Thursday, May 05, 2011


By Ann Coulter
May 4, 2011

The CIA stepped up the search for Osama bin Laden last week after becoming as sick of royal wedding coverage as the rest of us.

American intelligence operations located Osama by following his trusted couriers, whose names were given up by al-Qaida members during harsh interrogations at CIA black sites under President Bush.

Yes, the same interrogations endlessly denounced by the entire Democratic Party (save Joe Lieberman), the mainstream media, and an especially indignant Jane Mayer in The New Yorker.

The most-wanted terrorist in the world was living in a moldy, million-dollar mansion in a gated community just outside of Islamabad. It took the CIA five years to figure out the four-digit code to get in.

One important missed clue was that Osama was living at 72 Virgins Way. He might still be alive today if only he hadn't borrowed his neighbor's shoulder-mounted rocket launcher and never returned it.

Our mighty Navy SEALs not only put a bullet through Osama's head, but carried off his computers, disks and hard drives. So far, all they've revealed is that Osama had multiple Netflix rentals of "Rendition," "In the Valley of Elah," "Fahrenheit 9/11" and "Love Actually."

Can you imagine what's on Osama's hard drives? I mean besides the goat pornography. Pants are wetting throughout Pakistan's military establishment.

The New York Times reports that the raid that killed Osama is being bitterly denounced on Pakistani TV as a breach of that country's sovereignty. Osama, our dear allies say, was not a terrorist, nor has al-Qaida ever been unfriendly to Pakistan -- unlike the United States, which they call "an enemy of Pakistan and Muslims."

(Also, bin Laden's entire video crew is in line at the Islamabad unemployment office today. Thanks, Barack.)

The one Islamic country that openly cheered our taking out bin Laden is Iraq. According to reports from inside the country, TV stations are treating the raid as a great victory for Iraq -- the final battle in a war that was mostly fought by Iraqis on Iraqi soil. They view bin Laden's killing as their own personal triumph in the war against Islamic terrorism.

Similarly, when there was an explosion of violence throughout the Muslim world in response to some Danish cartoons in 2006, guess which Islamic nation was nothing but placid contentment? Again: our plucky Iraq. (Having U.S. Marines in your midst apparently has some sort of calming influence.)

It's great that we got bin Laden, but if the last Democratic administration had been doing its job, there would have been no Osama bin Laden and no 9/11 attack to begin with.

Democratic presidents are always too busy feverishly redistributing wealth at home to devote serious attention to our national interests abroad.

Obama gets to reap the rewards of Bush-era terrorism policies -- policies that he, his fellow Democrats and Jane Mayer hysterically denounced at the time -- while Reagan and Bush had to deal with the consequences of Carter's Iranian policy and Clinton's bin Laden policy.

According to Michael Scheuer, who ran the bin Laden unit at the CIA for many years, President Clinton was given eight to 10 chances to kill or capture bin Laden but refused to act, despite bin Laden's having publicly declared war on the United States and launched various terrorist attacks against us, murdering hundreds of Americans.

(If only one of those opportunities had presented itself on the day of Clinton's scheduled impeachment, instead of Clinton's bombing Iraq, he might have postponed his problems at home by finally taking out bin Laden.)

Clinton's CIA director, James Woolsey, never once met with Clinton in a one-on-one meeting. This is in contrast to Monica Lewinsky, who got about a dozen face-to-face -- or face-to-something -- meetings with the president.

That's why Sandy Berger, Clinton's national security adviser, was caught stealing documents from the National Archives during the 9/11 commission hearings. That's also why Clinton blew a gasket and forced ABC to cancel the DVD release of the docudrama "The Path to 9/11" -- based on the commission's report.

Bush had to deal with the ticking time bomb of Osama bin Laden left by Bill Clinton.

All presidents have had to deal with the ticking time bomb set by Carter's passive acceptance of the Iranian revolution in 1979, giving Islamic lunacy its first nation-sponsor.

What ticking time bombs are being set around the globe by our current Democratic president?

Following the Democratic playbook, Obama's overall approach to national security is to pointlessly fling our influence and military around the globe -- in Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan -- with no evident national security purpose.

Thanks to our feckless president, most of the Middle East is rapidly degenerating into a terrorist fever-swamp.

The Muslim Brotherhood is emerging as a power broker in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and Libya. Meanwhile, the "democracy" movement in Syria seems likely to end with President Bashar al-Assad gaining a tighter grip on power, after he's killed enough of his own people to remind them why he's their president.

All of these countries are becoming worse than they were before. (On the plus side, Obama is set to announce the SEALs have just found Joe Biden.)

But George Bush's legacy -- Iraq – will be standing there, all on its own, the one point of light in a sea of Islamic darkness. And the media will coo about how reassuring it is that we now have a "thoughtful" president in the White House, instead of a cowboy.


Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The Beatification of John Paul II

What the Church is lifting up as a model in John Paul is a life of radical Christian discipleship.

By George Weigel
May 4, 2011 4:00 A.M.

An aerial view is seen of St. Peter's square in Vatican May 1, 2011. Pope John Paul II moves a step closer to sainthood on Sunday when his successor beatifies him before an expected crowd of several thousand people.(Reuters)

Rome — Two hours before the Mass of beatification for Pope John Paul II began on May 1, I looked up from our NBC platform near the Castel Sant’Angelo and saw a solid mass of humanity stretching in every direction: all the way up the length of the Via della Conciliazione to St. Peter’s; across the Tiber bridges and along the Lungotevere; around Hadrian’s tomb; spilling out past the Piazza Risorgimento. And the thought occurred: “There are a million people here who not only think this beatification wasn’t a ‘rush job’; they think it couldn’t have happened fast enough.” The voice of the Church’s people, which had been acclaiming John Paul’s heroic virtue since those cries of Santo subito! erupted at the end of his funeral Mass on April 8, 2005, was the voice of truth in all of this; those tiny, carping noises from the likes of Maureen Dowd, Hans Küng, and Richard McBrien had resonance only because they bounced around for a few days inside the world-media echo chamber.

The global Catholic family had gathered around John Paul II once again, as it had six years and 23 days before. Then, the task was to send him to his reward. Now, in a certain way, the task was to welcome him back and thank God for the gifts that had come to the world through his prayers for us at the Throne of Grace.


Four and a half weeks before Rome (in its semi-chaotic way) welcomed 1.5 million pilgrims determined to share in the largest beatification ceremony in history, I visited the Postulator of John Paul II’s cause, Msgr. Slawomir Oder, in his small office at the Vicariate of Rome, next door to the Basilica of St. John Lateran. Monsingor Oder, a Polish canon lawyer, had become a friend of mine over the past several years, and we were going to lunch together. After catching up a bit, he said he wanted to ask my opinion of something and showed me three photos. One of them would be selected as the pattern for the tapestry portrait of Blessed John Paul II that would be unveiled on the loggia of St. Peter’s just after Pope Benedict XVI pronounced the words of beatification. “Which would you choose?” Msgr. Oder asked.

I thought two of the pictures, from the pope’s last years, were inappropriate, being neither good photography nor very compelling. But the third, taken in 1989 by the Polish photographer Grzegorz Gałązka, was perfect: The pope had that characteristic slightly impish twinkle in his eye; his white zucchetto was a bit off-center, in a typical expression of his utter indifference to ecclesiastical finery; he showed some of the wear and tear of what was, at that point, an eleven-year-old pontificate that had changed the world and the Church decisively, but the ravages of Parkinson’s disease were still a few years in the future. It was him as I certainly wanted to remember him. So I said to Msgr. Oder, “I think this one.”

Oder smiled and said, “Good. That’s the one I’ve been pushing for, too,” evidently against some resistance from other quarters.

