Saturday, October 09, 2010

A Fearless Prediction by Yanks’ Cano

The New York Times
October 9, 2010

New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter (2) congratulates second baseman Robinson Cano after defeating the Boston Red Sox 6-5 in game one of their MLB American League baseball doubleheader at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts October 2, 2010. (Reuters)

The ninth-inning double play that drained the faith from the Target Field crowd Thursday night was scored 6-4-3, as routine as one gets. But far from Minneapolis, in a home on the north side of Newark, the mere television image of Robinson Cano stepping on second base and firing across his body to first immediately unleashed the sweetest of childhood memories.

“You’ll see, I’m going to be turning double plays with that guy someday,” Cano once told his cousin as they sat on the couch, watching the young Derek Jeter hang his imaginary shingle at shortstop in the old Yankee Stadium.

The 14-year-old prophecy was recalled by the cousin — a professional ballplayer in his own right, with a classic stage name, Burt Reynolds — and affirmed by Cano on Friday as the swaggering Yankees prepared for Game 3 of the American League division series against the Twins on Saturday night at Yankee Stadium.

“Yes, I said that,” Cano said, smiling sheepishly at his early teenage temerity. “It was an amazing time for me. Coming here, getting to see the Yankees play on TV every day. I still remember my first game at the Stadium, sitting way up there, the last row behind the plate. Darryl Strawberry hit, like, two homers.”

He could not remember the date or the opponent, but the record shows that Strawberry hit three home runs against the White Sox on Aug. 6, 1996. Details notwithstanding, that was when Cano, who until that summer had only a distant crush on the Yankees, became spellbound by Jeter, an admirer of Bernie Williams and convinced that New York was the only place in America to play major league ball.

Officially, Cano is a child of the Dominican Republic, from the ever-swelling San Pedro de MacorĂ­s fraternity of baseball-blessed emigrants. But his family’s decision to move him and his mother to Newark while his father played professional ball in Taiwan would seem to be destiny, or at least a case of impeccable timing.

Cano’s Jersey stay — he was a seventh grader when he arrived and enrolled at the Dr. William H. Horton School on North Seventh Street — just happened to coincide with the rise of a new Yankees dynasty and the coming of Jeter.

Jeter, also connected to New Jersey, by birth and residency until age 4, had a vision of playing for the Yankees like the man who became his double-play partner in 2005.

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 08: Robinson Cano warms up prior to game three, to take place on October 9, of the America League Division Series against the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium on October 8, 2010 in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Yankees currently lead the series 2-0. (Getty Images)

In the Dominican Republic, Cano’s mother, Claribel Mercedes, and Reynolds’s mother, Amantina, always thought of each other as family, as sisters. “We were raised together, always did everything together,” Amantina Reynolds said.

But she moved to Newark after her children were born, settling into a house on North Ninth Street. The invitation to her sister — also Reynolds’s godmother — to join her was open-ended. Eventually, it made sense. The plan was hatched for Cano and his mother to move to the United States and for Jose Cano, Robinson’s father, to join them after the baseball season in Taiwan.

“When Robby’s father came, he always wanted to take us to the park to play baseball,” said Reynolds, who at 22 is five years younger than Cano. “He would say, ‘We’ll go play in about an hour.’ But when Robby came to Newark, he also liked playing basketball in the street. He’d say, ‘Let’s go hide,’ and we’d go in the backyard or under the bed. I just followed whatever he did.”

Cano finished eighth grade and enrolled at Barringer High School, but he failed to make it through his freshman year or to play an inning of high school baseball in New Jersey.

“He was having a lot of trouble,” Jose Cano said in a telephone interview from Puerto Rico. “They had fights, turf wars, Dominican kids against black kids, and he started to have all kinds of trouble.”

Jose Cano was alarmed by what he heard and saw, by the number of detentions his son piled up. Wanting him to play baseball, he was unhappy with what the game had become, a one-season pastime on the sandlots of Newark.

“Do you want to play baseball every day in the Dominican or go to school up here?” he said, loading the question to induce the desired answer from a 15-year-old.

Not long after that, when Reynolds left the house one weekday morning and walked by the tree where the cousins had carved their names, he glanced back at Cano lounging on the porch.

“You’re not going to school?” he said.

“Nah, my father’s sending me back to the Dominican,” Cano said.

Robinson Cano watches a solo home run against the Boston Red Sox during the third inning of game one of their MLB American League baseball doubleheader at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts October 2, 2010. (Reuters)

With 20/20 hindsight, father and son agree that Robinson Cano might not have become an American League Most Valuable Player contender for his breakout 2010 season, his 29 home runs and 109 runs batted in. He might not have become Jeter’s double-play partner or even a major league ballplayer at all.

“No, I don’t think he would,” said Jose Cano, who made it to the majors as a pitcher for six games with the Astros in 1989. “He needed to play all the time. He needed to go home.”

Back in San Pedro de MacorĂ­s — a place major league scouts tend to frequent more than Newark — Cano was offered a six-figure bonus by the Yankees in 2001. Jose Cano was wary, uncertain the Yankees were the right fit.

“They always traded for veterans or signed free agents,” he said. “I was thinking that Robby might never get a chance.”

There was no talking the young man out of it, not after he had experienced a World Series run and felt the metropolitan area pulsate with Yankees pride after 18 championship-less seasons.

Cano climbed through the Yankees system, somehow avoiding being thrown into the deal for Alex Rodriguez, or others made or proposed. At this point, he and his cousin would insist it was fate.

“When I watch Robby on television I always think back to that day on the couch when he said he would play with Jeter,” Reynolds said. “It actually feels a little overwhelming that he did it. I guess it was just meant to be.”

With the proper incentive, Reynolds became a star at Bloomfield Tech High School and then a late-round draft pick of the Washington Nationals. He is now with the Tampa Bay organization. Having recently finished a season of Class A ball as an outfielder with Bowling Green (Ky.) in the Midwest League, he will await the end of the long Yankees season, and head down to the Dominican Republic with Cano for a winter of workouts and sun.

Before he goes, he will enjoy the family’s prominence.

“I’ll be around in Newark and someone will say, ‘This guy is Robinson Cano’s cousin,’ ” Reynolds said. “And I’ll say, ‘Yeah, he used to live upstairs in my house.’ ”

Food Stamp Nation

by Patrick J. Buchanan

"The lessons of history ... show conclusively that continued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fiber. To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit."

These searing words about Depression-era welfare are from Franklin Roosevelt's 1935 State of the Union Address. FDR feared this self-reliant people might come to depend permanently upon government for the necessities of their daily lives. Like narcotics, such a dependency would destroy the fiber and spirit of the nation.

What brings his words to mind is news that 41.8 million Americans are on food stamps, and the White House estimates 43 million will soon be getting food stamps every month.

A seventh of the nation cannot even feed itself.

If you would chart America's decline, this program is a good place to begin. As a harbinger of the Great Society to come, in early 1964, a Food Stamp Act was signed into law by LBJ appropriating $75 million for 350,000 individuals in 40 counties and three U.S. cities.

Yet, no one was starving. There had been no starvation since Jamestown, with such exceptions as the Donner Party caught in the Sierra Nevada in the winter of 1846-47, who took to eating their dead.

The Food Stamp Act became law half a decade after J.K. Galbraith in his best-seller had declared 1950s America to be the world's great Affluent Society.

Yet, when Richard Nixon took office, 3 million Americans were receiving food stamps at a cost of $270 million. Then CBS ran a program featuring a premature baby near death, and told us it was an infant starving to death in rich America. The nation demanded action, and Nixon acted.

By the time he left office in 1974, the food stamp program was feeding 16 million Americans at an annual cost of $4 billion.

Fast forward to 2009. The cost to taxpayers of the U.S. food stamp program hit $56 billion. The number of recipients and cost of the program exploded again last year.

Among the reasons is family disintegration. Forty percent of all children in America are now born out of wedlock. Among Hispanics, it is 51 percent. Among African-Americans, it is 71 percent.

Food stamps are feeding children abandoned by their own fathers. Taxpayers are taking up the slack for America's deadbeat dads.

Have food stamps made America a healthier nation?

Consider New York City, where 1.7 million people, one in every five in the city, relies on food stamps for daily sustenance.

Obesity rates have soared. Forty percent of all the kids in city public schools from kindergarten through eighth grade are overweight or obese.

Among poor kids, whose families depend on food stamps, the percentages are far higher. Mothers of poor kids use food stamps to buy them sugar-heavy soda pop, candy and junk food.

Yet Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposal to the Department of Agriculture that recipients not be allowed to use food stamps to buy sugar-rich soft drinks has run into resistance.

