Saturday, November 12, 2005

Kirk Honeycutt Reviews 'Walk the Line'

Bottom line: A conventional though lively biopic of the late Johnny Cash.

The Hollywood Reporter

TORONTO -- Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon give strong acting and singing performances in the Johnny Cash biopic "Walk the Line." Playing the legendary Man in Black, Phoenix displays a surprisingly good voice and the ability to imitate Johnny's deep bass. As his second wife, singer June Carter, Witherspoon delivers a knockout performance as a woman who must temper her passion with an unwillingness to witness her man's self-destruction.

James Mangold's movie, too, has its rewards as it manages to skirt many of the usual dangers of any truthful look at a legend, especially a musical one. Like last year's "Ray," the chosen path is a conventional one, but it does yield an emotionally satisfying story of a man who battled many devils to claim a life of artistic and personal achievement.

Given the late singer's huge influence on music -- on folk, rock, country and punk -- and the smoothness of this particular production, it's hard to see why there won't be long lines at boxoffices for "Walk the Line."

Phoenix has never been the most expressive of actors, but that works just fine for Johnny Cash. A shy man who cultivated an outlaw image and sang of hard-luck lives in hard-living songs, he took the stage with a stony face and a guitar aimed at the audience. Phoenix doesn't look much like Johnny, but he gets his stage persona.

Witherspoon gets the humor and honesty as well as the resonant voice of the scrappy performing daughter of country music's first family. June falls for Johnny, but Johnny's first wife, Vivian (Ginnifer Goodwin), June's own second marriage and Johnny's increasing dependence on drugs and booze kept her at arm's length for many years.

Gill Dennis and Mangold base their screenplay on two books by Cash, "Man in Black" and "Cash: The Autobiography," as well as interviews with the couple up until their deaths in 2003. The movie follows Johnny's life from the cotton fields of Arkansas in the 1940s to his celebrated performance at Folsom Prison in 1968, which produced a best-selling live album. That span includes his pill-popping and groupie-cuddling days but stops before his born-again conversion in the 1970s.

A sawmill accident claims the life of Johnny's older brother, Jack, whom everyone saw as the "good" brother, the one headed for a life of preaching. Johnny's mean-spirited father (Robert Patrick) even declared that the devil "took the wrong son," thus insuring a lifetime of guilt and pain for Johnny.

The movie rushes through his Army service, first marriage and failed jobs to get to the fateful moment when Johnny walks through the door of Sun Studios in Memphis in 1955 and presents himself to producer Sam Phillips (Dallas Roberts). The audition with his band -- guitarist Luther Perkins (Dan John Miller) and bassist Marshall Grant (Larry Bagby) -- goes badly until Phillips suggests Johnny do a song from the heart. One of his old tunes from his Army days does the trick, and soon he's touring with Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and the sassy June Carter.

The movie concentrates on the blossoming relationship -- it was hardly a romance, at least not at first -- between Johnny and June. The movie establishes a strong and enduring friendship between these two, although Johnny's lingering looks are a clear sign he hopes for more.

Following June's divorce, Johnny makes romantic overtures but, according to the movie, June manages to resist for nearly a decade. Johnny does persuade June to work and tour with him, though, which leaves wife Vivian to draw her own conclusions.

"Walk the Line" -- a title drawn from Johnny's song about the difficulties of avoiding temptation while married -- is essentially a romance about a couple who are alone together only onstage. The two clearly are soul mates, but much stands between them including Johnny's equally passionate attraction to amphetamines. When June has had enough, Johnny's life spirals downward with an arrest, separation from his family and financial and health problems.

The decision to approach Johnny's life as a love story causes Mangold to neglect the development of Johnny's music. In fact, the movie implies that Johnny falls into his musical style and personality without giving it much thought. Despite the accomplished vocal work by Phoenix and Witherspoon, the film doesn't give us nearly enough of these two people as musicians.

The production is solid other than the fact that no one ages a bit. Photographed by Phedon Papamichael and edited by Michael McCusker, the concert footage is fine and energetic, while the leaps in time never feel jarring. All period details are accomplished without fuss. T-Bone Burnett expertly handles not only the score but also production of all the film's music.

20th Century Fox
Fox 2000 Pictures presents a Tree Line Films/Catfish Prods. production

Credits: Director: James Mangold
Screenwriters: Gill Dennis, James Mangold
Based on the books "Man in Black" and "Cash: The Autobiography" by: Johnny Cash
Producer: Cathy Konrad, James Keach
Executive producers: John Carter Cash, Alan C. Blomquist
Director of photography: Phedon Papamichael
Production designer: David J. BombaCostumes: Arianne Phillips
Music: T-Bone Burnett
Editor: Michael McCusker

Johnny Cash: Joaquin Phoenix
June Carter: Reese Witherspoon
Vivian Cash: Ginnifer Goodwin
Ray Cash: Robert Patrick
Sam Phillips: Dallas Roberts
Carrie Cash: Shelby Lynne
Luther Perkins: Dan John Miller
Marshall Grant: Larry Bagby
Running time -- 136 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13

Copyright 2005 The Hollywood Reporter

Friday, November 11, 2005

Stephen Hunter Reviews 'Capote'

Cold-Blooded Writer
Truman Capote's Ruthless Pursuit Of a Murderer's Tale Is Chillingly Told
By Stephen Hunter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 21, 2005; C01

Truman Capote was as corny as Kansas in November, which is to say not corny at all.
So what was the elfin, mincing, vicuna-wrapped, dowager-loving, gossip-mongering, gay, E.T.-looking writer doing in a small village in the western edges of the Jayhawk State in November 1959? (He probably didn't even know what a jayhawk was.) The answer is twofold, according to Gerald Clarke's great 1988 biography "Capote" and this terrific movie based on a substantial part of it: writing a great book and destroying himself.

That intertwined trajectory of creation and destruction is at the heart of the severe film, almost like a diagram of the primal Faustian bargain: The artist grows so much and gains so much, achieves immortality, really -- and it only costs him his soul.

Capote, a doyen of the salons (but never the saloons) of the Upper East Side and secure in his world and reputation as the New Yorker's best and brightest boy, saw an article in the Nov. 15 New York Times recounting the slaughter of a prosperous farm family named Clutter on the high wheat plains by persons unknown. Something provoked his imagination, perhaps the hugeness of the crime juxtaposed with the stolidity of the community and its solitude way out there where the rain is Tess, the fire's Jo and they call the wind Maria. Within days he was headed there in the company of his boyhood chum, the soon-to-be-published writer Harper Lee, who served as his enabler as he attempted to make contact with the sundered town, its law enforcement professionals and, ultimately, the perpetrators of the deed.

In "Capote," director Bennett Miller, writer Dan Futterman and most of all actor Philip Seymour Hoffman in the title role (all are boyhood friends, publicity materials say) capture this process with exquisite accuracy if minimal flourish: The genius of the film, besides Hoffman's stunning performance, is that it knows exactly how much is enough. It never overplays, lingers or punches up. It "writes," as it were, in the cinematic equivalent of the spare, eloquent prose the New Yorker is famous for.

Miller shrinks each sequence to its salient story point, then quits it in a rush. It's almost as if he went through Futterman's screenplay and cut the first half out of every scene. Meanwhile, he uses the severe landscape -- flat, the horizon a hundred miles out, the sky gray and mean, the wind making the sound like folks was out there dyin', the rustle of the dry corn, the frozen patches of snow -- to suggest the inner state of its title antagonist's mind.

And the filmmakers pull no punches (neither did Clarke's book, although Capote's did): Truman's a bitch. With an airy wave of his fat, moist fingers he disdains poor, square cop Alvin Dewey (played by Chris Cooper as if his first name were Gary) and then acknowledges, in a throwaway line as he Joan-Crawfords dramatically through the police station with a sweep of his stylish coat, "Oh, I don't really care if you catch them or not." Not exactly meant to endear himself to stoical law-'n'-order types. (Miller has great fun contrasting Capote's piping flounce with the doughy, so-butch faces of the Kansas lawmen.)

But Tru has charm and, though you can't see it under the gay bling, grit. And he's able to use his outsiderness to reach people from odd angles, for example playing up his New Orleans background to captivate Dewey's wife, a New Orleanian herself. You never heard N'Awleansean spoken with such high Tallulahesque zing! As he was with the Dowager Swans of the Rich Old Lady set in New York a few years later, he's able to ingratiate himself first with her, and by extension with the square-shootin' Dewey, which gives him almost unlimited access to the investigative machinery of the state and, in turn, the cred to get inside the prison system. Other than Dewey and Catherine Keener's grounded but hardly Alabama-seeming Lee, the movie has nothing nice to say about anyone. It views all humanity through Truman's jaundiced eyes, including himself. It suggests that not only was the killing done in cold blood, but, over the following few years, so was the writing.

"Capote" gets at the writer's ethical dilemma: Real people and their lives are never as tidy as a good story, and they must be nudged, shoved, manipulated to get with the program. Every writer of long-form nonfiction faces this issue; he also needs the cooperation of people his book will be unkind to, and so the manipulations are creative, as are, in his interior life, his justifications.

Throughout the long writing (close to six years) of "In Cold Blood," Capote plays these games with a grandmaster's finesse, even when they become clouded by emotional engagement, possibly even love. He falls for one of the killers, a forlorn and embittered loser named Perry Smith (Clifton Collins Jr.). Yet even as he loves the poor wretched thing that Perry is, he must use him, first to find out what it is that enables a man to put a 12-gauge muzzle to the head of other humans and pull the trigger -- four times! -- and second, for the killer's account of the event, which he knew would form the climax of his book and make it great.

