Friday, July 29, 2005

Rich Lowry: Let This Policy Go

July 29, 2005, 8:11 a.m.
“Catch and release” should stay with the fishes.

There are two types of people who are intimately familiar with the practice of “catch and release” — fishermen and border-control agents. Fishermen at least get some satisfaction from it. For border-control agents, it is a symptom of this nation’s contempt for its own immigration laws.

When Mexicans are caught crossing into the U.S., they are returned across the border. When illegals from countries Other Than Mexico (OTMs) are caught, it’s more complicated. They often come from Latin American countries that have various obstacles to repatriation, and we don’t have the space to hold them. So they are released into the U.S. after they promise to show up at a deportation hearing. That promise and $80 might get you the services of an illegal day laborer.

Congress is beginning a scorching battle over immigration policy, pitting anti-enforcement business and ethnic lobbies backing the McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill against grassroots supporters of a tough-enforcement approach, embodied in the more muscular Kyl-Cornyn bill. There is no better emblem of the border insanity Congress must fix than the travesty of “catch and release.”

The Border Patrol is set to apprehend 150,000 OTMs in this fiscal year. Most of those are caught in the Rio Grande Valley Sector in Southeast Texas, where 52,160 OTMs have been caught so far this year. Of those, 92 percent have been released on their own recognizance — and are probably bound for an urban area near you. The immigration court in Harlingen, Texas, has a failure-to-appear rate of roughly 90 percent.

The illegals are supposed to provide an address where they can be found. Instead, they provide fake addresses or none at all. OTMs are known to present themselves to border agents once they cross the border so they can get their “notice to appear” (or “to disappear,” as it is commonly called) and duly proceed on their way. Law-enforcement officials tell of people claiming to be from South or Central America being released although they don’t speak Spanish. An estimated 400,000 fugitive illegals in the U.S. have failed to appear for their hearings.

The office within the Department of Homeland Security responsible for detentions and removals has 18,500 detention beds. Of those, 16,800 are reserved for criminals and others who urgently have to be detained. Those beds are overwhelmed, since so many criminal aliens attempt to (and do) make it into the U.S. (Between March 2003 and February 2004, nearly 80,000 criminal aliens were deported.) That leaves only 1,700 beds for everyone else. It’s not enough.

What is mostly missing, however, is political will. Current high levels of illegal immigration are not inevitable. When the U.S. has raised its terror alert, border crossings have diminished because would-be illegals figure it will be harder to make it across. According to the Border Patrol, illegal crossings declined by 50 percent in areas briefly patrolled by the Minuteman citizen activists earlier this year.

In early July, the Border Patrol began focusing on the problem of high numbers of Brazilians illegally crossing the border in the Rio Grande Valley Sector by placing them in detention and applying an expedited removal process that can get them out of the country in days. Many of the Brazilian illegals are relatively well-educated professionals and don’t take kindly to the prospect of being detained. About two weeks later, the number of Brazilian crossings in that sector was down 75 percent.

The reform bill sponsored by Republican Sens. Jon Kyl (Ariz.) and John Cornyn (Texas) would encourage authorities to make greater use of expedited removal, setting aside $50 million for it.
On the other end, it pushes the countries of origin to cooperate by making a temporary-guest-worker program in the U.S. available to their citizens only if the governments take back illegals within three days. Finally, the bill provides for another 10,000 detention beds over five years.
It would be a step toward rationality at the border, and toward appropriately reserving the practice of “catch and release” for trout.

— Rich Lowry is author of Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years.(c) 2004 King Features Syndicate

Duncan Currie: Cleaning the Ice

The NHL promises changes and asks the fans for one more chance.
The Weekly Standard
07/28/2005 3:20:00 PM

REJOICE! The National Hockey League is back! All it took was a lost season, a lost TV contract with ESPN, a lost draft, God knows how much lost revenue, untold numbers of lost fans--but, fear not, pro hockey is ready to go for 2005-06. And who among us isn't brimming with anticipation?

Actually, I suspect most Americans probably don't give a fig about the NHL. There was a brief window in the mid 1990s when hockey look poised to join the Big Three--football, basketball, and baseball--at the head table of American sports. But the league overreached with hyperactive expansion. Teams responded to the talent shortage by adopting boring defensive postures such as the neutral-zone "trap," the worst thing to happen to hockey since the Philadelphia Flyers. (Just kidding, just kidding.) Meanwhile, referees and league execs did little to crack down on the clutch-and-grab style of play that choked high-octane offenses and kept NHL superstars off the scoresheets. [Hopefully, the latest re-dedication of league officials to enforce rules on obstruction and interference will last far longer than their previous attempts - JTF]

But anyway, the NHL lockout, which cost the league its 2004-05 campaign, officially ended last weekend, as players and owners ratified their collective bargaining agreement of July 13. From the look of things, the players got the worst of it. There will be a salary cap. There will be a 24 percent rollback of existing player contracts. And NHL clubs will now be able to "buy out" those contracts. On the other hand, the owners gave up a bundle, too, particularly on free agency and the league's minimum player salary, which will increase to $450,000 per year. "At the end of the day," said Wayne Gretzky, "everybody lost."

Now, as a longtime fan, I want hockey to succeed. It's a wonderful sport (and one I've played since age 8). I sincerely hope the NHL gets its act together. I want the league's popularity to spread in the Sunbelt and elsewhere. I want fans to rush back through the turnstiles and forget all about this wretched lockout. I'd also like to play beach volleyball with Scarlett Johansson.

Truth is, I think the league screwed the pooch with its work stoppage--big time. I get the strong sense--from sportswriters, personal conversations, and the email I've received from fellow hockey junkies--that large swaths of NHL fans said "To hell with 'em" sometime this past spring. Bringing back the diehards will be tricky enough, to say nothing of wooing the league's more casual followers.

As far as Jeremy Roenick is concerned, apparently, that's just fine. In late June, before the deal was done, the Flyers center delivered a micro-rant worthy of its own "Roenick to Angry Fans: Drop Dead" headline. "We're trying to get this thing back on the ice and make it better for the fans," Roenick said. "If you don't realize that, then don't come. We don't want you in the rink, we don't want you in the stadium, we don't want you to watch hockey." To which many fans might reply: "Don't worry."

On the bright side, NHL honchos recently unveiled a fresh batch of rule changes that will be implemented for the 2005-06 season. Here are some of the key ones:

1. The league dumped its ban on two-line passes. This was a no-brainer. Both the Olympics and U.S. collegiate hockey allow two-line (or "offside") passes--that is, passes that travel over a player's own blue line and the red line without being touched by an opponent. Not surprisingly, they boast more scoring and faster action than the NHL. Ditching the two-line-pass rule will permit home-run passes and exciting up-ice breakouts. It will also cripple the "trap" as an effective defensive strategy.

2. The NHL reduced the dimensions of goalie equipment by about 11 percent. I was a late-comer to this idea, but as a youth coach recently wrote to me in an email, "Look at Dryden and Tretiak and all the greats, they were naked compared to goalies today." Good point. Thanks to equipment innovations, NHL netminders' pads have ballooned in girth over the past two decades. If you don't believe me, take a gander at Martin Brodeur's pads--and then look at those of, say, Ed Giacomin. It's as if the goalie gear went on steroids. Anyway, tighter restrictions on equipment size seem pretty sensible. ["Pretty sensible"?...this should have happened years's goalies look ridiculous...stop comparing Roy and Brodeur with Dryden, Parent and Sawchuk...there is no comparison...they play a different game...this move will help but I'm in favor of reducing the size of goalie pads even further. - JTF]

3. If a game is still tied at the end of a five-minute overtime period it will be decided by a shootout, with each team taking three shots (followed, if necessary, by a "sudden death" format). How much fun will that be? A penalty shot isn't called "the most exciting play in hockey" for nothing. Imagine a series of penalty shots to determine the winner of a hard-fought game. For one thing, it'll keep more fans in the seats--and watching on TV--past the end of regulation time. It'll also provide a bevy of riveting highlights for SportsCenter, which might in turn attract new fans to the sport. Above all, it'll just be a joy to watch world-class goalies and skaters face off one on one.

4. The league brought back the old tag-up-offsides rule. Until a few years ago, the NHL allowed players to dump the puck into their offensive zone before their teammates were out of the zone, provided those teammates "tagged up" at the blue line prior to heading back in to pressure the opposing defensemen and fight for the puck. (Got all that?) The old rule helped move the game along. It prevented needless whistles and stoppages. And it's just what the NHL needs.

5. Each of the offensive zones will be enlarged by four feet, chiefly by moving the blue lines two feet closer to center ice and moving the goal lines two feet closer to the end boards. According to the NHL, this "should encourage more offensive play." Can't see how it wouldn't.

To be sure, these rule changes are hardly a remedy for all of the league's woes. But they're a good start. Come October, we'll know what the fans think.

Duncan Currie is a reporter at The Weekly Standard.

