Saturday, June 25, 2011

Today's Tune: Simon and Garfunkel - For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her

Our Sharia-Compliant Afghan War

Our policy in Afghanistan is part tragedy, part farce

By Andrew C. McCarthy
June 25, 2011

U.S. Army troops in Kunar province, eastern Afghanistan.

In a better time, when the burdens of war were shared by an engaged nation and not shouldered exclusively by military families making up less than 1 percent of the population, the high farce that is the Afghanistan mission would have been obvious before President Obama uttered one word on Wednesday night. All you’d need to know is the story that came to light the day before.

Turns out that the U.S. government has embraced a core tenet of sharia — that archaic corpus of Islamic law that Mitt Romney recently assured us would never gain traction in America. Patrick Poole reported at Pajamas Media on Tuesday that the secretary of the army has just granted “conscientious objector” status to Pfc. Nasser Abdo, a Muslim American soldier who refused to deploy to Afghanistan. Heeding the admonitions of CAIR and other Muslim Brotherhood operatives, the Pentagon accepts the claim that sharia forbids Muslims from assisting infidels in a war against Muslim forces in an Islamic land.

News Flash One: The war in Afghanistan, an Islamic land, is a war waged by infidels (that would be us) against Muslim forces — the Taliban, al-Qaeda, the Haqqani network, etc.

News Flash Two: The operating theory of the American counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy in Afghanistan is that the hearts and minds of the population of this tribal sharia society will side with us non-Muslims in a war against their fellow Muslims, most of whom are also their fellow Afghans.

Which is to say, our strategy is insane.

That does not mean our troops cannot kill a goodly number of jihadists. They have done that, and they will no doubt continue to do that as long as U.S. and allied forces remain in Afghanistan. Naturally, the number of terrorists we manage to get will dwindle as we draw down, while our diminishing numbers will make our own troops increasingly vulnerable to attack. But, sure, we can stick around forever, killing pockets of jihadists and overtaking their strongholds, however temporarily.

That, however, is not victory. It is an ever-worsening stalemate. Victory, under our chosen strategy, can never be achieved. That is why Obama, Gen. David Petreaeus, and COIN enthusiasts everywhere resist mention of the V-word.

“Victory” has been downgraded to “success,” but even success is not much discussed — and that is because, as conceived, success is a pipedream too. The idea is that we stay and hold the Taliban et al. at bay until we have finally trained enough Afghan soldiers and police officers to fight the Taliban for us. Because once we win over their hearts and minds, the theory goes, these Afghans will believe they are actually fighting the Taliban for themselves — fighting “their war,” not ours, as the heady plan was explained by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the former theater commander and Kennedy School fellow who now teaches international relations at Yale. It’s all very cerebral, psychological, and sophisticated, the kind of war professors could love.

There’s just one problem with it. Okay, there’s a ton of problems, but let’s get to the big one: If we acknowledge that sharia is a valid reason not to send an American Muslim to fight against his fellow Muslims in Afghanistan, what on earth makes us think the Afghan Muslims are going to fight their fellow Afghan Muslims in furtherance of American national-security interests?

The sharia objection Private Abdo successfully posed to his deployment is not frivolous. To the contrary, from the perspective of a devout Muslim, it is ironclad. The animating theme of Islamic law is the supremacy of Islam and the imperative that it reign over the earth, that Muslims overcome non-Muslims. Consequently, infidel forces are generally regarded with hostility in Islamic countries (particularly if they are pursuing their own, rather than Islamic, interests). This is why politicians in the new Afghan and Iraqi “democracies” get such mileage out of America-bashing. Their populations, which are nearly 100 percent Islamic, despise America. In these places, the very thought of Muslims helping non-Muslims make war against Muslims is anathema.