So he seduces Perry at least metaphorically (the picture avoids the suggestion that some others have made of a physical relationship) and guides him by offering and withholding love, by enabling the young man's fantasies of specialness and, cruelest of all, by denying the nature of the book he is writing, even to the point of lying about what the book's title will be. He also knows something more terrible: His book will be better if Perry swings at the end of the Kansas hangman's rope. He needs that scene.

Stories of ambition -- "Champion," "What Makes Sammy Run" -- usually turn on a sociopathic hero, following men without consciences who backslap, then backstab (the same backs) their way to the top without a qualm. "Capote" revises this formula; the point it makes, and almost as a dish of justice served hot, is that all this cost Capote everything. He did what he had to do, he wrote what he had to write, and he was left with fame and fortune -- and plenty of nothing. It ignores theories of alcoholism (the writer's clear problem, no matter what else may have afflicted him) as disease. Instead it treats alcoholism as a symptom of a deeper soul rot.

As a structure, the movie also has a weird resemblance to a basketball game. Wha? Well, yes, in this one sense: Remember in the old days of the 76ers, before there was a Michael Jordan or a Magic Johnson but there was a Dr. J? Remember Dr. J? The saying was: Back away and let him operate, and the best thing the Sixers did was cluster in one quadrant of the court, making way for the Doc's fabulous moves. He won them a championship that way.

That's what they do with Hoffman in this picture. No one fights him for it, no one stands against him. It's his picture, not merely because Hoffman interceded with the financiers to obtain money, not because he exec-produced, but because he is the movie. Every one else backs off and lets him do his moves, which include a simpering, unselfconscious effeminacy, a wrist that seems to be filled with helium and a voice that is somewhere between a lisp and a death rattle.

There's also some hypocrisy filtered through this, what you might call the movie's own corruption of ambition. The filmmakers judge Truman sharply for his use of Perry as a source for the murder scene -- Capote even overemphasized it by pulling it out of chronology and moving it to the rear of the book -- but they do the same. Though the movie isn't a remake of "In Cold Blood" (there's already been one), it uses that book's structure, beginning with the discovery of the bodies on the plain, ending with a powerful blast of violence (more violent than Richard Brooks's 1967 film), including an image of a twitching Mr. Clutter, his throat cut and gushing. Then there's the hanging, far more graphic than the original. So they may condemn Tru for his ruthlessness, but by using the product of it, aren't they operating in blood just as cold?

Capote (98 minutes, at area theaters) is rated R for scenes of violence and brief strong language.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

Victor Davis Hanson: Europeans Are Fooling Themselves

Posted on: Thursday, November 10, 2005
The Honolulu Advertiser

In Paris last week, the smoke of riot and fire arose from a West Bank-style intifada of angry Muslim youths. The ports of Spain were shut down by a fishermen's blockade. Hostage ships were freed only after the irate blockaders won more government fuel subsidies.

While traveling the last three weeks from Turkey to Portugal, I was reminded again how different Europe has become from what some Americans idealize as a nirvana of benevolent socialism, universal and free medical care, and sophisticated high culture.

Gasoline ranges from $4 to more than $5 a gallon. Gridlock and smog in the major cities are about as bad as, or worse than, in the United States. Municipal parking is often impossible. Prices for almost everything from food to clothing are about 20 percent higher than what most Americans pay. Average homes and apartments are smaller but often scarcer and more expensive than in the United States. I don't recall occasional trains in America that still have toilets emptying right onto the tracks.

For all the jokes about flabby Americans, Europeans on the street seem just as obese. The scanty clothes, tattoos and body rings of Europe's youth are just as revealing and tasteless as found on American teens. For a continent so upset about the purity of the atmosphere, smoking is de rigueur in many hot and hazy restaurants, buses, offices and airports — without much concern for the welfare of others. Queuing remains haphazard; sharp elbows and deft cutting-in leapfrog you to the front of the ticket or hotel counter first in a Hobbesian survival of the rudest.

The papers and magazines are full of post-Katrina glee at past televised American chaos. Everywhere there is a scarcely hidden delight over the supposed "quagmire on the Euphrates." One reads these feature stories about American pathologies in cafes where American T-shirts, American music, American logos and American ads overwhelm the senses.

The premises of an increasingly ossified and undemocratic European Union are as admirable in theory as they are ludicrous in reality. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the removal of thousands of Red Army soldiers from Eastern Europe, the new Europeans unilaterally have declared themselves a heaven on earth. By that I mean the continent's citizens feel they are now exempt from the harsh reality facing billions of mere mortals in America, China, India and Russia.

War is by fiat obsolete and relegated to more primitive others. While Europeans may grudgingly concede that the United States still provides them subsidized and reliable defense, the embarrassment is explained away by the belief that America is bellicose anyway — and so must enjoy chasing mostly imagined enemies around the globe.

Practically, such pacifism results in a weakening of NATO, with the expectation that the United States will continue to assume an ever-greater share of its costs and manpower. Few over here realize that they have finally lost American good will — and with it the public's desire ever again to bail them out from another Milosevic or an ascendant Russia or nuclear Iran on the horizon.

Families of four or five are dismissed as something for the less educated, the parochial or the pious who have the time to waste changing diapers and nursing. In contrast, the new childless European citizen is otherwise too engaged in travel, fine food, global moralizing and intellectual pursuit.

Far more prolific Arabic and Turkish immigrants are welcome to collect the garbage and clean, but not properly intermarry, integrate or assimilate. Still, Europeans do not thereby feel illiberal. After all, they broadcast to the world that they are progressives on humanitarian issues of global poverty, world courts and the environment.

Before the current intifada in their suburbs, the French apparently thought that while Arab Muslims were fourth-class citizens at home, that embarrassment was more than compensated for abroad by tacit French support of Hamas and by the selling of almost anything to any Arab autocracy.

The utopian dream of a 35-hour workweek, lifelong job tenure and cradle-to-grave benefits falls victim to a bothersome reality: More competitive Americans, Indians and Chinese have no such pretensions. While Europe gets its beauty rest, others work far harder and longer to produce cheaper things for an ever more price-conscious global consumer.

Behind these frequent strikes, urban riots and anger at the U.S. is the harsh reality of dismal economic growth and fewer jobs. So for all the undeniable achievement of the European Union, its central premise of government-mandated equality and security simply doesn't work.

The European creed is that everyone inside a shrinking heaven — an EU citizen with a guaranteed state job — will be equal to every other. Meanwhile, all the growing number of others down on earth — the unemployed, Muslim immigrants, Third World farmers who suffer from European agricultural subsidies, and former American allies — are pretty much forgotten or dismissed.

Because more than a half-million Americans have died in two European wars of the past century, we must hope that this government-mandated heaven works. Meanwhile, here below on Earth, we should concede that it really will not.

Bay City "Revolutionary Communists" Defeat Military Recruiters

By Andrew Walden
November 11, 2005

With Nancy Pelosi’s home-district San Francisco Democratic Party leading the “Yes on I” charge, San Francisco voters, by a 60-40 margin, Tuesday approved Proposition I, the so-called “College Not Combat” initiative. Prop I does not ban military recruiters, a move that would have put campuses at risk of losing their federal funding. San Francisco leftists will continue to subsidize themselves with taxpayer dollars. Prop I instead asks city and school officials in San Francisco to create scholarships and training programs designed to out do benefits offered by the military. However, the sense of the resolution – backed by self-proclaimed "revolutionary Communists," Islamofascists, and even Cindy Sheehan herself – is that military recruiters are pariahs with no business preying on defenseless young people.

The San Francisco vote spreads the type of politics found on many college campuses to an entire city. While the proposition does not formally challenge recruiters’ right to free speech on campus, leaders of College Not Combat are open about their goals. Quoted in the November 9 San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco School Board member Dan Kelly said the voice of the voter on Proposition I will “strengthen the board’s resolve” to make sure recruiters “don’t have free access.” NewsMax quotes Bob Matthews, a College Not Combat activist for the proposition saying, “We now have the moral weight of the city behind us, and it's definitely a valuable asset to have in our corner."

The San Francisco vote is timed to precede the December 6 U.S. Supreme Court hearing on a case, which will determine the constitutionality of tying federal funding to school policy on military recruitment. According to a news release from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, “In 1994, in response to law schools’ growing opposition to military recruiters on campus, Congress passed the Solomon Amendment, which cuts off federal funding to higher education institutions that discriminate against military recruiters. Schools that violate the Solomon Amendment risk losing funding from the Departments of Defense, Education, Labor, Health and Human Services, and related agencies. The amendment does not extend to administrative grants or student financial aid.

“The Solomon Amendment was struck down earlier this year in Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals as violating the First Amendment rights of higher education institutions. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on December 6.”

