Saturday, August 02, 2008

Springsteen ends stadium run with a late and lively show

by Jay Lustig
The Newark Star-Ledger
Friday August 01, 2008, 4:16 PM

Bruce Springsteen had a perfectly good excuse to play a shorter show than usual Thursday night at Giants Stadium. An accident on the New Jersey Turnpike made it a nightmare to get to the Meadowlands, from any direction, and with many fans stuck in their cars, the opening was delayed from its anticipated opening time (somewhere around 8:30 p.m.) to 9:30 p.m.

But it's not Springsteen's way to take the easy way out. And he certainly wouldn't do that for a full house at the biggest concert venue in his home state. He and his E Street Band actually played slightly longer than they did at their two prior Giants Stadium shows this week, on Sunday and Monday, clocking in at three hours and 15 minutes. They ended at 12:45 a.m. with a one-two punch of the rarely played "Jersey Girl," followed by perennial fan favorite "Rosalita."

Perhaps sensing that the crowd on this hot, humid night could become restless, they kept the show fast-moving and hard-hitting, with minimal delays between songs. The middle section of the set was crammed with some of the band's most energetic material: "Light of Day," "Blinded By the Light," "Cadillac Ranch," "Candy's Room," "Night," "She's the One."

The biggest surprise, though, was more low-key: a slow, sweet cover of Manfred Mann's 1966 hit, "Pretty Flamingo." Springsteen dedicated it to wife Patti Scialfa, who celebrated a birthday on Tuesday. He and the band have played it before, but seemed to be relearning it on the spot.

The elegant, darkly romantic "Incident On 57th Street" made a welcome appearance late in the set; it was one of several songs suggested by signs held up by fans. In this case the sign read "Incident on 57 For Your Old Bald Fans."

The epic "Jungleland" got the encores off to a rousing start. Three members of Springsteen's Seeger Sessions Band (violinist Sam Bardfeld, bassist Jeremy Chatzky, singer-percussionist Curtis King) guested on another encore, "American Land."

These shows kicked off the last leg of Springsteen's 2007-08 "Magic Tour," which ends in late August. They were his last Jersey shows of the tour, and could be his last Giants Stadium shows ever. He has presented only two series of shows there previously, in 1985 and 2003, and the stadium is scheduled to be demolished in 2010.

If he had any thoughts about the show's significance, he didn't share them. He didn't talk much at all, in fact, and when he did, he usually said the same things he did at the other two shows. (The exception was a funny rap about his relationship with Scialfa, before "Pretty Flamingo.")

This show, like the others in the stand, was pretty much E Street business as usual. Springsteen and the band averaged almost 30 songs a night, from classics to some of the least well known songs in their repertoire (Sunday's "Janey Don't You Lose Heart," Monday's "Held Up Without a Gun," Thursday's "Pretty Flamingo"). The shows were not only long, but extremely physical, with Springsteen racing around the stage, guitarist Nils Lofgren turning mid-solo somersaults, and drummer Max Weinberg leading the band through one fast song after another.

These may have been Springsteen's last Giants Stadium shows. But they didn't feel like the end of anything.

Thursday's setlist:

"Summertime Blues"
"Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out"
"Radio Nowhere"
"Prove It All Night"
"Two Hearts"
"The Promised Land"
"Spirit In the Night"
"Light of Day"
"Brilliant Disguise"
"Pretty Flamingo"
"Blinded By the Light"
"Cadillac Ranch"
"Candy's Room"
"Because the Night"
"She's the One"
"Livin' In the Future"
"Mary's Place"
"Incident on 57th Street"
"The Rising"
"Last to Die"
"Long Walk Home"


"Born To Run"
"Bobby Jean"
"Dancing In the Dark"
"American Land"
"Jersey Girl"

photographs by Joseph Quever

Jay Lustig may be reached at or (973) 392-5850.

Under President Obama, Whites Need Not Apply

By Patrick J. Buchanan
July 31, 2008

"Will race be an issue in this campaign?"

Hearing the cable talk-show host solemnly pose the question, I could not suppress a belly laugh.

For the anchor was fearful that some white folks might reject Obama because he is African-American—even as a Rasmussen poll was reporting that Barack is beating McCain among black voters 94 to 1.

What, other than race, explains how Barack rolled up 90-10 margins among black voters while running against Hillary Clinton, wife of the man novelist Toni Morrison dubbed "our first black president"?

Indeed, so one-sided was the primary coverage in favor of Barack as the first African-American with a real chance to be president, even "Saturday Night Live" took to mocking the MainStream Media.

As for black radio, on "The Tom Joyner Morning Show," "Michael Baisden Show" and "The Steve Harvey Morning Show," which together may reach 20 million folks, there is "little pretense of balance," writes Jim Rutenberg of The New York Times. "More often than not the Obama campaign is discussed as the home team." [Black Radio on Obama Is Left’s Answer to Limbaugh, By Jim Rutenberg, July 27, 2008]

Black Entertainment Television plans to carry Barack's speech to the Democratic convention live, but has no plans to carry McCain's. Barack's speech "is an historic occasion," says BET Chairman Debra L. Lee, "so that demands some special treatment from us."

As the mainstream media have moved left and talk radio right, and cable is breaking down along political and ideological lines, there is something else afoot now—the racial Balkanization of the newsroom.

Consider. On Sunday, 6,800 folks showed in Chicago for the 2008 quadrennial convention of UNITY: Journalists of Color. McCain declined an invitation. Bush had been booed at UNITY 2004, while John Kerry got a standing ovation. Featured speaker: Barack. Major concern of the journalists running the show: that their colleagues would lift the roof off the McCormick Place convention center when Barack arrived.

Said Luis Villareal, a producer of NBC's "Dateline," "I don't think it's such a bad thing if for 15 minutes you take off your reporter hat and respond to [Obama] as a human being at an event where you're surrounded by people of color and you're here for a united cause." [Can Minority Journalists Resist Applauding Obama?, AP, July 26, 2008]

And exactly what "cause" might the 10,000 members of UNITY be united behind? The hiring and advancement of journalists of color in all major news organizations in America.

For, as its emblem depicts, UNITY comprises four alliances: the Asian American Journalists Association, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Native American Journalists Association and the National Association of Black Journalists.

"A New Journalism for a Changing World" is UNITY's motto. And the title of its July 22 press release reveals what the "new journalism" is all about. "Aim of New UNITY Initiative Is More Diversity in Top Media Management."

"With more than 50 percent of the population projected to be people of color in less than a generation," says UNITY President Karen Lincoln Michel [Send her mail], "the nation's news organizations continue to generate dismal diversity numbers year after year. ... 'Ten by 2010' is a significant step in the right direction."

What is Ten by 2010?

UNITY is demanding that 10 major U.S. news organizations, by mid-2010, elevate to a senior management position in the newsroom at least one journalist of color and provide "customized training to help prepare them."

The journalist may be Asian, African-American, Native American or Hispanic, which rules out journalists of Irish, English, Polish, Italian, German or Jewish ancestry, since they are white.

Is this what we have come to 50 years after the triumph of the civil rights movement? Flat-out demands, by American journalists, for the hiring and promotion of colleagues based on race and color?

Is there any evidence major news organizations in this country have engaged in systematic discrimination to keep out men or women of color this last half century? The reverse seems true. They have bent over backward to advance minority journalists.

And if journalists have been hired and promoted based on ability and merit, why in the 21st century should these criteria be thrown out as the standards for advancement—in favor of race and color?

Isn't this what they did in the days of Jim Crow—hire and promote based on race? What UNITY is calling for is a return to the old rules but with new beneficiaries—blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Native Americans—and new victims, all of whom will be white.

On Sunday, McCain came out in favor of an Arizona civil rights initiative that would outlaw any state discrimination either for or against folks, based on race, gender or national origin. Barack said he was "disappointed" with McCain and told UNITY he favors affirmative action "when properly structured." [McCain backs ban on affirmative action in Arizona, AP, July 27, 2008]

The Arizona referendum banning preferential treatment based on race is also on the ballot in the swing state of Colorado. It won in California in 1996, in Washington in 2000 and in Michigan in the great Democratic sweep of 2006.

It has never lost, and may just win McCain Colorado, and with it the nation.

- 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 His latest book is Churchill, Hitler, and "The Unnecessary War": How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World, reviewed here by Paul Craig Roberts.

