Saturday, July 15, 2006

Bob Seger's Latest Road Heads Straight on Through to Country

July 15, 2006
The New York Times


LOS ANGELES, July 14 — Given that the rock legend Bob Seger first bemoaned the eclipse of “old time rock ’n’ roll” in 1978, one can only imagine how he feels now. Rock music remains a popular radio genre, but part of its audience has been drifting away. So where is a resurgent rock star, known for hits like “Hollywood Nights” and “Night Moves,” to turn? To country music fans.

As part of the promotion for “Face the Promise,” Mr. Seger’s first album of new material in 11 years, his longtime label, Capitol Records, is shipping his first new single, “Wait for Me,” to country radio, in addition to stations that play classic rock and adult-contemporary formats.
There are also plans to pair Mr. Seger with an established country artist on “Crossroads,” the odd-couple performance series on Country Music Television, and in other nationally televised performances. And an album of Seger covers performed by country artists may be in the offing, too.

Mr. Seger’s return comes as a new crop of artists better known for their rock or pop hits are crossing into country territory. Earlier this year, Bon Jovi scored a No. 1 hit on the country chart with “Who Says You Can’t Go Home,” a song performed with Jennifer Nettles of the hot country act Sugarland. Michelle Branch, who broke onto the pop charts as a teenage singer-songwriter, showed up on country radio with the debut of the Wreckers, the rootsy duo she formed with a friend.

Steven Tyler, the lead singer of Aerosmith, lent his trademark wail to a new single by the country singer Keith Anderson, aptly titled “Three Chord Country and American Rock ’n’ Roll.” And Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits, who had recorded albums with Chet Atkins, is back on the country charts thanks to a collaboration with Emmylou Harris.

Many trace the most recent crossover fervor to the unexpected success of “Picture,” a song performed by Kid Rock with Sheryl Crow, on country stations four years ago.

Those efforts represent only the latest moves to blur the lines between pop, rock and country: 40 years ago, Ray Charles reimagined Hank Williams and Eddy Arnold in recording his trailblazing album “Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music.”

But the transformation of the radio landscape in recent years seems to encourage crossovers once more. In particular, the country format has displayed relative resilience as other formats that once provided a natural home for these artists now appear unreliable, if not outright unwelcoming.

Slipping between musical genres in the compartmentalized world of record labels and radio formats is not taken lightly. Many country programmers are leery of providing exposure to acts donning country-music trappings as a last resort after failing to maintain popularity with pop or rock fans. (That perception cut short the prospects for “All I Ever Needed,” a country single released in 2004 by Bret Michaels, better known as the lead singer of the hair-metal band Poison. He has continued his makeover, though, by appearing as a judge on the USA Networks contest series “Nashville Star.”)

“I think the consensus is that just because you have an established brand from another genre you don’t get a hall pass to come to country and immediately get airplay,” said Eric Logan, executive vice president for programming at XM Satellite Radio and a former country radio programmer.

But as it happens, prospects for artists who try shifting genres (or at least radio formats) appear to be growing stronger. As listeners change the way they listen to music and discover new releases — twiddling with iPods or Internet stations, for example — programmers say they are being forced to consider more experimentation with their playlists to keep fans engaged. Some predict this will mean regular appearances by outsiders between radio mainstays like Kenny Chesney and Toby Keith.

“There used to be a huge group of people that were considered exclusively country music listeners; they grew up in a house where only country music was played,” said Brian Philips, CMT’s general manager. “Now, how would it be possible to grow up in a house where only one type of music was accessible, given 300 channels of television and infinite possibilities on the Internet? The hybrids and the fashion make all the sense in the world to people who are out there just looking for new sounds.”

That helps explain why Mr. Philips’s network has welcomed the singer Jewel, known for breathy folk-pop hits like “Who Will Save Your Soul?,” on several programs as she promotes her new album.

The reach of country outlets is formidable: CMT reaches an estimated 83 million homes. And in radio, country remains the most popular genre nationwide, accounting for roughly 16 percent of the country’s 13,000 stations, according to Arbitron. Moreover, its overall share of the audience has remained relatively stable in the face of major declines in the pop and rock fields.

In particular, the baby boomers who tuned in to the FM-dial rock revolution of the 1970’s have switched to other formats, including news and talk, or tuned out altogether. In the last five years alone, the rock sector (which in Arbitron’s definition includes “classic” rock and “album-oriented” rock stations but not current “alternative” rock outlets) has lost approximately 15 percent of its audience. Now, even a hit on older-skewing rock stations is not nearly as meaningful as a performance on country airwaves.

Consider: “Dani California” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the most-played song at the 38 “heritage” rock stations monitored by Billboard in a recent week, reached a total audience of roughly 2.9 million people; “The World” by Brad Paisley, the most-played song at the 131 monitored country stations, reached approximately 38.2 million, according to the tracking service Nielsen BDS.