Concert Review: Springsteen in Pittsburgh

The old Boss, with flash of something new
Friday, July 29, 2005
By Scott Mervis, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

In "One Step Up," Bruce Springsteen, or the character in the song, refers to being "the same ol' story, same old act."

And in a sense, that's been true of the Boss. Although the quality has remained high and his themes have evolved with age, Springsteen has been a constant for his fans, for better or worse. No gospel records a la Dylan, no country/techno/rockabilly midlife crises like Neil Young and no running off with chamber orchestras like Elvis Costello.

He's either given us the E Street Band -- which on the last stadium tour seemed a bit over the top -- or a stripped-down acoustic thing.

But last night at the Petersen Center, we saw a flash of something new and exhilarating coming out of Springsteen. After politely asking for quiet, he sat down at the pump organ, and with the light all shadowy, delivered a dirge-like "My Beautiful Reward" sung as though he was never going to get it.

That was child's play compared to the next song. "Reason to Believe" consisted of an ominous synthesizer drone, a screaming, distorted harp and Springsteen stomping his foot into the floor, turning the song upside-down with a vocal that sounded like it came from the pits of hell.
This wasn't "Thunder Road." This wasn't even "Nebraska." It was performance art -- dark, hopeless music for fearful times. As punk as anything you'll see.

The desperate mood persisted through "Devils + Dust," a stark scene told from the viewpoint of a soldier (but just as easily a suicide bomber) and "Youngstown," a blue-collar horror story delivered just for us with blistering guitar work.

Finally, with the fifth song, "Long Time Comin'," and then "For You" and "The River," Springsteen broke the spell and turned to the personal politics of relationships, also addressing the crowd, in one of many great anecdotes, to reveal how his old man told him as a kid that love songs "were government propaganda to make you get married, have kids and get your nose to the grindstone."

"Part Man, Part Monkey," about the evolution debate, came with a comment about recently being in Europe and trying to "explain to them that the monkey doesn't vote."
Springsteen moved around the beautifully lit stage, getting a variety of colors and textures out of his guitars, and displaying the kind of lyrical piano skills we expect from Professor Bittan, particularly on a stunning "Racing in the Street."

Song after song dealt with themes of regret ("One Step Up)," longing ("All I Thinkin' About"), death ("The Rising"), sacrifice ("Jesus Was an Only Son") and redemption ("Darkness on the Edge of Town)." Before doing "All that Heaven Will Allow," he couldn't help but laugh and say, "Let's sing something happy. Hell, I got some of those suckers." A few more would fit the bill -- "Waiting for a Sunny Day," "Growin' Up" and, in a way, the rousing "Homestead" with hometown hero Joe Grushecky.

The evening wasn't without its flaws. He leaned on the ghostly falsetto vocal a few too many times, he skipped tour gem "Wild Billy's Circus Story" and the last half-hour could have used the focus of the first half-hour. But by liberating himself from the E Street Band and adding a dark, nasty edge to his solo set, Springsteen never seemed more in command of his art.

(Scott Mervis can be reached at or 412-263-2576.)

Charles Krauthammer: Give Grandma a Pass

Politically Correct Screening Won't Catch Jihadists

The Washington Post
Friday, July 29, 2005; Page A23

Six percent of British Muslims -- more than 100,000 citizens -- thought the July 7 London terror attacks were justified. A quarter of British Muslims merely sympathize with the bombers. Even more shocking, nearly one-fifth of British Muslims say they feel little or no loyalty to Britain. Yet the most disturbing news from the July 23 London Telegraph poll is that these trends are worse among younger British Muslims.

These numbers, attesting to a massive failure of assimilation, are inconceivable in the United States, with its centuries of successful Americanization. This does not mean that there cannot be isolated cells of American Muslims -- or others, such as McVeigh types or antiabortion nuts -- who hate their country and want to attack it. But the massive, teeming suburbs of disaffected and alienated immigrants simply do not exist here.

Which is why, whatever terror attacks might be in our near future, in the long run America is much safer because its enemies overwhelmingly reside overseas.

Britain's problem, however, is not just an alienated minority but also a suicidal civic openness that permits sheiks and imams to openly preach jihad against Britain. The United States, for all of its openness, does not tolerate this kind of treason. Just this month, an imam from Virginia was put away for life for the kind of incitement that makes Sheik Omar Bakri Mohammed a sought-after media presence in Britain.

Britain is now desperately trying to correct its never-never land hospitality to agitators and inciters. It is proud of its long history of harboring exiles, misfits and revolutionaries from just about everywhere. After all, Karl Marx lived, wrote and died in London. But 52 victims dead and the near-miss two weeks later are helping Britain place necessity above nostalgia.

The American response to tightening up after London has been reflexive and idiotic: random bag checks in the New York subways. Random meaning that the people stopped are to be chosen numerically. One in every five or 10 or 20.

This is an obvious absurdity and everyone knows it. It recapitulates the appalling waste of effort and resources we see at airports every day when, for reasons of political correctness, 83-year-old grandmothers from Poughkeepsie are required to remove their shoes in the search for jihadists hungering for paradise.

The only good thing to be said for this ridiculous policy is that it testifies to the tolerance and goodwill of Americans, so intent on assuaging the feelings of minority fellow citizens that they are willing to undergo useless indignities and tolerate massive public waste.

Assuaging feelings is a good thing, but hunting for terrorists this way is simply nuts. The fact is that jihadist terrorism has been carried out from Bali to Casablanca to Madrid to London to New York to Washington by young Muslim men of North African, Middle Eastern and South Asian origin.

This is not a stereotype. It is a simple statistical fact. Yes, you have your shoe-bomber, a mixed-race Muslim convert, who would not fit the profile. But the overwhelming odds are that the guy bent on blowing up your train traces his origins to the Islamic belt stretching from Mauritania to Indonesia.

Yet we recoil from concentrating bag checks on men who might fit this description. Well, if that is impossible for us to do, then let's work backward. Eliminate classes of people who are obviously not suspects.

We could start with a little age pruning -- no one under, say, 13, and no one over, say, 60. Then we could exempt whole ethnic populations, a list that could immediately start with Hispanics, Scandinavians and East Asians. Then we could have a huge saving, a 50 percent elimination of waste, by giving a pass to women, except perhaps the most fidgety, sweaty, suspicious-looking, overcoat-wearing, knapsack-bearing young woman, to be identified by the presiding officer.

You object that with these shortcuts, we might not catch everybody. True. But how many do we catch now with the billions spent patting down grandmothers from Poughkeepsie?

You object that either plan -- giving special scrutiny to young Islamic men, or, more sensitively, just eliminating certain demographic categories from scrutiny -- will simply encourage the jihadists to start recruiting elderly Norwegian women.

Okay. We can handle that. Let them try recruiting converts, women and non-usual suspects for suicide missions. That will require a huge new wasteful effort on their part. And, more important, by reducing the pool of possible terrorists from the hundreds of millions to, at most, the tens of thousands, we will have reduced the probability of an attack by a factor of 10,000. Those are far better odds at far less cost to us in money and effort. And infinitely less stupid.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Daniel Pipes & Sharon Chadha: CAIR Founded by "Islamic Terrorists"?

By Daniel Pipes and Sharon Chadha July 28, 2005

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, Inc., filed a defamation lawsuit against Andrew Whitehead, of Anti-CAIR (or ACAIR), a grass-roots project whose name explains its mission: to expose the largest, most vocal, and dangerous Islamist organization in North America.

CAIR’s March 2004 lawsuit is part of what seems to be a policy of using the legal process to silence or chill critics. In this case, CAIR claimed it had been harmed by six statements on ACAIR’s website, including CAIR’s being founded by Hamas supporters, being partially funded by terrorists, and intending to impose Islamic law on the United States.

Then, on June 20, 2005, CAIR filed an amended motion that substantially cut back on its libel claims, retaining just portions of two of the original six statements. With original misspellings retained, the offending passages are:
· Let their be no doubt that CAIR is a terrorist supporting front organization….
· [CAIR] seeks to overthrow constitutional government in the United States….

Why did CAIR drastically reduce its claims versus Whitehead?

It might have to do with Whitehead, admirably represented by Reed Rubinstein of Greenberg Traurig LLP, having responded to CAIR’s lawsuit with an extensive and well informed set of discovery requests and documents. These filings perhaps established for CAIR the depth of Whitehead’s knowledge and the soundness of his opinions. If so, then CAIR’s leadership concluded that the bulk of its case against Whitehead would collapse in court.

CAIR’s filing an amended motion has two apparent implications: that CAIR has tacitly acknowledges the truth of Whitehead’s deleted assertions; and those assertions can now be repeated with legal impunity.

We list here the key statements that CAIR no longer deems legally improper, followed by some speculations as to why it might have decided not to contest them in court.

· [CAIR is an] organization founded by Hamas supporters….
· CAIR was started by Hamas members….
· CAIR … was founded by Islamic terrorists.