And that was indeed the image that was unveiled from the loggia where John Paul II had presented himself urbi et orbi, to the city and the world, on the night of his election, October 16, 1978. I don’t know whether my “vote” had any effect — it almost certainly didn’t — but the thunderous response from the hundreds of thousands who could see the tapestry suggested that this was what they, too, would have chosen: John Paul II at the top of his game, vibrantly alive, a wonderful human being who gave others courage because his courage came from the far side of Calvary. And I thought of the comment of the late André Frossard, a French writer who, having converted to Catholicism from the fashionable agnosticism of his class, had become a friend and interlocutor of John Paul II. Shortly after John Paul’s election, Frossard wired back to the Paris newspaper for which he was writing, “This isn’t a pope from Poland; this is a pope from Galilee.”

VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - MAY 01: Pope Benedict XVI attends the John Paul II Beatification Ceremony as a Swiss guard stands below the tapestry featuring the portrait of beatified John Paul II on May 1, 2011 in Vatican City, Vatican. The ceremony marking the beatification and the last stages of the process to elevate Pope John Paul II to sainthood was led by his successor Pope Benedict XI and attended by tens of thousands of pilgrims alongside heads of state and dignitaries.(Getty Images)


The unveiling of the portrait — which seemed to bring John Paul back to us, somehow — was one emotional apogee of the three-hour beatification ceremony. The other came immediately afterward, when two women brought a relic of the new beatus, a vial of his blood in a silver reliquary, up to Pope Benedict for him to venerate. One was Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, a French nun from a pro-life order that serves women and newborns in crisis pregnancy and maternity situations; her inexplicable cure from Parkinson’s disease had been accepted by the Church, after review by a panel of doctors, as the miracle that confirmed John Paul II’s heroic virtue. The other was Sister Tobiana Sobodka, who had worked in John Paul’s household since his days as archbishop of Cracow.

I don’t know Sister Marie, who had to be talked into becoming a public person after her cure, and who made a moving appearance before 200,000 young people at a prayer vigil at the Circus Maximus the night before the beatification. But I’ve known Sister Tobiana for 15 years, and there could have been no more appropriate choice as a bearer of a relic of John Paul II. In addition to working in his household and in the inner papal office for his entire pontificate, Sister Tobiana, a trained medical professional, was a kind of auxiliary doctor for the pope. And when he died, it was she who cradled his head in her hands. If hers was indeed the last face John Paul saw this side of the Kingdom, it was a face he knew well, the face of a woman of virtue who displayed many of the same remarkable pastoral skills as the man she had served so long and faithfully. When I saw Sister Tobiana last July, her first concern was for my daughter, who had lost her husband five months before, and for my grandson. That conversation was curiously reminiscent of my last dinner with John Paul in mid-December 2005, when, six weeks after my father’s death, the first question from the pope, who was himself in very tough shape, was “How is your mother doing?”

Those who pray seriously for others, it seems, have very powerful memories.


From the point of view of ideas, the high point of the beatification ceremony was Pope Benedict XVI’s homily, which was both pointed and personal, reflecting Joseph Ratzinger’s keenly felt debt to the example of John Paul II. Benedict lifted up John Paul’s role in combatting, “like a titan,” the falsehoods of Communism and the warped notion of human progress they embodied. He offered a gentle (and deserved) correction to both the “progressives” and the ultra-traditionalists who had objected to John Paul’s beatification, reminding everyone that the new beatus was a true son of the Second Vatican Council, of which his pontificate had given an authoritative interpretation. And he highlighted the characteristic of John Paul that inspired so much good in the Church and the world: his ability to instill hope in people who had lost hope, or who were losing their grip on hope.

Benedict also described, beautifully, just what the Church was lifting up as a model to be emulated, which was a life of radical Christian discipleship precisely calibrated (by Providence, John Paul would have said) to give the world the evangelical charge it needed at a specific moment in history: “By his witness of faith, love, and apostolic courage, accompanied by great human charisma, this exemplary son of Poland helped believers throughout the world not to be afraid to be called Christian, to belong to the Church, to speak of the Gospel. In a word: he helped us not to fear the truth, for the truth is the guarantee of liberty.”


Seventeen years ago, I may have been the first scribe to put the phrase “John Paul the Great” into print, in an op-ed column in the Los Angeles Times marking the publication of John Paul’s most personal book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope. That title is not formally bestowed on popes by the Catholic Church; it simply becomes habitual over time, as with Pope St. Leo the Great and Pope St. Gregory the Great. Should that happen to John Paul II, it will not be because he saw off Communism, although there was delicious irony in the fact that his beatification took place on May Day, when Italy’s tatterdemalion Communists and their leftist comrades still wave the red flag. And it will not be because he had a luminous personality that was made for the age of mass communications. It will be because he was a great channel of grace, conviction, and courage for others.

Very few human beings will ever have bestowed upon them the extraordinary range of gifts that John Paul II exhibited: intellectual gifts, literary gifts, linguistic gifts, pastoral gifts; the gift of seeing around corners and through walls to discern possibilities where others only saw blockages. Those gifts, however, will not be why the Church of the 22nd century may well speak of Pope St. John Paul the Great. If that happens, it will be because he was a radically converted Christian disciple who lived out his life in service to the truths of the Gospel that had seized his heart and mind when he was a young man in Nazi-occupied Poland: truths he believed essential to human flourishing in the 21st century and third millennium — and far beyond.

— George Weigel is the William E. Simon distinguished senior fellow of Catholic studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. His two-volume biography of Blessed John Paul II includes Witness to Hope (1999) and The End and the Beginning (2010).

[The Reuters caption under the photo at the top of the page stated that the beatification ceremony was performed before an expected crowd of "several thousand". In response, I thought I would post the stunning photo at right. - jtf]

In this photo released by Italian Police faithful crowd St. Peter's Square and Via della Conciliazione at the Vatican, Sunday, May 1, 2011. Pope Benedict XVI beatified Pope John Paul II before 1.5 million faithful in St. Peter's Square and surrounding streets Sunday, moving the beloved former pontiff one step closer to possible sainthood in one of the largest turnouts ever for a Vatican Mass.(AP)

Why Aren’t Democrats Angry that Obama Got the Wrong Guy?

By Daniel Flynn
May 4, 2011

President Barack Obama directed Navy Seals to capture or kill Osama bin Laden in Pakistan on Sunday. Do most in his political party believe that the president got the wrong guy?

When Scripps Howard asked, “How likely is it that people in the federal government either assisted in the 9/11 attacks or took no action to stop the attacks because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East?,” more than fifty percent of Democrats answered “very likely” or “somewhat likely” in 2006. A May 2007 Rasmussen poll found that 35 percent of Democrats believed George W. Bush had advance knowledge of the 9/11 attacks. An August 2007 Zogby poll reported that 43 percent of Democrats believed that Bush either caused or allowed 9/11 to happen.

These polls were commissioned, of course, when George W. Bush was president. Since Barack Obama took the oath of office the views of the Democratic Party’s left-wing have, well, “evolved.” They are not as vocal about Guantanamo Bay, Middle Eastern wars, military tribunals, or the shadowy machinations supposedly behind 9/11. But it is worth remembering that once upon a time a substantial chunk of Democratic voters didn’t believe that Osama bin Laden was behind the terrorist attacks that felled the Twin Towers and smashed the Pentagon. For the hardcore party conspiracists, the real perpetrator was not holed up in Abbottabad, Pakistan, but in Dallas, Texas.

The Truthers have achieved a success in making the Democratic Party look like a magnet for fools. Indeed, the kooks touting various conspiracy theories regarding 9/11 are a significant portion of the Democratic electorate. Though the number of 9/11 conspiracy theorists among the foot soldiers may greatly outweigh their numbers among the commanders, the truth about Democratic Trutherism is that it could not command the support of one-third to one-half of Democratic voters without having the encouragement of a considerable number of party luminaries.

Days before the 2004 election, a coalition of leftists released the 911 Truth Statement. The document charged that “people within the current administration may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext to war.” Signatories included Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus author John Gray, former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, “people’s historian” Howard Zinn, Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg, “Lou Grant” actor Ed Asner, perennial presidential candidate Ralph Nader, and Rabbi Michael Lerner.

Included among the questions, the signatories wanted a new investigation to answer: “How were the FBI and CIA able to release the names and photos of the alleged hijackers within hours, as well as to visit houses, restaurants, and flight schools they were known to frequent?” and “Why haven’t authorities in the U.S. and abroad published the results of multiple investigations into trading that strongly suggested foreknowledge of specific details of the 9/11 attacks, resulting in tens of millions of dollars of traceable gains?” The campaign tested the wisdom of the aphorism that “there is no such thing as a stupid question.”

Gore Vidal contended in his post-9/11 bestseller Dreaming War that “we still don’t know by whom we were struck that Tuesday, or for what true purpose.” Though the attackers remained a mystery to the colorful novelist, the president’s motives were clear. George W. Bush “allowed the American people to go unwarned about an imminent attack upon two of our cities in anticipation of a planned strike by the United States against the Taliban in Afghanistan.” Anticipating Michael Moore’s insinuations in Fahrenheit 9/11, the octogenarian author continued that “the conquest of Afghanistan had nothing to do with Osama. He was simply a pretext for replacing the Taliban with a relatively stable government that would allow Union Oil of California to lay its pipeline for the profit of, among others, the Cheney-Bush junta.” A decade later, there is no pipeline—and no bin Laden.

Scores of Democratic candidates for federal office, including 2008 Democratic presidential candidates Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich, have courted the Truther Movement. Finding “many disturbing facts consciously ignored by the 9/11 Commission,” the Colorado Democratic Party’s 2010 platform called for a new grand jury investigation “to find the truth of the September 11, 2001 attacks.” “I’m in the assisted-it-to-happen camp,” former California Congressman Dan Hamburg explained. “I think there was a lot of help from the inside.” And then there is Van Jones, President Obama’s ill-fated selection as green jobs “czar” who lost his post in the administration after his embarrassing activism as a Truther became public knowledge.

Partisanship is a disease that can prove fatal to rationality. It can compel one to see political adversaries behind nefarious deeds such as mass murder. It can cause one to minimize a massive national victory when engineered by the president of the opposing party. Partisanship is an obstacle to patriotism.

May 1, 2011 was a day of celebration for Americans. But for Democrats who imagined their domestic partisan enemies behind the 9/11 attacks, one can’t help but wonder if they think that Obama executed a framed man.

- Daniel J. Flynn is the author of A Conservative History of the American Left (Crown Forum, 2008), Intellectual Morons (Crown Forum, 2004), and Why the Left Hates America (Prima Forum, 2002). He writes a Monday column for Human Events and blogs at

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

A demon gone, but evil remains

By Jeff Jacoby
Boston Globe Columnist
May 1, 2011

ON JANUARY 30, 1945, shortly after Soviet troops liberated the Auschwitz death camp, a Polish doctor from nearby Oswiecim entered the vast Nazi complex to help care for the survivors. In his chronicle of what he saw that day, Dr. Tadeusz Chowaniec described his first view of Block 11, one of the 28 barracks that comprised the oldest part of the camp:

Tweet 4 people Tweeted this.ShareThis .“We walked down the cement stairs to the cellar. The stairs were slippery, and splattered with blood and mud. Strips of underclothing, soiled with excrement, lay everywhere. The corpses of men and women filled the corridor, which was almost 40 meters long. The corpses were naked, and their rib cages and hip bones jutted out. The skin, which was all that held the bones together, was thin, greenish, and pale. . . . We looked on, stupefied.’’

The Germans slaughtered 1.3 million human beings in Auschwitz, of whom 1.1 million were Jews. Six of those Jews were my father’s parents, David and Leah Jakubovic, and their children Franceska, Zoltan, Yrvin, and Alice. Gassed to death in 1944, they represent 1 one-millionth — 0.000001 — of the 6 million European Jews annihilated in the Holocaust.

On this Holocaust Remembrance Day, it hardly needs to be said that mass murder didn’t end with the defeat of the Third Reich. In the decades since 1945, innocent men, women, and children beyond number have been massacred — in Mao’s China and Pol Pot’s Cambodia, in the Soviet gulag and North Korean slave camps, in Rwanda and Bosnia, Sudan and Syria, Congo and Uganda. Yet even in an epoch that has shattered every record for bloodiness and barbarity, the Holocaust is unique. What sets it apart from other campaigns of butchery is not its body count or its brutality or its genocidal nature. Nor is it the rapidity with which it was carried out, or the international indifference against which it unfolded.

The destruction of European Jewry stands alone because it was not a means to any end. The “Final Solution’’ was an end in itself. Jews were not murdered by the millions in the context of a struggle for power or land or wealth. There was no political or economic rationale for wiping out the Jews; they had nothing the Nazis coveted, and Germany gained nothing by their deaths. There was only the maniacal ideology of eliminationist anti-Semitism — the determination to track down and kill anyone born of Jewish ancestry. “It was precisely this — the fact of being born — that was the mortal sin, to be punished by death,’’ the historian Yehuda Bauer has observed. “That had never happened at any time — or anywhere — before.’’

Jews were satanic, Hitler said, the seed and prototype of the Judeo-Christian values to which the National Socialist revolution was so violently opposed. Their very existence was a threat to the Nazi creed of Aryan power, blood, and soil. Consequently, they had to be physically destroyed. Not segregated, not expelled, not forced to convert or assimilate. Destroyed.

To accomplish that destruction, one of the most advanced nations on Earth committed astonishing financial, industrial, and human resources. Murdering Jews was of a higher priority even than winning the war against the Allies. In 1944, with Germany’s military position growing desperate, military personnel and freight trains urgently needed on the battlefront were diverted to deport half a million Jews from Hungary and eastern Slovakia to the extermination camps. My father and his family were on one of those trains.

Hitler has been dead for 66 years, but in the ongoing campaign against the Jewish state, Hitlerism thrives. “Its geographic center of gravity has moved to the Middle East,’’ writes Robert Wistrich, the foremost modern scholar of anti-Semitism, “but the tone and content of the rhetoric, along with the manifest will to exterminate the Jews, are virtually identical to German Nazism. . . . Radical Islamists of every stripe openly proclaim at every opportunity that the eradication of Israel is a divine commandment, the will of God, and a necessary prologue to the liberation of mankind.’’

In the 20th century, an obsession with Jews fueled the Holocaust and plunged Europe into history’s bloodiest war. Two generations later, Auschwitz is history. The derangement it embodied is anything but.

Jeff Jacoby can be reached at

A Different Kind of Justice

The policies that enabled yesterday’s success

By Andrew C. McCarthy
May 2, 2011 12:30 P.M.

The hideout of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan is pictured after his death. (Getty Images)

‘Justice has been done.” That was President Obama’s succinct assessment of the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. special-ops forces, carried out at his direction on Sunday. “We will be true to the values that make us who we are,” he said. Those values are what led him to pronounce justice done — no trial and no court authorization, and, for once, “habeas corpus” really meant that our government had the body, a corpse to identify, not a defendant to process.

It is worth remembering that bin Laden had been under indictment by the Justice Department for 13 years when he finally met his demise yesterday. A federal grand jury in Manhattan had charged him with terrorism conspiracy in June 1998, after he had, yet again, declared war on the United States. He’d already been doing that for years. It was only a few weeks later, on Aug. 7, 1998, that his al-Qaeda cells in eastern Africa bombed the American embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam — the first 224 of what became the thousands of innocents the master terrorist would murder in the ensuing decade-plus.