San Francisco schools are not hostile to all recruiters – only U.S. military recruiters. San Francisco State University has for decades been home to a large chapter of the General Union of Palestinian Students, a PLO member organization organized under the PLO’s “Department of Mass Organizations.” Many GUPS members are “recruited” to lead the PLO. These include PLO negotiator Saeb Arakat, a SFSU graduate. Convicted terrorist lawyer Lynne Stewart, was welcomed to speak at San Francisco State University and “recruit” students and faculty to join her cause – aiding Sheik Abdel Rahman to communicate orders and fatwas to his murderous followers in Egypt’s Islamic Group terrorist organization. Stewart, free while awaiting sentencing, spoke at SFSU along with Cindy Sheehan in April. According to an account of the event published on FrontPage Magazine, “Sheehan said then that military recruiters should not be allowed on college campuses, maintaining they trick naïve 18-year-olds with offers of money and scholarships.” At the same event, campus leftists distributed flyers inviting students to debate, “Should we support the Iraqi Resistance?” Dahr Jamail, a supporter of the terrorists in Iraq, and a close associate of Sheehan, spoke at SFSU on April 12. None of the activists complaining about allegedly deceitful tactics by U.S. military recruiters complains that the terrorists deceive children and mentally handicapped persons into carrying remote-controlled “suicide” bombs, nor do they decry the terrorist recruiters’ deceit that 72 virgins will be waiting for the “martyr” who violates Islamic prohibitions of suicide.

On March 9, about 100 anti-American war protesters and members of the International Socialist Organization crowded into a career fair and faced off with five College Republicans military recruiters off SFSU campus. Palestinian protesters are engaged in an ongoing campaign against Jewish students and against College Republicans. SFSU is home to the Islamofascist backbone of Nancy Pelosi’s “liberal” San Francisco.

The so-called “College Not Combat” proposition grew directly from the March 9 attack on SFSU military recruiters. As SF Indymedia explains, “On February 26th, a new group called ‘College not Combat’ formed in San Francisco, drawing in 100 people to its first meeting...On Wednesday, March 9th, the Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Navy are coming to San Francisco State University in the hopes of recruiting students to become cannon fodder for the U.S. occupation effort. Student activists with the Campus Anti-War Network (CAN) have a different plan: they have organized a protest to block the recruiters and kick them off their campus.”

In spite of their name, recent events at SFSU show that the activists aren’t against all combat; they are only against the U.S. military engaging in combat against their terrorist allies. They want to continue using an American taxpayer-funded school to train PLO leaders while blocking the U.S. military from even setting foot on campus. Now their campaign has spread beyond SFSU to the entire city.

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Ashley Kahn: Springsteen Looks Back on 'Born To Run'

The Wall Street Journal
November 10, 2005; Page D7

"You want the earth to shake and spit fire!" Bruce Springsteen exclaimed earlier this year. He was inducting U2 into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, preaching of the messianic results all great rockers must aspire to when they record. "You want the sky to split apart and for God to pour out!"

He offered a litany of examples -- recordings by Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, the Beatles. "'The Sun Sessions,' 'Highway 61,' 'Sgt. Pepper's'… 'Born to Run.' Whoops, I meant to leave that one out."
Clarence Clemons and Bruce Springsteen in a 'Born to Run' publicity photo from the session that produced the iconic, feel-good album cover.

It was a smile-inducing, double-take sort of moment. Mr. Springsteen -- known for being hyper-sensitive to rock-star hype -- comfortably mocked his own legend with brimstone and bombast. Yet the sly self-reference held truth as well. Thirty years ago, a generation witnessed in wonder as his breakthrough album, "Born to Run," did indeed split the sky.

Wired with poetic precision and operatic intensity, the album exploded onto American radios and turntables with its streetwise Sturm-und-Drang in late 1975, fueled by the carefully crafted drama on story-songs like "Jungleland," "Backstreets" and the ubiquitous title track. It saved Mr. Springsteen's then-floundering career and, in the same week, landed him on the covers of both Time and Newsweek. It focused his musical vision and honed the sweat and fury of his legendary stage performances.

Three decades on, the 55-year-old rocker still pulls out all the stops when backed by his band -- or downshifts a bit when alone and unplugged. But when he sings the classics from "Born to Run," with or without his group, a devotional intensity is palpable. "They're always going to have a particular place, no matter how I do them," Mr. Springsteen said recently from Richmond, Va., while on his current solo tour. "But with the band I basically play them just the way that I like to hear them, which is the way we recorded them."

One proof of the lasting appeal of "Born to Run" is in its constancy at the top of greatest-albums-of-all-time lists, as well as its consistent performance in Mr. Springsteen's extensive catalog on Columbia. "It's just been a very steady record over these years, but not as great as 'Born in the U.S.A.,' which is his biggest from that point of view," says Mr. Springsteen's manager, Jon Landau, the former music journalist who first joined the rocker as co-producer of "Born to Run."

Perhaps the best measure is that moment in concert when Mr. Springsteen sings "The screen door slams" and thousands recognize the opening lyric to "Thunder Road." Or when they lock onto the guitar riff to "Born to Run." "It's pretty electrifying," Mr. Landau notes. "There's no sense of a diminished interest on the part of the audience, which includes younger and younger people who obviously were not around in 1975."

Much can be said of the year that "Born to Run" was released, the midpoint of a decade scarred by divisive issues. Mr. Springsteen, himself, detects a lingering angst in the album's mix. "One of the telling lines on the record is 'you're scared and you're thinking maybe we're not that young anymore,'" he says. "I mean, I'm a 24-year-old kid writing that. Later on I realized this was how the country felt after Vietnam and Nixon. Nobody felt that young anymore.

"On 'Born to Run,' there's that sense of longing to break free -- but to what? Longing to move forward and ahead -- but to where? Through 'Devils and Dust' I've been trying to answer those questions. 'Born to Run' was very pivotal in that it expressed my most hopeful feelings and some of my desires." He pauses, and adds with a laugh: "All backed with an enormous dose of fear, of course."

That "Born to Run" was born out of fear -- the fear of being dropped by one's record company -- is one of the most familiar chapters of the Springsteen legend. His first two albums on Columbia Records had done well critically, but sold poorly. By 1974, the pressure to produce a hit for the label was paramount. A demo of a tune called "Born to Run" persuaded Columbia to give him one more chance. Late that year, Mr. Springsteen entered the studio with his group the E Street Band, a few half-written songs, and the conflicted emotions of youth.

"At that age, you're a combination of things. I had the big ego, the belief in my abilities, the intensity of desire. But the flip side of that is, 'Man, am I about to be collared and sent back on a bus to where I came from?'" And by the time Mr. Springsteen completed 'Born to Run,' he was ready to hop in any vehicle. "We had spent months of long hours and gone through an insane working process," he says. "On the last day we stumbled out after four days straight of recording, into the car to our first concert of the tour. It was like, 'Hallelujah! Thank God I'm any place but in that studio!'"

The tale of the band awash in the recording technology of the time is covered in a new DVD documentary executive produced by Mr. Springsteen himself. Titled "Wings for Wheels," it relates the making of "Born to Run" through footage of the sessions, playbacks of alternate takes, and interviews with Mr. Springsteen, Mr. Landau, and longtime band members like guitarist Steve Van Zandt and drummer Max Weinberg.

Anecdotes and revelations abound. Mr. Springsteen, the perfectionist, tossing a test-pressing of the album into a swimming pool. ("I could only hear the things that I felt were wrong with it at the time.") Mr. Springsteen, the referee, mediating the squabbles between his then-manager, Mike Appel, and Mr. Landau, who would take over Mr. Appel's job. Mr. Springsteen, the tireless craftsman, recording saxophonist Clarence Clemons's famed "Jungleland" solo again and again, meticulously splicing together the best parts into a seemingly natural whole. ("Music, film, all that -- it's the world of illusion. I'd rather sound spontaneous than be spontaneous.")

"Wings for Wheels" is part of the "Born to Run: 30th Anniversary" three-disc boxed set that arrives in stores on Tuesday. Packaged with the documentary is a remastered CD of the original album (no studio chatter, scratch takes or other recording detritus); a booklet with never-before-seen images by Eric Meola, the photographer who shot the album's iconic, feel-good cover; plus a DVD featuring a full, never-released London concert from 1975.

There's much to recommend in this refreshingly less-than-excessive collection, but it's that video of Mr. Springsteen's first appearance outside the U.S. that is the archival gem of the package -- catching the New Jersey rocker in his scruffy, unshaven glory, winning over the Brits with frenetic energy and tune after winning tune, mostly from "Born to Run."

"We came out at the Hammersmith Odeon with a set list I dare any young band to match," Mr. Springsteen says proudly. "We wanted to have great songs and a great, heart-stopping show. We wanted to rivet people and make them crazy, because that's how music had affected me."

Not visible in the performance video is another legendary moment from the Springsteen story.
Arriving for the soundcheck that afternoon, he freaked at the plethora of promotional materials covering the London venue. In a pique, he began tearing down the posters, bristling at the star status that the success of "Born to Run" had already assigned him.

"I got there and I said, 'Gee, this is a little more than I bargained for,'" says Mr. Springsteen today with a chuckle. "I was too young to realize that it was exactly what I had bargained for."

Mr. Kahn is a music journalist and author of the book "A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane's Signature Album."

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Thomas Fleming: Rioting For Fun and Allah

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

I was sitting at my desk about 5:00 pm the 8th, wondering whether to start work on a new project or to pack up a few books and go home for a Martini. The telephone rang. It was a friend who lives in Metz, a long train ride away from Paris, a quiet town without a great deal of either night life or ethnic strife. “I’m looking out my window,” he said, ”watching an apartment building going up in flames. A police helicopter is going back overhead but nothing is being done to stop the rioters.”
I asked him how long the rioting had been going on in Metz. “It’s night after night. Not so bad as in Toulouse or in the Paris suburbs but bad enough.”