CAIR’s leadership must have stretched its collective memory back to 1994 and recalled (along with counterterrorism expert Matthew Epstein) that Omar Ahmad and Nihad Awad, former officials of the Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP), founded the organization, while IAP’s president, Rafeeq Jabar, was (according to Steve Emerson) one of CAIR’s founding directors,.

Former FBI counterterrorism chief Oliver “Buck” Revell) has described the IAP as “a front organization for Hamas.” This linkage between the IAP and Hamas was decisively established in 2004, when a federal judge in Chicago found it partially liable for $156 million in damages for its role in aiding and abetting Hamas in the murder of David Boim, a 17-year-old American citizen.

And, CAIR no doubt remembered that it had been caught by Joe Kaufman exploiting the 9/11 attacks to raise funds for two Hamas-linked fundraising organizations, the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) and the Global Relief Foundation.
· [CAIR] is partially funded by terrorists…
Terrorists themselves don’t literally give out money, but organizations that fund terrorism also fund CAIR.

The Saudi-based Islamic Development Bank, gave CAIR $250,000 in August 1999. The IDB also manages funds (Al-Quds, Al-Aqsa) which finance suicide bombings against Israeli civilians by providing funds to the families of Palestinian “martyrs.”

The International Institute of Islamic Thought, an organization linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, gave CAIR’s Washington office $14,000 in 2003, according to IIIT tax filings. David Kane, who investigated IIIT as part of Operation Green Quest’s probe into some one hundred companies and organizations, described in a sworn affidavit the various ways in which it may have funded suspected terrorist-front organizations.

The International Relief Organization (also called the International Islamic Relief Organization, or IIRO), a Saudi-financed organization being investigated by the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance for terrorism financing donated at least $12,000 to CAIR.
· CAIR receives direct funding from Islamic terrorist supporting countries.
CAIR has received funds from Saudi Arabia, such as the $250,000 from the Islamic Development Bank noted above. In addition; the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), a Saudi-sponsored charity (and another one suspected of financing terror), announced in December 1999 that it “was extending both moral and financial support to CAIR” to help it construct its $3.5 million headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Saudi Arabia, the homeland Osama bin Laden and fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers, is reasonably described as “terrorist supporting.” The 9/11 Commission staff describes Saudi Arabia as having an environment where “fund-raisers and facilitators throughout Saudi Arabia and the Gulf” raised money for al Qaeda. In July 2005, U.S. Treasury Undersecretary Stuart Levey stated that “even today, we believe that Saudi donors may still be a significant source of terrorist financing, including for the insurgency in Iraq.”
· CAIR has proven links to… Islamic terrorists.
It’s easy to understand why CAIR chose to leave this one alone, what with five current or former CAIR affiliates arrested, convicted, or deported on terrorism-related charges:

Randall Royer, CAIR’s communications specialist and civil rights coordinator, was indicted on charges of conspiring to help Al-Qaeda and the Taliban to battle American troops in Afghanistan. He later pled guilty to lesser firearms-related charges and was sentenced to twenty years in prison.

Ghassan Elashi, the founder of CAIR’s Texas chapter, was convicted in July 2004 along with his four brothers of having illegally shipped computers from their Dallas-area business, InfoCom Corporation, to Libya and Syria, two designated state sponsors of terrorism. In April of 2005, Elashi and two brothers were also convicted of knowingly doing business with Mousa Abu Marzook, a senior Hamas leader and Specially Designated Terrorist. He continues to face charges that he provided more than $12.4 million to Hamas while he was running the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), America’s largest Islamic charity.

Bassem Khafagi, CAIR’s community relations director, pleaded guilty in September 2003 to lying on his visa application and for passing bad checks for substantial amounts in early 2001, for which he was deported. Khafagi was also a founding member and president of the Islamic Assembly of North America (IANA), an organization under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for terrorism-related activities.

Rabih Haddad, a CAIR fundraiser, was arrested on terrorism-related charges and deported from the United States due to his subsequent work as executive director of the Global Relief Foundation, a charity he co-founded; in October 2002, GRF was designated by the U.S. Treasury Department for financing Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. According to a CAIR complaint, Homam Albaroudi, a member of CAIR’s Michigan chapter and also a founding member and executive director of the IANA also founded the Free Rabih Haddad Committee.

Siraj Wahhaj, a CAIR advisory board member, was named in 1995 by U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White as a possible unindicted co-conspirator in connection with the plot to blow up New York City landmarks led by the blind sheikh, Omar Abdul Rahman.

· CAIR is a fundamentalist organization dedicated to the overthrow of the United States Constitution and the installation of an Islamic theocracy in America.
· CAIR wishes nothing more than the implementation of a SHARIA law in American.
· [CAIR seeks to replace the government of the United States] with an Islamist theocracy using our own Constitution as protection....
· CAIR is here to make radical Islam the dominant religion in the United States and to convert our country into an Islamic theocracy along the lines of Iran.

CAIR’s goals are clear, as indicated by its leaders’ sometimes revealing comments:

Ihsan Bagby, a future CAIR board member, stated in the late 1980s that Muslims “can never be full citizens of this country,” referring to the United States, “because there is no way we can be fully committed to the institutions and ideologies of this country.”

Ibrahim Hooper, the future CAIR spokesman, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune on April 4, 1993: “I wouldn’t want to create the impression that I wouldn’t like the government of the United States to be Islamic sometime in the future.”

Omar Ahmad, CAIR’s chairman, announced in July 1998 that “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran . . . should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on earth.”

These facts suggest why CAIR felt it had to drop most of its libel claims against Andrew Whitehead. Should this case go to court, we will watch with interest how Whitehead’s two remaining opinions (that CAIR is a terrorist-supporting front organization and that it seeks to overthrow the constitutional government of the United States) will fare.

Daniel Pipes ( is director of the Middle East Forum; Sharon Chadha ( is the co-author of Middle East Politics (forthcoming) .

Parke Puterbaugh: Boss' Words Rise Above Music

Parke Puterbaugh, Special to Go Triad
(Thursday, July 28, 2005 9:37 am)
The Greensboro News & Record

Bruce Springsteen gave concertgoers a rare chance to hear him in an intimate, unaccompanied setting when he brought his "solo acoustic tour" — only the second such outing of his career — to the Greensboro Coliseum on Tuesday night. It didn't sell out like his last show here in 2003, when he had the E Street Band in tow, but then no one expected it to. This evening was definitely intended for more serious devotees who could appreciate the stripped-down format and the unvarnished glimpses it gave into the artist and his songs. More superficial fans who came expecting Springsteen to rock out surely left disappointed. Those who were willing to look a little deeper were rewarded with a soul-baring performance and a glimpse at another side of this multifaceted artist.

The stage was bare except for a couple of modest candelabras, a Tiffany lamp and, of course, the instruments he played. Springsteen rotated among acoustic guitars (two Takamines and a Gibson), electric piano and a pump organ. The ghostly pump organ was the instrument with which he began ("If I Should Fall Behind") and ended ("Dream Baby Dream") the 21/2 -hour show.

This was a far cry from the Bruce Springsteen of "Born in the U.S.A." and "Hungry Heart." Many of the songs he performed ended with an unearthly, melismatic wail, as if he were channeling an existential pain beyond words. He sang dark, gripping narratives such as "The Hitter" (a boxer's beaten-down blues) and "Matamoros Banks" (an immigrant's tale, wherein hope turns to tragedy). "Reason to Believe" (from "Nebraska") was drastically recast as a raw streetcorner blues, as Tom Waits might have attacked it. "Part Man, Part Monkey" also had a deliberately coarse, bluesy edge. Springsteen added some barbed commentary on how the theory of evolution has come under fire from regressive elements on the religious right: "We've come a long way, baby…and we're going back."

The overall primacy of words over music on this evening was most evident in "Galveston Bay," a story of misbegotten nationalism and murder told in many verses with scant musical elaboration. "Reno," a tale of sex-for-hire, ached with an unfulfilling emptiness in Springsteen's spectral reading.

No, this was not an "up" kind of evening, and breaks in the clouds were few. "Devils & Dust," the title song from his latest CD, came early in the show and set the tone for the evening. Performed acoustically, "The Rising" came off more like a supplication than a celebration. "Darkness On the Edge of Town" seemed more forlorn and foreboding than ever. "Lonesome Day" evoked the hollow, horrific aftermath for those who lost loved ones in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Only "Waitin' On a Sunny Day," which the crowd picked up and turned into a sing-along, had a cautiously hopeful spark. What levity there was came during Springsteen's between-song chatter. He spoke wittily about parenthood as a lead-in to "Long Time Comin'" and riffed on his Catholic upbringing and wrestling into adulthood with the lengthy tentacles of the church before turning serious. "The choices we make are given weight and meaning by the things we give up," he reflected as a prelude to "Jesus Was an Only Son."

The crowd listened raptly to the show, and you could've heard a pin drop through much of it. Springsteen was obviously appreciative of their respectful attention. It was, to be quite honest, not an easy or conventionally entertaining performance, but one that was rewarding precisely because it reached so deeply. My only quibble had to do with the price of tickets, which at $75 and $85 excluded a lot of devoted but cash-strapped fans who would've loved to have been there. Having 15,000 people singing along to "Waitin' On a Sunny Day" would've been even more amazing.