Reliance of the Traveller, the classic manual of Islamic law accepted throughout the ummah, instructs believers that there is nothing “more heinous in Allah’s sight” than “the killing of a believer.” How, you may ask, are we to convince Afghans that when we kill Taliban operatives we’re not killing believers, and that when they kill them for us, they won’t be killing believers either? Here, our Beltway solons get downright Jesuitical, maintaining that these Taliban characters are not really Muslims but, yes, “violent extremists” who have perverted Islam. But behold: Even in the West Wing faculty lounge, they don’t really buy this fairy tale. That’s why such pains were taken to give Osama bin Laden a fastidiously Muslim funeral, during which American naval personnel actually prayed for Allah to pardon him and grant him every blessing of paradise before feeding him to the sharks.

Like the army secretary, the administration was just following sharia, under which bin Laden was a Muslim, through and through. As the Prophet Mohammed decreed, any man “who testifies that there is no god but Allah and that I am the Messenger of Allah” is a Muslim. Mass-murder is not disqualifying.

Under sharia, believers may not join non-Muslims in killing Muslims, even if those Muslims, like the Taliban, are not particularly popular. According to Reliance of the Traveller, it is unlawful to shed the blood of a Muslim “unless he be one of three: a married adulterer, someone killed in retaliation for killing another, or someone who abandons his religion and the Muslim community.”

Wait a second, you say: If sharia permits retaliatory killing, can’t Muslims help us against these assassins from al-Qaeda and Taliban? No, with exceptions that are not relevant to this discussion, only when the murder victims are Muslims is retaliatory killing permitted. Muslims who kill non-Muslims are expressly protected. Moreover, non-Muslim forces in Islamic countries are deemed “occupiers,” the term the detestable Afghan president Hamid Karzai has taken to calling American troops.
Occupiers (like any non-Muslims who fight and kill Muslims) are seen as oppressors and enemies of Allah. The Koran sternly warns Muslims not to take such non-Muslims as friends or protectors (e.g., Suras 4:139, 60:01), and most certainly not to take up their cause against fellow Muslims. As Sura 4:144 puts it, “O, ye who believe, take not for friends Unbelievers rather than Believers: do ye wish to offer Allah an open proof against yourselves?”

Private Abdo may not approve of al-Qaeda. He may not want to see the Taliban retake control of Afghanistan. But that is not the point. They are Muslims. He, like the Muslims of Afghanistan, sees himself as a Muslim first. He is not going to side with us over them. It doesn’t matter that he may privately believe they are reprehensible. Since they are Muslims, he sees it as Allah’s place, not his, to condemn them. In this life, in the sharia schema of Muslims versus non-Muslims, he is with his fellow Muslims — and would risk grave peril, both here and in the afterlife, were he to cross over to the other side.

On the Corner this week, Iraq vet David French complained that counterinsurgency had developed an undeserved reputation for being “touchy-feely” because of its close association with nation-building. His point is well taken. COIN, as he attests, involves “intense fighting” under conditions that are exceedingly dangerous — made intolerably dangerous, I would add, by the stringent rules of engagement imposed on our warriors, given the impossible task of wooing the Islamic population with one hand while they battle the Islamic enemy with the other. That our forces make such progress in the constraints under which they operate is an astonishing testament to their bravery and competence.

The problem is that COIN and nation-building, if they are to have a prayer, cannot succeed until after the enemy has been defeated. What wins hearts and minds is not showing how virtuous and decent we are — especially in a confrontation between civilizations with very different ideas about virtue and decency. Hearts and minds are won when the enemy’s will is broken. COIN and nation-building worked in postwar Germany and Japan because complete victory was achieved first. As Jed Babbin recounts, it did not work in Vietnam, where, as in the War on Terror, the enemy was never conquered and its state sponsors were permitted to fuel the fighting with impunity.