Pelosi: Save the Planet, Let Someone Else Drill

By Charles Krauthammer
Washington Post
August 01, 2008

In this Jan. 25, 2008, file photo, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, right, accompanied by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid discuss 'the State of Our Union,' at the National Press Club in Washington.

WASHINGTON -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opposes lifting the moratorium on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and on the Outer Continental Shelf. She won't even allow it to come to a vote. With $4 gas having massively shifted public opinion in favor of domestic production, she wants to protect her Democratic members from having to cast an anti-drilling election-year vote. Moreover, given the public mood, she might even lose. This cannot be permitted. Why? Because as she explained to Politico: "I'm trying to save the planet; I'm trying to save the planet."

A lovely sentiment. But has Pelosi actually thought through the moratorium's actual effects on the planet?

Consider: 25 years ago, nearly 60 percent of U.S. petroleum was produced domestically. Today it's 25 percent. From its peak in 1970, U.S. production has declined a staggering 47 percent. The world consumes 86 million barrels a day; the United States, roughly 20 million. We need the stuff to run our cars and planes and economy. Where does it come from?

Places like Nigeria where chronic corruption, environmental neglect and resulting unrest and instability lead to pipeline explosions, oil spills and illegal siphoning by the poverty-stricken population -- which leads to more spills and explosions. Just this week, two Royal Dutch Shell pipelines had to be shut down because bombings by local militants were causing leaks into the ground.

Compare the Niger Delta to the Gulf of Mexico where deep-sea U.S. oil rigs withstood Hurricanes Katrina and Rita without a single undersea well suffering a significant spill.

The United States has the highest technology to ensure the safest drilling. Today, directional drilling -- essentially drilling down, then sideways -- allows access to oil that in 1970 would have required a surface footprint more than three times as large. Additionally, the U.S. has one of the most extensive and least corrupt regulatory systems on the planet.

Does Pelosi imagine that with so much of America declared off-limits, the planet is less injured as drilling shifts to Kazakhstan and Venezuela and Equatorial Guinea? That Russia will be more environmentally scrupulous than we in drilling in its Arctic?

The net environmental effect of Pelosi's no-drilling willfulness is negative. Outsourcing U.S. oil production does nothing to lessen worldwide environmental despoliation. It simply exports it to more corrupt, less efficient, more unstable parts of the world -- thereby increasing net planetary damage.

Democrats want no oil from the American OCS or ANWR. But of course they do want more oil. From OPEC. From where Americans don't vote. From places Democratic legislators can't see. On May 13, Sen. Chuck Schumer -- deeply committed to saving just those pieces of the planet that might have huge reserves of American oil -- demanded that the Saudis increase production by a million barrels a day. It doesn't occur to him that by eschewing the slightest disturbance of the mating habits of the Arctic caribou, he is calling for the further exploitation of the pristine deserts of Arabia. In the name of the planet, mind you.

The other panacea, yesterday's rage, is biofuels: We can't drill our way out of the crisis, it seems, but we can greenly grow our way out. By now, however, it is blindingly obvious even to Democrats that biofuels are a devastating force for environmental degradation. It has led to the rape of "lungs of the world" rainforests in Indonesia and Brazil as huge tracts have been destroyed to make room for palm oil and sugar plantations.

Here in the U.S., one out of every three ears of corn is stuffed into a gas tank (by way of ethanol), causing not just food shortages abroad and high prices at home, but intensive increases in farming with all of the attendant environmental problems (soil erosion, insecticide pollution, water consumption, etc.).

This to prevent drilling on an area in the Arctic one-sixth the size of Dulles Airport that leaves untouched a refuge one-third the size of Britain.

There are a dizzying number of economic and national security arguments for drilling at home: a $700 billion oil balance-of-payment deficit, a gas tax (equivalent) levied on the paychecks of American workers and poured into the treasuries of enemy and terror-supporting regimes, growing dependence on unstable states of the Persian Gulf and Caspian basin. Pelosi and the Democrats stand athwart shouting: We don't care. We come to save the planet!

They seem blissfully unaware that the argument for their drill-there-not-here policy collapses on its own environmental terms.

No Dodging it: Manny Ramirez just a bad, bad man

By Gerry Callahan
Friday, August 1, 2008
Boston Herald

Photo by Matt Stone

A number of Red Sox [team stats] players were asked if they could make the short walk to a tent that was set up just outside the ballpark and say a quick hello to the kids.

There were 32 teenagers on the trip to Fort Myers this year, all big Red Sox fans, all battling cancer. Two of them had just lost a leg to the disease. Many were making their first trip to Red Sox camp, and some would never be back.

Most of the players didn’t hesitate to visit the kids because that’s what most players do - the decent thing, the right thing. Jason Varitek [stats] went down, so did David Ortiz [stats] and Kevin Youkilis [stats] and, of course, Tim Wakefield [stats], who quietly and selflessly does anything the folks at the Jimmy Fund ask of him.

They signed a few autographs and posed for photographs. They brought smiles to the faces of some kids who hadn’t had many reasons to smile. It was no big deal for the players, but a very big deal for the patients.

Of course, there was one Sox player who couldn’t be bothered to visit the kids because he never can be bothered. The kids loved him, but he didn’t give a damn about them. That’s how it works in Manny Ramirez [stats]’ world. You serve him or you serve no purpose at all.

The tent was no more than 90 feet from the ballpark, which means Ramirez could have been there in 5.7 seconds, even going his usual half-speed.

But he declined this year, just as he has declined for the last six. And, as always, no one was surprised. Why should he care about a bunch of sick teenagers when he doesn’t care about his teammates or his manager or the fans who enabled him and apologized for him for 7 1/2 years?

BOSTON - AUGUST 1: Jason Bay #44 of the Boston Red Sox participates in pregame activities before a game with the Oakland Athletics of the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on August 1, 2008 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Well, you can say goodbye to the bad guy now. Good riddance to bad rubbish. Maybe Jason Bay will not be quite the cleanup hitter that Ramirez was (then again, maybe he will be), but we know this much before he even takes the field for the Red Sox: He is a better fielder, a better baserunner, a better teammate, a better person.

He probably won’t fake a knee injury, or slap a teammate, or throw a 64-year-old man to the ground because he couldn’t make tickets magically appear. He won’t give the manager ulcers or spit in the owners’ eye or treat the paying customers like suckers.

Just a guess here, but the kids from the Jimmy Fund Clinic are making the trip to Chicago next week. Bay will probably say hello.

There was always something uneasy about the love and adoration that Red Sox fans showered on Ramirez. The hard-hitting half-wit was born with the ability to put a bat on ball better than most mortals, but that’s where his virtues end. He doesn’t play the game right. Too often he doesn’t play the game hard. He cares about his contract and his hair and not much else.

He didn’t care about the wounded troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center this past February. When most of his teammates, including all of the big stars, made the trip to Washington, he stayed behind. Probably no one on the team had the ability to make a down-on-his-luck Sox fan smile like Manny Ramirez did, but as usual, Ramirez couldn’t be bothered. As usual, teammates, fans and media made excuses for him. Again, the great hitter was allowed to be a rotten human being.

In a way, Ramirez represents the worst of professional sports - a man who is idolized because he has one, God-given physical skill. Some fans who would boo a player for popping up with the bases loaded had no problem cheering Ramirez days after he assaulted Red Sox traveling secretary Jack McCormick, a terrific gentleman who is almost 30 years older than the slugger.

According to his old high school coach, Ramirez promised to buy bats and balls and uniforms - things he could have gotten for free - for his needy alma mater. Last we checked, 17 years after he left school for the pros, the kids were still waiting. Their idol, their hero, the man who has made almost $200 million since he left George Washington High School in the Bronx, just couldn’t be bothered.

Red Sox owners treated Manny the Mutt like Leona Helmsley treated her Maltese. This season, reigning National League MVP Jimmy Rollins has been benched twice by the Phillies for violating team rules. As far as we know, Manny has never been benched or suspended by the Sox. The owners literally knocked down walls for him, making the Sox clubhouse more comfortable for this spoiled child.

And how does he repay them for their love and loyalty? By calling them liars and backstabbers. By saying they don’t deserve a player like him.
And in the end, he was right about that. The Red Sox deserve better, and yesterday they got that in Bay. Maybe not a better hitter, but a better all-around player and a much better teammate.

In a way, Jason Bay has it easy. He is replacing a Hall of Famer, but when he walks into the clubhouse today, 24 players and one very relieved manager will welcome him like schoolgirls greeting Zac Efron. They’ll be happy to see him and even happier to see the bad guy gone.

