Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Bin Bayyah Bungle


Obama seeks advice from another “moderate” terrorist supporter. 

Sheikh Abdulla Bin Bayyah (2nd L) released this photo on his website, showing the June 13 meeting with Obama administration officials including Gayle Smith (2nd R) and Rashad Hussain (4th L)
(Via KateNews2Day)

Who is a civilian?” The Muslim Brotherhood’s chief jurist, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, was asking the question rhetorically. It was 2004 and the sheikh, globally renowned as Sunni Islam’s most influential sharia scholar, felt obliged to dilate on Muslim law’s distinction between civilians and combatants. After all, a couple of his edicts had caused some confusion.

Two days after the atrocities of September 11, 2001, Qaradawi declared, “We, in the name of our religion, deny the act and incriminate the perpetrator.” Although he expressed skepticism that Muslims were behind the attacks on the United States, his pronouncement was taken as an implied condemnation of al-Qaeda.

An apparent rebuke from a figure of such stature elated American progressives, who look upon the Brotherhood as a cure, rather than an incubator, for violent jihadism. For once, the Left could feel comfortable forgetting that Qaradawi is a rabid anti-Semite whose gory enthusiasm for the Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch, the Hamas terrorist organization, is most notable for its paeans to suicide bombing — or what the sheikh prefers to call “martyrdom operations.”

But the treacle that Brotherhood eminences serve up for voracious Western consumption is rarely repeated in speeches to their core Arabic audience, swelled to the millions by the popularity of media mogul Qaradawi’s weekly al-Jazeera program, Sharia and Life. This is the audience to which Qaradawi typically spouts such venom as: “The Israelis might have nuclear bombs but we have the children bomb, and these human bombs must continue until liberation. Calling for peace at this time is treason.”

It was to this audience that Qaradawi and one of his esteemed creations, the International Union of Muslim Scholars, directed their 2004 fatwa calling for the killing of American troops in Iraq. “Resisting occupation troops in Iraq is a duty on able Muslims in and outside the war-torn country,” proclaimed the IUMS.

Qaradawi’s starkly different treatment of the two episodes — 9/11 and the Iraq invasion — was easy enough to reckon if one grasped his sharia calculus. The U.S. is not a Muslim country and Iraq is; attacks on the former are to be discouraged unless they help the cause of global Islamization, while driving infidel invaders from the latter is compulsory.

What generated confusion, though, was Qaradawi’s position on civilians. The rationale for his 9/11 condemnation seemed to center on the mass killing of civilians at the World Trade Center. But Iraq, where Qaradawi and his fellow sharia scholars were urging jihadist terror, had been entered not only by American troops but also by legions of civilians supporting the democratization mission. Did the fatwa apply to them, too?

It most certainly did. As Qaradawi had emphasized in 2003, right after the invasion of Iraq and the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s regime, it was not merely the American fighters but the American presence in an Islamic realm that caused offense. “The American aggression on the whole region,” he claimed, was designed “to impose the total American hegemony on us.” Consequently, a Muslim “who launches attacks against the American presence is really carrying the spirit of true defenders. When one dies while carrying out such attacks, then he is a martyr.” Thus, as Qaradawi now clarified, there are no American “civilians” in Iraq:
I said that I forbid the killing of civilians. I said that it is permitted to kill only those who fight. Islam forbids killing women, youth, and so on. I said so openly, but I asked, “Who is a civilian?” When engineers, laborers, and technicians enter with the American army, are they considered civilians? Is a fighter only the one inside the tank or also the one servicing it?  I am speaking of the interpretation of the word “civilian.”
As if these questions did not answer themselves, Qaradawi made the obvious explicit in speaking for the IUMS on the eve of the third anniversary of the 9/11 attacks: “Fighting American civilians in Iraq is a duty for all Muslims. . . . Americans in Iraq are all fighters and invaders. There is no difference between a civilian and a military American in Iraq.”

The calls by Qaradawi and his IUMS for the killing of American soldiers and civilians are worth remembering. At the time of the 2004 IUMS fatwa, the organization’s vice-president was Qaradawi’s longtime confidant, Sheikh Abdulla bin Bayyah. Today, in addition to his IUMS labors, it turns out that Sheikh bin Bayyah has a new position: Obama-administration adviser.

This week, the Investigative Project on Terrorism’s Steve Emerson and John Rossomando broke the news that the Obama administration issued a visa to bin Bayyah and hosted him at the White House on June 13. We learn about this not from the most transparent administration in history but because bin Bayyah posted an account of the meeting on his website — complete with a photograph of bin Bayyah holding court at a long table surrounded by Obama’s raptly attentive national-security staffers.

While Obama officials refused for nearly two weeks to confirm the meeting or comment on its substance, Qaradawi’s deputy took pains to expunge his mention of national-security adviser Tom Donilon’s presence at the session. But the administration finally acknowledged the meeting to Fox News on Thursday. Bin Bayyah had emphasized that it was the administration, not he, who sought the confab — to seek “new mechanisms to communicate” with the IUMS, as Gayle Smith, Obama’s national-security counsel, reportedly put it. Ms. Smith is also said to have thanked the co-author of the 2004 fatwa for “his efforts to bring more understanding amongst humanity.”

Recall that Obama’s crack national-security team previously issued a visa to Hani Nour el-Din, a member of the Blind Sheikh’s Egyptian terrorist organization, so he could come to the White House for consultations. Remarkably, the administration defended huddling with bin Bayyah on the ground they were trying, as Fox News reported, “to counter the al Qaeda narrative.” Al-Qaeda, of course, supports suicide terrorism against Israel and violent jihad to drive American troops out of the Middle East, just like Qaradawi and the IUMS. Indeed, in principle, there is no difference between al-Qaeda’s rationale for the mass murder of civilians on 9/11 and Qaradawi’s support for murdering American civilians in Iraq. Osama bin Laden explained it this way:
The American people should remember that they pay taxes to their government, they elect their president, their government manufactures arms and gives them to Israel and Israel uses them to massacre Palestinians. The American Congress endorses all government measures, and this proves that all of America is responsible for the atrocities committed against Muslims. All of America, because they elect the Congress.

