail money for "Mad Log" Lopez who was in jail in Richmond, Virginia, for having an altercation with police officers who we'd aggravated by playing too long. Danny allegedly knocked over our huge Marshall stacks on some of Middletown's finest who had rushed the stage because we broke the law by...playing too long.
As I stood there watching, several police oficers crawled out from underneath the speaker cabinets and rushed away to seek medical attention. Another nice young officer stood in front of me onstage waving his nightstick, poking and calling me nasty names. I looked over to see Danny with a beefy police officer pulling on one arm while Flo Federici, his first wife, pulled on the other, assisting her man in resisting arrest.
A kid leapt from the audience onto the stage, momentarily distracting the beefy officer with the insults of the day. Forever thereafter, "Phantom" Dan Federici slipped into the crowd and disappeared.
A warrant out for his arrest and one month on the lam later, he still hadn't been brought to justice. We hid him in various places but now we had a problem. We had a show coming at Monmouth College. We needed the money and we had to do the gig. We tried a replacement but it didn't work out. So Danny, to all of our admiration, stepped up and said he'd risk his freedom, take the chance and play.
Show night. 2,000 screaming fans in the Monmouth College gym. We had it worked out so Danny would not appear onstage until the moment we started playing. We figured the police who were there to arrest him wouldn't do so onstage during the show and risk starting another riot.
Let me set the scene for you. Danny is hiding, hunkered down in the backseat of a car in the parking lot. At five minutes to eight, our scheduled start time, I go out to whisk him in. I tap on the window.
"Danny, come on, it's time."
I hear back, "I'm not going."
Me: "What do you mean you're not going?"
Danny: "The cops are on the roof of the gym. I've seen them and they're going to nail me the minute I step out of this car."
As I open the door, I realize that Danny has been smoking a little something and had grown rather paranoid. I said, "Dan, there are no cops on the roof."
He says, "Yes, I saw them, I tell you. I'm not coming in."
So I used a procedure I'd call on often over the next forty years in dealing with my old pal's concerns. I threatened him...and cajoled. Finally, out he came. Across the parking lot and into the gym we swept for a rapturous concert during which we laughted like thieves at our excellent dodge of the local cops.
At the end of the evening, during the last song, I pulled the entire crowd up onto the stage and Danny slipped into the audience and out the front door. Once again, "Phantom" Dan had made his exit. (I still get the occasional card from the old Chief of Police of Middletown wishing us well. Our histories are forever intertwined.) And that, my friends, was only the beginning.
There was the time Danny quit the band during a rough period at Max's Kansas City, explaining to me that he was leaving to fix televisions. I asked him to think about that and come back later.
Or Danny, in the band rental car, bouncing off several parked cars after a night of entertainment, smashing out the windshield with his head but saved from severe injury by the huge hard cowboy hat he bought in Texas on our last Western swing.
Or Danny, leaving a large marijuana plant on the front seat of his car in a tow away zone. The car was promptly towed. He said, "Bruce, I'm going to go down and report that it was stolen." I said, "I'm not sure that's a good idea."
Down he went and straight into the slammer without passing go.
Or Danny, the only member of the E Street Band to be physically thrown out of the Stone Pony. Considering all the money we made them, that wasn't easy to do.
Or Danny receiving and surviving a "cautionary assault" from an enraged but restrained "Big Man" Clarence Clemons while they were living together and Danny finally drove the "Big Man" over the big top.
Or Danny assisting me in removing my foot from his stereo speaker after being the only band member ever to drive me into a violent rage.
And through it all, Danny played his beautiful, soulful B3 organ for me and our love grew. And continued to grow. Life is funny like that. He was my homeboy, and great, and for that you make considerations... And he was much more tolerant of my failures than I was of his.
When Danny wasn't causing chaos, he was a sweet, talented, unassuming, unpretentious good-hearted guy who simply had an unchecked ability to make good fortune and things in general go fabulously wrong.
But beyond all of that, he also had a mountain of the right stuff. He had the heart and soul of an engineer. He learned to fly. He was always up on the latest technology and would explain it to you patiently and in enormous detail. He was always "souping" something up, his car, his stereo, his B3. When Patti joined the band, he was the most welcoming, thoughtful, kindest friend to the first woman entering our "boys club."
He loved his kids, always bragging about Jason, Harley, and Madison, and he loved his wife Maya for the new things she brought into his life.
And then there was his artistry. He was the most intuitive player I've ever seen. His style was slippery and fluid, drawn to the spaces the other musicians in the E Street Band left. He wasn't an assertive player, he was a complementary player. A true accompanist. He naturally supplied the glue that bound the band's sound together. In doing so, he created for himself a very specific style. When you hear Dan Federici, you don't hear a blanket of sound, you hear a riff, packed with energy, flying above everything else for a few moments and then gone back in the track. "Phantom" Dan Federici. Now you hear him, now you don't.
Offstage, Danny couldn't recite a lyric or a chord progression for one of my songs. Onstage, his ears opened up. He listened, he felt, he played, finding the perfect hole and placement for a chord or a flurry of notes. This style created a tremendous feeling of spontaneity in our ensemble playing.
In the studio, if I wanted to loosen up the track we were recording, I'd put Danny on it and not tell him what to play. I'd just set him loose. He brought with him the sound of the carnival, the amusements, the boardwalk, the beach, the geography of our youth and the heart and soul of the birthplace of the E Street Band.
Then we grew up. Very slowly. We stood together through a lot of trials and tribulations. Danny's response to a mistake onstage, hard times, catastrophic events was usually a shrug and a smile. Sort of an "I am but one man in a raging sea, but I'm still afloat. And we're all still here."
I watched Danny fight and conquer some tough addictions. I watched him struggle to put his life together and in the last decade when the band reunited, thrive on sitting in his seat behind that big B3, filled with life and, yes, a new maturity, passion for his job, his family and his home in the brother and sisterhood of our band.