I had been watching the news since the disturbances broke out, and on All Saints I noted that of nearly 300 stories on Google mentioning France and Interior Minister Sarkozy, only one was an American reference to the violence—a few seconds on FOX news. When the Washington Post and the New York Times finally made up their minds that the news could not be suppressed—always a painful decision for them to have to make—we quickly learned about French racism and the plight of the poor Arabs and Africans. Time after time on NPR I heard a comparison with America’s own civil rights struggle in the 1960’s. Apparently, people who work for NPR or the Post are under the impression that the Watts riots had something to do with civil rights. Some day they should read Edward Banfield’s The Unheavenly City, particularly the chapter on “Rioting for Fun and Profit.”

If Muslim young men in Paris are rioting, raping, setting buildings and women on fire, all for better jobs, what explains their behavior everywhere else in the world? In Egypt, where they riot to protest a secular government. In Pakistan, where they stage cross-border raids into India for the sole purpose of killing non-Muslims. In New Jersey, where they slaughtered an Egyptian Christian family because the father was too critical of Islam and where they went out into the streets to celebrate their victory on September 11.

To take the argument back to the source, how do we explain the actions of Mohamed and his followers, who looted, murdered, and raped their way across Arabia and the Middle East? Yes, it is true, an Islamic state, after a few decades of grotesque brutality, will generally let Christians and Jews alone. They need people to pay the taxes, handle the trade, and staff the bureaucracy—talents that are traditionally hard to find in Islamic states. Naturally, the success of non-Muslims will periodically arouse the righteous indignation of the “youths” who spend their time loafing on street corners, and a pogrom a decade is a small price to pay for living under George Bush’s religion of peace.

In fact, the non-Muslims of France are now experiencing what some of their ancestors endured in the days before Charles Martel beat the Muslims back into Spain. Do not expect French politicians (apart from the “extreme right”) to use such language. Interior Minister Sarkozy, after describing the rioters as scum, now declares his government’s eagerness to promote civil rights. France, like the countries of North America and Western Europe, is a leftist country, where so-called conservatives talk only of free markets, equality, and economic growth. Only a fascist beast like Jean-Marie Le Pen or Charles de Gaulle would waste time talking about the French nation. Nations, in the eyes of liberals—whether of the Marxist or libertarian stripe (not much difference, actually), are an optical illusion. There is no forest, only trees, and if an entire forest of trees were to disappear while they were not looking, then nothing would happen unless they happened to have an investment—political in the case of Marxists, financial in the case of libertarians—in the place.

To make things worse, the Arab youths, as victims of discrimination, are behaving exactly as leftists think they ought to behave. Imagine you are a French intellectual approaching 60, forever dwelling on the glory days of the student riots in which you and your pals burned cars in 1968. Isn’t this the same scenario? Dispossessed people struggling for freedom and dignity?

In a sense, yes. The riots of ‘68 and ’05 are both outbursts of hooliganism that need to be repressed by the most violent means at the French government’s disposal, but there is a difference. The Marxist students believed in the political violence for the sake of revolution; the Islamic youths believe in violence against infidels for its own sake, as a divinely sanctioned method of dealing with pigs and cattle. I have not talked to Jean Raspail in years, but these riots are, in miniature, the unfolding of his scenario in Camp of the Saints: violent and licentious Third-Worlders whose attacks meet with no resistance from the demoralized self-hating West.

At the heart of the problem is not the teachings of a wicked and stupid religion but the stupid leftism—in both Marxist and classical liberal forms—taught in schools, preached in churches, and blathered endlessly in the media. If you do not believe that there are such things as societies or nations, that only contract-making individuals matters, then you will not object when your country is flooded with immigrants who bring an alien and hostile religion. Religion is all bunk, after all, so what difference can a few million Muslims make?

Large nation states, it is true, are the constructs of post-Medieval (dare I say post-Christian?) man, and it is more wholesome to feel a deeper allegiance to Brittany than to France, to South Carolina than to the United States. Nonetheless, in the world in which we find ourselves, nation-states are one of the last bulwarks against a globalism that is bent on destroying all distinctions between man and man (to say nothing of man and woman and man and beast). The result will be a world in which there is no place for us, either as Christians or as people of the West, and there is small consolation in the fact that the liberal-libertarians, whose moral, social, and cultural anarchy got this ball rolling, will be among the first to be eliminated.

Even before there was a France, there were Franks. They had stolen Gaul from the Romans fair and square, and they were not going to allow the land that fed their children to be taken away and given to feed the children of aliens. Until the French become Franks once again, until we Americans discover and defend our own identity, you can expect these pathetic hooligans to continue on their path, destroying every symbol of a West they envy and hate.

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George F. Will: Utah a Window into Conservatism's Consternations

November 10, 2005
The Washington Post
George Will

SALT LAKE CITY -- If you seek a window into conservatism's current consternations, look into Utah. The nation's reddest state -- last year, and in six of the last eight presidential elections, Utah was the most Republican state -- is rebelling against President Bush's No Child Left Behind law.

Only three states have not challenged in some way NCLB's extension of federal supervision over education grades K through 12, but no state has done so with as much brio as Utah, which is insurrectionary even though last year 87 percent of its schools fulfilled NCLB's requirement of demonstrating ``adequate yearly progress.'' Utah, you see, is unique.

Gov. Jon Huntsman, 45, is a seventh-generation Utahn. A former diplomat, he believes what the proverb asserts, that ``a soft answer turneth away wrath.'' He says, tactfully, that perhaps Margaret Spellings, the U.S. secretary of education, ``has not had time to read our legislation.''
Utah's differences with Washington do not constitute a casus belli but Huntsman sounds somewhat like a South Carolinian, circa 1861, when he says the issue is ``sovereignty.''
Furthermore, Huntsman says that Washington is insensitive to Utah's ``pioneer ethos,'' and that ``we are always taken advantage of because we are a consistently and reliably Republican state.''

The Bush administration calls the 1,100-page NCLB law ``the most important federal education reform in history.'' It is a federal attempt at large-scale behavior modification, using sunlight to cause embarrassment and embarrassment to prompt reforms. Standardized tests are supposed to produce data that, when ``disaggregated,'' will reveal the different attainments of particular schools and different cohorts of pupils. Unsatisfactory results will, in theory, shame communities into insisting on improvements.

Many Utahns, however, take umbrage at the idea that it is the business of Washington -- a city that they think frequently embarrasses Americans -- to make them embarrassed about themselves. Their reasons suggest why reforms devised for a continental nation often collide with the nation's durable, and valuable, regional differences.

Not all Utahns are Mormons. Almost 11 percent are Hispanics, heading for 20 percent by 2020, and there is a significant population of Pacific islanders. But the state's singular tone is set by the Mormons.

An earnest lot, they are never more so than in their respect for the injunction to be fruitful and multiply. They have large families -- the youngest of the governor's six children is a 6-year-old daughter whom the Huntsmans adopted four months after she was abandoned in a vegetable market in China. Utahns' fecundity is the primary reason why theirs is the youngest state: Its median age of 28 is an astonishing eight years below the nation's median.

And among the 50 states, Utah has the second highest proportion of students grades K through 12 in public schools, and more home-schooled children than children in private schools. This is largely because of the state's cultural homogeneity. Utah, writes Michael Barone in The Almanac of American Politics, ``is the only state that largely continues to live by the teachings of a church.'' Utahns believe they have high community standards and that their public schools and universities -- which receive 100 percent of the state's personal and corporate income tax revenues -- adhere to them. They might be wrong, but they rightly think that, under federalism, it is their traditional right to be wrong.

Washington, which often is a busybody, is not just being that with NCLB. Chester Finn, one of America's foremost experts on school reforms, notes that NCLB came from the seventh reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. According to Finn, NCLB says, in effect, this: ``If you keep doing what you have been doing, you won't get any better.'' The poor, says Finn, are still not learning as they should, gaps between the cognitive attainments of many traditionally disadvantaged groups are as wide as ever, and a definition of insanity is: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting the results to be different.

Utah takes its stand against federal usurpation by standing on the 1979 federal law that states: ``The establishment of the Department of Education shall not increase the authority of the federal government over education or diminish the responsibility for education which is reserved to the states.''

But government metastasizes. A new Education Department commission whose focus is higher education is chaired by Charles Miller, a Texan who helped develop that state's accountability program that was a precursor of NCLB. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Miller ``insists he is not out to regulate colleges, but only to hold them accountable to taxpayers.'' Got it?

© 2005, Washington Post Writers Group

Dick Morris: Get Serious About Immigration Reform

The Hill

President Bush seems impaled on the false choice of appealing to the Hispanic vote or enforcing laws against illegal immigration. Politically, legally and morally there is no conflict — and there is a great deal of synergy — among these objectives.

Bush, searching for a way to recapture the national agenda, needs to seize this issue and make it his own. A full and reasoned program will galvanize national support and unite the nation behind tough measures to enforce our laws and maximize opportunities for those who already live here legally.

Bush needs to:

• Back the fence. Walls work. Just as the Israelis whose West Bank fence keeps terrorists out and has reduced terrorist attacks inside Israel to a fraction of their former number and intensity. Good fences make good neighbors and the United States should act to regularize the traffic of immigrants into the country by the kind of border control that only a well positioned fence can offer. This is no Great Wall of China seeking futilely to keep out the rest of the world. It would be a modern, high tech affair, spotting breaches and relaying the information to highly mobile border guard units to plug them up.

