Saturday, December 09, 2006

Scott P. Richert: WMDs Found! Illinois

Friday, December 08, 2006
The Rockford Files

WMDs: Found!

Federal authorities today announced that they have located weapons of mass destruction and apprehended a man who was prepared to use them.

Where were they found? Baghdad? Tikrit? Sadr City? No.

Rockford, Illinois.

This afternoon, in federal court in Chicago, Derrick Shareef (a.k.a. Talib Abu Salam Ibn Shareef) was arraigned on one count of attempting to damage or destroy a building by fire or explosion and one count of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. He allegedly planned to set off four grenades in Rockford’s largest shopping center, CherryVale Mall, on December 22, at the height of the Christmas shopping season.

A federal affidavit discussing the plot, with numerous quotations from Shareef, can be downloaded as a PDF here, or viewed online here.

Set aside for the moment the absurdity of classing hand grenades as weapons of mass destruction. Instead, take a quick look at the hundreds of news stories on this case that have appeared on Google News. Notice a pattern?

While many of them mention that Shareef wanted to engage in “violent jihad,” not a single one, at the time of this writing, mention that Shareef is a Muslim, nor that he is black. Private sources indicate that he is a member of the Nation of Islam, but, if so, he’s a peculiar one at that: Throughout the affidavit, the federal agent quotes Shareef discussing his beliefs in Arabic Muslim terms (Umma, Kafirs, masjid, Jumma, mujahideen).

(UPDATE (5:00 P.M.): News stories are finally beginning to mention that he is a convert to Islam. His race is still missing from the stories, however.)

The news reports also ignore the explicit statements Shareef makes about his purpose in planning the attack:

“I swear by Allah man, I’m down for it too, I’m down for the cause, I’m down to live for the cause and die for the cause, man.”

“I’m ready man, these Kafirs [a term translated as “infidel”] don’t give a damn about us, niggers don’t care what happens to the Umma [an Arabic word meaning community or nation that is commonly used to mean the collective nation of Islamic states], about sisters getting raped, about brothers losing their (UI). They don’t care, man.

All they care about is (UI). . . I probably would have eventually ended up just stabbing the shit outta some Jews or something. Just stabbing them niggers with a steak knife. Dude, I ain’t gonna lie. Because during that war with Hezbollah, man, I had already started to look at synagogues out here and in the DeKalb area and everything. I was looking at synagogues, I was doing Mapquest. . . . One of them was down the block from the masjid [mosque], I knew that they do their thing on Saturdays, right. I was like, I’m gonna lay low out here, I’m gonna camp out overnight, be out there on Friday night after Jumma” [Friday payer] or Saturday morning about 12:00 or 1:00 o’clock., I be there. And as soon as I see them fools going in the building, I had planned on trying to grab one, depending on how it was, niggers trying to run in the building all at once and open up shop, I was just going to go over there and shank one or two of them.”

“I don’t think it’s gonna be gloomy nationwide like 9/11 . . . ”

“If Allah wills a lot of people around that garbage can, that place is crowded.” [Shareef planned to drop the grenades, set for a short time delay, into concrete garbage cans, which would act like shrapnel when the grenades exploded]

“This may be my last will and testament, the last words that I have spoken to those who know me, to those who do not know me. My name is Talib Abu Salam Ibn Shareef. I am 22 years of age. I am from America, and this tape is to let you guys know, who disbelieve in Allah, to let the enemies of Islam know, and to let the Muslims alike know that the time for jihad is now. . . . Be strong, oh Mujahideen. Be strong oh brothers who want to fight for jihad. . . . This is a warning to those who disbelieve, that we are here for you, and I am ready to give my life. . . . May Allah protect me on this mission we conduct. . . . So do not cry, do not mourn for me. Do not believe what the kafir [infidel] will say about me when you read in the newspapers and when you see the television articles about me. Do not believe this. Understand that your son is a strong man. . . who believes and fears his Lord to the degree that he will give his life.”

So, what’s going on here? Why the radio silence from the major media on the link to Islam? Are we to believe that, because federal authorities say that Shareef was not part of a broader conspiracy, Islam had nothing to do with it? Or that, because he is a Black Muslim, Islam had nothing to do with it?

Islam, as readers of Chronicles know, and as anyone with any understanding of history is aware, is not a religion of peace. There is no reason not to take Shareef’s statements about his motivations at face value, and there are very good reasons to publicize them.

Out here in the middle of the American heartland, Islam has a greater foothold than many people realize. I’ve discussed this at length, most recently in the December 2006 issue of Chronicles. Aaron Wolf and I spent a day at the local mosque and Islamic school in February 2002, and I’ve written about that day here and here. Read those pieces. See what Muslim students are learning in Rockford, Illinois. Pay attention to the words of a prominent Muslim doctor, the chairman of the board of the school, when he praises Osama bin Laden and talks about the way in which sharia will be imposed in the United States. Look at the understanding of peace—the submission of all men to Allah—that the current imam at the mosque preaches.
Hand grenades may not qualify as weapons of mass destruction (except under federal law), but that doesn’t mean that WMDs aren’t found here in Rockford. Ours are just flesh and blood.

UPDATE (4:30 P.M.): It appears that the masjid and the synagogue that Shareef mentions as “down the block” from each other were both in DeKalb, home of Northern Illinois University. If so, that would mean that Shareef is talking about the Islamic Society of Northern Illinois University, which is not a Black Muslim organization, but rather an outpost of the “religion of peace.” That would explain Shareef’s discussion of Islam in Arabic terms.

UPDATE (11:30 P.M.): Well, you read it here first, but WIFR-23’s Tina Stein gets the credit for breaking the story in the mainstream media. Shareef was a convert to the Nation of Islam seven years ago (at about the age of 15). His mother and father, who are divorced, are both black. His father, and several members of his father’s family, are members of the Nation of Islam. The Chicago Daily Herald also has a detailed report.

I was interviewed live tonight at 10 by Bryan Henry of WIFR-23, and if they put up video, I’ll link to it. (The segment was rather long—over five minutes—so they may not.) Another local station came to the office this evening and took about a half-hour of footage, but they did not use it at 10. I’m not sure why; the cameraman was very pleased, but perhaps they were looking for a somewhat different take on things. I’ll let you know whether they use any of the footage tomorrow.

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William F. Buckley: St. Jeane of the U.N.

December 8, 2006 1:00 PM

A diplomat who understood the importance, and abuse, of words.

An NRO Flashback

EDITOR'S NOTE: Jeane Kirkpatrick, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. under Ronald Reagan, died Thursday at age 80. William F. Buckley Jr. wrote the following about Kirkpatrick in the January 27, 1984, issue of National Review.

St. Jeane of the U.N., Part I

Several times in the past few years Jeane Kirkpatrick has let it be known that in due course she would be leaving the United Nations, and most generally this has been taken to mean that she would do so at the close of this session of the General Assembly, which event will happen in a few days. It is expected that she will be offered another post by President Reagan. It is not known whether she will accept another post. The guessing is that she would — if the offer were substantial. The guessing is almost certainly correct that she wouldn’t if she had any reason to suppose that the offer was merely that of a fancy title and nothing much to do. There will be time to focus on her future, but the time is now to evaluate her behavior and her mind, and the strengths she has brought to her position as ambassador to the U.N.

The magazine Encounter, the sturdy British highbrow monthly that is the King Solomon’s mine of anti-Communist analysis, ran in November an extended “conversation” with Mrs. Kirkpatrick, by George Urban. It is a convenient overview of our ambassador’s distinctive manner of thinking, which accounts for her impact on the United Nations and, indeed, on her larger constituency, the diplomatic establishment of the Soviet-American world.

To begin with, Mrs. Kirkpatrick does not like loose language. She is the kind of person who, if she told you that she had called you on the telephone “literally ten times,” would actually mean that she had telephoned you ten times. She begins by telling the interviewer that the word “peace” will not do to describe the relations between the Soviet Union and the United States, but that, on the other hand, neither will the word “war.” “We are certainly not ‘at peace’ with the Soviet Union, because the Russians are engaged…in a conscious policy of international expansion. This can take political or economic forms — both usually preceded and accompanied by ideological aggression.”

That term, she tells us, she needs to stress. Why? Because the cliché is that our differences with the Soviet Union ought to be settled by “competition.” “This is most misleading. I very much doubt whether ‘competition,’ when it is conducted by foul means as well as fair ones, covert methods as well as overt ones, lies as well as truth, is competition in the sort of sense in which John Stuart Mill understood it to be in a liberal parliamentary society. ‘Ideological aggression’ is, therefore, the correct label.”

This is important, she feels, because the failure to understand the distinction leaves us powerless to understand Soviet behavior. For instance? Most recently. Soviet behavior when the Russians knocked down the South Korean airliner. “We are reminded once again that the Soviet Union is a state based on the twin principles of callousness and mendacity, dedicated to the role of force, and governed by the idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat, which in 1920 Lenin defined in these words: ‘The scientific concept of “dictatorship” means nothing more than unrestricted power, absolutely unimpeded by law or regulations and resting directly on force.’”

For old-timers who have known since early childhood what Lenin said, this may be yawn time. But the questioner (George Urban is brilliant at this kind of thing) pressed always for relevance. “Why and how has a sector of our media managed to attach a certain stigma to [the term] ‘cold war’”? — that being the term Mrs. Kirkpatrick adopts as correctly designating U.S.-Soviet relations. “How, indeed, has it succeeded in corrupting a considerable part of our daily usage, misusing words like ‘peace,’ ‘decency,’ ‘concern,’ ‘compassion,’ etc., and rendering them virtually unusable for meaningful discourse?”