I argued in The Weekly Standard at the time (“The Sudan Connection: The Missing Link in U.S. Terrorism Policy”) that “justice” for bin Laden and the global jihad backed by several rogue nations — Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Sudan, for starters — was to regard them as a national-security challenge crying out for a military response. They were manifestly not a crime problem to be managed by FBI agents and prosecutors like me.

Yet, prosecution of crime rather than war had been the Clinton-administration counterterrorism strategy, beginning with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. It was maintained through a plot to bomb New York City landmarks later that year and a conspiracy to blow U.S. airliners out of the sky over the Pacific thereafter. The law-enforcement approach was even reaffirmed after jihadists killed 19 U.S. airmen in the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia — an attack the Clinton administration soon learned Iran had orchestrated, the mullahs and their forward militia, Hezbollah, having had cooperative relations with al-Qaeda since the early nineties.

Still nothing changed — in fact, President Clinton stood idle as the Saudis obstructed the FBI’s fruitless effort to investigate Khobar Towers. The ’98 embassy bombings did briefly stir Bill Clinton to lob a few cruise missiles bin Laden’s way — including at a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory that Clintonistas to this day maintain was a joint WMD venture involving bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. But that moment of clarity quickly passed — the threat was growing by leaps and bounds as threats are certain to do when met with fecklessness, but the Lewinsky scandal was finally burning out and with it Clinton’s impetus to treat a war like a war.

By the end of 1999, the 9/11 Commission gingerly recounts, Clinton had so befuddled the CIA regarding whether covert agents had authority to kill bin Laden that several golden opportunities were lost. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda continued to plan stunning operations, including the bombing of a naval destroyer, the U.S.S. Cole, in October 2000 — murdering 17 U.S. sailors as Clinton made his exit from the stage.

Prompted by the 9/11 atrocities, a new administration dramatically changed course. At least for a time, the government’s sense of “justice” was brought in line with the public’s: Pres. George W. Bush pledged that we would hunt terror cells down wherever they operated, and we would put the rogue regimes that abetted al-Qaeda to the test of changing their ways or feeling the wrath of the world’s lone superpower.

The Taliban, al-Qaeda’s hosts in Afghanistan, were driven from power, and bin Laden’s sometime-ally, Saddam Hussein, soon followed. Yet, bin Laden himself eluded our armed forces and intelligence services. Simultaneously, Iraq devolved from a spectacularly swift vindication of the Bush doctrine to a bloody, years-long misadventure in Islamic nation-building. The appetite for taking on the regimes that enable al-Qaeda to project outsize power was lost once the public saw that the price-tag would include precious lives and untold billions to be sunk into the dubious construction of sharia-lite democracies.

In the fallout, the hard Left recovered its voice. In early 2004, Howard Dean — who was then leading the Democratic presidential field and would go on to become chairman of the Democratic National Committee — explained that he could not judge what should befall bin Laden because the terror master had not yet had a fair trial and been convicted by a jury. Those in “positions of executive power,” he declaimed, should not “prejudge jury trials.”

Similarly, the ever-malleable Eric Holder, Clinton’s deputy attorney general, was back to portraying Bush counterterrorism as a borderline criminal exercise in Constitution-shredding. Immediately after 9/11, when Democrats had been anxious to prove they could be just as tough on terrorists as Bush, Holder had admonished a CNN host that “we are in the middle of a war,” and thus that captured terrorists should be detained without trial as “combatants” — in addition to being denied Geneva Convention rights so that “we . . . have an opportunity to interrogate them and find out what their future plans might be, where other cells are located.” But by 2008, while serving as a senior adviser to the Obama campaign, Holder was bemoaning Bush’s failure to treat captured terrorists “in accordance with the Geneva Conventions,” and condemning Bush counterterrorism as a green light for “torture” and a betrayal of the “rule of law.” One wonders what the attorney general will make of the fact that the intelligence derived from interrogating detainees proved essential in confirming bin Laden’s location for yesterday’s successful operation.

Obama himself campaigned on promises to end Bush counterterrorism, shutter Gitmo, and return to Clinton’s law-enforcement approach. There was a caveat, though, an indication that he had learned something from Clinton’s missteps. The candidate promised that he would attack al-Qaeda havens, focusing particularly on Pakistan — which he limned as especially unreliable. The then-senator warned that if Pakistan’s government did not clean up its own mess, he would not hesitate to attack its terrorist redoubts.

For his stance, the McCain campaign poked fun at his purportedly reckless provocation of ally. As some of us said at the time, however, Obama was entirely right.[1]

There is much fault to find in Obama’s overall approach to the Islamist threat. His management of the vaunted “Arab Spring” has been incoherent, and there is dizzying discord between his rhetoric and actions when it comes to what “justice” for terrorists should entail — gold-plated due process for 9/11 architect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed versus lethal special forces for 9/11 maestro bin Laden. Nevertheless, Obama has clearly figured out that arrest warrants and subpoenas are not going to get it done in places like Islamabad, and that if a U.S. president is not clear in his directions to kill the jihad’s lead actors, it is they who will do the killing.

The slaying of this monster, the peerless capability of our armed forces it reaffirms, and the demonstration of national unity it has sparked, make this a great day for our country. They suggest, moreover, something else worth celebrating: the outlines of an effective, practical, and economic counterterrorism.

The criminal-justice system is not a deterrent to foreign terror networks that are bivouacked outside our country and thus outside the jurisdiction of its investigative agencies and courts. Nor are nation-building enterprises the answer: They are prohibitively costly in blood and treasure; they inspire sharia-based attacks against us; and they won’t make us safer — terrorists are expert at exploiting the freedoms available in democratic societies, and there is no reason to believe that country A’s becoming a democracy would make country B safer from jihadist terror. The future will not belong to the law-enforcement approach or the democracy project.

It will belong to small-scale special-forces operations that target top jihadists and their cells. It will entail diplomatic pressure and, when necessary, limited military engagements against terror-sponsoring regimes. It will feature less indulgence of faux allies like Pakistan, which do more to aid than confront the jihad. It will fashion a new legal system for the indefinite detention of al-Qaeda operatives who, for intelligence reasons, cannot or should not be tried in civilian courts. And it will require aggressive prosecution of al-Qaeda imitators inside our country, as well as those who materially support terrorists.

That’s the justice that reflects enduring American values. Here’s hoping we’ll someday remember May 1, 2011, as the day the nation came together around it — amid a warm glow of patriotism and a monumental defeat for our enemies.

— Andrew C. McCarthy, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, is the author, most recently, of The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America.



Monday, May 02, 2011

Today's Tune: Johnny Cash - God's Gonna Cut You Down

President's Announcement of the Death of Osama bin Laden

Osama Bin Laden dead: 'Justice done,' but greatness has always been

Mike Lupica
The Daily News
Monday, May 2nd 2011, 6:25 AM

He was the executive vice president of Phoenix House on that September morning 10 years ago when everything changed in the life of his family and the life of his country.

Kevin McEneaney was giving a speech to drug-abuse counselors in Columbus, Ohio, and it was a little before 9 in the morning when he saw people in the room, his words now, "beginning to move toward televisions."

So a long way from his home in the city, that is how McEneaney found out what we were all finding out that morning, that our buildings had been hit. His brother Eamon was high up in one of them, up near the sky in the north tower, working for Cantor Fitzgerald.

Eight years before that, when a bomb had gone off at the World Trade Center, Eamon McEneaney had formed a human chain of people and walked them down 105 floors to safety.

"After that," Kevin McEneaney said last night, "my brother always said that Bin Laden was coming back. That he was the guy."

He had finally come back that morning. By the end of the morning, Kevin McEneaney had watched the towers fall and no one had heard from his brother. And he knew. It was the beginning of the three days it would take him to get home, to a different New York and a different world.

