Thursday, April 16, 2009

Today's Tune: Roy Orbison - She's a Mystery To Me

(Click on title to play video)

Our New Sort of War

It might be the most dangerous of all.

By Victor Davis Hanson
April 16, 2009, 0:00 a.m.

President Obama proclaims no more of George W. Bush’s “War on Terror,” even as he silently keeps most of it in place. The result is as confusing as it soon will be dangerous.

In these first 100 days of his presidency, Barack Obama has promised that the Guantanamo Bay detention facility will be closed within a year. He has assured us wiretapping and overseas rendition are under re-examination.

The Obama administration has also been busy tweaking terminology in an effort to put a kinder, gentler face to the war. There is no longer a “Global War on Terror”: It has been replaced by “overseas contingency operations.”

Nor are there any longer “unlawful enemy combatants” in Guantanamo Bay. Apparently, the terrorists there are now merely “detainees.” According to Janet Napolitano, the new secretary of Homeland Security, there is not even “terrorism” but “man-caused disasters.” At least that’s the term she used in recent testimony before Congress.

By the removal of words like “war,” “enemy,” and “terror” from official usage, perhaps Americans will be convinced there are no such unpleasant realities.

President Obama has also made an effort to apologize to key allies, rivals, and enemies. He has told receptive Europeans that we have been arrogant and dismissive. The Turks were encouraged to hear that America “still struggles with the legacy of our past treatment of Native Americans.” The Russians were assured that we were pushing a “reset” button in our foreign policy.

The president has also sent envoys to reach out to a hostile Syria and a video expressing past American culpability in hopes of starting afresh with Iran.

At various times in interviews and lectures, Obama has reminded the world that the United States alone has dropped an atomic bomb, that it has been unnecessarily provocative to Muslims, that it has a shameful record of slavery and racial discrimination, and that almost everything George W. Bush did was wrong.

There is a problem with all this. While our well-meaning president is apologizing, employing euphemisms, and promising not to be Bush, his government is still also blowing apart suspected jihadists in Pakistan.

We are sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan in efforts to destroy Taliban insurgents. The Obama administration has dropped the earlier rhetoric of a quick, unilateral withdrawal from Iraq. Instead, the president has embraced Gen. David Petraeus’s plan of leaving slowly as events on the ground dictate.

In other words, our new “overseas contingency operations” seem similar to Bush’s old “War on Terror.” Guantanamo Bay will still be open for at least a year. The Obama administration cannot find a country that wants back its expatriate terrorists — nor a legal solution to try terrorists caught without uniforms on the battlefield who may not be fully protected under the Geneva Convention.

The new administration has even gone to court to protect the Bush-era wiretapping policies. And it has specifically retained the right to use overseas renditions of suspected terrorists. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

More important, those who commit “man-caused disasters” are still busy. Iran brags that it has stepped up weapons-grade nuclear enrichment. The Taliban has promised a new offensive. Baitullah Mehsud, the head of the Taliban in Pakistan — who is suspected of engineering the assassination of Benazir Bhutto — just boasted, “Soon we will launch an attack in Washington that will amaze everyone in the world.”

Despite American apologies and softer language, radical Islamists still think we are at war — and that they can defeat us. In short, we are in a new, surreal, and dangerous phase of the old war, doing enough killing to enrage our enemies even as we act sometimes as if we are not.

George W. Bush may have railed against “Islamic terrorists” and been ridiculed as a cowboy, but at least he prevented another September 11 attack. Plus, we knew we were in some sort of war.

Fighting a clear war against enemies is dangerous. Clearly not fighting a war against enemies may be more dangerous. But sort of fighting a war, while acting as if we are sort of not, may be the most dangerous thing of all.

— Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal. © 2009 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

The Arrogance of His Power

The Current Crisis

By R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. on 4.16.09 @ 6:07AM
The American Spectator

WASHINGTON -- Another Democratic president has shattered precedent. Democratic politicians take great pride in shattering American precedents, and they do so with such regularity that it is surprising there are any precedents left to shatter, except, I guess, for the precedents Democrats establish on the ruins of earlier precedents. I hope, when the next Republican president comes along, that he or she will shatter a few Democratic precedents. Given the serial bungling of the Obama Administration, I shall not be surprised to see that precedent-shattering Republican come along in 2013.

During his recent European peregrination, our haughty president became the first American president to speak ill of America while on foreign soil. Actually it is rare for an American president to speak ill of America anywhere. President Barack H. Obama does it practically everywhere. Now that Fidel Castro has quieted down and the French left is in abeyance, President Obama has become America's leading critic.

Until the ex-presidency of Jimmy Carter it was unheard of for a former president to speak ill of his country or of the sitting president while traveling abroad. Jimmy broke that precedent early in the presidency of the man who beat him, Ronald Reagan. Since then Jimmy has frequently piped up against America and whoever might be president. He did it as recently as 2005 when he said, "I think what's going on at Guantanamo Bay and in Abu Ghraib and other places is a disgrace to the United States of America."

Now along comes the precedent-shattering President Obama traveling through Europe on his virginal passport, a passport that was used precisely once before he became a national political figure. His tour of Europe was the burlesque of a preening popinjay. He gave the Queen an iPod. His wife gave her a friendly squeeze. Oh yes, and the President declared that the official language of German-speaking Austria is "Austrian." All that was amusing, but the criticism of his homeland while in Europe was not. Actually I am tired of hearing his criticism of his homeland when he is at home. We know he believes America was a failed state before he became president. Now let him return the country to the bipartisanship that he promised.

While in Europe, our sententious president blamed America for genocide and torture. He brought up Hiroshima and Guantanamo. He accused us of arrogance. What can President Obama possibly have against arrogance? Since his emergence on the national stage a year or so ago, he has given me the impression that he considers arrogance among the virtues.

It was in Strasbourg, among what he might call the Strasbourgundians, that he was most critical of his country. Said our president: "Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive." Yes, he said "derisive," and he continued: "On both sides of the Atlantic, these attitudes have become all too common." Then he concluded: "They are not wise. They do not represent the truth. They threaten to widen the divide across the Atlantic and leave us both more isolated." After reading that preachy drivel I have to say not even Jimmy Carter is capable of such empty moralizing. Perhaps this is how one talks as a community organizer, or a motivational speaker, both of which Obama seems to have been; but now he is the president of the United States!

There was a time a couple of decades ago when this sort of carping about America was cited as the product of "liberal guilt." Doubtless had President Obama been sounding like this in 1984, say, at the Democratic National Convention, critics such as Jeane Kirkpatrick would be chiding him for "liberal guilt." Mind you, at the time I took issue with this diagnosis of our liberal friends. Then and now, they do not believe they have been guilty of any moral or intellectual failing. If you listen to the precedent-shattering President Obama you will note that he is accusing other Americans of failures and vice, not himself. This is not liberal guilt; it is liberal arrogance. It was liberal arrogance in the past, and so it is today. It is going to wear thin with my fellow Americans very shortly.

Consider this one last slap at two great men after one of America's greatest triumphs for peace and justice. While gloating over America's financial decline, our President noted to his European audience that a new financial order is being created by the world's top 20 financial powers, not by "just Roosevelt and Churchill sitting in a room with a brandy….But that's not the world we live in, and it shouldn't be the world that we live in." Whoever told our president that the post-World War II world came from these two great men "sitting in a room with a brandy" misinformed him. His knowledge of history is as defective as is his knowledge of Roosevelt's and Churchill's tastes.

- Bob Tyrrell is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator. His books include the New York Times bestseller Boy Clinton: the Political Biography; The Impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton; The Liberal Crack-Up; The Conservative Crack-Up; Public Nuisances; The Future that Doesn't Work: Social Democracy's Failure in Britain; Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House; and The Clinton Crack-Up.

He makes frequent appearance on national television and is a nationally syndicated columnist, whose articles have appeard in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun, Washington Times, National Review, Harper's, Commentary, The (London) Spectator, Le Figaro (Paris), and elsewhere.

Bob is also an adjunct fellow of the Hudson Institute and was until its demise a contributing editor to the New York Sun.

The Decline and Fall of Newsweek

By Brent Bozell
April 16, 2009

Newsweek greeted the coming of Easter with a black cover, and the headline "The Decline and Fall of Christian America," spelled out in red in the shape of a cross. Inside, it was more declarative: "The End of Christian America." Why? Because they found that the percentage of self-identified Christians had fallen 10 points since 1990. OK, then let's compare. How much has Newsweek's circulation fallen since 1990? Just since 2007, their announced circulation has dropped by 52 percent. It would be more plausible to state "The End of Newsweek."

At the end of 2007, Newsweek reduced its "base rate" (or circulation guaranteed to advertisers) from 3.1 million to 2.6 million, a 16 percent drop. At the end of 2008, the Wall Street Journal reported that Newsweek, faced with an estimated 21 percent decline in ad pages, could soon drop that circulation number by another 500,000 to 1 million readers. In February, the magazine confirmed the million-issue drop, saying it would drop to a base of 1.9 million in July and 1.5 million readers by January 2010.