Finally, I watched him fight his cancer without complaint and with great courage and spirit. When I asked him how things looked, he just said, "what are you going to do? I'm looking forward to tomorrow." Danny, the sunny side up fatalist. He never gave up right to the end.
A few weeks back we ended up onstage in Indianapolis for what would be the last time. Before we went on I asked him what he wanted to play and he said, "Sandy." He wanted to strap on the accordion and revisit the boardwalk of our youth during the summer nights when we'd walk along the boards with all the time in the world.
So what if we just smashed into three parked cars, it's a beautiful night! So what if we're on the lam from the entire Middletown police department, let's go take a swim! He wanted to play once more the song that is of course about the end of something wonderful and the beginning of something unknown and new.
Let's go back to the days of miracles. Pete Townshend said, "a rock and roll band is a crazy thing. You meet some people when you're a kid and unlike any other occupation in the whole world, you're stuck with them your whole life no matter who they are or what crazy things they do."
If we didn't play together, the E Street Band at this point would probably not know one another. We wouldn't be in this room together. But we do... We do play together. And every night at 8 p.m., we walk out on stage together and that, my friends, is a place where miracles occur...old and new miracles. And those you are with, in the presence of miracles, you never forget. Life does not separate you. Death does not separate you. Those you are with who create miracles for you, like Danny did for me every night, you are honored to be amongst.
Of course we all grow up and we know "it's only rock and roll"...but it's not. After a lifetime of watching a man perform his miracle for you, night after night, it feels an awful lot like love.
So today, making another one of his mysterious exits, we say farewell to Danny, "Phantom" Dan, Federici. Father, husband, my brother, my friend, my mystery, my thorn, my rose, my keyboard player, my miracle man and lifelong member in good standing of the house rockin', pants droppin', earth shockin', hard rockin', booty shakin', love makin', heart breakin', soul cryin'... and, yes, death defyin' legendary E Street Band.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
The key problem for Hillary's campaign is that normal people reel back in horror at her association with the Clinton administration. (Which is why, as her supporter, I refer to her as simply "Hillary.")
If Hillary could run exclusively on her record since becoming a senator from New York, she'd be a relatively moderate Democrat who hates the loony left -- as we found out this week when a tape of Hillary denouncing Moveon.org surfaced. Think Joe Biden in a pantsuit.
But because of her unfortunate marriage, Hillary comes with a cast of undesirables like James Carville, Paul Begala, Terry McAuliffe, Joe Conason -- and of course Bill Clinton, along with his trusted impeachment manager Larry Flynt. Buy one, get the entire dirt-bag collection free!C
No one wants those people back.
Even semi-respectable Democrats look sleazy by their association with the Clintons. No serious Democrat defended Clinton over his "presidential kneepads" incident with Monica Lewinsky. OK, that's not including adult film star Ron Jeremy, if you consider him a serious Democrat. Which I do.
That's why cable TV producers had to call in the O.J. defenders to flack for Clinton during his impeachment. Any Democrats still clinging to Hillary at this point appear to be soulless climbers desperate for jobs in the next administration.
So repellent are Bill Clinton's friends (to the extent that a sociopathic sex offender with a narcissistic disorder can actually experience friendship in the conventional sense) that B. Hussein Obama's association with a raving racist reverend and a former member of the Weather Underground hasn't caused as much damage as it should.
On one hand, Obama pals around with terrorists. On the other hand, Hillary pals around with James Carville. Advantage: Obama.
Asked why he would be friends with the likes of Weatherman Bill Ayers, Obama said: "The notion that ... me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values doesn't make much sense."
That's a slick answer -- even "Clintonian"! -- but the problem is, Ayers and his Weatherman wife, Bernadine Dohrn, won't stop boasting about their days as Weathermen.
It's not simply that they haven't repented. To the contrary, those were their glory days! And Ayers isn't just someone who lives in the neighborhood: He and Dohrn were there at the inception of Obama's political career, hosting a fundraiser for Obama at their home back in 1995.
Besides wanton violence, including a dozen bombings of buildings such as the Pentagon, the U.S. Capitol, historic statues and various police stations, the Weathermen's "revolutionary" activity consisted primarily of using the word "motherf-----" a lot, dropping LSD, coming up with cutesy phrases -- like "the Weather Underground" -- and competing over who could make the most offensive statements in public. (I also believe Dohrn may have set the North American record for longest stretch without bathing.)
At one rally, Dohrn famously praised the Manson family for murdering Sharon Tate and others, shouting: "Dig it. First they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them. They even shoved a fork into a victim's stomach! Wild!"
In a better country, just saying "Dig it!" in public would get you 20 years in the slammer.
Dohrn has recently tried to clarify her Manson remarks by saying it was some sort of "statement" about violence in society and, furthermore, that she said it while under sniper fire in Bosnia. Also recently, the members of the Manson family have distanced themselves from Ayers and Dohrn.
At other rallies, Dohrn said, "Bring the revolution home, kill your parents -- that's where it's at."
After a Chicago Democratic official, Richard Elrod, became paralyzed while fighting with a privileged looter during the Weathermen's "Days of Rage," Dohrn led the Weathermen in a song sung to the tune of Bob Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay":
Lay, Elrod, lay,
Lay in the street for a while
Stay, Elrod, stay
Stay in your bed for a while
You thought you could stop the Weatherman
But up-front people put you on your can,
Stay, Elrod, stay
Stay in your iron lung,
Play, Elrod, play
Play with your toes for a while
Only because of a merciful God is the author of that ditty, Ted Gold, not teaching at Northwestern or the University of Illinois now, alongside Dohrn or Ayers. That's because Gold is no longer with us, having accidentally blown himself up with a bomb intended for a dance at Fort Dix for new recruits and their dates.
While trying to assemble the bomb at an elegant Greenwich Village townhouse that belonged to one of the revolutionaries' fathers, the bungling Weathermen blew up the entire townhouse, killing Gold and two other butterfingered revolutionaries. Leave it to these nincompoops to turn their glorious Marxist revolution into an "I Love Lucy" sketch.