Parke Puterbaugh is a Greensboro-based freelance music writer.

Jeri Rowe: Blue-Collar Bard, White-Collar Ticket Prices

JERI ROWE, Go Triad Editor
(Thursday, July 28, 2005 9:08 am)
The Greensboro News & Record

Ask anyone. Bruce Springsteen comes across as the country's blue-collar bard who sings about the underside of America, those people who live paycheck to paycheck and survive on hopes and dreams beyond their union card and wedding coat. You definitely felt that Tuesday night at his one-man show at the Greensboro Coliseum. He ambled onstage in a dark jacket, worn jeans and a western shirt you could get at Blumenthal's, and for two hours and 20 minutes, he made the big arena feel like a small coffeehouse. On a spartan stage, bathed in moody light, he used a piano, a pump organ, a harmonica and three guitars to bring his thoughts and his three-dimensional characters to life.

He pushed for a more humane immigration policy and plugged the People of Faith Against the Death Penalty. He also urged people to give to the Greensboro Urban Ministry because, as he said, "They help the struggling citizens of Greensboro." After that brief plug, the Greensboro Urban Ministry received $850 in donations at its table on the coliseum concourse — a testament to Springsteen's conviction and vigor. Yet, can Springsteen continue to be the country's Voice of Everyman when he charged $75 and $85 for each ticket?

It made me wonder. I mean, coliseum officials expected a sell-out crowd of 9,000. Only 5,000 people came to Tuesday night's show. Maybe it was the absence of the E Street Band. Or maybe it's the price of the ticket, especially in a region where job security is shaky and the unemployment level has risen to 5.6 percent.

Meet Valerie Connor, a 44-year-old design assistant for a furniture company in Winston-Salem. Connor is the daughter of a letter-carrier father and a furniture-worker mother. She says she always has felt that Springsteen's songs such as "Racing in the Streets" and "Darkness on the Edge of Town" spoke to her. She has seen Springsteen twice. But she couldn't on this solo tour supporting Springsteen's new release "Devils & Dust." She couldn't afford it. "To me, he's the blue-collar bard, he's the Arlo Guthrie of our generation," she says. "I think he still is. He has spoken out about Iraq and Bush's politics. Yet, here are these extremely expensive ticket prices for a one-man acoustic show. I know he has to put kids through college. But jeez."

Then there's Norma Sink, a 54-year-old international reservation agent for US Airways. She sat in the third row, dead center, with her younger sister, Martha Johnson. The two sisters had seen Springsteen at least seven times, and on this particular night, they scored the best seats they've ever had. The two sat transfixed — Sink leaning forward, Johnson propping her elbows on the chair in front of her. They watched every move Springsteen made. To Sink, a longtime concertgoer, Paul McCartney has sold out. So have the Rolling Stones. (Tickets for the Stones' Oct. 8 show at Duke's Wallace Wade Stadium start at $60 and go as high as $160.) But not Springsteeen. To Sink, he's like the guy next door with an incredible gift. "I'm not wealthy by any means, and that is a lot to pay, especially with the job situation at US Airways," she says. "Who knows where we'll be tomorrow? (The Springsteen ticket price) hurts. I don't have the money to burn. But to me, he's worth it — to write those kind of lyrics that really touch you — you understand where he's coming from."

According to Pollstar, the litmus-test magazine of the country's concert industry, fans have accepted high ticket prices for big-name acts, particularly veterans. And those acts are charging higher prices because they are raking in less money in CD sales and other forms of recorded music. In 2003, the last year available, the top 1 percent of artists represented 56 percent of all ticket revenue. And in that particular year, Springsteen was the country's top-grossing act, with $115.9 million in ticket sales.

Talk to die-hard Bruce fans, and they'll tell you The Boss is worth it. They also don't believe Springsteen will ever go the Stones' route and charge more than $100 a ticket. That's a good thing. Still, his ticket price will keep some fans out of the arena. Fans such as Connor. "It pains me to criticize the man," Connor says. "I just love him dearly. I think he's a real human being, and maybe the criticism is not directed at him. I still love Springsteen, and I'm not mad, and I won't go away. He just won't see me in the audience."

Debra Saunders: This Land is Not Your Land

July 28, 2005
The San Fransisco Chronicle

A letter on the front of what used to be Revelli Tires in Oakland warns: "Eminent domain unfair. To learn all about the abuses of eminent domain, please go to Educate yourself. Pay attention. You could be next."

John Revelli wrote the note after the city of Oakland evicted him on July 1 from his own property -- and a business run by his family since 1949 -- so that a private developer could build apartments on his land. It especially galls him, Revelli told me over the phone Tuesday, that while he has been forced away from his livelihood for weeks, Oakland hasn't done anything with his property. Go look at the building, he said, and the sign will still be there because the city hasn't touched anything. Sure enough, the sign was up on Tuesday night.

Oakland also evicted Tony Fung, Revelli's next-door neighbor and the owner-operator of Autohouse on 20th Street. "I am a first-generation immigrant," Fung told me. "This is my American dream."

To hell with Fung's dream -- the city of Oakland seized it, so that someone else can build on it. And without offering enough money for Fung to relocate his business, he says.

The city has legions of lawyers to press its case, while Fung says he has to scrape together pennies to hire an attorney.

"There's no way a small guy like me is able to fight that," Fung noted. He has lost his business, his property and the belief that private property is truly private in the United States. That last item -- belief in the system -- was destroyed in June, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that governments can seize private property to give it to private developers. Somehow, that sweetheart deal constitutes "public use" -- maybe because city government grows richer through increased tax revenue.

That may explain why the Oakland City Council voted six-to-one to authorize this eminent-domain seizure. One vote and -- voila -- you see two small businessmen up against City Hall, the Big Bench and big developers. Talk about being outgunned.

Dana Berliner, a lawyer for the libertarian-leaning Institute for Justice, which fights government eminent-domain overreach, argued that the California Supreme Court and state law don't bolster eminent-domain abuses. But: "The laws are routinely ignored because local governments know most people can't afford to fight them."

"A constitutional amendment is the best way of protecting California citizens from tax-hungry local government and land-hungry developers," Berliner added. Please note: State Sen. Tom McClintock has drafted an amendment for just that purpose.

Meanwhile, Revelli and Fung have lost their livelihoods.

I plead guilty to gushing back in 1999 about Mayor Jerry Brown's plan to add 6,000 units of housing to the downtown area -- and with private money. I never dreamed, however, that Oakland would evict successful, blight-free businesses so that private developers could make more money.

I called the offices of Council Members Jane Brunner and Ignacio De La Fuente, Mayor Jerry Brown, and some city officials connected with what is called the Uptown Project. I heard many reasons why various biggies couldn't talk to me.

Brown -- to his credit -- did talk.

"I know Revelli," said Brown. "He fixed my brakes, twice." Brown lives seven blocks away from Revelli's shop. He admitted that Autohouse and Revelli Tires are not blighted, but told of other buildings nearby that were crime-ridden and vermin-infested before the city pushed for redevelopment.

"You cannot have a downtown with this kind of abandonment," said Brown. And: "There is a greater good here," in eradicating the blight and replacing it with homes.

The mayor also made a pledge: "It's not easy, but I personally pledge to do everything I can to get this guy located." Fung, too.

If that doesn't happen, it is not as if Oakland couldn't redevelop the land around Autohouse and Revelli Tires, which occupy about 6,500 square feet amid asphalt parking lots.

"I was very, very happy there," Revelli told me. "I had the best building, the best location -- one block from the BART station. I couldn't have asked for better."

Well, there was one problem with Revelli's property: It was on such a prime location, the government virtually stole it.

You could be next.

Woody Guthrie wrote: "This land is your land, this land is my land, from California to the New York Island. From the redwood forest, to the gulf-stream waters, this land was made for you and me."

As far as the U.S. Supreme Court and Oakland are concerned, alas, those lyrics are all wet. To the true believers in eminent domain, your land is their land, and all land was made to produce optimal tax revenue.

Copyright 2005 Creators Syndicate

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Bill Steigerwald: The Truth Behind "Global Warming" Hysteria

By Bill Steigerwald July 27, 2005

Global warming is always a hot topic in liberal media circles, where the political and scientific consensus is that global climate change is occurring, it is a danger, it is caused by mankind and we need to start doing something serious about reversing it.

For a little balance, we called up Fred Singer, aka "the godfather of global warming denial." An expert on global climate change and a pioneer in the development of rocket and satellite technology, he holds a Ph.D. in physics from Princeton and happens to be the guy who devised the basic instrument for measuring stratospheric ozone. Now president of the Science & Environmental Policy Project research group (, his dozen books include "Hot Talk, Cold Science: Global Warming's Unfinished Debate." I talked to him by telephone from his offices in Arlington, Va.:

Q: Here’s a line from a recent Mother Jones article: "There is overwhelming scientific consensus that greenhouse gases emitted by human activity are causing global average temperatures to rise." Is that true?