Now, nearly 10 years later, President Obama was about to address the country and announce that Osama Bin Laden was finally dead. And before the President could use the word "justice" last night to describe the mission carried out by U.S. Special Forces on the other side of the world, Kevin McEneaney was using that same word on the telephone.

Eamon McEneaney was once as great a college lacrosse player at Cornell as this country has ever produced. He was a son and a brother and a father and a husband and a hero to 65 other people that day in February of 1993 when the bomb went off in the basement of the north tower. And when Bin Laden came back, as Eamon always said he would, Eamon McEneaney was one of more than 3,000 killed on Sept. 11, 2001.

"It is a statement of finality, and it is a statement of justice," his brother said last night. Kevin McEneaney said all this in a quiet, even voice, and in the background you could hear the President's voice on his television.

"But it is a measure of justice," McEneaney said. "We can stop thinking that one of the great, evil people in the history of the planet was just gone, that he'd just disappeared. It doesn't bring anybody back. It doesn't bring my brother back. But, yeah, there is a sense of justice tonight."

A few minutes later the President said, "Justice has been done." Then he was saying this to the families of the victims, "We have never forgotten your loss."

Finally, the President, late on a Sunday night, just short of four months from the 10th anniversary of the planes hitting the buildings, said this: "[The killing of Bin Laden] is a testament to the greatness of our country."

It is. But the greatness of the country did not take nearly 10 years to show itself. The greatness of the country began to show itself that morning, and the next morning, and the morning after that, as the families the President of the United States talked about last night began to pick themselves up, to get on with things. The greatness of the country began to show itself in the way people came from all over the city and all over the country to begin to pick up the pieces in downtown Manhattan.

The President at the time, George W. Bush, said that we would somehow bring Osama Bin Laden back "dead or alive." Of course there were the reports of the time several years ago when our soldiers were supposed to be closing in on Bin Laden and then he got away. All this money spent on intelligence and technology and billions spent on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and we all wondered if Bin Laden would ever be found. Dead or alive.

"You start to wonder if anything will ever happen," Kevin McEneaney said. "There are the Guantanamo trials and all the rest of it and you started to wonder if justice would ever be done, if this guy was living in some mansion some place on the other side of the world hooked up to a dialysis machine."

Late last night McEneaney, who had a brother taken from him, said, "I had absolutely put this out of my mind. I really started to think the guy was just going to go on forever."

But he did not. All this time later, there was some finality in the McEneaney family, the families of more than 3,000 others. All this time after Kevin McEneaney saw people moving toward televisions in Ohio, there was the President on his own television, talking about justice, at last.

America keeps promise to lost souls of 9/11

By Michael Goodwin
New York Post
May 2, 2011

Years from now, with generations long passed, we will better understand the bookends of our times. The first started an era and came on that blue-sky morning of Sept. 11, when the Twin Towers fell and, in an instant, the world changed.

The second came last night, when word spread like wildfire. What? Bin Laden dead?

Yes, yes, thank God, yes.

Nobody alive will ever forget where they were on 9/11 and where they were last night.

In between, there were nearly 10 full years of global conflict, where the brave and heroic forces of civilization -- mostly American -- fought and died confronting an alien savagery and the man who commanded it.

As both President Obama and President George W. Bush have made clear, America did not start or seek this war, but we would finish it. The death of bin Laden now marks the single biggest victory in that long campaign. It has been a conflict unlike any other.

The merciless attack on civilians, houses of worship, trains and planes, markets and office towers, was the most identifying mark of their declared war on us.

It was nihilism, pure destruction aimed at defeating the human spirit, erasing modernism and undoing 1,400 years of human progress. At times it has felt as though this evil force would succeed.

Not because it had sufficient followers, but because its wanton bloodlust threatened to paralyze the combined forces of democracy. It frayed the bonds of unity and divided nations that should have been partners.

Yet we fought on grimly and gallantly because, ultimately, our lives and our liberty hung in the balance. Not in the same ways it did in the Great Wars, when armies faced off with awful mechanized death.

The War on Terror, and terror's war on us, was so pernicious because it was asymmetrical and often invisible. It dragged on longer than any other war and threatened to sap the spirit among a weary and frightened public. If only there was some way to make peace. But there was no way because our existence, our freedoms, are inconsistent with militant Islam.

There was no reforming jihadists. They decided that one of us had to perish. But as Obama confirmed the news, America exhaled and its allies joined in our relief.

Justice had prevailed and the man who set the world on fire was dead. If this isn't winning, it's damn close. For sure, the evil philosophy he personified will live on.

For years now, "Bin Ladenism" has been more of a threat than bin Laden as his affiliates and wannabes copied his assault on the innocent while he was holed up in caves or hiding out from our intelligence agents.

Yet those marvelous agents cornered him in Pakistan, an operation that Obama appropriately hailed as a testament to "the greatness of our country."

And with Bush later adding his thoughts, it is possible to imagine that a new day is dawning. No, the war is not over.

We can expect desperate bids at retaliation, and it is possible "sleeper" cells are awaiting just this incident to launch their missions. But a long, bloody chapter ended in a firefight in Pakistan.

The man who launched the madness has now, finally, met the fate he so long deserved and America has kept faith with those who went to work on 9/11 and never came home. A promise made, a promise kept.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

The Great Lost Career of Marty Brown

Posted on April 28, 2011 by chimesfreedom

I am fascinated when I read about people who traveled around the United States in the early and mid-twentieth century discovering great blues musicians and folk songs. The music was always there, but more of it might have dwelled permanently in obscurity had the music not been recorded. Those tales seem stuck in the past, because with modern technology and the Internet almost anyone can post something on YouTube.

But there remains talented artists who fall through the cracks, leaving one to wonder if the future may hold a revival for some late in their careers or after they are dead — modern legends who are ghosts to us, just as Robert Johnson’s image and music embrace us across time. I hope that some day the world will rediscover Marty Brown.

Marty Brown had some success in the 1990s with several outstanding albums. In 1990, he released his debut album, High And Dry, which was not a big hit but did modestly well. One music critic gave the album an A+, saying Brown is “the sweetest surprise to ride the train in a long, long time and so authentically country he probably still has a tick in his navel.” Small radio stations played his songs, but the big country radio stations ignored him, opting for less twangy artists. Brown’s voice and his heartbreak songs led writers to compare him to Hank Williams and Jimmie Rodgers, such as on the title song to the album. But I first heard of Brown when I saw the video for “Every Now and Then,” perhaps playing on VH-1 or CMT, with his Everly Brothers-type vocals.

Marty Brown was born in 1965 in the tiny Ohio River tobacco farming community of Maceo, Kentucky featured in the above video. He began writing his own songs when he was fourteen, sneaking away with a friend to play music at honky-tonk bars. Later, he began making numerous trips to Nashville seeking a record deal while sleeping in an alley on Music Row. In 1991, the CBS news magazine show 48 Hours featured the artist in a story on country music, leading to his record deal with MCA.

During the Autumn of 1991, Entertainment Weekly and People Magazine described Brown’s tour to promote High and Dry as he rode in the record company’s 1969 Cadillac convertible to perform at fairs and Wal-Marts throughout the South. At each Wal-Mart, he performed on a small stage in a store aisle with little amplification. Fans brought him homemade cookies and fishing lures. At that time, the 26-year-old was already divorced with custody of two kids and living with his parents. Just months before starting the tour, he was working as a plumber’s helper, making $5 an hour. While on his first tour, he stated that his goals were to buy his dad a bean field, put his kids through college, get a nice trailer for himself, and “not live no highfalutin life style.”

The comparisons to Hank Williams continued. Somewhere around this time, Brown was filmed backstage at the Grand Ole Opry singing Hank’s “Moanin’ the Blues” for a German documentary about the country-music legend.

In 1993, Brown tried to reach a wider audience with the more diverse Wild Kentucky Skies, which is one of my favorite albums. The album features break-up songs like “It Must Be the Rain,” love songs like “God Knows,” and a folk ballad about his grandmother’s death, “She’s Gone,” which would not be out of place on Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music. During this time, he toured with Jimmie Dale Gilmore. The title song, below, features a more lush production than a lot of his other honky-tonk songs, but there is still an aching country sound. One of his family members told a story about how Brown kept the Nashville Symphony Orchestra waiting the morning of the recording because he had a craving for a Big Mac, but then he nailed the song on the second take. “Wild Kentucky Skies” should be the official Kentucky state song.

In 1994, Brown released another excellent album, Cryin’ Lovin’ Leavin’, making a run of three outstanding albums in four years. AllMusic rates each of these three albums 4-5 stars out of 5. Brown did not sound like slick Nashville country, but the record company still could be hopeful because it was the early 1990s when other neotraditionalist and alternative country artists like Steve Earle and Dwight Yoakam were breaking through and building audiences. Brown received some critical acclaim, but again the sales were not as high as the record company wanted. MCA Records dropped him.

Brown then signed with the independent label Hightone and released Here’s to the Honky Tonks in 1996. For the most part, Brown wrote or co-wrote most of the songs on his four albums, and on Here’s to the Honky Tonks, he co-wrote almost all of them. The CD again garnered critical praise but weak sales. He performed one of the songs from the album, “You Can’t Wrap Your Arms Around a Memory,” on Prime Time Country on TNN, where he also explained that he was inspired to write the song while watching The Honeymooners late at night.

Read more:

Brown Throws Hat in Country Music Ring

March 18, 1992

Ask a man about his politics, you might learn what his parents were like. Ask about his religion, you'll probably discover what church he grew up in. But if you want to ascertain the very essence of a man--that unique thing that sets him apart--try asking about his hat.

"I bought that when I was 16 years old, working in a grocery store and making $90 a week," recalled country-music newcomer Marty Brown, talking about the crumpled, camel-colored cowboy hat that seems as integral to his persona as his earnest honky-tonk yodel and gee-whiz humility.

"I was entering a talent show. I went to the Western wear store and found this one, but it cost $80. Well, I bought it anyway and took it home . . . but I didn't like how (the man at the store) shaped it.

"I got out the teakettle, put some water in it, got the steam going real good and held the hat over the kettle," Brown continued in the sweet Kentucky drawl he developed growing up in Maceo, a tiny town in the northwest section of the Bluegrass State. "I tied it up with my work tie to keep it bent, then I sprayed it with hair spray to keep it that way.

"I was in Nashville (recently) and a hat maker offered to make me another one just like it for $500, but he just couldn't catch it right."

Brown's approach to music--he's a honky-tonk singer in the classic Hank Williams mold--is a lot like his approach to hats: it may not be the most efficient or the most glamorous, but as long as it makes him happy, that's the way he'll do it.

Just 26, Brown, who plays the Coach House tonight with maverick Jimmie Dale Gilmore (see accompanying story), was the toast of Nashville for a time in 1991. CBS-TV's "48 Hours" featured him prominently in a segment on the country-music explosion, and record labels were bidding anxiously against one another to sign this unknown farm boy who had slept in the back alleys of Music City before the words "Trust Jesus," scrawled on a sidewalk, led to his discovery.

He'd been making trips to Nashville since he was a teen-ager, whenever he had enough time and money from jobs that included harvesting tobacco--"that's hot, sweaty work."

"I'd go to bed at night, crying myself to sleep," he remembers. "I'd ask the Lord why he gave me this talent to write these songs just to have them sit in a drawer."

He said he was on the verge of throwing in the towel--he'd just spent the night sleeping on an air-conditioning grate--when he saw that sidewalk with "Trust Jesus" on it. He looked up and noticed he was standing outside the offices of Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI), a performance rights agency.

He'd been there once before, years earlier, and he'd met an executive who encouraged him to write from the heart. Asking for the same man, he was welcomed in, given an audition and within two days he found himself singing for officials at several major labels.

He signed with MCA, and his debut album, "High and Dry," has earned some strong critical notices. It hasn't caught fire with radio programmers, but that hasn't dampened his spirits.

"It's just a matter of time," Brown said from a Pizza Hut in Nashville. "George Jones gave me some good advice one time, and that's what's kept me staying at it so long, and kept me true to country music. He said it's his fans that make him, and that once you develop those die-hard fans, they'll stay with you forever. I want longevity. I'm gonna be around a long time."

Actually, Brown's most obvious influences predate Jones and Merle Haggard--the most imitated singers around Nashville these days--stretching all the way back to the two most towering figures in all of country music: Hank Williams Sr. and Jimmie Rodgers, the Singing Brakeman.

In terms of both material and execution, many of Brown's songs sound as if they could have been lifted straight off a honky-tonk jukebox from the first half of this century. The title tune of his album is about a forlorn man who gets dumped and juiced up and is so devastated he can't summon even a single tear. "Nobody Knows" closes the album on a note of the utter loneliness that lies at the bottom of depression.

Radio and nightclubs seem to be emphasizing songs that are "upbeat and positive," but Brown rejects the suggestion that his music is a throwback to a time, and an audience, that have passed.

"Country music that's good country music--it don't never die," he said. "That's what I chose to listen to: early Johnny Cash, early Elvis Presley, Hank Sr., George Jones, Merle Haggard, and my biggest influence, the Everly Brothers."

Brown had an older brother who drove him to school and made him listen to such rock groups as Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bob Seger and Foreigner in the car. But as Brown tells it, his mother had laid the foundation for his musical tastes years earlier.

"They tell me I was listening to Hank Sr. when I was in my momma's womb," he said. "She loved Hank Sr. and Jimmie Rodgers. She remembers where she was at the day (Williams) died. . . . She was bawling all day long. She remembers her father came out and said, 'There she goes, crying over that Williams boy again.'

"My music is real," he continued, after pausing to apologize to another Pizza Hut customer for having hogged the pay phone for some 45 minutes. "I'm not trying to be something that I'm not, and there's a lot of that around--people throwing on a cowboy hat and boots as soon as they get a record deal. My heart and soul is in country. If I have to come through the back door, I will."

He's not kidding. Last summer, he did a six-week, 12-state tour--of Wal-Mart stores.

"Every Wal-Mart I'd go to, I wondered, 'What if I go and there's nobody there?' But every one there were a couple hundred people there, in with the cameras and the VCRs and they seemed to know everything about me, and knew all the words to my songs. They'd say, 'We saw your momma on the Ralph Emery' " show on the Nashville Network, one media outlet that has been hospitable toward Brown and his music.

"I'd never been nowhere--except across the Ohio River to Indiana. . . . I caught the biggest bass I ever caught, got to see the ocean for the first time (on that tour). I got out there on a jet ski and was chasing sea gulls. Now I get to go to California. It's a dream come true for me."

Helping to keep Brown on an even keel through the ups and downs of the music biz is his family: two children from a previous marriage he doesn't talk about much, and a fiancee who will become his wife this fall.

"I'm thankful I come from the background I come from," he said. "I'm gonna get married, I've got my two children. I could be playing anywhere, I've always got my kids and fiancee in the back of my head."

Nick of time

New York Post
May 1, 2011

While writing the songs for Fleetwood Mac’s classic 1977 album “Rumours,” which remains one of the top 10 best-selling albums in US history, the group was inspired by enough relationship breakdowns, bed-hopping and substance abuse to make the “Jersey Shore” house look like a weekend at Bible camp.

While keyboardist/vocalist Christine McVie and bassist John McVie slogged through a harsh divorce, she wrote “You Make Loving Fun,” on which John had to play, about her new lover, the band’s lighting director.

Meanwhile, vocalist Stevie Nicks and singer/guitarist Lindsey Buckingham were mired in a devastating breakup of their own. So when Nicks wrote “Dreams” and Buckingham wrote “Go Your Own Way” about the bust-up, they each had to sing emotionally charged, bitter lyrics written about themselves.

Almost 35 years later, the legacy of this spiritual connection to former lover and bandmate Buckingham haunts Nicks’ every artistic move.

“When Lindsey and I sing ‘Go Your Own Way,’ we still look at each other with eye-slashing anger,” says Nicks, who last toured with Buckingham and Fleetwood Mac in 2009. “That never goes away, because we can never quite forget that situation.”

It’s hardly surprising, then, that Nicks’ feelings toward him are well-represented on “In Your Dreams,” her first solo album in a decade, out on Tuesday. The song “Moonlight (A Vampire’s Dream)” alternatively addresses her relationship with Buckingham, and the one between Edward and Bella from “Twilight,” two relationships in which she sees deep similarities. After seeing “New Moon” in 2009, Nicks took two verses from an old, unreleased Fleetwood Mac song from the ’70s, and intertwined it with an essay she wrote about the film.

The psychic weirdness between Nicks and Buckingham continues to this day. Buckingham appears on “In Your Dreams” in a song called “Soldier’s Angel” (Fleetwood Mac drummer and fellow ex-Nicks paramour Mick Fleetwood appears on the album as well), and Nicks says that the strange vibes that haunt the former lovers never fade.

“Lindsey and I are difficult people to work together,” says Nicks. “He’ll say to me, ‘I think that song should not be in the third person,’ and I go, ‘Would you say that to Bob Dylan?’ That shuts him up for a second.”

Singing the classics brings up other difficult memories. “Gold Dust Woman,” for example, recalls her days of cocaine abuse so pronounced that she burned a hole through the cartilage in her nose. Surprisingly, though, she says that cocaine was far less damaging to her than drugs that were prescribed by a doctor.

“I skated through the cocaine days pretty safely,” she says. “I went straight to Betty Ford when I knew I couldn’t do it anymore. But the stupid psychiatrist that put me on Klonopin — that was my death sentence.”

Nicks says that a shrink kept her dependent on the drug for seven years just so he could press her for debauched tales of Hollywood.

“If anything would have [killed] me, it would have been that,” she says. “You’re just getting fat and the lights are going out in your eyes. You’re losing [the ages] from 40 to 47, prime years of your life, sitting on a couch gaining 25 pounds. And this doctor just watches you and says, ‘How’s things with you and Lindsey? What about all the other rock stars in the world?’ ”

Despite her sensitivity for those with drug issues, one famous substance abuser has her riled — Lindsay Lohan, whose Stevie Nicks obsession has included butchering her song “Edge of Seventeen,” and talking publicly about wanting to play Nicks in a biopic.

“I thought [that version] was terrible,” says Nicks. “I have to laugh at [talk of her playing me], because I feel very sorry for her. She’s going to the slammer for three months. I would rather die than go to jail. For me, that makes me think even more that she’s insane. She’ll never play me in a movie.”

But aside from such distractions, Nicks is excited to play music that touches on the darker episodes in her life.

“Boring, blah things don’t bring out anything, and there’s just nothing boring or blah about [my or Lindsey’s] lives. We travel through this world in this insane way,” she says. “It’s difficult [to sing about], but it’s also wonderful, because if I had to go up there and sing these songs every night [without that], I would be extremely bored with all of them.”

Stevie Nicks Calls New Album 'My Own Little 'Rumours''

by Gary Graff, Detroit
April 27, 2011

Stevie Nicks says it wasn't her intention to take a decade between solo albums.

Nicks -- whose "In Your Dreams," the follow-up to 2001's "Trouble in Shangri-La," comes out May 3 -- tells that she was ready to start work on a solo set in 2005 after touring with Fleetwood Mac.

"I was definitely ready to do a record," Nicks recalls, "but the powers that be, the people that surrounded me, pretty much said, 'Don't bother. It's not a good time. The music business is in a terrible place. There's no money, and the Internet piracy is taking over.'

I didn't know what to say, because I'm not a computer person and I don't have a computer and I don't Facebook or whatever. So I just said, 'OK.' If I hadn't been so exhausted from 135 shows I might have fought back on that a little, but I just didn't."

The wait may have been worthwhile, however. Nicks calls making "In Your Dreams" with producer Dave Stewart (along with Glen Ballard) "the best year of my life" and refers to the new album as "my own little 'Rumours.'" The trio recorded the 13-track set at a house Nicks owns in Los Angeles, and though she has mostly written alone in the past, Nicks collaborated with Stewart on seven of "In Your Dreams' " songs.

"We wrote the song 'You May Be the One,' and my eyes instantly opened and I understood why Paul McCartney and John Lennon wrote together -- because they each had something the other didn't have," explains Nicks, who gave Stewart a binder of 40 poems before they started working together. "And with Dave and me, he had thousands of chords and this amazing musical knowledge, and I had thousands of pages of poetry -- and I know six chords. It was like an amazing little meeting of the minds, and I immediately went, 'Well this is just great!' "

Some of the songs on "In Your Dreams" date back a ways in Nicks' life, including the first single, "Secret Love," which she wrote in 1975 about a love affair, and "Moonlight," which she also started in the mid-70s but finished after seeing the "Twilight: New Moon" film in 2009. Other collaborators on the album include guitarist Waddy Watchtel, Mike Campbell of Tom Petty's Heartbreakers and Mick Fleetwood, while Nicks called upon Lindsey Buckingham to perform on and help her finish "Soldiers Angel," which she says "is truly my most sacred and revered song."

"We recorded it live and did some harmonies, and then he did some little lead guitar things and it was perfect," Nicks says. "There's no other players, just me and him. Not only did we create something that's probably as Buckingham Nicks as we have been since 1973, but... I think that song really brought Lindsey and I back together. He said to me as he was leaving on that second day, 'I feel like we're closer than we've been in 30 years.' It certainly opens a lot of doors."

When she'll go through them remains to be seen, however. She and Stewart filmed the "In Your Dreams" sessions; the footage appears in the "Secret Love" video and will be used in other ways down the line, and Nicks hopes "to go all over the world with this record." She adds that touring with Rod Stewart, as she did earlier this year, "might end up being done again because it did go very well."

And Nicks predicts Fleetwood Mac isn't done, though the group will have to wait for her and "In Your Dreams" as well as Buckingham and his forthcoming album "Seeds We Sow," which is due in September and which Nicks says is "really my favorite thing he's ever done -- and I wish he had saved all these amazing songs for Fleetwood Mac."

"When ('In Your Dreams') runs out of gas, as all records eventually do, then possibly Fleetwood Mac will regroup and do another thing -- whether it's a record or a tour, I don't know," Nicks says. "Or maybe Lindsey and I will go off and rent a house in Wales and do a Buckingham Nicks album. I have no idea, but I do know the music will continue."

Review: 'In Your Dreams' by Stevie Nicks

By Rob Sheffield
April 27, 2011

Stevie Nicks built her legend on the California-Babylon chronicles she perfected in the Seventies with Fleetwood Mac, and in the Eighties on underrated solo gems like The Other Side of the Mirror. But she still has that eternal edge-of-17 tremor in her voice. The gypsy queen is in royal form on In Your Dreams — it's not just her first album in 10 years, it's her finest collection of songs since the Eighties.

In Your Dreams has the high-gloss L.A. production of her collaborators, Glen Ballard and Eurythmics' Dave Stewart. But the material is Nicks in platform-soled hyper-romantic mode, with her voice in surprisingly supple shape. "Secret Love" is an oldie she wrote in 1976 — who knew she was still keeping secrets from her Rumours days? It seems to be about one of her rock-star beaus, although she coyly maintains she can't remember which one. Yet it isn't even one of the better tracks on In Your Dreams. The over-the-top seduction ballad "Italian Summer" could be her answer to the Stones' "Wild Horses." It climaxes in a very Stevie credo: "Love was everywhere/You just had to fall."

Nicks finds storytelling inspiration everywhere, from the Twilight series ("Moonlight [A Vampire's Dream]") to Jean Rhys ("Wide Sargasso Sea"). But the real showstopper here is the Edgar Allan Poe tribute "Annabel Lee," a fan fave that's been kicking around on bootlegs since the Nineties. It's a six-minute meditation on love and death with echoes of the Fleetwood Mac classic "Dreams." Poe's key line — "The moon never beams without bringing me dreams" — might have been written in 1849, but it was clearly meant for Stevie Nicks to sing.

"Not in my lifetime"

Pope John Paul II’s legacy of love

By James V. Schall, S.J.
The Catholic World Report
April 29, 2011

“The Pope (John Paul II) was praying and he asked God: ‘Will Poland regain her freedom and independence some day?’ ‘Yes,’ said God, ‘but not in your lifetime.’ Then the Pope asked: ‘Lord, after I am gone will there be another Polish pope?’ ‘Not in my lifetime,’ said God.”
—Cited in André Frossard, Portrait of John Paul II (Ignatius, 1988), 46

“My priestly vocation took definitive shape at the time of the Second World War, during the Nazi occupation. Was this a mere coincidence or was there a more profound connection between what was developing within me and external historical events?”
—John Paul II, Gift and Mystery (Ignatius, 1996), 34


As it watched him die, the world did not know what to do with John Paul II, or really what to do without him. Almost everyone who could make it to Rome for his funeral, from the mighty to the small, was there. Though we all die in private, he also died in public for the whole world to see. And they did see. Pope Wojtyla was the only man in public life in modern times who showed us how to live and how to die, both. He considered his illness as much a part of his papal office as preaching, appointing bishops, or the Sunday Angelus address. A pope is almost the only world figure whose office qualifications include dying as part of the job. When elected, he knows that his only escape is through death.

When I read George Weigel’s two-volume account of Karol Wojtyla’s life, I realized that this very prayerful man was also one of the most active men who ever lived. He was constantly thinking and often thinking ahead. He was both a man of thought and a man of action, a man of prayer and a man of amusement. The story I recounted above he enjoyed telling to others. Besides his many world trips, he visited more Roman and Italian parishes in his busy life than any Italian pope.

People just wanted to see him. Television executives loved him and hated him—loved him because he was always so remarkably personable and mysterious, hated him because he went right over their heads to say what he, not they, wanted. If he was there, he could not be overlooked. He was the most interesting figure in sight. He had a remarkable capacity—when talking to any one, from children, to young people, to the important, to the old—of shutting the rest of the world out and speaking directly to that person’s soul.

I have the impression that every man who ever met John Paul II, especially if he was a man of social, intellectual, or political stature, knew that he was meeting a greater man than he. Many would not admit this fact because of the implications in their own lives and for their own prestige. Everyone knew that here was a man. Women knew it. Youth knew it. The poor knew it. Only the proud did not know it, but they could not afford to know it and remain what they were. His very presence demanded integrity and honor.

“It is quite human for the sinner to acknowledge his weakness and to ask mercy for his failings,” John Paul II wrote in Veritatis Splendor.

[W]hat is unacceptable is the attitude of one who makes his own weakness the criterion of the truth about the good, so that he can feel self-justified, without even the need to have recourse to God and his mercy. An attitude of this sort corrupts the morality of society as a whole, since it encourages doubt about the objectivity of the moral law in general and a rejection of the absoluteness of moral prohibitions regarding specific human acts, and it ends up by confusing all judgments about values. (#104)

Only a strong man can recognize the way that moral weakness can corrupt the soul and undermine the confidence of others. John Paul II understood the lethal nature of a compassion that refuses to acknowledge an objective order of what is good and what is not.


John Paul II’s two books of interviews, Crossing the Threshold of Hope and Memory and Identity, made the papacy a more familiar place. Someone could ask the pope about almost anything, from Buddhism to evil to Poland to Plato. In return, one would receive a clear, frank answer. In the first book, the Holy Father is asked by Vittorio Messori to explain—in simple terms that anyone can understand—what it means “to be saved.” Right away, knowing that the modern world wants only to talk of itself and its problems, John Paul II said: “To save means to liberate from evil. This expression does not refer only to social evils, such as injustice, coercion, and exploitation.” It does not mean to stop floods and hurricanes. “To save means to liberate from radical ultimate evil.” He then immediately added: “Death is no longer this kind of evil if followed by the Resurrection” (69-70). To be saved ultimately had to do with death, judgment, resurrection—the last things.

Pope Wojtyla, of course, had plenty to say about the problems of this world. Few if any men of his time were subject more graphically to the terrors and fears of what ideas wrought in the modern world. But he understood these ideas and their background. He did not fear them. He knew their limits. While few others thought anything could be done about communism, he was actively working for its defeat. From almost the very beginning of his appearance in Poland as a young bishop, the Communist Party knew he was dangerous. It knew what he stood for better than many of his friends.

What neither Wojtyla’s enemies nor his friends could grasp, however, was the nature of his personal power and dynamism. What he was could not be found in their theories. In his philosophical works, the pope always warned about what he called “reductionism,” the notion that one’s narrow, theoretical suppositions could force reality to conform to them. John Paul II always transcended the theories of his time, perhaps of any time. He was a man of God, not a man of theories about God.

In his famous encyclical Centesimus Annus, he wrote: “[T]he first and most important task is accomplished within man’s heart. The way in which he is involved in building his own future depends on the understanding he has of himself and of his own destiny. It is on this level that the Church’s specific and decisive contribution to true culture is to be found” (#51). This passage is mindful of Plato’s admonition that the order of the polity depends first on the order of the soul.

Unless we understand ourselves and our destiny, we will not understand the things of the world with which we are involved. We will make our destiny less than we are given. “The Church renders this service to human society by preaching the truth about the creation of the world, which God has placed in human hands…and by preaching the truth about the Redemption, whereby the Son of God has saved mankind and at the same time has united all people, making them responsible for one another” (Centesimus Annus, #51). This theme of speaking what is true both for reason and revelation would appear again as the core of his great encyclical Fides et Ratio. The central purpose of this seminal document was not to save Christianity from philosophy, but to save philosophy from itself, so that both can see the truth.

The last thing that I want to say about John Paul II is to recall something he said in his first encyclical, Redemptor Hominis. If anything described the man and his legacy, I think it can be summed up in this passage, spoken to the world before it even knew him: “Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it. This, as has already been said, is why Christ the Redeemer ‘fully reveals man to himself’” (#10). Ultimately, we do not discover ourselves by ourselves. The whole modern world of autonomous men—men who recognize nothing outside of themselves—deny this. And in their denial, they form their character. When they stand next to John Paul II they seem narrow and insignificant. Karol Wojtyla was fully man because what he revealed to us was not Karol Wojtyla, but the Redeemer telling us who we are and what our destiny is.

“‘Lord, after I am gone will there be another Polish pope?’ the Pope asked. ‘Not in my lifetime,’ God replied.” “Was my [Karol Wojtyla’s] priestly vocation a mere coincidence or was there a more profound connection between what was developing with me and external historical events?” In retrospect, we cannot help suspect that in, as it were, “God’s lifetime,” such a connection between this man and world events did occur. This, too, is why he is beatified.

Photo: Pope John Paul II waves to the crowd before mass in his home town Krakow, Poland, on June 10, 1987. Source: AFP

James V. Schall, S.J. is professor of political philosophy at Georgetown University, and the author of numerous books on social issues, spirituality, culture, and literature.