The Seger efforts are part of a broader push to bring his new album to the widest possible audience, including making it available on iTunes — a departure for Mr. Seger, who along with Radiohead and the Beatles is among the few remaining holdouts vetoing digital sales of their music catalogs.

Mr. Seger’s representatives say that while they expect his music to resonate with all sorts of fans, his image as a workingman’s heartland poet meshes especially well with country sensibilities. General Motors clearly thought so, adopting his hit “Like a Rock” for its long-running series of commercials for Chevrolet pickups.

His recordings have been covered by numerous country acts, from Kenny Rogers to Brooks & Dunn. One of Mr. Seger’s biggest singles, “Shame on the Moon” from the 1982 album “The Distance,” was written by the country performer Rodney Crowell. In Mr. Seger’s heyday and for years afterward, his songs could occasionally be heard on an array of radio formats, including country. But longtime country programmers in the genre do not recall Mr. Seger’s music being presented to them specifically as carrying country appeal.

The official date when Capitol hopes country stations start playing his single is not for two weeks, but it has already received airplay on about a dozen such stations.

“In my opinion we’ve relied on country audiences from the first record we put out,” said Punch Andrews, Mr. Seger’s longtime manager. These fans, he added, “don’t see all the fuzzy lines that everybody wants to draw. Rock ’n’ roll and country have always been basically the same. It’s just a few instruments that change.”

David Shribman: Remembering John Paul II

A Pope for All People
David Shribman
July 15, 2006
The Pittsburgh Press

I remember that my father had an abiding affection for Pope John XXIII. My daughters will remember that their father had an abiding affection for Pope John Paul II. Jews have had many enemies over the centuries, but we have had many friends as well.

Let me add one thought more, a Sunday morning reference to First Corinthians: The greatest of these was John Paul II.

The late pope lived, moved, studied, played and prayed among Jews. He grew up with Jews, he watched Jews being taken off to Nazi captivity and then cruel death, he returned the love that many Jews had for him. It is not too much to say, and perhaps to use the phrase for the first time ever without irony, that many of his best friends were Jews.

That is why a remarkable exhibit -- originated, with the help of Cincinnati's Jewish community, by one Catholic institution, Xavier University, and now appearing in another, Duquesne University -- is so moving a midsummer experience. It reminds us of the brotherhood of man, of the common faith of humanity, and of the capacity of people of different religions and outlooks to be, as the pope put it on the 50th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, "a blessing to one another."

Consider how extraordinary this is. Imagine telling someone in the years just after World War II -- in the chilliest days of the Cold War -- that in the coming decades the Catholic Church would select as its pope a man ordained a priest behind the Iron Curtain who would undermine the very foundations of the Soviet bloc, a cleric dripping with Polish nationalism and marinated in the traditions of the Polish church who would be a beacon of hope for Jews -- a light, you might say, among the nations. You would be dismissed as a dreamer.

And yet in a century that was not congenial to dreamers, all this became true. It is evidence, perhaps, that there is a God. We need not debate that question. There was a Karol Wojtyla.
The young Karol Wojtyla grew up in Wadowice, a Polish city home to Catholics and Jews alike. (Jewish population before the war: 2,000. Jewish population in 1944, a year before the war ended: 0.) The pope vividly remembered the Jews who gathered every Saturday at the synagogue, which dated to the late 1880s. Both religious groups, he said, "were united, I presume, by the awareness that they prayed to the same God."

The removal of one of his friends' family from Wadowice was a searing experience for him, and he said at the time, perhaps hoping that saying this would make it true: "Not all Poles are anti-Semitic." Ginka Beer, his neighbor and part of the family that had to leave its home, remembered the young boy's reaction: "He did not say a word, but his face went very red. I said farewell to him as kindly as I could, but he was so moved that he could not find a single word in reply.''

Karol Wojtyla would continue to be moved by that memory, and eventually he would find words to reply. In 1998, as the most terrible of centuries was expiring, he wrote:

"We pray that our sorrow for the tragedy which the Jewish people has suffered in our century will lead to a new relationship with the Jewish people. We wish to turn our awareness of past sins into a firm resolve to build a new future in which there will be no more anti-Judaism among Christians or anti-Christian sentiment among Jews, but rather a shared mutual respect, as befits those who adore the one Creator and Lord and have a common father in faith, Abraham."

Duquesne University's Mellon Hall is replete with quotations much like that. The pope spoke out continually, and with great and grave eloquence, on this question, as if he knew that he was peculiarly suited -- by temperament, by timing, by nationality -- to convey this message. Dare we say that the pope's life was a pilgrimage? The Catholic intellectual tradition regards a pilgrimage as a journey to discharge a religious obligation.