 As one would expect, bin Bayyah lobbied his hosts to “take urgent action” to help Syrian opposition forces backed by the Brotherhood and al-Qaeda in their jihad against the Assad regime — something that no one except John McCain has demanded more ardently than Qaradawi. Administration officials have told media outlets that the president has indeed decided to provide weapons to the Syrian “rebels.”

It is not known whether Donilon, Smith, Rashad Hussein (Obama’s envoy to the 57-government Organization of Islamic Cooperation), and the other administration officials on hand congratulated bin Bayyah and the IUMS on recently welcoming Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh as a member of the organization. Yes, Hamas is still a terrorist organization. And yes, it is still a federal crime to promote terrorism — at least nominally. But when it comes to the Brotherhood, our president is obviously of a mind to let bygones be bygones, insha Allah.

Taking cues from the Brotherhood is working out well, wouldn’t you say? Iraq and Libya are imploding; the Obama-backed Islamic-supremacist regimes in Egypt and Turkey are brutally repressing authentic democratic revolts; the Taliban is poised to retake Afghanistan; and now, we’re off to Syria. Meanwhile, the few brave House conservatives who have the temerity to raise questions about Brotherhood infiltration of our government are run out of town by a bipartisan posse; the materials used to train our agents are purged of references to the enemy’s ideology; and the White House rolls out its red carpet for terror promoters who urge the murder of our troops while promising to conquer America, Europe, and Israel.

Not to worry, though. Obama’s got just three and a half years to go. How much damage could he do, right?

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute. He is the author, most recently, of Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy.

Cover the IRS, Don't Cover for It


Apologists in the media and elsewhere falsely claim the scandal was just a bungle.

By Peggy Noonan
The Wall Street Journal
June 28, 2013

The problem with this story is that liberals were not caught in the IRS dragnet. Progressive groups were not targeted.'Documents Show Liberals in I.R.S. Dragnet," read the New York Times headline. "Dem: 'Progressive' Groups Were Also Targeted by IRS," said U.S. News. The scandal has "evaporated into thin air," bayed the excitable Andrew Sullivan. A breathlessly exonerative narrative swept the news media this week: that liberal groups had been singled out and, by implication, abused by the IRS, just as conservative groups had been. Therefore, the scandal wasn't a scandal but a mere bungle—a nonpolitical series of unhelpful but innocent mistakes.
The claim that they had been rested mostly on an unclear, undated, highly redacted and not at all dispositive few pages from a "historical" BOLO ("be on the lookout") list that apparently wasn't even in use between May 2010 and May 2012, when most of the IRS harassment of conservative groups occurred.
The case isn't closed, no matter how many people try to slam it shut.
Martin Kozlowski
On Wednesday Russell George, the Treasury inspector general whose original audit broke open the scandal, answered Rep. Sander Levin's charge that the audit had ignored the targeting of progressives. In a letter released Thursday, Mr. George couldn't have been clearer: The evidence showed conservative groups were singled out for abuse by the IRS, not liberal groups. While some liberal groups might have wound up on a BOLO list, the IRS did not target them. "We did not find evidence that the criteria you identified, labeled 'Progressives,' were used by the IRS to select potential political cases during the 2010 to 2012 timeframe we audited." One hundred percent of the groups with "Tea Party," "Patriot" or "9/12" in their names were given extra scrutiny. "While we have multiple sources of information corroborating the use of Tea Party and other related criteria . . . including employee interviews, e-mails, and other documents, we found no indication in any of these other materials that 'progressives' was a term used to refer cases for scrutiny for political campaign intervention."
According to a House Ways and Means Committee source, only seven of the 298 cases flagged by the IRS for extra scrutiny appeared to represent progressive causes. Not one of the seven was subject to harassment or abuse. Of the seven, only two were even sent follow-up questionnaires after their applications for tax exempt status were received. Neither of those two was asked inappropriate or invasive questions. And all seven saw their applications approved.
Conservative groups were treated differently, sent to a secondary review group after being flagged for scrutiny. They were subject to undue burdens and harassment—lengthy and invasive questions about donors and even prayer habits. There, in the secondary offices, some of them languished for years. "Some of them are still languishing," said the source.
Danny Werfel, the acting head of the IRS, who manages at the same time to seem utterly well-meaning and highly evasive, further muddied the waters this week with a report on how the IRS is dealing with the aftermath of the inspector general's audit. The report seemed to exonerate—"we have not found evidence of intentional wrongdoing at this time"—while admitting, further in: "We are digging deeper . . . to determine if there are instances of wrongdoing." Which is it?
The report claims that part of the problem is that those who were targeted and abused didn't "leverage" the Office of Taxpayer Advocate. But when Sen. John Cornyn contacted the local advocate's office on behalf of the targeted Texas group True the Vote, his letter went unanswered for 11 months, and the eventual reply didn't answer his questions. Forget how they'd treat an average citizen—that's how they treat someone who has power.
The Werfel report makes no mention of the agency's disclosure of confidential tax information—the leaking of confidential tax and donor information of the National Organization for Marriage to the liberal Human Rights Campaign, and the leaking of the applications of conservative groups to a liberal news outfit.
More than 10 pages of the 53-page report are devoted to explaining how important the IRS is, and how excellent its workforce, in spite of lower budgets. There will be "negative repercussions" in future years, it darkly warns, "if our funding is inadequate." That would have been a good place to mention the bonuses the IRS has been giving itself—almost a quarter-billion dollars the past few years. But no word of that.
There is a muted mention of IRS boondoggles—the conferences, the suites, the "Star Trek" and "Gilligan's Island" parody videos: There were "management lapses" that led to "wasteful spending." "Many of these failures reflected a lack of judgment that, unfortunately, was not uncommon across the Federal Government in the years leading up to 2010." Ah, that explains it.
The report is written in a way that is beyond bureaucratic. It is aggressively impenetrable and requires constant translation. "Information . . . shared with Congress was insufficient." That means that when Congress asked IRS leadership if there was targeting going on, they lied and said no.
The report's weaknesses were played out in person during Thursday's Ways and Means questioning of Mr. Werfel. Chairman Dave Camp said the report fails to address central issues. "Where is the internal oversight?"