• Establish a legal guest-worker program. Nobody can deny the manifest need of Americans — both individuals and businesses — for the work that currently illegal immigrants provide. They would not be coming if they did not have access to jobs, and there would be no work if there were no demand.
Bush’s current program for legal guest workers is a good one and should be adopted in the context of broader immigration reform. But the plan should include a track to citizenship for these workers, providing certain criteria — such as English fluency, English literacy and no arrest record — to let them earn the right to become American citizens.
A guest-worker program will end the leper colony within our borders of disenfranchised, invisible illegals who have no rights and no responsibilities.

• Prosecute visa overstays. Half of the people who live here illegally entered the United States with legal visas and overstayed them. All 19 of the Sept. 11 hijackers came here under the law and then stayed on after their visas had expired (or should have been revoked because they did not attend school, having entered on student visas).
That we cannot rid our country of these illegal immigrants is hard to understand. We have their names, photos, fingerprints, addresses and phone numbers, but we do not deport them.

The main reason for their immunity is the lack of deportation judges and courts and the inadequate number of holding cells for detainees. Of the 160,000 people the United States arrested as illegal immigrants last year, 120,000 were released, without bail, back onto our streets. We need a massive expansion of judicial infrastructure to cope with the problems of illegal visa overstays.
President Clinton helped to lower the crime rate by doubling the prison space under his 1994 anti-crime bill. We need a commitment of similar magnitude.

• Regularize cash shipments home. A vital form of foreign aid for Mexico and the impoverished countries of Central America is the remittances sent each week by illegal immigrants to their families back home.
Last year, Mexican men working here sent $11 billion to their wives and children — the second leading source of foreign-currency earnings after oil for the nation. We need to regularize this flow of cash and provide immigrants with security, bank accounts and low-cost ways to send money home.

Combating illegal immigration need not smack of racism. It is important to all American citizens — Latinos and Anglos — and is in the national interest. But it is also in our interest to allow immigrants to come and settle here legally.

Immigration is keeping America young and vital. If not for the annual flow of 3 million people — about half legal and half illegal — we would be much like the nations of Europe, losing population and watching their populations age. But we cannot afford the current chaotic flow of immigrants over a theoretical border. We need to enforce the law and make it fair.

Morris is the author of Rewriting History, a rebuttal of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) memoir, Living History.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Not Much Has Changed With Paterno

Except perception of his ability to coach now that Penn State is winning again
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
By Chico Harlan, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Smizik: Nittany Lions need help, but upsets do happen

The phrase prefaces many of his responses to questions about what went wrong last year. "People forget," Penn State coach Joe Paterno habitually says, and when he says people, he is not including himself.

People forget that Penn State lost Zack Mills and Michael Robinson to early injuries in 2004, he says. People forget that most of the Nittany Lions' losses were close ones. People forget how Paterno claimed that only a thin margin separated his team from the ones laughing at it.
People forget. Paterno reminds.

It is the classic conversational go-round, perpetuated by the wheel of questions that rarely change. Penn State's 2005 season -- a 9-1 record entering this, its off week -- hasn't changed Paterno's words, either, because he still delivers the same refrains and speaks mostly with the same characteristic tone, half-engaged and half-agitated.

Only now, there's a twist. The perception of Paterno's words have flip-flopped. Once a coach pushing against the current, he now directs the current. Last year, he swore -- against the majority -- that his program needed only a few playmakers to turn close losses into emphatic wins. He refused, sometimes defiantly, to step away from the program he had helped for more than a half-century. But now, Penn State's 2005 season has validated Paterno's words, the ones once perceived widely as folly.

Indeed, 10 football games and nine wins have returned Paterno to his old position -- an authoritative voice in college football.

Before joining a Big Ten coaches' teleconference yesterday -- in which every conference coach fields media questions for roughly 10 minutes -- Paterno joined the line, listening only, as Purdue coach Joe Tiller finished speaking.

A questioner asked Tiller about a new Web site,, a side effect of the Boilermakers' 3-6 record. By the time Tiller wrapped up his answer -- "You'd have to have your head stuck in sand" not to know about the Web site, Tiller said -- Paterno readied for his turn.
But before fielding questions, he halted the conference moderator and said: "I got in on the tail end of Joe Tiller's comments. Hang in there, Joe. This will go away, too."

Paterno knows the ebbs and flows, at this point, because he has recently lived through both. Joe-Must-Go Web sites hounded him last season -- or at least they would have, if Paterno ever surfed the Internet.
Now most of the anti-Paterno Web sites are in disrepair -- vacated reminders of old sentiments.
"We were in every game [last year], but we just couldn't make a couple of plays," Paterno said, when asked about his team's change of fortune. "We had to go out and recruit a couple of kids who could go down the field and make some plays. We did that and now we are a little different football team."

Then the other routine question: How long will Paterno continue to coach? His answer yesterday matched almost identically with his previous responses, issued last season or before this one. Difference was, this time, nobody lamented his response.
"I have never really ever felt that my age or anything else had to do with how long I would coach," he said.

"The good Lord has been good to me and I have good genes. I feel good. I go to practice and I can run around and yell at people and scream at people and everything I did when I was a younger coach. I don't know how long I can go. We have to see. I don't sit here and say, 'I am going to go one more year, two more years.' I am going to coach until I wake up some morning and say, 'Hey, I have had enough' or the good Lord says to me, 'Hey, stay down -- you're down.' Right now that hasn't happened."

(Chico Harlan can be reached at or 412-263-1227.)

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Robert Spencer: Jihad in Europe?

Robert Spencer
November 8, 2005

Has an intifada begun in France — an all-out jihad? Are the French facing what is by now, as the riots are well into their second week and have engulfed virtually the entire country, a full-scale insurrection from immigrant youth who simply resent being marginalized and shunted to the fringes of French society? Or does the unrest have something to do with the agenda of jihadists worldwide? As is becoming increasingly well known, Osama bin Laden and others all over the world want to unify the Islamic world under a restored caliphate, reestablish the rule of Islamic law, and extend the hegemony of that law, Sharia, to the rest of the world also. Does that play any role in the French riots?

Evidence so far is somewhat sketchy. Mainstream media reports have centered on the rioters’ economic and cultural marginalization. “Theirs,” laments AP, “is a drab life of days spent smoking hashish, hanging out on street corners.” An 18-year-old named Ahmed complains: “You wear these clothes, with this color skin and you’re automatically a target for police.” Some analysts, indulging in various degrees of schadenfreude, have alleged that France’s ingrained racism, snobbery toward outsiders, and mistreatment of Muslim immigrants are responsible for the riots.

Yet the horror stories detailing this mistreatment that are now filling the news do not entirely ring true. France has not neglected its sizable Muslim minority. Not too long ago it established an official organization to oversee French Islam, the French Council for the Muslim Religion (CFCM), and has even discussed revising France’s secular laws to allow the government to fund mosques in France, in order to wean them away from “extremist” foreign influences.

Nor have Muslims been marginalized in French public life. Dalil Boubakeur, leader of the CFCM and imam of the Paris mosque, enjoys high visibility. After the French government announced plans to expel jihadist imams from France in May 2004, then-Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin told Boubakeur that he wanted to “reassure the Muslim community” of “his willingness to treat it as he treats other faiths.” Boubakeur explained that as far as Raffarin was concerned, “there is no lumping together of the expulsion of imams and the Muslim community in general.” When two French journalists were kidnapped in Iraq in August 2004, then-Interior Minister (and current Prime Minister) Dominique de Villepin went to Boubakeur’s mosque to join Muslims in prayer for their release — and drew applause when he spoke of the unity between non-Muslims and Muslims in France.

De Villepin’s mosque visit was emblematic of France’s ongoing efforts to make its Muslim population feel included, loved, and French — efforts they are now being universally excoriated for not having made. And there are several indications that the riots are not wholly or solely about economic and social marginalization at all, and that the Islamic jihad agenda is a significant element fueling their continuing spread:

• It has long been established that there is a significant jihadist presence among French Muslims. Recently six Muslims in Paris were arrested for recruiting for the jihad in Iraq.

• The rioters have been shouting the jihad battle cry, “Allahu akbar.” As Muhammad Atta wrote in his final exhortation to himself, “When the confrontation begins, strike like champions who do not want to go back to this world. Shout, ‘Allahu Akbar,’ because this strikes fear in the hearts of the non-believers.” While the mainstream media continues to identify the rioters as “French-born youths of Arab or African origin, many of them Muslim,” in fact the Islamic identity of the rioters is quite clear: rioters have avoided Muslim-owned businesses, preferring obviously non-Muslim targets.

• The rioters have thrown Molotov cocktails at two French synagogues, making it likely that they subscribe to the deeply rooted hatred of Jews that so many jihadists share. They have also set two churches on fire, further reinforcing the impression that they view their struggle as fundamentally religious, and consider the terrorizing of Jews and Christians to be part of their religious responsibility, in accord with Qur’an 9:29, which directs Muslims to wage war even against “the People of the Book”: the Qur’an’s term for — primarily — Jews and Christians.
• Mouloud Dahmani is a Muslim leader in France who is trying to prevail upon the French to allow for a group of Muslim Brotherhood sheikhs to negotiate an end to the riots. The Muslim Brotherhood, of course, is the first modern Islamic jihad organization and the direct forefather of Hamas and Al-Qaeda. Dahmani has declared: “All we demand is to be left alone.” This is a strange statement coming from the leader of a community that resents being marginalized and longs to enter the mainstream of French society. Left alone? Quite literally. Journalist Amir Taheri says that the Muslims in France are not actually interested in assimilation at all; rather, they want autonomy: “Some are even calling for the areas where Muslims form a majority of the population to be reorganized on the basis of the ‘millet’ system of the Ottoman Empire: Each religious community (millet) would enjoy the right to organize its social, cultural and educational life in accordance with its religious beliefs.” He reports that “in parts of France, a de facto millet system is already in place.” Muslim leaders control the area and French officials, including police, simply do not enter.