So in addition to being stupid and violent, the Weathermen were also incompetent terrorists. Would that Timothy McVeigh had been so inept!
If he had only said he bombed the building in Oklahoma City to protest American "imperialism," McVeigh, too, could be teaching at Northwestern University, sitting on a board with and holding fundraisers for presidential candidate B. Hussein Obama.
Ann Coulter is Legal Affairs Correspondent for HUMAN EVENTS and author of "High Crimes and Misdemeanors," "Slander," ""How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must)," "Godless," and most recently, "If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans."
April 24, 2008
If an unfriendly power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. -- "A Nation At Risk" (1983)
WASHINGTON -- Let us limp down memory lane to mark this week's melancholy 25th anniversary of a national commission's report that galvanized Americans to vow to do better. Today the nation still ignores what had been learned years before 1983.
Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan once puckishly said that data indicated that the leading determinant of the quality of public schools, measured by standardized tests, was the schools' proximity to Canada. He meant that the geographic correlation was stronger than the correlation between high test scores and high per pupil expenditures.
Moynihan also knew that schools cannot compensate for the disintegration of families, and hence communities -- the primary transmitters of social capital. No reform can enable schools to cope with the 36.9 percent of all children and 69.9 percent of black children today born out of wedlock, which means, among many other things, a continually renewed cohort of unruly adolescent males.
Chester Finn, a former Moynihan aide, notes in his splendid new memoir ("Troublemaker: A Personal History of School Reform Since Sputnik") that during the Depression-era job scarcity, high schools were used to keep students out of the job market, shunting many into nonacademic classes. By 1961, those classes had risen to 43 percent of all those taken by students. After 1962, when New York City signed the nation's first collective bargaining contract with teachers, teachers began changing from members of a respected profession into just another muscular faction fighting for more government money. Between 1975 and 1980 there were a thousand strikes involving a million teachers whose salaries rose as students' scores on standardized tests declined.
In 1964, SAT scores among college-bound students peaked. In 1965, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) codified confidence in the correlation between financial inputs and cognitive outputs in education. But in 1966, the Coleman report, the result of the largest social science project in history, reached a conclusion so "seismic" -- Moynihan's description -- that the government almost refused to publish it.
Released quietly on the Fourth of July weekend, the report concluded that the qualities of the families from which children come to school matter much more than money as predictors of schools' effectiveness. The crucial common denominator of problems of race and class -- fractured families -- would have to be faced.
But it wasn't. Instead, shopworn panaceas -- larger teacher salaries, smaller class sizes -- were pursued as colleges were reduced to offering remediation to freshmen.
In 1976, for the first time in its 119-year history, the National Education Association, the teachers union, endorsed a presidential candidate, Jimmy Carter, who repaid it by creating the Education Department, a monument to the premise that money and government programs matter most. At the NEA's behest, the nation has expanded the number of teachers much faster than the number of students has grown. Hiring more, rather than more competent, teachers meant more dues-paying union members. For decades, schools have been treated as laboratories for various equity experiments. Fads incubated in education schools gave us "open" classrooms, teachers as "facilitators of learning" rather than transmitters of knowledge, abandonment of a literary canon in the name of "multiculturalism," and so on, producing a majority of high school juniors who could not locate the Civil War in the proper half-century.
In 1994, Congress grandly decreed that by 2000 the high school graduation rate would be "at least" 90 percent and that American students would be "first in the world in mathematics and science achievement." Moynihan, likening such goals to Soviet grain quotas -- solemnly avowed, never fulfilled -- said: "That will not happen." It did not.
Moynihan was a neoconservative before neoconservatism became a doctrine of foreign policy hubris. Originally, it taught domestic policy humility. Moynihan, a social scientist, understood that social science tells us not what to do but what is not working, which today includes No Child Left Behind. Finn thinks NCLB got things backward: "The law should have set uniform standards and measures for the nation, then freed states, districts and schools to produce those results as they think best." Instead, it left standards up to the states, which have an incentive to dumb them down to make compliance easier.
A nation at risk? Now more than ever.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Anti-Semitism and the accompanying hate industry are a strategic danger for Israel and the Jewish people: generations of Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims are brought up hating the Jews;…indiscriminate Palestinian terrorism against Israel is made palatable, as is Hezbollah’s Shi’ite terrorism and that of Al-Qaeda, when directed against Israel and Jews around the world.
So say the just-released main findings of a major, 180-page study on “Contemporary Arab-Muslim Anti-Semitism” by Israel’s Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. The study will be widely distributed among Israeli policymakers and should also be read attentively by policymakers in other countries who deal with the “Arab-Israeli conflict”—which means particularly American policymakers.
Among the report’s other key findings are that:
* Arab-Muslim anti-Semitism “is generally directed against Israel as a Jewish-Zionist state as an enemy of the Arab-Muslim world….” In other words, the emphasis is not on Israel’s alleged injustices toward the Palestinians or “occupation,” but on Israel’s very existence. It is widely believed—axiomatically in some quarters—that the “Arab-Israeli conflict” has now been whittled down to the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict” and resolving the latter will put the whole issue to rest. That, of course, cannot be right when the focus of the hatred is on Israel itself and not on its policies, or shape or size.
* “Arab-Muslim anti-Semitism has a broad field, rather than being marginal. It is not only popular among the lower classes nor is it the exclusive province of intellectuals, opposition groups or radical Islamic movements. Arab-Muslim regimes in the Middle East all use it….” The study notes that this not only includes regimes like Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon but also the two, Egypt and Jordan, that have signed peace treaties with Israel.
* “Anti-Semitism with Muslim roots is growing. Verses from the Qur’an and the Islamic oral tradition are politically interpreted in the spirit of radical Islam to delegitimize Zionism and the State of Israel and to dehumanize the Jewish people.” That is, while there is still much importation of European anti-Semitism—for instance, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is now “being published in new editions in Egypt, Syria, Iran and other countries”—the hatred is now increasingly indigenous and locally rooted, making it even harder to change.