A: It’s completely unsupported by any observation, but it’s supported by computer climate models. In other words, the computer models would indicate this. The observations do not.

Q: What’s the best argument or proof that global warming is not happening?

A: The best proof are data taken of atmospheric temperature by two completely different methods. One is from instruments carried in satellites that look down on the atmosphere. The other is from instruments carried in balloons that ascend through the atmosphere and take readings as they go up. These measurements show that the atmospheric warming, such as it is, is extremely slight -- a great deal less than any of the models predicts, and in conflict also with observations of the surface.

Q: An epic New Yorker series said unequivocally that the permafrost, the Arctic sea ice and the Greenland glaciers are all melting. Is that true and is it because of global warming?

A: The Arctic temperatures have been now measured for a long time. They vary cyclically. The warmest years in the Arctic were around 1940. Then it cooled. And it’s warming again, but it hasn’t reached the levels of 1940. It will continue to oscillate. That’s the best prediction.

Q: What is the most dangerous untrue "fact" about global warming that’s out there in the media-sphere?

A: The rise in sea level. Again, the observations show that sea level has risen in the last 18,000 years by about 400 feet and is continuing to rise at a uniform rate, and is not accelerating, irrespective of warming or cooling. In fact, sea level will continue to rise at a slow rate of 8 inches per century, as it has been for the last few thousand years.

Q: If you had a 12-year-old grandkid who was worried about global warming, what would you tell him?

A: I would tell them that there are many more important problems in the world to worry about, such as diseases, pandemics, nuclear war and terrorism. The least important of these is global warming produced by humans, because it will be insignificant compared to natural fluctuations of climate.

Q: How did you become "the godfather of global warming denial"?

A: That’s easy. Age. I organized my first conference on global warming in 1968. At that time I had no position. It was a conference called "The global effects of environmental pollution." At that time I remember some of the experts we had speaking thought the climate was going to warm and some thought it was going to cool. That was the situation.

Q: Climate is extremely complicated -- is that a true statement?

A: Immensely complicated. Which is a reason why the models will never be able to adequately simulate the atmosphere. It’s just too complicated.

Q: Give me a sample of how complicated just one little thing can be.

A: The most complicated thing about the atmosphere that the models cannot capture is clouds. First of all, clouds are small. The resolution of the computer models is about 200 miles; clouds are much smaller than that. Secondly, they don’t know when clouds form. They have to guess what humidity is necessary for a cloud to form. And of course, humidity is not the only factor. You have to have nuclei -- little particles -- on which the water vapor can condense to form droplets. They don’t know that either. And they don’t know at what point the cloud begins to rain out. And they don’t know at what point -- it goes on like this.

Q: Is this debate a scientific fight or a political fight?

A: Both. I much support a scientific fight, because I’m pretty sure we’ll win that -- because the data support us; they don’t support the climate models. Basically it’s a fight of people who believe in data, or who believe in the atmosphere, versus people who believe in models.

Q: Is it not true that CO2 levels have gone up by about a third in the last 100 years?

A: A little more than a third, yes. I accept that.

Q: Do you say that’s irrelevant?

A: It’s relevant, but the effects cannot be clearly seen. The models predict huge effects from this, but we don’t see them.

Q: Why is it important that global warming be studied in a balanced, scientific, depoliticized way?

A: It’s a scientific problem. The climate is something we live with, and we need to know what effect human activities are having on climate. I don’t deny that there’s some effect of human activities on climate. We need to learn how important they are.

Q: Why is it important that global warming be studied in a balanced, scientific, depoliticized way?

A: It’s a scientific problem. The climate is something we live with and we need to know what effect human activities are having on climate. I don’t deny that there’s some affect of human activities on climate. Cities are warmer now than they used to be. We have changed forests into agricultural fields. That has some affect on climate. We irrigate much of the Earth. That affects climate. And so on. We are having some influence on climate, at least on a small scale. So we need to know these things. We need to how important they are.

Q: And global warming is something we should study but not get panicky about?

A: The thing to keep in mind always is that the natural fluctuations of climate are very much larger than anything we can ascribe – so far – to any human activity. Much larger. We lived through a Little Ice Age just a few hundred years ago. During the Middle Ages the climate was much warmer than it is today. So the climate does change all the time. We need to understand the scientific reasons for natural climate change. Most of us now think it’s the sun that is the real driver of climate. It has something to do with sun spots, but the mechanism is not quite clear. That’s what’s being studied now.

Bill Steigerwald is the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's associate editor. Call him at (412) 320-7983. E-mail him at:

Tony Blankley: Roe v. Wade v. Technology

July 27, 2005
The Washington Times

As the John Roberts' Supreme Court nomination fight opens, the predicted battle to save or kill Roe v Wade already has taken to the streets, the Internet and the media. But the 32-year-old constitutional right to an abortion may face its gravest challenge not from red state values triumphing on the Supreme Court, but from medical research being carried out in elite blue state universities and in Europe and Asia.

It is the very language of Roe that carries the seed of its own possible irrelevance within the next several years. Roe enunciated the more or less unencumbered right of a woman to obtain an abortion prior to fetal viability. After viability, the right of states to regulate or prohibit abortions arise. The court defined legal viability as "potentially able to live outside the mother's womb, albeit with artificial aid."

But medical science is remorselessly advancing on two fronts along paths that may fairly soon seize and destroy in a scientific pincer movement the viability of Roe's reasoning.
When Roe was handed down in 1973, the survivability of prematurely born babies was not medically possible before 28 weeks of gestation. Today, babies born after only 20 weeks of gestation routinely survive -- and thus are viable under the Roe definition (and thus potentially legally safe from the abortionist's medical weapons).

But radical research may soon reduce that 20 weeks to just a few -- or perhaps no weeks. At Juntendo University of Tokyo, Dr. Yoshinori Kuwabara and his team of scientists have successfully removed goat fetuses from mother goats and placed them in tanks of amniotic fluid stabilized at goat body temperature, while connecting the baby goat's umbilical cord to machines that pump in nutrients and dispose of waste.

The purpose of Dr. Kuwabara's research is to provide a safe home for human fetuses prematurely expelled from the mother's womb. According to the British Guardian newspaper, it is expected that such methods capable of sustaining a child for the full nine months "will become reality in a few years."

Meanwhile, at Cornell University's Center for Reproductive Medicine and Infertility, Dr. Hung-Ching Liu and her team of scientists have been approaching the problem of fetal out-of-womb survival from the other side. She is developing a full artificial womb that can receive a just-conceived embryo -- with the hope that it will successfully gestate for the full nine months.
Her team's method is to remove cells from the mother's endometrium (the lining the womb), and grow those cells in a hormones-and-growth-enzymes "bath." Then they let the cells rapidly grow on a scaffold made of biodegradable material molded in the shape of a uterus, into which she plants the embryo. By this method Dr. Liu has already successfully kept alive a brand-new human embryo/fetus for six days -- after which she voluntarily ended the fetus's existence to comply with current medical ethics regulations.

While Dr. Kuwabara's technology is being designed for normal pregnancies cut short by miscarriages, Dr. Liu's technologies will have special appeal to homosexual couples who want to have a child, as well as women with defective wombs and women who just can't be bothered to be pregnant (although the first few minutes of such pregnancies might still be valued for extraneous reasons).

But both, or either technology, once routinely available, could have a profound, if unintended, effect on the constitutional right of abortion. Once such technologies make it medically possible for a fetus to be "potentially able to live outside the mother's womb, albeit with artificial aid" the language of Roe v Wade will not have to be overturned. It could stay on the books as legally valid, but factually meaningless.

Of course the irony of all this cut so many ways, it is hard to count. A technology designed to help homosexual couples and radical feminists have wombless babies may come into the service of conservatives (who oppose homosexual marriage and feminist values) as a means of ending abortion.

Cutting the other way, it is the technology of stem cell research and cloning (which many right-to-life conservatives want to outlaw) that may be needed to develop a technology that could be used to effectively legally end abortion -- thus creating for such conservatives the moral dilemma of supporting the use of what they judge to be unethical or immoral technologies to end the greatest slaughter of the innocent (millions of abortions a year).

These emerging technologies give academic ethicists (as well as the rest of us amateur ethicists) plenty to think about. Remember, in Aldous Huxley's disturbingly prescient "Brave New World," the normal people were genetically cloned and gestated in artificial wombs, while the savages living in remote locations were the only ones who still naturally conceived, carried their own babies and then breast-fed them. The "normal" cloned people thought the natural people were animals to procreate naturally. As it always has in history, the definition of normal is subject to unexpected and seemingly abnormal change.
And, it would seem, that advancing medical and genetic technologies will benefit conservatives and liberals in a promiscuous manner.

©2005 Creators Syndicate

Monday, July 25, 2005

Victor Davis Hanson: And Then They Came After Us

We’re at war. How about acting like it?

National Review Online
July 22, 2005

First the terrorists of the Middle East went after the Israelis. From 1967 we witnessed 40 years of bombers, child murdering, airline hijacking, suicide murdering, and gratuitous shooting. We in the West usually cried crocodile tears, and then came up with all sorts of reasons to allow such Middle Eastern killers a pass.

Yasser Arafat, replete with holster and rants at the U.N., had become a “moderate” and was thus free to steal millions of his good-behavior money. If Hamas got European cash, it would become reasonable, ostracize its “military wing,” and cease its lynching and vigilantism.

When some tried to explain that Wars 1-3 (1947, 1956, 1967) had nothing to do with the West Bank, such bothersome details fell on deaf ears.

When it was pointed out that Germans were not blowing up Poles to get back lost parts of East Prussia nor were Tibetans sending suicide bombers into Chinese cities to recover their country, such analogies were caricatured.

When the call for a “Right of Return” was making the rounds, few cared to listen that over a half-million forgotten Jews had been cleansed from Syria, Iraq, and Egypt, and lost billions in property.

When the U.N. and the EU talked about “refugee camps,” none asked why for a half-century the Arab world could not build decent housing for its victimized brethren, or why 1 million Arabs voted in Israel, but not one freely in any Arab country.

The security fence became “The Wall,” and evoked slurs that it was analogous to barriers in Korea or Berlin that more often kept people in than out. Few wondered why Arabs who wished to destroy Israel would mind not being able to live or visit Israel.

In any case, anti-Semitism, oil, fear of terrorism — all that and more fooled us into believing that Israel’s problems were confined to Israel. So we ended up with a utopian Europe favoring a pre-modern, terrorist-run, Palestinian thugocracy over the liberal democracy in Israel. The Jews, it was thought, stirred up a hornet’s nest, and so let them get stung on their own.

We in the United States preened that we were the “honest broker.” After the Camp David accords we tried to be an intermediary to both sides, ignoring that one party had created a liberal and democratic society, while the other remained under the thrall of a tribal gang.

Billions of dollars poured into frontline states like Jordan and Egypt. Arafat himself got tens of millions, though none of it ever seemed to show up in good housing, roads, or power plants for his people. The terror continued, enhanced rather than arrested, by Western largess and Israeli concessions.

Then the Islamists declared war on the United States. A quarter century of mass murdering of Americans followed in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, East Africa, the first effort to topple the World Trade Center, and the attack on the USS Cole.

We gave billions to Jordan, the Palestinians, and the Egyptians. Afghanistan was saved from the Soviets through U.S. aid. Kuwait was restored after Saddam’s annexation, and the holocaust of Bosnians and Kosovars halted by the American Air Force. Americans welcomed thousands of Arabs to our shores and allowed hundreds of madrassas and mosques to preach zealotry, anti-Semitism, and jihad without much scrutiny.

Then came September 11 and the almost instant canonization of bin Laden.

Suddenly, the prior cheap shots at Israel under siege weren’t so cheap. It proved easy to castigate Israelis who went into Jenin, but not so when we needed to do the same in Fallujah.

It was easy to slander the Israelis’ scrutiny of Arabs in their midst, but then suddenly a few residents in our own country were found to be engaging in bomb making, taking up jihadist pilgrimages to Afghanistan, and mapping out terrorist operations.Apparently, the hatred of radical Islam was not just predicated on the “occupation” of the West Bank. Instead it involved the pretexts of Americans protecting Saudi Arabia from another Iraqi attack, the United Nations boycott of Iraq, the removal of the Taliban and Saddam, and always as well as the Crusades and the Reconquista.

But Europe was supposedly different. Unlike the United States, it was correct on the Middle East, and disarmed after the Cold War. Indeed, the European Union was pacifistic, socialist, and guilt-ridden about former colonialism.

Hundreds of thousands of Muslims were left alone in unassimilated European ghettoes and allowed to preach or promulgate any particular hatred of the day they wished. Conspire to kill a Salmon Rushdie, talk of liquidating the “apes and pigs,” distribute Mein Kampf and the Protocols, or plot in the cities of France and Germany to blow up the Pentagon and the World Trade Center — all that was about things “over there” and in a strange way was thought to ensure that Europe got a pass at home.

But the trump card was always triangulation against the United States. Most recently anti-Americanism was good street theater in Rome, Paris, London, and the capitals of the “good” West.

But then came Madrid — and the disturbing fact that after the shameful appeasement of its withdrawal from Iraq, further plots were hatched against Spanish justices and passenger trains.

Surely a Holland would be exempt — Holland of wide-open Amsterdam fame where anything goes and Muslim radicals could hate in peace. Then came the butchering of Theo Van Gogh and the death threats against parliamentarian Hirsi Ali — and always defiance and promises of more to come rather than apologies for their hatred.

Yet was not Britain different?

After all, its capital was dubbed Londonistan for its hospitality to Muslims across the globe. Radical imams openly preached jihad against the United States to their flock as thanks for being given generous welfare subsidies from her majesty’s government. But it was the United States, not liberal Britain, that evoked such understandable hatred.

But now?After Holland, Madrid, and London, European operatives go to Israel not to harangue Jews about the West Bank, but to receive tips about preventing suicide bombings. And the cowboy Patriot Act to now-panicked European parliaments perhaps seems not so illiberal after all.

So it is was becoming clear that butchery by radical Muslims in Bali, Darfur, Iraq, the Philippines Thailand, Turkey, Tunisia, and Iraq was not so tied to particular and “understandable” Islamic grievances.

Perhaps the jihadist killing was not over the West Bank or U.S. hegemony after all, but rather symptoms of a global pathology of young male Islamic radicals blaming all others for their own self-inflicted miseries, convinced that attacks on the infidel would win political concessions, restore pride, and prove to Israelis, Europeans, Americans — and about everybody else on the globe — that Middle Eastern warriors were full of confidence and pride after all.

Meanwhile an odd thing happened. It turns out that the jihadists were cowards and bullies, and thus selective in their targets of hatred. A billion Chinese were left alone by radical Islam — even though the Chinese were secularists and mostly godless, as well as ruthless to their own Uighur Muslim minorities. Had bin Laden issued a fatwa against Beijing and slammed an airliner into a skyscraper in Shanghai, there is no telling what a nuclear China might have done.

India too got mostly a pass, other than the occasional murdering by Pakistani zealots. Yet India makes no effort to apologize to Muslims. When extremists occasionally riot and kill, they usually cease quickly before the response of a much more unpredictable angry populace.

What can we learn from all this?

Jihadists hardly target particular countries for their “unfair” foreign policies, since nations on five continents suffer jihadist attacks and thus all apparently must embrace an unfair foreign policy of some sort.Typical after the London bombing is the ubiquitous Muslim spokesman who when asked to condemn terrorism, starts out by deploring such killing, assuring that it has nothing to do with Islam, yet then ending by inserting the infamous “but” — as he closes with references about the West Bank, Israel, and all sorts of mitigating factors. Almost no secular Middle Easterners or religious officials write or state flatly, “Islamic terrorism is murder, pure and simple evil. End of story, no ifs or buts about it.”

Second, thinking that the jihadists will target only Israel eventually leads to emboldened attacks on the United States. Assuming America is the only target assures terrorism against Europe. Civilizations will either hang separately or triumph over barbarism together. It is that simple — and past time for Europe and the United States to rediscover their common heritage and shared aims in eradicating this plague of Islamic fascism.

Third, Islamicists are selective in their attacks and hatred. So far global jihad avoids two billion Indians and Chinese, despite the fact that their countries are far tougher on Muslims than is the United States or Europe. In other words, the Islamicists target those whom they think they can intimidate and blackmail.

Unfettered immigration, billions in cash grants to Arab autocracies, alliances of convenience with dictatorships, triangulation with Middle Eastern patrons of terror, blaming the Jews — civilization has tried all that.It is time to relearn the lessons from the Cold War, when we saw millions of noble Poles, Romanians, Hungarians, and Czechs as enslaved under autocracy and a hateful ideology, and in need of democracy before they could confront the Communist terror in their midst.

But until the Wall fell, we did not send billions in aid to their Eastern European dictatorships nor travel freely to Prague or Warsaw nor admit millions of Communist-ruled Bulgarians and Albanians onto our shores.

Michael Portillio: We All Just Sat Back and Let Londonistan Rise Against Us

July 24, 2005
The London Times

For all our stoicism we Londoners had hoped that July 7 would be a one-off. A kind of fatalism led us to expect that our city would take its turn to be attacked after New York, Washington, Istanbul and Madrid, but we harboured an unfounded expectation that once it had happened, it would be over.

Living with continuing fear and suspicion is a harder proposition than merely moving on from a single horrific event. The killing of an innocent man by the police adds to the jitteriness that will be felt in London. Still, I think the city will cope as it has done in the past.
In the past two weeks Britain has been stunned to discover that there are people living here who have resisted integration and who loathe this country.

London’s resilience tells a more encouraging story. The capital’s population is extremely diverse. As proof of that, fewer than half the names of those killed on the 7th look Anglo-Saxon. Today’s Londoners come in all colours and from every cultural background. Yet they have inherited the city’s historic attitudes of nonchalance, bloody-mindedness and defiance from the generation that survived the blitz. Mass murder in London has not been greeted with wailing in the streets but with a determination to continue life as usual in this city of perpetual sirens.

Perhaps we take things almost too calmly. It is, to say the least, disappointing that our security services anticipated neither of the two recent attacks, even though some of the names had previously appeared on the intelligence radar. The shooting at Stockwell does not help public confidence.

The government has been poorly focused. Only now does it come forward with proposals to outlaw acts preparatory to terrorism and the “indirect” incitement of violence. Why not before? The prime minister now calls for phone-tap evidence to be used in proceedings against suspects, while the Conservatives have long urged that change. Four years after September 11 the Foreign Office at last discovers that it can get agreement from Jordan to take deportees from Britain with guarantees about their treatment.

We have wasted parliamentary time on identity cards. They will not help us to fight terror and they have distracted us from more effective measures. The government has also dissipated its energy defending its power to lock up suspects without charge on the say so of a minister.
It has now decided to create the new offences, which is better because the suspects will enjoy due process in the courts.

It is easy to explain how the Londonistan phenomenon (the concentration of Muslim political activists in the capital) has come about. For years foreign governments have complained that dissidents settled in Britain were using the fax and the internet to foment discontent in their countries. Our response has been dilatory. Under our asylum rules we have made no distinction between the innocent victims of persecution and others intent on bringing down states.
As democrats we feel some sympathy for those who voice opposition to autocratic regimes. Maybe our response has been coloured by memories of the brave French resistance sabotaging the Nazis under control from London. It has taken us a long time to accept that not all enemies of dictatorships are either democrats or patriots.

We can complain with justification that Pakistan has failed to close the training camps where young Britons have been coached in the techniques of massacre. But General Musharraf, its president, was right last week to say that Britain could have done more, too. The constraints on him are obvious, leading a Muslim country of extraordinary volatility. Britain’s tardy reaction to the growing threat is harder to explain. Yet Blair has escaped criticism. He attracts public sympathy as he wrestles with the dilemma of how a free society copes with such an evil enemy.

In our fight against Irish terrorists we made it a criminal offence merely to belong to certain organisations. Al-Muhajiroun must be a candidate for similar treatment, as an extremist body that refuses to condemn terrorism in Britain and celebrates the September 11 attacks on America. We have found few other ways to disrupt the middlemen who warp the minds of young people and make them ripe for recruitment to suicide missions. We can no longer tolerate mealy-mouthed attitudes from people in authority. Ken Livingstone should heartily regret sharing a platform with Dr Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, who once said that suicide bombings in Palestine were a legitimate form of self-defence.

To give her her due, Cherie Blair has already apologised for saying of the situation there: “As long as young people feel they have got no hope but to blow themselves up you are never going to make progress.” I do not see how anyone can “understand” the murder of passengers on a Jerusalem bus and still hope to carry conviction when denouncing terror on the Tube.

Deporting or silencing some imams and criminalising Al-Muhajiroun would not defeat the terrorists, of course. For that we must rely on the police and intelligence services to penetrate their networks. That gives us the opportunity not only to arrest the fugitives, but also to forestall new outrages, to sow distrust within the cells and to sabotage their equipment.

During the past week there have been several attempts (notably by the journalist John Pilger) to blame the bombings on Blair because of the war in Iraq. According to opinion polls a majority thinks that the conflict has increased our vulnerability.

We cannot know for sure. But we should at least recall history accurately. Al-Qaeda set off a truck bomb in the World Trade Center on February 26, 1993, almost a decade before George Bush invaded Iraq. President Clinton, the darling of the left, had been inaugurated a month before. It would be difficult to blame US foreign policy for the attack. America had gone to the aid of Muslim Kuwait and freed it from Iraqi occupation. Observing the letter of its United Nations mandate, it withdrew from Iraq and left Saddam Hussein in place (although it kept forces in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait with the agreement of those governments).

A few months later Clinton withdrew American forces from Somalia following the Black Hawk Down incident, in which 18 soldiers died. Osama Bin Laden commented that the decision demonstrated the “weakness, feebleness and cowardliness of the US soldier” who had “fled in the dark of night”.

During the Clinton presidency, as American forces went to the rescue of Muslims in Bosnia and as the president toiled alongside Ehud Barak, Israel’s prime minister, to bring peace to Palestine, Al-Qaeda escalated its attacks on the United States, bombing its embassies in east Africa and attacking the warship USS Cole. Clinton’s response — firing a few cruise missiles into supposed terrorist camps — was feeble.

Long before George W Bush became president a policy of turning the other cheek was met by a sharp intensification of the terrorist onslaught on America, culminating in the September 11 attacks.

As tributes were paid last week to Sir Edward Heath, I recalled his appalling decision in 1970 to release the Palestinian terrorist Leila Khaled. She had hijacked an Israeli airliner but was exchanged by Britain for hostages seized in another hijack. The Black September group to which she belonged subsequently murdered 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. The Germans released the perpetrators in return for yet more hostages. Lacking support from Europe, is it any wonder that Israel has taken care of its own security? Even if a majority in Britain thinks that the war in Iraq has increased our danger, I doubt that many favour bowing to terrorist pressure or believe that it would make them safer. People are not as stupid as Pilger thinks.

If the terror continues, the British people are likely to cleave more strongly to Blair, a man who has experience of crises and finds appropriate rhetoric for every eventuality. The crisis may provide yet another reason (or excuse) for the prime minister to stay in his post.

During the long period in which the Iraq policy destroyed trust in Blair, Gordon Brown kept his head down and his hands clean. It seemed clever at the time, but less so now. Brown has supplied no evidence that he is the man to lead us at a moment of national peril. Blair retains that monopoly.

Mark Steyn: Mugged by Reality?

The Australian
July 25, 2005

With hindsight, the defining encounter of the age was not between Mohammed Atta's jet and the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, but that between Mohammed Atta and Johnelle Bryant a year earlier.

Bryant is an official with the US Department of Agriculture in Florida, and the late Atta had gone to see her about getting a $US650,000 government loan to convert a plane into the world's largest crop-duster. A novel idea.

The meeting got off to a rocky start when Atta refused to deal with Bryant because she was but a woman. But, after this unpleasantness had been smoothed out, things went swimmingly. When it was explained to him that, alas, he wouldn't get the 650 grand in cash that day, Atta threatened to cut Bryant's throat. He then pointed to a picture behind her desk showing an aerial view of downtown Washington - the White House, the Pentagon et al - and asked: "How would America like it if another country destroyed that city and some of the monuments in it?"

Fortunately, Bryant's been on the training course and knows an opportunity for multicultural outreach when she sees one. "I felt that he was trying to make the cultural leap from the country that he came from," she recalled. "I was attempting, in every manner I could, to help him make his relocation into our country as easy for him as I could."

So a few weeks later, when fellow 9/11 terrorist Marwan al-Shehhi arrived to request another half-million dollar farm subsidy and Atta showed up cunningly disguised with a pair of glasses and claiming to be another person entirely - to whit, al-Shehhi's accountant - Bryant sportingly pretended not to recognise him and went along with the wheeze. The fake specs, like the threat to slit her throat and blow up the Pentagon, were just another example of the multicultural diversity that so enriches our society.

For four years, much of the western world behaved like Bryant. Bomb us, and we agonise over the "root causes" (that is, what we did wrong). Decapitate us, and our politicians rush to the nearest mosque to declare that "Islam is a religion of peace". Issue bloodcurdling calls at Friday prayers to kill all the Jews and infidels, and we fret that it may cause a backlash against Muslims. Behead sodomites and mutilate female genitalia, and gay groups and feminist groups can't wait to march alongside you denouncing Bush, Blair and Howard. Murder a schoolful of children, and our scholars explain that to the "vast majority" of Muslims "jihad" is a harmless concept meaning "decaf latte with skimmed milk and cinnamon sprinkles".

Until the London bombings. Something about this particular set of circumstances - British subjects, born and bred, weaned on chips, fond of cricket, but willing to slaughter dozens of their fellow citizens - seems to have momentarily shaken the multiculturalists out of their reveries. Hitherto, they've taken a relaxed view of the more, ah, robust forms of cultural diversity - Sydney gang rapes, German honour killings - but Her Britannic Majesty's suicide bombers have apparently stiffened even the most jelly-spined lefties.

At The Age, Terry Lane, last heard blaming John Howard for the "end of democracy as we know it" and calling for "the army of my country ... to be defeated" in Iraq, now says multiculturalism is a "repulsive word" whereas "assimilation is a beaut" and should be commended. In the sense that he seems to have personally assimilated with Pauline Hanson, he's at least leading by example.