Remember that the pope was under no theological obligation to speak out for the Jews and against anti-Semitism. Over the centuries many popes have stuck to their doctrinal knitting, using their pulpit to speak on issues of their own faith, not other people's faith. And when they ventured into other religions it was not always to express their affection. But John Paul voluntarily embarked on this pilgrimage, and voluntarily took on this task, making it an obligation. You can think of it as an obligation of affection.

The pope undertook a parallel pilgrimage in 2000, visiting the Holy Land, paying tribute to "the three religious traditions which co-exist in this land." It was a remarkable moment in his life, and a remarkable moment in time, though Pope Paul VI, who was later to renounce and condemn the notion that Jews had collective guilt for the crucifixion, visited Jerusalem in 1964. On that occasion, in 2000, John Paul offered this prayer:

"God of our fathers, you chose Abraham and his descendants to bring your Name to the Nations: we are deeply saddened by the behavior of those who in the course of history have caused these children of yours to suffer, and asking your forgiveness we wish to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood with the people of the Covenant."

The pope has been dead for a little more than a year. We knew at the time that his passing meant the passing not only of a man but also of an era. We knew then, too, that this man helped shape more than his own church and that the ripples from his pebble in the papal pond extended far beyond Rome, far beyond Poland, far beyond Europe. We knew all that. It is just important to be reminded of it. And to realize that the world could use some more Wojtyla.

Copyright 2006 The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Friday, July 14, 2006

Charles Krauthammer: Israel's Existence at Stake

Charles Krauthammer
The Washington Post
July 14, 2006

WASHINGTON -- Next June will mark the 40th anniversary of the Six Day War. For four decades we have been told that the cause of the anger, violence and terror against Israel is its occupation of the territories seized in that war. End the occupation and the "cycle of violence'' ceases.

The problem with this claim was that before Israel came into possession of the West Bank and Gaza in the Six Day War, every Arab state had rejected Israel's right to exist and declared Israel's pre-1967 borders -- now deemed sacred -- to be nothing more than the armistice lines suspending, and not ending, the 1948-49 war to exterminate Israel.

But you don't have to be a historian to understand the intention of Israel's enemies. You only have to read today's newspapers.

Exhibit A: Gaza. Just last September, Israel evacuated Gaza completely. It declared the border between Israel and Gaza an international frontier, renouncing any claim to the territory. Gaza became the first independent Palestinian territory in history. Yet the Gazans continued the war. They turned Gaza into a base for launching rocket attacks against Israel and for digging tunnels under the border to conduct attacks like the one that killed two Israeli soldiers on June 25 and yielded a wounded hostage brought back to Gaza. Israeli tanks have now had to return to Gaza to try to rescue the hostage and suppress the rocket fire.

Exhibit B: South Lebanon. Two weeks later, on July 12, the Lebanese terror organization, Hezbollah, which has representation in the Lebanese parliament and in the Cabinet, launched an attack into Israel that killed eight soldiers and wounded two, who were brought back to Lebanon as hostages.

What's the grievance here? Israel withdrew from Lebanon completely in 2000. It was so scrupulous in making sure that not one square inch of Lebanon was left inadvertently occupied that it asked the U.N. to verify the exact frontier defining Lebanon's southern border and retreated behind it. This "blue line'' was approved by the Security Council, which declared that Israel had fully complied with resolutions demanding its withdrawal from Lebanon.

Grievance satisfied. Yet what happens? Hezbollah has done to South Lebanon exactly what Hamas has done to Gaza: turn it into a military base and terrorist operations center from which to continue the war against Israel. South Lebanon bristles with Hezbollah's ten-thousand Katyusha rockets that put northern Israel under the gun. Fired in the first hours of fighting, just 85 of these killed two Israelis and wounded over 100 in Israel's northern towns.

Over the last six years, Hezbollah has launched periodic raids and rocket attacks into Israel. Israeli retaliation has led to the cessation of these provocations -- until the next time convenient for Hezbollah. Wednesday was such a time. One terror base located in fully unoccupied Arab territory (South Lebanon) attacks Israel in support of another terror base in another fully unoccupied Arab territory (Gaza).

Why? Because occupation was a mere excuse to persuade gullible and historically ignorant Westerners to support the Arab cause against Israel. The issue is, and has always been, Israel's existence.

That is what is at stake.

It was Yasser Arafat's PLO that persuaded the world that the issue was occupation. Yet through all those years of pretense, Arafat's own group celebrated its annual Fatah Day on the anniversary of its first attack on Israel, the bombing of Israel's National Water Carrier -- on Jan. 1, 1965.Note: 1965. Two years before the 1967 war. Two years before Gaza and the West Bank fell into Israeli hands. Two years before there were any "occupied territories.''