* “Holocaust denial or minimization and accusing Israel of carrying out a holocaust against the Palestinians, and drawing a parallel between Israel and Zionism on the one hand and Nazi Germany on the other, are central themes in contemporary Arab-Muslim anti-Semitism. The motifs used…are often taken from Western neo-Nazi literature, media and rhetoric…. Accusing Israel of carrying out a holocaust against the Palestinian people is fostered by the Palestinian and Arab media (as part of their intensive propaganda campaign against the State of Israel) and is well received and assimilated in the Arab world.”
* Both “the worsening of the confrontations between Israel and the Palestinians or Hezbollah or, on the other side of the scales, progress in the peace process which is opposed by many Arabs and Muslins, all increase anti-Semitic manifestations in the Arab-Muslim world.” Clearly this flies in the face of stock assumptions that the “peace process” is a cure-all for the hostility and that concessions will win Israel reprieve.
* “Conspicuous in recent years has been the Iranian regime’s turning anti-Semitism and the desire to destroy the State of Israel into a strategic weapon…. Anti-Semitism supported by a state which publicly adheres to a policy of genocide and is making efforts to arm itself with non-conventional weapons which will enable it to carry out that policy is unprecedented since Nazi Germany.”
Some important implications of these findings are:
1. The United States should not pressure Israel into enacting a “peace process” with anti-Semites in which all the tangible concessions—including strategic land, religious sites, the integrity of its capital city, and so on—are made by Israel. One either takes anti-Semitism seriously or one doesn’t. The State Department publishes a detailed “Report on Global Anti-Semitism” each year; the ethos of Holocaust commemoration is strong in the U.S. as in some other democratic countries. Seemingly, then, U.S. officials should have enough appreciation of the depth and toxicity of anti-Semitism that they should take it seriously in its contemporary Arab-Muslim form. It makes no sense to treat Holocaust denial as criminal when practiced by a few odious individuals while ignoring the fact that it is endemic to whole societies with which Israel is supposed to be making peace.
The fact that there are weak Israelis (and other Jews) who also pursue the “peace process” is not an excuse always to back the most delusional, capitulationist tendencies in Israel. Israelis are under great pressure from the Arab-Muslim hatred combined with the policy expectations of the United States and other purportedly friendly actors and it is no surprise that some Israelis buckle. The sight of formerly tough-minded, realistic Israelis like Prime Minister Olmert and Foreign Minister Livni talking glowingly about their longing for the Palestinian state abutting Israel is not encouraging but, rather, shameful. U.S. officials, perhaps particularly conservative ones, should be much better disposed than they are toward more courageous Israeli leaders who incorporate the surrounding hatred into their worldview instead of relating to them as scandalous nuisances.
2. The widespread Arab-Muslim anti-Semitism offers a clear, parsimonious explanation for the disastrous failures of Israeli and U.S. “peacemaking” policies over the past two decades. That the hugely touted Oslo process with Arafat resulted in horrific bloodletting, the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon resulted in its conversion into a major forward base for Iranian-backed terror, and the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza resulted in a rain of rockets and still further Iranian-backed entrenchment of terror can all be traced to the fact that hatred and rejection of Israel is dominant in the Arab-Muslim world and the forces that spearhead it are the most energetic, disciplined, and popular ones. There is, again, no excuse not to extrapolate from these miserable failures and realize that further Israeli concessions in the West Bank will reap the same bitter harvest, especially when the Palestinian society there is particularly rife with the hatred.
3. That Arab aggression against Israel was extreme even before the period of intensified, Islamist-inspired anti-Semitism further underlines the stark nature of the situation today. The 1948, 1967, and 1973 wars—Arab onslaughts on Israel aimed at eradicating it—occurred in an earlier period before Islamism was ascendant and secular nationalism was thought to be the driving force in the Arab world.
That does not mean the picture today is monolithic and diplomacy has no role to play in the Arab-Israeli sphere. The Mubarak regime in Egypt, while steadily working to undermine Israel in other ways, has refrained from the all-out war option for thirty years. The Abdullah regime in Jordan keeps it border with Israel quiet and avoids hostilities. Some Arab regimes put belligerence toward Israel on the back burner or even lose interest in it; some are capable of tacit cooperation with Israel against common foes.
The point, though, is that given the prevalence and virulence of the anti-Israeli hatred, opportunities for pacification and even cooperation are best pursued behind the scenes and without fanfare. It has been the heavily public “Israeli-Palestinian peace process” since the early 1990s that not only has had the bloodiest consequences but also has done the most to invigorate the hatred in the Middle East and beyond.
4. As in the Iraqi, Lebanese, and Israeli-Palestinian spheres, so in the sphere of the general anti-Israeli hatred the central malevolent force is Iran. Although the hatred transcends Iran and would continue to exist if the regime was neutralized, Iran’s welding together of genocidal propaganda, ambitions, and weapons means it should be the focus of anyone seriously concerned to address the problem beyond photo-ops or fake displays of harmony.
Orlando Sentinel Pop Music Critic
April 24, 2008
A time to dance, a time to mourn.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band covered a lot of territory in a rousing, rowdy, emotionally charged rock 'n' roll marathon Wednesday night at Amway Arena.
Yeah, the Boss and the band handle a rock show with unconscious skill on a typical evening, but the energy level on this night was higher. This group is family -- and in the wake of the unexpected death last week of keyboardist Danny Federici -- that bond was more apparent than ever.
The show opened with a montage of Federici photos on the big video screens as "Blood Brothers" played beneath it in the darkness: "Here's a little something in remembrance of Danny," Springsteen said in the shadows.
That kind of stuff could become maudlin, but the Boss is seasoned enough to know that the best tribute to his longtime band mate was merely to do what the E Street Band does best. Although Federici wasn't there, his spirit was honored in the most noble and appropriate way: In song.
And what an amazing array of them.