Mrs. Kirkpatrick answers that “We have been manipulated into feeling that it is warlike behavior on our part to register the fact that [the Soviets] are waging a full-scale ideological combat against us. Also, in the U.S., where intellectual categories are the objects of fashion, it became terribly unfashionable to call the cold war ‘cold war.’” Mrs. Kirkpatrick goes on to attempt to communicate what it is that immobilizes the United States, the hold on us of false categories. She tells us about the influence of words on the American establishment. And for this explanation alone she should be celebrated. Stay tuned.

St. Jeane of the U.N., Part II

Jeane Kirkpatrick wrote, a few years ago: “What wealth is to a capitalist, what organisation is to the old-style political boss, what manpower is to the trade unionist, words are to the new class.” By “the new class” she meant the people who run the media, and who, at levels as disparate as university faculties and radio deejays, tend to set the public mood.

Mrs. Kirkpatrick, in the Encounter interview, confesses that possibly her primary frustration, as a woman trained in the academy, is the repeated failure of the wordmen by whom she is surrounded to inquire into the empirical results of their preconceived ideas. She gives two examples, one of them from recent history, one of them from current history. Consider Pol Pot.

"A good many of the symbol-specialists in the U.S. and Western Europe [believed] that the apple-cheeked guerrillas following Pol Pot, with their pretty moralistic statements of intention, would offer a better deal to the people of Cambodia than they received under Lon Nol’s more or less conventional military dictatorship.”

She can understand their believing this at the outset. “What I cannot understand is the absence of any genuine anguish, of any soul-searching, mind-searching, and history-searching, when these people became aware that two to three million Cambodians were slaughtered or starved to death by Pol Pot’s men.”

So it has gone in this, the bloodiest century. Jean-Paul Sartre, Mrs., Kirkpatrick reminds us, the dominant intellectual figure in postwar France, declared, in a famous article in 1952, that loyalty to the Soviet Union and to the Stalinist French Communist Party was the first priority of “moral man.” Until the day he died, Sartre was thought by many to be a political sage. Why do we not learn?

“When Marxists tell us that the people of Nicaragua will be freer and better off after the victory of the Sandinistas, it is perfectly possible to go and see what in fact has happened in Nicaragua after the Sandinistas came to power, and to determine whether the labor unions or the press or the Church are more or less free, or economically better or worse off. than they were before.”

Is it that easy? Precisely the point is that it is not, because ideological predispositions get in our way. That is why more space was devoted to our “criminal” venture in South Vietnam (Jimmy Carter’s words) than to the crimes of the men who conquered South Vietnam. It is so with Nicaragua. “Marxists [and many non-Marxist intellectuals] are not interested in [postmortems]. They uphold a holistic vision. The content of this vision is materialistic and empirical, but its operative quality is its apocalyptic end result: the demise of the sinful bourgeois order and the arrival of the New Jerusalem. It is this final vision that matters, and that is held with the tenacity of religion and paid for with all the sacrifices which the bloodiest of ancient religions have exacted…”

Mrs. Kirkpatrick believes that détente foundered on two mistaken projections. The first was that “Russian insecurity” would end if we permitted the Russians to achieve first nuclear parity, then superiority in arms. The second was that “the multiplication of economic ties” between East and West would demonstrate the advantage of conventional ties between two great powers. We know that neither of the two happened: The Soviet Union’s power increased, but so did its aggressiveness. Trade increased; so did Soviet hostility.

Mrs. Kirkpatrick will in the next few weeks decide whether to stay with the Administration elected in 1980. That election, says Mrs. Kirkpatrick, a registered Democrat, was historically important. She viewed it as a corporate act of the American will: to survive, by making the necessary economic sacrifices to effect rehabilitation, renewal, and rearmament. There are those who believe that much hangs on whether she agrees to continue as an important part of that Administration.

The point here is that Mr. Reagan needs a counterpart who knows the language of the academy. His insights are crystal clear. When he speaks of the special characteristics of the Soviet state he says exactly about the Soviet state that which is true. But truthfulness isn’t the currency of international exchange. No one notices when the Kremlin lies about the U.S., that is the routine thing. When we say the truth about the Soviet Union the tendency is to suggest that we have disturbed the peace.

Profound battles need to be waged to explicate the usefulness of candor in diplomatic talk. There is a robust brotherhood engaged in making the effort to seek out the special trenchancy that attaches to telling the truth. They need representatives within the Administration. We need Jeane Kirkpatrick.

Bob Klapisch: Pettitte missing link to glory days

Saturday, December 9, 2006

It took all of three days for Andy Pettitte and the Yankees to reunite in the best feel-good story of the winter. Everyone in the Bronx was happy on Friday. Make that ecstatic, especially since Pettitte's homecoming just fattened the odds that Roger Clemens will be wearing pinstripes in 2007, too.

Sources say Clemens' name never came up during talks among the Hendricks brothers, the agents who represent both The Rocket and Pettitte, and the Yankees. But one Bomber executive said, "We're obviously hoping" Pettitte's decision to leave the Astros will influence his Texas buddy, too.

Rocket historians have learned this much over time: there's a precedent for him following Pettitte, as was the case after 2003. Clemens came out of a temporary retirement solely to be Pettitte's teammate in Houston.

Second, Clemens loves the turbo-dollars almost as much as Alex Rodriguez does. He knows he can get a better deal out of the Yankees or the Red Sox than he can from Houston, even if he waits until after the All-Star break. And finally, Clemens is addicted to high-intensity action, and there's likely to be more of it in the Bronx-Fenway corridor than at Minute Maid Park next year.

But whether the Yankees are a greater temptation than the Sox is anyone's guess. No one, not Pettitte, the Hendricks or the giddy executives in the Bronx, knows what's in Clemens' mind right now. The Red Sox don't really have a rotation spot for Clemens, but he obviously would be attracted to the closure that awaits him in Fenway.

Clemens can finish what (and where) he started, and go out having his number retired by the Red Sox. That could be even more compelling than teaming up with Pettitte as Nos. 1 and 2 in the Yankees' rotation.

In the short term, the Bombers get the pitcher (and man) they've been missing since 2003. Pettitte is all things to all people in the Yankee family -- a dependable lefthander with a proven postseason resume, an honest, hard-working athlete who'll add stability and maturity in Joe Torre's clubhouse.

Pettitte is the anti-Carl Pavano, the anti-Kevin Brown, the anti-Randy Johnson, a big-game pitcher who understands what it means to pitch in New York. One American League general manager put it best the other day when he said, "It sounds funny saying it, but Andy Pettitte looks like a Yankee."

The others, miserable and mean-spirited in pinstripes, have all given off the vibe of mercenaries.

But that's not to say Pettitte's return was driven purely by nostalgia. His camp was deep in negotiations with the Astros, too, and broke off talks only after ownership refused to fatten a take-it-or-leave-it offer of one year, $12 million. Pettitte was seeking $14 million from Houston, $2 million less than he ultimately accepted from the Yankees.

It's hard to understand why the Astros would chisel down Pettitte over a mere $2 million, especially after spending $100 million on free agent Carlos Lee. But once the Yankees gave Pettitte a player option for another $16 million for 2008, essentially handing him $32 million, the marriage with the Astros was over.

The Yankees aren't writing that check blindly, though. They had a chance to sign the younger, healthier Ted Lilly, and negotiated with him in earnest until Wednesday. Lilly appealed to the Bombers on several fronts, including the fact that he'd already been New York-tested. But Lilly ultimately failed two key litmus tests.

The first was his innings pitched per nine innings ratio; Lilly lasted less than six innings every time he started. With the bullpen already being counted on to bail out the aging Johnson and Mike Mussina, the last thing the Yankees wanted was a 30-year-old starter who wasn't durable.
Even more disturbing to the Yankees was Lilly's ratio of 12.9 runners per nine innings.
Combining that with his 0.89 ground ball to fly ball ratio last year, nearly the worst in the AL, and his 17.5 pitches per inning (second-worst in the league) and the Yankees went fleeing to Pettitte by Wednesday night.

They know there are risks here, huge ones. Despite making a career-high 35 starts with the Astros last year, and that his second-half ERA was among the three best in the National League, Pettitte is still nursing a tender left arm. One NL scout said, "It's practically a lock" Pettitte will end up on the DL at some point in 2007.

Pettitte himself is sensitive to the Yankees' vulnerability; the lefthander promised he'll decline the 2008 option if he feels a breakdown is imminent. The fact that the Yankees would trust a player with that much money, essentially putting Pettitte on the honor system, speaks volumes about the regard in which they hold him.

There aren't many Yankees who are treated so generously, but that's how the empire was once run. Cash merchants such as Brown and Pavano were preceded by the likes of Paul O'Neill and Tino Martinez and Scott Brosius, back when the winning felt cleaner and less corporate.

Pettitte alone can't turn back the clock to 1998, but he'll make it easier for Yankee fans to remember the early days of the renaissance. Good pitcher, good guy. Smart move.