But again, who needs history? As the Palestinian excuses for continuing their war disappear one by one, the rhetoric is becoming more bold and honest. Just last Tuesday, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, writing in The Washington Post, referred to Israel as "a supposedly 'legitimate' state.''

He made clear what he wants done with this bastard entity. "Contrary to popular depictions of the crisis in the American media,'' he writes, "the dispute is not only about Gaza and the West Bank.'' It is about "a wider national conflict'' that requires the vindication of "Palestinian national rights.''

That, of course, means the right to all of Palestine, with no Jewish state. In the end, the fighting is about "the core 1948 issues, rather than the secondary ones from 1967.''

In 1967, Israel acquired the "occupied territories.'' In 1948, Israel acquired life. The fighting raging now in 2006 -- between Israel and the "genocidal Islamism'' (to quote the writer Yossi Klein Halevi) of Hamas and Hezbollah and Iran behind them -- is about whether that life should and will continue to exist.

P. David Hornik: Israel's Challenge

P. David Hornik
July 14, 2006

Israel is like the archetypal retired gunslinger in Westerns who tries to stay out of trouble but ends up rejoining the fray when the provocations get too severe. In Israel’s case, though, the price of “retirement” has been inexcusable.

During the months of post-disengagement Qassam attacks on Sderot and other Gaza-bordering communities, it was painfully obvious that Israel’s restraint would end on the day the Qassams took a worse toll than injury, traumatization, and making life unlivable for thousands of Israelis. The “policy,” if any, of the Sharon and Olmert governments was to count on the Qassams’ relative inaccuracy and hope one’s luck would hold out.

The only surprise, then, was that when the fatal attack came it was not over the Gaza border fence by rocket, but under it by tunnel; and not against civilians but against soldiers, two of whom were killed and one kidnapped in the dawn raid at Kerem Shalom almost three weeks ago. It was only then, after a catastrophe whose occurrence, if not its exact nature, was entirely predictable, that Israel launched a large-scale military action in Gaza.

The script repeated itself Wednesday on the Lebanese border in a Hizbullah assault that took an even worse toll of eight Israeli soldiers dead and two kidnapped.

Here too, Hizbullah’s encampment along the border since Israel’s ill-conceived evacuation of Lebanon in 2000 was clearly a time-bomb waiting to go off. In particular, Hizbullah’s positioning of twelve thousand Iranian-supplied rockets along the border led to demands by IDF commanders for preemptive action. But, again, the Sharon and Olmert governments preferred to wait and see. On Thursday it was too late for scores of residents of northern Israeli communities, from Haifa to tiny villages, as the rockets rained down on them sowing death and injury.

The Hizbullah onslaught has also made clear that whatever Israel has done so far in Gaza has in no way restored its deterrence. Seemingly, by a rational calculation Hamas, Hizbullah, and their backers in Damascus and Teheran would conclude that the Kerem Shalom raid was not worth it: in retribution for two soldiers killed and one abducted, Israeli forces have killed dozens of terrorists in Gaza along with collateral deaths of civilians, damaged infrastructure, ominously hit official structures like Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh’s office and the PA Foreign Ministry, and arrested dozens of Hamas figures in the West Bank.

Israel’s enemies, though, are fanatics who are willing to pay any price if they perceive themselves to be prevailing by inflicting harm on Israel and wearing it down. Teheran is also seeking to divert attention from its nuclear plans at the upcoming G8 summit by shifting the focus to the Israeli sphere. So far, the jihad axis can also take satisfaction in the fact that Israel’s Gaza operations are yet to achieve either of their two main declared aims: retrieving kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit or stopping the Qassam fire, at least nine Gaza-fired rockets having landed in Israel on Thursday alone.

Israel’s challenge, then, is to prove that attacking it is not worth it and restore its deterrence. It responded on Thursday by pounding not only Hizbullah but also Lebanese infrastructure and military targets from air and sea on the assumption that Lebanon can be gotten to disband Hizbullah and reassert sovereignty over its southern border. That would entail a degree of independence from its Syrian masters that Lebanon may not really possess. Israel may eventually engage Syria as well, but its early battle plan appears to be trying to play the Lebanese card.

Above all Israel has to be prepared to remove the Hizbullah missile hoard, much of which is hidden underground, even if this requires a ground invasion that risks casualties. The missile arsenal not only constitutes an unacceptable threat in itself but constrains Israel in acting against Syria and Iran. A freer hand against Iran may eventually be an existential necessity.
Israel begins the confrontation with certain clear handicaps. Hamas and Hizbullah, tiny as they are compared to the IDF, enjoy massive backing not only from Iran and Syria but from the world jihad movement in general, and fighters and infrastructure can always be replaced if Israel limits itself to temporary incursions and selective strikes.