Postings on Muslim weblogs indicate that the riots are not spontaneous outpourings of rage, but carefully planned endeavors. Some revealed not only the planning involved in the riots, which have now swept all across France and have spread also to Denmark, Belgium and Germany, but also the Islamic supremacist goal behind them. One wrote: “The cops are petrified of us, everything must burn, starting Monday, the operation ‘Midnight Sun’ starts, tell everyone else, rendezvous for Momo and Abdul in Zone 4 ... jihad Islamia Allah Akhbar.” Another added: “You don’t really think that we’re going to stop now? Are you stupid? It will continue, non-stop. We aren’t going to let up. The French won’t do anything and soon, we will be in the majority here.”

Meanwhile, the Union for Islamic Organizations of France, which has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, has issued a fatwa declaring: “It is formally forbidden to any Muslim seeking divine grace and satisfaction to participate in any action that blindly hits private or public property or could constitute an attack on someone’s life.” There is a strange ambiguity in this, recalling that of the CAIR-backed American fatwa condemning attacks on innocent civilians without defining “innocent”: what constitutes attacking “blindly”? Is a focused, targeted attack somehow acceptable?

The time for such ambiguity is long past. And indeed, lines are being drawn everywhere.

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Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of five books, seven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World’s Fastest Growing Faith and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades). He is also an Adjunct Fellow with the Free Congress Foundation.

Daniel Pipes: Reflections on the Revolution in France

Daniel Pipes
November 8, 2005

The rioting by Muslim youth that began Oct. 27 in France to calls of “Allahu Akbar” may be a turning point in European history.

What started in Clichy-sous-Bois, on the outskirts of Paris, by its eleventh night had spread to 300 French cities and towns, as well as to Belgium and Germany. The violence, which has already been called some evocative names – intifada, jihad, guerilla war, insurrection, rebellion, and civil war – prompts several reflections:

End of an era: The time of cultural innocence and political naïveté, when the French could blunder without seeing or feeling the consequences, is closing. As in other European countries (notably Denmark and Spain), a bundle of related issues, all touching on the Muslim presence, has now moved to the top of the policy agenda in France, where it will likely remain for decades.

These issues include a decline of Christian faith and the attendant demographic collapse; a cradle-to-grave welfare system that lures immigrants even as it saps long-term economic viability; an alienation from historic customs in favor of lifestyle experimentation and vapid multiculturalism; an inability to control borders or assimilate immigrants; a pattern of criminality that finds European cities far more violent than American ones; and a surge in Islam and radical Islam.

Not a first: The French insurrection are by no means the first instance of a semi-organized Muslim insurgency in Europe – it was preceded days earlier by one riot in Birmingham, England and was accompanied by another one in Århus, Denmark. France itself has a history of Muslim violence going back to 1979. What is different in the current round is its duration, magnitude, planning, and ferocity.

Media denial: The French press delicately refers to the “urban violence” and presents the rioters as victims of the system. Mainstream media deny that it has to do with Islam and ignore the permeating Islamist ideology, with its vicious anti-French attitudes and its raw ambition to dominate the country and replace its civilization with Islam’s.

Another method of jihad: Indigenous Muslims of northwestern Europe have in the past year deployed three distinct forms of jihad: the crude variety deployed in the United Kingdom, killing random passengers moving around London; the targeted variety in the Netherlands, where individual political and cultural leaders are singled out, threatened, and in some cases attacked; and now the more diffuse violence in France, less specifically murderous but also politically less dismissible. Which of these or other methods will prove most efficacious is yet unclear, but the British variant is clearly counterproductive, so the Dutch and French strategies will probably recur.

Sarkozy vs. Villepin: Two leading French politicians and probable candidates for president in 2007, Nicholas Sarkozy and Dominique de Villepin, have responded to the riots in starkly contrasting ways, with the former adopting a hard line (proclaiming “tolérance zéro” for urban crime) and the latter a soft one (promising an “action plan” to improve urban conditions).

Anti-state: The riots started eight days after Sarkozy declared a new policy of “war without mercy” on urban violence and two days after he called violent youth “scum.” Many rioters see themselves in a power struggle with the state and so focus their attacks on its symbols. A typical report quotes Mohamed, 20, the son of a Moroccan immigrant, asserting that a “Sarko has declared war…so it’s war he’s going to get.” Representatives of the rioters have demanded that the French police leave the “occupied territories”; in turn, Sarkozy partially blamed the riots on “fundamentalists.”

The French can respond in three ways. They can feel guilty and appease the rioters with prerogatives and the “massive investment plan” some are demanding. Or they can heave a sigh of relief when it ends and, as they did after earlier crises, return to business as usual. Or they can understand this as the opening salvo in a would-be revolution and take the difficult steps to undo the negligence and indulgence of past decades.

I expect a blend of the first two reactions and that, despite Sarkozy’s surge in the polls, Villepin’s appeasing approach will prevail. France must await something larger and more awful to awake it from its somnolence. The long-term prognosis, however, is inescapable: “the sweet dream of universal cultural compatibility has been replaced,” as Theodore Dalrymple puts it, “by the nightmare of permanent conflict.”

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Mr. Pipes ( is director of the Middle East Forum and author of Miniatures (Transaction Publishers).

Mark Steyn: Early Skirmish in the Eurabian Civil War

The Daily Telegraph
(Filed: 08/11/2005)

According to its Office du Tourisme, the big event in Evreux this past weekend was supposed to be the annual fête de la pomme, du cidre et du fromage at the Place de la Mairie. Instead, in this charmingly smouldering cathedral town in Normandy, a shopping mall, a post office, two schools, upwards of 50 vehicles and, oh yes, the police station were destroyed by - what's the word? - "youths".

Over at the Place de la Mairie, M le Maire himself, Jean-Louis Debré, seemed affronted by the very idea that un soupçon de carnage should be allowed to distract from the cheese-tasting. "A hundred people have smashed everything and strewn desolation," he told reporters. "Well, they don't form part of our universe."

Maybe not, but unfortunately you form part of theirs.

Mr Debré, a close pal of President Chirac's, was a little off on the numbers. There were an estimated 200 "youths" rampaging through Evreux. With baseball bats. They injured, among others, a dozen firemen. "To those responsible for the violence, I want to say: Be serious!" Mr Debré told France Info radio. "If you want to live in a fairer, more fraternal society, this is not how to go about it."

Oh, dear. Who's not "being serious" here? In Normandy, it's not just the cheese that's soft and runny. Granted that France's over-regulated sclerotic economy profoundly obstructs the social mobility of immigrants, even Mr Debris - whoops, sorry - even Mr Debré cannot be so out of touch as to think "seriously" that the rioters are rioting for "a fairer, more fraternal society". But maybe he does. The political class and the media seem to serve as mutual reinforcers of their obsolete illusions. Or as the Washington Post's headline put it: "Rage of French youth is a fight for recognition".

Actually, they're very easy to "recognise": just look out the window, they're the ones torching your Renault 5. I'd wager the "French" "youth" find that headline as hilarious as the Jets in West Side Story half a century ago, when they taunted Officer Krupke with "society's" attempts to "understand" them: we're depraved on account of we're deprived. Perhaps some enterprising Paris impresario will mount a production of West Eid Story with choreographed gangs of North African Muslims sashaying through the Place de la Republique, incinerating as they go.

In fact, "rage" seems the least of it: it's the "glee" and "contempt" you're struck by. And "rage" in the sense of spontaneous anger is a very slapdash characterisation of what, after two weeks, is looking like a rather shrewd and disciplined campaign. This business of car burning, for example. In Iraq, the "insurgents" quickly got the hang of setting some second-hand Nissan alight at just the right moment so that its plume of smoke could be conveniently filmed from the press hotel balcony in time for NBC's Today show and Good Morning, America. For a while, every time you switched on the television in America, there'd be some doom'n'gloom anchor yakking away in front of a live scene of a blazing Honda Civic - as reassuring in its familiarity as that local station somewhere or other in North America (Thunder Bay, I think) that used to show a roaring fireplace as its test card all night. What the Aussie pundit Tim Blair calls the nightly Paris car-B-Q looks great on television, but without being sufficiently murderous to provoke the state into forcefully putting down the insurgency.

Indeed, it's an almost perfect tactic if your aim is to have the entire French establishment dithering in grievance-addressing mode until you've extracted as much political advantage as you can. Look at it this way: after two weeks, whose prestige has been more enhanced? The rioters? Or Mayor Debré, President Chirac and Prime Minister de Villepin? On every front these past two weeks, the French state has been tested and communicated only weakness.
As to the "French" "youth", a reader in Antibes cautions me against characterising the disaffected as "Islamist". "Look at the pictures of the youths," he advises. "They look like LA gangsters, not beturbaned prophet-monkeys."