"Mass for us is a business that doesn't work," Tom Ascheim, Newsweek's chief executive, told the New York Times. "Wish it did, but it doesn't. We did it for a long time, successfully, but we can't anymore." Now that U.S. News and World Report waved a white flag and said it would only publish monthly, the evidence is much stronger for wondering about the decline and fall of the American "news magazine" — as if Time and Newsweek haven't already shed that label in everything but name.

Newsweek's strategy in the midst of all its financial decline is to double and triple the amount of editorializing, cast aside all semblance of "news" in favor of long, liberal essays by self-impressed Newsweek editor Jon Meacham and his international editor Fareed Zakaria. Is that really a business solution, or is it the captains performing violin solos on the deck of the Titanic?

One has to wonder whether Newsweek's financial gurus really think it's a smart business strategy to greet the Easter season with funerals for "Christian America," and greet the Christmas season by making the "religious case for gay marriage"? (That's not to mention all the reverent Obama worship in between.)

Christianity, in contrast to Newsweek, is in decent demographic shape. The American Religious Identification Survey that Newsweek touted — from Trinity College in Connecticut — estimated there are now 173.4 million self-identified Christians in America, up from 151.2 million in 1990. The percentage declined, but the actual number increased.

The real bold-faced result in the survey that spawned Newsweek's cover is the rise of what the pollsters called the "nones," up from 14 million to 34 million. In a typically ponderous essay, Newsweek editor Jon Meacham welcomed the alleged decline and fall of "the modern religious right's notion of a Christian America" because it creates a "calmer" political environment and a more "theologically serious religious life."

Translation: The "culture wars" should be declared over, and the left should be declared the winner. The Christian right should slink back to its church buildings and keep its antiquated notions of sin and salvation out of the public square. "Calmer" Christians will seek a creed that chummily goes along and gets along with the modern, secular culture. Only surrender on social issues is "theologically serious."

Newsweek watchers might find it odd that Christians should surrender, but Muslims should be granted greater respect. A month ago, Newsweek's cover announced, "Radical Islam is a fact of life. How to live with it." Fareed Zakaria argued the smart strategy was "nuanced, noncombative rhetoric" that avoids sweeping declarations like "war on terror." Zakaria's piece ended right in the secular liberal's sweet spot. He was confident radical Islamism would eventually lose adherents, because "they lack answers to the problems of the modern world. They do not have a worldview that can satisfy the aspirations of modern men and women. We do. That's the most powerful weapon of all."

Modernity will win, and archaic religion will lose. All this leads back to the sneaking suspicion that the top minds at Newsweek think they are the wisest of men, the definers of trends and the shepherds of public opinion. So why is everyone abandoning their advice? Why are the captains of a magazine that's lost half its circulation telling the rest of us where the mainstream lies?

Copyright 2009 Creators Syndicate, Inc.


By Ann Coulter
April 15, 2009

I had no idea how important this week's nationwide anti-tax tea parties were until hearing liberals denounce them with such ferocity. The New York Times' Paul Krugman wrote a column attacking the tea parties, apologizing for making fun of "crazy people." It's OK, Paul, you're allowed to do that for the same reason Jews can make fun of Jews.

On MSNBC, hosts Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow have been tittering over the similarity of the name "tea parties" to an obscure homosexual sexual practice known as "tea bagging." Night after night, they sneer at Republicans for being so stupid as to call their rallies "tea bagging."

Every host on Air America and every unbathed, basement-dwelling loser on the left wing blogosphere has spent the last week making jokes about tea bagging, a practice they show a surprising degree of familiarity with.

Except no one is calling the tea parties "tea bagging" -- except Olbermann and Maddow. Republicans call them "tea parties."

But if the Republicans were calling them "tea-bagging parties," the MSNBC hosts would have a fantastically hilarious segment for viewers in San Francisco and the West Village and not anyplace else in the rest of the country. On the other hand, they're not called "tea-bagging parties." (That, of course refers to the cocktail hour at Barney Frank's condo in Georgetown.)

You know what else would be hilarious? It would be hilarious if Hillary Clinton's name were "Ima Douche." Unfortunately, it's not. It was just a dream. Most people would wake up, realize it was just a dream and scrap the joke. Not MSNBC hosts.

The point of the tea parties is to note the fact that the Democrats' modus operandi is to lead voters to believe they are no more likely to raise taxes than Republicans, get elected and immediately raise taxes.

Apparently, the people who actually pay taxes consider this a bad idea.

Obama's biggest shortcoming is that he believes the things believed by all Democrats, which have had devastating consequences every time they are put into effect. Among these is the Democrats' admiration for raising taxes on the productive.

All Democrats for the last 30 years have tried to stimulate the economy by giving "tax cuts" to people who don't pay taxes. Evidently, offering to expand welfare payments isn't a big vote-getter.

Even Bush had a "stimulus" bill that sent government checks to lots of people last year. Guess what happened? It didn't stimulate the economy. Obama's stimulus bill is the mother of all pork bills for friends of O and of Congressional Democrats. ("O" stands for Obama, not Oprah, but there's probably a lot of overlap.)

And all that government spending on the Democrats' constituents will be paid for by raising taxes on the productive.

Raise taxes and the productive will work less, adopt tax shelters, barter instead of sell, turn to an underground economy -- and the government will get less money.

The perfect bar bet with a liberal would be to wager that massive government deficits in the '80s were not caused by Reagan's tax cuts. If you casually mentioned that you thought Reagan's tax cuts brought in more revenue to the government -- which they did -- you could get odds in Hollywood and Manhattan. (This became a less attractive wager in New York this week after Gov. David Paterson announced his new plan to tax bar bets.)

The lie at the heart of liberals' mantra on taxes -- "tax increases only for the rich" -- is the ineluctable fact that unless taxes are raised across the board, the government won't get its money to fund layers and layers of useless government bureaucrats, none of whom can possibly be laid off.

How much would you have to raise taxes before any of Obama's constituents noticed? They don't pay taxes, they engage in "tax-reduction" strategies, they work for the government, or they're too rich to care. (Or they have off-shore tax shelters, like George Soros.)

California tried the Obama soak-the-productive "stimulus" plan years ago and was hailed as the perfect exemplar of Democratic governance.

In June 2002, the liberal American Prospect magazine called California a "laboratory" for Democratic policies, noting that "California is the only one of the nation's 10 largest states that is uniformly under Democratic control."

They said this, mind you, as if it were a good thing. In California, the article proclaimed, "the next new deal is in tryouts." As they say in show biz: "Thanks, we'll call you. Next!"

In just a few years, Democrats had turned California into a state -- or as it's now known, a "job-free zone" -- with a $41 billion deficit, a credit rating that was slashed to junk-bond status and a middle class now located in Arizona.

Democrats governed California the way Democrats always govern. They bought the votes of government workers with taxpayer-funded jobs, salaries and benefits -- and then turned around and accused the productive class of "greed" for wanting not to have their taxes raised through the roof.

Having run out of things to tax, now the California legislature is considering a tax on taxes. Seriously. The only way out now for California is a tax on Botox and steroids. Sure, the governor will protest, but it is the best solution ...

California was, in fact, a laboratory of Democratic policies. The rabbit died, so now Obama is trying it on a national level.

That's what the tea parties are about.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Today's Tune: Joe Ely - If You Were a Bluebird

(Click on title to play video)

Religion of hatred:

Why we should no longer be cowed by the chattering classes ruling Britain who sneer at Christianity

By A N Wilson
The London Daily Mail
Last updated at 1:22 AM on 11th April 2009

Jesus Christ: With sneering doubters becoming ever more vocal in their dismissive attitudes towards Christianity AN Wilson says we should no longer be cowed

A week ago, there were Palm Sunday processions all over the world. Near my house in North London is a parish with two churches. About 70 or 80 of us gathered at one of these buildings to collect our palms.

We were told by the priest: 'Where we are standing in Kentish Town does not look much like a Judaean hillside, and the other church to which we are walking does not look much like Jerusalem. But as we go, holding our palms, let us try to imagine the first Palm Sunday.'

And so we set off, singing All Glory, Laud And Honour! and holding up our palm crosses, to the faint bemusement of passersby, who looked out of their windows at us, tooted their horns as we blocked the traffic or smiled from sunny pavements.

We were walking, as it were, in the footsteps of Jesus as he entered Jerusalem on a donkey while crowds threw palms before him. Except our journey was along the pavements strewn with the usual North London discarded syringes, chewing gum and Kentucky Fried Chicken boxes.

When we had reached our destination, a small choir and two priests sang the whole of St Mark's account of the last week of Jesus's life - that part of the Gospel that is called The Passion.

It is said the chant used for this recitation dates back to the music used in the Jewish Temple in Jesus's day.

We heard of his triumphal, palm-strewn procession into Jerusalem, his clash with the Temple authorities, his agonised prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, his arrest by the Roman guards, his torture, his trial before Pontius Pilate, his Crucifixion and his death.