Peggy Noonan's Blog

Daily declarations from the Wall Street Journal columnist.
Under questioning, Mr. Werfel admitted he had not interviewed his predecessors, who led the IRS in the scandal years, nor exemptions unit chief Lois Lerner.
Did Ms. Lerner attempt to cover up the targeting? "I don't know the answer. . . . There's no evidence on the record."
Who was the person responsible for the Cincinnati office's targeting of tea-party groups? "We are looking into the facts and circumstances that arose."
Who in Washington told IRS workers to hold up the applications? "I don't know the answer to that question."
How do you know the circumstances within the tax-exempt unit aren't more widespread within the IRS? "I've asked them to look for evidence of problems."
He did, however, agree that it appears tea-party groups were sent on for extra scrutiny. "We did not find evidence . . . we found no indication . . . that progressives was a term" used to alert screeners. So there's that.
Who initiated the targeting of donors to apply gift taxes to their donations? This is "subject to further investigation."
Who leaked the donor lists? "I do not have that information"
Who at the IRS was involved in covering up the patterns of abuse? That's being investigated, too.
In fairness to Mr. Werfel, there are a lot of people he can't talk to because they are talking to investigators. But if that's the case, he can't declare there's no evidence of intentional wrongdoing by individuals at the IRS. How would he know?
Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas zeroed in at the end: "This report is a sham."
No one has gotten near the bottom of this scandal. Journalists shouldn't be trying to make the story disappear. The revenue-gathering arm of the federal government appears to be politically biased, corrupt in its actions, and unable to reform itself.

The only way to make that story go away is to get to the bottom of it and fully reveal it. It's not a bungle, it's a scandal.

Film Review: 'Copperhead'


June 28, 2013
It's a miracle! A fascinating and compelling movie whose plot is driven by the protagonist's fidelity to the Constitution. (In fact there were more mentions of the Constitution than any other movie I have ever seen.)  You have never seen a movie like Copperhead, and you ought to take the opportunity to see it on a big screen if you live in one of the forty-some cities where it is opening today. (update: list of theatres here) But even if you don't, it is available today via all on-demand platforms, which is a great strategy to reach the widely dispersed audience that would appreciate this movie and have access to on-demand via cable, satellite, or the internet.
The story covers several months starting in the spring of 1862, as the Civil War began to felt in upstate New York, where dairy farmer Abner Beech holds a very politically incorrect view for his time and place: he is a so-called Copperhead who believes that the war was unwise, that President Lincoln has violated the Constitution in his conduct of the war, and the Confederacy should be allowed to go its own way or reunite with the Union, as it wishes.
Far from being a racist indifferent to slavery, Beech deplores it, and the viewer discovers that he has been secretly part of the Underground Railroad funneling fugitive slaves to Canada.  The neighbors that react negatively to his stance have no clue as to his beliefs, and the abuse he endures is in the end tragic in unexpected ways. I won't spoil the plot, but it is the very opposite of a preachy, talky movie about politics. The characters have depth, the acting and directing are terrific, and the plot moves forward in a completely logical and compelling manner. There is romance, conflict, violence, and much more.
Copperhead is the third installment in a Civil War trilogy by director Ronald Maxwell, the first being the now classic Gettysburg from 1993, and the second, widely acclaimed Gods and Generals from 2003, a kind of prequel to Gettysburg, following the rise and fall of Stonewall Jackson. Evidently, taking a full decade between chapters of the trilogy allowed creativity and mastery of detail to flourish.
Copperhead is a visual treat, with wonderful cinematography by Kees Van Oostrum, mated to a production design that conveyed a sense of what it was like to live in those days before modern conveniences, when a father would read a newspaper by lamplight to the rest of the family after dinner. For students, the movie can serve as a valuable history lesson on life in that era, as well as the major historical events, told from a viewpoint that has been not just neglected, but shunned. It should be a treat to take smart younger people to this movie and talk about the many issues it raises - not just about war but about life.
The Emancipation Proclamation comes during the picture, and we see its impact on the home front in the North. It made the war about slavery, whereas it had been about preserving the Union.   Abner Beech hated slavery, but he loved the U.S. Constitution more, and he was unwilling to send his children off to die or be maimed in a bloody battle against fellow Americans.
The film is true to its characters and to its era, so it is far from a parable about, say, the situation facing conservatives in Obama's America, with the tea party regarded as the nation's top terror threat by over a quarter of Obama supporters. As a man who lived through the antiwar movement of the 1960s and 70s, I saw plenty of analogies between the copperheads and the antiwar movement, as should any honest leftists who happen to see it. Conservatives who see it today might gag on the  on Beech's passionate advocacy of the Democrats, who were against the war at the time, and stood for the Constitution against the Republicans -- driven, as vividly portrayed in the movie, by the religious right of the time, the abolitionist clergy.
Copperhead is based on an 1893 novel of the same name by Harold Frederic, who grew up in upstate New York and lived through events similar to those portrayed in the novel he wrote thirty years later.  More than a century later, the issues are still sensitive, and a focus on a protagonist who was an opponent of the war to free slaves faces an uphill battle. Most films which celebrate a dissenter who stood up for principle against the mob are about causes that today are seen as the right side of the question involved, such as the Salem witch trials or the battle to allow evolution to be taught. Copperhead takes a far more complex and nuanced approached to the role of dissident.
In the end, Abner Beech and the movie itself are deeply rooted in the love of home - family home, country home, and state home. The federal government comes in after these. In one of the most memorable lines of the film, when challenged by his neighbor Avery, a supporter of Lincoln and the war, Abner says, "My family means more to me, my farm means more. Even though we disagree, Avery, you mean more to me than The Union."
See it while you can.


Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/06/copperhead.html#ixzz2XbVB154G
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Friday, June 28, 2013

Today's Tune: Waylon Jennings - Goin' Down Rockin' (Live)

The Simulacrum of Self-Government


We might as well put the Constitution out of its misery. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013 — just another day in a constitutional republic of limited government by citizen representatives:

First thing in the morning, Gregory Roseman, Deputy Director of Acquisitions (whatever that means), became the second IRS official to take the Fifth Amendment, after he was questioned about awarding the largest contract in IRS history, totaling some half a billion dollars, to his close friend Braulio Castillo, who qualified under a federal “set aside” program favoring disadvantaged groups — in this case, disabled veterans. For the purposes of federal contracting, Mr. Castillo is a “disabled veteran” because he twisted his ankle during a football game at the U.S. Military Academy prep school 27 years ago. How he overcame this crippling disability to win a half-billion-dollar IRS contract is the heartwarming stuff of an inspiring Lifetime TV movie.

Later in the day, Senator John Hoeven, Republican of North Dakota and alleged author of the Corker-Hoeven amendment to the immigration bill, went on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show and, in a remarkable interview, revealed to the world that he had absolutely no idea what was in the legislation he “wrote.” Rachel Jeantel, the endearingly disastrous star witness at the George Zimmerman trial, excused her inability to comprehend the letter she’d supposedly written to Trayvon Martin’s parents on the grounds that “I don’t read cursive.” Senator Hoeven doesn’t read legislative. For example, Section 5(b)(1):
Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall establish a strategy, to be known as the ‘Southern Border Fencing Strategy’ . . .
On the other hand, Section 5(b)(5):
Notwithstanding paragraph (1), nothing in this subsection shall require the Secretary to install fencing . . .
Asked to reconcile these two paragraphs, Senator Hoeven explained that, “when I read through that with my lawyer,” the guy said relax, don’t worry about it. (I paraphrase, but barely.) So Senator Hoeven and 67 other senators went ahead the following day and approved the usual bazillion-page we-have-to-pass-it-to-find-out-what’s-in-it omnibus bill, cooked up in the backrooms, released late on a Friday afternoon and passed in nothing flat after Harry Reid decreed there’s no need for further debate — not that anything recognizable to any genuine legislature as “debate” ever occurs in “the world’s greatest deliberative body.”

Say what you like about George III, but the Tea Act was about tea. The so-called comprehensive immigration reform is so comprehensive it includes special deals for Nevada casinos and the recategorization of the Alaskan fish-processing industry as a “cultural exchange” program, because the more leaping salmon we have the harder it is for Mexicans to get across the Bering Strait. While we’re bringing millions of Undocumented-Americans “out of the shadows,” why don’t we try bringing Washington’s decadent and diseased law-making out of the shadows?

Just when you thought the day couldn’t get any more momentous, the Supreme Court weighed in on same-sex marriage. When less advanced societies wish to introduce gay marriage, the people’s elected representatives assemble in parliament and pass a law. That’s how they did it in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, etc. But one shudders to contemplate what would result were the legislative class to attempt “comprehensive marriage reform,” complete with tax breaks for Maine lobstermen’s au pairs and the hiring of 20,000 new IRS agents to verify business expenses for page boys from disparate-impact groups. So instead it fell to five out of nine judges, which means it fell to Anthony Kennedy, because he’s the guy who swings both ways. Thus, Supreme Intergalactic Emperor Anthony gets to decide the issue for 300 million people.

As Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben so famously says in every remake, with great power comes great responsibility. Having assumed the power to redefine a societal institution that predates the United States by thousands of years, Emperor Tony the All-Wise had the responsibility at least to work up the semblance of a legal argument. Instead, he struck down the Defense of Marriage Act on the grounds that those responsible for it were motivated by an “improper animus” against a “politically unpopular group” they wished to “disparage,” “demean,” and “humiliate” as “unworthy.” What stump-toothed knuckle-dragging inbred swamp-dwellers from which hellish Bible Belt redoubt would do such a thing? Well, fortunately, we have their names on the record: The DOMA legislators who were driven by their need to “harm” gay people include notorious homophobe Democrats Chuck Schumer, Pat Leahy, Harry Reid, Joe Biden, and the virulent anti-gay hater who signed it into law, Bill Clinton.

It’s good to have President Clinton’s animus against gays finally exposed by Anthony Kennedy. There’s a famous photograph of him taken round the time he signed DOMA, at a big fundraiser wearing that black-tie-and-wing-collar combo that always made him look like the maĆ®tre d’ at a 19th-century bordello. He’s receiving greetings from celebrity couple Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche, who’d come out as gay the week before and, in the first flush of romance, can’t keep their hands off each other even with President Happy Pants trying to get a piece of the action. For a man motivated only by a hateful need to harm gays, he’s doing a grand job of covering it up, looking like the guy who decided to splash out for the two-girl special on the last night of the sales convention. Nevertheless, reacting to the Supreme Court’s decision, President Clinton professed himself delighted to have been struck down as a homophobe.