Friday, December 08, 2006

Thomas L. Friedman: Set a Date and Buy Some Leverage

[I posted a couple of thought-provoking columns by Tom Friedman and Pat Buchanan that concern the recently released Iraq War Study...both writers offer differing approaches to the endgame to be sure. I think I'm all for getting the hell out of Iraq as quickly as possible. I'm totally in favor of using our armed forces to kill as many crazed, bomb-throwing terrorists as is humanly possible...hither, yon, pretty much anywhere. I have no interest in using them to try and settle never-ending disputes between Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites. The "Johnny Appleseed" approach to spreading democracy has definitely fallen on dry, barren soil in Iraq...I see little reason to keep dropping seeds that will only continue to blow away. - jtf]

The New York Times
Published: December 8, 2006

The brutally honest Baker-Hamilton assessment of the Iraq morass implies that we need to leave Iraq if the factions there don’t get their act together, but it also urges a last-ditch effort to enlist the help of Syria and Iran to salvage something decent. Both are good suggestions, but they will only have a chance of being effective if we go one notch further and set a fixed date — now — for America to leave Iraq.

The only hope of moving the factions inside Iraq, not to mention Syria and Iran, toward reconciliation is if we have leverage over them, which we now lack. The currency of Middle East politics is pain. And right now, all the pain is being inflicted on us and on Iraqi civilians. Only if we tell all the players that we are leaving might we create a different balance of pain and therefore some hope for a diplomatic deal. Trying to do diplomacy without the threat of pain is like trying to play baseball without a bat.

Yes, yes, I know, the conventional wisdom is that if the U.S. sets a date to leave Iraq the whole Middle East will explode in a Shiite-Sunni war. Maybe, but maybe not.

Let’s play this out. What happens if we set a date to leave? The war in Iraq will get worse, but for how long? Right now our troops are providing a floor under the civil war that allows some parties to behave outrageously or make impossible demands — because they know that we won’t let things spin totally out of control. Would they behave more cautiously if they knew they had to pay retail for their madness? I’d like to find out.

Moreover, while our presence in Iraq helps control the situation, it also aggravates it. For many Sunnis, and a growing number of Shiites, we’ve become “occupiers” to be resisted. Our leaving will both unleash violence and eliminate violence.

As for the neighbors, well, right now Iran, Syria and some other Arab states look at Iraq and clearly believe that the controlled chaos there is their friend. For Arab autocrats, chaos is their friend because a burning Iraq on Al Jazeera sends a message to their own people: “This is what happens to those who try democracy.” And for Iran and Syria, anything that frustrates the U.S. in Iraq and keeps America bleeding weakens its ability to confront Tehran.

The minute we leave, chaos in Iraq is not their friend anymore. First of all, if there is a full-fledged civil war, Syria, a largely Sunni country, will have to support the Iraqi Sunnis. Shiite Iran will have to support the Iraqi Shiites. That would mean Iran and Syria, now allies, will be on opposite sides of the Iraqi civil war. That will leave them with the choice of either indirectly fighting each other or working to settle the war.

Moreover, right now we are “Mr. Big” in Iraq, soaking up all the popular anger. But the minute we’re gone, Iran becomes “Mr. Big” and the age-old tensions between Iraqi Arab Shiites and Iranian Persian Shiites will surface. Iran and Moktada al-Sadr will be at each other’s throats.

Also, as long as our troops are in Iraq, we are pinned down and an easy target for Iran to hit, should we ever want to strike its nuclear facilities. Once we are out, we will have much more room to maneuver. I’m not saying we should attack Iran, but I am saying Iran will be much more worried that we will.

As for the Arab states, they’ve done little to promote peace in Iraq. They’ve basically said to America: “You can’t leave and we won’t help.” O.K., we’re leaving. You still don’t want to help? The only thing the Arab regimes fear more than democracy is fragmentation.

As I’ve written before, our real choices in Iraq are 10 months or 10 years. Either we commit the resources to entirely rebuild the place over a decade, for which there is little support, or we tell everyone that we will be out within 10 months, or sooner, and we’ll deal with the consequences from afar. We need to start the timer — today, now.

As long as we’re in Iraq, Iraq implodes, and we absorb a lot of the pain. The minute we leave, Iraq explodes — or at least no one can be sure it won’t — and that is a real threat to the Iraqi factions and neighbors. Even facing that reality might not knock enough sense into them to compromise, but at least then they’ll have their medieval religious war without us.

Only that threat will give us leverage. Yes, it would be a sad end to our involvement there. But everything Iraq’s leaders have done so far suggests that a united, democratic and pluralistic Iraq is their second choice. Tribal politics is still their first choice. We can’t go on having our first-choice kids dying for their second choice.

Patrick Buchanan: Withdraw to Victory?
Friday, December 8, 2006

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"The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating," declares the Iraq Study Group in the lead sentence of its long-awaited report.

It continues on in this grim vein:

"A slide toward chaos could trigger the collapse of Iraq's government and a humanitarian disaster. ... There is no guarantee for success in Iraq. The situation in Baghdad and several provinces is dire. ... Pessimism is pervasive. ... Violence is increasing in scope, complexity and lethality."

This is the portrait of a nation descending into hell.

Yet the brutal honesty of the Baker-Hamilton commission about the situation in Iraq is accompanied by recommendations that are almost utopian in their unreality.

For, after painting its grim portrait, the commission says that if we faithfully follow its recommendations, "terrorism will be dealt a blow, stability will be enhanced in an important part of the world, and America's credibility, interests and values will be protected."

What is its principal recommendation? That the United States begin to pull all its forces out of combat and out of Iraq by early 2008, and turn the war over to the Iraqi army and police.

But if 150,000 U.S. Marines and Army troops have failed in four years to defeat al-Qaida, the Sunni insurgency, the Mahdi Army, the sectarian militias and the criminal elements of Iraq, how is the Iraqi army going to succeed?

Are we to believe that rag-tag army is going to win a war the finest army on earth has all but lost?

Is this what they call "realism"?

The report itself describes the Iraqi army, after years of U.S. training, as having made "fitful progress toward becoming a reliable and disciplined fighting force loyal to the national government."

"Units lack leadership. ... Units lack equipment. ... Units lack personnel. ... Units lack logistics and support."

Is this the force U.S. advisers are going to convert in a year into an army of salvation?

Well, not entirely. They will be assisted by the Iraqi police, of whom the report writes: "The state of the Iraqi police is substantially worse than that of the Iraqi army. ...

"Iraqi police cannot control crime, and they routinely engage in sectarian violence, including the unnecessary detention, torture and targeted execution of Sunni Arab civilians. The police are organized under the Ministry of the Interior, which is confronted by corruption and militia infiltration and lacks control over police in the provinces."

These are the folks who are going to win the war we could not win, after we depart? Is this not an insult to common sense?

And if the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki fails to "make substantial progress toward the achievement of milestones on national reconciliation, security and governance," declares the commission, "the United States should reduce its political, military or economic support for the Iraqi government."

But if we pull the rug out from under Maliki, and his regime and army collapse, who moves into the vacuum? Would it not likely be Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army of 60,000 fighters, a force far superior to the Mahdi units that U.S forces eviscerated in Najaf?

If America pulls its combat brigades out of Iraq, who will protect the U.S. support troops, civilian contractors, aid workers and diplomats in the Green Zone? Would we not be risking an American Dien Bien Phu?

And what is to prevent disloyal Iraqi army units and sectarian allies from fragging U.S. advisers embedded to train them, after U.S. fighting brigades have gone home?

Throughout the report there appear inherent contradictions.

The situation is "grave and deteriorating" but will get better if we pull our finest fighting forces out. Iraq is "vital to regional and even global stability, and is critical to U.S. interests," but if Maliki malingers, we should pull the rug out from under him. An Iraqi army trained by Americans can win a war that Americans could not.

The Baker-Hamilton commission has told us in brutal frankness that the patient is dying, for which we are grateful. But the commission is, in its own way, as much in denial as George W. Bush. For the surgery it recommends for Iraq looks more like a mercy killing than a miracle cure.

It is a time for truth. The strategic retreat recommended by Baker-Hamilton is not going to win this war, or end it well for the United States -- it is going to advance the timetable of our impending defeat.

When U.S. combat forces leave, Iraq is going to be lost to those who ran us out. Our friends there are going to endure what our abandoned friends in Vietnam and Cambodia endured. The forces of Islamic radicalism will be emboldened to take down our remaining allies in the Middle East. Our days as a superpower will be over.

For it is the definition of a superpower that once it commits itself to a war, it does not lose the war.

Pat Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative magazine, and the author of many books including State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America .

Richard Lindzen: Global-warming alarmists intimidate dissenting scientists into silence

Climate of Fear

Global-warming alarmists intimidate dissenting scientists into silence.
The Wall Street Journal
Wednesday, April 12, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT

There have been repeated claims that this past year's hurricane activity was another sign of human-induced climate change. Everything from the heat wave in Paris to heavy snows in Buffalo has been blamed on people burning gasoline to fuel their cars, and coal and natural gas to heat, cool and electrify their homes. Yet how can a barely discernible, one-degree increase in the recorded global mean temperature since the late 19th century possibly gain public acceptance as the source of recent weather catastrophes? And how can it translate into unlikely claims about future catastrophes?

The answer has much to do with misunderstanding the science of climate, plus a willingness to debase climate science into a triangle of alarmism. Ambiguous scientific statements about climate are hyped by those with a vested interest in alarm, thus raising the political stakes for policy makers who provide funds for more science research to feed more alarm to increase the political stakes. After all, who puts money into science--whether for AIDS, or space, or climate--where there is nothing really alarming? Indeed, the success of climate alarmism can be counted in the increased federal spending on climate research from a few hundred million dollars pre-1990 to $1.7 billion today. It can also be seen in heightened spending on solar, wind, hydrogen, ethanol and clean coal technologies, as well as on other energy-investment decisions.
But there is a more sinister side to this feeding frenzy. Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen their grant funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse. Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their basis.


To understand the misconceptions perpetuated about climate science and the climate of intimidation, one needs to grasp some of the complex underlying scientific issues. First, let's start where there is agreement. The public, press and policy makers have been repeatedly told that three claims have widespread scientific support: Global temperature has risen about a degree since the late 19th century; levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have increased by about 30% over the same period; and CO2 should contribute to future warming. These claims are true. However, what the public fails to grasp is that the claims neither constitute support for alarm nor establish man's responsibility for the small amount of warming that has occurred. In fact, those who make the most outlandish claims of alarm are actually demonstrating skepticism of the very science they say supports them. It isn't just that the alarmists are trumpeting model results that we know must be wrong. It is that they are trumpeting catastrophes that couldn't happen even if the models were right as justifying costly policies to try to prevent global warming.

If the models are correct, global warming reduces the temperature differences between the poles and the equator. When you have less difference in temperature, you have less excitation of extratropical storms, not more. And, in fact, model runs support this conclusion. Alarmists have drawn some support for increased claims of tropical storminess from a casual claim by Sir John Houghton of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that a warmer world would have more evaporation, with latent heat providing more energy for disturbances.
The problem with this is that the ability of evaporation to drive tropical storms relies not only on temperature but humidity as well, and calls for drier, less humid air. Claims for starkly higher temperatures are based upon there being more humidity, not less--hardly a case for more storminess with global warming.

So how is it that we don't have more scientists speaking up about this junk science? It's my belief that many scientists have been cowed not merely by money but by fear. An example: Earlier this year, Texas Rep. Joe Barton issued letters to paleoclimatologist Michael Mann and some of his co-authors seeking the details behind a taxpayer-funded analysis that claimed the 1990s were likely the warmest decade and 1998 the warmest year in the last millennium. Mr. Barton's concern was based on the fact that the IPCC had singled out Mr. Mann's work as a means to encourage policy makers to take action. And they did so before his work could be replicated and tested--a task made difficult because Mr. Mann, a key IPCC author, had refused to release the details for analysis. The scientific community's defense of Mr. Mann was, nonetheless, immediate and harsh. The president of the National Academy of Sciences--as well as the American Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Union--formally protested, saying that Rep. Barton's singling out of a scientist's work smacked of intimidation.

All of which starkly contrasts to the silence of the scientific community when anti-alarmists were in the crosshairs of then-Sen. Al Gore. In 1992, he ran two congressional hearings during which he tried to bully dissenting scientists, including myself, into changing our views and supporting his climate alarmism. Nor did the scientific community complain when Mr. Gore, as vice president, tried to enlist Ted Koppel in a witch hunt to discredit anti-alarmist scientists--a request that Mr. Koppel deemed publicly inappropriate. And they were mum when subsequent articles and books by Ross Gelbspan libelously labeled scientists who differed with Mr. Gore as stooges of the fossil-fuel industry.

Sadly, this is only the tip of a non-melting iceberg. In Europe, Henk Tennekes was dismissed as research director of the Royal Dutch Meteorological Society after questioning the scientific underpinnings of global warming. Aksel Winn-Nielsen, former director of the U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization, was tarred by Bert Bolin, first head of the IPCC, as a tool of the coal industry for questioning climate alarmism. Respected Italian professors Alfonso Sutera and Antonio Speranza disappeared from the debate in 1991, apparently losing climate-research funding for raising questions.

And then there are the peculiar standards in place in scientific journals for articles submitted by those who raise questions about accepted climate wisdom. At Science and Nature, such papers are commonly refused without review as being without interest. However, even when such papers are published, standards shift. When I, with some colleagues at NASA, attempted to determine how clouds behave under varying temperatures, we discovered what we called an "Iris Effect," wherein upper-level cirrus clouds contracted with increased temperature, providing a very strong negative climate feedback sufficient to greatly reduce the response to increasing CO2. Normally, criticism of papers appears in the form of letters to the journal to which the original authors can respond immediately. However, in this case (and others) a flurry of hastily prepared papers appeared, claiming errors in our study, with our responses delayed months and longer. The delay permitted our paper to be commonly referred to as "discredited."
Indeed, there is a strange reluctance to actually find out how climate really behaves. In 2003, when the draft of the U.S. National Climate Plan urged a high priority for improving our knowledge of climate sensitivity, the National Research Council instead urged support to look at the impacts of the warming--not whether it would actually happen.


Alarm rather than genuine scientific curiosity, it appears, is essential to maintaining funding. And only the most senior scientists today can stand up against this alarmist gale, and defy the iron triangle of climate scientists, advocates and policymakers.

Mr. Lindzen is Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT.

Book Review: 'Hannibal Rising'

[I had to do my part to try and keep people from buying another bit of excrement penned by the ever more disappointing Mr. Harris. What happened to this guy? How does one write three really good books and then produce two clunkers like "Hannibal" and "Hannibal Rising"? Read on for a rippingly entertaining review. - jtf]

Books of The Times
From Soup to Guts, the Making of a Foodie

The New York Times
Published: December 8, 2006

This is what Thomas Harris’s readers would least like to hear from Mr. Harris’s flesh-eating celebrity, Dr. Hannibal Lecter: “I deeply regret any pain I may have caused for the victims and their families. For years I have helplessly battled the problem that caused me to misbehave. I intend to seek treatment for it immediately.”

Now for the second-least-welcome thoughts about Lecter. And these, unlike the above, actually were written by Mr. Harris. They come from “Hannibal Rising,” his final (please!) effort to cash in on a once-fine franchise that fell from grace. Plot points: Hannibal suffered a terrible trauma in childhood. Bad, bad men cooked and ate his baby sister. This gave him no choice but to become a cannibal himself. Monkey see, monkey do.

Does that motivation sound primitive? It shouldn’t. It is no more crude than the revenge plot that drives “Hannibal Rising” or the market forces that impelled Mr. Harris to cough up this hairball of a story. The book is the evil companion piece of a forthcoming film version of “Hannibal Rising,” for which Mr. Harris also wrote the screenplay, and is the supposed story of how the man became a monster.

“Here in the hot darkness of his mind, let us feel together for the latch,” Mr. Harris writes ludicrously. “By our efforts we may watch as the beast within turns from the teat and, working upwind, enters the world.”

Poetic pretensions notwithstanding, this particular beast is not slouching toward Bethlehem. Little Hannibal is headed from Lecter Castle in Lithuania (once home to Hannibal the Grim, a 14th- to 15th-century forebear) to Paris, by way of some grisly detours. “Hannibal Rising” begins as the Nazis invade Lithuania and drive the Lecters into hiding. Then it makes a meal of darling little Mischa Lecter, who cried out heart-rendingly for her brother (“Anniba!”), as her captors boiled a big pot of water.

On the theory that one such hellish vision is not enough, “Hannibal Rising” flashes back to it repeatedly. Supporting roles in Hannibal’s memory sequences are played by the corpses of his mother and beloved Jewish tutor. Suffice it to say that he is a scarred and lonely 13-year-old by the time he reaches France and encounters a vision of beauty: Lady Murasaki, the stately, exquisitely alluring Asian wife of Hannibal’s uncle.

Picture the magnificent Gong Li in this role — or just wait, because she’ll show up soon enough in the film version (due early next year). It will require all of her formidable acting skills to deliver dialogue like: “You are drawn toward the darkness, but you are also drawn to me.” Or this: “If you are scorched earth, I will be warm rain.” Hannibal himself, equally purple with Mr. Harris’s prose, prefers to speak in cricket imagery. For instance: “My heart hops at the sight of you, who taught my heart to sing.”

Despite lovely Lady Murasaki’s willingness to rain on him, Hannibal shows signs of teenage trouble. When a butcher makes crude remarks about Lady Murasaki’s anatomy, Hannibal savagely attacks him. “Flog no one else with meat,” a French police official warns him, but Hannibal will not heed that warning. While the book contains tranquil moments (“Hannibal sat on a stump in a small glade beside the river, plucking the lute and watching a spider spin”), Mr. Harris has not been summoned back from the Land of Writer’s Block to create lute-playing scenes.

A word about this elusive author: he has produced only five books since 1974, and his cult reputation as a superb thriller writer was once well deserved. After “Black Sunday” (about a blimp poised to attack a full stadium at the Super Bowl), he introduced Dr. Lecter and built two top-notch books around him: “Red Dragon” and “The Silence of the Lambs.”

Then something went terribly wrong. It took 11 years for Mr. Harris to add a new installment (“Hannibal” in 1999) that turned crisp, riveting precision into self-parody. The character lost all traces of his brilliance and ate the brains out of a living man’s sawed-open skull.

That was a hard act to follow, horror-wise. “Hannibal Rising” doesn’t come close. Its sadism is subdued (though still sickening), and its young Hannibal sounds nothing like the older one. The reader who begins with this new book will have no idea why any of the older ones are well regarded. Nor is there any notion of what makes Hannibal diabolically clever — beyond his rooting for Mephistopheles while watching “Faust” at the Paris Opera.

That glamorous setting is one of many, many theatrical cues and flourishes featured in the new book. Mr. Harris has specialized in highly visual imagery since his Super Bowl blimp days, but “Hannibal Rising” takes this tendency to crass extremes. Leaving no doubt that this book is part screenplay, Mr. Harris provides background music (part of Humperdinck’s opera “Hansel and Gretel” for the eating of Mischa), symbolism (the brutalization of beloved swans), horror-prone settings during Hannibal’s medical school years (“Night in the gross-anatomy laboratory”) and grandiose locations for big thoughts. Hannibal’s major epiphany conveniently comes while he is contemplating the votive candles at Notre Dame.

Although much of “Hannibal Rising” is earnestly cinematic (watch out for an underwater corpse “no longer bald, hirsute now with green hair algae and eelgrass that wave in the current like the locks of his youth”), this material also has its campy side. The cannibalism is ugly but silly, with Hannibal menacingly wielding mayonnaise during one sequence. The story’s main villain is so evil that he’s seen getting a pedicure from a woman with a black eye.

And when this villain turns desperate, so does Mr. Harris. “We are alike!” the character cries. “We are the New Men, Hannibal. You, me — the cream — we will always float to the top!” Pity the poor actor forced to say those lines. Then remember that cream can turn sour.

Don Feder- The Jihad: We're All in This Together

Don Feder
December 8, 2006

Don Feder delivered the following speech to the Americans for A Safe Israel National Conference (“America And Israel – The Present Danger”) held in New York City on December 3, 2006. – The Editors.

You have a problem. It’s a problem shared by Jews in Hebron, Serbs in Kosovo, Hindus in the Kashmir, Catholics in Lebanon, and Americans walking the streets of New York.

Consider the inter-connectedness of the following incidents, all of which took place in the past few months:

* In Indonesia, three Christian schoolgirls were beheaded.

* In Iraq, a Syrian Orthodox priest was kidnapped, tortured, and murdered.

* In Somalia, a nun was shot to death as she left the hospital where she worked, tending the sick and dying.

* In Lebanon, just days ago, a cabinet minister was assassinated.

* In Britain, authorities uncovered a conspiracy in which native-born Brits plotted to blow up several trans-Atlantic flights, killing as many as 3,000.

* In Afghanistan, suicide bombers are at work again.

* In Iraq, they never stopped. Additionally, the week before last, a group of worshippers were abducted from a mosque, doused with gasoline and burned to death in what’s described as “sectarian violence.”

* In France, a high school philosophy teacher is in hiding after very credible death threats following publication of a September 19th commentary in Le Figaro.

* Some 139 people died in riots in Nigeria, Libya, Pakistan, and Afghanistan – following the publication of Danish cartoons.

* Europe is experiencing the worst wave of anti-Semitic violence since Kristallnacht. The former director of the U.S. Holocaust Museum reports there an average of 12 assaults a day on Jews in Paris.

* In Kosovo, 90 percent of Serbs gave been ethnically cleansed from the province since 1999. The rest live in a state of siege.

* In Mumbai, India, a series of blasts killed almost 200.

* In Gaza, terrorists recently celebrated the latest “ceasefire” by raining more rockets on southern Israel.

* And the leader of more than a billion Catholics received death threats and demands that he convert after giving a speech in which he called for a balance of faith and reason, and quoted a 14th century Byzantine emperor.

What do the foregoing have in common?

To quote columnist Mark Steyn, in his excellent book America Alone: The End of The World As We Know It, it begins with an “I” and ends with a “slam.”

I am not saying that all Muslims are terrorists. I am saying that almost all terrorists are Muslims – the mother of all no-brainers – and that Islam is a faith that is, shall we say, terrorism-friendly. I challenge you to name another faith in which your entry into Heaven is assured by killing those of another faith in a holy war.

I am not saying that Muslims are inherently bad people. Most Muslims are like most people everywhere. I am saying that there are elements in Islam that incline adherents to commit the crimes detailed a moment ago.

I am saying – and let me be clear about this – that a faith embraced by as many as 1.3 billion people worldwide contains within it the seeds of the evil we see all around us – seeds which require only the right conditions to germinate. It all goes back to the Koran.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are in the midst of a world war, one every bit as deadly as the Cold War, and with a potential for devastation to rival World War II. Actually, the Cold War is a bad analogy. For perhaps the 20 years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, almost no one was willing to die for Communism. Today, ten of millions – perhaps hundreds of millions – around the world would gladly die, and kill, for Dar Islam.

But we make a fatal mistake if we think of Islam only in terms of suicide bombings, sniper attacks, death threats, forced conversions, female genital mutilation, honor killings, jihad-this and fatwah-that.

Every bit as important is what’s going on in maternity wards from Brussels to Bombay.

Of the 10 nations with the lowest birthrates, nine are in post-Christian Europe. And the ten countries with the highest fertility rates? That’s right – starts with an “I” and ends in a “slam.”

Fertility rates in the Muslim world look like this: Niger (7.46 children per woman), Mali (7.42), Somalia (6.76), Afghanistan (6.69), and Yemen (6.58). The Palestinian woman in Gaza who – at age 64 – just became the world’s oldest suicide bomber was the mother of nine and (at last count) the grandmother of 41.

Between 1970 and 2000, while the share of the world’s population represented by the industrialized nations declined from just under 30 percent to just over 20 percent, the share accounted for by the wonderful world of jihad rose from 15 percent to 20 percent.

Compared to the rest of the industrialized world, the United States is experiencing a veritable population explosion – with a birth rate of 2.11, just about replacement level. From there, it’s demographic winter as far as the eye can see: Canada (1.5), Germany (1.3), Russia and Italy (1.2) and not-so-sunny Spain (1.1). The latter three nations could cease to exist, as they are currently constituted, within the next 50 years.

According to a November 21st Washington Times story, by 2015, more than half the soldiers in the Russian Army will be Muslims. And you thought the Czar was bad! By 2020, over 20 percent of Russia’s population will be reading the Koran, religiously.

Within the lifetimes of some in this room, the UK, France Belgium, and the Netherlands could go Islamic green. For the present, Muslims comprise 10 percent of the French population. But of “Frenchmen” under 20, fully 30 percent share the faith of Osama bin Laden, Baby Assad, and Iran’s nut-cake leader.

You can talk all you want about population control being the happy result of higher standards of living, careers for women, sex education, contraception and access to abortion. In fact, it’s becoming the assisted suicide of the West. What it really comes boils to is this: Confident societies have babies. People with a sense of mission have children. Nations with a sense of destiny and faith in the future fill maternity wards, and nurseries and cradles.

Those that believe in God as a vague, philosophical concept (if He exists at all), don’t. Instead of the future, they put their trust in 401(k) plans, elaborate state welfare systems, and gated retirement communities.

There are still enough of those of us who care enough to act. But the hour grows proverbially late.

Everyone is so focused on their own thing that they miss the larger picture. Zionists rightly worry about Palestinian terrorism and fate of Israel should Judea, Samaria, and Gaza become Hamas-istan.

Serbs decry the destruction of ancient churches, monasteries, and shrines in Kosovo – not to mention the ethnic cleansing that followed NATO’s victory over Slobodan Milosevic – and worry about the province being permanently detached from Serbia.

Hindus anguish over the ongoing violence in Kashmir, supported by Pakistan, which has claimed more than 50,000 lives in the past 20 years, as well as terrorist acts in the rest of India.

Groups like Voice of the Martyrs meticulously document Christian persecution in the Muslim world. Lebanese Christians lament the demise of the last Christian country in the Middle East and Hezbollah creating a state-within-a-state. Coptic Christians complain about the treatment of their co-religionists in Egypt. And the beat goes on. But these are all part of a seamless chador. What happens in Kosovo affects the Kashmir. As Judea and Samaria go, ultimately, so go Lebanon and London.

In retrospect, it’s easy to see that a number of events in the 1930s were steps leading to the Second World War: Hitler’s rise to power, the remilitarization of the Rhineland, the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, German and Italian intervention in the Spanish Civil War, the Japanese conquest of Manchuria, and so on. It’s always easier to see the interconnectedness of events and the significance of trends in retrospect – well after the fact. But at least after Pearl Harbor, most Americans understood that they were at war. It’s been five years since this generation’s Pearl Harbor, and most of us still don’t have a clue.

When word of Pearl Harbor reached London, Winston Churchill called Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The conversation ended with the British prime minister telling the American president: “Well, we are all in this together now.” As indeed they were; as they probably had been since the early 1930s, though almost no one was aware of it at the time.

Well, my friends, we truly are all in this together – Jews and Catholics, Lebanese Christians and Hindus, Orthodox Serbs, and Indonesian Christians. Until we begin to understand that, we have no hope of countering the global jihad. When Zionists start caring about the fate of Serbs in Kosovo, when Hindus support Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria (designated the West Bank), when Serbs stand up for Indian Kashmir, then we will begin making progress.

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Don Feder is a former Boston Herald writer who is now a political/communications consultant. He also maintains his own website,

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Bob Klapisch: Barry Christmas

Thursday, December 7, 2006

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The lobby vigil went deep into the afternoon, devouring everyone in its path. You didn't dare leave the ground floor of the Dolphin Hotel, certainly not for lunch, but not even for a glimpse of Florida sunshine. Not when Barry Bonds was in the house and he was -- get this -- looking for a job.

Understand this about the superstar mind-set: Players like Bonds don't show up at the Winter Meetings. They just don't; it's beneath them. The industry convention is normally (over)populated by reporters, professional autograph seekers, gawkers and, of course, baseball executives who are supposed to be chasing free agents, not the other way around.

But this isn't an ordinary winter for Bonds, who, despite his inevitable coronation as the game's all-time home run leader, is discovering a lack of industry interest. Potential employers all use the same politically correct praise for Bonds -- great player, once-in-a-generation talent -- but when it comes to actually hiring him, none has shown an appetite for his baggage and potential legal problems.

So Bonds took the initiative on Wednesday, parading through the lobby's traffic en route to the elevators. The slugger must've known a small riot of reporters would immediately descend upon him, but it was apparently worth the annoyance (and embarrassment) in exchange for a face to face with San Francisco general manager Brian Sabean.

Once inside the Giants' suite, Bonds could ask the off-season's most pressing question: Why hasn't a 2007 contract been finalized?

Actually, both sides know exactly why. It's because Bonds is looking for $18 million for next year, cloning his 2006 salary, and he wants performance-based incentives that not only fatten the deal's dollar value, but guarantee a 2008 contract, too.

The last thing the Giants want is Bonds hanging around after he's caught and passed Hank Aaron next summer. Like an old married couple, the two sides have grown tired of each other and the Giants, in particular, are ready to move on as soon as it's politically feasible.

They know they can't jettison Bonds just yet, however. They have too many years invested in him, and are too closely linked to his pursuit of Ruth and Aaron. And there are plenty of Bay Area fans who support Bonds, who have no problem with whatever he's been injecting himself with since 1998, and want to be in the ballpark the moment he hits homer No. 756.

The Giants, no dummies, aren't about to walk away from a summer of sellouts. But they're not about to write a blank check to Bonds, either, no matter how persuasively he charms them -- or tries to intimidate them in person.

What other reason could there be for Bonds to ask for an in-person interview with Sabean? The slugger is understandably frustrated at how little progress has been made, although his agent Jeff Borris is trying to rationalize it all by saying, "It's a business."

"[Bonds'] status is a healthy, 42-year-old unemployed baseball player," the agent told the Associated Press. "He is looking for work on a team with a chance to make the postseason, as a left fielder, DH or a combination of both."

Of course, there are plenty of teams, especially in the American League, who could use a power-hitting left-handed batter. The A's and Orioles, for example, would benefit from Bonds' offense, at least in theory. But Oakland GM Billy Beane passed on the idea weeks ago, and the Orioles never even brought the idea to owner Peter Angelos.

An executive of a third team said its brain trust held a roundtable discussion about Bonds in November. First, they decided Bonds would be too expensive. Second, they questioned whether he could get along with his teammates and would challenge his manager, in the clubhouse or in the dugout.

And finally, the discussion drifted toward karma, and whether taking on an alleged steroid user would doom them.

"We asked ourselves, 'do we really want to win this way?' " the executive said. With that, the debate evaporated; Bonds' name was never mentioned again.

The Giants are the only team with a wide-enough berth for Bonds now; both sides know it. The charade of Bonds luring other clubs into negotiating is just that, a ploy designed to pressure the Giants.

Not that it's working. One Giants official told on Wednesday, "There may be a phantom team out there somewhere -- but we can't find it."

The real mystery, however, was what Bonds was doing all afternoon inside the hotel. He made a grand entrance at about 10 a.m., disappearing into an elevator. He returned to the lobby briefly at about 1 p.m. on his way to a second tower of suites. By 5 p.m. Bonds was gone, hustled out a side exit without being sighted. There were no photo ops, no quotes, no clues.

Whether Bonds and his agent spoke to one team or five remained a mystery. The Giants themselves refused to admit a summit even took place; Sabean said, "I'm not talking about left field today."

But Bonds gave away all his secrets the moment he set foot inside the Dolphin. In fact, Bonds might as well have come equipped with a sandwich board sign:

Home Runs for Sale.

Baggage Included.


* * *
Ho, Ho, No?

Baseball GMs, where's your holiday cheer? Doesn't anyone want a guy who's just 22 homers short of breaking the all-time record? Here are some possibilities:

Giants: San Francisco is willing to have Barry Bonds back, but not at his asking price.

Angels: They would be able to add the big bat that they've sought without having to give up any of their young pitchers.

Dodgers: They need a bat, but could be tapped out after adding Lieberthal and Schmidt, and re-signing Garciaparra.

Padres: Could use the money they were using to pay Mike Piazza and apply it toward paying Bonds.

Film Review: "Apocalypto"


A Buena Vista release of a Touchstone Pictures presentation in association with Icon Prods. of an Icon production.
Produced by Mel Gibson, Bruce Davey.
Executive producers, Ned Dowd, Vicki Christianson.
Co-producer, Farhad Safinia.
Directed by Mel Gibson.
Screenplay, Gibson, Farhad Safinia.
Jaguar Paw - Rudy Youngblood
Seven - Dalia Hernandez
Blunted - Jonathan Brewer

Mel Gibson is always good for a surprise, and his latest is that "Apocalypto" is a remarkable film. Set in the waning days of the Mayan civilization, the picture provides a trip to a place one's never been before, offering hitherto unseen sights of exceptional vividness and power. In the wake of its director's recent outburst and unwanted publicity, commercial prospects remain anyone's guess, and those looking for a reason not to attend will undoubtedly find one, be it Gibson's tirade, the gore, the subtitles or outre subject matter. But blood-and-guts action audiences should eat this up, Gibson is courting Latinos, eco-political types will like the message and at least part of the massive "The Passion of the Christ" crowd should be curious, so strong biz is possible if these distinct constituencies are roused.

Despite the subject's inherent spectacle, conflict and societal interest, Central America's pre-Columbian history has scarcely been touched by filmmakers; Hollywood's only venture into the territory was the little-remembered 1963 quasi-epic "Kings of the Sun," with Yul Brynner and George Chakiris.

Cast largely with indigenous nonpros speaking the prevailing surviving dialect of the Mesoamericans, "Apocalypto" is exotic, wild, ferocious, teeming with startling incident and brutal violence.

With co-screenwriter Farhad Safinia, Gibson has cooked up a scenario that is fundamentally a survival and chase film, with a final act that trades on the human hunt motif of "The Most Dangerous Game" and Cornel Wilde's "The Naked Prey."

But both the grand conception of a civilization in decline and the extraordinary detail with which the society is presented make the picture much more than that, to the extent that it startlingly echoes another portent-laden year-end release, Alfonso Cuaron's "Children of Men;" one film is set in the past, the other in the near-future, one was made in Mexico by a Yank-Aussie, the other in Britain by a Mexican, but both are contemporaneously resonant stories of pursuit through poisoned, dangerous lands on the brink.

Starting at a run and seldom stopping for a breather, pic opens on an animal hunt that occasions a graphically gross two-prong practical joke that instantly humanizes the characters. It establishes the relaxed, intimate, sensual nature of family-oriented life in a small jungle settlement occupied by the fearsome-looking but free-spirited protags. Chief among them is Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood), an athletic young man who has long flowing locks, sports tattoos, designed body scars, large ear adornments and a sort of chin plug, and wears nothing but a well-fitted loin cloth. His teeth are not quite as bad as those of his pals, which are very bad indeed.

Paradise comes to an abrupt end a half-hour in with the dawn attack of marauders who pillage with ruthless expertise. These guys are more heavily decorated than the locals, with bones through their noses and elsewhere. Two members of what the press notes identify as Holcane warriors stand out: the leader, Zero Wolf (the supremely imposing Raoul Trujillo), whose left arm and head are festooned with human and animal jaws, and the sadistic Snake Ink (Rodolfo Palacios, fantastically hateful), who, restrained from killing Jaguar Paw by Zero Wolf, instead murders the captive's father in front of him, launching an antagonism that runs through the picture. Both of these heavies could stay in costume and stride straight into another "Mad Max" film.

With his surviving fellow villagers, Jaguar Paw is bound and marched off through the jungle, but not before he's secreted his very pregnant wife Seven (Dalia Hernandez) and little son (Carlos Emilio Baez) in a deep pit, promising, rather against the odds, to return.

The greatest mystery surrounding the Mayan civilization is why it collapsed so suddenly. Gibson adroitly lines his film with hints of the numerous possible causes, including famine, disease, drought, increased warfare, a corrupt ruling class and general societal breakdown. A bedraggled group of emaciated natives is glimpsed moving through the forest early on, and the prisoners later pass by a haunted girl with "the sickness" who warns about the coming "blackness of day."

The long central section of "Apocalypto" is simply great epic cinema, with generous dollops of chilling horror and grisly human sacrifice. Production designer Tom Sanders makes a huge contribution to the captives' gradual entry into the great and chaotic Maya City. Each neighborhood is brilliantly detailed, from the derelict outlying shantytown to the industrial and more prosperous commercial districts, the slave market where the women are sold off and, finally, the staggering central plaza, where the first thing seen is a freshly detached human head being bounced down the long steps of a towering pyramid toward a frenzied crowd below.

Only then does it dawn on the shackled prisoners what's in store for them. At the summit preside dissolute royals as well as a high priest who, time and again, plunges a knife into a man's belly and, while the victim is still alive, tears out his still-beating heart as an offering to placate the gods to end the drought.

It takes a freakish act of nature to save Jaguar Paw, but he and the few other survivors are quickly made objects of sport in an arena, from which commences the long and eventful chase of Jaguar Paw by Zero Wolf and his minions back through the jungle. Double-whammy ending tips over into undue melodrama that some may find risible, and one aspect of the climax establishes the film's time frame as much later in Mayan history than one might have guessed.

Notwithstanding the fantastic sets, costumes, makeup, body and hair designs and natural locations, perhaps the greatest impression is made by the performers' faces, which are superbly photogenic and unlike any normally seen in movies. The attractive, agile Youngblood carries the film with room to spare, and is entirely convincing in his many dramatic moments as well as in the intense action. Casting director Carla Hool rates a huge bonus for tracking down the people who play everyone from the most savage looking warriors to the paralyzingly weird female aristocrats in the city.

One notable aspect of the characterizations is the general attitude toward death. The Mayans as portrayed here naturally fear it like anyone, but they accept it, just as they acknowledge physical pain as an everyday aspect of life. They are utterly without sentimentality, tears or remorse; when one is about to die, another will sincerely tell them, "Travel well," and that is that. Blood and violence is abundant, but doesn't feel exaggerated or out of line in relation to the material.

Production is a wonder. Dean Semler's camera moves relentlessly through the densest of foliage and over the roughest of terrain on locations near Veracruz and in the rainforests of Catemaco, with some additional shooting done in Costa Rica and the U.K.; Gibson clearly knew the impact the lenser of the second and third "Mad Max" films could deliver. More remarkable still is that pic was shot on the new high definition Genesis camera system. Without a doubt, "Apocalypto" is the best-looking big-budget film yet shot digitally; one can't tell it wasn't shot on film.

James Horner composed an uncharacteristically low-key and moody score, full of threatening, choral-like synthesizer growling, woodwind interludes and alarming percussive strikes.

Texas Tech Beats Louisiana Tech for Knight's 876th Win

RUSTON, La. (AP) -- Bob Knight reflected back on his own playing days after his latest coaching milestone, summing up his thoughts as only Knight can.

The 66-year-old Knight tied legendary Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp for second place on the career victory list Wednesday night as Texas Tech beat Louisiana Tech 66-59. Knight's 876th victory also moved him within three of tying former North Carolina coach Dean Smith for the most in Division I history.

When asked about tying Rupp, who coached at Kentucky from 1930-1972, Knight talked about the years he played at Ohio State.

"The thing I remember about Adolph Rupp is that one time I scored seven points against the ornery son of a bitch to help beat him," Knight said, referring to Ohio State's 87-74 victory over the Wildcats in the 1961 NCAA tournament. "That's a lot bigger in my memory than this."

The coach and his players did all they could to play down the significance of the win.

When the final buzzer sounded, Knight quickly walked over to shake hands with Louisiana Tech coach Keith Richard then headed off the court with his head down. Except for one other salty comment from Knight, neither he nor his players acknowledged the milestone after the game.

Knight began his coaching career at Army in 1965. Six years later he moved to Indiana, where he won three national championships and coached for 29 seasons before being fired in 2000 for what school officials called a violation of a zero-tolerance behavior policy.

After a yearlong break, he took over at Texas Tech, which he has led to four straight 20-win seasons.

Knight has always generated controversy along with his victories, from his infamous chair-throwing tirade in 1985 to the long series of incidents that led to his acrimonious departure from Indiana.

He received criticism earlier this season when he aggressively lifted forward Michael Prince's chin to get his attention during a game.

The Red Raiders' next game is Saturday at home against Centenary.

On Wednesday night, Jarrius Jackson scored 21 points for Texas Tech (7-3) and Martin Zeno added 18.

Texas Tech scored the first six points of the game and never trailed. The Red Raiders led 33-27 at halftime and expanded that lead to 10 points in the early minutes of the second half.

A 10-2 run by Louisiana Tech narrowed the gap to 52-50 with 7:57 left. The Bulldogs twice got within a point but never tied the game.

With 1:56 to play, Louisiana Tech's Terry Parker tipped in a rebound to make it 60-59. Darryl Dora followed with a basket at the other end and Texas Tech scored the final six points of the game.

Freshman Kyle Gibson had 14 points for Louisiana Tech (1-6).

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Bob Klapisch: Pitching for Pettite

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Rumors that Andy Pettitte was on his way back to the Yankees spread so fast through the lobby of the Dolphin Hotel, it kicked to the curb the day's secondary stories, particularly Barry Zito (still listening to the Rangers), Manny Ramirez (still with the Red Sox) and Barry Bonds (making one, long boomerang journey back to the Giants).

It's no small achievement, surging to the top of the news cycle on a mere whisper. But that's how hungry the Yankees are for a dependable starting pitcher, not to mention a link to the late-'90s golden era.

The question, of course, is whether the gossip is true. reported that Pettitte was so "intrigued" at a return to pinstripes, a one-year deal could be completed within days.

His agent, Randy Hendricks, wasn't quite as enthusiastic, saying Pettitte had yet to tell
him he's actually playing again in 2007 and, if so, which team he's choosing, the Yankees or Astros.

That said, there are strong indications the Bombers might have the Christmas present they've been hoping for. For one, Hendricks says he's been trying to convince Pettitte not to retire. Even more significantly, Pettitte's family has signed off on the idea of a second tour in New York -- which in itself might be cause for celebration in the Bombers' front office.

It was Laura Pettitte who cleared the path to Houston three years ago, all but insisting her husband sever his ties with the Yankees. Friends say Mrs. Pettitte disliked New York at every stage of Andy's career, beginning in his rookie season all the way to his superstar, 21-win season in 2003.

But if Laura Pettitte is OK with Andy signing a one-year contract to play in pinstripes, then the Yankees will have -- at least temporarily -- the emotional rock they've obviously been missing since ... well, 2003.

There's every reason for Yankee fans to root for this deal to happen. Pettitte is one of the finest citizens of the Joe Torre era, a latter-day Whitey Ford who was as honest and hard-working as any Yankee of the last decade.

Pettitte has proven he can handle big-city pressure, appreciates and respects the Yankee legacy and isn't afraid to take the ball in a big game. Put it this way: If the Bombers' season comes down to nine final innings next October, whom would Torre rather trust, Pettitte or Randy Johnson?

The irony here is that Pettitte's exodus spawned the Yankees' desperate attempt to find a reliable replacement. There've been failed experiments with the emotionally overwhelmed Kevin Brown, Javier Vazquez and Carl Pavano and, to a lesser degree, Johnson. None of them have had Pettitte's stuff or maturity.

Pettitte's potential return isn't without risks, however. He's not as durable as he was in the '90s; nor is he as dominating as he was in '03. Pettitte has undergone two elbow surgeries since then, and even though he was proclaimed healthy by doctors in 2006 (and made a career-high 36 appearances for the Astros), he still had recurring elbow problems in September.

It took a cortisone shot for Pettitte to get through the pennant race, and there were at least two circumstances, one pain-related, when he couldn't take the ball. The Yankees surely know the tidal wave of nostalgia would evaporate instantly if Pettitte ever suffered a third blowout and was forced to retire in midseason.

The other thing to remember is that Pettitte would be coming from the National League to the American, which isn't the most appetizing career path for a 34-year-old pitcher. More than ever, the AL is the home for glorified batting practice, which is precisely why Barry Zito is so strongly considering signing with the Mets.

Except for one season, (in 2003 when he was hitting 94 mph on the radar gun), Pettitte has never been a particularly hard thrower. Instead, he's relied on a cutter to be effective, especially against right-handed hitters. Whether that pitch could still neutralize the bigger, strong hitters in the AL is an unanswerable question.

What the Yankees need, ultimately, is a future generation of young, hard throwers; a legion of Jeremy Bonderman clones. Maybe Philip Hughes is the answer, but the Bombers are, for now, committed to starting the season with their rookie right-hander at Class AAA.

So what do the Yankees do to bridge the gap? The answer is sitting at home in Texas, fragile left elbow and all. Pettitte might not be the perfect choice, but for one summer, he's more inviting than anyone out there.

Better track record than Ted Lilly. More impressive than Gil Meche. And certainly more economical than Zito. All the Yankees have to do is convince Pettitte that he has one more -- maybe one last -- chance to get to the World Series, if only he'd agree to wear the pinstripes again.

Maybe the courtship is actually over, as reports. Maybe the game of semantics his agent played Tuesday suggests the Yankees should set aside No. 46 for the first day of pitchers and catchers at Legends Field.

When someone asked Hendricks if Pettitte was ready for a Yankee homecoming, he didn't say no. Instead, the agent cryptically replied said, "That's getting ahead of the curve."
It's actually pushing the rewind button, which the Yankees say is just fine. This is one history class they wouldn't mind sitting through.


Michelle Malkin: Gwyneth Paltrow's Anti-American Script

Gwynnie's anti-American script
Wednesday, December 6, 2006

And the Oscar for Most Dishonest Performance By a Spoiled Expatriate American Actress Trying to Dig Herself Out of a Public Relations Hole goes to . . . Gwyneth Paltrow.

Over the weekend, the international press sent out word that Paltrow had trashed her native country during a press event in Spain.

"I love the English lifestyle, it's not as capitalistic as America. People don't talk about work and money, they talk about interesting things at dinner," the Shallow Gal was quoted as telling NS, the weekend magazine supplement of daily Portuguese newspaper Diario de Noticias. "I like living here because I don't fit into the bad side of American psychology. The British are much more intelligent and civilized than the Americans," the 34-year-old reportedly mused.

After creating a global furor, Paltrow crawled to People magazine for help in covering her scrawny intellectual assets. The publication's website claimed the actress was misquoted and that she would neeeeever say anything negative about America.