For a solid 2 hours and 40 minutes, Springsteen and the band unleashed an illuminating and inspired cross-section of its historic repertoire. Watching these guys ought to be a lesson for countless current rock stars, who do a passable 75 minutes and head for the bus. Instead, on this night, the music virtually never stopped.
Early on, the emphasis seemed to be on vintage early material, such as "Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?," "Spirit in the Night," and "Lost in the Flood." All the songs have worn well, whether it's the slinky R&B groove of "82nd Street" or the wistful combination of Springsteen's harmonica and Clarence Clemons' tenor sax on "The River."
Although the sound mix was harsh in the early going, the balance soon stabilized to showcase the talents of a band that still is a dynamo, even in the AARP demographic.
That power was in evidence in a stirring segue that bounded from "Candy's Room" to "Prove It All Night" to "She's the One," the latter a perennial showstopper powered by Max Weinberg's pounding Bo Diddley rhythm. Not to be outdone, guitarist Nils Lofgren unleashed arpeggios like a crazy man in "Prove It All Night."
It's also interesting to realize how well Springsteen's new songs compare with the classics. On Wednesday, the transition from Magic's "Livin' In the Future" to "Promised Land" was seamless enough to think that the songs had been back-to-back album tracks.
But the sheer joy of this night was the feeling that anything might happen:
Like when a fan handed Bruce the placard about waiting 30 years to hear "Jungleland" live -- and then watching the band launch into it, as if on cue. Or watching the Byrds' Roger McGuinn step into the spotlight to duet on "Turn, Turn, Turn" and then hang around for "Mr. Tambourine Man," for good measure.
Such magic moments turn music into memories that, like the songs, ought to be eternal.
Jim Abbott can be reached at email@example.com or 407-420-6213.
Blood Brothers (Alt. Version)
Out in the Street
Spirit in the Night
Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?
Prove It All Night
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Lost in the Flood
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
* * *
Turn! Turn! Turn! (with Roger McGuinn)
Mr. Tambourine Man (with Roger McGuinn)
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
(Click on title to play video)
Into The West
your sweet and weary head.
Night is falling.
You have come to journey’s end.
Sleep now, and dream
of the ones who came before.
They are calling,
from across a distant shore.
Why do you weep?
What are these tears upon your face?
Soon you will see.
All of your fears will pass away.
Safe in my arms,
you’re only sleeping.
What can you see,
on the horizon?
Why do the white gulls call?
Across the sea,
a pale moon rises.
The ships have come,
to carry you home.
And all will turn,
to silver glass.
A light on the water.
All souls pass.
Into the world of night.
Through shadows falling,
Out of memory and time.
We have come now to the end.
White shores are calling.
You and I will meet again.
And you’ll be here in my arms,
What can you see,
on the horizon?
Why do the white gulls call?
Across the sea,
a pale moon rises.
The ships have come,
to carry you home.
And all will turn,
to silver glass.
A light on the water.
Grey ships pass
Into the West.
At the three year anniversary vigil calling for the release of Sami Al-Arian. Over 150 people attended this year's vigil outside the Hillsborough County Jail. (2/6/06)
Is jailed Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Sami Al-Arian the innocent victim of a government vendetta? That’s what the New York Times would have you believe: the Gray Lady reported Friday that the former University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian faces new charges, and stated that “the Justice Department and some independent terrorism investigators have long accused Mr. Al-Arian of being the main North America organizer for Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which has claimed responsibility for some of the more deadly suicide bombings against Israeli targets and which the United States has designated a terrorist organization.”
However, the Times will have none of it, and wants to make sure you don’t, either: “Mr. Al-Arian’s supporters, though, say that he is nothing more sinister than an outspoken Palestinian activist, and that the Justice Department has tried to exploit the post-Sept. 11 mood in the United States to punish him for that, using legal maneuvering to keep him behind bars.” Times reporter Neil MacFarquhar quotes Al-Arian’s defense attorney, Jonathan Turley, saying: “The government has shown a willingness to go to the most extreme lengths to prolong Mr. Al-Arian’s incarceration.”
Is Al-Arian really a modern-day martyr, a sacrifice to the war on terror? Well, the Times did not see fit to print the fact that in reality, Al-Arian pleaded guilty to a charge of “conspiracy to make or receive contributions of funds to or for the benefit of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a Specially Designated Terrorist” organization. His plea states that, “Defendant is pleading guilty because defendant is in fact guilty. The defendant certifies that the defendant does hereby admit that the facts set forth [in the plea agreement] are true, and were this case to go to trial, the United States would be able to prove those specific facts and others beyond a reasonable doubt.” What’s more, Al-Arian acknowledged that he was “pleading guilty freely and voluntarily…and without threats, force, intimidation, or coercion of any kind.”
What kind of work did Al-Arian do for the PIJ? The Investigative Project reports that “Alisa Flatow was a 20-year-old Brandeis student studying in Israel when a suicide bomber blew up a bus she was riding on in 1995. It was less than three months after Al-Arian wrote his letter praising the double suicide bombing and seeking support ‘so that operations such as these can continue.’”
Despite this, or perhaps because of it, for years now liberals have lionized Al-Arian as the victim of a right-wing witch hunt. The New York Times was among the leaders of those calling for his canonization early on. In March 2002 Nicholas Kristof asserted in the Times that “the point is not whether one agrees with Professor Al-Arian, a rumpled academic with a salt-and-pepper beard who is harshly critical of Israel (and also of repressive Arab countries) -- but who also denounces terrorism, promotes inter-faith services with Jews and Christians, and led students at his Islamic school to a memorial service after 9/11 where they all sang ‘God Bless America.’ No, the larger point is that a university, even a country, becomes sterile when people are too intimidated to say things out of the mainstream.”
Ah. How could a rumpled academic who denounces terrorism and promotes inter-faith services be bad? He’s just a free spirit repressed by vicious right-wingers! Oh, and by the way, what did Al-Arian say that was out of the mainstream? Nothing much -- just a few bouts of exuberance like “Death to America, death to Israel, jihad, jihad, jihad!”