Israel also can hardly count on world support, and is helped little by being attacked on its sovereign territory from places where it removed all vestiges of “occuaption.” Already on Thursday—after less than a day of fighting in Lebanon—France’s foreign minister condemned Israel’s “disproportionate act of war.” The EU as a whole said it was “greatly concerned about the disproportionate use of force by Israel in Lebanon [and] deplores the loss of civilian lives and the destruction of civilian infrastructure.” Predictably the Europeans could not wait to verify reports or to consider Israel’s rationale for hitting Lebanon, which is hosting the jihadist movement that attacked it, a member of which is a minister in its cabinet. And this is only a foretaste.

Israel’s advantages include not only its superior operational capacity but also a growing realization among its leaders and populace that it has done all it could to reach accommodation with foes who do not want accommodation and is now fighting with its back to the wall. It has not taken long for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, whose sights were set on yet further withdrawals from the West Bank while hoping the Qassams wouldn’t do too much harm, and Defense Minister Amir Peretz, a longtime extreme dove who still talks of himself as a man of peace and dialogue, to get harshly initiated into Middle Eastern reality.

It is critical for Israel’s future that they now leave behind their delusions about a Middle East that can either be made peace with or kept at bay with fences. At least in adamantly refusing to negotiate another lopsided prisoner exchange, Olmert is showing greater resolve than some previous Israeli governments. He needs to revive an older Israel that knew what the stakes were and knew how to win. That means—at least—hitting Hamas so hard that it will be left reeling and unable to pose a further threat; uprooting southern Lebanon’s kingdom of terror; and then not meekly retreating to let the enemy recuperate and rebuild. It also means not letting sensitivity to world reactions loom so large that one is helpless. Israel has no place left to turn and no choice, at this late hour, but to fight.

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P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Jerusalem. He can be reached at

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Music Review- Chris Knight: Enough Rope

I highly recommend all of Mr. Knight's albums...he's one of my favorite artists. He'll be at The Pour House in Raleigh on Saturday, August 12th...for more information visit

by Megan Frye

Chris Knight's Enough Rope is a tribute to blue-collar America, to the simple life and to the desperate hardships and the unmatched joys that people who aren't part of it will never know.
It's blatantly honest, often empathetic and frequently beautiful. The album never dips from its high level of songwriting skill, energy, and passion, though some songs are more touching and standout than others.

Enough Rope is a great mix of uptempo highway driving songs and sentimental, nostalgic ballads. "Up from the Hill" is a rollicking Southern rocker and "Bridle on a Bull" is country-tinged blues at its finest with distorted slide guitar delivering a howling solo: "If your mule don't want to plow/Talk to him with a two-by-four/And if he still don't want to plow/Talk to him just a little bit more/And if he just don't want to listen/Haul him off to the dog food store."

The best aspect about Enough Rope is the stories Knight tells. The most touching song on the album is the medium-tempo "Old Man": "Don't wanna die till I've lived too long/They'll sell this place, whenever I'm gone/I miss my sweetheart so, and the way she used to smile/I miss them kids of mine, running wild/When the daylight fades in late afternoon/About all I know is it was gone too soon." "William's Son" is a tale of a maverick youth who grew up tough after escaping from his abusive father: "I'm kinda glad my dad got blown away/I know he grew up hard and he grew up mean/But me and my sister was not to blame."

The album comes to a close with the perfect song: "Enough Rope" is a heartland rock ballad, reminiscent of a John Mellencamp tune (Knight's voice is a little grittier, but similar). It's slow, reflective, and simple, with acoustic guitar and violin — a tribute to hard-working people who never got to achieve their biggest dreams. "Well, I work for the city, in the town where I grew up/Some days I run the backhoe, some days I run the dump/If I had other plans on my graduation day/Then several years ago, I guess I hauled 'em all away/She told me she was pregnant on the day I turned 18/And I did what you're supposed to do, I bought her a ring."

Knight's music is the perfect blend of Americana and country-rock; it's clean at times, but it's far too soulful to be considered only contemporary country. His sound and style change little from album to album, but there's no need for change. Knight has discovered his niche as a songwriter, and Enough Rope is just another testament to his talent.

Media's Green Bias

By Cliff Kincaid
July 13, 2006

The slanted coverage of the debate over global warming is on display almost every day. But a good recent example was the June 23 USA Today story headlined, “Global warming stoked ’05 hurricanes, study says.” That headline ran across the entire top of page 4 of USA Today. A picture with the story showed emergency workers battling Hurricane Katrina. You have to read to the 7th paragraph to find out that an expert named William Gray of Colorado State University believes “more intense hurricanes” are due entirely to natural changes. It turns out that Gray has been described as “the world’s most famous hurricane expert” and that he has been studying hurricanes for 50 years.