So there we were, all believers, and a disparate group of people, of various ages, races and classes, re-enacting once more this extraordinary story.

A story of a Jewish prophet falling foul of the authorities in an eastern province of the Roman Empire, and being punished, as were thousands of Jews during the governorship of Pontius Pilate, by the gruesome torture of crucifixion.

This Easter weekend we revisit the extraordinary ending of that story - the discovery by some women friends of Jesus that his tomb was empty. And we read of the reactions of the disciples - fearful, incredulous, but eventually believing that, as millions of Christians will proclaim tomorrow morning: 'The Lord is risen indeed!'

Athiest: Richard Dawkins

But how many in Britain today actually believe the story? Most recent polls have shown that considerably less than half of us do - yet that won't, of course, stop us tucking into Easter eggs (symbolising new life) and simnel cake (decorated with 11 marzipan balls representing the 11 true disciples, with Judas missing).

For much of my life, I, too, have been one of those who did not believe. It was in my young manhood that I began to wonder how much of the Easter story I accepted, and in my 30s I lost any religious belief whatsoever.

Like many people who lost faith, I felt anger with myself for having been 'conned' by such a story. I began to rail against Christianity, and wrote a book, entitled Jesus, which endeavoured to establish that he had been no more than a messianic prophet who had well and truly failed, and died.

Why did I, along with so many others, become so dismissive of Christianity?

Like most educated people in Britain and Northern Europe (I was born in 1950), I have grown up in a culture that is overwhelmingly secular and anti-religious. The universities, broadcasters and media generally are not merely non-religious, they are positively anti.

To my shame, I believe it was this that made me lose faith and heart in my youth. It felt so uncool to be religious. With the mentality of a child in the playground, I felt at some visceral level that being religious was unsexy, like having spots or wearing specs.

This playground attitude accounts for much of the attitude towards Christianity that you pick up, say, from the alternative comedians, and the casual light blasphemy of jokes on TV or radio.

It also lends weight to the fervour of the anti-God fanatics, such as the writer Christopher Hitchens and the geneticist Richard Dawkins, who think all the evil in the world is actually caused by religion.

The vast majority of media pundits and intelligentsia in Britain are unbelievers, many of them quite fervent in their hatred of religion itself.

The Guardian's fanatical feminist-in-chief, Polly Toynbee, is one of the most dismissive of religion and Christianity in particular. She is president of the British Humanist Association, an associate of the National Secular Society and openly scornful of the millions of Britons who will quietly proclaim their faith in Church tomorrow.

Self-satisfied tv personalities like Jo Brand are openly non-believers

'Of all the elements of Christianity, the most repugnant is the notion of the Christ who took our sins upon himself and sacrificed his body in agony to save our souls. Did we ask him to?' she asked in a puerile article decrying the wickedness of C.S. Lewis's Narnia stories, which have bewitched children for more than 50 years. Or, to take another of her utterances: 'When absolute God-given righteousness beckons, blood flows and women are in chains.'

The sneering Ms Toynbee, like Richard Dawkins, believes in rational explanations for our existence and behaviour. She is deeply committed to the Rationalist Association, but her approach to religion is too fanatical to be described as rational.

Perhaps it goes back to her relationship with her nice old dad, Philip Toynbee, a Thirties public school Marxist who, before he died, made the hesitant journey from unbelief to a questing Christianity.

The Polly Toynbees of this world ignore all the benign aspects of religion and see it purely as a sinister agent of control, especially over women.

One suspects this is how it is viewed in most liberal circles, in university common rooms, at the BBC and, perhaps above all, sadly, by the bishops of the Church of England, who despite their episcopal regalia, nourish few discernible beliefs that could be distinguished from the liberalism of the age.

For ten or 15 of my middle years, I, too, was one of the mockers. But, as time passed, I found myself going back to church, although at first only as a fellow traveller with the believers, not as one who shared the faith that Jesus had truly risen from the grave. Some time over the past five or six years - I could not tell you exactly when - I found that I had changed.

When I took part in the procession last Sunday and heard the Gospel being chanted, I assented to it with complete simplicity.

My own return to faith has surprised no one more than myself. Why did I return to it? Partially, perhaps it is no more than the confidence I have gained with age.

Rather than being cowed by them, I relish the notion that, by asserting a belief in the risen Christ, I am defying all the liberal clever-clogs on the block: cutting-edge novelists such as Martin Amis; foul-mouthed, self-satisfied TV presenters such as Jonathan Ross and Jo Brand; and the smug, tieless architects of so much television output.

But there is more to it than that. My belief has come about in large measure because of the lives and examples of people I have known - not the famous, not saints, but friends and relations who have lived, and faced death, in the light of the Resurrection story, or in the quiet acceptance that they have a future after they die.

The Easter story answers their questions about the spiritual aspects of humanity. It changes people's lives because it helps us understand that we, like Jesus, are born as spiritual beings.

Every inner prompting of conscience, every glimmering sense of beauty, every response we make to music, every experience we have of love - whether of physical love, sexual love, family love or the love of friends - and every experience of bereavement, reminds us of this fact about ourselves.

Smug: Jonathan Ross

Ah, say the rationalists. But no one can possibly rise again after death, for that is beyond the realm of scientific possibility.

And it is true to say that no one can ever prove - nor, indeed, disprove - the existence of an after-life or God, or answer the conundrums of honest doubters (how does a loving God allow an earthquake in Italy?)

Easter does not answer such questions by clever-clever logic. Nor is it irrational. On the contrary, it meets our reason and our hearts together, for it addresses the whole person.

In the past, I have questioned its veracity and suggested that it should not be taken literally. But the more I read the Easter story, the better it seems to fit and apply to the human condition. That, too, is why I now believe in it.

Easter confronts us with a historical event set in time. We are faced with a story of an empty tomb, of a small group of men and women who were at one stage hiding for their lives and at the next were brave enough to face the full judicial persecution of the Roman Empire and proclaim their belief in a risen Christ.

Historians of Roman and Jewish law have argued at length about the details of Jesus's trial - and just how historical the Gospel accounts are.

Anyone who believes in the truth must heed the fine points that such scholars unearth. But at this distance of time, there is never going to be historical evidence one way or the other that could dissolve or sustain faith.

Of course, only hard evidence will satisfy the secularists, but over time and after repeated readings of the story, I've been convinced without it.

And in contrast to those ephemeral pundits of today, I have as my companions in belief such Christians as Dostoevsky, T. S. Eliot, Samuel Johnson and all the saints, known and unknown, throughout the ages.

When that great saint Thomas More, Chancellor of England, was on trial for his life for daring to defy Henry VIII, one of his prosecutors asked him if it did not worry him that he was standing out against all the bishops of England.

He replied: 'My lord, for one bishop of your opinion, I have a hundred saints of mine.'

Now, I think of that exchange and of his bravery in proclaiming his faith. Our bishops and theologians, frightened as they have been by the pounding of secularist guns, need that kind of bravery more than ever.

Sadly, they have all but accepted that only stupid people actually believe in Christianity, and that the few intelligent people left in the churches are there only for the music or believe it all in some symbolic or contorted way which, when examined, turns out not to be belief after all.

As a matter of fact, I am sure the opposite is the case and that materialist atheism is not merely an arid creed, but totally irrational.

Materialist atheism says we are just a collection of chemicals. It has no answer whatsoever to the question of how we should be capable of love or heroism or poetry if we are simply animated pieces of meat.

The Resurrection, which proclaims that matter and spirit are mysteriously conjoined, is the ultimate key to who we are. It confronts us with an extraordinarily haunting story.

J. S. Bach believed the story, and set it to music. Most of the greatest writers and thinkers of the past 1,500 years have believed it.

But an even stronger argument is the way that Christian faith transforms individual lives - the lives of the men and women with whom you mingle on a daily basis, the man, woman or child next to you in church tomorrow morning.

The Somali Pirates Are Jihadists

by Robert Spencer

This week, we celebrate the Navy SEALs’ rescue of American ship captain Richard Phillips. Their action, from the night airdrop that delivered them to the waiting warships to the split-second action in which three of the pirates were killed, was what we expect from our best special operations troops.

But while we praise their skill, let’s not lose sight of who Phillips’ captors were. His Somali pirate captors are Islamic jihadists, dedicated to the same goals as Osama bin Laden and other jihadists around the world. In August 2008, when the pirates became especially active off the Horn of Africa, Andrew Mwangura, head of the East African Seafarers’ Assistance Programme, declared that Al-Shabaab, a group of jihadists in Somalia, use piracy to fund their jihad: “According to our information, the money they make from piracy and ransoms goes to support al-Shabaab activities onshore.”

With ransoms for ships each bringing in at least $10,000 and some in multiple millions of dollars, and the pirates seizing ships at a furious rate (taking four in one forty-eight hour period last summer), piracy is a lucrative source of funding for the jihad. Journalist Stephen Brown noted in November 2008 that “security experts fear the ransom money the pirates are receiving will allow them to buy better equipment and weapons for larger operations.” And with astounding short-sightedness, European governments -- with the notable exception of the French last week -- have been paying these ransoms. In that light, the American refusal to do so, and the rescue of Phillips, is a welcome step in the right direction.