For this Phil Donahue fawned over Al-Arian on his TV interview show. “So, one more time, sir,” he fawned, “and I know that you’re probably getting tired of these same questions -- ‘death to Israel’ did not mean you wanted to kill Jews, do I understand your position?” After Al-Arian assured him of his pacifistic intentions, the awesomely gullible Phil worried for Al-Arian’s safety: “You are swimming upstream, professor, and this must be quite a shock to you. I know that your life has been threatened. I assume you have security.”
According to whichever liberal you happen to hear, Bill O’Reilly kicked this right-wing witch hunt into high gear during a wild interview on The O’Reilly Factor on September 26, 2001. “If I was the CIA, I’d follow you wherever you went,” O’Reilly told his guest, refusing to let Al-Arian off the hook about evidence that the professor was involved with jihadist individuals and organizations.
Eric Boehlert of Salon magazine was eager to slay the dragons of hysteria and bigotry that were besmirching the reputation of this harmless rumpled academic. His January 19, 2002 article was entitled “The prime-time smearing of Sami Al-Arian” and carried this subhead: “By pandering to anti-Arab hysteria, NBC, Fox News, Media General and Clear Channel radio disgraced themselves -- and ruined an innocent professor’s life.”
One might have thought that this kind of thing would end after Al-Arian pleaded guilty, but no such luck. Sami Al-Arian looks to be well on his way to becoming the new Alger Hiss. It didn’t matter to Hiss’s supporters how many people died miserable deaths in the Gulag their hero helped support, and it doesn’t seem to matter to Al-Arian’s friends at the New York Times how many innocent civilians the rumpled academic’s friends have blasted to bits on the streets of Tel Aviv.
Al-Arian has said: “Let us damn America, let us damn Israel, let us damn them and their allies until death.” These days, that’s the kind of talk that makes you a hero to the New York Times and the American Left.
Mr. Spencer is director of Jihad Watch and author of "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)" , "The Truth About Muhammad" and "Religion of Peace?" (all from Regnery -- a HUMAN EVENTS sister company).
By Michelle Malkin
April 23, 2008 12:00 AM
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah (R) meets former President Jimmy Carter at the Royal Palace in Riyadh April 19, 2008.
(Saudi Press Agency/Handout/Reuters)
So much for Jimmy Carter’s triumphal peace mission in the Middle East. Like everything else he has done on foreign policy, the world’s biggest tool for jihad propaganda created yet another bloody mess. Quick review: After proclaiming that Hamas terrorists were willing to accept Israel as a “neighbor next door,” Carter’s Hamas hug buddies flipped him the bird. They gladly accepted the diplomatic legitimacy Carter’s visit conferred upon them, while clinging bitterly to their insistence on the destruction of the Jewish state.
After laying a wreath in honor of the murderous Yasser Arafat, Carter dutifully agreed to deliver a letter from kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit to his parents on behalf of the terrorists who are holding him hostage. Shalit’s father rightly jeered Carter as nothing more than a postman for Hamas.
After Carter asserted that the State Department never clearly opposed his trip, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pointed out that she had explicitly warned him against meeting with Hamas. Not to mention all those bold-faced, unequivocal headlines before the trip announcing that “State Department opposes Carter meeting with Hamas chief” (USA Today) and “Rice Criticizes Carter for Reported Meeting Planned With Hamas” (Fox News).
What part of “Don’t meet with the Jew-hating killers, you idiot!” didn’t Carter understand?
Article 13 of the Hamas charter is also as clear as day: “There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.”
Jimmy Carter’s thick skull and moral myopia are an American embarrassment and an American problem. But more precisely: Jimmy Carter is a Democratic problem. He casts a long, feckless shadow over the party — and it will haunt the party through the Democratic National Convention in August and beyond.
Carter is a Democratic-party superdelegate who will undoubtedly seek a prominent role at the convention this August. But the party can ill afford a diarrhea-of-the-mouth moment from their elder terror apologist. The world is watching and listening.
Though he has not formally endorsed Barack Obama, Carter has made enough positive noise about the campaign to send Iranian TV into euphoria. The regime’s media arm led with an item earlier this week headlined, “Carter: Obama favorite worldwide.” The news item quoted Carter as saying that Obama is supported by “many people in Ghana, Nigeria and Nepal. … World opinion is strongly supportive of Obama, that’s all we hear.”
(Left off the list of legitimate world opinion, of course: Israel.)
Despite Obama’s milquetoast protestations of Carter’s visit and his technocratic disavowal of Hamas, Carter and Hamas are giving Obama two thumbs up. (Obama’s associations with anti-Semites like the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the Louis Farrakhan-cheerleading Rev. Michael Pfleger give him all the cred he needs.)
Conservatives have mobilized to protest Carter’s terrorist shilling. GOP Rep. Sue Myrick called for his passport to be revoked; Rep. Joe Knollenberg wants $19 million in taxpayer funding to be withdrawn from his Georgia-based scholarly institution. But the Sick-Of-Jimmy-Carter Coalition isn’t just a Republican club. The Jewish Daily Forward reports that “some liberal observers…worry that the elder statesman may create headaches for the party at its nominating convention in Denver.”
Their angst is well placed. The question is: Will exiling America’s top Hamas apologist from the convention podium be enough to dispel the shadow of surrender? Or, to paraphrase Obama, can the Democrats no more disown Carter than they can disown the softheaded liberalism at the party’s ideological core?
The Tampa Tribune
Published: April 23, 2008
Updated: 12:22 am
Tribune photo by KELVIN MA
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band played their first show since the death Thursday of longtime keyboardist Danny Federici, Tuesday at the St. Pete Times Forum.
TAMPA - Somewhere, Danny is smiling.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band played their first show since the death Thursday of longtime keyboardist Danny Federici, Tuesday at the St. Pete Times Forum. If Springsteen generally plays as if his life depends on it, Tuesday night he played as if his soul and those of everyone in the arena were at stake.