"The world might be better ... if people limited their purchases of sugared beverages," said George Hacker of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "However, there are a great many ethical reasons to consider why one would not stigmatize people on food stamps."

The Department of Agriculture in 2004 denied a request by Minnesota that would have disallowed food stamp recipients from using them for junk food. To grant the request, said the department, would "perpetuate the myth" that food stamps users make poor shopping decisions.

But is that a myth or an inconvenient truth?

What a changed country we have become in our expectations of ourselves. A less affluent America survived a Depression and world war without anything like the 99 weeks of unemployment insurance, welfare payments, earned income tax credits, food stamps, rent supplements, day care, school lunches and Medicaid we have today.

Public or private charity were thought necessary, but were almost always to be temporary until a breadwinner could find work or a family could get back on its feet. The expectation was that almost everyone, with hard work and by keeping the nose to the grindstone, could make his or her own way in this free society. No more.

What we have accepted today is a vast permanent underclass of scores of millions who cannot cope and must be carried by the rest of society -- fed, clothed, housed, tutored, medicated at taxpayer's expense for their entire lives. We have a new division in America: those who pay a double fare, and those who forever ride free.

We Americans are not only not the people our parents were, we are not the people we were. FDR was right about what would happen to the country if we did not get off the narcotic of welfare.

America has regrettably already undergone that "spiritual and moral disintegration, fundamentally destructive to the national fiber."

Mr. Buchanan is a nationally syndicated columnist and author of "Churchill, Hitler, and The Unnecessary War: How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World", "The Death of the West,", "The Great Betrayal," "A Republic, Not an Empire" and "Where the Right Went Wrong."

Friday, October 08, 2010

Green Fervor, Red Blood

Some environmentalists have a warped sense of humor.

By Jonah Goldberg
October 8, 2010 12:00 A.M.

By now you may have heard that the man behind such heartwarming chick flicks as Bridget Jones’s Diary and Four Weddings and a Funeral has come out with an environmental snuff film.

Leading environmental organizations in Britain, with the backing of numerous major corporations, recruited British screenwriter Richard Curtis to produce a video for the “10:10” campaign, which seeks to cut carbon emissions by 10 percent every year for ten years.

The video begins in a classroom, where a mild-mannered teacher tells her middle-school students about the 10:10 effort. She then asks the class if they’d like to sign up. Most do, but two kids abstain. The teacher tells them, “That’s absolutely fine, your own choice.” Then she reaches for a device on her desk with a red button on it. She pushes the button, and the kids who refused to sign up for the green crusade are blown up, their blood and viscera spraying across the classroom, staining the school uniforms of their conformist and compliant classmates. The same “joke” plays out several more times in different settings (an office, soccer practice, etc.).

Each time someone resists the idea of getting with the program, the response is swift, bloody execution.

The video’s defenders argue it’s all a big joke, lighten up.

For the layman, the obvious response is, “That’s not true. Blowing up people isn’t funny.”

But that misses the point.

This isn’t a joke for the benefit of you and me. No, this is a knee-slapper for those already committed to the cause. The subtext is, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could just get rid of these tiresome, inconvenient people?” That’s why they’re blown up without anyone trying to change their minds. That’s the joke: “Enough with these idiots already.”

How else to explain the fact that this thing went through the entire pre-production and filming process, was undoubtedly screened by any number of people — most likely including sponsors and PR people — and none of them said, “Are you nuts? We can’t go public with this.”

That’s the outrage here: not that they thought normal people would find it funny, but that the producers and sponsors clearly did think it was funny. It’s like one of those ugly inside jokes high-school cliques share that instantly become horrendous when outsiders find out about them. In their arrogance and insularity, they didn’t realize that their inside joke wasn’t appropriate for mixed company. Imagine Curtis’s horror when he discovered no one was laughing outside the green bunker.

That’s also what makes this so disturbing. Environmentalism has always had a fascism problem (which is different from saying that all environmentalists are fascists). A couple years ago, a British power company joined the green bandwagon by launching a “Climate Cops” program that encouraged children to keep dossiers on their parents and neighbors, recording their “climate crimes.”

Frustrated with the perceived environmental threat of economic freedom and the inconvenience of political freedom, many environmentalists yearn for shortcuts. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wishes we could learn from China’s one-party system. In The Climate Change Challenge and the Failure of Democracy, environmentalists David Shearman and Joseph Wayne Smith insist that democracy needs to be replaced with a more authoritarian system. NASA scientist James Hansen wants to put corporate CEOs on trial for crimes against humanity. Al Gore compares his opponents to Holocaust deniers and insists that the time for democratic debate is over.

Some environmentalists have almost as little regard for human life as the fictional teacher in the 10:10 video. When Charles Wurster, chief scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund, was told that banning DDT would probably result in millions of deaths, he replied, “This is as good a way to get rid of them as any.” Finnish environmental guru Pentti Linkola argues that the Earth is a sinking ship, and the greens must head for the lifeboats: “Those who hate life try to pull more people on board and drown everybody. Those who love and respect life use axes to chop off the extra hands hanging on the gunwale.”

In fairness, a host of leading environmentalists have condemned this snuff film as an idiotic disaster. I’m fine with taking most of them at their word, but I suspect that at least some object to the film because it is bad PR, not because they actually find it offensive.

Meanwhile, you can be sure that the green Left will only grow more frustrated with the ignorant masses, and that more such “jokes” will be forthcoming. Let’s just hope Shakespeare was wrong when he wrote, “Jesters do oft prove prophets.”

– Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. © 2010 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Link to view 10:10's "No Pressure" video:

The Green War on Children

by Michelle Malkin

Halloween isn't for another three weeks, but environmental ghouls are on the haunt. A sadistic video released by global warming fear-mongers reveals an inconvenient truth about eco-radicals: They despise the very children for whom they claim to be saving the planet.

In the opening scene of "No Pressure," a four-minute short clip produced by carbon reduction activist group "10:10," a teacher urges her elementary school charges to fight climate change by cutting their carbon emissions by 10 percent by Oct. 10. When a few uncooperative students object, the teacher (played by actress Gillian Anderson) presses a red button at her desk -- which immediately detonates the nay-saying children. Their heads explode in graphic, bloody detail. Skin and body parts splatter all over their horrified classmates.

Message received loud and clear: No dissent allowed, little rascals. Or else.

The film's corporate sponsors, including Sony and Kyocera, backed away from the project, and the 10:10 group offered a sulky, non-apology apology to "everybody who was offended." But the group will not censor any copies of the video circulated on the Internet and stands by its "humor."

The 10:10 crew isn't the only green group that gets a kick out of kiddie eco-snuff images. The Discovery Channel website gave its "coolest environmental ad" award last year to a lobbying group that depicted the "human impact" of "climate change" with an illustration of a dead schoolgirl hanging from a noose with a melting glacier at her feet.

Unfortunately for America's children, demographic authoritarianism isn't relegated to the global green fringes. President Obama's own science czar, John Holdren, has escaped accountability for his embrace of international eugenics champion and mentor Harrison Brown. Brown looked at the world's children in contempt, referring to them as a "pulsating mass of maggots." Though Holdren denies that he believes "that determining optimal population is a proper role of government," he still pays proud public homage to Brown's population control work advocating better living through engineered abortions to protect the earth.

Perhaps all the fatuous parents who allow their sons and daughters to be junior lobbyists for the green agenda will now think twice about handing them over so blindly to the state. And perhaps some of their propaganda-swallowing teachers might actually talk to a family or two who find zero humor in environmental terrorism.

Violence is no joke to the children of animal research scientists at the University of California-Santa Cruz. Over the past two years, eco-terrorists have physically attacked and intimidated the biomedical experts and their spouses. As The Chronicle of Higher Education reported in 2008, one "researcher and her children cowered in the back of their house" while environmentalists assaulted her husband. "(A)ctivists had scrawled the words 'murderer' and 'torturer' in chalk on the sidewalk in front of her house and leading up to her front porch. They wrote graffiti at the home of one of the postdoctoral research fellows in her laboratory, and they appeared at the homes of two other university employees, smearing garbage and yelling at them."

In a separate incident two summers ago, another Santa Cruz-area researcher's home was firebombed by animal rights terrorists. The scientist and his two young children escaped on a fire ladder from a second-story window. Earlier this year, yet another researcher's car brakes were sabotaged and emergency brake cables were cut.

When these planetary crusaders aren't harassing children with their terror campaigns, they're openly deriding youngsters as loathsome burdens or selfish indulgences whose numbers must be curtailed. The eugenics-inspired officials of Planned Parenthood have blanketed the Third World with population control signs and stickers that preach, "The fewer, the merrier." London academic John Guillebaud of the Optimum Population Trust in London assailed children as energy thieves a few years ago: "The effect on the planet of having one child less is an order of magnitude greater than all these other things we might do, such as switching off lights. An extra child is the equivalent of a lot of flights across the planet. ... The greatest thing anyone in Britain could do to help the future of the planet would be to have one less child."