Leaving aside what I'm told are more than a few cries of "Allahu Akhbar!" on the streets, my correspondent is correct. But that's the point. The first country formally to embrace "multiculturalism" - to the extent of giving it a cabinet post - was Canada, where it was sold as a form of benign cultural cross-pollination: the best of all worlds. But just as often it gives us the worst of all worlds. More than three years ago, I wrote about the "tournante" or "take your turn" - the gang rape that's become an adolescent rite of passage in the Muslim quarters of French cities - and similar phenomena throughout the West: "Multiculturalism means that the worst attributes of Muslim culture - the subjugation of women - combine with the worst attributes of Western culture - licence and self-gratification. Tattooed, pierced Pakistani skinhead gangs swaggering down the streets of northern England areas are as much a product of multiculturalism as the turban-wearing Sikh Mountie in the vice-regal escort." Islamofascism itself is what it says: a fusion of Islamic identity with old-school European totalitarianism. But, whether in turbans or gangsta threads, just as Communism was in its day, so Islam is today's ideology of choice for the world's disaffected.

Some of us believe this is an early skirmish in the Eurabian civil war. If the insurgents emerge emboldened, what next? In five years' time, there will be even more of them, and even less resolve on the part of the French state. That, in turn, is likely to accelerate the demographic decline. Europe could face a continent-wide version of the "white flight" phenomenon seen in crime-ridden American cities during the 1970s, as Danes and Dutch scram to America, Australia or anywhere else that will have them.

As to where Britain falls in this grim scenario, I noticed a few months ago that Telegraph readers had started closing their gloomier missives to me with the words, "Fortunately I won't live to see it" - a sign-off now so routine in my mailbag I assumed it was the British version of "Have a nice day". But that's a false consolation. As France this past fortnight reminds us, the changes in Europe are happening far faster than most people thought. That's the problem: unless you're planning on croaking imminently, you will live to see it.

Joel Kotkin: Paris Burning

Why Immigrants Don't Riot Here
France's rigid economic system sustains privilege and inspires resentment.
The Wall Street Journal
Tuesday, November 8, 2005 12:01 a.m. EST

The French political response to the continuing riots has focused most on the need for more multicultural "understanding" of, and public spending on, the disenchanted mass in the country's grim banlieues (suburbs). What has been largely ignored has been the role of France's economic system in contributing to the current crisis. State-directed capitalism may seem ideal for American admirers such as Jeremy Rifkin, author of "The European Dream," and others on the left. Yet it is precisely this highly structured and increasingly infracted economic system that has so limited opportunities for immigrants and their children. In a country where short workweeks and early retirement are sacred, there is little emphasis on creating new jobs and even less on grass-roots entrepreneurial activity.

Since the '70s, America has created 57 million new jobs, compared with just four million in Europe (with most of those jobs in government). In France and much of Western Europe, the economic system is weighted toward the already employed (the overwhelming majority native-born whites) and the growing mass of retirees. Those ensconced in state and corporate employment enjoy short weeks, early and well-funded retirement and first dibs on the public purse. So although the retirement of large numbers of workers should be opening up new job opportunities, unemployment among the young has been rising: In France, joblessness among workers in their 20s exceeds 20%, twice the overall national rate. In immigrant banlieues, where the population is much younger, average unemployment reaches 40%, and higher among the young.

To make matters worse, the elaborate French welfare state--government spending accounts for roughly half of GDP compared with 36% in the U.S.--also forces high tax burdens on younger workers lucky enough to have a job, largely to pay for an escalating number of pensioners and benefit recipients. In this system, the incentives are to take it easy, live well and then retire. The bloat of privileged aging blocks out opportunity for the young.

Luckily, better-educated young Frenchmen and other Continental Europeans can opt out of the system by emigrating to more open economies in Ireland, the U.K. and, particularly, the U.S. This is clearly true in technological fields, where Europe's best brains leave in droves. Some 400,000 European Union science graduates currently reside in the U.S. Barely one in seven, according to a recent poll, intends to return. Driven by the ambitious young, European immigration to the U.S. jumped by 16% during the '90s. Visa applications dropped after 9/11, but then increased last year by 10%. The total number of Europe-born immigrants increased by roughly 700,000 during the last three years, with a heavy inflow from the former Soviet Union, the former Yugoslavia, and Romania--as well as France. These new immigrants have been particularly drawn to the metropolitan centers of California, Florida and New York.

The Big Apple offers a lesson for France. An analysis of recent census numbers indicates that immigrants to New York are the biggest contributors to the net growth of educated young people in the city. Without the disproportionate contributions of young European immigrants, New York would have suffered a net outflow of educated people under 35 in the late '90s. Overall, there are now 500,000 New York residents who were born in Europe (not to mention the numerous non-European immigrants who live, and prosper, in the city).

Contrast this with Paris, where the central city is largely off-limits to immigrants, in some ways due to the dirigiste planning that so many professional American urbanists find appealing. Since Napoleon III rebuilt Paris, uprooting many existing working-class communities, the intention of the French elites has been to preserve the central parts of the city--often with massive public investment--for the affluent. This has consigned the proletariat, first white and now increasingly Muslim, to the proximate suburbs--into what some French sociologists call "territorial stigma."
In these communities, immigrants are effectively isolated from the overpriced, elegant central core and the ever-expanding outer suburban grand couronne. The outer suburbs, usually not on the maps of tourists and new urbanist sojourners, now are home to a growing percentage of French middle-class families, and are the locale for many high-tech companies and business service firms.

The contrast with America's immigrants, including those from developing countries, could not be more dramatic, both in geographic and economic terms. The U.S. still faces great problems with a portion of blacks and American Indians. But for the most part immigrants, white and nonwhite, have been making considerable progress. Particularly telling, immigrant business ownership has been surging far faster than among native-born Americans. Ironically, some of the highest rates for ethnic entrepreneurship in the U.S. belong to Muslim immigrants, along with Russians, Indians, Israelis and Koreans.

Perhaps nothing confirms immigrant upward mobility more than the fact that the majority have joined the white middle class in the suburbs--a geography properly associated here mostly with upward mobility. These newcomers and their businesses have carved out a powerful presence in suburban areas that now count among the nation's most diverse regions. Prime examples include what demographer Bill Frey calls "melting pot suburbs": the San Gabriel Valley east of Los Angeles; Arlington County, Va.; Essex County, N.J.; and Fort Bend County in suburban Houston. The connection between this spreading geography and immigrant opportunity is not coincidental. Like other Americans, immigrants often dramatically improve their quality of life and economic prospects by moving out to less dense, faster growing areas. They can also take advantage of more business-friendly government. Perhaps the most extreme case is Houston, a low-cost, low-tax haven where immigrant entrepreneurship has exploded in recent decades. Much of this has taken place in the city itself. Looser regulations and a lack of zoning lower land and rental costs, providing opportunities to build businesses and acquire property.

It is almost inconceivable to see such flowerings of ethnic entrepreneurship in Continental Europe. Economic and regulatory policy plays a central role in stifling enterprise. Heavy-handed central planning tends to make property markets expensive and difficult to penetrate. Add to this an overall regulatory regime that makes it hard for small business to start or expand, and you have a recipe for economic stagnation and social turmoil. What would help France most now would be to stimulate economic growth and lessen onerous regulation. Most critically, this would also open up entrepreneurial and employment opportunity for those now suffering more of a nightmare of closed options than anything resembling a European dream.

Mr. Kotkin, Irvine Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation, is the author of "The City: A Global History" (Modern Library, 2005).

Monday, November 07, 2005

Robert Novak: Alito vs. Michelman

November 7, 2005
Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- The abortion lobby faces an uphill battle to prevent a pro-life justice from replacing a pro-choice justice on the Supreme Court. That explains why abortion rights activist Kate Michelman cited her personal history to try to generate emotion against the nomination of Federal Appellate Judge Samuel Alito. The problem is that the example she cited is inappropriate and inapplicable.

Michelman, longtime former president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said Alito as a judge affirmed legislation that would have required her to notify a husband who had abandoned her of plans to get an abortion. That raised the prospect of women chasing after a deserting spouse, desperately trying to find him in order to fulfill notification requirements. In fact, the Pennsylvania law in question would have exempted Michelman from spousal notification in such a situation.

That reflects the difficulty by left-wing pressure groups in seeking to use abortion to generate mass opposition to Alito. The right to abortion as asserted in Roe v. Wade has popular support, but that case will not be reconsidered by the Supreme Court in the foreseeable future, and Alito would not make the difference if it were reviewed. However, a Justice Alito probably would make it harder to get an abortion, and that is a difficult goal for the Democrats to oppose.

President Bush had barely announced the Alito nomination last week when Michelman delved into her personal history. "More than 30 years ago," she said, "as a young Pennsylvania mother of three daughters who discovered I was pregnant after being abandoned by my husband, I made the difficult personal decision to have an abortion." She added that she faced "humiliation" under what was then Pennsylvania law: "I would be required to obtain the permission of the man who had deserted me and my family."

Michelman continued: "Roe v. Wade emancipated women from the humiliation endured. Judge Samuel Alito voted to return us to it." That referred to Alito's 1991 dissent on a three-judge panel of the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, in which he favored a provision of a 1990 Pennsylvania statute requiring that a woman "has notified her spouse that she is about to undergo an abortion." This provision in 1992 was declared unconstitutional by a Supreme Court majority including the jurist that Alito would be replacing: Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

However, Michelman did not disclose the exemptions to spousal notification. As an abortion-seeking woman searching for the husband who has abandoned her, she would only have had to provide a signed (not notarized) statement that "her spouse, after diligent effort, could not be located."