The show began with a video tribute to Federici, who played with Springsteen for 40 years, beginning in pre-E Street outfits such as Steel Mill.
Then, as pianist Roy Bittan played the introduction to "Backstreets," a spotlight shone on an unmanned Hammond organ and accordion, Federici's instruments, a silent expression of the band's loss.
The rest of those expressions were anything but quiet.
Springsteen howled the chorus of "Backstreets" with as much passion as he did in 1975. Max Weinberg pounded his kit so hard it seemed close to tumbling - or disintegrating. The whole band played with an intensity that seemed impossible to sustain for the length of the show.
But they did.
Springsteen and band stormed through the early part of the set with no let-up. Weinberg kept the pulse going as guitars were swapped between songs. "No Surrender" was especially moving, with guitarist Steve Van Zandt joining Springsteen at the microphone. The two ended "Gypsy Biker" with a stinging guitar duel.
Finally pausing, Springsteen offered thanks for "prayers and condolences for Danny," then told the band, "We better get this right. Somebody's watching."
With Bittan on accordion, they launched into the sad, sweet "Sandy (Fourth of July Asbury Park)," evoking the early days of Springsteen's and Federici's musical life playing clubs along the New Jersey shore.
Springsteen told the crowd of 16,332 that the song's fortuneteller, Madame Marie, might be a Florida resident now. Then, he announced, "one more fairy tale," and delivered "Growin' Up" with more youthful vigor than a man on the downside of 50 should have.
There were so many highlights - "Atlantic City," "Because the Night," "She's the One" - but the show's emotional centerpiece came with the pairing of "Racing in the Street" and "The Rising."
The former song is one of Springsteen's most desolate, the cold flipside to "Born to Run," about finding out you're not that young anymore and maybe there's nowhere to run.
The song is so devastating as to make any attempt at levity seem a lie. "The Rising," then, was the perfect tonic, a song about demanding life - joy, even - in the face of tragedy. If every song seemed to have special resonance given the circumstances, this one may have had the most of all.
The encore began with a stirring rendition of the gospel hymn "I'll Fly Away," followed by "Rosalita," "Born to Run" and "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," a trio guaranteed to send any Bruce fan into spasms of sheer joy.
[CHRIS ZUPPA | Times]
Bruce Springsteen and Steve Van Zandt blaze through their set Tuesday at the St. Pete Times Forum. Starting the night with a tribute to Danny Federici, Springsteen and his band thrilled with new songs and old favorites.
SPRINGSTEEN PLAYS SET FULL OF FEELING AND FURY
By Sean Daly, St. Petersburg Times Pop Music Critic
Published Tuesday, April 22, 2008 11:49 PM
TAMPA — Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band just don't lose fights to Father Time. For four decades, it's always been a mismatch.
From epic concerts that rumbled on with disregard for deadlines to thunderous anthems about thumbing your nose at destiny, the Jersey-born brotherhood is inherently built to push, and punish, the boundaries of the clock.
But last week, Father Time — with his tin ear for the youthful urges of rock 'n' roll — landed a sucker punch, as longtime E Street stalwart Danny Federici, 58, died from melanoma. As well as being the group's organist, keyboardist and accordion player, Federici had been friends with Springsteen for 40 years. Bruce called his pal "the Phantom," quiet, crafty, cunning.
Tuesday at the St. Pete Times Forum, the Boss and his band, who postponed three Florida dates to deal with the loss, staged their first show since Federici's death. (The Tampa night was first scheduled for Monday.)
But if you thought the Blue-Collar Bard would respond with a long, sad see-ya-later — no way. For more than 2 1/2 hours, they rocked and remembered in front of 16,332 fans fully aware of the emotional undercurrent.
With house and stage lights dark, the band took the stage, familiar shadows walking to the well-worn spots they've worked for years.
"This night is a special one," said the somber voice of the Boss. "So we'd like to start with something for Danny."
With that, a video tribute unspooled onscreen as a recorded version of acoustic homage "Blood Brothers" played. With a spotlight illuminating Danny's longtime workplace, the band then launched into a crescendoing, cathartic "Backstreets", with its notable refrain of "You swore we'd live forever."
That's the way the night went, the wistful giving way to the robust. Springsteen referenced his late friend several times, including "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)", which was always Federici's time to shine on the accordion. On this night, piano man Roy Bittan took the squeezebox, as a bemused Springsteen noted, "Somebody's watching." That was followed by what Springsteen called "another fairy tale," the jubilant "Growin' Up".
For all the emotion, the night's most memorable songs were the rockers, songs in which your pounding fist acted independently: "Radio Nowhere" and "Gypsy Biker", from the 2007 album Magic. "Because the Night", with its fiendish guitar solo from Nils Lofgren. The tent-revival fun of "She's the One". The defiant blasts of "No Surrender" and "Long Walk Home".
Springsteen, always eager to ruffle the lapels of the powers-that-be, kept the speechifying to a minium. After a quick tsk-tsk to the Bush administration, he threaded a series of songs together about the shaky state of the union: "Livin' in the Future", "The Promised Land", "Waitin' on a Sunny Day".
The set built to a resounding, resilient wallop, especially fan fave "Badlands", in which the Big Man, Clarence Clemons, hobbled to the forefront and blew a big, fat sax solo that jolted the joint. That was followed by the chiming joy of "Out in the Street".
"This one's for Dan," Springsteen said at the start of the encore, as the band roots-rocked an acoustic cover of gospel hymn "I'll Fly Away" ("Some bright morning when this life is over, I'll fly away.")
On this tour, Springsteen has been reaching into the crowd each night to grab signs with song requests. Tampa just about blew its top for the night's winner: "Rosalita". The rambling, rollicking song, considered by many the queen in the canon, showcased a band still intent on raging into the night.
And, well, they did.