Everyone can just relax and play baseball now. Manny is where he belongs. He’s a Dodger. The team formerly known as “Dem Bums” just got the biggest bum of them all.

Article URL:

Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Baby Daddy for Both Americas

By Ann Coulter
Thursday, July 31, 2008

The mainstream media really seem to imagine they can prevent Americans from knowing information by refusing to mention it in newspapers or on TV.

For those few Americans without an Internet connection and to whom I have not faxed the National Enquirer stories: Evidence is accumulating that John Edwards is right -- there really are "two Americas." There's one where men cheat on their cancer-stricken wives and one where men do not cheat on their cancer-stricken wives.

To put it another way, it would appear that ambulances aren't the only things John Edwards has been chasing lately.

Last year, the National Enquirer broke the story about New-Age divorcee Rielle Hunter, formerly Lisa Druck, telling friends she was having an affair with Edwards and that she was pregnant with his "love child."

Who knew that "my father was a mill worker" could be such a great pickup line? In his defense, Edwards had to do something to kill time between giving $50,000 speeches on poverty.

I guess the Enquirer is lucky Edwards isn't a trial lawyer! A sleazy carnival sideshow trial lawyer wouldn't even need to start channeling unborn children before a jury -- as Edwards did in the junk-science cases that made him a multimillionaire -- to win a defamation case if these charges are false. The "love child" allegation could be easily disproved by DNA testing.

Which brings up a fascinating legal question: Would it be admissible for Edwards to channel the very love child at issue during such a proceeding? Reminiscent of his performances in medical malpractice cases, he could say: She speaks to you through me and I have to tell you right now -- I didn't plan to talk about this -- right now I feel her. I feel her presence. She's inside me, and she's talking to you, she's saying: "John Edwards ain't my daddy!"

When the National Enquirer story first broke last year, the Edwards campaign denied that Edwards was the father, pawning the affair off on an apparently very loyal Edwards campaign official, Andrew Young. Like Edwards, Young was married with children, but also like Edwards, Young is a Democrat, so it was possible.

Except that, not only has Young's wife not left him, but she was perfectly copacetic with her husband's mistress moving into their gated community for the duration of her pregnancy, and even joining her, Andrew and the kids for dinner.

Back on Earth, that doesn't happen. The Edwards campaign better start looking at its backup plan of claiming Nathan Lane is the father.

It also didn't smack of innocence that the Edwards campaign stripped Hunter's videos from the Edwards Web site when the story broke.

Soon after Edwards met Hunter in a bar in New York, the Edwards campaign began paying her more than $100,000 to make "hip" videos of him for the campaign Web site. Unfortunately, Edwards' hair stylists ate up most of the budget.

As Herculean a task as it would be to make John Edwards look hip, the videos can't be worse for the campaign than the Edwards staffer who said of the Catholic church's position on birth control: "What if Mary had taken Plan B after the Lord filled her with his hot, white, sticky Holy Spirit?" So why did they take down Hunter's videos?

With the MSM still pretending the Internet doesn't exist, last week the Enquirer staked out the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles after receiving a tip that Edwards would be going there to visit Hunter and the love child, who reportedly has her mother's eyes and her father's dramatic flair in front of a jury.

According to the Enquirer, Edwards entered Hunter's hotel room around 9:45 p.m. and left at 2:40 in the morning. Seeing reporters as he left Hunter's room, Edwards sprinted to a hotel bathroom and blockaded himself in until hotel security came to rescue him. Even more suspicious, while Edwards was barricaded in the bathroom, no one reported hearing sounds of a blow dryer.

When asked about the Enquirer story at a press conference a few days later, Edwards looked as flustered as Rep. Robert Wexler did after being asked if he really lives with his mother-in-law in Florida while running for office in that district.

First Edwards pretended to be unfamiliar with the story, a preposterous pose even if the story were false. Then Edwards dropped eye contact and said: "That's tabloid trash. They're full of lies. I'm here to talk about helping people." He couldn't have looked more guilty if he had broken into a cold sweat and lit a cigarette. Britney Spears has responded more credibly to questions about tabloid stories.

Meanwhile, the only way consumers of the old media might ascertain that Edwards is embroiled in some sort of scandal is that, starting last Thursday, his name was summarily dropped from lists of possible vice presidential candidates.

If only Republican Larry Craig had been in the bathroom, the MSM might have covered it.

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


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Today's Tune: Joe Ely & Joel Guzman - Letter to Laredo (Live 2007)

(Click on title to play video)

SXSW 2008 - Americana Music Association showcase at Antone's in Austin. Photo by Ron Baker

Music Review: Joe Ely & Joel Guzman - Live Cactus!

Joe Ely and Joel Guzman
Live Cactus!

(Rack 'Em)
US release date: 11 March 2008
UK release date: 31 March 2008

by Michael Keefe
May 6, 2008

You decided to read this review because you’re either unfamiliar with the music of Joe Ely and thought you might get hip to something new or you already have a good idea of what you have to look forward to and just want to know if Ely’s new album is another good one or another great one. If you’re a novice to the sounds of this great Texas singer-songwriter, then check out my summary of his career in my PopMatters review of his 2007 studio album Happy Songs From Rattlesnake Gulch.

Let me be honest with you, though. Ely’s latest, a collaboration with accordionist Joe Guzman called Live Cactus!, isn’t really intended for first-time listeners. Introducing yourself to Ely with an album as intimate as this is like barging in on a small dinner party uninvited. There are certain things you’re supposed to know in advance. If the words “Letter to Laredo” mean nothing to you, well, mister, you don’t know Joe. That is but one of the 13 song titles from Live Cactus!, and most of the cuts are classics.

Whether an Ely fan or not, you could be forgiven for not knowing the name Joel Guzman. You’ve may have heard Mr. Guzman before, though. He too is a veteran of the Texas music scene, playing accordion and keyboards primarily with Latino acts during the ‘90s, including Mazz and legendary tejano master Flaco Jimenez. In 1998, he and Ely joined forces twice: as members of the super-group Los Super Seven and on Ely’s Twistin’ in the Wind album.

Joe Ely

After a decade of working together, you would expect the two men behind Live Cactus! to have developed great musical chemistry, and you’d be right. Stripped, as they are here, of the steady backbone of a rhythm section, Ely and Guzman are left with just acoustic guitar, accordion, and a pair of human voices. Not that this would intimidate a couple of pros. Ely and Guzman flourish in this environment, clearly capable of drawing a live crowd into their world. Even during a slow and spare number like the 30-year-old “Because of the Wind”, Ely’s guitar and Guzman’s accordion seem to operate as one infallible organism. The same holds true on Randy Banks’ beautiful “Where Is My Love,” a song Ely captured with a full band on 1990’s Live at Liberty Lunch.

Despite the spare instrumentation, Live Cactus! isn’t all slow songs and a wistful mood. Ely and Guzman pick up the pace with Rattlesnake Gulch‘s “Miss Bonnie and Mr. Clyde”, a raucous retelling of that classic tale of doomed love. “All Just to Get to You”, from Letter to Laredo, also rides a brisker tempo and features some nifty accordion soloing from Guzman. They close the album with another snappy ditty, Townes Van Zandt’s “White Freightliner Blues”, with Ely trading lead vocals with his gruff-voiced protégé, Ryan Bingham.

The performances on Live Cactus! are most effective at their extremes. The mid-tempo tunes that comprise the rest of the album are solidly enjoyable, but generally less captivating than the earlier studio versions that were filled out with a backing band. The thrills on Live Cactus! come from holding your breath during the pauses between notes or feeling the energy of the crowd during Ely and Guzman’s friskier numbers. Any lover of American music would be taken in by these songs and the masterful skills of Ely and Guzman. The rest of the record is mostly for those who are already fans of Ely and will happily devour as many different takes of “Ranches and Rivers” that they can get. For the rest of you, Live Cactus! is a very good album that showcases much of Ely’s top material, but not as well as his 2000 Best of Joe Ely.

A Losing Salute

The summer of 1968 strikes again.

By Jonah Goldberg
National Review Online
July 30, 2008, 0:00 a.m.

Earlier this month, ESPN awarded Tommie Smith and John Carlos the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs — the sports network’s equivalent of the Oscars — for their once infamous, and now famous, black-power salutes from the medal platform at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.