The story, however, highlighted a new report finding that “Global warming helped fuel 2005’s destructive hurricane season…” Gray, in the 7th paragraph of the story, called that “ridiculous.” Gray, former director of the National Hurricane Center, has told the Washington Post that global warming is “one of the greatest hoaxes ever perpetrated on the American people.” That is also the claim made by Senator James Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Environment Committee. Gray placed that quote on the cover of one of his scientific papers analyzing global warming and hurricanes.

In testimony before the Inhofe committee, he said that he has been dismayed over “the bogus science and media-hype” associated with the man-made global warming theory. “As a boy, growing up here in Washington, D.C.,” he said, “I remember the many articles on the large global warming that had occurred between 1900 and 1940. No one understood or knew if this warming would continue. Then the warming abated, and a weak global cooling trend set in from the mid-1940s to the early 1970s. The global warming talk ceased and speculation about a coming ice age came into vogue. I anticipate that the trend of the last few decades of global warming will come to an end, and in a few years we will start to see a weak cooling trend similar to that which occurred from the mid-1940s to the early 1970s.”

In a sense, getting Gray’s views on page-seven of a story is a step forward. Like gay rights, the idea of questioning a human role in global warming is being thrown aside by many in the media as not even worthy of attention.

What we are seeing is opinion journalism, in which journalists sharing Al Gore’s opinion about global warming are manipulating the coverage. In a famous Los Angeles Times op-ed, Victor Navasky of The Nation magazine said that the problem with modern journalism was not that there was too much opinion, but too little. He means liberal opinion.

It is noteworthy that Navasky, a professor of journalism at Columbia, is chairman of the Columbia Journalism Review.

Cliff Kincaid is Editor of the AIM Report.

Ruined Friendship Could Imperil Bonds

July 13, 2006
The New York Times

The former best friend and business partner of Barry Bonds has told federal investigators that Bonds was a heavy steroids user and flew into “roid rages,” his lawyer, Michael Cardoza, said yesterday.

The man, Steve K. Hoskins, 44, of Redwood City, Calif., also says Bonds gave him thousands of dollars to pass on to two of Bonds’s girlfriends, Cardoza said in telephone interviews.

Two lawyers for Bonds responded yesterday that Hoskins was lying to get back at Bonds for accusing him of financial misconduct in their memorabilia business. The lawyers acknowledged that Bonds and Hoskins had been best friends before a falling-out in mid-2003, when Bonds reported Hoskins to the F.B.I.

Bonds is widely expected to be indicted soon by a federal grand jury, which meets today and again next Thursday at the federal courthouse in San Francisco. After that, its 18-month term apparently expires, providing impetus to wrap up the case.

Witnesses who have testified say the grand jury is investigating whether Bonds engaged in income-tax evasion, and if he committed perjury in denying steroid usage. Other sports figures are also being investigated, but Bonds is the biggest target.

Bonds, 41, hit a record 73 home runs in 2001 and has 720 career homers, trailing only Hank Aaron’s 755.
On Dec. 4, 2003, Bonds told an earlier grand jury that he did not knowingly use steroids, despite drastic changes to his physique and documents with his name on them from 2001 to 2003 showing drug schedules, billing information and test results, The San Francisco Chronicle has reported.

The private dispute between Bonds and Hoskins went public this week when Michael L. Rains, Bonds’s defense lawyer, told The New York Times that the government was relying on Hoskins and Bonds’s former girlfriend Kimberly Bell for its case.

Hoskins is president of Kent Collectibles of San Carlos, Calif., and was widely known in the Giants’ clubhouse as Bonds’s right-hand man. The two were close: Hoskins was the best man at Bonds’s 1998 wedding, and Hoskins’s sister introduced Bonds to a woman who was his girlfriend from 1994 to 2003.

Laura J. Enos, Bonds’s lawyer for personal business matters since 1997, said in an interview yesterday that she and Bonds confronted Hoskins in June 2003 over the suspected forging of Bonds’s signature on contracts.

“He came and we met in a conference room,” Enos said. “He said: ‘I have three doors. If you don’t drop this memorabilia issue, I’m going to ruin Barry. Behind door No. 1 is an extramarital affair. Behind door No. 2 is failure to declare income tax. And behind door No. 3 is use of steroids. And I will go to the press and ruin Barry. His records will be ruined. He will never get into the Hall of Fame.’ ”

Enos said Bonds reported Hoskins anyway to the United States attorney and the F.B.I. in San Francisco in late June or early July 2003. Enos said Bonds was unaware at the time that the San Jose branch of the United States attorney’s office was already investigating whether Bonds used steroids.