In his dissent, Justice Scalia wrote that “to defend traditional marriage is not to condemn, demean, or humiliate those who would prefer other arrangements, any more than to defend the Constitution of the United States is to condemn, demean, or humiliate other constitutions.” Indeed. With this judgment, America’s constitutional court demeans and humiliates only its own. Of all the local variations through which same-sex marriage has been legalized in the last decade, mostly legislative (France, Iceland) but occasionally judicial (Canada, South Africa), the United States is unique in its inability to jump on the Western world’s bandwagon du jour without first declaring its current vice president, president pro tem of the Senate, majority leader, chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, and prospective first First Gentleman raging gay-bashers. As the Paula Deens of orientation, maybe they should all be canceled.

There is something deeply weird, not to say grubby and dishonest, about this. In its imputation of motive to those who disagree with it, this opinion is more disreputable than Roe v. Wade — and with potentially unbounded application. To return to the immigration bill, and all its assurances that those amnestied will “go to the end of the line” and have to wait longer for full-blown green cards and longer still for citizenship, do you seriously think any of that hooey will survive its first encounter with a federal judge? In much of the Southwest, you’d have jurisdictions with a majority of Hispanic residents living under an elderly, disproportionately white voting roll. You can cut-and-paste Kennedy’s guff about “improper animus” toward “a group of people” straight into the first immigration appeal, and a thousand more. And that’s supposing the administrative agencies pay any attention to the “safeguards” in the first place.

As I say, just another day in the life of the republic: a corrupt bureaucracy dispensing federal gravy to favored clients; a pseudo-legislature passing bills unread by the people’s representatives and uncomprehended by the men who claim to have written them; and a co-regency of jurists torturing an 18th-century document in order to justify what other countries are at least honest enough to recognize as an unprecedented novelty. Whether or not, per Scalia, we should “condemn” the United States Constitution, it might be time to put the poor wee thing out of its misery.

— Mark Steyn, a National Review columnist, is the author of After America: Get Ready for Armageddon. © 2013 Mark Steyn

Bruce Springsteen: How the Boss has evolved


A fascinating new book, Springsteen on Springsteen, reveals how musician Bruce Springsteen has changed over five decades in music.


Springsteen has changed over five decades in music.

Bruce Springsteen in 1975, 1982 and 2013 . . .  the leather jacket has been a constant
Image 1 of 2
Bruce Springsteen in 1975, 1982 and 2013 . . . the leather jacket has been a constant 
Bruce Springsteen in 1975, 1982 and 2013 . . . the leather jacket has been a constant 