Where Lane leads, Melbourne's finest have been rushing to follow, lining up to sign on to the New Butchness. "There is something wrong with multiculturalism," warns Pamela Bone. "Perhaps it is time to say, you are welcome, but this is the way it is here." Tony Parkinson - The Age's resident voice of sanity - quotes approvingly France's Jean-Francois Revel: "Clearly, a civilisation that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself."

And yet, The Age's editor Andrew Jaspan still lives in another world. You'll recall that it was Jaspan who objected to the energy and conviction of certain freed Australian hostage, at least when it comes to disrespecting their captors: "I was, I have to say, shocked by Douglas Wood's use of the 'arsehole' word, if I can put it like that, which I just thought was coarse and very ill-thought through ... As I understand it, he was treated well there. He says he was fed every day, and as such to turn around and use that kind of language I think is just insensitive."

And heaven forbid we're insensitive about terrorists. True, a blindfolded Wood had to listen to his jailers murder two of his colleagues a few inches away, but how boorish would one have to be to hold that against one's captors? A few months after 9/11, National Review's John Derbyshire dusted off the old Cold War mantra "Better dead than red" and modified it to mock the squeamishness of politically correct warfare: "Better dead than rude". But even he would be surprised to see it taken up quite so literally by Andrew Jaspan.

Usually it's the hostage who gets Stockholm Syndrome, but the newly liberated Wood must occasionally reflect that in this instance the entire culture seems to have caught a dose. And, in a sense, we have: multiculturalism is a kind of societal Stockholm Syndrome. Atta's meetings with Bryant are emblematic: He wasn't a genius, a master of disguise in deep cover; indeed, he was barely covered at all, he was the Leslie Nielsen of terrorist masterminds - but the more he stuck out, the more Bryant was trained not to notice, or to put it all down to his vibrant cultural tradition.

That's the great thing about multiculturalism: it doesn't involve knowing anything about other cultures - like, say, the capital of Bhutan or the principal exports of Malaysia, the sort of stuff the old imperialist wallahs used to be well up on. Instead, it just involves feeling warm and fluffy, making bliss out of ignorance. And one notices a subtle evolution in multicultural pieties since the Islamists came along. It was most explicitly addressed by the eminent British lawyer Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws, QC, who thought that it was too easy to disparage "Islamic fundamentalists". "We as western liberals too often are fundamentalist ourselves. We don't look at our own fundamentalisms."

And what exactly would those western liberal fundamentalisms be? "One of the things that we are too ready to insist upon is that we are the tolerant people and that the intolerance is something that belongs to other countries like Islam. And I'm not sure that's true."

Hmm. Kennedy appears to be arguing that our tolerance of our own tolerance is making us intolerant of other people's intolerance, which is intolerable. Thus the lop-sided valse macabre of our times: the more the Islamists step on our toes, the more we waltz them gaily round the room. I would like to think that the newly fortified Age columnists are representative of the culture's mood, but, if I had to bet, I'd put my money on Kennedy: anyone can be tolerant of the tolerant, but tolerance of intolerance gives an even more intense frisson of pleasure to the multiculti masochists. Australia's old cultural cringe had a certain market rationality; the new multicultural cringe is pure nihilism.

Mark Steyn is a regular contributor to The Australian.

Concert Review: Springsteen in Charlotte

Posted on Mon, Jul. 25, 2005

Boss shows he can sizzle solo
Springsteen delivers intimate show without old hits, E Street Band
Special to the Charlotte Observer

Fans came from as far as Philadelphia to catch Bruce Springsteen's rare solo acoustic appearance at Charlotte Coliseum Sunday.

Joe Thomas, a musician from Montgomery, Ala., had already seen Springsteen twice on the current tour.

"I love the band shows," said Thomas, 40, of Springsteen's fabled concerts with the E Street Band. "But if you're a real fan, this is like a dream come true."

Springsteen performed a set of close to 30 songs, moving from acoustic guitar to pump organ to baby grand piano throughout the evening. He set the tone early on, letting fans know the night's performance wouldn't be a typical hit-filled affair. Springsteen alternated between harmonica and distorted vocals, adding percussion by stomping his boot on the stage during the second song.

The bulk of his set list was pulled from his latest, critically acclaimed albums, "Devils & Dust" and "The Rising." He played both title tracks, as well as the energetic "All I'm Thinkin' About," "Further On (Up the Road)," "Empty Sky," "Nothing Man," "The Hitter," and an emotional "Matamoros Banks."

The set list also included "Dust's" sexually explicit "Reno," the raciest piece he's ever written.
One of the biggest treats for longtime fans was seeing Springsteen at the piano, where he performed songs such as "The River," "Jesus Was an Only Son," and "When You're Alone," which he said he had played only once before in concert.

"On the last tour, he did a few songs solo on the piano," Thomas said. "The piano versions of full band songs are one of the best things about the night."

The other important aspect of the show was the intimate nature of his performance -- even in the enormous coliseum. Beneath draped curtains and chandeliers, he appeared to be the star of an episode of "VH1 Storytellers." Cameras that projected the show on screens above the stage focused on his busy hands and feet.

Occasionally joking as he introduced songs, Springsteen chuckled as he referenced North Carolina in "Long Time Coming." He introduced the song by mentioning that his cousin Frankie, who taught him his first guitar chords, raised his family in Charlotte before returning to New Jersey.

Although the show was devoid of big hits, the fans who turned out were rapt by the intimacy and musicianship of the Boss's performance. But for once he wasn't the Boss of his famous big band productions.

Instead, the focus was his songwriting, singing and ability to transfix a crowd on his own.

Concert Review: Springsteen in Atlanta

The Boss nails it — all by himself
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 07/25/2005

Bruce Springsteen ambled onto the stage, his shirt unbuttoned and tucked into jeans, his sleeves rolled up to his elbows, his receding hair swept up and back. Nothing unusual there.
But the man was all by himself. That's right, no E Street Band, which meant no mic-sharing with Little Steven, no breakneck rock 'n' roll anthems, no knee-slides across the stage.

This was Bruce Alone, baby, playing acoustic music on an anti-Greatest Hits tour. You wanna hear "Dancing in the Dark"? Well, that's what albums are for. Geddouttaheah.
The 55-year-old New Jersey bard, who is touring behind his brooding new record "Devils & Dust," is using his solo shows as a forum in which to rearrange familiar tunes, work through some new ones from "Devils" and even dust off some deep catalog material that, against the odds, he'd somehow never performed.

If you didn't know this beforehand, you might've been disappointed with the semi-obscure set list and the bare-bones approach. And indeed the audience — which was overwhelmingly white and middle-aged — occasionally got fidgety, as though some fans just couldn't stand sharing a room with the Boss and not yelling their way through a cathartic "Born to Run."

Even if you knew what Springsteen had planned going into his Atlanta show over the weekend, there was some reason for alarm — this intimate performance was to take place in a not-exactly intimate sports arena, and it was alarming to imagine sitting through two dour hours of Springsteen, seated on a stool, strumming his way through interminable versions of "Racing in the Street" and other dirgelike material.

Fortunately, that's not what happened. At all. The show turned out to be a fan's fantasy, an emotional and sonically varied performance that used the partitioned arena space ingeniously.
Springsteen played a grab bag of instruments (from piano to banjo), varying his deliveries to include drone and echo and percussive guitar, plus a surprising vocal range. Sometimes he even backed off the microphone so his voice could be as unamplified as possible, allowing a rare glimpse at the superstar's music in the buff.

The concert took place over the course of about 120 minutes Saturday night at Philips Arena. By Sunday morning, the vigorous Springsteen fan site Backstreets (www.backstreets .com) was already abuzz over the show's two world premieres, "Sad Eyes" and "Valentine's Day."
There were other gems and surprises: "The Promised Land," "Lost in the Flood," "Darkness on the Edge of Town," a set-closing cover of Suicide's "Dream Baby Dream," a swirling and stomping "Reason To Believe," a Dylanesque "I'm on Fire" and a delicate "Nothing Man" dedicated to Springsteen's Atlanta-based producer, Brendan O'Brien.

The spare arrangements gave listeners a direct connection with Springsteen's lyrics.
A naturalist, his idea of moon/June/spoon is mud/blood/flood, and his strongest themes — sin vs. salvation, hope vs. regret, idealism vs. realism — came into sharp relief during (and between) the songs.

"We got a hand that we burn with and a hand that we build with," Springsteen said, introducing the boxer's lament "The Hitter." "That's God's joke. Or maybe it's free will."
Before the border-crossing tragedy "Matamoros Banks," he said, "What we need, instead of vigilantes across the border, is we need a humane immigration policy. We've got people dying just to cut the lawn."

Some of Springsteen's most powerful material addressed spirituality. A divorced Catholic, he clearly has mixed feelings about religion — and his ambiguities can make for compelling art. During his distorted blues take on "Reason to Believe," he swung an arm away from his body, and it was hard to tell if he was punching the air or making the sign of the cross, or both.