LaRae Quy, a special agent and spokeswoman for the F.B.I. in Northern California, confirmed yesterday that the F.B.I. checked into the complaint by Bonds against Hoskins. Quy declined to comment further.

Enos and Rains said the F.B.I. dropped the case against Hoskins when he turned on Bonds. But Hoskins’s lawyer, Cardoza, said the F.B.I. cleared Hoskins when it found he had not forged the signatures and had kept meticulous records of cash transactions, including giving thousands of dollars to two girlfriends for Bonds. “We did not make a deal with the feds,” Cardoza said.

Cardoza said he had warned Enos that the steroids activity would come out if Bonds complained about Hoskins to federal authorities.

“Barry and Stevie were friends for years,” Cardoza said. “And Barry starts to get into steroids. And Barry has what’s called roid rages, which start to affect his relationship with Stevie. Stevie was very concerned as a friend with his steroid use. In fact, he involved Bobby Bonds, the dad, you know, saying, ‘You better get Barry off steroids because it’s going to kill him.’ ” (Bobby Bonds died in 2003.)

Cardoza said Barry Bonds’s steroid use and rages led to the end of Bonds’s close relationship with Hoskins.

“Stevie would nag Barry to get off the stuff,” Cardoza said. “Their relationship finally went in the toilet, business and personal. And with that, Barry is saying Stevie stole from me. It’s not true. He reports that to the feds. The feds do a full-blown investigation.”

Cardoza added: “So in your face, Barry. You’re lying.”

Asked whether Hoskins had firsthand knowledge of Bonds’s steroid use, Cardoza said: “Steve was his best friend. Steve had a relationship with him that nobody else did.”
Cardoza would not say whether Hoskins has testified before the grand jury, only that he had spoken with investigators.

Rains, Bonds’s defense lawyer, said he thought Hoskins was the source for much of the derogatory information about Bonds, including details of suspected steroid usage, in the book “Game of Shadows” by the reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams of The Chronicle. Hoskins was not mentioned by name in the 332-page book.

Rains and Cardoza said Hoskins’s sister had introduced Bonds to Bell in the early 1990’s and that Hoskins had known Bell for even longer.

“And now they’ve united in an effort to try to take down Barry,” Rains said. “And the government is dumb enough to try to use them to take down Barry.”

Bell is a graphic artist from San Jose, Calif., who says she dated Bonds from 1994 to May 2003. Bell has said Bonds told her he used steroids and gave her $80,000 cash.

Rains said Bell had tried to pressure Bonds to pay her money. Bell and her lawyer could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Enos said Hoskins and Bonds were childhood friends who became close as adults after Bonds returned to San Francisco from Pittsburgh in 1993. Hoskins was selling shoes at a Foot Locker when Bonds returned. Enos said Bonds helped Hoskins set up a business selling Bonds lithographs and memorabilia. .

Hoskins and Bell are now the key witnesses against Bonds, according to Rains. He said: “They won’t have any credibility once they get exposed. But I don’t know if the federal government bothered to tell the grand jury, once they heard their testimony, what liars they were.”

Rains said the only other witness the government was relying on was Greg Anderson. Anderson, Bonds’s trainer and a reputed steroid supplier, was sent to jail July 5 for refusing to testify to the grand jury.

Mark J. Geragos, a defense lawyer for Anderson, said he did not think that Bonds would be indicted in the next week or two because he did not think the government had a case. One of the elements of finding Anderson in contempt was that the government had to say it could not get the necessary evidence anywhere else, Geragos said.

Geragos said he anticipated that the government would try to keep Anderson in jail longer under a criminal contempt of court proceeding or by calling him in front of a new grand jury. Geragos said Anderson would never testify against Bonds.

Peter Keane, a law professor at Golden Gate University, said the government could empanel a new grand jury if it needed more time or wanted to pressure Anderson by keeping him in jail longer. Keane predicted that soon Bonds would be indicted “just as the night follows the day.”
The people known to have testified to the grand jury in the perjury investigation include Dr. Arthur Ting, Bonds’s orthopedic surgeon; Stan Conte, the San Francisco Giants’ head trainer; Dr. Larry Bowers of the United States Anti-Doping Agency; and Dr. Don Catlin, an antidoping expert at U.C.L.A.

Plamegate: Mystery Solved

By Kenneth R. Timmerman
July 13, 2006

Finally some straight talk on the Valerie Plame case, thanks to Robert Novak, the conservative columnist who first revealed the identity of the not-so-covert CIA officer three years ago.

Novak’s July 14, 2003, column on the much-disputed trip to Niger by Plame’s husband, former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson, triggered an FBI investigation, a federal grand jury, and eventually the appointment of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who indicted top White House aid Scooter Libby for perjury along the way.