But now it must be followed up properly, for al-Shabaab has numerous links to jihadist activity elsewhere. Al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen (“Jihadist Youth”) is linked to al-Qaeda and advocates the strict application of Islamic law. It came to the fore in that troubled nation after the 2006 toppling by Ethiopian troops of the Islamic Courts Union government that ruled briefly in Mogadishu. And Mwangura notes that currently “the entire Somali coastline is now under control of the Islamists.” Al-Shabaab now controls more of Somalia than the Islamic Courts Union did even at the height of its power, and its reach extends beyond Somalia. Some of the Somali immigrants who have mysteriously disappeared from the Minneapolis area have been recruited for jihad by al-Shabaab, which has also attracted jihad fighters from around the world to join its efforts to take control in Somalia.

Not only are the Somali pirates Islamic jihadists, but their religious identity is much more important to them than being considered the sons and heirs of Blackbeard and Captain Kidd. On Sunday, Reuters quoted one of the pirates saying, “We never kill people. We are Muslims. We are marines, coastguards -- not pirates.” Hostages have reported, however, that despite this pious disavowal, the pirates have threatened to kill them on more than one occasion. And the Navy SEALs only opened fire when it appeared they were about to kill Capt. Phillips.

Counterterror analyst Olivier Guitta, exploring Al-Shabaab’s connections with al-Qaeda, explained that the group “intends to take control of the Gulf of Aden and the southern entrance of the Red Sea.” This creates an acute problem for Barack Obama. If al-Shabaab does gain control of Somalia, it will not only continue to threaten shipping but will almost certainly expand its jihadist reach beyond Somalia to destabilize the Horn of Africa and work with other jihadist elements in the area, just as it has attracted foreign jihadists to its own cause. What’s more, the Somali jihad could come to the U.S. itself. In January, Newsweek reported about al-Shabaab that “a jihadist group able to enlist U.S. nationals to fight abroad might also be able to persuade Somali-Americans to act as sleeper agents here in the United States.” Al-Shabaab’s al-Qaeda ties make it quite likely that such a thought has occurred to the group’s leadership as well.

Accordingly, counterterror analysts and the mainstream media would do well to widen their narrow focus upon maritime piracy, and consider the role that this piracy is playing in the larger jihadist initiative. Unfortunately, with the Obama administration moving away even from the language of the “war on terror,” it’s unlikely that it will consider the implications of al-Shabaab’s links with the global jihadist network.

In an April 2008 statement, al-Shabaab vowed to “throw the West into hell.” Does Obama have the vision or the will to stand against this bloodlust before it grows even more powerful? And if so, what will he do?

Mr. Spencer is director of Jihad Watch and author of "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)", "The Truth About Muhammad," and "Stealth Jihad" (all from Regnery -- a HUMAN EVENTS sister company).

It's Way Past Tea Party Time

The Nation's Pulse

By Andrew Cline on 4.15.09 @ 6:09AM
The American Spectator

Of all the outrages that led to Americans organizing "tea parties" today to protest high taxes and unprecedented federal spending, the most serious and consequential has gone on the longest -- and has been almost entirely unnoticed.

It is best explained by a Gallup poll released yesterday. According to the poll, 48 percent of Americans said their tax rates were "about right," 46 percent said they were "too high," and 3 percent said they were "too low." On the income tax alone, 61 percent called the amount they had to pay this year "fair."

The average state and local tax burden in the United States was 9.7 percent in 2008, according to the Tax Foundation. That means that on average every American paid 9.7 percent of his income in state and local taxes alone last year. On top of that, Americans paid federal income tax rates of between 10 percent and 35 percent. On top of that, many paid federal capital gains taxes, estate taxes, cigarette taxes, etc.

What so many Americans are calling "fair" is often between 20 percent and 45 percent of their income -- not including taxes on capital gains, interest and other incidentals. President Obama wants to raise the highest federal bracket to 39 percent. If that happens, Americans earning more than about $373,000 a year will give to government roughly 50 percent of all they earn. In states such as New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, and California, where such an income is not all that unusual for a dual-income couple, that already happens when all taxes are accounted for.

How did it become "fair" for an American family to give to government a third of its income? How did it become "fair" for an American family to give to government half of its income?

When Parliament passed the Stamp Act in 1765, Americans had never before experienced direct taxation. They rebelled. In 1767, Parliament passed the Townshend Acts, which levied taxes on an array of British goods. The colonists responded by boycotting British imports. Parliament repealed most of the Townshend Acts in 1770 (except the tax on tea), and in 1773 passed the Tea Act, which essentially told Americans they had to buy their tea from the East India Company through government-approved merchants. Though the act actually lowered the cost of British tea, Americans were so outraged at Britain's assertion of authority that they forbade tea-bearing ships from docking. And, of course, in Boston they threw 342 chests of tea into the harbor.

All of these taxes, by the way, were passed to finance the British Army. The newly independent United States taxed its people directly to pay off the war and ongoing conflicts with France, but in 1802, under President Jefferson, all direct taxation upon the American people was ended. That lasted for a decade, until we had to finance the War of 1812. That war was paid off by 1817, and Americans experienced no direct taxation from their federal government until 1861.

That means that "Manifest Destiny," including James K. Polk's war with Mexico, and the expansion of the country from coast to coast, was financed without a single direct federal tax being levied upon the American people.

The federal income tax imposed to finance the Civil War had two tax brackets -- 3 percent and 5 percent -- and was repealed in 1872. It remained off the books until 1913, when the 16th Amendment was ratified. The federal income tax rates in 1913 ranged from 1 percent to 7 percent. That highest rate applied to people earning $500,000 a year or more. Today, a married couple earning that much would pay a federal income tax rate of 35 percent, and with all taxes combined could pay more than half their income in taxes.

The greatest tax outrage in American history is Washington's gradual convincing of the American people that giving so much of their income to the government is just and fair.

Our forefathers rebelled over taxes that amounted to pennies per item, and two centuries later we fork over 40 percent of our income and call it "fair."
The excise taxes and import duties that financed Washington for more than a century were not sustainable. A new tax system was needed. But in the century that followed its adoption, it changed the American people themselves.

Americans today are taxed at levels most of our forebears would have considered unthinkable. By our own nation's historical standards, we are outrageously, insanely overtaxed. And yet we shrug our shoulders and say, well, at least we're not France.

By the way, France's top marginal tax rate is 40 percent. President Obama plans to raise our top marginal rate to 39 percent.

As Samuel Adams, organizer of the Boston Tea Party, said in his famous speech in Philadelphia in August of 1776, "When the spirit of liberty, which now animates our hearts and gives success to our arms, is extinct, our numbers will accelerate our ruin and render us easier victims to tyranny."

Andrew Cline is editorial page editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Threat in Title IX

By Christina Hoff Sommers
The Washington Post
Tuesday, April 14, 2009; A17

What's good for women's basketball will be good for nuclear physics.
To most Americans, that statement will sound odd. To President Obama, it apparently does not. In an October letter to women's advocacy groups, he declared that Title IX, the law that requires universities to give equal funding to men's and women's athletics, had made "an enormous impact on women's opportunities and participation in sports." If pursued with "necessary attention and enforcement," the same law could make "similar, striking advances" for women in science and engineering.

That campaign pledge is hardening into policy, which ought to give people pause. In February, the Congressional Diversity and Innovation Caucus met with academic deans and women's groups to plan for the new Title IX deployment. Nearly everyone present agreed that closing the gender gap in the laboratory is an urgent "national imperative." What they failed to consider, however, is how enforced parity might affect American science. To get a better idea, let's look at President Obama's statements:
"Title IX has had an enormous impact on women's opportunities and participation in sports." Indeed, Title IX has contributed to significant progress in women's athletics -- but at what cost to male student athletics? Consider the situation at Washington's Howard University. In 2007, the Women's Sports Foundation, a powerful Title IX advocacy group, gave Howard an "F" grade because of its 24-percentage-point "proportionality gap": Howard's student body was 67 percent female, but women constituted only 43 percent of its athletic program. In 2002, Howard cut men's wrestling and baseball and added women's bowling, but that did little to narrow the gap. Unless it sends almost half of its remaining male athletes to the locker room, Howard will remain blacklisted and legally vulnerable. Former Howard wrestling coach Wade Hughes sums up the problem this way: "The impact of Title IX's proportionality standard has been disastrous because . . . far more males than females are seeking to take part in athletics."
Title IX could make "similar striking advances" for women in science and engineering. Indeed it could -- but at what cost to science? The idea of imposing Title IX on the sciences began gaining momentum around 2002. Then, women were already earning nearly 60 percent of all bachelor's degrees and at least half of the PhDs in the humanities, social sciences, life sciences and education. Meanwhile, men retained majorities in fields such as physics, computer science and engineering. Badly in need of an advocacy cause just as women were beginning to outnumber men on college campuses, well-funded academic women's groups alerted their followers that American science education was "hostile" to women. Soon there were conferences, retreats, summits, a massive "Left Out, Left Behind" letter-writing campaign, dozens of studies and a series of congressional hearings. Their first public victim? Larry Summers, who was forced to resign as president of Harvard University in 2006 after he dared to question the groups' assumptions and drew a correlation between the number of women in the sciences and gender differences implied in math and science test data.
Is it true that women are being excluded from academic science programs because of sexist bias? Some researchers agree that bias is to blame; others, perhaps a majority, suggest that biology and considered preference explain why men and women gravitate to different academic fields. But researchers who dispute the bias explanation played little or no role in the Title IX conferences, summits or congressional hearings.
Title IX must be pursued with "necessary attention and enforcement" in the sciences. This is nearly certain to happen. But the president should note the level of partisanship in the groups monitoring the enforcement. For example, in a 2008 briefing statement, the American Association of University Women, one of the more combative advocacy groups and a leader in the Title IX movement, issued a warning to "adversaries" who get in the way of its equity initiatives:
"Our adversaries know that AAUW is a force to be reckoned with. . . . We are issuing fair warning -- we ARE breaking through barriers. We mean it; we've done it before; and we are 'coming after them' again . . . and again and again, if we have to! All of us, all the time."
Federal officials have conducted occasional equity investigations of engineering and physics programs since 2006. But these have been haphazard and far less results-oriented than what Obama and Congress have in mind. The new Title IX initiative, modeled on athletics, will gratify women's advocacy groups. But will it help American science as much as it helped women's basketball?
Activist leaders of the Title IX campaign are untroubled by this question. Some seem to relish the idea of starkly disrupting what they regard as the excessively male and competitive culture of academic science. American scientific excellence, though, is an invaluable and irreplaceable resource. The fields that will be most affected -- math, engineering, physics and computer science -- are vital to the economy and national defense. Is it wise, to say nothing of urgent, for the president and Congress to impose an untested, undebated gender parity policy at this time?
Christina Hoff Sommers is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and editor of the forthcoming book "The Science on Women and Science" (AEI Press).

Today's Tune: The Killers - Bones

Not a Penny More

By Cal Thomas
April 14, 2009

April 15 might become the biggest tax-and-spend protest since the Boston Tea Party of 1773. Politicians fear spontaneous citizen outrage. That's because when the public realizes they have been scammed, bamboozled, defrauded and hustled by politicians who take and then misspend their money -- mostly to enhance their own power -- they'll run like scalded dogs.

Unlike in the 1958 cult movie "The Blob," which featured a creature from outer space that consumed everything to which it attached itself, government is a homegrown monster, consuming ever-increasing amounts of capital. And this government blob doesn't discriminate. It grows no matter which party is in charge. While the deficit last week raced past $1 trillion, the federal government and many state governments are trying to pry more of our money from us so they can finish creating a dependency culture from which we'll never escape.

Governments never have enough of our money and they'll never ask if we have enough. Whatever they do is sold as noble, even righteous and if the people rebel, they are uncaring and greedy. The cry at these tea parties should be "not a penny more" until governments get their houses in order, just as we must do. Most people have been forced to reduce spending during the recession, but not the federal government, and likely not the government in your home state.

Take New York (puh-leeze). The state legislature has approved a $131 billion budget, which represents a 9 percent increase in spending over last year. There are stories that Rush Limbaugh and Donald Trump have threatened to abandon New York over higher taxes.

A New York Observer editorial asked the right question: "...why did legislators refuse to deal with the need to control their own spending -- the real source of the state's fiscal problems -- and instead increase it, blowing millions in public funds on pork barrel programs like 'Urban Yoga,' gun clubs and other member-driven spending items?"

California is a close second to New York's high tax rate, having just raised its top income tax rate to 10.55 percent. This means that with the Obama administration's plan to increase federal taxes, successful residents of New York and California will be paying more than half of their incomes -- when payroll, sales and other forms of taxes are included -- to governments. When is enough, enough? Now!

To further increase your outrage, read the "2009 Pig Book" from Citizens Against Government Waste,, which is released today. Like its previous editions, the latest "Pig Book" chronicles some of the most outrageous examples of wasteful government spending.

It wouldn't take much to get the attention of politicians. If the current level of outrage can be maintained after the tea parties, individuals will have two choices. They can reduce the amount of taxes they pay government, thereby sending the message that if we have to cut back then so should government. (Government can't put everyone in jail. The tax system has worked only because of a docile and compliant citizenry.) The other choice is for the successful to either defer income until a tax-cutting administration succeeds this one, or deliberately limit their incomes to no more than $250,000 a year, depriving government of the new income sources it needs to maintain its obscene size.

On March 28, 2007, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) commented on the Bush administration's proposed fiscal 2008 budget: "The gross federal debt is now almost $9 trillion, or more than $29,000 per person. That is how much every man, woman and child in America owes to this debt. This is the fiscal mess that we have to clean up." The debt and the per-person cost are now far greater. Do we hear a peep from Rep. Maloney or the many other Democrats who were critical of the Bush deficits? Nope.

It's time Maloney, the rest of Congress and state legislators hear from the people. Not a penny more until you put your house in order!

Phillies Icon Harry Kalas Dies

Remembering Kalas, a heavenly voice

By Bill Conlin
Philadelphia Daily News
April 14, 2009

Longtime Philadelphia Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas receives the applause of the audience as he accepts the 2002 Ford C. Frick Award at the annual induction ceremony at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, in this file photo taken on July 28, 2002. (Reuters)

CLEARWATER, Fla. - On black-armband days like this, you think dark thoughts of loss, the sudden taking of comrades with whom you shared days, weeks, months, years, decades and generations, traveling with a ballclub as many intertwined lives were weathered like driftwood on a tropical beach that suddenly became storm-tossed and gray.

Rich Ashburn was taken from us after a Phillies victory in Shea Stadium Sept. 9, 1997. We all know where we were and what we were doing when news of his death in a Manhattan hotel room broke on Angelo Cataldi's WIP morning show.

Harry Kalas was taken from us after collapsing in the broadcast booth of a ballpark, Nationals Park, hours before the Phillies he loved so much for so many years were to oppose the Nats in their home opener. We will remember where we were and what we were doing when the news he had been rushed to George Washington University Hospital was overridden by club president Dave Montgomery's announcement of his death.

I am certain that Rich Ashburn was lining up a putt on the 18th green of some perfect golf course, muttering over the cruel injustices of the only game to ever beat him when his best friend materialized, still wearing the windbreaker the broadcast crew was issued for raw, windy days.

"Hard to believe, Harry . . . "

"Believe, Whitey, believe . . . Hard to believe you were gone almost 12 years. And I missed you terribly, pal, every day of those years . . .

"Well, now we're back together. Think you've got nine holes in you?"

Two imperfect men, so perfect together for 26 years. Two Hall of Famers.

One a brilliant athlete ravaged by diabetes.

The other a brilliant oral poet ravaged by the two Surgeon General warnings he chose to ignore.

Both socially scarred by the heavy imposition of taking on a major league baseball team as a surrogate wife.

"You didn't drink or smoke, Whitey, but you beat me to the finish line."

"Hard to believe, Harry. Shut up and putt . . . "

I heard of Harry's collapse from my son, Bill, who is approaching middle age. He was a little boy so long ago when the Conlins and Kalases were spring-training neighbors . . .

Suddenly, it was 1974. My wife, Irma, was helping Harry's first wife, Jasmine, with plans for Harry's 38th birthday celebration. "Braddy, you get back home and do your homework," Jasmine would yell every 5 minutes or so. But Brad Kalas, now an actor in California, would sneak back out and join older brother Todd, now on the Rays' broadcast team, and my kids in an early Space Age experiment.

Bill had captured a lizard and had placed him in a space capsule composed of a zip-lock sandwich bag. They threaded a kite string through a hole in the "capsule" and after several aborts that bounced the unfortunate reptile off the sand, the kite rose majestically and Belleair Beach had its first space traveler. The Kalas and Conlin kids were joined by Scott and Stevie Carlton, and Danny, Johnny and Theresa Shore, the children of Reds superscout Ray "Snacks" Shore, who later defected to the Phillies and became a member of the Bill Giles "Gang of Six."

When the kite re-entered the tropicsphere, the chameleonaut was dead and accorded a burial at sea. While ground control manipulated the kite, Harry sat at poolside, diligently studying the program for that night's races at Derby Lane, the puppy palace on the shores of Tampa Bay. "I gave Harry $2 to play a trifecta for me," Bill reminded me yesterday. "And it hit for $297.50 - the 7-5-1, Lorraine Whiz, Oversize and Monty Python."

Philadelphia Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas throws the first pitch before the start of the MLB National League baseball game between the Phillies and the Atlanta Braves in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania April 8, 2009. (Reuters)

There is nothing like the favor of a famous person to hermetically seal a special moment in memory.

Pete Conlin extricated another day trapped in the permafrost of 35 years.

"The Phillies were either off or there was no broadcast," my youngest son recalled yesterday. He recently became 2 years older than Harry was on his birthday in 1974. "Harry - we called him Mr. Kalas - took Todd, Brad, Bill and myself to River Country. I was in my carsick stage. There was a plastic cup that had half a dog-track 'walker' in the cup holder. I threw up into it and it really smelled. Harry put an Astros media guide over the cup and said, "Boys, we've had a little setback, but we're pressing on."

High Hopes at work . . .

I was a rookie beat writer in 1966 when a slender kid in a golf outfit approached me at the Astrodome batting cage. "Hi, I'm Harry Kalas, one of the broadcast crew," he said. I shook hands and told him who I was. He looked no more than 16 years old, so I figured he had won one of those high-school broadcast competitions and was there to do his inning. Harry was actually 30. I'm afraid I big-timed him a little that day.

Who knew that 5 years later, I would be conducting a Daily News reader poll asking who fans wanted in the radio booth, By Saam or Bill Campbell. Soupy had been unceremoniously dumped when Harry's good friend from Houston, Phils veep Bill Giles, persuaded Bob Carpenter to replace Campbell with this young voice from the Astros.

Campbell won in a landslide. But it was one of those hissing-up-a-rope deals that reflected public opinion while ignoring reality. And the reality was, By Saam and Atlantic Refining, the Phillies' major sponsor, were in a death-do-us-part arrangement.

So Harry had the anvil of being a total unknown replacing an extremely popular broadcaster. It took him about two mellifluous sentences to turn it around. And about two hilarious exchanges with His Whiteness.

One classic from among hundreds - this one in St. Louis on a postcard Sunday afternoon. The night before, after a long dinner hour at a riverboat restaurant moored adjacent to the famed Gateway Arch, Harry found it necessary to take a brief nap in the grass against one of the massive pillars of Saarinen's masterpiece. He was wearing a white suit, which became so grass-stained it had to be trashed.

(Harry, talking as the camera pans to a wide shot of the Arch beyond the Busch Stadium stands:) "There's the famed Saarinen Arch, the Gateway to the West." (Whitey comments:) "Harry, I know you've never been up in that Arch." (Long pause) "But have you ever been under it?" It was a long time before Harry could stop laughing enough to force out something like, "Not recently . . . "

There is a small landscaped tribute to Rich Ashburn at the Shipwatch Yacht and Tennis Club, where he was a condo owner from 1986 until his death. He was a fixture at the tennis club and the members planted a small palm tree surrounded by beds of bright flowers with a simple engraved tablet in front. It simply said "Rich Ashburn, Member" with the date of his death. Another recently deceased member, Richard Havener, shared the simple memorial.

On Whitey's birthday, March 19, Harry would come to Shipwatch each year to lead some of his friends and colleagues in a brief prayer.

And I think he might have said this yesterday when Harry took him by a stroke, curling in a 20- footer. After muttering, "Golden Years, my ass," of course:

"Thanks for all the kind words on my birthday every year. But do you mean to tell me a man who has his own plaque in Cooperstown didn't rate his own monument at Shipwatch?"

And Harry would have laughed the mellow laugh that punctuated millions of words spoken to you - and only you - during a hectic life he turned into an oasis for millions of his closest friends.

If Harry said it, it had to be so

By Bill Lyon
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Posted on Tue, Apr. 14, 2009

Long time Philadelphia Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas speaks as he accepts the 2002 Ford C. Frick Award at the annual induction ceremony at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, in this file photo taken on July 28, 2002. Kalas, a veteran of decades behind the microphone who called more than 5,000 Phillies games since 1971, died on April 13, 2009. (Reuters)

Every time you heard that distinctive baritone, deepened by a million smokes and marinated like fine bourbon aging in oak casks, you felt something soothing and reassuring.

God's in his heaven, Harry the K's in the booth, and all's right with the world.

He was, for generations of Phillies fans, The Voice. If Harry said it, it must be so.

That voice was stilled yesterday. Harry Kalas, one of the true troubadors of baseball, died. He collapsed in a press box in Washington not long before the Phillies were to play the Nationals, and that site and circumstance seemed altogether fitting - if he could pick his exit, you know it would have been in a booth, readying for another game.

He was 73, and in those 73 years achieved the status of legend, a word that is tossed about far too frivolously but that, in his case, fit like a batting glove.

In his twilight, not every game, nor every inning, was as seamless and flawless as it once had been, but his body of work is absolutely staggering. The Voice is in the Hall of Fame on richly deserved merit.

His signature line, mimicked by a million imitators over the years, will live on long after. For we all know the lyrics by heart. Cue the chorus, children:

"Long drive. Watch that baby. Outta here. Home run. Michael Jack Schmidt."

Close your eyes, and it's a muggy summer evening and you've just tuned in to the Fightin's, and on the TV in your den and on the radio in your car, all you need hear is The Voice, and from the sound of it, without knowing the score, you can tell instantly whether they're winning or losing.

"I always felt it was a privilege," he said. "It was like the people were inviting me into their homes. That's quite an honor."

And so it is, and so it was that he treated it that way, with respect and reverence. Harry the K did play-by-play, and he not only did it uncommonly well, he spared us the histrionics and the shrieking and the rudeness that pollute far too many airways these days.

Harry the K was an oasis of calm in a roiling sea of nastiness and raging negativity.

He was, of course, the property of the Phillies, but he never played the role of fawning company shill. It was the Fightin's he wanted to win, but he credited the opponent when it was deserved.

Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas has a beer poured on him by former Phillies' center fielder Aaron Rowand, right, as he broadcasts from the field following the teams' winning the East Division Championship on Sept. 30, 2007.(AP)

He started with the Phillies in 1971, which means he put in some long years of hard time, having to describe many more losses than victories. But there was never the sense that he had been discouraged. Indeed, for many fans Harry the K was the face of the franchise.

"I just always tried to give 'em my best," he said. "I was hard on myself. If I stunk it out, I took that home with me."

Our last talk was in October, the time of the magic carpet ride, and invariably, as it always does, the conversation turned to absent friends. Most especially the man Harry called Whitey.

Richie Ashburn.

Theirs was a pairing for the ages. Harry Kalas and Rich Ashburn were, well, you struggle to get it just right. By turns they were hilarious, wry, dry, irreverent, informative, and unfailingly entertaining, all of it seasoned just right by an exquisite sense of timing.

Whitey would, from time to time, drift off course, confident that Harry would reel him back in before he floundered in deep water, and then Whitey would launch into another musing, punctuating it with his own signature line.

Hard to believe, Harry became as mimicked as Outta here.

They're both gone now, and we are all the poorer for their passing.

The stories will linger, and one Harry loved to relate was about the night Tim McCarver, a loquacious sort, as you know, was on the air with Harry and Whitey regaling them about pieces of ash that had been formed by the volcanic eruption of Mount St. Helens.

Harry, take it away:

"Tim was prattling on about those pieces of ash and how some were rough while there were others that were smooth, and Whitey, you know, got that twinkle in his eye, the one where you know something's coming, and he took his pipe out of his mouth and he said: 'You know, Tim, I always thought if you've seen one piece of ash, you've seen them all.' "

And Harry the K laughed in that familiar resonant baritone, the one that you can now imagine doing the play-by-play in some Elysian field.

Maybe the best part of Harry was his ego. It was virtually nonexistent. He was a gentleman and a gentle man, most approachable, and utterly without airs.

He was a legend without acting like one.

Somebody stole the Liberty Bell today

By Bob Ford
Philadelphia Inquirer Sports Columnist
April 14, 2009

A moment of silence is observed for longtime Philadelphia Phillies announcer Harry Kalas prior to the National League MLB baseball game between the Phillies and Washington Nationals in Washington April 13, 2009. Kalas was found unconscious in the broadcast booth prior to Monday's game, and died at a local hospital. (Reuters)

Somebody stole the Liberty Bell yesterday, unhooked it from its case, and carted it off when no one was looking. We won't see the Liberty Bell ever again, and a part of us all, of what makes our city special, is lost.

They sawed William Penn from the peak of City Hall yesterday, too, right about midday, right about the same time. The planter's hat and the flowing coat, the beneficent smile bestowed upon his little green town. We won't look up and see Billy again, and the skyline will never look right.

A bulldozer rumbled down the parkway during the lunch traffic and it took out the steps at the Art Museum. Putting in elevators or some such refinement. No more running up the steps, no more lounging on the steps. No more steps at the Art Museum, and we always intended to take one more jog to the top and turn and see the city.

They filled in the Schuylkill and razed the boathouses, closed the pretzel factories, and turned off the cheesesteak grills. They closed Forbidden Drive, paved Fairmount Park, and made people stop parking in the middle of Broad Street.

It all happened yesterday.

The day Harry Kalas died at the ballpark.

"We lost Harry," team president Dave Montgomery said. "We lost our voice."

We lost Harry on the road, which is very nearly home to the baseball lifers like Kalas. We lost Harry as he was preparing for another game, this one in Washington. He would have had his scorebook and his notes in the booth with him, and the statistical numbers and columns that supply the canvas of a game for which artists like Kalas can add the brushstrokes.

He didn't get to see this game, but, probably, he had seen it before. He had seen them all.

The Phillies will do their best to honor him, but there is no statue that can be erected more impressive or lasting than the indelible body of Kalas' work. He was a comfort in time of need - and Phils' fans know all about that - and a friend in the darkness of a drive through the night. He was the narrator of a city's soundtrack, the background conversation at countless events in millions of lives.

People asked Harry to put his voice on their answering machines. They handed him telephones and asked him to wish their wives a happy birthday. They spun the radio dials, caught just a word, perhaps just a name - WAAAH-rin Cro-MAAAHR-tee - and knew where they were. They were at the corner of Kalas and Baseball, and there was no finer intersection at which to spend time.

Philadelphia Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas solicits applause after throwing the first pitch before the start of the MLB National League baseball game between the Phillies and the Atlanta Braves in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania April 8, 2009. Kalas, a veteran of decades behind the microphone who called more than 5,000 Phillies games since 1971, died on April 13, 2009. Picture taken April 8, 2009. (Reuters)

Harry's voice wasn't gravel, but it had an edge. It knew things and knew that you knew them, too. It wasn't a Philadelphian's voice, by any stretch. He kept the round Midwestern pronunciations he grew up hearing in Naperville, Ill. But Kalas liked to play with the words, to put them together and turn them into dramatic recitations that were his alone.

A simple baseball call like "Swing and a miss, struck him out" became a magical victory of good over evil, the emphasis punching through just as the ball had punched through the batter. That very phrasing was the final play-by-play from Kalas that most Phillies fans will remember, as Brad Lidge ended the 2008 season, and Kalas declared the team world champions.

We will hear it only in retrospect now, that wonderful instrument he possessed. Just as nature blesses pitchers with great arms and batters with great hand-to-eye coordination, something was given to Kalas at birth that he couldn't really take credit for, but he could certainly put to good use.

A couple of years ago, I was in line at the Wawa, getting some coffee, on the way to the airport and an Eagles road game. A dozen others shuffled around the store, look for their own coffee, getting through another gray morning. And then the voice boomed out, seemingly from the heavens.

"Aren't you sup-POSED to be in In-DEE-ah-NAP-olis by now?"

People almost dropped their coffee, and their eyes darted to the ceiling and all around. Of course, it was just Harry, three back in the line, holding his coffee, having some fun. And everyone had a story to tell when they finally got to the office.

"Hneh, hneh, hneh," Harry snickered.

He could laugh, but that snicker was more what he was about. It was the expression of an insider, someone who got the joke more than even the teller might realize.

Harry got it all. He got baseball, and he got life on the road. He got how lucky he was to have that voice that everyone knew and that manner that made everyone his friend. He got Philadelphia, got it so well that he became part of the civic landscape. He got us, and that's not easy.

The birds stopped singing in Rittenhouse Square yesterday. The tugboats on the Delaware couldn't sound their horns. When the carriage horses took their customers past Independence Hall, there was no clop-clopping on the cobblestones. The factory whistle wouldn't let anyone leave work. Kids burst from their school rooms and didn't utter a peep.

Philadelphia went quiet yesterday afternoon. Harry Kalas died at the ballpark, and the city lost its voice.

Beloved voice of the Phillies signs off

By John Gonzalez
Philadelphia Inquirer Columnist
April 14, 2009

NEW YORK - The great ones are supposed to live forever.

As I walked into the Citi Field press box for the Mets' home opener, I could hear people whispering. They were echoing the same question that my friends and family back in Philly asked when they phoned after hearing the terrible, heartbreaking news:

Did you hear about Harry?

Harry Kalas died yesterday in Washington as he prepared to do what he's done consistently and well for the last 38 years - call a Phillies game. He was 73 and in poor health, but everyone was stunned when he passed. The reaction was a mixture of sorrow and disbelief. How could it be anything else?

The mind tries to prepare you, to tell you that it's sad but also unavoidable, even for the legends. But the heart is never ready. Maybe it's supposed to happen, but not to the people closest to us - at least not for a long time. Not until some far-off tomorrow. But then tomorrow becomes today and today becomes yesterday and you still can't believe it's real. Shock is death's cruel companion.

Did you hear about Harry?

"There are no words to express the sadness that the entire Phillies organization is feeling with the news about Harry's passing," said Phillies president and CEO David Montgomery. "Harry was the voice of the Phillies, but he was also our heart and soul."

When he first came to town in 1971, he was Harry Kalas, the Phillies' new broadcaster. And then, before anyone knew it or realized it, he was just Harry - no last name or formal title necessary. Loved ones don't need those. That's what happens when you invite a person into your home year after year after year. He becomes part of your family, even if you've never met him face-to-face.

Back in 1987, I watched the Phillies play the Pirates on a tiny television in my bedroom. It had rabbit ears that worked poorly, and the picture was dreadful. But Harry, as usual, sounded great.

"Swing and a long drive, there it is, number 500!" Harry cried, making a special moment that much better. "The career 500th home run for Michael Jack Schmidt!"

That was my first real memory of Harry. I was 10 years old.

(L-R) Richie Ashburn, Andy Musser, Harry Kalas and Chris Wheeler.

It took 21 more years before I finally got to meet Harry in person. By then, it was almost as if I had known him forever. There were so many nights when it felt as though he was sitting on the couch next to me as he delivered his famous, trademark lines - "struck him out" and, better still, "Watch this baby . . . outta here."

It was during the NL Championship Series last year when he introduced himself. I was talking to Fox baseball analyst Tim McCarver in the press box hallway when Harry came over and said hello in his singular voice - the one that made him sound cooler than Frank Sinatra on the chairman of the board's best day. Before long, a mischievous, little-boy smile spread across Harry's face.

"Did he tell you about Pat the Bait?" Harry asked as he nodded at McCarver.

That's how I learned that Pat Burrell - otherwise known as Pat the Bat - was called Pat the Bait during his first few years with the club. Kalas said that before Burrell was married, the older players used to drag him out to the bars - OK, so maybe they didn't drag him, but you get the idea - so they could dangle him as bait to attract women.

"Can you imagine how many hearts Burrell has broken?" Kalas said. And we all had a good laugh.

It's impossible to explain how much that meant to me - standing there with Harry while he took the time to tell a story. It was like getting a gift that I never expected and wasn't worthy to receive.

After that, Harry would stop and chat for a second or say hi when we passed each other in the hallway. The last time I talked to him was after the Phils beat the Rays and won the World Series. He and thousands of merry, tone-deaf backup singers had just finished singing "High Hopes" at Citizens Bank Park.

Harry was standing on the field with the players and front office personnel and press. It was such a special night, and I just wanted to share it with him for a quick second. I went over and repeated the same thing I'd said to about 50 other people that evening: I waited my whole life to see a championship in the city, and I couldn't believe - after 25 long years - that it actually happened.

Harry nodded. His eyes looked a little red.

"It's a great feeling," he said. "You'll never forget this."

We'll never forget you either, Harry. You were wonderful and you were ours and you will be deeply missed.

A Tribute to Harry Kalas

By Tyler Kepner
The New York Times
April 13, 2009, 6:53 pm

TAMPA, Fla. – Harry Kalas died Monday after collapsing in the broadcast booth before a Phillies game in Washington. He was the most beloved person in Philadelphia, and nobody else was close.

He was the voice of the Phillies for 38 years, spanning generations, narrating our summers. When we dreamed of baseball glory, we imagined ourselves hitting a home run with Kalas at the microphone, telling the world that ball’s outta here.

But it was really just our world, in Philadelphia. Everybody knew Harry, who was also the voice of NFL Films. But nobody knew him the way we did. The Phillies could be very good or very bad, but whenever they played, there was always Harry. However we felt about the team, we were always proud of that.

When the Phillies won the World Series in 1980, network rules prevented a team’s local radio broadcasters from calling the action live. The voice of the Phillies was forbidden from calling the seminal moment when Tug McGraw struck out Willie Wilson. As you would expect, the city strongly objected to this rule.

“The outcry of Phillie fans had M.L.B. change it,” Kalas told me last October. “They wanted to hear Harry and Whitey calling the World Series.”

He was referring, of course, to Rich Ashburn, the Hall of Fame outfielder known as Whitey who was Kalas’s partner from 1971 until his death in 1997. The Phillies’ broadcast booth was never the same after that, but Harry was there last Oct. 29, when the Phillies won the World Series again.

There was profound sadness Monday, but also relief that Kalas lived long enough to make one final and glorious call:

“One strike away, nothing-and-two count to Hinske. Fans on their feet. Rally towels are being waved. Brad Lidge stretches. The 0-2 pitch. Swing and a miss! Struck him out! The Philadelphia Phillies are 2008 world champions of baseball!”

If you knew Harry, it was obvious his health had declined in recent years. But he was there at Citizens Bank Park last Wednesday, resplendent in a red sports coat, tossing the ceremonial first pitch the day the Phillies received their championship rings. My mom was there, and felt moved to call me so I could hear the fans’ reaction. It was the last home game Kalas ever broadcast.

The booth at Citizens Bank Park is named for Ashburn, who was famous for saying on the air, “This game’s easy, Harry.” In a frame outside the booth is a shirt autographed by Kalas, with a Hall of Fame 2002 inscription.

At his ceremony in Cooperstown that summer, Kalas closed with a poem. I always considered it the height of class, and I reprint it here in honor of a man who can never be replaced:

“This is to the Philadelphia Fan
To laud your passion as best I can
Your loyalty is unsurpassed
Be the Fightins in first or last
We come to the park each day
Looking forward to another fray
Because we know you’ll be there
We know you really care
You give the opposing pitcher fits
Because as one loyalist shouts, ‘Everybody hits’
To be sure in Philly, there might be some boos
Because you passionate fans, like the manager, hate to lose
Your reaction to the action on the field that you impart
Spurs us as broadcasters to call the game with enthusiasm and heart
We feel your passion through and through
Philadelphia fans, I love you.”

– Harry Kalas, 2002

Philly Won't Be The Same Without Kalas

Hall of Fame voice of the Phillies died Monday at the age of 73

By Jason Stark
April 13, 2009

In this Sunday, Aug. 18, 2002 file photo, Philadelphia Phillies announcer Harry Kalas waves to the crowd during ceremonies honoring the Hall of Fame broadcaster before the start of the Phillies game against the St. Louis Cardinals, in Philadelphia. Kalas, who punctuated innumerable home runs with his 'Outta Here!' call, died Monday, April 13, 2009, after being found in the broadcast booth before a game against the Washington Nationals. He was 73.
(AP Photo/Dan Loh)

PHILADELPHIA -- He was so much more than the voice of the Phillies. Harry Kalas was the Phillies.

He didn't just describe the games. His voice took hold of those games and made them his personal amphitheater.

The home runs weren't officially home runs until Harry Kalas told you they were outta here.

The long outs didn't make Philadelphia's hearts flutter unless the volume on every speaker suddenly quadrupled and Harry announced they've got … a … chance.

Strike three wasn't strike three until Harry The K gave it that little chuckle and reported some Phillies pitcher had just struck some poor, overmatched schmoe with a bat "right on outta there."

And when the impossible happened, when a World Series title run erupted in front of his eyes, his town couldn't be totally sure this mind-warping event had actually happened until the great Harry Kalas' golden voice exploded with the words: "The Philadelphia Phillies are 2008 world champions of baseball."

So here is what people like me, people who have lived most of our lives in Philadelphia, are wondering on this sad and tragic day:

How are we going to do this?

AP Photo/Tom Mihalek

Harry Kalas threw out the first pitch before this year's Phillies season opener.

How are we going to go on in a world with no more "outta heres?"

How do we fill the unfillable void that will hang over us forever now as we try to contemplate life, and baseball, without Kalas?

Can't be done. Can it?

The games will go on. The sport will go on. Voices will crackle out of our TV speakers. That's the way it has to work. That's the way it has always worked.

But we don't have to pretend it will ever be the same, because when you've spent 6,000 nights, over four decades, listening to Harry Kalas put his inimitable stamp on a baseball game, it's way too simple to say baseball will never sound the same.

Baseball in Philadelphia will never be the same.

I'm one of the lucky ones. I got to know one of the special human beings on this planet. It was one of the great thrills of my career.

Once, I was just one of the fortunate hordes who had the pleasure of listening to Harry Kalas. Next thing I knew, I was working alongside him.

Back when I was a rookie beat reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer and something memorable would happen on the emerald field below me, I'd often find myself thinking: I wonder how Harry called that one?

His voice, his presence, was that powerful. Even when you were witnessing something live, with your very own eyes, you still felt as if you were missing something -- because you hadn't heard Harry describe it.

If it had been only me thinking those thoughts, I'd have gotten therapy and tried to get that little voice out of my head. But it wasn't just me. Ohhhhh no.

Those players down there were way more addicted to that voice than I was.

Back on May 10, 2002, Phillies center fielder Doug Glanville hit an inside-the-park home run, the only inside-the-parker of his career. You know what he remembers about it now? Kalas' call of that magic moment.

The second he crossed home plate, Glanville said, "I wanted to hear him announce it. That was every bit as important to me as running around the bases."

Wait. Hold on here. You mean this man had just done something very few human beings have ever done, and all he could think of was the sound of That Voice? How can that be, you ask? Because it was Harry. That's how.

"Harry had that special gift," Glanville said Monday. "Just with his words and the emotion in his voice, he could take you to that game and put you right in that moment. If I was trying to explain to somebody what it's like to hit an inside-the-park homer, I'd say, 'Just listen to Harry call it.'"

But it wasn't only Glanville. When something big -- especially something really, really big -- came along, Kalas' voice towered over the event like a thunderclap from the heavens.

Let me transport you back to April 18, 1987. It's a day I'll never forget. I got to see Mike Schmidt hit his 500th home run that day. But that's not the part I'll never forget.

The scene that is lodged in my brain forever was a scene that took place long after Schmidt's emotional home run trot. The interviews were over. The players were all dressed. The bus to the hotel was almost ready to leave.

Then Harry Kalas entered the room.

It just so happened that he and his broadcast buddies had brought with them a tape of Kalas' still-indelible call. And so, right then, right there, life in that room screeched to a halt. Everything stopped. The bus could wait.

All 25 players gathered around the tape recorder. The "play" button was pushed. And here came That Voice:

"There it isssss. Nummmmmber 500. The career 500th home run for Michael Jack Schmidt. And the Phillies have regained the lead in Pittsburgh, 8-6."

They listened to it once, and they roared so loudly the walls shook. So then they listened to it again. And again. And again. And again. Screaming just as loudly every time.

That's when it hit me: Even they didn't realize what had just happened here -- not until they'd heard Harry The K put it into words.

Well, you know what? At least those words live. Still.

I heard them all over the airwaves Monday. It's the one consolation on days like this. Because Kalas did what he did, because he uttered his special brand of poetry into a microphone, the words live on.

We need them now. We need to hear those words again. And again. And again. And again.

We need That Voice because it has been such a constant in all our lives for as long as most of us can remember. And not just at game time.

When I heard the sad news Monday, I called my daughter Hali -- one of the great Harry The K fans on earth. Through the tears, she told me she had just changed the ring tone on her cell phone -- to the sound of Harry Kalas calling the final pitch of the 2008 World Series.

Later, my wife, Lisa, tried calling our neighbors, Bob and Karen Scheur, because we knew they'd want to know. They weren't in. But their answering machine clicked on -- and there was Harry Kalas' voice informing us that Bob and Karen had just gone on a lonnnnnng drive, and they were outta here … so please leave a message at the sound of the beep.

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

A moment of silence in memory of Harry Kalas was observed before the Phillies' game with the Nationals on Monday in Washington.

"The funny thing is," Bob told me later, "that in November, Karen finally said, 'It's time to change the tape.' So we did. But as soon as we did, my friends would call and say, 'Hey, what happened to Harry?' So when it was time for pitchers and catchers, we changed it back. It's one of the rites of spring. Harry's back."

I could relate to that feeling -- totally. In fact, my last conversation with Harry came just a couple of weeks ago, in Florida. Pitchers and catchers had reported weeks earlier. The games had been going on for nearly a month. But for the first time ever, those games were going on without Harry.

He'd had some medical issues, described as nothing serious. So the Phillies were muddling along without him as best they could. And then, one day, I was walking down a ballpark hallway and there he was.

"It's a Harry The K sighting," I said. "Now we can finally get this season started."

He laughed. We shook hands. We talked a little baseball. He was ready to go. And now, so was I.

But I was only half kidding. It wasn't baseball season without Harry Kalas -- not for me. And not for millions like me.

So now what?

There will be a season. And in time, I'm sure, we'll be grateful there's a season.

But it will take some getting used to -- because, for millions of Philadelphians, Harry was what baseball sounded like.

If there's a rhythm to the heavens, if there's a script to every life, then we can take some solace in knowing there was an amazing finish to Harry Kalas' script.

In the final game he ever called, on Sunday in Denver, Matt Stairs gave him one final, dramatic, game-winning outta here.

Before the final home game Harry ever called -- on Wednesday, when the Phillies received their World Series rings -- he was handpicked by team president Dave Montgomery to throw out the first pitch.

And in the final postseason game he ever called, he got to tell all those people who loved him that the Phillies -- his Phillies -- were "2008 world champions of baseball."

That was their moment. But he made it his moment. And that's only fitting because, for the people of Philadelphia, Harry Kalas didn't just describe their moments. He made their moments real.

Jayson Stark is a senior writer for