Guillebaud accused large families of committing "eco-crimes." Al Gore's four children were unavailable for comment. The elite commanders of the green war on children get to live by their own special creed: Do as we say, not as we breed.

Mrs. Malkin is author of Unhinged (Regnery) and "Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies" (Regnery 2009).

FBI plays stupid on Islamist terrrorists

By Diana West
Washington Examiner Columnist
October 7, 2010

Sheikh Kifah Mustapha, Imam and Associate Director of the Mosque Foundation, rallies CAIR-Chicago supporters at the third annual event in 2007. (CAIR - Chicago)

Reading Patrick Poole's splashy coverage of the FBI's VIP treatment of Kifah Mustapha -- a known Hamas operative and unindicted co-conspirator in the landmark Holy Land Foundation terror financing trial -- will make your head spin with the dizzying question:

How could the same officials charged with securing the nation against the very terrorism Mustapha's activities supported (as laid out in court documents filed by federal investigators) have possibly invited him into the top-secret National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) and the FBI's training center at Quantico during a six-week "Citizen's Academy" hosted by the FBI as "outreach" to the Muslim community?

"The plugs had to be pulled on our [watch] system" just to get Mustapha in the NCTC door, Poole, writing online at Big Peace, quoted a Department of Homeland Security official as saying. After all, "the NCTC has Kifah Mustapha on the highest watch list we have."

Unbelievable. So who pulled those plugs? Wouldn't it be great to get a bunch of national security pooh-bahs into one room to try to find out?

It would be -- and so it was. This week, a passel of senior national security officials assembled for a Washington conference on domestic intelligence sponsored by the Bipartisan Policy Center.

First up was James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence. During Q&A, I asked him about FBI "outreach" to Mustapha.

"I think the FBI will be here later," Clapper boldly punted (laughter in the room). Meanwhile, he continued, there is "great merit in outreach, to engage as much as possible with the Muslim community." Subtext: No biggee.

When later asked about the government policy of eliminating the terminology of Islamic jihad from intelligence analysis and collection, Clapper affirmed it to "acknowledge sensitivities" -- a process begun under President George W. Bush and recently extended by homeland security adviser John Brennan. "There's plenty of terminology out there [to convey] the meaning and the message that we need to."

The Director of National Intelligence's meaning-and-message of choice: "homegrown violent extremism."

Between panels, I spoke to panelist Sean Joyce of the FBI. What did the FBI executive assistant director for national security think about the Mustapha incident?

"We don't comment on individuals," he told me. OK. How about commenting on a blanket policy regarding FBI tours for unindicted co-conspirators and terrorist group operatives?

"Again, we don't comment on individuals."

I think we don't comment, period.

It's not every day a former Director of Central Intelligence is standing by, so I asked Michael Hayden for his opinion of the speak-no-Islam issue. "People I trust" - uh-oh - "say to be careful not to use the term 'jihadist' because it does have a broader use across the Islamic world," he said.

So what? I didn't scream. That doesn't affect its accuracy as a description of the enemy!

However, he continued, not using the word 'Islamic' "obfuscates the issue [and] neuters our understanding" of Islamic terrorism -- "however perverted it might be."

Hayden added: "This is in no way a comment on the Islamic faith."

But it is in some way a comment on American intelligence. Political correctness stymies it.

Of course, NCTC Director Michael Leiter was quick to insist "there was no PC-ness" on his watch. "If someone is inspired by Islamic ideology --" he began, then stopped. "Let me rephrase that: Al Qaeda ideology ..."

Poor baby.

Later, I had an opportunity to ask Leiter what he thought about the FBI bringing Mustapha into NCTC.

"Ask the FBI," he suggested, helpfully. But isn't NCTC your shop? I asked.

"Actually," he explained, "the building isn't owned by us. Three organizations have offices there. ..."

When I pulled myself up off the floor, he was still talking: "It's more complicated -- talk to the FBI. They've got a lot more information than I do."

The FBI better be good, right? After all, on taking my Mustapha question, FBI Director Robert Mueller, the conference's final speaker, said he'd been briefed to expect it.

"I'm not sure I agree with the predicate of your question," he said, "and we're not going to debate it here."

He continued, discussing the Citizen's Academy program, which he described as "exposing the FBI to a variety of communities."

"Exposing" is right.

He, too, said he wouldn't discuss individuals, but added, meaningfully: "We do look into the individuals that we invite into the Citizen's Academies."

I think the man who pulled the plugs had spoken.

Examiner Columnist Diana West is syndicated nationally by United Media and is the author of "The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization."

Why Barack Obama is an anti-colonialist

By Dinesh D'Souza
The Washington Post
Friday, October 8, 2010

If you want to understand what is going on in the White House today, you have to begin with Barack Obama. No, not that Barack Obama. I mean Barack Obama Sr., the president's father. Obama gets his identity and his ideology from his father. Ironically, the man who was absent for virtually all of Obama's life is precisely the one shaping his values and actions.

Barack Obama, at a rally in Aurora, Colo., in 2006. (AP)

How do I know this? Because Obama tells us himself. His autobiography is titled "Dreams From My Father." Notice that the title is not "Dreams of My Father." Obama isn't writing about his father's dreams. He is writing about the dreams that he got from his father.

In his book, Obama writes, "It was into my father's image, the black man, son of Africa, that I'd packed all the attributes I sought in myself." Those who know Obama well say the same thing. His grandmother Sarah Obama told Newsweek, "I look at him and I see all the same things -- he has taken everything from his father . . . this son is realizing everything the father wanted."

But who was Barack Obama Sr., and what did he want? Do the views of the senior Obama help clarify what the junior Obama is doing in the Oval Office? Let's begin with President Obama, who routinely castigates investment banks and large corporations, accusing them of greed and exploitation. Obama's policies have established the heavy hand of government control over Wall Street and the health-care, auto and energy industries.

President Obama also regularly flays the rich, whom he accuses of not paying their "fair share." This seems odd, given that the top 10 percent of earners pay about 70 percent of all income taxes. Yet the president would like this group to pay more.

Some have described the president as being a conventional liberal or even a socialist. But liberals and socialists are typically focused on poverty and social equality; Obama rarely addresses these issues, and when he does so, it is without passion. Pretty much the only time Obama raises his voice is when he is expressing antagonism toward the big, bad corporations and toward those earning more than $250,000 a year. I believe the most compelling explanation of Obama's actions is that he is, just like his father, an anti-colonialist. Anti-colonialism is the idea that the rich countries got rich by looting the poor countries, and that within the rich countries, plutocratic and corporate elites continue to exploit ordinary citizens.

I know about anti-colonialism because I grew up in India in the decades after that country gained its independence from Britain. And Barack Obama Sr. became an anti-colonialist as a consequence of growing up in Kenya during that country's struggle for independence from European rule. Obama Sr. also became an economist and embraced a form of socialism that fit in well with his anti-colonialism. All of this is relevant and helpful in understanding his son's policies.

Consider the article "Problems Facing Our Socialism" that Obama Sr. published in 1965 in the East Africa Journal. Writing in the aftermath of colonialism, the senior Obama advocated socialism as necessary to ensure national autonomy for his country. "The question," he wrote, "is how are we going to remove the disparities in our country, such as the concentration of economic power in Asian and European hands . . .?"

Obama Sr.'s solutions are clear. "We need to eliminate power structures that have been built through excessive accumulation so that not only a few individuals shall control a vast magnitude of resources as is the case now." He proposed that the state seize private land and turn it over to collective cooperatives. He also demanded that the state raise taxes with no upper limit.

Just in case the point is unclear, Obama Sr. insisted that "theoretically there is nothing that can stop the government from taxing 100 percent of income so long as the people get benefits from the government commensurate with their income which is taxed." Absurd as it seems, the idea of 100 percent taxation has its peculiar logic. It is based on the anti-colonial assumption that the rich have become rich by exploiting and plundering the poor; therefore, whatever the rich have is undeserved and may be legitimately seized.

Remarkably, President Obama, who knows his father's history very well, has never mentioned this article. Even more remarkably, there has been virtually no media coverage of a document that seems directly relevant to the current policies of the junior Obama.

Yet when the senior Obama's article is placed side by side with the junior Obama's policies, it seems evident that the father's hatred of those on top, and his determination to confiscate their wealth, is largely replicated in the son.

Dinesh D'Souza is president of King's College in New York City. His new book is "The Roots of Obama's Rage."

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Television review: 'The Promise'

HBO doc features Bruce Springsteen and the making of 'Darkness on the Edge of Town.'

By Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times Television Critic
October 7, 2010

Bruce Springsteen is the subject of the documentary "The Promise: The Making of 'Darkness on the Edge of Town.' " (Frank Stefanko, Sony Music Entertainment)

There was a time when major figures of pop and rock were willing to let people with movie cameras follow them around just to see what they might see, but the contemporary rock-doc is more likely to represent an act of managed self-promotion than of reckless self-exposure. (Reality television, which uses dirty laundry to bolster flagging careers, does not count.) You should not expect to see another "Don't Look Back" (D.A. Pennebaker watches Bob Dylan toy catlike with reporters, fans, friends) or "Gimme Shelter" (the Rolling Stones clueless at Altamont, as seen by the brothers Maysles) or "Let It Be" (Beatles rehearse breakup on camera for Michael Lindsay-Hogg), or even Madonna's less-than-flattering "Truth or Dare" anytime soon. At the same time, there's nothing wrong with a portrait of an artist from the artist's perspective — if the artist has one.

There are few musicians more compulsively or articulately self-reflective than Bruce Springsteen; "Know thyself" could stand as the motto for his whole career, and the 61-year-old product of that long refinement is your guide for "The Promise: The Making of 'Darkness on the Edge of Town,'" which looks back at the creation of what is in many ways his most important, if not actually his most successful album. The film, which premieres Thursday on HBO, about a month before it appears as part of a three-CD, three-DVD expanded reissue, was born as a promotional piece. (A similar documentary, "Wings to Wheels" — directed, like this one, by Thom Zimny — was included in the 2005 reissue of Springsteen's "Born to Run.") But it's an interesting and lively one.

If this is a piece whose primary appeal will be to fans, that is still a whole mess of people, and strangers who wander in will find some compelling music and a remarkably articulate rock star whose aims and priorities will seem remarkably distinct from what they might imagine rock star aims and priorities to be. (Compare and contrast the recent "Stones in Exile," assembled to accompany a rerelease of the Rolling Stones' "Exile on Main Street.")

The songs on "Darkness," says Springsteen, were made in part as "a reaction to my own good fortune" and to satisfy "a sense of accountability to people I'd grown up alongside" — the people who, but for the grace of a Fender guitar, he might still be among.

After the success of "Born to Run," the singer had been kept from recording for a year and a half as a result of a legal battle with a former manager. When he finally got back in the studio in the fall of 1977, after much touring and woodshedding — we see shirtless rehearsals of new songs at his New Jersey farmhouse — he had something different in mind from the Turnpike operas and alley-ballet scores he was famous for, a "music that felt angry and rebellious yet it also felt adult," informed, spiritually if not sonically, by punk rock on the one hand and country music on the other. The very sound of the record, stripped and stark and evocative of "the players fighting for space" (in the words of Chuck Plotkin, who mixed the record) obliges Springsteen's theme of a "life of limits and compromise but also a life of resilience and commitment to life."

The heart of "The Promise," which takes its name from one of the many songs that didn't make the album's final cut, is the black-and-white video footage shot in the studio during those months of recording. We see it in snippets rather than in scenes, but it gives some indication of the tediousness and intensity (and the technical issues) that make up making a record. There is some allusion to creative tensions, but this is more declared than shown — there are no thrown chairs, or petulant ultimatums, or sudden walk-outs — and it's no revelation to learn that the Boss can be a demanding boss.

For the most part "The Promise" swaths a difficult time in a warm glow of remembered good times, older selves recalling younger, content in the knowledge that the thing they have together is good. There's a lot of laughter, in the new footage and the old. Even Mike Appel, the manager who kept Springsteen from recording all those years ago, is a friend again — a perfectly appropriate conclusion to the story that "Darkness" begins.
Copyright © 2010, Los Angeles Times

Shedding Some Light on ‘Darkness’

The New York Times
October 6, 2010

A lot of motives might have been at play in “The Promise: The Making of ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’ ”: nostalgia, vanity, a desire for documentation or benediction. One thing that’s undoubtedly on display, though, is bravery.

For much of the documentary, making its debut Thursday night on HBO, the director, Thom Zimny, cuts between a contemporary interview with Bruce Springsteen and footage shot more than 30 years ago of the young Bruce, an intense and beautiful creature who looks like the Robert De Niro of “Mean Streets,” but friendlier.

Frank Stefanko/Sony Music Entertainment

Bruce Springsteen in “The Promise: The Making of ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town,’ ” on HBO.

Mr. Springsteen, now 61, is aging remarkably well, but still — how many of us, at that age, would want to spend an hour and a half being compared with our 28-year-old selves?

Those scenes of Mr. Springsteen and the E Street Band in the studio during the year they worked on “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” their fourth album, were shot in grainy black and white by Barry Rebo, a future cinematographer and producer. Along with old color home movies of the Springsteen family, they give “The Promise” a surface resemblance to Bruce Weber’s great musical documentary “Let’s Get Lost,” about the trumpeter Chet Baker.

“The Promise,” however, is much smaller in scope. It’s a standard making-of documentary, proceeding chronologically through the tribulations and triumphs on the road to the 1978 release of “Darkness,” three years after “Born to Run” — an agonizingly long gap at a time when new songs on the radio were the only way to reach a mass audience.

What elevates the film are its subjects, both the artist and the album, which established a style and a set of themes that would define Mr. Springsteen’s subsequent career. Punk, which was developing at the same time, may get all the credit for revolutionizing popular music, but Mr. Springsteen’s determination to move away from the highly engineered and sterile perfectionism of 1970s rock made “Darkness” just as innovative in its own way.

Springsteen fans — a particularly knowledgeable and devoted audience — will be mesmerized by Mr. Rebo’s footage, which, according to HBO, has never been shown publicly. Those of us who remember where we were when we first heard the album can indulge our nostalgia while taking in the evidence of Mr. Springsteen’s stubborn yet calm determination to find exactly the sound he was seeking.

Happiest of all will be the Springsteen completists, rewarded by nuggets like his singing of “Candy’s Baby” (an earlier version of “Candy’s Room”); an alternate verse of “Something in the Night” or the never-released “What’s the Matter Little Darling”; or songs that went to other artists, like “Because the Night” (Patti Smith) and “Talk to Me” (Southside Johnny).

In the background of one shot Mr. Zimny identifies the fan Obie Dziedzic, who advised his hero to record the version of “Racing in the Street” that included a verse about a girl he met — thereby helping preserve some of Mr. Springsteen’s most romantic lyrics. (“Tonight my baby and me we’re gonna ride to the sea/and wash these sins off our hands.”)

In addition to the interview with the latter-day Mr. Springsteen “The Promise” includes reminiscences by most of the core members of the E Street Band and the producers Jon Landau and Jimmy Iovine. Mr. Springsteen is as intelligent and articulate a commentator as always, but he doesn’t have much to say that sounds new. On the themes that underpin “Darkness,” like sin or “deep despair, resilience, determination,” you’d rather just hear him sing.

More enlightening is Chuck Plotkin, who was brought in to help Mr. Iovine mix the album and who describes how Mr. Springsteen communicated the sounds and effects he wanted to achieve through visual, cinematic images. More amusing is Steven Van Zandt, the guitarist and latter-day “Sopranos” star, who still gets testy on the subject of the 70 new songs he had to learn before Mr. Springsteen chose the 10 that would make it onto the album. (“The Promise” was one of the rejects, after the band had spent three months rehearsing and recording it; it would show up 21 years later on “18 Tracks.”)

“The Promise” (the film) fits on the shelf with other friendly documentaries released in the past few years about great rock songwriters of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, like Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Tom Petty. It doesn’t approach the complexity or panache of Martin Scorsese’s movie about Mr. Dylan or Jonathan Demme’s films about Mr. Young, but in its modest way it’s a fitting tribute to an album meant to be lean, angry and unadorned.

Shedding light on Bruce Springsteen's 'Darkness on the Edge of Town'

By Jay Lustig
The Newark Star-Ledger
Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town
(Thursday night at 9 on HBO, with 12 other airings on HBO and HBO2 through Oct. 30)

Tomorrow is a big day for Bruce Springsteen fans, with the debut of “The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town” on HBO.

But the really big day is more than a month away.

The 90-minute documentary is just one part of the three-CD, three-DVD reissue of Springsteen’s classic 1978 album, “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” which comes out Nov. 16 (and is similarly called “The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story”). The documentary is well-made and fascinating, but it’s still just a minor attraction compared with the 21 previously unreleased tracks and pristine 1978 concert footage that will be included in the package.

Springsteen always has been a prolific songwriter. But in the “Darkness” era, he was a songwriting machine, churning out some 70 songs for the project before narrowing them down to 10 that conjured the stark, desperate mood he wanted. “We didn’t want any sweetening; we wanted coffee, black,” says Springsteen producer-manager Jon Landau in the documentary, which was recently shown at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Songs that didn’t fit the mood got left off, no matter how worthy. Some, such as “Fire,” “Because the Night” and “Talk to Me,” became hits for other acts (the Pointer Sisters, Patti Smith and Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, respectively).

At a New York press screening of the documentary on Monday, eight of the boxed set’s tracks were also previewed. These were:

“Ain’t Good Enough For You.” An upbeat party song reminiscent of “This Little Girl,” the 1981 Gary U.S. Bonds hit that Springsteen wrote and co-produced. There are some funny lines here (“I tried to change, I got a job in sales/I bought a shirt uptown, in Bloomingdale’s”).

“Outside Looking In.” A tough, fast, hard-rocking song about alienation (“You’ve got all the answers, you and your friends/And I’m on the outside looking in”).

“Gotta Get That Feeling” and “Someday (We’ll Be Together).” Two songs that evoke Phil Spector’s famous wall-of-sound productions. The latter, in particular, sounds like a slowed-down Ronettes melodrama, with unabashedly romantic lyrics that anticipate Springsteen’s love songs of the future.

“Racing in the Street.” A less desolate, more anthemic version of the “Darkness on the Edge of Town” track, with some different lyrics (“Some guys, they do it for the money/Other guys do it ’cause they don’t know what else they can do”).

“Talk to Me.” A big, raucous sound. Totally Jukes-worthy.

“Because the Night.” When Springsteen has performed this song in concert, over the years, he has used his original lyrics (in 1977, he sent his demo to Smith, who added some lyrics). In this version, he sings Smith’s words, too, and makes them sound so personal they seem like his own.

“The Promise.” An aching ballad about betrayal that Springsteen spent months perfecting, and that could have been a “Darkness on the Edge of Town” centerpiece. But he “felt too close to it,” he says in the documentary. (A different version of “The Promise” was included on his 1999 rarities collection, “18 Tracks.”)

The documentary creates a vivid portrait of Springsteen in the late ’70s: totally focused on his music (“I didn’t have a life” he says), frustrated by his legal wrangling with ex-manager Mike Appel, and freaked out by the success of “Born to Run.” Driving everyone around him crazy as he obsessed over sonic details (particularly amusing is his quixotic quest for the perfect drum sound, which bassist Garry Tallent dourly deems “pretty sad, really”). Being inspired by the punk explosion, and connecting to country music (specifically, Hank Williams) for the first time.

Burning not just to have another hit, but to make timeless music.

“It sounds okay,” says Springsteen, in one typical studio segment. “It could probably sound better.”

The 80-page booklet for the boxed set will not be a standard one. Spiral-bound, it’s intended to look like the beat-up notebook that Springsteen used to rewrite songs, play around with potential track orders for the album, and make other notes related to the project. In the documentary, Springsteen’s notebook practically becomes a character unto itself. E Street Band members wince when they see it, knowing their boss will be asking for yet more revisions, yet more takes (at one point, they start taking bets on his “whims of the day”).

The documentary also captures the moment when everything comes together — with a big assist from an 11th-hour white knight, sound mixer Chuck Plotkin, who is able to get the sounds Springsteen is hearing in his head onto vinyl. The band, relieved to be done, finally hits the road and starts rocking in public again, presenting some of its best shows ever.

There is a reason “The Promise” was shown at a film festival: It has a dramatic arc few making-of-an-album documentaries can match.

Jay Lustig; (973) 392-5850 or

Springsteen, a true son of N.J., reflects on his career

By Ellen Gray
Philadelphia Daily News
October 7, 2010

NEARLY EVERY week brings some fresh insult to the state of New Jersey, host to an ever increasing number of shows that suggest what's grown in the Garden State is fertilized with a noxious mix of mascara, alcohol and hair spray.

So it's a relief to be reminded there are people and memories not even Snooki or the so-called "Real Housewives" can sully.

HBO tonight offers just that as it presents Thom Zimny's Bruce Springsteen documentary, "The Promise: The Making of 'Darkness on the Edge of Town,' " a thoughtful portrait of the Jersey artist as a young man at a turning point in his career.

In 1977, Springsteen was living on a farm in Holmdel, N.J., writing the songs for the E Street Band that would eventually make up "Darkness on the Edge of Town," his fourth album and the follow-up to 1975's hugely successful "Born to Run."

Released in 1978, nearly three years after "Born to Run" - at a time when such gaps were far less common - "Darkness" represented a shift in Springsteen's driving style just as he was wresting control of the wheel.

"I had a reaction to my own good fortune," Springsteen says. "The success [of 'Born to Run'] brought me an audience. It also separated me from all the things I'd been trying to make connections to my whole life. And it frightened me because I understood that what I had of value was at my core, and that core was rooted into the place I'd grown up, the people I'd known, the experiences I'd had. If I move away from those things into a sphere of just treat 'em as pure license, to go about your life as you desire, without connection, that's where a lot of the people I admired drifted away from the essential things that made them great.

"And more than rich, and more than famous and more than happy," he says, with a laugh, "I wanted to be great."

It's the laugh that does it.

Because one of the things that distinguishes "The Promise" isn't the footage from the studio and the house in Holmdel, or the interviews, with Roy Bittan, Max Weinberg, Garry Tallent, Danny Federici, Stevie Van Zandt, Clarence Clemons, Jon Landau, Nils Lofgren, Patti Scialfa and even Mike Appel, the former manager whose legal battle with Springsteen kept the band out of the recording studio for nearly a year.

It's the coming together of the sometimes angry young man and the older one who can look back and own his past while forgiving others their trespasses.

"It wasn't a lawsuit about money, it was a lawsuit about control, who was going to be in control of my work and my work life. Early on, I decided that was going to be me," Springsteen says.

But "the initial contracts, rather than evil, were naive," he says. "You wouldn't put that kind of stress and tension on a relationship. It was bound to be destructive," and though he won, "the loss of Mike's friendship was a terrible loss."

More than three decades later, neither side appears to be nursing a grudge, at least not for the camera, and there's a kind of relief in that, given how much face time people with Jersey accents and far less serious grievances get these days.

Ultimately, of course, it's the artistry that impresses.

In "Darkness," "I'm beginning to tell the story that I tell for . . . most of the rest of my work life," Springsteen says.

Of the change in sound, stripped and simplified from the "wall of sound" he'd worked to achieve in "Born to Run," he says, "I wanted the record to have a very relentless feeling."

Zimny manages to capture both the chaos and brilliance of the process, which produced more songs than might have fit on five albums - Patti Smith talks about the hit she got from one of the discards and we eventually find out why the film is called "The Promise" - while providing glimpses of some special moments, including the story behind the album's iconic cover, shot in an upstairs bedroom of photographer Frank Stefanko's old house in Haddonfield that was wallpapered in cabbage roses.

Of the chaos that preceded that quiet picture, Landau, Springsteen's longtime producer, says: "It's starting to seem funny now. At the time, there was no humor there at all."

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With Rahm in the Windy City

The Current Crisis

By R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. on 10.7.10 @ 6:10AM
The American Spectator

CHICAGO - OCTOBER 4: Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel campaigns for Chicago Mayor at an 'L' station in October 4, 2010 Chicago, Illinois. Emanuel resigned from his White House position October 1, in order to run for mayor of Chicago.(Getty Images)

WASHINGTON -- On Sunday Rahm Emanuel declared his candidacy for mayor of Chicago. Instantaneously, he had problems with his campaign, not the least of which is that he is as much a resident of Chicago as I am. So on Monday I declared my candidacy for mayor of Chicago. Why not? I did it on the national television show of the estimable Sean Hannity, who immediately threw his support behind me. I was born in Chicago, come from a long line of Chicagoans, and like Rahm I am occasionally in town. The place is a gastronomic paradise, a cultural delight with great museums and a fine orchestra, plus opera – surprisingly, Rahm and I have never crossed paths while in town. Supposedly, he attends rock concerts. He could attend the Chicago Symphony but he opts for Bruce Springsteen.

My candidacy already had the national endorsement of the New York Sun, which tapped me the day before I declared. I have a new book out, After the Hangover: The Conservatives' Road to Recovery, to provide Chicagoans, and Americans generally, with a blueprint for getting out of our present political and economic fix. The blogs are alive with support (and occasional rudeness), and more newspaper support is rumored on the way. All Rahm has is a few big names and our mutually held residency problem. Rahm is still seeking newspaper support, and his "listening tour," begun Monday, has gotten off to a rocky start. A lot of Chicagoans do not like him. He has a reputation for yelling at underlings and for profanity.

As for me, I am free of any hint of Chicago corruption, certainly no hint of a connection to ex-Governor Rod Blagojevich. Frankly, I could not pick him out of a police lineup -- at least a police lineup of gaudily dressed gigolos. Rahm is recorded on the telephone with Blagojevich suggesting deals shortly after President Barack Obama's election. All of this and any other questionable dealings will be rehashed over and again during the run-up to the February election. When it comes to political connections with the Chicago machine or for that matter almost any connection at all -- my family lives in the suburbs -- I am clean as a hound's tooth.

More to the point, though Rahm owns a house in Chicago, he does not live in it and cannot live in it. He leased it out nearly two years ago to one Rob Halpin, and it appears that Rob is a patriot. He is not going to let some capricious politician run him out of his home just because the politician decided to leave the sinking ship of President Obama and enter the mayor's race. He has responsibilities. Moreover, he renewed his lease just days before Mayor Richard M. Daley announced his retirement on September 7. That apparently inspired Rahm to run, and it does raise the question: why did Rahm not leave himself free to move back to Chicago when he took his ill-considered job as President Obama's chief of staff? President Obama has maintained his home there and is freer to run for mayor than Rahm. Why, as recently as the first week in September, did Rahm not see this mayoral race as at least a possibility, or maybe some other Chicago electoral endeavor? As I say, he suddenly decided to jump ship.

It all smacks of opportunism, and Rahm's usual proclivity for bullying people. He tried it on me, when as a prelude to siccing a grand jury on The American Spectator, his Clinton White House sent me not a dead fish but a copy of Bill Clinton's book Between Hope and History, suitably inscribed but with no explanation. It was sent on February 26, 1998, and marked the beginning of a year-long investigation of the Spectator on felony charges meant to tarnish Ken Starr's witness in the Whitewater matter. The proceedings were dismissed as a witch hunt, but it did last a year, and it was unpleasant. In fact, it reeks of bully politics.

Now Rahm envisages his unpleasant bully politics for Chicago, but he is dealing with serious pols, Sheriff Tom Dart and state Senator James Meeks. Charges of "carpetbagger" are in the air and that word again, "bullying." Still these guys can deal with bullies, especially Dart who is sheriff of all of Cook County. Moreover, experts on the electoral law have weighed in, and they see tremendous hurdles for Rahm to leap -- and me too. I shall throw myself on the mercies of the court. Will Rahm trust the courts?

One of Chicago's top lawyers, Burt Odelson, told the Chicago Sun-Times that "The guy does not meet the statutory requirements to run for mayor." Odelson elaborated, "He hasn't been back there for 18 months. Residency cases are usually hard cases to prove because the candidate gets an apartment or says he's living in his mother's basement. Here the facts are easy to prove. He doesn't dispute he's been in Washington for the past 18 months. This is not a hard case."

Well, Rahm, how about joining my legal case and throwing yourself on the mercy of the court? You got one thing right in all of this. Now is a good time to leave the White House. It might be a good time for Barack, too. Can one run for mayor while being president of the United States? Check it out, Barack. We can all run.

R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator. His new book, After the Hangover: The Conservatives' Road to Recovery, was published on April 20 by Thomas Nelson. His previous books include the New York Times bestseller Boy Clinton: the Political Biography; The Impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton; The Liberal Crack-Up; The Conservative Crack-Up; Public Nuisances; The Future that Doesn't Work: Social Democracy's Failure in Britain; Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House; and The Clinton Crack-Up.


By Ann Coulter
October 6, 2010

My friend Joe Sobran died last Thursday, and the world lost its greatest writer.

To my delight, some obituaries noted that he had influenced my writing style. I only wish I had known he was so close to the end so I could have seen him again to let him influence me some more.

The G.K. Chesterton of our time, Joe could deliver a knockout punch with a single line. Many of his aphorisms were so catchy that everyone repeats them now without realizing their provenance.

It was Joe who came up with the apocryphal New York Times headline: "New York Destroyed by Earthquake; Women and Minorities Hit Hardest."

Joe created the phrase "strange new respect" to describe the sudden warm admiration the media have for any conservative who becomes a liberal.

In the '80s, Bill Buckley suggested that AIDS sufferers be required to get tattoos on their buttocks to protect other gays. As all hell broke loose over his proposal, Sobran simply suggested that it might borrow from Dante: "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here."

I've recently been telling a friend who talked me into agreeing to an interview with the Times that I wouldn't be mad at him no matter what the Times does to me because "your enemies can never hurt you, only your friends can." I remember now that it was Sobran who told me that, years ago, in reference to his treatment by Buckley.

Ironically perhaps, I've often used a Sobran observation to explain why I have a greater affinity to Israel than to the Muslim world after 9/11: Watching a death-match fight on Animal Planet once, Joe said he found himself instinctively rooting for the mammal over the reptile.

Joe was comically immune to group-think. Every Christian should be, but with Joe it was nearly pathological.

A Shakespeare expert, Joe became convinced that the real author was Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford. Among his vast trove of evidence were the sonnets, some of which clearly expressed love for another man.

When Joe was writing what became "Alias Shakespeare," he used to tell me he was going to title the book: "He's Here, He's Queer, He's Edward de Vere!"

Reading through some of his columns after he died and being reminded of what an eloquent writer Joe was, I realized that the best tribute would be to quote him extensively.

As Joe himself said: "I note that my enemies have written a great deal about me, yet they rarely quote me directly. Why not? If I am so disreputable myself, I must at least occasionally say disreputable things. Is it possible that what I say is more cogent than they like to admit?"

Joe's quotes are much better when you're reading his columns and a beautifully turned phrase sneaks up on you, but here are a few good ones, even in isolation:

-- On our democracy: "Your chances of meeting an IRS agent are far greater than your chances of meeting anyone you voted for."

-- On Clinton: "Once again, his defenders, furiously attacking the prosecution and equating opposition with 'conspiracy,' don't dare mount the best defense: 'He's not that sort of man.' It's because Clinton is, supremely, 'that sort of man' that this whole thing has happened. He's a lying lecher, a prevaricating pervert, an utterly slimy crook, without a trace of honor or loyalty, desperately trying to save his own skin one last time."

-- On big government: "Freedom has ceased to be a birthright; it has come to mean whatever we are still permitted to do."

-- On Obama: "Nor has he said anything memorable -- not even a single aphorism over this long campaign. And the title of his book 'The Audacity of Hope' -- what on earth does that mean? He is always hinting at a substance that is never disclosed to us. He seems to live by raising vague aspirations he never fulfills."

-- On Buckley's book "In Search of Anti-Semitism": "Its real message is not that we should like or respect Jews; only that we should try not to hate them. But this implies that anti-Semitism is the natural reaction to them: If it's a universal sin, after all, it must be a universal temptation. ... When he defends Jews, I sometimes feel like saying: 'Bill! Bill! It's all right! They're not that bad!'"

-- On evolution: "If our furry and scaly friends were still evolving, none of them appeared to be gaining on us."

-- On Canada banning Dr. Laura: "Canada has to protect itself against such pernicious, hate-filled American notions as the Law of Moses. If Dr. Laura wants to spew the Ten Commandments, let her do it in her own country."

After I made some point to Joe once, he paid me a compliment that describes exactly why it was so fun to be around him. He said, "Your mind is always going."

His body is gone, but I'm sure his mind is still going like gangbusters. And I'm insanely jealous that he's giving God all the good belly laughs now.


Secretariat was essence of greatness

Thursday, October 07, 2010
By Gene Collier, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Secretariat, with regular jockey Ron Turcotte races into history by winning the 1973 Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths. (Photograph by Bob Coglianese)

This year would mark the 40th anniversary of the birth of Secretariat, which is as near as I can come to any kind of why-now explanation for the movie about the one-and-only Virginia thoroughbred that opens tomorrow night.

Maybe it's not so much a why-now question as a what-took-so-long reaction, since who would have thought that when a major studio finally got around to putting the life of the horse they called "Big Red" on the big screen, we'd have Diane Lane and John Malkovich cooking up the typically ultrarich Disney formula 37 years after the fact, the still-astounding fact all the same?

Secretariat swept horse racing's Triple Crown events in 1973 with a blur of equine brilliance unseen before or since. You didn't have to be a fan of horse racing to be mesmerized by this singular animal, which is why, the week before the Belmont Stakes that June, Secretariat was not only on the cover of Sports Illustrated, but on Time and Newsweek as well, in addition to, I think, The Economist, Men's Health, and Popular Mechanics.

But that was the whole essence of Secretariat's story -- it couldn't be exaggerated. He was his own exaggeration, running to his own outlandish standards, to achievements not thought possible inside the sport of kings or out. His Triple Crown performances were rare historical cadenzas that can still raise gooseflesh, even that far back in the mind's rear view.

And thus the film is highly necessary, and highly successful in the delivery of Secretariat's thundering aura. That requires a certain capacity for cinematic art, including a resounding score and inspired sound editing. That it includes a pretty fair narrative is, I think, a bonus, but even there, Secretariat and his peeps were thoughtful enough to have arranged an intact true life drama from which to proceed.

In one scene, the horse's owner (Lane), trainer (Malkovich) and groom (Nelsan Ellis) are discussing in somewhat hushed tones Secretariat's lack of appetite before the Kentucky Derby, when Lane finally says, "Let me have a moment with him."

In 1,001 other films, this exact scene exists, but the working line of dialogue is, "Let me talk to him."

There is little doubt that among the reasons this particular superstar athlete is so beloved is that Secretariat never said anything stupid. Yet somehow I don't assume for a minute that Secretariat would have answered questions with the grace and humility of a Lou Gehrig, who finished only one slot higher (at 34) when ESPN ranked the 100 greatest athletes of the 20th century.

I always thought that Big Red, if he could talk, would bring it like Muhammad Ali.

"I'm a baaaad horse!"

Like Ali, Secretariat was a heavyweight with unmatched speed and grace amid an evident playfulness, all things that can create outrageous confidence and a not insignificant social burden. As Ali explained, "It's hard to be modest when you're as great as I am."

Ali didn't have to wait as long as Secretariat for his defining cinematic tribute, as Will Smith brought him to the screen in 2001 with a performance that some veteran Ali students thought was too brooding. Still, a New York Times review at the time referred to the fighter's trademark braggadocio as "an enchanting lack of humility."

Secretariat had that same essence, I thought, that of a four-legged, nearly 1,200-pound Muhammad Ali, with accomplishments so unforeseen they made it too hard to be humble. When he won the Derby, his quarter-mile times were successively better right to the wire. In other words, when he finished in a record-breaking 1:59 2/5ths, he accelerated for 1 1/4 miles. When he beat his alleged rival, the horse named Sham, in the Preakness, he won by the same 21/2 lengths, and when Sham finished dead last in the Belmont, well, Sham looked like the only horse in the five-horse field with a lick of sense. After all, what was the point? Secretariat was running 11/2 miles in a world record 2:24, winning by 31 lengths, something still so astonishing that it actually seems comforting that this film reaffirms it.

The movie also includes repeated scenes of prerace news conferences that seem frightfully similar to Ali weigh-ins. We see the competing owners and trainers trade polite jabs, but, to me, those scenes begged for Secretariat in a speaking part.

"Sham's so ugly, I don't know if he's comin' or goin'. If he even dreams about beatin' me, he better wake up and apologize."

Maybe this is why my screenplays never go anywhere.

Gene Collier:

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Not even Halladay was prepared for no-hitter

By Phil Sheridan
Philadelphia Inquirer
October 7, 2010

Roy Halladay came to Philadelphia for the chance to make it to the postseason. All he did Wednesday night was make postseason history.

On a chilly night, through a three-inning rainfall, the big bearded righthander they call "Doc" threw just the second postseason no-hitter in Major League Baseball's long history. Halladay allowed just one Cincinnati Red to reach base. That walk was all that kept him from equaling Don Larsen's 1956 World Series perfect game.

Halladay, who threw a perfect game himself back on May 29, created another indelible baseball memory for a team and a city that have had so much to celebrate the last several Octobers. By dominating the Reds, the champions of the National League's Central Division, Halladay gave the Phillies a 4-0 victory in Game 1 of this best-of-five NL division series.

And it was the focus on that, on winning an important playoff game, that allowed Halladay to wave off the building pressure of his no-hit, no-run performance. He even drove in one of the Phillies' runs with a hit.

"It's something I wasn't real worried about achieving," Halladay said of the no-hitter. "I think if you're not putting too much emphasis on trying to throw a no-hitter, you're going out and staying aggressive. It makes it a lot easier."

His teammates and the sellout crowd at Citizens Bank Park were feeling the pressure for him. As the game wore on - as the number of outs remaining dwindled to nine, then six, then three - the Phillies' dugout grew quieter while the frenzied towel-waving fans grew louder and more excited.

"About the sixth inning, it got real quiet," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "People stayed in their seats and sat there and watched the game. [Halladay] came in and went down to the end of the dugout, sat in his chair, and didn't say a word. End of the inning, he'd get back up and go back on the field. It's pretty neat, really."

Out in the bullpen, the relief pitchers also stayed put. No one wants to change the energy or put a jinx on a pitcher with a no-hitter. One reliever needed to relieve himself, but Ryan Madson said he had remained in place until Halladay secured the final out.

The Phillies are in the postseason for the fourth consecutive October, and the ballpark had been louder only a handful of times before: when Brad Lidge got the final out of the 2008 World Series and after a couple of other series-clinching wins.

The quiet of his teammates didn't pierce Halladay's otherworldly focus. The sonic boom of the fans did.

"When it gets that loud," he said, "it's hard to ignore. I thought especially the last three innings, it seemed like it got louder every inning. It was a lot of fun."

The day started normally enough. Halladay got to the ballpark at his usual time. He said he had tried to treat his first postseason start as a normal workday, to "disconnect yourself from the emotions a little bit." Shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who usually says a few words to Halladay, decided not to before this game.

"I said, 'Roy looks like he's in a different world right now,' " Rollins said.

What a world it turned out to be. Halladay was so good, so nearly mechanical, that there was little of the usual drama that surrounds a no-hitter. He issued his only walk in the fifth inning to Reds outfielder Jay Bruce. The only truly hard-hit ball, a line drive off the bat of relief pitcher Travis Wood, was caught by rightfielder Jayson Werth.

Rollins made two solid plays, making one throw from deep in the hole at short and scooping up a ball that ticked off the mound and changed its angle.

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 06: Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies hits an RBI single in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds at Citizens Bank Park on October 6, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

But Halladay was the story. He got through the heart of the Reds' lineup in the seventh, then got three outs, including two strikeouts, on just seven pitches in the eighth inning. When he came out for the ninth, the crowd was on its feet, rally towels fluttering. With each out, the stadium shook.

Ramon Hernandez popped out to Chase Utley. Miguel Cairo hit a foul pop-up toward the third-base side. Wilson Valdez drifted under it and caught it with two hands, as if it were a baby dropped from a burning building. That brought up Brandon Phillips, the Reds' speedy leadoff hitter.

Phillips hit a ball that traveled no farther than his bat. Catcher Carlos Ruiz made the best defensive play of the night, ending the game and the suspense by throwing Phillips out from his knees.

Ruiz rushed out to hug Halladay. Ryan Howard, who caught the final outs of both of Halladay's 2010 classics, stretched his big arms and embraced them both. Soon the rest of the team was celebrating near the mound.

A fan held up a sign, "Welcome to Doctober." Halladay's wife and kids celebrated in the stands. Fireworks filled the South Philly sky.

Roy Halladay, one of the greatest pitchers never to have pitched in the postseason, had delivered one of the greatest postseason pitching performances ever.

"You want to share things like this with family and friends," Halladay said. "My family's here, and I feel like my friends are on the team."

He made a few million more friends Wednesday night.

Contact columnist Phil Sheridan at 215-854-2844 or Read his recent work at

Phillies take 1-0 lead, as usual

By Bill Conlin
Philadelphia Daily News
October 7, 2010

THE PHILLIES draw first blood more often than the cast of "True Blood," HBO's paean to the involuntary transfusion.

Children of the night, vot music they make, as Count Dracula used to say.

At 7:42 on the night National League history was made, Reds leadoff hitter Brandon Phillips gave his team's last drop.

Roy Halladay had pitched his way into the rare air of baseball history.

No National League pitcher had ever thrown a postseason no-hitter. Until last night. And he came one mislocated pitch from his second perfect game of 2010.

Yankees righthander Don Larsen, a journeyman, had stood atop the no-hit pedestal for 54 years, his perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1956 World Series standing alone through all the postseasons dating to 1903.

And Halladay did it with the first-blood intensity that has marked the Charlie Manuel Phillies since the NLDS against the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008.

Since then, the Phillies have won the first game of seven straight series in what has become an October marathon. The Brewers, Dodgers, Rays, Rockies, Dodgers and Yankees all went 0-1. Only the Yankees rallied, coming back with a vengeance to win the World Series in six games.