At issue was whether Saddam Hussein ever sent a buying team to Niger looking for uranium yellowcake in the 1999-2000 period. After tea and crumpets with former friends in the Nigerian government, Wilson concluded that it never happened. At least, that’s what he says today.

(The definitive Senate Select Intelligence Committee report on pre-war intelligence on Iraq, released in November 2004, asserts unequivocally that Wilson lied in public about the conclusions he sent to the CIA about his Niger trip).

Despite all the sturm und drang over the past three years, Novak kept silent about who said what regarding Wilson’s trip. The Left has imputed all kinds of scurrilous motives to Novak’s silence. They have accused him of cutting a special deal with the special prosecutor. They have accused him of fingering Libby and Rove. They have accused him of total disregard of the First Amendment, preferring to violate the “sanctity” of anonymous sources in favor of going to jail.

They have compared unfavorably to former New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who went to jail instead of revealing her sources in the same case.

But when the Left realized that Judy Miller had been close to Scooter Libby and actually reported on the facts of Saddam Hussein’s weapons programs, rather than the creampuff version being put out by the anti-Bush crowd at the CIA, they dropped her instantly. She was fired by the NY Times almost the minute she was released from jail.

Fitzgerald finally has closed the leak case in so far as Novak is concerned. “That frees me to reveal my role in the federal inquiry that, at the request of Fitzgerald, I have kept secret,” Novak wrote yesterday in an account he published in Human Events.

“Joe Wilson's wife's role in instituting her husband's mission was revealed to me in the middle of a long interview with an official who I have previously said was not a political gunslinger,” Novak revealed. “After the federal investigation was announced, he told me through a third party that the disclosure was inadvertent on his part.”

The official who was Novak’s primary source did not even know the name of Wilson’s wife. But it wasn’t a very close-held secret. “I learned Valerie Plame's name from Joe Wilson's entry in ‘Who's Who in America,’” Novak wrote.

I have asked a number of former CIA clandestine operators about Valerie Plame.

One former senior clandestine officer scoffed at the claim that Valerie Plame had ever been truly covert. “How can you be [covert] when you are married to an ex-U.S. ambassador and work for the State Department overseas?” Somebody looking at her from a hostile power (say, Iran) would have to have a brain the size of a pea to miss her connection to the U.S. government, he added.

And yet, former CIA officers who vigorously oppose this administration have signed public letters and gone on network television to protest the exposure of her identity as the greatest national security breach of the century.

Larry Johnson, a former CIA officer who became a deputy director of the State Department’s counter-terrorism bureau, has launched an internet witchhunt against Karl Rove for allegedly “outing” his former Camp Perry classmate, Valerie Plame. (Gee, Larry: Guess everybody must have known about Val’s Camp Perry date with you, so it’s okay to talk about that, right?)

Novak’s column takes the wind out of their sails. Not only was Karl Rove not Novak’s primary source, but Valerie Plame’s role at CIA was so well-known that a CIA spokesman, Bill Harlowe, was able to confirm to Novak that Plame had suggested Wilson for the Niger trip.

Like Novak and hundreds of others of reporters, I have had dealings with Harlowe over the years. Even if you had nailed down the identity of a covert CIA operator who had worked for the agency 20 years earlier, Harlowe would never confirm that person’s existence. The standard line was to neither confirm nor deny.

But if you asked if so-and-so who was posted overseas to a U.S. embassy, and was now working as an analyst, could give you a background briefing on their subject of expertise, he would at least get back to you with a yes or a no.

And that is exactly what he provided to Novak. The CIA public affairs office was his third source.

Larry Johnson and others had kvetched that Novak blew Valerie Plame’s cover at her “top secret” CIA proprietary, Brewster Jennings, in Boston.They allege that Plame was working undercover as an energy industry analyst to penetrate Iranian nuclear procurement networks.

But guess what? It wasn’t Bob Novak who revealed that Valerie Plame may have been working undercover (with an alleged tie to the alleged Brewster Jennings in Boston, which now hosts an Internet game similar to “Where in the World is Carmen SanDiego”?)

It was left-wing columnist David Corn, writing in The Nation, just two days after Novak’s first column.

It turns out that Corn is a close friend of the Wilson/Plame couple, and knew all about their various foreign outings. Unlike Robert Novak, he didn’t need to consult “Who’s Who in America” to learn Valerie Plame’s name.

If any security breach occurred with the disclosure of Valerie Plame’s name, look toward Joe Wilson, who posted his wife’s name to “Who’s Who,” and to their circle of political and professional friends.

My hunch: it was all part of a carefully orchestrated public relations scheme, that netted lying Joe Wilson prime time television appearances, a best-selling book, and a $2.5 million contract for the memoirs of Madame.

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Kenneth R. Timmerman is the author of Countdown to Crisis: the Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran (Crown Forum, New York), and Executive Director of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran.