Saturday, September 01, 2007

Record Lovers' Loss

On the Beat: David Menconi on music

Thursday, August 30, 2007

From our pal Tony Madejczyk, here's a true blast from the past -- video footage of the late John Swain holding forth at a record show in 1987. Swain ran my favorite store in town, the Record Hole, in which capacity he could've passed for a character in "High Fidelity" years before Nick Hornby wrote the book. The local music-retail landscape has never been the same since Swain died in 1991, and watching this makes me feel a pang for the long hours I spent record-geekin' at his store.

Click through for the tribute I wrote when Swain died, which has a lead I now find embarrassingly overwrought (mostly because I can almost hear Swain in ghost form sneering, "Whitney Houston?!"). But I felt it at the time, so what the heck.

Record lovers' loss

By David Menconi, News & Observer

July 12, 1991

I'm not sure why, but I always get the urge to listen to Marvin Gaye whenever an acquaintance dies. Maybe it's because "What's Going On" was one of the earliest songs I vividly remember from childhood. Or maybe because Mr. Gaye was such a twisted, psychotic genius. Or maybe just that he died young.

Whatever the reason, his music has always been synonymous with mortality for me. I was pondering this Sunday night at Walnut Creek while listening to Whitney Houston's backup band perform a Marvin Gaye medley during one of the star's costume changes.

As the band swung into "What's Going On," I was thinking about John E. Swain III, who was found dead in his Raleigh apartment last Friday. He was only 45 -- a year older than the age at which Mr. Gaye died. At press time, the cause of death was still pending the results of laboratory tests.

John was proprietor of the Record Hole, across Hillsborough Street from the Brewery. Record stores are like libraries for music critics. They're where we go to do our research, and also where we turn when we're feeling bored with whatever's fashionable at the moment. With John's death, I've lost my favorite librarian in town.

He was an odd character with a manner that ranged from gruff on a good day to incredibly irascible on a bad one. His small store was a disorganized shambles, and he kept unpredictable hours -- closed until he was open, open until he was closed.

But the Record Hole had some priceless treasures for anyone willing to take the time to look. And when it came to old records, John was one of the most knowledgeable people I've ever met. The Record Hole was like a magnet for the many DJs and collectors who were regular customers.

In the few months that I frequented the Record Hole, John turned me on to an unbelievable amount of good music. It did take him awhile to warm up to me. But he seemed to decide I was OK the day he overheard me answer another customer's question about rockabilly guitarist Robert Gordon's former group (the Tuff Darts).

After that, he was never less than generous with his knowledge or his inventory. Once he noticed that I was always snapping up old blues and soul compilations, John started setting aside records he thought I would like: Lightnin' Hopkins, Lavern Baker, Duke Ellington.

When he went to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in May, he even brought me back a dog-eared copy of a fabulous old album by blues pianist Champion Jack Dupree. It was a typical gesture for him.

"He loved music, and he loved passing it on to people," said the Rev. Billy C. Wirtz, John's next-door neighbor.

Unfortunately, the Record Hole was a one-man show. John's death leaves the store's future up in the air, although record collectors already are making inquiries about taking it over. There has also been talk about Mr. Wirtz doing a benefit show with the proceeds going toward the Mississippi Blues Museum.

Whatever happens with the store, John's death leaves a void. I'll miss him, and so will everyone else around here who loves music.

Posted at 11:22 am by davidmenconi in music

Comment from: Phil Melton [Visitor]
08/30/07 at 16:55

Thanks for posting this, David. I was looking for my copy of the column not long ago. Every time I pass that part of Hillsborough Street it brings back memories of time spent in the Record Hole. Not only did John know about all kinds of music, he knew someone that would buy almost anything. I was managing the Crabtree Record Bar in 91 and used to take him boxes of record promos that my employees and I didn't want. There was always some place in Brooklyn, or Virginia, or somebody he knew from his rounds that would want what we had picked over. When he passed away, it was like every Record Bar manager in town took a pay cut. He was a great character, and is still missed.
Comment from: davidmenconi [Member]

08/30/07 at 17:57

A comment from Peter Bent:

That is me (the tall one) standing next to Swain in the picture you posted and my sister Melissa (Tony's wife) shot the video. There was never anything before or since like the Record Hole. I think I made my bones when I first started going there by buying a Joe Ely record that he respected. I went on some of those New Orleans trips with him, too. I remember dropping him off in some nasty looking projects and he showed up hours later with a stash of uber-cool vinyl, maybe even that Champion Jack Dupree thing.
I bought one hell of a lot of records in Mr. Swain's store...he is still missed. - jtf

Patrick J. Buchanan: The Friends of Larry Craig

Patrick J. Buchanan Archive

August 30, 2007

"When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes, I all alone beweep my outcast state," wrote Shakespeare. Sen. Larry Craig knows today whereof the bard spoke.
Rarely has a United States senator fallen so fast from grace or been so completely abandoned.

As the nation now knows, Craig was arrested in June in an airport men's room in Minneapolis, charged with propositioning an undercover cop, who was on duty there because the place had become notorious.

According to the officer, Craig, in the next stall, flashed known signals of a man seeking anonymous and immediate sex.

Rather than fight the charge, Craig pleaded guilty to a disorderly conduct misdemeanor. This week, the story exploded and Craig is fighting what appears a losing battle for his career and reputation.

In a statement carried nationally, he declared his innocence of any allegation of immoral conduct. I did nothing wrong, I am not gay, he said again and again.

Yet it requires a suspension of disbelief to accept the complete innocence of Sen. Craig. After all, he pleaded guilty, and for years similar rumors have swirled about him. The Idaho Statesman has produced a tape of a man who claims to have had a recent sexual encounter with Craig in a men's room at Union Station in Washington, D.C. [Men's room arrest reopens questions about Sen. Larry Craig, By Dan Poskey, August 28, 2007]

Craig denies all and calls the Statesman investigation of his private life, going all the way back to college days, a witch hunt. In his favor, after 300 interviews, the Statesman came up with nothing solid save the Union Station allegation and the airport incident.

As ever, such episodes reveal almost as much about the accusers as about the accused.

Reveling in Craig's disgrace, the liberal media not only cast the first stone, but most of them. They are mocking Craig as a family-values hypocrite who indulges privately in conduct he publicly condemns. But even assuming Craig has led a second and secret life, would that automatically make him a hypocrite, a fraud, an Elmer Gantry?

Is there no possibility a man can believe in traditional morality, yet find himself tempted to behavior that morally disgusts him? Is it impossible Craig is driven by impulses, the biblical "thorn in the flesh," of which Paul wrote, to behavior he almost cannot control?

Why else would a United States senator take the incredible risk of disgracing himself and humiliating his family, and ending his career, for a few minutes of anonymous sex in an airport men's room?

Is every alcoholic who falls off the wagon a hypocrite if he has tried to warn kids of the evil of alcohol? Many men have tried to live good lives and fallen again and again. They are called sinners.

Yet, if the charges are true, and it appears they are, Larry Craig has worse personal problems than his impending loss of office.

And how have his colleagues responded?

Republicans immediately denounced him, stripped him of all his seniority rights, and ordered an ethics committee investigation and a study of whether more immediate action should be taken.

Sens. John McCain and Norm Coleman called on him to resign. "(W)hen you plead guilty to a crime, you shouldn't serve," said McCain, adding, "That's not a moral stand."

Sorry, but the morality here is far more relevant than the admitted misdemeanor. If Craig had pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct for punching out an obnoxious heckler, he would not be friendless today.

The silence of most Democrats is understandable. If you belong to a party that declares homosexuality a moral lifestyle, that perhaps should be elevated to the level of matrimony, then what would Craig be guilty of, other than being horribly indiscreet?

Up to this week, Craig was one of only two senators to have come out for Mitt Romney. He headed up the Romney campaign in Idaho. He vouched for Mitt in Congress and the country.

And Mitt wasted no time throwing his Idaho chairman under the bus, adding he deserved it: "Once again, we've found people in Washington have not lived up to the level of respect and dignity that we would expect for somebody that gets elected to a position of high influence. Very disappointing. He's no longer associated with my campaign."

Larry Craig's conduct "reminds us," said Mitt, "of Mark Foley and Bill Clinton ... of the fact that people who are elected to public office continue to disappoint, and they somehow think that if they vote the right way on issues of significance or they can speak a good game, that we'll just forgive and forget."

"And frankly, it's disgusting."

That Mitt was decisive, that he was a "good butcher," as a prime minister must be, said Asquith, is undeniable. This speaks well of Mitt's executive intolerance of failures and failing. But one did not hear much here in the way of compassion for Larry Craig or his family.

Some senators, like Chris Dodd, cut Larry Craig some slack and asked that we hear him out before sentence is passed.
Count your friends when you're down, Nixon always advised.

Patrick J. Buchanan needs no introduction to VDARE.COM readers; his book State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America, can be ordered from

Friday, August 31, 2007

Thomas Aquinas: Reasons in Proof of the Existence of God

The Apotheosis of St. Thomas Aquinas, 1631
Francisco Zurbarán

Medieval Sourcebook:

Thomas Aquinas: Reasons in Proof of the Existence of God, 1270

Summa Theologia

Article II. Whether the existence of God is demonstrable:

Let us proceed to the second point. It is objected (1) that the existence of God is not demonstratable: that God's existence is an article of faith, and that articles of faith are not demonstratable, because the office of demonstration is to prove, but faith pertains (only) to things that are not to be proven, as is evident from the Epistle to the Hebrews, 11. Hence that God's existence is not demonstratable. Again, (2) that the subject matter of demonstration is that something exists, but in the case of God we cannot know what exists, but only what does not, as Damascenus says (Of the Orthodox Faith, I., 4.) Hence that we cannot demonstrate God's existence. Again, (3) that if God's existence is to be proved it must be from what He causes, and that what He effects is not sufficient for His supposed nature, since He is infinite, but the effects finite, and the finite is not proportional to the infinite. Since, therefore, a cause cannot be proved through an effect not proportional to itself, it is said that God's exisence cannot be proved.

But against this argument the apostle says (Rom. I., 20), "The unseen things of God are visible through His manifest works." But this would not be so unless it were possible to demonstrate God's existence through His works. What ought to be understood concerning anything, is first of all, whether it exists. Conclusion. It is possible to demonstrate God's existence, atthough not a priori (by pure reason), yet a posteriori from some work of His more surely known to us.
In answer I must say that the proof is double. One is through the nature of a cause and is called propter quid: this is through the nature of preceding events sirnply. The other is through the nature of the effect, and is called quia, and is through the nature of preceding things as respects us. Since the effect is better known to us than the cause, we proceed from the effect to the knowledge of the cause. From any effect whatsoever it can be proved that a corresponding cause exists, if only the effects of it are sufficiently known to us, for since effects depend on causes, the effect being given, it is necessary that a preceding cause exists. Whence, that God exists, although this is not itself known to us, is provable through effects that are known to us.
To the first objection above, I reply, therefore, that God's existence, and those other things of this nature that can be known through natural reason concerning God, as is said in Rom. I., are not articles of faith, but preambles to these articles. So faith presupposes natural knowledge, so grace nature, and perfection a perfectible thing. Nothing prevents a thing that is in itself demonstratable and knowable, from being accepted as an article of faith by someone that does not accept the proof of it.

To the second objection, I reply that, since the cause is proven from the effect, one must use the effect in the place of a definition of the cause in demonstrating that the cause exists; and that this applies especially in the case of God, because for proving that anything exists, it is necessary to accept in this method what the name signifies, not however that anything exists, because the question what it is is secondary to the question whether it exists at all. The characteristics of God are drawn from His works as shall be shown hereafter, (Question XIII). Whence by proving that God exists through His works as shall be shown hereafter, (Question XIII). Whence by proving that God exists through His works, we are able by this very method to see what the name God signifies.

To the third objection, I reply that, although a perfect knowledge of the cause cannot be had from inadequate effects, yet that from any effect manifest to us it can be shown that a cause does exist, as has been said. And thus from the works of God His existence can be proved, although we cannot in this way know Him perfectly in accordance with His own essence.

Article III. Whether God exists.

Let us proceed to the third article. It is objected (1) that God does not exist, because if one of two contradictory things is infinite, the other will be totally destroyed; that it is implied in the name God that there is a certain infinite goodness: if then God existed, no evil would be found. But evil is found in the world; therefore it is objected that God does not exist. Again, that what can be accomplished through a less number of principles will not be accomplished through more. It is objected that all things that appear on the earth can be accounted for through other principles, without supposing that God exists, since what is natural can be traced to a natural principle, and what proceeds from a proposition can be traced to the human reason or will. Therefore that there is no necessity to suppose that God exists. But as against this note what is said of the person of God (Exod. III., 14) I am that I am. Conclusion. There must be found in the nature of things one first immovable Being, a primary cause, necessarily existing, not created; existing the most widely, good, even the best possible; the first ruler through the intellect, and the ultimate end of all things, which is God.

I answer that it can be proved in five ways that God exists.

The first and plainest is the method that proceeds from the point of view of motion. It is certain and in accord with experience, that things on earth undergo change. Now, everything that is moved is moved by something; nothing, indeed, is changed, except it is changed to something which it is in potentiality. Moreover, anything moves in accordance with something actually existing; change itself, is nothing else than to bring forth something from potentiality into actuality. Now, nothing can be brought from potentiality to actual existence except through something actually existing: thus heat in action, as fire, makes fire-wood, which is hot in potentiality, to be hot actually, and through this process, changes itself. The same thing cannot at the same time be actually and potentially the same thing, but only in regard to different things. What is actually hot cannot be at the same time potentially hot, but it is possible for it at the same time to be potentially cold. It is impossible, then, that anything should be both mover and the thing moved, in regard to the same thing and in the same way, or that it should move itself. Everything, therefore, is moved by something else. If, then, that by which it is moved, is also moved, this must be moved by something still different, and this, again, by something else. But this process cannot go on to infinity because there would not be any first mover, nor, because of this fact, anything else in motion, as the succeeding things would not move except because of what is moved by the first mover, just as a stick is not moved except through what is moved from the hand. Therefore it is necessary to go back to some first mover, which is itself moved by nothing---and this all men know as God.

The second proof is from the nature of the efficient cause. We find in our experience that there is a chain of causes: nor is it found possible for anything to be the efficient cause of itself, since it would have to exist before itself, which is impossible. Nor in the case of efficient causes can the chain go back indefinitely, because in all chains of efficient causes, the first is the cause of the middle, and these of the last, whether they be one or many. If the cause is removed, the effect is removed. Hence if there is not a first cause, there will not be a last, nor a middle. But if the chain were to go back infinitely, there would be no first cause, and thus no ultimate effect, nor middle causes, which is admittedly false. Hence we must presuppose some first efficient cause---which all call God.

The third proof is taken from the natures of the merely possible and necessary. We find that certain things either may or may not exist, since they are found to come into being and be destroyed, and in consequence potentially, either existent or non-existent. But it is impossible for all things that are of this character to exist eternally, because what may not exist, at length will not. If, then, all things were merely possible (mere accidents), eventually nothing among things would exist. If this is true, even now there would be nothing, because what does not exist, does not take its beginning except through something that does exist. If then nothing existed, it would be impossible for anything to begin, and there would now be nothing existing, which is admittedly false. Hence not all things are mere accidents, but there must be one necessarily existing being. Now every necessary thing either has a cause of its necessary existence, or has not. In the case of necessary things that have a cause for their necessary existence, the chain of causes cannot go back infinitely, just as not in the case of efficient causes, as proved. Hence there must be presupposed something necessarily existing through its own nature, not having a cause elsewhere but being itself the cause of the necessary existence of other things---which all call God.

The fourth proof arises from the degrees that are found in things. For there is found a greater and a less degree of goodness, truth, nobility, and the like. But more or less are terms spoken of various things as they approach in diverse ways toward something that is the greatest, just as in the case of hotter (more hot) which approaches nearer the greatest heat. There exists therefore something that is the truest, and best, and most noble, and in consequence, the greatest being. For what are the greatest truths are the greatest beings, as is said in the Metaphysics Bk. II. 2. What moreover is the greatest in its way, in another way is the cause of all things of its own kind (or genus); thus fire, which is the greatest heat, is the cause of all heat, as is said in the same book (cf. Plato and Aristotle). Therefore there exists something that is the cause of the existence of all things and of the goodness and of every perfection whatsoever---and this we call God.

The fifth proof arises from the ordering of things for we see that some things which lack reason, such as natural bodies, are operated in accordance with a plan. It appears from this that they are operated always or the more frequently in this same way the closer they follow what is the Highest; whence it is clear that they do not arrive at the result by chance but because of a purpose. The things, moreover, that do not have intelligence do not tend toward a result unless directed by some one knowing and intelligent; just as an arrow is sent by an archer. Therefore there is something intelligent by which all natural things are arranged in accordance with a plan---and this we call God.

In response to the first objection, then, I reply what Augustine says; that since God is entirely good, He would permit evil to exist in His works only if He were so good and omnipotent that He might bring forth good even from the evil. It therefore pertains to the infinite goodness of God that he permits evil to exist and from this brings forth good.

My reply to the second objection is that since nature is ordered in accordance with some defined purpose by the direction of some superior agent, those things that spring from nature must be dependent upon God, just as upon a first cause. Likewise, what springs from a proposition must be traceable to some higher cause which is not the human reason or will, because this is changeable and defective and everything changeable and liable to non-existence is dependent upon some unchangeable first principle that is necessarily self-existent as has been shown.


From: Oliver J. Thatcher, ed., The Library of Original Sources (Milwaukee: University Research Extension Co., 1907), Vol. V: The Early Medieval World, pp. 359-363.

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

Paul Kengor: Deaver's Quiet Departure

30 years with Ronald Reagan.

President Reagan holds a oval office staff meeting on his first full day in office (from left to right) Deputy Chief of Staff Michael Deaver, Counsellor to the President Ed Meese, Chief of Staff James Baker III, Press Secretary James Brady, President Reagan. 1/21/81.

August 31, 2007

It has been a couple of weeks since Mike Deaver, longtime aide to Ronald Reagan — and a confidant of Nancy Reagan’s — died at the age of 69 of pancreatic cancer.

The major media responded with the typical run of obituaries, rightly recognizing one of the major figures from the Reagan era. The reaction from the conservative media, however, has been unusually quiet. Typically, the conservative press carries a bunch of tributes to top aides like Deaver who served the icon of the modern Republican party and conservative movement — but not this time.

In truth, this is not surprising. To be frank, conservatives did not like Mike Deaver, and most of the stalwart, red-white-and-blue Reaganites who worked for the administration harbored ill-will toward the man, often understandably. Over the years, many of these stalwarts have pulled me aside to share striking, sometimes scandalous off-the-record stories about Deaver, always lumping him in with the cabal of “moderates” and “pragmatists” that they believe — not always inaccurately — did a disservice to Reagan, before moving on to make George H. W. Bush a one-term president. I have contacted a number of them since Deaver’s departure, asking their opinion of the non-reaction. A typical response was this terse four-word e-mail. “Paul: Nobody liked him.”

The “nobody” referred to conservatives. The only one of the stalwarts who typically said nice things to me about Deaver was Judge William P. “Bill” Clark, the closest of all aides to Ronald Reagan, the man who brought Deaver into the public world by hiring him out of the mailroom to join him in running Governor Reagan’s staff in Sacramento. Two decades later, the media would report that it was Deaver, along with Jim Baker and others, who led a silent coup to remove Clark as Reagan’s hugely influential national security adviser. It is a sign of Clark’s boundless charity that he nonetheless spoke warmly of Deaver until his final days, and the two occasionally phoned one another to heal past wounds and to continue their ongoing joint service of preserving and promoting the legacy of Ronald Reagan. They spoke as recently as a week before Deaver’s death, with Deaver bravely assuring Clark that he was doing alright, a claim Clark sensed was not accurate.

Yet, despite the dislike of Deaver by conservatives, it must be acknowledged that he did a lot for the Reagan record, especially after the presidency. This was evident in two books he wrote on the Reagan years, Behind the Scenes and A Different Drummer: My Thirty Years with Ronald Reagan, the latter of which I strongly recommend as an outstanding account of the Reagan life and presidency, movingly narrated by Deaver’s gripping voice in a wonderful audio version.

The fact is that few spent as much time with Reagan as Deaver. As a result, Deaver had unique insights into Reagan, including on the president’s two most unappreciated intangibles: his confidence and his faith, which infused one another and combined to provide him with an unflappable serenity and security that carried him through the challenges of a historic life and presidency. Here are a few examples:

Deaver recalled a day in the summer of 1982 when he and his wife attended a lunch with Lillian Hellman, the playwright, and Joseph Alsop, an elder statesman among political columnists — two hard leftists. Hellman and Alsop engaged in a philosophical discussion about Marcel Proust, which Deaver said was too complicated for him to follow. When Deaver returned to the White House, he thought Reagan would be intrigued by the ruminations of these high-minded persons. “When I repeated [their exchange] to him,” said Deaver, “he was puzzled, almost angry. ‘Lillian Hellman!’ he said. ‘Dammit, she still thinks Joe Stalin is great!’”

Deaver noted that Nancy Reagan — he was really her right-hand man — would have enjoyed that lunch, listening to these very different voices and the give-and-take. But Reagan could care less, as Deaver explained: “As gregarious as her husband is, as much as he responds to good company, he doesn’t need or seek it. . . . I often wished he had been more willing to expose his private self to opposing opinions. That he did not, relates, I think, to his sense of security and not, as his critics may contend, to a narrowness of mind.”

Deaver was right on. Reagan’s dismissal of Hellman as a kooky dupe rather than a deep thinker was the kind of thing that drove leftist intellectuals nutty and prompted them to call him a dolt, but Reagan was unfazed. Deaver correctly understood that Reagan’s response reflected a contentedness in himself and his beliefs, not his simple-mindedness.

Deaver had witnessed such assuredness throughout his years with Reagan. He liked to point to an incident from the late 1960s when he was staying with Reagan at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York, when Reagan, then governor of California, was in town to give a speech. The next morning Reagan called Deaver to suggest a walk. After ten minutes of strolling busy sidewalks, a middle-aged man approached with a beaming grin: “Hey, I know you from television, and you’re the best. You’re Ray Milland.” Despite his wide recognition, Reagan humbly smiled as the man thrust a pen and paper at him for an autograph, and, eager to please, unflinchingly signed it — “Ray Milland.” The autograph seeker left happy. Reagan moved on as if nothing had happened, walking and talking.

We would see this same Reagan demeanor as president. At the December 1987 Washington Summit, a reporter noticed a gaggle of media fawning over Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, while Reagan strangely appeared off alone with no one interested in him. Asked if he felt upstaged by Gorbachev, Reagan replied: “Good Lord, no. I’ve been on the same stage with Errol Flynn.”

Deaver recognized this trait in Reagan long before the wider public.Then there is the matter of Reagan’s faith, on which Deaver likewise reported quite a bit. The story is now well known of Reagan’s recovering at the White House in April 1981 after the assassination attempt and feeling the need for spiritual sustenance; it was Good Friday, April 17, with Easter Sunday approaching, and he had an intense meeting with Terence Cardinal Cooke of New York. “The hand of God was upon you,” Cooke told Reagan. Reagan grew very serious. “I know,” he replied, before confiding to the Cardinal: “I have decided that whatever time I have left is for Him.” This was not merely a personal affirmation but a professional one: Reagan had now fully dedicated himself to a special spiritual mission — the defeat of atheistic Soviet Communism.

To the extent that we recognize this moment as a profound turning point, it is a credit to Mike Deaver: It was Deaver who telephoned Cooke, accurately sensing what his boss needed, and set this stage.

Four years later, in another telling incident underscoring Reagan’s religiousness, Deaver spoke of how Reagan excitedly called him after returning from the November 1985 Geneva Summit to come in for a debriefing. Deaver perceived a “festive tone” in Reagan that was “infectious.” Eagerly arriving within an hour, he asked the president what he had learned about the Soviet leader in their time together. One might guess Reagan would mention something about Gorbachev’s style or a policy matter like the general secretary’s palpable horror over SDI. Instead, Reagan responded with two simple, whispered words: “He believes.” A befuddled Deaver, knowing what Reagan meant and knowing that atheists didn’t run the USSR, followed: “Are you saying the general secretary of the Soviet Union believes in God?” Reagan responded: “I don’t know, Mike, but I honestly think he believes in a higher power.”

It would have surprised even his closest advisers to know that Reagan became most interested, almost obsessed, with the question of whether Mikhail Gorbachev was a Christian. Deaver alone saw that after Geneva and later made it public in one of his books.Together, that faith and confidence forged the character that made Reagan such an unflappable, likeable figure, able to laugh off the latest mean-spirited affront from his vicious critics, whether he was yet again being called stupid and lazy or being blamed for homelessness and AIDS. The 40th president saw these attacks for what they were, and they somehow never bothered him. As Deaver summed up, “I have known few men more secure, as comfortable with themselves. . . . [N]obody threatened him. Nobody.”

Few knew or recorded that as well as Mike Deaver. Ironically, the dominant media always portrayed him as Reagan’s “image” maker — the stage-master of the easily manipulated puppet president, the man behind the curtain who made up the ex-actor to play his role to maximum performance — and according to Deaver’s detractors he was personally responsible for fostering this damaging perception. Yet, Deaver was careful to note that Reagan’s image was possible because Reagan was the real deal, the genuine article — and no dummy. The image wasn’t phony, as Deaver showed so well.

Now, today, with his death, I can’t help but recall the saddest moment in Deaver’s musings on Reagan: the day in 1997 when he paid a visit to the former president at his office in Los Angeles, where he was stricken with the early ravages of Alzheimer’s: Though Deaver had spent a memorable 30 years at Reagan’s side, he was not recognized by his longtime friend. Deaver sucked it up, stoically, while Reagan was cordial and polite. That was surely Deaver’s most difficult moment with Ronald Reagan.

Yes, Mike Deaver was certainly flawed, as his opponents are still eager to point out, and that explains their conspicuously quiet reaction to the news of his death. But his 30 years with Reagan — well spent and well recorded — are worth remembering. Ronald Reagan had an excuse for forgetting all those memories. We don’t.

— Paul Kengor is author of The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism and professor of political science at Grove City College. His biography of Judge William P. Clark, The Judge, will be released in November by Ignatius Press.

When Man in Black Was Just Johnny

Books of The Times

The New York Times
Published: August 30, 2007

Of all the music-related memoirs due this fall, Vivian Cash’s is liable to be the most surprising. With abundant evidence to make her case, Ms. Cash, the first wife of Johnny Cash, explains how her role in his life was expunged by the mythology that sprung up around him. Her book, put together with the help of Ann Sharpsteen, vehemently corrects the impression created by “people of the Nashville mind-set, who prefer that I be written out of Johnny’s history altogether.”

My Life With Johnny

By Vivian Cash with Ann Sharpsteen

Illustrated. 326 pages. Scribner. $27.

Most of this unusual book was actually written by Mr. Cash. After a brief introduction it becomes a string of the near-daily letters he wrote to his sweetheart, Vivian Liberto of San Antonio, during the three years he spent in the Air Force. They met at a skating rink in July 1951, when Ms. Cash was a petite, exotically beautiful 17-year-old schoolgirl. Soon afterward Mr. Cash, then a 19-year-old serviceman, was on his way to Germany. He did not see Ms. Cash again until the summer of 1954.

Ms. Cash died in 2005, after spending much of her life avoiding revisionist versions of Mr. Cash’s life story. With any luck she never saw “Walk the Line,” the 2005 hit movie that presented her as a nagging, ever-pregnant obstacle to his storybook romance with June Carter, who became his musical partner and second wife. The film’s Vivian could not be less like the one described by Mr. Cash in the feverish, obsessive love letters presented here.

This book does not include Ms. Cash’s side of the correspondence. Nor does it need to: Mr. Cash’s impassioned dialogue is conducted as much with himself as it is with her. Desperate to idealize his little angel as sweet, clean, pure and holy, he is equally desperate to hang onto her despite the strain of long separation. The letters become both fascinating and agonizing as Mr. Cash single-handedly creates and then hopelessly overburdens the wild romantic fantasy that sustains him through those lonely years.

At first he swoons over the memory of ruining Ms. Cash’s lipstick and bobby pins. He promises her “oceans and oceans of love and devotion.” And even at this early, innocent stage he tells her everything, no holds barred.

“Honey, I’m the only guy I know that tells his girl about the girls he runs around with over here,” he writes. “I’ve told you everything, and I’m glad we understand each other.” At the same time he expresses a loathing of his buddies’ flagrant sinfulness and promises never to be heedless of what he does. “Baby,” he insists, “I’d trade 100 of girls like that for one kiss from you.”

Pouring out a correspondence so torrential that he says it scares the mail clerk, Mr. Cash also returns constantly to his greatest fears: drinking and disloyalty. His first lapse into drunkenness is treated as a terrible accident. “I promised my mother I’d never drink,” he confesses. “Believe me, I’m ashamed.” But his promises to avoid alcohol are broken over and over. With this comes a terror that his girlfriend, back home and unsupervised, will mirror his behavior. “My wife and the mother of my children will be the kind of woman that will say, anytime and anyplace, and to anybody, ‘No thank you, I don’t drink,’ ” he tells her sternly.

When she begins frequenting a particular night spot, he writes: “I believed you Viv honey when you said the Kit Kat was a nice place.” He adds: “King Herod’s palace was a nice place too.”

Johnny and Vivian Cash soon after their marriage in 1954.

The Johnny Cash who writes to “My Snookie Pootsie” and says he plans to sleep with the big blue teddy bear he won for her “when they other boys aren’t looking” is often not that cuddly. More often he is a tormented soul, wild with sexual longing and a desire to control every last aspect of the couple’s future life.

He complains convincingly that he loves her so much it hurts. He repeatedly promises to be forever devoted to her, no matter what. (“Your little body might be all out of shape from carrying so many of my kids, but that will just make me love you more.”)

In these ways he creates a fantasy world as tantalizing as it is unattainable. The correspondence stops abruptly when he returns home to marry Ms. Cash and, at least by her account, begins tearing their dream world apart.

Quicker than you can say “show business success story,” Mr. Cash’s priorities change. Ms. Cash becomes the mother of four daughters, and he becomes the man skyrocketing to the top. The little Southern family is transported to California, home base for much of the behavior Mr. Cash once feared. Ms. Cash blames some of his violent transformation on substance abuse and much of it on Ms. Carter, who supposedly once declared “Vivian, he will be mine.” And then he was. “Let me tell you, it was horrible to be on the receiving end of her determination,” Ms. Cash writes.

“I Walked the Line” is a wildly romantic book, but also a sad and wrenching one, a testament to the destructive power of hopes pushed past the breaking point. Although Ms. Cash’s narrative sounds almost willfully naïve, that serves to make her book more revealing. The absence of her hindsight and analysis, combined with the poignant pathology on display, make this an unusually intriguing memoir. There is ample room for the reader to see what was both invisible and inevitable in these young lovers’ vision of a happy married life.

Ms. Cash has what she says is a big secret: that she never stopped loving Johnny Cash, not even after each of them remarried. In his final months, then an ailing widower, he spent enough time with Ms. Cash to authorize publication of his letters.

Mr. Cash’s admirers remember him well in that last, painful part of his life. Now they can also picture him as a just-grown man with a very different idea of what it meant to be in pain.

Diana West: Limited War vs. Total War

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (L) and Muqtada al-Sadr.

August 31, 2007

Washington Times

History, as Marx famously said (by way of paraphrasing Hegel), repeats itself -- "the first time as tragedy, the second as farce." A catchy concept, to say the least. And while there's definitely something to it, it's also true that sometimes history does not repeat itself.

Take American wars in Japan, the Koreas, Vietnam and Iraq. President Bush, addressing the Veterans of Foreign Wars, recently made a case -- a flawed case -- for a kind of core continuity linking these disparate conflicts. It's not that he didn't admit that there are many differences among them ("There are many differences" among them, he said). But he mostly argued that American involvement over time across the Far East had ushered in postwar peace and prosperity, and that this demonstrated "a precedent for the hard and necessary work we're doing" in Iraq.

How do you equate total victory in Japan with bloody stalemate in Korea with congressionally mandated defeat in Vietnam... and Iraq? Of course, it was the invocation of Vietnam -- the president offered a cautionary tale against withdrawal from Iraq by pointing to the ghastly fate of millions of South Vietnamese and other U.S. allies on our abandonment of them in 1975 -- that triggered media distress, with the liberal-elite-complex going dyspeptic over the implication that its beloved antiwar movement was culpable in the humanitarian disaster visited on anti-communists in Southeast Asia.

This is the point at which, as a good conservative, I should declare that this assessment of Vietnam is long overdue. And it is (although why the White House speechwriters brought in a quotation from Graham Greene -- a Reagan-hating, Castro-admiring, Kim Philby-defending leftist -- I'll never know). But that doesn't mean the Southeast Asian analogy -- basically, we can't let the Iraqi people down as we did the South Vietnamese -- is right.

Why? Well, for starters, South Vietnamese didn't kill American troops, didn't booby-trap buildings and towns, didn't turn temples into armed camps, didn't teach their young to throw rocks at GIs. To my knowledge, when training South Vietnamese army and police, American advisors didn't require body armor (not to mention armed U.S. guards) to ensure their survival. And South Vietnamese leaders weren't -- while Americans were fighting on South Vietnam's behalf -- eagerly courting American enemies, as, for example, Prime Minister al-Maliki seems to do every week with junkets to Iran and Syria. Where next, North Korea?

This glossed-over distinction accounts for my uneasy reaction to the president's exhortation to "stand with the Iraqis at this difficult hour." Which "Iraqis"? Sunnis and Shi'ites eradicating Iraq's remnant Christian population? Sunni bombers whose hatred of Shi'ites (fleetingly?) transcends their hatred of Americans? Agents of Iran? Agents of al Qaeda? Proponents of Hezbollah? Forgive me if I fail to be stirred by the president's call.

This isn't to suggest there aren't strategic imperatives in the Mesopotamian theater, but they have less to do with "the Iraqi people" than with suppressing Iran's offensive capabilities, Syria's expansionist aims, Saudi Arabian support for creeping Shariah, and other jihadist threats unaddressed by our efforts in Iraq.

Could it be that our military has other, more vital missions ahead? No, our strategic thinkers say, better to gloss over such things. Just like the president did when he blithely equated our limited war effort to transform post-Saddam Iraq with the total war effort that democratized Imperial Japan after World War II. There are few similarities, because there is no correlation between limited war and total war.

How can there be? The utter devastation of 1.27 million Japanese soldiers killed in battle -- another 670,000 Japanese civilians killed in air raids -- was such that when Gen. Douglas MacArthur instructed Japanese military commanders to order their men to disarm, 250,000 Japanese soldiers complied, right down to their Samurai swords. This has nothing to do with the American experience in Iraq, which, of course, remains plagued by armed militias.

Another result of total victory was that the Japanese Emperor admitted to his people that he wasn't divine. This would be akin to Shi'ite leader Ali al-Sistani declaring Allah wasn't divine. After all that, little wonder Gen. MacArthur could write up a decent constitution for Japan -- as opposed to the Shariah-supreme constitution we sponsored in Iraq.

A more frank, comprehensive-more grown-up assessment of the historical record would offer very different lessons from the ones Mr. Bush is teaching. It comes down to this: As World War II ended, we stopped being total warriors. In the 60-plus years since, we have become limited warriors. Our leadership, political and military, left and right, should recognize the difference.

Diana West is the author of the "The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization."

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Ann Coulter: Reno 911

This week, congressional Democrats vowed to investigate Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' firing of himself. Gonzales has said he was not involved in the discussions about his firing and that it was "performance-based," but he couldn't recall the specifics.

Right-wingers, like me, never trusted Gonzales. But watching Hillary Rodham Clinton literally applaud the announcement of Gonzales' resignation on Monday was more than any human being should have to bear. Liberals' hysteria about Gonzales was surpassed only by their hysteria about his predecessor, John Ashcroft. (Also their hysteria about Bush, Rove, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Libby, Rice, Barney and so on. They're very excitable, these Democrats.)

Liberals want to return the office to the glory years of Attorney General Janet Reno!

There is reason to believe Reno is precisely the sort of attorney general that Hillary would nominate, since Reno was widely assumed to be Hillary's pick at the time. As ABC News' Chris Bury reported the day Reno was confirmed: "The search for an attorney general exemplifies Hillary Clinton's circle of influence and its clout. ... The attorney general-designate, Janet Reno, came to the president's attention through Hillary Clinton's brother, Hugh Rodham."

Let's compare attorney generals:

Civilians killed by Ashcroft: 0

Civilians killed by Gonzales: 0

Civilians killed by Reno: 80

Reno's military attack on a religious sect in Waco, Texas, led to the greatest number of civilians ever killed by the government in the history of the United States. More Americans were killed in Waco than were killed at any of the various markers on the left's via dolorosa – more than Kent State (4 killed), more than the Haymarket Square rebellion (4 killed), more than Three Mile Island (0 killed).

Innocent people put in prison by Ashcroft: 0

Innocent people put in prison by Gonzales: 0

Innocent people put in prison by Reno: At least 1 that I know of

As Dade County, Fla., state attorney, Janet Reno made a name for herself as one of the leading witch-hunters in the notorious "child molestation" cases from the '80s, when convictions of innocent Americans were won on the basis of heavily coached testimony from small children.

Charged by Reno's office in 1984 with child molestation, Grant Snowden was convicted on the manufactured testimony of one such child, who was 4 years old when the abuse allegedly occurred.

Snowden, the most decorated police officer in the history of the South Miami Police Department, was sentenced to five life terms – and was imprisoned with people he had put there. Snowden served 11 years before his conviction was finally overturned by a federal court in an opinion that ridiculed the evidence against him and called his trial "fundamentally unfair."

In a massive criminal justice system, mistakes will be made from time to time. But Janet Reno put people like Snowden in prison not only for crimes that they didn't commit – but also for crimes that never happened. Such was the soccer-mom-induced hysteria of the '80s, when innocent people were prosecuted for fantastical crimes concocted in therapists' offices.

Number of obvious civil rights violations ignored by Ashcroft: 0

Number of obvious civil rights violations ignored by Gonzales: 0

Number of obvious civil rights violations ignored by Reno: at least 1

On Aug. 19, 1991, rabbinical student Yankel Rosenbaum was stabbed to death in Crown Heights by a black racist mob shouting "Kill the Jew!" as retaliation for another Hasidic man killing a black child in a car accident hours earlier.

In a far clearer case of jury nullification than the first Rodney King verdict, a jury composed of nine blacks and three Puerto Ricans acquitted Lemrick Nelson Jr. of the murder – despite the fact that the police found the bloody murder weapon in his pocket and Rosenbaum's blood on his clothes, and that Rosenbaum, as he lay dying, had identified Nelson as his assailant.

The Hasidic community immediately appealed to the attorney general for a federal civil rights prosecution of Nelson. Reno responded with utter mystification at the idea that anyone's civil rights had been violated.

Civil rights? Where do you get that?

Because they were chanting "Kill the Jew," Rosenbaum is a Jew, and they killed him.

Huh. That's a weird interpretation of "civil rights." It sounds a little harebrained to me, but I guess I could have someone look into it.

It took two years from Nelson's acquittal to get Reno to bring a civil rights case against him.

Number of innocent civilians accused of committing heinous crimes by Ashcroft: 0

Number of innocent civilians accused of committing heinous crimes by Gonzales: 0

Number of innocent civilians accused of committing heinous crimes by Reno: at least 1

Janet Reno presided over the leak of Richard Jewell's name to the media, implicating him in the Atlanta Olympic park bombing in 1996, for which she later apologized. I believe Reno also falsely accused the Miami relatives of Elian Gonzalez of violating the law, which I am not including in her record of false accusations, but reminds me of another comparison.

Number of 6-year-old boys deported to totalitarian dictatorships by Ashcroft: 0

Number of 6-year-old boys deported to totalitarian dictatorships by Gonzales: 0

Number of 6-year-old boys deported to totalitarian dictatorships by Reno: 1

Not until Bush became president was the media interested in discussing the shortcomings of the attorney general. Whatever flaws Alberto Gonzales has (John Ashcroft has none), we don't have to go back to the Harding administration to find a worse attorney general.

From the phony child abuse cases of the '80s to the military assault on Americans at Waco, Janet Reno presided over the most egregious attacks on Americans' basic liberties since the Salem witch trials. These outrageous deprivations of life and liberty were not the work of fanatical right-wing prosecutors, but liberals like Janet Reno.

Reno is the sort of wild-eyed zealot trampling on real civil rights that Hillary views as an ideal attorney general, unlike that brute Alberto Gonzales. At least Reno didn't fire any U.S. attorneys!

Oh wait …

Number of U.S. attorneys fired by Ashcroft: 0

Number of U.S. attorneys fired by Gonzales: 8

Number of U.S. attorneys fired by Reno: 93

Ann Coulter is a bestselling author and syndicated columnist. Her most recent book is Godless: The Church of Liberalism.

George F. Will: Reforming France's Welfare State

Some French theorists believe that President Nicolas Sarkozy's jogging is unprogressive becuase it promotes "individualism" and a "cult of performance".

August 30, 2007

The Washington Post

PARIS -- "We," the finance minister says, "have a terrible past." She also says: "In a way, we've had it too easy." Christine Lagarde is correct on both counts.

Her first "we" refers to Europe; the second, to France. Both Europe's cataclysms and France's comforts condition the context for reforms.

Lagarde, 51, has a more informed affection for America than anyone who has ever risen so high in this country's government. She was an exchange student at a Washington prep school and a Capitol Hill intern during the Nixon impeachment proceedings. As a partner in a large law firm based in Chicago, for several years she lived in, and loved, the most American city.

Today, her challenge is defined by this fact: France's welfare state, which has enabled many to have it "too easy," is incompatible with the welfare of the state, and of society. The government, preoccupied with propitiating dependent groups that it wants to proliferate, is big but weak. And the welfare state weakens its clients. "The ethic of work," Lagarde says, "has vanished."

Recently she threw the intelligentsia into a tizzy by saying: "France is a country that thinks. ... Enough thinking, already. Roll up your sleeves." Proving her point, intellectuals here theorize about why President Nicolas Sarkozy's jogging is unprogressive: It involves "individualism," "the cult of performance" and "management of the body," whereas walking is "sensitive." Rolling up one's sleeves is, however, almost illegal because of the statutory 35-hour workweek. Lagarde's response to this "stupid" (her word) law is "a law in favor of work," one implementing a slogan that helped Sarkozy get elected in May: "Working more to earn more." What a concept.

Lagarde has undertaken to subvert the 35-hour restriction, which has been enforced by government agents snooping in companies' parking lots for evidence of antisocial industriousness. Overtime work will be exempt from taxes and social insurance charges. For this, she has been abused in parliament by socialists -- their invectives are as stale as their doctrines -- who compare her to Marie Antoinette.

Why not just repeal the law? Because, Lagarde says, the left considers this "an accrued right." Think about that -- a right to be forbidden the right to chose to do something elemental (work). French intellectuals are adept at thinking themselves into such tangles. "They," Lagarde says, "want to bring people down to solidarity." And "they regard work as alienation in the old Marxist understanding."

France's problems actually derive less from a 19th-century German than from a 17th-century Frenchman. Lagarde works in an office complex with portions named for Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman, two 20th-century French pioneers of Europe's path to a single market. But another portion is named for Jean-Baptiste Colbert (1619-83). On behalf of Louis XIV, Colbert practiced mercantilism, using subsidies, tariffs, price controls and other regulations to manage the economy. The French tradition of dirigisme -- pervasive state intervention in the economy and society -- lives.

Two years ago Le Figaro newspaper inveighed against "the American ogre" Pepsi, which was interested in buying Danone, the yogurt and bottled water (Evian) company. Practicing "patriotisme economique," Sarkozy, then a Cabinet minister, urged mobilization of Danone shareholders to block the sale.

Such "patriotism" aggravates France's social sclerosis, and is inimical to Europe's project for burying its "terrible past." In 1951, war-weary Europe, groping toward transcendence of nationality and hence the furies of nationalism, created the European Coal and Steel Community, an attempt to weaken control by nations of two primary commodities for their war machineries. This was the tentative first step toward today's European Union, which limits -- although not nearly enough -- the ways states can intervene in markets.

These limitations serve Lagarde's project of prying the fingers of politics off vast swaths of the economy. She favors slashing inheritance taxes and preventing any person from paying more than 40 percent of income in total taxation. One index of her success would be decreased emigration by young college graduates, driven abroad by the fact that French unemployment has not been below 8 percent in 25 years. Since, that is, 1982, when President Francois Mitterrand, a socialist, was keeping his 1981 campaign promise to "break with the logic of profitability."

Another French citizen with deep understanding of America warned about France's "regulating, restrictive administration which seeks to anticipate everything, take charge of everything, always knowing better than those it administers what is in their interests." So wrote Alexis de Tocqueville 150 years ago, defining France's problem and Lagarde's challenge.

Dan Shaughnessy: This old-timer's game was one for the ages

Boston Globe
August 30, 2007

NEW YORK -- The stars came out to see Roger Clemens last night. It was as if they'd heard this was going to be one last chance to see Baryshnikov or B. B. King.

Paul McCartney, Kevin Bacon, Alec Baldwin, Penny Marshall, Billy Crystal, and 55,000 friends trekked to the ballpark on 161st Street to see the retro Rocket pitching against the team that sent him into his twilight 11 years and four Cy Youngs ago. In honor of Sir Paul, the Yankee Stadium sound system played "When I'm Sixty-Four" just a few seconds after "When I'm Forty-Five" threw his final pitch.

Clemens beat Josh Beckett (13 hits!) and the Red Sox, 4-3, with six innings of two-hit pitching. He consistently hit the low 90s on the gun, took a no-hitter into the sixth, and threw 98 pitches before turning the game over to the bullpen. Not bad for a guy who broke in with the Sox the year after Yaz retired (I think I still had my 8-track player then).

"Someone in my position . . . obviously, my complete games are over," said Clemens. "So it's good to have the bullpen. I'm enjoying baseball in the East. It's nice when things matter. It's great to see guys wearing it on their sleeves."

Baseball in the East . . . nice when things matter. Welcome back to the fight, Roger.

The Red Sox remain in good shape to win the American League East, but there's been something troubling about these first two nights in the Bronx. After five months of underachievement and occasional humiliation, the Yankees are in great shape to make the playoffs and the prospect of another Boston-New York AL Championship Series is very real. Though the Sox may not have needed Clemens to win the division, he could still come back to haunt them in October.

Alex Rodriguez connects on a pitch from Josh Beckett in the seventh inning for a solo home run.

"What happened early here put us way behind," acknowledged Clemens. "Now it's important to win every ballgame. Derek Jeter talked about it. This is playoff baseball now."

The Rocket was a tad on the wild side (five walks and only two strikeouts) in his 15th start, but he's been a monstrous presence at Yankee Stadium since coming back for a prorated $28 million. He is 4-1 with a 2.62 ERA at home. Maybe Tom Werner can work on a video to bring him to Boston in 2008.

Socks high, in old-timey fashion, the old guy finished his warmups at 6:59 p.m., then went to the back of Monument Park and touched the plaque that honors the great Bambino. The House That Ruth Built is closing down for good next summer, and you wonder if Clemens and public address icon Bob Sheppard might still be around for the famous final scene.

Walking with the gods is nothing new to the Rocket. Among Red Sox chuckers, he shares first place in all-time wins (192) with an ancient righthander named Cy Young. He trails only Nolan Ryan in career strikeouts and ranks third behind Lefty Grove and Christy Mathewson in winning percentage. The last time a pitcher with more wins than Clemens started against the Red Sox, the man's name was Walter Johnson.

Clemens hadn't pitched against the Sox since the seventh game of the 2003 ALCS, so there was something remarkable about seeing him on the mound facing Julio Lugo at the start of the night. The first pitch split the plate for a called strike. On the second pitch, Lugo went out on a hard grounder to first.

As predicted, Clemens had a score to settle. He was watching Tuesday when Daisuke Matsuzaka drilled Alex Rodriguez, and we all know Andy Pettitte and Joe Torre are not into retribution. It's different with the Rocket. His fifth pitch of the night hit Dustin Pedroia.

Pedroia took his base like a man, then was thrown out trying to steal. David Ortiz popped up to put Clemens in the dugout. There was nothing Schillingesque about the Rocket's reentry. He hit 93 miles per hour on the gun.

It's not very often that the Sox face a pitcher who faced manager Terry Francona, but a lot of worlds collide when Clemens is involved. Francona was not managing the Red Sox when Clemens last pitched against Boston (fellow named Grady had the job then), but Francona had an answer when asked about the last time he saw Clemens in person.

"I saw one up around my neck," said the manager. "I'd hit a double off him and I was cheating a little bit. It was a pitch I shouldn't have gotten to, and he put me in my place the next time up. It looked pretty fast. I remember that."

Mariano Rivera delivers in the 9th.

The double came in 1988 at the old Cleveland Stadium when Francona was a member of the Indians and Clemens was in his third full season with the Red Sox. Over the course of his career, Francona went 1 for 8 against the Rocket.

That's more hits than the Red Sox managed in the first five innings last night.

Clemens has never thrown a no-hitter. Probably never will. He threw a lot of pitches early last night, and there was no way he was going nine, but when Pedroia flied to center to start the sixth, it made you sit up and watch. Then, on a 1-0 pitch, Ortiz broke up the no-no with a shot into the third deck in right. With two out, Clemens gave up his fifth walk, then a single to J. D. Drew, but he had enough to finish the inning.

"It's fun," said Clemens. "Tomorrow will be very important for us."

Tomorrow is today. The rivals return to the Bronx this afternoon when the bloody sock guy will be asked to stop the bleeding.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Mike Lupica: For Yanks, numbers chill thrills

New York Daily News
Wednesday, August 29th 2007, 4:00 AM

Derek Jeter, who hit a solo homer last night, isn't used to looking up at the Red Sox in the standings this time of year.

This was the season the Yankees were supposed to have. This was the way things were supposed to look and the way they were supposed to be, for Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada, for Derek Jeter and the great Mo Rivera, the only surprise here, one of the great Yankee pitching surprises in such a long time, being the kid, Joba Chamberlain, who is suddenly treated like a young Doc Gooden by the 55,000 at the Stadium. The Yankees got ahead of the Red Sox early last night, and then when the Red Sox came back to tie, there was Johnny Damon hitting the kind of high shot to right that he used to hit here for Boston, a two-run shot that gave Damon's new team enough runs to win the game.

And there is more to the story than that. There is always more when Chamberlain comes through the bullpen door. This time the kid did it against the Red Sox, which is the Stadium version of earning your varsity letter. He walked Kevin Youkilis to start the top of the eighth, then he popped out Papi Ortiz and the place loved him more. He gave up a single to Mike Lowell after striking out Eric Hinske, in for Manny Ramirez by then because Manny had left the game with a sore back.

Finally Joba Chamberlain threw a dirty sinking thing on 3-2 to J.D. Drew and Drew waved at it like he was conducting the Pops and then Chamberlain ran into an even louder sound than he has been getting at the Stadium because this time the big eighth-inning outs had been against the Red Sox. Yankees 5, Red Sox 3. A good Yankee night when they needed one badly.

Just not the night it looked like it could be after the Yankees had cut Boston's lead to four games the Sunday before last. Not that kind of Yankee-Red Sox night at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees had beaten the Tigers at the Stadium and they were going off on a trip to Anaheim and then Comerica Park, and if they could find a way to cut one more game off that lead, they would come home for a three-game series with a chance to tie the Red Sox. It was a bit of a longshot, of course, things breaking that way, since the Red Sox had seven games against the Devil Rays and the White Sox while the Yankees were on the road. Still. The Yankees had been 14-1/2 games behind Boston at the end of May and at the end of August they had it down to four and here they came.

Then the Red Sox did what they were supposed to do, and won six out of seven. And the Yankees looked like the beginning of May again. They gave up 18 runs one night in Anaheim. They gave up 16 runs the night before last in Detroit. Maybe there is a time when a winning Yankee team had two games like that as it got ready to move into September. Go find one.

The Yanks lost two of three in Anaheim. Three of four in Detroit. They lost them by huge scores, and they lost one in the 11 thinning at 3:30 in the morning. So they did not come home to play the Red Sox down four games in the American League East. Or three. They came home down eight. It is not the big series for the AL East that it looked like it could be when the Yankees left town.

But as Damon said in front of his locker when it was over last night and that home run of his had stood up the way the grand slam in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS stood up, "Let's face it, every series is a big series the rest of the way."

It is only Damon's second year in New York and already people have forgotten how big a deal it was supposed to be, the Red Sox losing him and the Yankees getting him. He broke in here like a star. Then he got hurt this year, had bad legs and a sore back and you heard his contract, for more than $50 million over four years, talked about the way the back end of Jason Giambi's contract is talked about, and Kei Igawa's, and even Carl Pavano's. Damon was another who was brought here to win the Yankees a championship the way he had done that in Boston, and early in this season he looked old and shot.

"Everybody's been in that boat," Joe Torre said in his office, "trying to play when you don't feel so well."

Damon still can't throw worth a lick, but never could. At least he is running balls down in the outfield, from left field last night with Hideki Matsui being used as DH. And Damon made the kind of swing from the leadoff spot he has been making for a long time. Good time for it, and about time.

"It's awful going out there knowing what everybody expects of you and not being able to do it," Damon said.

Then he said, "I was always a guy who could chase down fly balls. But when you don't have your legs underneath you, you start to worry."

He had his legs underneath him, and put all that air underneath that home run, and won the Yankees a game they needed. Good night for an old Boston guy, good night for old Yankees like Pettitte and Jeter and Posada and Rivera, for the rock-star kid out of the bullen. Just not the night we thought we might get a week or so ago, when the lead was down to four.

The Killing Fields of Honest History

By Mark D. Tooley


Pol Pot, 1980

Jim Wallis' Sojourners reacted quickly to President Bush's comparison of Iraq to Vietnam. The Iraq-Vietnam comparison is in fact a frequent one for the Religious Left, but not the way Bush described it. For the Religious Left, every U.S. military involvement is "another Vietnam," i.e. a futile quagmire pitting enlightened Third World liberationists against clueless Western imperialists.

Bush challenged that narrative by pointing to Indochina's mass murder and oppression after the U.S. Congress of 1975 virtually cut off all aid to anti-communist resistance in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. After Indochina's "liberation" by Soviet-backed North Vietnam, the North Vietnamese-backed Pathet Lao in Laos, and the Chinese-backed Pol Pot in Cambodia, at least two million were murdered by these "liberators." Millions more endured imprisonment and persecution, while hundreds of thousands fled across the seas, thousands of whom would drown.

Cambodia's communist rulers were by far Indochina's most homocidal, conducting perhaps the most systematic, government-orchestrated genocide since the Nazis. (Mao's China and Sudan's current Islamist regime killed more victims, but their depravity was spread across more years and conducted among larger populations.)

Even more than the secular Left, the Religious Left is discomfitted by talk of genocide by Third World liberationists. For these left-wing religionists, the wars of Indochina were a spiritual catharsis. Previously moderate liberals who presided over America's most important religious institutions were radicalized by Vietnam, ultimately not only opposing the war but aligning rather openly with North Vietnam and the communist insurgencies. "Liberation Theology" freed these religionists from having to preach the old-time Gospel, with its conventional morality. Thanks to the war, the new Religious Left of the 1960's and 1970's was able to proclaim a new gospel of political and economic revolution.

To the extent the Religious Left will ever reference the horrors of Indochina after the U.S. withdrawal, it will fault the U.S. exclusively for causing what the U.S. expended 50,000 American lives in trying to prevent.

So, when Bush pointed to the killing fields of Pol Pot's Cambodia as one ugly fruit of the U.S. abandonment of Indochina, Sojourners board member David Cortright responded on the Sojourners website with a polemic ironically called "Distorting History."

"In an attempt to scare off support for a military exit from Iraq, President Bush in a recent speech made the false claim that U.S. disengagement from Vietnam caused the killing fields in Cambodia," noted Cortwright, who is also a fellow at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and heads the Fourth Freedom Forum. "The price of American withdrawal, the president said, was paid in the agonies of millions of innocent people."

But Cortwright explained that the U.S. is really at fault for these agonies of so many millions of Indochinese, especially the suffering Cambodians.

"What actually happened in Cambodia was this: President Nixon spread the Vietnam War into Cambodia," Cortwright explained, in the routine narrative of the Left. "He ordered the so-called 'secret bombing' of Cambodia, in which U.S. B-52 bombers pounded the countryside for years."
Cortwright also allged that the U.S. supported the March 1970 overthrow of Cambodia's Prince Norodom Sihanouk, who, according to Cortwright, "had tried to keep his country out of the war."

In April 1970, Nixon ordered an "incursion" by U.S. troops into Cambodia, which Cortwright described as resulting "in widespread violence and chaos, especially in the countryside." These U.S. actions fueled support for Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge, which "overran the government" in 1975, he recounted. "The Khmer Rouge emptied Phnom Penh and instituted their reign of terror by claiming that the U.S. was going to bomb."

It is all very simple. "The killing fields were the tragic result of the Nixon administration's misguided policies of military escalation," Cortwright wrote. "If the United States had not bombed and invaded Cambodia, and if we had let Sihanouk alone, Cambodia would not have suffered its horrible fate."

Perhaps in follow-up articles, Cortwright will describe how the brief U.S. intervention in the Russian Civil War provoked Joseph Stalin into murdering millions, and how U.S. support for Chiang Kai-shek's resistance to the Chinese Communists can be blamed for Mao Zedong's destruction of tens of millions of Chinese.

Religious Leftists like Cortwright and Sojourners do not like to admit that Communism is by definition prone to mass murder. But the Religious Left, to the extent it acknowledges history, does so only through the prism of its own personal experiences. Cortwright recalled the mass demonstrations that followed the U.S. incursion into Cambodia in 1970. How glorious those demonstrators were, standing up to the Nixon administration!

Predictably, Cortwright did not explain why there was a U.S. incursion into Cambodia. North Vietnamese and its Viet Cong allies were attacking South Vietnamese and U.S. forces from base camps in Cambodia. The North Vietnamese also hoped to establish North Vietnam's control over Cambodia with the rest of Indochina.

Powerless to move against the North Vietnamese troops occupying his own country, Prince Sihanouk in fact had quietly acquiesced to the U.S. "secret" bombing of these communist camps. Sihanouk publicly denounced the North Vietnamese "aggression" on his country, which included 35,000 to 40,000 troops. But he refused to enlarge Cambodia's military, fearing it would overthrow him.

Meanwhile, Cambodia's rage over North Vietnam's unwelcome military presence increased. Thousands of Cambodians trashed North Vietnam's embassy. Exasperated by Sihanouk's inaction against the North Vietnamese, who had ignored an ultimatum to leave Cambodia, the Cambodian National Assembly voted unanimously in March 1970 to remove Sihanouk from power. Sihanouk's own prime minister, Lon Nol, continued to govern Cambodia, but with Sihanouk now in exile.

The U.S. had in fact preferred a continuation of Sihanouk's rule, believing that his "neutral" regime would have more staying power against the communists than a more aggressive successor regime. But with little advance warning, the U.S. learned of Sihanouk's peaceful overthrow, and slowly began backing the new Lon Nol government's struggle against both the Khmer Rouge and the North Vietnamese. Thereafter, an indignant Sihanouk publicly aligned himself with the communists from his exile in China.

North Vietnamese forces began leaving their "sanctuaries" in eastern Cambodia and plunged more deeply into Cambodia to overthrow the Lon Nol government. Fearful of Cambodia's falling completely to North Vietnam, the South Vietnamese urged a more united front with anti-communist government in Cambodia and Laos. In May 1970, determined to stabilize both Cambodia and South Vietnam, U.S. forces accompanied South Vietnamese forces in attacking North Vietnam's sanctuaries in Cambodia.

The U.S.-South Vietnamese incursion of 1970, which lasted only a few months, was largely successful. North Vietnamese operations in Cambodia were crippled, and U.S. casulaties were reduced. The Cambodian government was bolstered, and the gradual U.S. military withdrawal from South Vietnam was able to proceed. The Lon Nol regime survived until 1975, when the U.S. Congress refused to grant additional military aid to either it or the South Vietnamese.

After the Khmer Rouge seized Cambodia in April 1975, they began the systematic destruction of at least 1.5 million Cambodians and perhaps as many as 3 million through executions, forced starvation and slave labor. Its tyranny and mass murder continued until 1979, when communist Vietnam invaded and installed its own puppet government.

The Religious Left never expressed much interest in one of the worst holocausts of the 20th century. In 1976, a World Council of Churches official infamously remarked about Pol Pot's genocidal rule: "We are all sinners." The National Council of Churches (NCC) waited until 1978 to acknowledge the Khmer Rouge's "extermination of large segments" of Cambodia. But naturally the NCC faulted the U.S., whose support for a "reactionary government" had helped empower the Khmer Rouge.

"Even as we deplored the actions of our government during the Vietnam War, which extended the war to Cambodia, we now deplore the deliberate tragedy forced on the people of [Cambodia] by its government," the NCC intoned, unable to morally differentiate between the U.S. and the Cambodian genocidalists whom the U.S. had faught to oppose.

Cambodia's horrors began with communist North Vietnam's invasion, not the U.S. and South Vietnamese response to that violation of Cambodia's neutrality. But too often, the Religious Left prefers, in Sojourners spokesman David Cortwright's apt phrase, the expedient of "Distorting History."

Mark D. Tooley directs the United Methodist committee at the Institute on Religion and Democracy.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Famous Friends on Tour for a Halberstam Book

The New York Times
Published: August 28, 2007

The command post is a set of Manhattan publishing offices, and the foot soldiers include Joan Didion, Seymour Hersh, Bob Woodward, Anna Quindlen, Alex Kotlowitz, Paul Hendrickson, Samantha Power and Bill Walton. They are going on David Halberstam’s book tour for him.

David Halberstam, 73, Reporter and Author, Dies (April 24, 2007)
Op-Ed Columnist: All the President’s Press (April 29, 2007) An Appraisal: A Skeptical Vietnam Voice Still Echoes in the Fog of Iraq (April 25, 2007)
Appreciations: Halberstam on Journalism (April 25, 2007)

Five months after Mr. Halberstam’s death in a car accident on April 23, some of this celebrated journalist’s closest friends and colleagues will be banding together to cover different legs of a nationwide publicity tour for his final book. Hyperion is releasing that 705-page history, “The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War,” on Sept. 25, with a first printing of 300,000 copies, the publisher announced.

The unusual promotional push will stretch from New York to La Jolla, Calif., Washington to Chicago, Milwaukee to Nashville.

At each engagement Mr. Halberstam’s “surrogates,” as Mr. Woodward calls them, will pay tribute to him, a best-selling author of books like “The Best and the Brightest” and “Summer of ’49,” by offering personal reminiscences and readings. It took Mr. Halberstam 10 years to do the reporting and to write the book, which he called, in a term familiar to librarians and football fans, a “bookend” to his Pulitzer Prize-winning work on Vietnam.

“It’s a magnificent book,” Mr. Woodward said of the new volume, partly because of the analogies drawn to the war in Iraq, he said, “the lessons of bad intelligence, no plan, the disconnect between the war as seen by the fighting man and headquarters.”
He added, “It carries an emotional power I didn’t expect.”

The idea for the tour was Hyperion’s, said Mr. Halberstam’s widow, Jean. “Then someone reminded me that when Tony Lukas died just after ‘Big Trouble’ came out, David organized a number of writers to represent it in bookstores in the Boston area,” she said. “David’s friends, who are writers, are well aware that getting attention for a book is hard, no matter how well your last one did. They said, ‘Whatever I can do — I’ll fly to wherever.’ He would have felt amazed and humbled, and that’s not necessarily a word used to describe him.”

An authorless national author tour “doesn’t seem to me to have been done before,” said Constance Sayre, a principal in the Manhattan publishing consulting firm Market Partners International. “What’s going to make it effective,” she added, “is the fact that his best friends are high-profile people, big names. You can also put them on local television and radio. It should create a wave of news because each person is going to say something different.”

But Mr. Hersh said: “Listen, ain’t nothing like David — you don’t need this to keep David alive. You’ve got to market a book, let’s market a book, but he transcends that. He was a great war reporter and a great baseball reporter, and the most loyal person in the world.”

The tour starts on Sept. 25 and concludes on Oct. 15 with a panel in New York at the Barnes & Noble in Union Square. Ms. Didion will participate, along with Gay Talese, Robert MacNeil and Jon Meacham, managing editor of Newsweek. (A full schedule will be posted on

Ms. Didion said she had not yet had a chance to read the book, but “David himself thought it was his best work,” she said, “and I trust him.”

The reading locations are a mix of chain bookstores and independents. On Sept. 30 there will also be one, with Nathaniel Philbrick, at the Nantucket Atheneum on Nantucket, where the Halberstam family has a home.

Mr. Halberstam’s favorite bookstore was Mitchell’s Book Corner on Main Street on Nantucket, his wife said. “He tried really hard to be loyal to independent bookstores, and would have Mitchell’s U.P.S. him books in New York during the off season,” she said. “We tried to split the money we spent on books between independents and the others.”

Mr. Woodward and several others who had scheduling conflicts with specific reading dates are making themselves available for radio and television interviews. Mr. Woodward said he planned to stay with the promotion of “The Coldest Winter” even while he completes his own book, the fourth in his series about President Bush and the Iraq war.

“It is important that David’s book is coming out in the middle of the debate about that,” he said. “David deserves a real salute from those of us who try to understand war.”

Either feast or famine in Bombers playoff chase

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


You drift between hope and despair, figuring the Yankees' path to the postseason lies somewhere in between. The situation has deteriorated rapidly following Monday's devastating 16-0 loss to the Tigers that dropped the Yankees eight games out of first place. The three-game series with the Red Sox has long since lost its 1978-like comeback vibe.

Instead, the Yankees are hoping to stay alive -- not just in the East (that's all but a fantasy now), but in the wild-card race, and not be sent home early for the first time since 1993.

It's a sobering thought, considering how many runs the Bombers have scored since the All-Star break. But major league executives still say the Red Sox have the most balanced team in the American League. If history has taught us anything about October baseball, it's that pure, mindless muscle always self-destructs. Sooner or later the Yankees will have to win a low-scoring game; it just might have to be this week.

Of course there's hope (no one has a more dangerous lineup than the Yankees), but plenty of reasons to sweat, too (the Red Sox' September schedule is a layup). So get ready for a terrifying/exhilarating stretch run. How it all ends could determine whether Joe Torre has a job in 2008.

HOPE: The Yankees have averaged 6.4 runs per game since the last time the Red Sox saw them in early June, with an incredible .305 average. The accumulation of runs isn't just breathtaking, it's close to historic. The Bombers may become only the third team in history to score 1,000 runs in a season, which is reason enough for the Sox to worry about them. The Yankees lead the American League in virtually every offensive category, including runs, home runs, slugging percentage and OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage).

DESPAIR: If you consider 95 wins as the magic number in the East, the Red Sox are practically there. In fact, they don't even have to play .500 ball the rest of the way; a mere 15-16 in the last 31 games will be enough. The Yankees, meanwhile, will have to play .700 ball just to match that. And remember, the Sox are looking at a soft final month: 18 of their final 31 games will be played at home, 13 of them against the Devil Rays and Orioles.

HOPE: The Yankees have their three best pitchers lined up for the Boston series: Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens and Chien-Ming Wang. If they can't beat the Sox with this trio, it's just not meant to be in 2007. The Bombers have had their problems on the road (31-35), but they clearly feed off the energy in the Stadium, where they're 41-24. That's more home victories than any other team in the East.

DESPAIR: The Sox aren't particularly worried about being away from Fenway. They're 40-28 on the road, including last weekend's four-game massacre of the White Sox, whom they outscored, 46-7, in the series. And Boston has its best weapons all pointed in the same direction, too: Daisuke Matsuzaka, Josh Beckett and Curt Schilling.

HOPE: Mike Mussina won't get anywhere near the action this week (hey, that has to count for something), while Joba Chamberlain surely will. Just wait until the Sox get a taste of that late-breaking slider, is what one AL general manager essentially said the other day. The 21-year-old Chamberlain has been unhittable so far, and the word is spreading.

Last week at the Stadium, the Orioles' Kevin Millar said, "My plan [against Chamberlain] is don't swing at the slider." Hitters everywhere go up to the plate with the same intention. Trouble is, Chamberlain delivers the pitch with so much arm-speed, the spin on the seams becomes impossible to detect. It looks like a fastball until it's too late. By the time hitters commit, the ball already has dropped a foot.

DESPAIR: If Chamberlain picks up two or three critical outs tonight, he's cooked for Wednesday. Those are the rules, as rigid and suffocating as they may be. It's hard to believe general manager Brian Cashman – who devised the terms of Chamberlain's imprisonment – will let the pennant slip away while his best reliever is sitting in the bullpen. One Yankee noted without rancor that no one seems to have a problem with letting 35-year-old Andy Pettitte go 120-plus pitches and come back in relief two days later. It's happened twice this season, so where's the logic in coddling a kid who's bigger and stronger than Pettitte?

HOPE: The Yankees know how to pour it on; they've outscored their opponents, 775-634. Only the Red have a better run-differential. If the Bombers can't catch the Sox, that should bode well for the wild-card race; they are a better team on paper than either the Mariners or Tigers. And next week's showdown with Seattle will be played in the Bronx, another bonus for the Bombers.

DESPAIR: The Bombers are just 11-17 in one-run games. The Mariners are 21-17, the Tigers 22-15. The problem rests with the bullpen, which has blown 17 saves. But those abysmal numbers were borne of the pre-Joba dark age. The Yankees now have a late-inning recipe as dependable as Boston's, assuming it isn't too late to matter. Still, the most compelling red flag is the Yankees' inability to prevail without crushing their opponents back to the stone age: The last time the Yankees won a game when they scored fewer than five runs was July 17.

It's been a long time since the Yankees played intelligent, well-pitched, defense-oriented baseball. Talk about distant memories. Today's home run orgies look great on "SportsCenter,'' but, on their own, they can make for a lonely October. The Yankees are on the verge of learning that lesson the hard way.