The stench of self-congratulation surrounding ESPN’s decision is thicker than the air in a locker room after double overtime. “As the passage of time has given us the opportunity to put their actions into the proper context,” gloats USC professor Todd Boyd in an column, “their supporters can now feel vindicated while their detractors must eat their words.”

U.S. athletes Tommie Smith (center) and John Carlos (right) extend gloved hands skyward in racial protest at the 1968 Olympics.
Sports Illustrated

The argument that Smith’s and Carlos’s critics must dine on their denunciations rests on an inch-deep nostalgia and the triumph of celebrity culture.

Comments by ESPN sportscaster Stuart Scott typify the inanity of ESPN’s award. Scott, who was 3 years old in 1968, nonetheless told the Desert Sun newspaper that he remembers how “tense” the times were and how he remembers thinking, “Oh, that was cool for a black man to do that.” He added: “As an adult, I get it even more now.” Even more than when he was barely out of diapers? That’s setting the bar high.

“I’ve got daughters,” Scott said, “so I have to explain to them why that was so important, and how much — even after they did it — grief and hatred they had to face when they came back to the States, to their own country. And why that means they’re courageous.”

By this standard — for want of a better word — any self-indulgent protest at the Olympics is proof of courage. This is hardly surprising: Radical chic is a corporate marketing plan these days. Che Guevara is a hero suburban teens stick on their T-shirts, and once “revolutionary” music provides the soundtrack for the latest Nike ad.

In today’s culture, is it even worth trying to remind people that the black-power salute was, for those who brandished it most seriously, a symbol of violence — rhetorical, political, and literal — against the United States? It was the high sign for a racist militia, the Black Panthers, which orchestrated the murder of innocents and allied itself with America’s enemies. In today’s lingo, you might even say black power was “divisive.”

But even a more benign view of the salute shouldn’t obscure the intense contradictions of ESPN’s decision to honor Carlos and Smith. Both men were members of the Olympic Project for Human Rights, which wanted a complete black boycott of the ’68 Olympics. The group considered an entire generation of heroic black athletes, including Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson, to be Uncle Toms.

(Does ESPN endorse this piece of history, too? Yes? No? Hello?)

Another important distinction is that this was 1968, not 1938. By the end of the 1960s, America had seen two decades of steady — if too slow — racial progress. The black-power vision of an irredeemably “racist Amerikkka” was all but blind to the desegregation of the military, the accomplishments of Owens and Robinson, and the civil-rights acts of 1957, 1960, 1964 and even 1968. One hopes ESPN disagrees with those views as well.

John Carlos (R) and Tommie Smith (L) receive their "Arthur Ashe Courage Awards" from Samuel L Jackson at the 2008 ESPY Awards in Los Angeles, California July 16, 2008.

There’s also the fact that the black-power salute amounted to an obscene gesture aimed directly at the Olympic ideal. “The Olympic Games as an ideal of brotherhood and world community is passe,” declared radical black sociologist Harry Edwards in 1968. Edwards organized the OPHR and pushed for the Olympic boycott. “The Olympics is so obviously hypocritical that even the Neanderthals watching TV know what they’re seeing can’t be true.”

In a sense, Edwards was right then — and now. The Olympic ideal of putting politics aside and celebrating pure athleticism has always been exactly that, an ideal. And all ideals are ultimately unachievable. China is using the Olympics to paper over the brutality of its repressive regime, just as Hitler did in 1936. In 1972, Palestinian terrorists — grateful for 1968’s lesson in the propaganda value of Olympics media attention — slaughtered Israeli athletes. Nations are political entities, so you can’t take the politics out of national rivalries.

The question is not, and never has been, whether the Olympic ideal can be achieved, but whether it should be pursued. By embracing those who spat on that idea, it seems ESPN thinks the answer is no. That is assuming ESPN gave much thought to the question in the first place.

— Jonah Goldberg is the author of Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning and editor-at-large of National Review Online.

© 2008 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

W-Hef-B: Bill Buckley, Playboy, and the Struggle for the Soul of America

By James Rosen
July 30, 2008

William F. Buckley, Jr.

William F. Buckley, Jr., who died February 27 at age eighty-two, was many things: graduate, and scourge, of Yale University; architect of the modern American conservative movement; founder of National Review; author of fifty books and 5,600 syndicated newspaper columns; host of TV's "Firing Line" (1,054 episodes recorded between 1966 and 1999); peerless debater and lecturer; spy and bestselling spy novelist; millionaire yachtsman; harpsichordist and pianist; bon vivant and...Playboy contributor?

Yes, in a union difficult to imagine involving any of today's leading conservatives, a group more prone to moralistic bombast than Buckley--though not, assuredly, any more moral, or resonant--the bard of East 73rd Street wrote for Hugh Hefner's oft-vilified Playboy, on and off, for almost four decades, on topics ranging from "the Negro male" and Nikita Khrushchev to Oprah Winfrey, the Internet, and Y2K.

Buckley's first appearance, in Playboy's February 1963 issue--the magazine was not yet a decade old--came in a verbatim transcript, 9,000 words long, of his famous debate against Norman Mailer the year before, at Medinah Temple in Chicago. In delivering their "Opposing Statements On The Role of the Right Wing in America Today," Buckley unleashed his trademark venomous wit on the author of The Naked and the Dead: "I do not know of anyone whose dismay I personally covet more; because it is clear from reading the works of Mr. Mailer that only demonstrations of human swinishness are truly pleasing to him...Pleasant people, like those of us on the Right Wing, drive him mad, and leech his genius." Forty-five years later, the Associated Press used the "swinishness" quote in Buckley's obituary.

By May 1970, Buckley, already a multimedia phenomenon, was the featured subject of the Playboy Interview. He confided having discovered "a new sensual treat, which appropriately, the readers of Playboy should be the first to know about": watching, while we spoke, the president of the United States take notes. Asked a solution for population growth, Buckley shot back: "Get people to stop reading Playboy." He also criticized his frequent collaborator in mirth, Johnny Carson, for having said, during Buckley's most recent appearance on the "Tonight Show," that the Soviet Union armed itself only to ensure parity with the United States. "[F]or the man who has the largest regular audience of anybody in the United States--not excluding the president--to say blandly something like that," Buckley lamented, "is testimony to wave after wave of the successful intellectual offensive against epistemological optimism--against the notion that some things are better than others and that we can know what those things are."

That September, writing in National Review, Buckley crowned Playboy "the great publishing success of the decade." Two years later, he treated Hefner's readers to a chronicle of President Nixon's historic trip to the Middle Kingdom, an 8,500-word travelogue entitled "To China With Nixon...Is There A Road Back?" As the dominant politician of the postwar era and the most viable vehicle for the advancement of conservatism in Buckley's heyday, Richard Nixon--introvert in an extrovert's profession, Keynesian anti-communist--vexed Buckley like no other politician: Should the leader of the American conservative movement stand by a president who championed law and order against Radical Chic at home but engaged Mao Tse-tung on communist soil abroad?

WFB gave his answer in Playboy's January 1973 issue, when Watergate was still a "caper" and Nixon, freshly re-elected by one of the largest landslides in American history, was readying his second inaugural: The split between Nixon and his conservative base was now unmistakable. It was the toast Nixon addressed to Communist Premier Chou En-lai in Peking's great banquet hall, inviting him to a "long march together" toward "the goal of building a world structure of peace and justice," that particularly galled Buckley. "We could not believe it," he wrote in Playboy.

I mean, there was no one there who was unsurprised--except, maybe, those who had projected rigorously how Richard Nixon does things: the imperative fusion of Quaker rectitude, and political exigency...a breath-taking gesture of historical ecumenism...

The Long March being Red China's Bastille, Winter Palace, and Reichstag fire, the invocation of it by Richard Nixon as historically inspiring could have been matched only by Mao Tse-tung's bursting into the hall and saying that he wanted to be there passing ammunition to Richard Nixon the next time America faced the rockets' red glare....I would not have been surprised if Mr. Nixon had lurched into a toast to Alger Hiss.

After the Nixon era, Buckley's erudite, wickedly funny contributions to Playboy accelerated: essays on the necessity of spying, the virtue of gift-giving, the future of virtue, drug legalization, steering clear of party bores, the elements of personal style (timing, he stressed), and, most elliptically, "What I Know About Women." In this last exploration, WFB adjudged the fairer sex to be "tougher" than men, more perfect administrators of "the superordination of the mind over the body," and possessors, "on the whole, [of] a better perspective on things." "I can't prove it," he wrote, "but I like to think that women were quicker than men in taking the measure of Hitler and Stalin..."

That Buckley felt a special affinity with Playboy's readers was perhaps most evident from a confession of criminal activity he volunteered only to them, in 1991--long after the statute of limitations had expired. To aid his personal cook's ailing sister, trapped in Castro's Cuba, WFB sneakily forged a prescription for $50,000 worth of morphine and arranged, through far-flung family resources, to have the serum delivered via private air pouch--within forty-eight hours. The chief co-conspirator was Buckley's longtime pharmacist, who gave "a little wink" as he mused aloud about the prescription's value "on the black market." "Interesting, was the only comment I felt safe to make," Buckley recalled.

* * *

In other forums, however, William F. Buckley, Jr. struggled to reckon with Playboy's larger cultural significance. Time and again, the polysyllabic über-conservative puzzled over what he alternately dubbed "the Playboy philosophy," "the Playboy philosophy," "the Playboy Philosophy," and, most simply, "Playboyism."

As early as October 1964, Buckley lamented that a pro-Goldwater film had been censored by NBC: "This, as I a society in which Playboy Magazine is available at any newsstand, and to a purchaser of any age." If the magazine "ever exhibited a lady with as much as a whole half of a bathing suit on," he quipped, it would "stick her away in the back of the book along with the sedate classified ads." In May 1966, Buckley chided the magazine for publishing an interview with George Lincoln Rockwell, leader of the American Nazi Party. "[T]o what purpose," Buckley wrote, was "inexplicable to anyone save possibly those who subscribe to the Playboy Philosophy. The editors of that journal knew, and know, that 99.999% of the American people despise the hideous views of the American Nazi....It is not merely an affront on public opinion to give him attention, but also an affront on the ordinary decencies which even a Rockwell, who is a human being, is owed."

Then--a clash of the titans. On September 12, 1966, Buckley welcomed Hugh Hefner to the set of "Firing Line" for a program entitled "A Playboy's Philosophy." "Between these two antagonists one might have expected a heated debate," observed Buckley's longtime aide, Linda Bridges, "but what we get instead is a serious discussion of sexual ethics in the latter part of the twentieth century." At one point, Buckley pressed for clarity on the Playboy philosophy, the title of Hef's monthly column:

HEFNER: The philosophy, really, I think is an anti-Puritanism, a response, really, to the Puritan part of our culture.

BUCKLEY: [...]Do you reject, for instance, monogamy? Do you reject the notion of sexual continence before marriage?

HEFNER: [...] Well, I think what it really comes down to is an attempt to establish morality, and I really think that's what the American...sexual revolution's really all about. It's an attempt to replace the old legalism. It's certainly not a rejection of monogamy as such, but very much an attempt--in the case of premarital sex, there really hasn't been any moral code in the past except simply that "Thou shalt not." And--

BUCKLEY: Well, that's a code, isn't it?

HEFNER: Well, perhaps. I don't think it's a very realistic one.

Two weeks later, in his syndicated column, WFB congratulated Hef--guy to guy, iconic magazine founder to iconic magazine founder--for scoring "the phenomenal achievement" of selling four million copies and running $2 million in advertisements in a single issue. "[I]t is just possible," Buckley wrote, "that Mr. Hefner is making more money from Playboy and related enterprises than any other publisher in the country..." Here, in his most thoughtful and expansive treatment of the magazine's significance, and in a signal exposition of his own moral philosophy, Buckley acknowledged Playboy as "a movement of sorts...the slickest harbinger" of "the so-called sexual revolution."

[Hefner's] key that 'a man's morality, like his religion, is a personal affair best left to his own conscience.' The phrase sounds harmless enough...The trouble with Hefner's law is that society is composed of nothing more than a great number of individuals, and if each man's morality is defined merely to suit himself, then everyone will endure the consequences of the individual's autonomously defined ethics.

Hugh Hefner poses at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles on Thursday April 5,2007.

By the mid-1970s, both WFB and Hef were accepted fixtures on the American cultural landscape, more celebrated than damned, New York Times crossword answers and "Hollywood Squares" punch lines. "I find it more difficult to be verbally ruthless with Hugh Hefner after meeting him as my guest on 'Firing Line' and seeing him on a couple of other occasions," Buckley would say. He continued publishing in Playboy and attacking it elsewhere. In a February 1974 column about court rulings on obscenity, Buckley assailed "the thoughtlessness of the Playboy philosophy" and "the philosophical pretentiousness of that magazine." As before, he inveighed against "the individualization of ethics, of which of course the sexual revolution has been the driving wedge."

A decade later, with his disciple, Ronald Reagan, in the White House, a grandly vindicated Buckley indulged in triumphalism. Reviewing True Confessions for National Review in September 1981, Buckley bemoaned the film's depiction of a priest as a murder suspect, and the broader "ideologization of religion" in contemporary culture. True corruption, Buckley argued, is "the Playboy Philosophy that philandering is good because anything that feels good is good." The exception, he allowed--"maybe"--was "lynching uppity niggers," and only then because, as he added: "(Playboy--and Hollywood--feel they have to draw the line somewhere.)"

In July 1985, bemused by a Playboy fundraising appeal, Buckley cited statistics projecting half of American children would soon be raised by single parents. "Because they all read Playboy?" he asked. "Of course not. But it is unquestionably the case that self-indulgence ('The Me Decade') has a great deal to do with the fragility of personal relations....[W]e have traveled a long distance from Nathaniel Hawthorne, who awarded a scarlet letter to adulterers, to Hugh Hefner, who thinks adultery is good plain American wholesome fun and takes pride in his magazine as the principal architect of the sexual revolution."

* * *

Why did Bill Buckley, if he found the Playboy Philosophy so abhorrent, write for Hugh Hefner's magazine so often and for so long? This question Buckley answered by noting that "the best writers in the world publish in Playboy"; but this alone did not explain the heresy, for the same was true, he acknowledged, of the Atlantic Monthly and Harper's (for which he also wrote, though far less frequently). There were also Playboy's five million readers and, best of all, Buckley quipped, it was "the fastest way to communicate with my seventeen-year-old son."

(At his father's memorial service in St. Patrick's Cathedral, in April, Christopher Buckley took special note of his father's odd relationship with Playboy, proudly reminding the assembled that WFB had closed out his landmark 1970 interview with the words: "I know that my Redeemer liveth." "Only Pop," Christopher smiled, "could manage to get the Book of Job into a Hugh Hefner publication." However, where Christopher recalled the relevant question having been what epitaph WFB would want for himself, the Playboy interviewer had in fact asked how Buckley could be certain that "most dogmas, theological as well as ideological, [don't] crumble sooner or later.")

In his final years, Bill Buckley resignedly accepted Playboy's cultural triumph. In a speech at Kent State University in May 1998, shortly after the Lewinsky scandal reached its dénouement, Buckley noted ruefully how Hefner, "the founder of the Playboy Philosophy," had, in a recent editorial, lauded the "sexually charged atmosphere of the White House." For WFB, the sight of Hef, as he "joyfully welcomes Bill Clinton into the fraternity of the enlightened," was too much to bear. My own interview with Buckley, conducted in October 2000 for Fox News, included this exchange:

ROSEN: I just wonder, if you look around you at the society we have today--the hip-hop culture, the rap culture, just walking around New York City streets--do you see us as a more religious country, or a more moral country, than we were thirty years ago?

BUCKLEY: No. No, I do not. There has to be some consequence of an amoral education and we've had amoral education now for quite a while. And there are corollaries which are plausible, even if they aren't conclusive. The increase by four or five hundred percent of the number of illegitimate children is one of them. It is extraordinary to me that you can, in fact, engage in public education beginning at the age of six and never, ever meet a teacher who feels any responsibility to encourage you to distinguish between right and wrong. That is the conclusive victory of epistemological pessimism...

To this defeatist theme WFB returned in his column of December 19, 2003, which marked his last published reference to Playboy--and perhaps his most explicit concession of defeat on any of the multitude of fronts on which, in fifty years on the American scene, he waged cultural war. The context was the Catholic Church's sexual abuse scandal, in discussion of which Buckley juxtaposed recent statements by Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity extolling the centrality of religion with Christie Hefner's remarks celebrating the fiftieth birthday of her father's magazine. "She was asked what she was most proud about in Playboy," Buckley wrote, "and she answered that her magazine had done a great deal to foster liberal ideas."

Once again, Buckley returned to "the Playboy philosophy," declaring it "permissive on all points that have to do with sexual predilections (though minors are not allowed)." If anyone doubted gay marriage will eventually become legal, Buckley advised his readers, pessimistically, to the contrary: "[T]he Playboy philosophy has every reason to believe it will be so....The Playboy Channel on television regularly displays scenes not even Abercrombie & Fitch would dare to put into its catalogs...The clear winner on the scene is Hugh Hefner. Going to church has become one more exercise in permissive behavior. Go ahead on to church, but be careful not to get in the way of Playboyism when you step back from the church to real life."

A half-century on the books, then, and the score: Hef, 1; WFB, RIP.

- James Rosen is a Fox News Washington correspondent and author of The Strong Man: John Mitchell and the Secrets of Watergate (Doubleday).

Today's Tune: Bruce Springsteen - Tenth Avenue Freeze-out (Live 7/27/08)

(Click on title to play video)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

ESPN expose could undo Paterno

By Bob Smizik
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Joe Paterno, 2007

Most college athletic programs like nothing better than for ESPN to visit their campuses. It's an almost certain guarantee of nonstop, slobbering happy talk about the greatness of that particular school and college athletics in general.

But if it's a visit from "Outside The Lines," the ESPN show that often takes a look at the seamy side of sports, well, that's different.

Penn State football received the "Outside The Lines" treatment Sunday, and it made the once-admired program looked like a renegade outfit with its revered coach seemingly out of touch with his team and its players.

The numbers were damning but no more so than the responses from coach Joe Paterno.

The show found that since 2002, 46 Penn State players have been charged with 163 criminal complaints. Forty-five of those complaints resulted in guilty pleas or convictions. Of the 46 players charged, 27 pleaded guilty or were convicted.

More recently, to show the problem is getting worse, 17 players were charged in 2007 with 72 crimes. Nine charges resulted in guilty pleas. The numbers screamed about a lack of control by the coaching staff and a lack of discipline by the players.

The response from Graham Spanier, the university president, was expected. "They're staggering numbers," he said. "They're very high and they shouldn't be that way.

"It's embarrassing to the university."

Professor Paul Clarke, who is vice chairman of the Faculty Senate athletics committee, also had an expected response. "This is really a black mark. It diminishes all of us."

To those who have followed Paterno closely in recent years, his response also was expected.

"I think you've done an awful lot of probing which bothers me that you might be on a witch hunt," he said.

The show focused on in an incident that occurred April 1, 2007. In response to one of their teammates and his girlfriend being involved in an altercation with three Penn State students, a group of football players, about 15, broke into an apartment on campus. Several students were beaten, including some not involved in the original altercation.

According to the show, one student was attacked with a beer bottle, another was struck with a wooden stool, a third was kicked in the face.

According to a report by the Judicial Affairs Department, which is the university's disciplinary arm, one of the football players involved said, "We knew we were going there to beat up people."

As a result of these vicious attacks, which no one on a college campus should expect, four players were temporarily expelled. The expulsions occurred during summer school, thus severely lessening the level of punishment. Additionally, the players were permitted to practice before their period of expulsion expired.

In other words, a whitewash.

Asked about the widely held belief that he has given up day-to-day control of the program, Paterno said, "I have the same hands on that I've always had."

That's quite a statement coming from a coach who freely admits he often works from home.

To prove that he doesn't have control of the program, interviewer Steve Delsohn pointed out to Paterno that in its investigative report of the brawl Judicial Affairs wrote that two players said "all members of the team [were] sent a text message from the head coach threatening to remove them from the team if they came in to Judicial Affairs to speak to its director."

Paterno's response to that attempt to circumvent the judicial process was that he doesn't know how to text message and that "I don't even have a computer."

Clearly, the message came from someone else in authority using Paterno's name without Paterno's permission. On such an important matter, that is grounds for firing. But as near as can be determined, no punishment was handed out and, for certain, no one in authority was fired.

Just another case of a lack of institutional control, which all goes back to Paterno.

The most damning part of Paterno's statement was that the man supposedly overseeing a major football program that produces tens of millions of dollars in revenue and is the face of the university for many followers does not know how to operate a computer.

Michael Haynes, a Penn State standout who was a first-round draft choice of the Chicago Bears in 2003, addressed the issue of problems within the team.

He said: "I think there was a lot of pressure for us to go out and get the blue-chip recruits. The problem with going out and getting the best athlete is that you still have to worry about them being eligible, still got to worry about them going out and partying too much and affecting not only the performance on the field but in practices and really being a cancer for the team."

Asked if this was a problem at Penn State, Paterno said, "Untrue.
"No validity whatsoever. Never ever once did we go that way. We might have made a mistake or two, but there was no deliberate attempt."

Paterno acts as if nothing is wrong other than young men, especially football players, having a tendency to get into trouble.

The show was a damning indictment that had to leave Penn State officials both furious and embarrassed. It also might be all that was needed to push Paterno into retirement after this season, whether that's what he wants to or not.

Bob Smizik can be reached at More articles by this author
First published on July 30, 2008 at 12:00 am

Campbell Should Be Allowed to Pursue His Dream

West Point Grad Should Be Allowed to Take His Shot at the NFL

By John Feinstein
Special to
Monday, July 28, 2008; 11:53 PM

In this May 31, 2008, file photo, Caleb Campbell, right, who was drafted into the NFL by the Detroit Lions, salutes as he receives his diploma at the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. Campbell will not get a chance to play football for the Lions because of a change in military policy. Campbell was a seventh-round draft pick for the Lions in April. At the time, Army policy would have allowed the West Point graduate to serve as a recruiter if he made the team. But a subsequent Department of Defense policy has superseded the 2005 Army policy.
(AP Photo/Mike Groll, File)

In case those of you who attacked Army graduate Caleb Campbell for wanting to play in the National Football League missed it, here's another target for you: Oliver Drake. Until last week he was a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy who happened to be a talented pitcher.

Now, he's a minor league pitcher in the Baltimore Orioles system, having been selected by the Orioles in the 43d round of the June draft.

Let's rev up all the flag-waving, all the screaming about Drake shirking his duty and deserting his country, all the talk of him being a coward who is leaving his comrades-in-arms just so he can be a professional athlete.

Oh wait, what Drake is doing is okay because he chose to drop out of Navy before the start of his junior year, which any midshipman -- and any cadet at Army or Air Force -- can do without penalty. That's what Drake did: he saw a chance to live out a dream and he made the decision to go for it.

Guess what folks -- that's exactly what Caleb Campbell did.

Campbell didn't drop out of West Point after his sophomore year when he would have been free and clear of any military obligation. He stayed all four years, graduated and was commissioned as a second lieutenant along with the rest of his classmates. In 2005, the Army passed a rule which said, essentially, that if a cadet was an exceptional enough athlete to be signed by a professional team, he or she could pursue that career while serving as a recruiter for the Army.

Campbell was one of a handful of athletes -- there were already two baseball players and two hockey players in the program prior to him -- who appeared to benefit from that rule. This spring he was drafted in the seventh round by the Detroit Lions, who took Campbell with the understanding that he would be given a chance by the Army to make the team

As soon as Campbell was drafted, the screaming began. People at Navy and Air Force began complaining that Army might have a recruiting advantage if athletes knew they would be given a chance to play pro ball after graduating. "All we want is a level playing field," Navy Coach Ken Niamatalolu said.

A fair argument. Perhaps the Navy and the Air Force should have reconsidered their positions rather than complain about the Army trying a program that might benefit its graduates in a number of ways.

Far worse though was all the self-righteous screaming that Campbell was letting down his country because he happened to be a pretty good football player. In truth, Campbell didn't do anything different than Oliver Drake: He did what the rules allowed him to do. If you want to disagree with the rule, that's fine, but those who attacked Campbell were completely unfair to him in every possible way.

Even more unfair, though, was the Army's decision last week not only to end the program but to tell Campbell he had to report for active duty immediately. Basically, the Department of Defense bowed to pressure from people who have no understanding of why the program existed or what kind of people the young men in the program really are. When the initial decision was made in May to abandon the program because of public pressure, Campbell was going to be grandfathered in, the feeling being a commitment had been made to him -- and the Lions -- and the Army should not renege on that commitment.

Now, the Army has reneged on that commitment. As you might expect, Campbell took the news last week with grace and dignity -- and without complaining that the Army had been unfair to him. This is exactly what you would expect from an academy graduate. The number of men and women who survive four years at those schools who are not first-class people can probably be counted on one hand.

Of course, now people are talking about how classy Caleb Campbell is -- many of them the same people who were calling him a traitor and a deserter a couple months ago. He's the same person now as he was then. The only difference is that the Army let him down.

What the self-righteous super-patriots don't understand is that Campbell would have been more valuable to the Army had he made the Lions than he will be in combat. (By the way -- he won't be in combat this fall. He'll be coaching football at the Army Prep School. No doubt the country will be a safer place with Campbell coaching future cadets than it would have been with him playing pro football.) The two greatest recruiters in the history of the Naval Academy, without any question or doubt, were Roger Staubach and David Robinson.

In this May 2, 2008, file photo, Detroit Lions rookie safety Caleb Campbell runs through drills at the NFL football team's minicamp in Allen Park, Mich.

Staubach was so gifted as a quarterback that he was able to excel for the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL after serving four years ¿ including a stint in Vietnam ¿ after his graduation from Navy. Robinson served two years -- confined to a desk job because of his height -- before going on to a Hall of Fame career with the San Antonio Spurs.

If Campbell had made the Lions, every time he made a play, the TV announcers would have talked about the fact that he was a lieutenant in the Army, working as a recruiter. Because he's bright and articulate, he would have been a perfect spokesman for the Army and for West Point. His presence in an NFL uniform would have been a huge morale boost to those serving overseas and to those in uniform, not to mention the midshipmen and cadets at the academies.

The Army's decision to give him a chance was applauded by ex-players -- at Navy and Air Force as well as at Army. Knowing full well that the number of athletes who would be affected by this rule would be less than a handful at each school, they all know that it would help recruiting -- just as the rule that Oliver Drake took advantage of helps recruiting. The difference, of course, is that the rule that allows a student to leave the academy after two years is for everyone; this rule is for a tiny handful of those who are exceptional in a specific area -- in this case athletics.

The Army's decision to renege on Campbell and the four other athletes who were in the program is, unfortunately, part of a continuing pattern. Army hasn't had a winning football season since 1996, and the military leadership of the school -- both at West Point and in the Pentagon -- has made one mistake after another.

First came the decision to join Conference USA, a league that had exactly one school (Tulane) that was in any way similar to Army academically. The move was a disaster from Day One. Then came a bunch of military people deciding they knew enough about athletics to hire an athletic director ¿ in this case, Rick Greenspan. Not only did Greenspan arrive having already decided to fire football coach Bob Sutton (who had led Army to a 10-2 record in 1996), but he had also decided to bring his own guy, Todd Berry (whom he had previously hired at Illinois State). He fired Sutton, who had worked at Army for 17 years, on a street corner in Philadelphia, then hired Berry while ignoring others who were interested in the job -- including Jim Tressel and Paul Johnson.

Three years later, Johnson's first Navy team -- which went 2-10 -- crushed Army 58-12 in a game in which it was apparent that the Cadets had quit on their coach. Why? Perhaps they were tired of hearing Berry publicly blame them for his failures.

But both Greenspan and the military brass refused to fire Berry. That led to the worst college football season in history -- 0-13 -- a year later. Berry was finally fired midway through that season and Greenspan mercifully left for Indiana a year after that. At Indiana, instead of destroying a football program, Greenspan blew up the basketball team. Army football, meantime, still hasn't recovered from the Greenspan-Berry era.

In the meantime, Johnson, who couldn't get an interview with Greenspan, took Navy to five straight bowl games, five straight Commander-in-Chiefs trophies and six straight wins over Army -- the longest streak in the rivalry's history.

Only this fall, after four more failed seasons trying to run a pro-style offense, will Army return to the option offense that was successful for Jim Young and Sutton.

The decision to allow Campbell the chance to make the Lions appeared to be the first positive thing the military leaders had done for Army football in at least a dozen years. It was a smart decision and, if it had forced Navy and Air Force to follow suit, that would have been a good thing too. You see, what the flag-wavers don't want to understand is that, even in the midst of a disastrous war in Iraq and a war that won't end in Afghanistan, not everyone in the military is overseas. Some serve stateside in important roles -- recruiting in a time of war being one of the most important.

Had he made the Lions, Campbell would have been a great recruiter for the Army. He will no doubt serve the Army very well on active duty. The shame is that the Army didn't serve him or the country well with a decision that was both foolish and, more than that, cowardly. The Army should have stood up for Caleb Campbell in the same way it expects Caleb Campbell to stand up for his country.

Rush Limbaugh, My Dad and Me

By Erick Erickson

In March of 1992, my mother insisted my father and I take off together on spring break to look at colleges. She felt strongly we needed father-son time. Having moved back to the United States from Dubai in 1990, my dad continued to work in Dubai, traveling back and forth every twenty-eight days. In 1992, we had as much in common as, well, there are no appropriate analogies. We had very little in common.

Rush Limbaugh celebrates 20 years of "excellence in broadcasting" this week.

My dad was a former high school basketball coach. He loved football and basketball. I was the prototypical high school nerd, much more interested in polling analysis of an obscure congressional district and computers than in sports scores. I envisioned a two week road trip, stuck in the car conversationless unless someone on the radio made a reference to Hagar the Horrible -- a love for the funny papers and barbeque was about all my dad and I shared.

I remember what happened distinctly. I drove the miserable drive between Jackson, LA and Macon, GA, along I-10 to Mobile and then up I-65 to Montgomery. We stopped the first night in Montgomery, after a day of intermittent conversation filled mostly with road noise, wind, and my choice of music, which included lots of “Losing My Religion” and “It’s the End of the World As We Know It,” both by R.E.M. My dad and I talked about college some. We talked about the family some. We decided to go on up to my sister’s house in Virginia after visiting Mercer University in Macon, GA, and then go to see Duke .

The next morning, my dad insisted we ditch the interstate and take back roads through rural Alabama into rural Georgia. For the first couple of hours in the car, we turned from one radio station to another only to have them fade out. Finally, my dad switched to the AM dial intent on finding Paul Harvey or a sports program. Instead, he landed on a tune he recognized as the Pretenders’ “My City Was Gone.” He assumed it was sports or something. It was something alright. It was Rush Limbaugh.

For three hours we listened in. I got my political fix. My dad got his sports fix. We talked and laughed together in a way we rarely had. I never knew my dad had such a fascination with politics. He was surprised I knew who some of the football teams were Rush was talking about. Those three hours flew by.

The next day, we pushed up my tour of Mercer so we could be in the car by noon. For three hours we drove through rural Georgia enjoying the scenery, talking about history, laughing along with Rush, and enjoying each other’s company. After seventeen years, it was like we had just discovered our friendship.

We arrived in Norfolk, VA late that night, both with dry throats from talking so much. The next day, we insisted my sister tune in with us. It was family time around the radio. Here we were listening to some guy we had never heard of four days before, laughing along with him, talking to each other and to him as if he was with us, discussing a host of topics — not just politics, but sports, restless leg syndrome, and more.

Over the next dozen years, my dad and I talked about a lot more. We had really developed a great friendship. There were still the letters from Dubai filled with his favorite Hagar and Far Side cartoons, along with the occasional hundred dollar bill affixed to a Post-It Note that read “Don’t tell your mother.” But there were now also other small notes. When he was state side, he’d call and we would have the evening Limbaugh play by play, along with a recap of LSU’s highlights. Rush had become and remains an integral part of our relationship. Growing up, my sisters and I knew that between noon and 12:15 it was a capital crime to make noise lest my dad not be able to hear Paul Harvey. Now my nieces and nephews all gather around the radio from eleven to two central time to join in the conversation.

Last year my dad called me. He was out of breath. It has been a few years since he had a heart attack, my mom was out of town, I was 800 miles from him, and I was worried. “I’m fine,” he said. He’d just nearly run his truck off the road, though. He heard Rush Limbaugh talk about his “good friend Erick Erickson from RedState.” My dad had told me at other times in my life that he was proud of me. But he was calling that day, from the side of the road, to tell me again. And his voice was somehow different. There was a real level of pride in his voice, and a thrill that Rush Limbaugh called his namesake a friend. There’d be bragging rights in the local barber shop and church too.

I’ve talked to Rush and emailed Rush, but I’ve never had a chance to share this with him. After 16 years of listening, I owe Rush Limbaugh some thanks.