Halladay went for the jugular with an efficiency that amped The Bank crowd of 46,411 into a frenzied crescendo that rose inning by inning, strike by strike, out by out, into a tsunami of sound that even penetrated the sanctum of concentration where the great righthander dwells, alone with his game plan.

He faced 28 Cincinnati Reds batters. And a remarkable 25 of the 28 first pitches to them were strikes.

That wasn't a statement by Roy Halladay in Game 1 of the NLDS. It was a royal decree that seemed to order, "Off with their bats."

The final score of 4-0 and the modest first- and second-inning offense that produced all the runs and sent starter Edinson Volquez to an early shower became overshadowed as Halladay rolled through the Reds' No. 1-ranked NL offense like a threshing machine through a wheat field.

The only ball struck with authority by Dusty Baker's lineup was a sinking liner to right by reliever Travis Wood.

Yeah, that Travis Wood. The rookie lefthander who took a perfect game into the ninth inning of an epic scoreless battle against Halladay here in the third game of a Phillies' four-game sweep before the All-Star break.

Carlos Ruiz, who called another brilliant game for Halladay, blending Doc's four pitches like a French chef turning out a four-course meal, broke up Wood's no-hitter with a leadoff double. Jimmy Rollins scored Chooch with two outs in the 11th with a walkoff single.

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 06: Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies delivers in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds at Citizens Bank Park on October 6, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Halladay threw the first postseason no-hitter since 1956, as the Phillies defeated the Reds 4-0. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Reds manager Dusty Baker will have some explaining to do in the arena of 20-20 hindsight. Volquez is just over a year removed from Tommy John surgery and took a pedestrian 4-3 record and 4.31 ERA into what could be the pivotal game of the best-of-five crapshoot. The Volquez who was 2-0 against the Phillies with an 0.73 ERA was the presurgery righthander who at his best was close to unhittable. That pitcher did not show up last night.

Naturally, the reliever who replaced him in the second after Halladay singled home a run and Shane Victorino singled home two more in the second was Wood. The lefthander buried the Phils once more, allowing a harmless hit in 3 1/3 lockdown innings. What if he had been paired with Halladay once more in one of those first-to-blink classics? We will never know.

Chase Utley and Victorino, who combined to score the first run last night, were the heroes in the 2008 NLDS that began the Phillies' run of postseason series successes. Utley's two-run double was the big blow in Game 1, and nobody will forget Victorino's Game 2 grand slam off CC Sabathia, set up by Brett Myers' epic 14-pitch at-bat that frenzied the crowd, a foreshadowing of the routine hysteria that has gripped the sold-out Bank in every October game since.

The centerfielder began last night's epic with a one-out double, brazenly stole third against Volquez' sluggish move to the plate and scored on a sacrifice fly by Utley, narrowly beating a howitzer throw by rightfielder Jay Bruce.

With the modest rites of offense out of the way, all eyes turned to Halladay. He was hard not to watch, even for Baker, who has been on both sides of no-hitters as player and manager.

"The thing about it was," Baker said, "I don't think he threw anything down the heart of the plate, everything was on the corners and moving. I don't know what his percentage was, but it looked like he threw 90 percent for first-pitch strikes. Any time you do that with the stuff he has, then he can go to work on you after that."

That wasn't work, it was surgery with a blunt knife, the kind of cadaver-slicing that takes the heart out of a team that now must face a well-rested Roy Oswalt tomorrow night. Charlie Manuel related how things got very quiet in the dugout around the sixth inning, "kind of like Florida." How Halladay just sat there quiet, "then went back out there."

"Pretty neat, really . . . Great managing . . . "

With Doc needing just three more outs for the no-no, I headed for the restroom with two outs in the bottom of the eighth. Chris Wheeler was in there hyperventilating. "Nervous?" I asked. "That's why I'm in here."

Leaving, I almost collided with Phillies president David Montgomery. On his way in.


"That's why I'm in here," he said.

The jitters were unfounded. Roy Halladay drained the last few drops of blood from the Reds, finishing with a 1-2-3 flourish what was last done to Cincinnati on June 23, 1971, by Rick Wise in a Riverfront Stadium no-hitter enlivened by the righthander's two home runs.

I was there for that one, too . . .

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Ruiz nearly perfect, too, in Halladay's no-hitter

By Rich Hofmann
Philadelphia Daily News
October 7, 2010

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 06: Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies delivers in the ninth inning of Game 1 of the NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds at Citizens Bank Park on October 6, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

'If the world was perfect, it wouldn't be."

- Yogi Berra

The way Don Larsen has told the story, his catcher was in charge on that October day in 1956 when he pitched the only perfect game in the history of major league baseball's postseason. Larsen has been quoted as saying, "I never shook off any of the pitches Yogi called. I didn't want to ruin a good thing."

Last night, Roy Halladay shook off Carlos Ruiz only once.

There were 26 outs in the scorebook and the Cincinnati Reds had accomplished nothing but a fifth-inning walk by Jay Bruce. No runs, no hits, and one out remained to be gotten.

Halladay and Ruiz were hard-wired all night. They had been together before, pitcher and catcher, for perfection. That night in May, that perfect game against the Florida Marlins, was different and it was the same. What it did, in a small way, was continue to highlight the never-predicted value that Ruiz has brought to a franchise in flower.

He is an excellent receiver who has become an accomplished hitter, a man who commits felonies on fastballs (and often in October). On this night, well, he said he just knew - not that he was going to catch a no-hitter, but that Halladay had winning stuff in the first postseason appearance of his distinguished career. As Ruiz said, "It was fun to catch him in the bullpen - he was hitting his spots all the time. It was, oh my God, he was on today."

Twenty-six outs, then. Brandon Phillips was at the plate for the Reds. The first pitch of the at-bat, like so many others, was a called strike, a 93 mph fastball. Citizens Bank Park roiled, but pitcher and catcher continued to occupy their own world. As Halladay said, "Ruiz has done a great job of recognizing early on what's working, what's effective, and calling that."

Ruiz put down a sign for the next pitch. He wanted a fastball, up. And this time, this one time, Halladay shook his head.

"He said, no, we'll throw a cutter," is the way Ruiz remembered it. Phillips swung through that 91 mph cutter for Strike 2.

Then, for the 104th and final time, Ruiz put down a sign.

"And then he throws a curveball and that was it," said the catcher, who was kind of leaving out a few of the good parts.

"I don't want to make the wrong mistake."

- Yogi Berra

Phillips barely made contact. The truth is, his discarded bat traveled as far as the baseball, just a couple of feet in front of home plate. The decibel level seemed to drop noticeably when the ball squirted in front of the plate, the ballpark suddenly a cavern of held breath. Ball and bat lay inches apart - Ruiz said they actually hit against each other for a second - and left the catcher trying to do about three things at once.

"I'm panicking right there because he's a very good runner," Ruiz said.

He is trying to pick up the ball cleanly without becoming entangled with the bat. He is trying to make a throw to first to catch a speedy runner who, truth be told, is a moving obstacle as he motors up the baseline. He is trying to preserve the first no-hitter in postseason history since Larsen did it for the Yankees in the 1956 World Series.

Other than that, there wasn't much riding on the play.

"That's why I threw from my knee," Ruiz said. "The ball hit the bat and it came back a little bit. I got it and had to throw from my knee because he was fast."

He unleashed the throw and, for a second, we all wondered if this would be the last play of a historic night. Ruiz said he had known since the sixth inning that Halladay was working on a no-hitter, and that the perfect-game experience served him well.

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 06: Fans cheer Roy Halladay during Game 1 of the NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds at Citizens Bank Park on October 6, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

"We tried to be relaxed the whole game," Ruiz said. "When I saw the scoreboard and it said no hits, I said,'OK, you've got to do this the same way you did it in Florida - have fun, relax.' I did the routine, I talked to Danny [Baez] almost the whole game - the kinds of things that don't make you think about the game."

He said he talked to Halladay exactly twice in the dugout. Both times, it was to remind him of the extra long delays between half-innings during the postseason because of extra television commercials. Before returning to the field, Ruiz told him those two times, "Let's take our time."

Which is what Ruiz did, until the very end. When Ryan Howard caught his throw at first base, it was over. All that was left was the celebration.

In the history of the sport, the black-and-white shot of Berra leaping into Larsen's arms is iconic. Now, the new color photo - dominant color: red - of Ruiz and Halladay embracing will seek its own place amid baseball lore. It is not hard to see the similarity.

Halladay and Ruiz are joined together now, forever. And you cannot help but wonder about destiny, and forever, and this incredible fact: On Yogi Berra Day at Yankee Stadium in 1999, a ceremonial pitch was thrown, Larsen to Berra. And then, in the real game, David Cone pitched a perfect game for the Yankees.

"It's like deja vu all over again."

- Yogi Berra

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