Bruce Springsteen
, who is touring Britain this month, has given hundreds of interviews during his half century as a musician. A brilliant new book, Springsteen on Springsteen, re-prints the best interviews, going back to 1973. Here is how Springsteen has evolved:
THE 1960s . . .
Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen (born on September 23, 1949, in New Jersey), attended Freehold Borough High School. His father, Douglas, was a bus driver and also worked in factories. In the book, the singer speaks of a troubled adolescence, describing himself as "a dreamer", "one of the town freaks", and "a misfit who was pretty ostracised by my hometown". He says he was a "sensitive kid" who had the "devastating experience of not being accepted by my father". He said of his father, "he was a pretty good pool player and not much else".
He said he was not a literary child and "went through a year and a half of college, which I don't remember a darn thing from". His mother, an Elvis Presley fan, bought him his first guitar at 13, changing his life. Although he started as a guitarist only, he later said: "I never felt I had enough personal style to pursue being just a guitarist."
He refers to himself as "an isolated" teenager, saying "from when I was 17 until I was 24 I never had a record player, so I never heard any albums that came out after, like 1967. And I was never a social person who went over to other people's houses and got loaded and listened to records – I never did that. And I didn't have an FM radio."
THE 1970s . . .
His musical influences were Chuck Berry, Elvis, Buddy Holly, Van Morrison's Them and Bob Dylan – but it was his own desire to make music that drove him on. Aged 24, he had already started playing in a band with lifelong friend Steve Van Zandt but they were struggling to make a real breakthrough (they were booed as the support act to Chicago) and scraping by day-to-day. "I was living on like a dollar a day. Some chick was helping me out . . . and I haven't paid the band for three weeks," Springsteen said in 1974. "But this is for me, you know. I got no choice. I have to write and play. If I became an electrician tomorrow, I'd still come home at night and write songs."
The "only real job Springsteen ever had, as a gardener, ended quickly," the book says.
The superstar about to play Wembley Stadium was dismissive of large rock venues, saying, in 1974, that big arenas drove him "insane" adding: "I won't go to those places again, we won't play any place over three thousand. I am always disappointed in acts that go out and play those places . . . I don't know how Joni Mitchell can do it."
After the breakthrough of Born To Run, Springsteen was a worldwide success. In 1978, he said: "Now all of a sudden . . . There's more money than we can spend."
A 1978 photo of Bruce Springsteen with his Corvette by photographer Frank Stefanko
It was a period of intense work. He said he was "self-conscious" about his lyrics and worked like a demon to hone them, going to bed at eight in the morning, sleeping until four and writing all night. "For at least an entire winter, I suffered from severe light deprivation," Springsteen admitted.
He was widely known as 'The Boss' but insisted: "The name 'Boss' started with people that worked for me ... It was not meant like Boss, capital B, it was meant like 'Boss, where's my dough this week?' And it was sort of just a term among friends. I never really liked it."
As he released Darkness On The Edge of Town, his own music taste broadened to country music, especially a passion, which remains to this day, for Hank Williams. "He's just incredible," said Springsteen. For relaxation, Springsteen would play softball with saxophonist Clarence Clemens, adding: "We used to play hard. We had to stop, though, when Clarence and myself used to get too battered up."
THE 1980s . . .
As he entered his thirties, he considered himself as hard-working as ever, saying in 1981: "When you get fat and lose your hunger. That is when you know the sellout has happened."
He looked back on his sudden success in the mid-1970s and said: "When I was 25, I was much more insecure . . . I've seen all sides of the music thing and now – whatever happens now is only gonna be a shadow of that moment."
The decade started well – with Born In The USA and the magnificentNebraska – and he said "I feel better than I have ever felt before – I'm kinda at peace with the whole thing "
The late 1980s was a more tumultuous time. Springsteen met and married actress Julianne Phillips but they divorced in March 1989, less than four years into their marriage. Some of his emotions were chanelled into the album Tunnel Of Love. He then fell in love with singer Patti Scialfa, with whom he has three children. He wrote of this period: "You have to understand the limitations of your own life and keep pushing through it."
He retains a great rapport with his fans and recalled many happy encounters including the time when "I was down at the beach, this little kid called Mike who was about eight came up to me and said, 'You want me to show you my Dancing in the Dark moves?' so I said OK."
THE 1990s . . .
Springsteen released two albums (Human Touch and Lucky Town) on the same day in March 1992. He said that life had not turned him into "a cynic" but said he understood as a middle-aged man that "we all live with our illusions and our self-image, and there's a good percentage of that that's a pipe dream."
He also talked about having therapy at this stage of his life, admitting: "It's very difficult for me to connect up with anything. From my youth, I had a tendency to be isolated psychologically". Psychoanalysis would not have been part of his upbringing, but he said therapy was "a tool that helps you centre yourself" and described it as "one of the most healthy experiences of my life ... It demands a leap of consciousness".
The man who once lived on scraps, moved to a $14million Beverly Hills estate. He called having young kids "a blessing and a work out".
He had parted from the E Street band and played a series of solo concerts after releasing the superb Ghost Of Tom Joad album in 1996, saying the introspective songs were bringing the "fullness of my experience to the audience".
He was also getting more overtly political, having written an introduction to book Journey To Nowhere: The Saga of the New Underclass. He said he was concerned at "people we write off" adding that his own dad "had a difficult life . . . I've always felt like I'm seeking his revenge".
He said he drinks the occasional Jack Daniels whiskey but asked whether he had ever taken drugs, replied: "No, I never did".
THE 2000s . . .
In 2003, Springsteen released The Rising, his first album with E Street band in 18 years. "When I hit fifty, I became very prolific," he said of a decade in which he released four new albums and won 13 Grammy awards in a decade.
His work was increasingly political, as he wrote about 9/11 and helped raise money for Democrat candidate John Kerry. He later campaigned for Barack Obama in 2008 saying: "I want my country back. I want my dream back. I want my America back," and spoke out in favour of gay marriage.
His musical tastes were broadening (he did a folk album called The Seeger Sessions) and said he had started listening to the jazz of Louis Armstrong.
Springsteen, his second wife Patti and children Evan, Jessica and Samuel, moved back to New Jersey in this decade, with Springsteen exclaiming: "God bless the Garden State".
THE 2010s . . .
Springsteen in his sixties has lost none of his work ethic. He keeps a folder of successful past sets to make sure his concerts are vibrant and started playing festivals, including Glastonbury in 2011. His children are growing up (when they saw video footage of him as a 27-year-old, he said: "I've been informed by my kids that we simply look ridiculous") and one is following him into the music business.
Bruce Springsteen with wife Patti Scialfa (left) and his daughter Jessica at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in May 2011.
He does power walking and weight-lifting to keep fit and said he was "a lot less uptight and a lot less self-conscious" than ever before. It's been a time of loss, too, with Springsteen writing a moving eulogy to Clarence Clemons, who died in June 2011 aged 69. He said what still mattered was playing concerts. "The long conversation with my fans has been one of the most valuable experiences of my life."
In March 2012, he gave the keynote speech to SXSW Festival in which he said: "We live in a post-authentic world. And today authenticity is a house of mirrors . . . at the end of the day, it's the power and purpose of your music that matters."
 Springsteen on Springsteen: Interviews, Speeches, and Encounters (edited by Jeff Burger), Published by Chicago Review Press ($27.95)

Free Speech Dies in UK: Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller Banned from Entering


Posted By Roger Kimball On June 27, 2013 @ 5:43 am In Uncategorized | 42 Comments

“U.S. Bloggers banned from Entering the UK.”

That’s how a BBC headline [1] broke the news that authors Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer were denied entry to the country that gave the world the Magna Carta.

“Blogger,” you see, is an insinuating term. Not quite a term of abuse, but still a word that imparts diminishment. Who are you going to believe, asked Dan Rather [2] when questioned about his — as it turned out, fraudulent — story about George W. Bush’s military service: me, Dan Rather of CBS, or some blogger sitting in front of his computer in his pajamas?

Good question, Dan! Why don’t you think about that in your ignominious retirement and get back to us — or, on second thought, don’t get back to us. Just think about what a preening fool you made of yourself before even CBS had had enough and cashiered you.

Geller and Spencer are both, in different ways, prominent critics of Islamism — i.e., of that strong current of militant Islam that seeks to spread the intolerant ideology of Islam in the West through the imposition of sharia in Western countries. You might agree with their views, and then again, you might not.

That’s hardly the point, is it?

A spokesman for the Home Office welcomed the ban on Geller and Spencer, explaining: “The UK should never become a stage for inflammatory speakers who promote hate.” Hmm — “who promote hate.” Query: do Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer “promote hate”?  Or is that just a rhetorical epithet employed by ideologues bent on advancing a certain politically correct agenda in order to stifle criticism? (Another question: what is a “hate crime”? Is a crime more of a crime because it was committed by someone who dislikes the victim? Or is it like the term “social justice,” a piece of rhetorical legerdemain intended to lend gravity to a noun by the act of prefacing an emotionally charged but irrelevant adjective?)

The point is that the metabolism of liberal democracy depends upon the free exchange of ideas, which means, in part, a vigorous circulation of competing ideas. No less a figure than John Stuart Mill, in On Liberty, pointed out: “He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that.” There is plenty to criticize in Mill, heaven knows (and I’ve done my bit [3] to criticize him), but he was surely right that liberal democracy depends in part upon fostering the “collision” of competing ideas.

The irony of the situation is rich. Geller and Spencer speak out against the intolerance of Islam. Got that? They speak. They lecture. They write books. Spencer’s written a shelf of them. Geller was behind a campaign to place “defeat jihad” posters in New York subways. One of the reasons they were traveling to the UK was to participate in a commemorative ceremony for Drummer Lee Rigby [4]. Remember him? He was the chap who, last month, was walking down a street in Woolwich when two Muslims ran him down in a car and then stabbed and hacked him to death with knives and a cleaver. Like the Earl of Strafford, their motto was “thorough.” When these partisans of the religion of peace got through with him, he had to be identified by dental records [5].

Geller and Spencer are denied entry to the UK. Quoth a government spokesman: individuals whose presence “is not conducive to the public good” may be denied entry by the Home secretary. He explained: “We condemn all those whose behaviours and views run counter to our shared values and will not stand for extremism in any form.”

That pretty much covers the waterfront, doesn’t it? Disagree with me and I’ll have you named an enemy of the state.

Entertain views that conflict with the dominant left-wing narrative, and I’ll see to it that you are branded a hatemonger and are ostracized (or worse). Say or write something I don’t like, and I’ll pretend you did something criminal. I’ll deliberately confuse the expression of opinion and criminal behavior, so that the expression of opinion blends seamlessly into criminal behavior.

George Orwell anatomized this technique in 1984. Joseph Stalin pioneered it “on the ground” in the Soviet Union. It’s all part of what Anthony Trollope wrote in his great, dark novel The Way We Live Now.

Lee Rigby is hacked to death by Muslim fanatics. That’s an instance of what former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith insisted we call “anti-Islamic activity [6].” Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer say and write things the timid, politically correct bureaucrats who run Britain don’t like, and they’re declared pariahs.

Article printed from Roger’s Rules: http://pjmedia.com/rogerkimball
URL to article: http://pjmedia.com/rogerkimball/2013/06/27/free-speech-in-the-uk-sayonara/

URLs in this post:

[1] BBC headline: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23064355
[2] asked Dan Rather: http://sethf.com/infothought/blog/archives/000700.html
[3] my bit: http://www.amazon.com/Experiments-Against-Reality-Culture-Postmodern/dp/156663430X
[4] Drummer Lee Rigby: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Lee_Rigby
[5] dental records: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/10090807/Woolwich-murder-Drummer-Lee-Rigby-had-to-be-identified-by-dental-records.html
[6] anti-Islamic activity: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-508901/Government-renames-Islamic-terrorism-anti-Islamic-activity-woo-Muslims.html

Islam, Rape and Theology


Posted By Bruce Bawer On June 28, 2013 @ 12:40 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage | 1 Comment

Five days before 9/11, a famous Norwegian social anthropologist (and Norway may well be the only nation on Earth where there is such a thing as a famous social anthropologist) instructed her countrywomen that the way to bring down the high number of rapes – most of which, even way back then, were already being committed by “non-Western immigrants” – was for them to stop dressing in a manner that Muslim men found provocative. Norway, she lectured, was steadily becoming “a multicultural society,” and Norwegian women, if they didn’t want to wind up being brutally ravished in an alleyway by some Pakistani gang, should choose their wardrobes appropriately. Period.

That anthropologist, whose name is Unni Wikan, didn’t score any points that day for heroically championing women’s equality, but she was, at least, being honest. The rise in rapes in Norway – as throughout Western Europe – was almost entirely a product of Islamic immigration. That was a fact she didn’t attempt to disguise.

Then, however, came 9/11. And in the years since, there’s been a desperate effort by bien pensant types throughout Europe to deny that the ever-increasing incidence of rape on the continent has anything whatsoever to do with Islam. Some try to dismiss or explain away the numbers entirely; others grudgingly acknowledge them, while fiercely denying that there’s any Islamic connection at all; some, while admitting that a disproportionate number of rapists are immigrants, attempt to blame the problem on ethnic European racism, the idea being that immigrants grow so frustrated over their mistreatment that they resort to rape.

All of which is absurd to anyone who’s remotely aware of Islam teachings about sex and of the high incidence of rape in Muslim societies that is a direct consequence of those teachings. We’re talking about a religion that treats the male sex drive as a virtually holy phenomenon, and that allows men to have multiple marriages and divorce at will, even as it demands that females deny themselves even the most innocuous sorts of human contact in the name of preserving family honor – and that punishes a single infraction with death. In the view of Islam, when a man rapes an immodestly dressed woman, the rape isn’t his fault but hers; and when a Muslim rapes an infidel in the “House of War,” it’s recognized as a form of jihad. As forgiving as Islam is of virtually every imaginable heterosexual act that might be committed by a Muslim male, it’s equally unforgiving of a Muslim woman who happens to be caught alone, doing nothing whatsoever, with a male who’s unrelated to her, or who, for that matter, commits the inexcusable sin of being raped.