The abortion lobby also raises the specter of Alito forcing a pregnant woman to risk a beating by notifying a violent husband of her intended abortion. Actually, the statute permitted a woman to exempt herself with a non-notarized statement that she "has reason to believe that the furnishing of notice to her spouse is likely to result in the infliction of bodily injury upon her by her spouse or by another individual."

These inconvenient facts make it more difficult to demonize Alito in the way Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in 1987 warned Robert Bork would mean "back-alley abortions." The right to abortion is not in danger. Even counting Alito, there are at most four votes to overturn Roe v. Wade among nine Supreme Court justices.

But Alito replacing O'Connor on the high court could mean a new majority for parental and spousal notification as well as restrictions on the partial-birth abortion technique. These are what strategists for the Alito confirmation call the 70 percent issues -- where 70 percent of the public favors the conservative side.

The carefully wrought Democratic master plan to stave off a conservative Supreme Court is in ruins. Massive filibustering of appellate court nominees, instead of intimidating Bush in Supreme Court nominations, resulted in the formulation of tactical means (the "nuclear option") to counteract filibusters.

The Democratic dilemma is intense. While pro-choice pressure groups are so important to Democratic fund-raising that the party cannot be seen retreating on abortion, many party strategists admit privately that the issue has been a net minus for them. Kate Michelman obscuring the issues will not help.

Copyright 2005 Creators Syndicate

Scott Jordan: No Freeh Speech

Scott Jordan
November 7, 2005

This month saw the publication of My FBI, Louis Freeh’s memoir of his tumultuous years as FBI Director[i]. In it, Freeh recounts his stained relationship with President Clinton, who was known to sneer at Freeh as the “insufferable Boy Scout”[ii]. Freeh does not emerge entirely unscathed from the book’s pages: It is clear that many high crimes and misdemeanors escaped Freeh’s notice during his time in office, and that the cancer of radical Islamic terrorism was allowed to metastasize even on American soil. Nevertheless, with the publication of My FBI, just as the nation marked the fourth anniversary of the deaths of thousands on 9/11, Freeh has begun to make amends.

Clinton’s defenders, however, will hear none of it. The most vocal of them, John Podesta, Clinton’s Chief of Staff and the prime cog in the Democratic spin machine, has taken it upon himself to denounce Freeh. Writing in the Washington Post on October 16, Podesta delivered himself of a hypocritical broadside against Freeh blaming him for the administration’s failures.

Podesta wastes no time condemning Freeh for the failures of the CIA. In the very first sentence, Podesta savages Freeh’s tenure as a “series of blunders and failures that brought the bureau to a low point in its history.” Podesta ought to know something about blunders. This is coming from the man who, according to the website of his stridently partisan “think tank,” the Center for American Progress, was responsible for “directing, managing, and overseeing all policy development, daily operations, Congressional relations, and staff activities of the White House”[iii].

Podesta next derides Freeh’s memoir as “shameless buck-passing.” Podesta notes sarcastically that nothing seems ever to have been Freeh's fault. Here Podesta has a valid point. After all, Freeh presided over the nation’s premier law enforcement agency during years when strategic military technology was wholesaled to a sworn enemy of America—China—in exchange for foreign campaign donations. Yet, somehow, Freeh lacked, by his own account, the “controlling legal authority” to do anything about it. Of course, one might wonder why the president would keep such a hapless official on in such an important role—but then, accountability has never been one of Clinton’s strong suits.

Podesta declines to address such questions. His concern instead is to pin the administration’s failings squarely on Freeh. Thus he takes issue with Freeh’s claim that the CIA was too distracted by the scandals dogging the Clinton White House to focus on the threat of terrorism. In his book, Freeh notes, “The problem was with Bill Clinton, the scandals and rumored scandals, the incubating ones and the dying ones never ended. Whatever moral compass the president was consulting was leading him in the wrong direction. His closets were full of skeletons just waiting to burst out." To which Podesta sniffs: “Of course, none of those politically motivated witch hunts, in which Freeh did the bidding of his congressional patrons on the partisan right, resulted in a conviction.”The truth is something else. If anything, too few of the “scandals”—Podesta puts it in scare-quotes—were pursued. For instance, no “witch-hunting” attended the Clinton administration’s misbegotten decision to sell supercomputers to China and Russia, the so-called “Chinagate” scandal. Podesta himself appears to have narrowly avoided charges on the strength of a presidential “waiver,” i.e., a pardon.[iv] As to Podesta’s claim that Freeh was doing the bidding of the partisan right, it is well to remember that it was not Tom DeLay or Jesse Helms who appointed Freeh, but Bill Clinton.

Moreover, Podesta’s claims notwithstanding, there were indeed convictions. It is a matter of public record that, beyond the fines levied against Clinton and his eventual disbarment, a number of the president’s friends and associates were convicted for sundry skullduggeries; many others entered guilty pleas. Even the Progressive Review, hardly a bugle of the vast right-wing conspiracy, attests[v] to that. And this is to say nothing of those former cabinet officials who came under criminal investigation, or the witnesses who chose to flee country or otherwise refused to testify.

Nor does the authority to whom Podesta defers—former White House counterterrorism official Richard Clarke—help his case against Freeh. Clarke is on record as saying that there was no plan to address terrorism in the Clinton Administration. That comports with Freeh’s charges of long-running incompetence in our nation’s counterterrorism agencies. As Freeh pointed out in 2002[vi], “Al Qaeda-type organizations, state sponsors of terrorism like Iran, and the threats they pose to America are beyond the competence of the FBI and the CIA to address.”

None of this reflects well on Podesta’s role in the Clinton administration. As the architect of the administration’s policies, Podesta could have developed new strategies to address the lack of preparedness that became so clear on September 11. He did not.

Podesta admits none of this. Rather, after distorting the historical record, Podesta twists Freeh’s words. Podesta declares that Freeh’s criticism of Congressional failures on counterterrorism is suspect because “in testimony three years ago, Freeh declared that ‘Congress has shown great foresight in strengthening’ counterterrorism efforts, tripling the FBI's counterterrorism budget from $97 million in 1996 to more than $300 million in 1999.” Not so fast. In fact, the testimony Podesta cites, supposedly from “three years ago,” was written in 1998![vii] The testimony Freeh actually gave three years ago was far more critical of Congress: “The 2000, 2001 and 2002 (pre September 11, 2001) budgets fell far short of the counter-terrorism resources we knew were necessary to do the best job,” Freeh said at the time, adding that the “total war against terrorists was not the same priority before September 11th as it is today.”

Perhaps the most spectacular revelations in Freeh’s book involves Bill Clinton’s supplication before the Saudi government in the wake of the Khobar Towers bombing, which killed 19 Americans. Beyond failing to confront the Saudis—Clinton asked only that the FBI be granted access to bombing suspects—Freeh contends that the Clinton administration balked at acknowledging the Iranian role in the bombing. Not until the Bush administration entered office was Iran’s tie to that act of terrorism exposed, according to Freeh.

Podesta strenuously denies the allegation. “The Clinton administration,” he writes, “publicly and unequivocally placed blame on senior Iranian officials. Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder made this point at a press conference on Oct. 4, 1999.” Not quite. What Holder actually said on that date[viii] was: "The U.S. investigation of the attack at Khobar is on-going. We are investigating information concerning the involvement of Saudi nationals, Iranian government officials and others. And we have not reached a conclusion regarding whether the attack was directed by the government of Iran." That’s hardly the public and unequivocal placement of blame Podesta would have readers believe.

In railing against Freeh, Podesta is fighting a lost battle. Freeh, after all, is just one of many former Clinton-era officials who has confirmed that the administration had no serious policy for confronting terrorism and terror-sponsoring regimes. No less an insider than Clinton’s former pollster, Dick Morris, has said that Clinton’s National Security Advisor “seemed to work overtime at opposing tough measures against terror”[ix].

Not surprisingly, the Clinton years saw not only the training of terrorists like Mohammed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, Abdulaziz al-Omari, and more than a dozen other Islamic who extremists entered their flight schools or crept into the country, awaiting the signal to strike, but also successful attacks, like the bombing of the USS Cole. Those were also the years when the firewall erected by Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick prevented the sharing of intelligence between foreign and domestic counterterrorism agencies.[x] The preponderance of evidence suggests that the Islamic terrorism that would murder thousands on American soil within months of Clinton’s departure was simply not on the radar screen for the administration. The best Podesta can do in the face of this evidence is assert that Freeh has political motives—a curious allegation, considering that Freeh has never sought a political profile.

But of what of Podesta’s role in the failures of the Clinton administration? As the self-admitted director of policy development, what blame does Podesta deserve for the administration’s refusal of a Sudanese offer to hand over Osama bin Laden? Likewise, is Podesta to be held accountable for the fact that he did nothing to alter the administration’s policy of suffering bin Laden operate in Afghanistan, or to change its farcical policy toward nuclear-bound North Korea? Is he entirely blameless for the administration’s feckless counterterrorism strategy, which amounted, in the words of Richard Clarke, to occasional “swatting at flies”?

With a résumé like that, you’d expect Podesta would seek an obscure retirement far from the public eye. At the very least, he might refrain from weighing in on the Clinton administration’s plan, such as it was, to combat terrorism. Instead, Podesta seems perfectly content to smear Louis Freeh in order to defend his departed employer’s indefensible record on terrorism. But Podesta’s real target in the end isn’t Louis Freeh. It’s the judgment of history.










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