Regularly now, I fill in on a local talk radio show in Macon. Between being a right-wing blogger at RedState and sometimes radio show host, Rush sets a high bar for excellence. It’s also a bar I know few if any others will ever reach, but it is certainly worth reaching for. Rush is unique.

Mr. Erickson is the managing editor at RedState.

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E Street offspring join Giants Stadium jubilation

by Jay Lustig
The Newark Star-Ledger
Tuesday July 29, 2008, 2:57 PM

Bruce Springsteen holds the microphone out to the crowd during Sunday night's concert at Giants Stadium.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Where: Giants Stadium, East Rutherford. When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday. How much: $65, $95. Call (201) 507-8900 or visit
It was E Street Family Night at Giants Stadium on Monday.

Drummer Max Weinberg's 18-year-old son Jay substituted for his father on "Born to Run," pounding the skins with authority as the elder Weinberg watched from the side of the stage. Bruce Springsteen's 16-year-old daughter, Jessica, danced onstage during the show-closing "Twist and Shout," and even took a little rock-star leap at the end. Also, Springsteen led the crowd in singing "Happy Birthday To You" to his wife, E Street Band member Patti Scialfa. She turned 55 yesterday.

This was the second of three shows that Springsteen and the band will be presenting at Giants Stadium this week, and though it was slightly longer than Sunday's show, it still lasted more than three hours and featured 28 songs.

Sunday's show was better overall; the band was sharper, and played with more drive. But Monday's show still had some priceless moments, particularly in the encores.

Nils Lofgren
- photograph by A.M. Saddler

The "Detroit Medley," featuring segments of songs like "Good Golly Miss Molly" and "Devil With the Blue Dress On," was explosive. Singer-songwriter Jesse Malin and Dave Bielanko of the band Marah -- two younger musicians Springsteen has befriended and worked with -- helped out on the final, celebratory "Twist and Shout."

It was good to hear "Born To Run" -- a song Springsteen has played at virtually every E Street show of the last 33 years -- in slightly different form. With Jay leading the way, the band took it at a faster clip than usual, and this was enough to give it a fresh feel. Coming right after that, "Glory Days" -- a song about looking back at your youth -- seemed particularly relevant.

The setlist changed considerably from Night One to Night Two: Half of the songs were not played on Sunday. Among these were the show-opening "Out in the Street," "Drive All Night," "She's the One," "Two Hearts," "Hungry Heart," "It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City," "Sherry Darling" and "Thunder Road."

"Because the Night" featured dynamic playing and equally dynamic acrobatics from guitarist Nils Lofgren, who did a somersault and turned in circles as he played. The evening's biggest surprise was "Held Up Without a Gun," a fast, short, almost punkish 1980 B-side that bears a resemblance to another 1980 Springsteen song, "Crush On You." Springsteen has only performed this song at two other concerts.

Springsteen also got his biggest laugh of the night before this song, which includes a reference to high gas prices. "I want to dedicate this to what it cost you guys to drive here," he said.

Here is the setlist from Monday's show:

- photograph by A.M. Saddler

"Out in the Street"
"Radio Nowhere"
"No Surrender"
"Two Hearts"
"The Promised Land"
"Hungry Heart"
"Summertime Blues"
"Tunnel of Love"
"Held Up Without a Gun"
"It's Hard to be a Saint In the City"
"Sherry Darling"
"Waitin' on a Sunny Day"
"Because the Night"
"She's the One"
"Livin' in the Future"
"Mary's Place"
"Drive All Night"
"The Rising"
"Last to Die"
"Long Walk Home"


"Girls in Their Summer Clothes"
"Thunder Road"
"Detroit Medley"
"Born to Run"
"Glory Days"
"American Land"
"Twist and Shout"

Jay Lustig may be reached at or (973) 392-5850.

Bob Dylan reveals many facets on 'Tell Tale Signs'

By Edna Gundersen,
July 29, 2008

The tunes, they are a-changin', and Bob Dylan fans will find the telltale signs on Tell Tale Signs, the long-rumored eighth installment of his Bootleg Series.

The two-CD, 27-song set, out Oct. 7, contains previously unreleased studio recordings, demos, alternate takes, live tracks and rarities spanning 1989 to 2006, a rich period that generated the lauded Time Out of Mind, Love and Theft, Modern Times and Oh Mercy. A third 12-track disc is part of a limited-edition deluxe set in a hardcover slipcase with a book with photos of all of Dylan's singles. The 27-song version also will be issued in a limited-edition four-LP set.

Listeners will discover a wealth of fresh material and multiple versions of songs with altered lyrics, moods and styles.

"When Most of the Time came out on Oh Mercy, I thought it was such an achingly beautiful love song," says Steve Berkowitz, senior vice president of A&R at Columbia/Legacy. "Now it's here as a folk version and something that sounds like Dylan with Brian Eno and The Edge. To hear the way the songs and lyrics develop is fascinating. Dylan comes across as a folk singer, a blues musician and a jazz artist."

Dignity appears as a truncated piano demo and in twangy rockabilly form. Series of Dreams undergoes a rewrite. Twin renditions of the bluesy Marchin' to the City serve as blueprints for 'Til I Fell in Love With You.

The newly unveiled Dreamin' of You, a free download at the just-overhauled, bears lyrics that later fed other songs.

Also new to Dylan's canon are Red River Shore and Can't Escape From You, written for a film but never used. Miss the Mississippi was rescued from a long-shelved album with David Bromberg, and 32-20 Blues marks Dylan's only release of a Robert Johnson cover.

Among the rarities are the live The Girl on the Greenbriar Shore, eight-minute 'Cross the Green Mountain, The Lonesome River duet with Ralph Stanley and Ring Them Bells from Dylan's storied 1993 stint at the Supper Club in Manhattan. Those performances were filmed but never released.

"The songs and performances are of such strength and diversity, they will appeal to new fans and longtime fans," Berkowitz says, predicting the two-CD set will satisfy most appetites. "For some fans, there's never enough."


Here's the full track listing for Bob Dylan's Tell Tale Signs, the eighth edition of his highly anticipated Bootleg Series.

Disc 1

Mississippi (unreleased, Time Out of Mind)
Most of the Time (alternate version, Oh Mercy)
Dignity (piano demo, Oh Mercy)
Someday Baby (alternate version, Modern Times)
Red River Shore (unreleased, Time Out of Mind)
Tell Ol' Bill (alternate version, North Country soundtrack)
Born in Time (unreleased, Oh Mercy)
Can't Wait (alternate version, Time Out of Mind)
Everything Is Broken (alternate version, Oh Mercy)
Dreamin' of You (unreleased, Time Out of Mind)
Huck's Tune (from Lucky You soundtrack)
Marchin' to the City (unreleased, Time Out of Mind)
High Water (for Charley Patton) (live, Niagara, N.Y., 2003)

Disc 2

Mississippi (unreleased version #2, Time Out of Mind)
32-20 Blues (unreleased, World Gone Wrong)
Series of Dreams (unreleased, Oh Mercy)
God Knows (unreleased, Oh Mercy)
Can't Escape From You (unreleased, December 2005)
Dignity (unreleased, Oh Mercy)
Ring Them Bells (live at the Supper Club, New York, 1993)
Cocaine Blues (live, Vienna, Va., 1997)
Ain't Talkin' (alternate version, Modern Times)
The Girl on the Greenbriar Shore (live, 1992)
Lonesome Day Blues (live, Sunrise, Fla., 2002)
Miss the Mississippi (unreleased, 1992)
The Lonesome River (with Ralph Stanley, from Clinch Mountain Country)
'Cross the Green Mountain (from Gods and Generals soundtrack)

Disc 3

Duncan and Brady (unreleased, 1992)
Cold Irons Bound (live, Bonnaroo Festival, June 2004)
Mississippi (unreleased version #3, Time Out of Mind)
Most of the Time (alternate version #2, Oh Mercy)
Ring Them Bells (alternate version, Oh Mercy)
Things Have Changed (live, Portland, Ore., 2000)A
Red River Shore (unreleased version #2, Time Out of Mind)
Born in Time (unreleased version #2, Oh Mercy)
Tryin' to Get to Heaven (live, London, 2000)
Marchin' to the City (unreleased version #2, Time Out of Mind)
Can't Wait (alternate version #2, Time Out of Mind)
Mary and the Soldier (unreleased, World Gone Wrong)