The only thing worse than being raped, moreover, is tattling about it. A couple of years ago, a Pakistani woman, Rooshanie Ejaz, contributed several very frank essays on rape in Muslim countries to the website of Norway’s Human Rights Service. Noting in a March 2011 piece that “sexual abuse is actively hidden in Pakistani society, and in Muslim society generally,” she said that “a large percentage of the people I have grown up with have experienced some form of it….Whether the act is committed by a cousin, uncle, house servant, or stranger, the victim is likely to be subjected to further abuse and emotional torment if she opens her mouth about it.”
One distinctive aspect of Islamic theology is its prescription of rape as a punishment – a punishment ‘s usually imposed upon some innocent female to avenge a crime committed by a male relative. In another 2011 piece, Ejaz cited a Pakistani village court’s recent decision in the case of a young man who’d been “seen with a young girl from a tribe superior to his”: it ordered several of the girl’s male relatives to gang-rape the guilty party’s sister, Mukhataran – who afterwards (as if the gang-bang itself weren’t enough) “was paraded nude” through the village. Sharia justice of this sort is commonplace in the Muslim world; the only thing special in this instance was that Mukhataran complained to the authorities and argued her case all the way up to the Pakistani Supreme Court – which, in the end, freed five of the six defendants, even as a chorus of prominent media figures and government leaders expressed sympathy for the rapists and dragged Mukhataran’s name through the mud.

Pakistan did pass a Women’s Protection Law in 2006 that allowed women to file rape charges even without the four male witnesses that sharia law requires. Before the law came along, 80% of Pakistani rape victims who dared to go to the cops ended up behind bars for adultery while their assailants remained free. Yet the law was a feeble instrument in a country drenched with Islam; and in late May, the Council of Islamic Ideology, an official body whose job it is to rule on the theological correctness of Pakistani legislation, announced that “DNA tests are not admissible as the main evidence in rape cases” and that, indeed, lacking those four male witnesses, you’re better off keeping quiet.

This rule doesn’t just apply to Pakistan, of course. In Afghanistan, where freedom from Taliban rule cost the U.S. and its allies thousands of lives and gazillions of dollars, the number of rape victims being sent to prison is actually on the rise. In April, the Daily Mail ran a harrowing account of a women’s prison in Kabul that’s full of inmates being punished for crimes of which they were the victims. (According to women’s-rights activists, “life for women is almost the same” in Afghanistan as under the Taliban.) Then there’s Iran, where, according to a 2010 Guardian article, the government uses “rape and the threat of rape as weapons against its opponents.” A 2009 piece in the Huffington Post quoted a young Iranian woman’s observation that rape victims in her country routinely keep silent about their victimization because “a young woman who has been raped can never be touched again.”

What about Syria? An April headline in the Atlantic didn’t pull punches: “Syria Has a Massive Rape Crisis.” A Syrian psychologist who works with rape victims said that she always tells families rape is “a way to break the family” and that she urges them, “Don’t let this break you – this is what they’re trying to do.” (To which the women respond: “Tell that to our husbands.”) A Toronto Star piece acknowledged that rape victims in Syria risk “being cast out or even killed to protect the family’s honour.” – yet managed, as so many of these reports in the Western media do, to omit entirely the words “Muslim” and “Islam.”

In wartime, Islam actively encourages the use of rape as a weapon and/or reward for the soldiers of Allah. On April 3, the Washington Times reported that Salafi Sheikh Yasir al-Ajlawni had issued a fatwa permitting Muslims who are fighting Assad’s regime to “capture and have sex with” non-Sunni women. Raymond Ibrahim observed the next day at Front Page that Aljawni wasn’t “the first cleric to legitimize the rape of infidel women in recent times”: a top Saudi preacher had recently green-lighted the gang-rape of captives, and an Egyptian imam had explained how to turn captured infidels into sex slaves. Yes, rape is almost invariably a side effect of war; but rape instigated by clergy and carried out in the name of God is an Islamic specialty.

In Libya, the number of rapes rose during its revolution – and has kept rising ever since. “Gaddafi used rape as a weapon,” one Libyan women’s-rights activist told the Guardian this month. “It was organized and systematic.” While rape victims aren’t imprisoned quite as often now as under Gaddafi, “there are still strong disincentives against speaking out, making it hard for victims to access help or to seek justice.” In March, two Pakistani-British women – who’d just participated in the latest convoy seeking to break Israel’s Gaza blockade – were gang-raped in Benghazi by a pack of Libyan soldiers.

So it goes. And yet when the growing incidence of rape in an increasingly Muslim Europe is discussed by politicians, academics, and mainstream journalists, such data are almost never adduced, the theoligical and cultural background to these phenomena almost never mentioned. In the last year or two I’ve written here about Oslo, where everyone found guilty of rape assault between 2006 and 2010 was “non-Western” (i.e. Muslim), andSweden, with Europe’s second-highest percentage of Muslims and its highest rape figures; I’ve covered Britain‘s wave of Muslim “sex grooming” and Laurent Obertone’s documentation of Muslim rape in France.

All these developments have, of course, a common root – which it’s impossible to understand without a basic awareness of Islamic teachings about sex, gender roles, jihad, and so on. It’s all there, in the Koran, the fatwas, the sermons and public statements by those European imams who aren’t pretending to be building bridges and preaching love. No one who’s reasonably well acquainted with Islamic belief and practice should be surprised in the slightest by Europe’s rape epidemic. Unni Wikan (though her prescribed response to it was nothing but multicultural mush) saw it all quite clearly twelve years ago; Europe’s elites, however, persist in their refusal to recognize this epidemic as part of their continent’s transformation into a Muslim province. And so the statistics continue to soar.

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Article printed from FrontPage Magazine: http://frontpagemag.com
URL to article: http://frontpagemag.com/2013/bruce-bawer/islam-rape-and-theology/