Rosalita eventually morphed into "Born to Run". And that turned into "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out". Wow. Just . . . wow. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band just kept playing, as if they had all the time in the world.
Sean Daly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8467. His Pop Life blog is at blogs.tampabay.com/popmusic.
[Last modified Wednesday, April 23, 2008 7:09 AM]
Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici's unmanned organ riser.
4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)
Because the Night
Darkness on the Edge of Town
She's the One
Livin' in the Future
The Promised Land
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
Racing in the Street
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Out in the Street
* * *
I'll Fly Away
Born to Run
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Published Friday, April 18, 2008 5:23 PM
Saxophonist Clarence Clemons says that after more than 30 years, playing in the E Street Band is still fun. He says that at a show, Bruce Springsteen might “call for a song we haven’t played in 20 years. And we’ll do it. That’s what makes the E Street Band such an exciting thing. You gotta stay on your toes.”
[JEFFERY ALLAN SALTER | Corbis (2001)]
Long before the sax, the solos, the Boss, Clarence Clemons simply wanted to smash mouths. He was a tough kid from Norfolk, Va., the son of a Baptist preacher. And as a college football star in Maryland, he dreamed of going pro. "That was gonna be my career," he says.
Back in the '60s, "we had to play both ways on the field, so I was offensive center and defensive end." The scholarship standout would protect his quarterback, then he'd turn to the visitors and "go beat 'em up." His signature move? "The forearm shiver."
"I'd stop 'em in their tracks," he says with a hepcat heh-heh-heh.
Clemons, who speaks in low, rapid-fire sentences, sums up his injury-riddled gridiron glory by saying, "God had other things for me to do." But in a way, God stayed with the plan just fine. After all, the 6-foot-4 Clarence is still protecting his quarterback, who just happens to be the 5-foot-10 Bruce Springsteen. And he's still slaying the visitors, who just happen to be us.
Tuesday at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, the 66-year-old Clemons and the venerable E Street Band will back their leader once more, a partnership now in its fourth decade. They're touring behind 2007 album Magic, resounding proof that the older, wiser collective can still kick out the grooves.
At some point during the gig, Springsteen will introduce his saxman with a rousing bit of bluster, teasing the crowd about "something essential, something important, something big." He might talk about how they met at an Asbury Park nightclub (that's the truth). Or about a supernatural occurrence, how Clemons appeared like Zeus with a horn (that's open for debate).
And if you're lucky, then Springsteen will sing those magic words, "and the Big Man joined the band," and the place will erupt. And Clemons will tear off an enormous solo, a triumphant blurt of freedom that sounds like a '69 Chevy with a 396 roaring out of a blue-collar town — and the crowd will erupt again.
All hail the Big Man.
"Everybody calls me Big Man," says Clemons, on the phone and on the way to another tour stop. Fans, friends, bandmates: He's the Big Man to every last one of them. And no, he never gets tired of it. "That's the life I chose. And that's part of my life."
Clemons has been hobbled by numerous injuries recently, including vision trouble, a bad hip and back troubles. So he'll spend great chunks of Tuesday night's show sitting on a "throne," a souped-up chair on the side of the stage. "I guess I've been elevated to that status now," he says of his royal accommodations. "I'm 66 now, and standing up for all night is really hard."
But rest assured, his presence alone offers great symbolism. After all, Springsteen on his own is good, even great. But Springsteen with the E Street Band is special, a symbiotic explosion of rock stamina. And if you think you get chills when the gang's all there, the Big Man gets them, too.
"The night before a show, I don't sleep," says Clemons. "Really. I've been doing this for 30 years, and the night before a show, I still don't sleep. Instead, I visualize the show. I visualize what I do before I do it. Visualizing makes me better."
Although the Boss has a reputation for being a control freak (at best) and a dictator (at worst), Clemons has nothing but praise for his employer. "Bruce is a great boss, an inspirational guy," he says. "He doesn't get p----ed off. We've never had that sort of hostility between us, ever. It's always been love and understanding."
Clemons has no say when it comes to the set list, but he definitely has his favorite songs and solos to play: "Of course, Jungleland. That's always the one people want to hear. . . . And Night is one of those songs I like to play, too."
Maybe he'll get to play those cuts, maybe he won't. "At this point (in our career), set lists are out the window. Wherever the audience is going, that's where Bruce will take them. During the show, he'll call for a song we haven't played in 20 years. And we'll do it. That's what makes the E Street band such an exciting thing. You gotta stay on your toes."
Clemons recently released a solo album, Brothers in Arms, with his band Temple of Soul. "It's like recess, you know?" he says of his solo output. "Remember recess? Right after lunch with Bruce, I have recess." He's also proud of his hit collaborations with Jackson Browne (You're a Friend of Mine) and Aretha Franklin (Freeway of Love).
But again, he knows there's nothing like the E Street experience. And that goes for Springsteen's solo outings as well. When the Boss leaves the Big Man behind — for instance, on 2006's rootsy Seeger Sessions — Clarence pays it very little mind. Does he listen at all?
"No," Clemons says sharply, then busts out laughing. "Listen, every man wants to seek out his own thing. But the E Street Band is something that's really real. That's it, you know? When Bruce first [went solo], I felt kind of weird about it. But he's earned the right to do whatever he wants to do." He pauses, then adds with a chuckle: "Plus it makes the E Street thing stronger when he comes back."
Clemons has "heard" that there's another E Street album ready for release. "You probably know more about that than I do. I don't get caught up in that." And as for the rumors that this is the last go-round with the gang, Clemons refuses to even discuss an E Street sunset. "I can't imagine us not doing it, you know?"
• • •
E Street organist Danny Federici, 58, died Thursday, after a three-year battle with melanoma. He was on leave from the group, but Clemons was hoping for his return. "I really miss him on my side of the stage," he said during the interview. "You can never replace your first love."
Sean Daly can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8467. His Pop Life blog is at blogs.tampabay.com/popmusic.
[Last modified Tuesday, April 22, 2008 11:39 AM]