"First of all I feel so lucky to be American. When you look at the rest of the world, we're so lucky, and that's something my dad always instilled in me," People quoted Paltrow explaining. "I feel so proud to be American." Summoning up all her method acting lessons from past tearful acceptance award speeches, Paltrow emoted: "I felt so upset to be completely misconstrued, and I never, ever would have said that."

Never, ever?

The oh-so-wronged actress has, in fact, been reciting from an unambiguous anti-American script for years.

In January 2006, as I noted on my blog over the weekend
(, the British newspaper the Guardian quoted Paltrow snubbing America in nearly identical language. Same old, same old:

"I love the English way, which is not as capitalistic as it is in America. People don't talk about work and money; they talk about interesting things at dinner parties. I like living here because I don't tap into the bad side of American psychology, which is 'I'm not achieving enough, I'm not making enough, I'm not at the top of the pile.'"

In February 2006, Paltrow was quoted in Britain's Star magazine again disparaging American intellect and decorum: "Brits are far more intelligent and civilised than Americans. I love the fact that you can hail a taxi and just pick up your pram and put it in the back of the cab without having to collapse it. I love the parks and places I go for dinner and my friends."

In 2005, she was quoted on the New York Post's Page Six: "I've always been drawn to Europe. America is such a young country, with an adolescent swagger about it. But I feel that I have a more European sensibility, a greater respect for the multicultural nature of the globe." She was also quoted that year explaining her decision to move to London to the New York Daily News: "I just had a baby and thought, 'I don't want to live there.'" International press reports had her deriding "Bush's anti-environment, pro-war policies" as either a "disgrace" or a "disaster."

In January 2004, Paltrow was quoted in the pages of Britain's Glamour magazine declaring that America was "too weird" because of its overt displays of patriotism. "At the moment there's a weird, over-patriotic atmosphere over there, like, 'We're number one and the rest of the world doesn't matter.'" (She much prefers the dinner chatter of wealthy British hubby and Coldplay musician Chris Martin, who has proclaimed shareholders as "the great evil of this modern world" and who ranted at a British awards show that "We're all going to die when George Bush has his way.")

In 2003, the Scottish Daily Record of Glasgow quoted Paltrow trashing America's president overseas: "I think Bush is such an embarrassment to America. He doesn't take the rest of the world at all into consideration. It all seems to be for him and his friends to keep getting richer at the expense of a nation, at the expense of the environment. It's like a full-scale assault." (No comment from Paltrow about her own Mercedes Benz SUV gas-guzzling assaults on American roads and her multiple ginormous mansion-owning contributions to the nation's eco-catastrophe.)

Paltrow blames the latest brouhaha on a misunderstanding of her "seventh-grade Spanish."
Unfortunately for you, dear, your English is perfect.

Michelle Malkin makes news and waves with a unique combination of investigative journalism and incisive commentary. She is the author of Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild .

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

David Hinckley: Born to Run Around the World

The New York Daily News
Monday, December 4th, 2006

DUBLIN - It's the weekend before Thanksgiving and Bruce Springsteen is wrapping up his "Seeger Sessions" tour, a fireworks display of quintessentially American music, in a city 3,000 miles and one ocean away from the nearest corner of America.

Why? Simple. Springsteen probably wouldn't put it this way, but basically, more people over here seem to get it.

No, Springsteen is not an exile, driven like Josephine Baker or the Golden Gate Quartet to find personal and artistic freedom abroad. He could put his E Street Band back together tomorrow and sell out American stadiums by nightfall.

But "We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions," a wonderful record by any measure, met a relatively indifferent reception in the States last spring. It has sold under 750,000 copies, modest by Bruce standards though certainly no flop, and his U.S. tour included the unusual sight of empty seats.

Here, there is not a ticket in sight for any of his three nights at The Point, a converted railroad station. The scalpers are here, but they aren't much help. A man who flew in from Boston says he missed the first show because he couldn't find anyone selling.

Now it's true that potato for potato, Ireland may be the most musical country on Earth. But European audiences in general have often shown greater respect and affection for the range of music Springsteen explores.

Unlike many U.S. audiences, they don't seem to feel entitled to hear "Born to Run" at every show. They're just as happy with "Old Dan Tucker," a fine old man who "combed his hair with a wagon wheel and died with a toothache in his heel."

"Old Dan Tucker" was written in the 19th century as a lively banjo number for blackface minstrel shows. The music came from Africa, Ireland and all points in between, and the song is kin to the likes of "Zip Coon" and "Jump Jim Crow."

It could have been written only in America, where it was first published in 1843.

At The Point, 8,500 Irishmen and women hear three chords from Mark Clifford's banjo and sing the whole first chorus of "Old Dan Tucker" while Springsteen stands behind his microphone, beaming.

It's a good moment in a show that will deliver more. Springsteen has been on the road with the 17-piece Seeger Sessions Band for more than six months, and what sometimes sounded like delightful jam sessions in May has tightened up. The four-piece horn section talks to the banjo, the guitars, the accordion, the standup bass, the pedal steel and a half-dozen vocalists.

Unchanged is the music itself, equal parts New Orleans jazz and back-porch Saturday night, with folk tunes, Irish airs, gospel and a double shot of rock 'n' roll weaving in and out.

"Open All Night," from Springsteen's 1982 "Nebraska" album that foreshadowed "The Seeger Sessions," has grown into a jive workout that takes a break for dueling quartets of male and female scat singers.

"Blinded by the Light," a Dylanesque rocker, takes on a country flavor the first night and gets a little jazzier the third. It's that rare reinvention that matches or betters the original.

The anchor songs of these shows, including "John Henry," "Oh, Mary, Don't You Weep," "Jacob's Ladder" and "Pay Me My Money Down," come from different corners of America to address the fundamental matters Springsteen tackles in his own songs: work, virtue, adversity, faith, community, trouble, hope.

More to the point, they have all the exuberance he brings to "Badlands" or "Promised Land," which makes it more puzzling that a lot of American fans didn't even seem to listen.

Maybe they assumed a "Seeger" record must be folk music and decided to wait for his next E Street record - and there's nothing wrong with preferring one style of music to another when you're talking about the guy who did "Out on the Street," "Johnny 99," "Independence Day," "Thunder Road," "Atlantic City" and "The Rising."

There is, however, a minority of fans who want to hear only "The River" or "Born in the U.S.A.," so they go to shows and either leave their seats or chat with friends if Bruce dares to play, say, "Mansion on the Hill."

The annoyance this causes their fellow fans has over the years trickled up to Springsteen himself, who on his past couple of tours has told fans early in the evening that he would appreciate their shutting up and listening when the music is playing.

No such warning is needed here at The Point. There are a few whistles and bellows of "We love you, Bruce!" between songs, but no one yells "Glory Days!" as he starts strumming "How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live."

These fans sing the chorus of "My Oklahoma Home," another pure American song with droll lines like "Everything but my mortgage blown away" as enthusiastically as they would sing "Hungry Heart." There is not a murmur when he sings the anti-war ballad "Mrs. McGrath" and almost whispers "When the Saints Go Marching In."

When he lifts his hand at the end of "Pay Me My Money Down," 8,500 people spontaneously hold the final note of their last chorus. At the very least, these folks are paying attention.

They're also, clearly, ready to go where Springsteen wants to take them, whether it's Thunder Road or a whole mapful of other musical paths.

Before the Saturday Point show, a group of Bruce fans are gathered in the bar, discussing "Seeger" as fluently as other fans discuss "Darkness."

One woman, a 40ish blond named Claire, suggests that part of the affection for this tour comes from the Irish roots in much of the music. A song he wrote to close the show, "The American Land," is so Celtic in melody that it could have been lifted from a Christy Moore or Clancy Brothers session.

She also suggests there's something in Dublin itself.

"Twenty years ago," she says, "this was nothing like you're seeing today, with the malls and the fancy shops. I grew up just outside the city. We didn't have indoor plumbing or running water. No telephone. Americans would look around here today and think it's always been like it is now, like it is in America. But it wasn't. So I think we appreciate things a little more, and the kind of songs Bruce is singing now, about the basic struggles, we may relate to a little better."

As it happens, three new Springsteen coffee-table books tend to reinforce Claire's point.

"Greetings From E Street" by Robert Santelli (Chronicle, $35) tracks his career from the days when he was making music but not money. Seeing Springsteen in bars and tour motels is a good reminder that he didn't come from the mansion on the hill. Most of the places he writes about, he's been.

"Born to Run: The Unseen Photos" by Eric Meola (Insight, $39.95) focuses on that breakthrough 1975 album, with a sheaf of publicity photos of this scruffy rock 'n' roll kid with a torn T-shirt and an Elvis button.

"Bruce Springsteen on Tour" by Bruce biographer Dave Marsh (Bloomsbury, $39.95) tracks where he's been onstage and, more importantly, what he did there. Powerful as the anthemic "Born in the U.S.A." tour was, it was just one style, one message. Those who ignore the others, Marsh suggests, cheat themselves.

In Dublin, where the signature industry is still Guinness beer, they're drinking "The Seeger Sessions" in.

They cheer when he sings about how the Irish helped create America, which in Springsteen's songs is a place that has never lost its promise even if it has sometimes lost its compass.

"We'll be back," he tells the audience, though what that means with Springsteen - when, who, where - is a question whose answer he may not know yet. It's further on up the road.

What we do know is that all three shows here were filmed, meaning that at the very least, something too much of America missed has not been lost.