Victory is not a step that can be skipped. Its stark absence cannot be disguised by miniaturizing the enemy, by pretending it is an aberrant fringe of violent extremists. The Taliban enjoys broad popular support — or, at least, sympathy — because the Afghan public is more aligned with its beliefs than with ours. That makes the population the enemy. There is a reason why so many U.S. and allied troops are being attacked and killed in sneak attacks by the Afghan recruits they are trying to train. There is a reason why the Obama administration is negotiating with the Taliban — conceding that the Taliban won’t be defeated and must be accommodated — even as Americans are told that battling the Taliban is the reason our young men and women must remain in harm’s way.

It is madness.

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.

Friday, June 24, 2011

No problem too big for an Obama speech

By Mark Steyn
The Orange County Register
June 24, 2011

The Democrats seem to have given up on budgets. Hey, who can blame them? They've got a ballpark figure: Let's raise two trillion dollars in revenue every year, and then spend four trillion. That seems to work pretty well, so why get hung up on a lot of fine print? Harry Reid says the Senate has no plans to produce a budget, but in April the President did give a speech about "a new budget framework" that he said would save $4 trillion over the next 12 years.

That would be 2023, if you're minded to take him seriously. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, did. Last week he asked Douglas Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office, if he'd "estimated the budget impact of this framework."

"No, Mr. Chairman," replied Director Elmendorf, deadpan. "We don't estimate speeches. We need much more specificity than was provided in that speech."

"We don't estimate speeches": There's an epitaph to chisel on the tombstone of the republic. Unfortunately for those of us on the receiving end, giving speeches is what Obama does. Indeed, having no other accomplishments to his name (as Hillary Clinton pointed out), giving speeches is what got the president his job. You remember – the stuff about "hope" and "change." Were the CBO in the business of "estimating speeches," they'd have run the numbers and concluded that, under the Obama plan, vague abstract nouns would be generating 87 percent of GDP by 2016.

For whatever reason, it didn't work out quite like that. But that's no reason not to give another speech. So, there he was the other night expounding on Afghanistan. Unlike Douglas Elmendorf, the Taliban do estimate speeches, and they correctly concluded from the president's 2009 speech that all they need to do is run out the clock, and all or most of the country will be theirs once more. Last week's update confirmed their estimate. "Winning" is not in Obama's vocabulary. Oh, wait. That's not true. In an earlier unestimated speech, he declared he was committed to "winning the future," "winning the future" at some unspecified time in the future being a lot easier than winning the war. In fairness, it's been two-thirds of a century since America has unambiguously won a war, but throughout that period most presidents were at least notionally committed to the possibility of victory. Obama seems to regard the very concept as something boorish and vulgar that would cause him embarrassment if it came up at dinner parties. So place your bets on how long it will be before Mullah Omar's back in town. And then ask yourself if America will have anything to show for its decade in Afghanistan that it wouldn't have had if it had just quit two weeks after toppling the Taliban in the fall of 2001 and left the mullahs, warlords, poppy barons and pederasts to have at each other without the distraction of extravagant NATO reconstruction projects littering their beautiful land of charmingly unspoilt rubble.

That's not how the president put it, of course. But then the delightful appeal of an Obama speech is the ever wider gulf between Speechworld and Reality. So in this instance he framed our retreat from the Hindu Kush as an excellent opportunity to stop wasting money overseas and start wasting even more in Washington. Or in his words:

"America, it is time to focus on nation-building here at home."

Gee, thanks. If America were a Kandahar wedding, that would be the cue to fire your rifle in the air and grab the cutest 9-year old boy. Naturally, not everyone sees eye to eye. Like Afghanistan, ours is a fractious land. But as Obama said:

"Our nation draws strength from our differences, and when our union is strong no hill is too steep, no horizon is beyond our reach."

Climb ev'ry mountain. Ford ev'ry stream.

Are you sure we can afford ev'ry stream? Yes, it's far less rugged than it sounds. In compliance with EPA regulations, no real hills and dales were harmed in the making of this glib rhetorical imagery.

"At his best," wrote The New York Times of Obama's speech, "the president can be highly persuasive."

Er, if you say so. He's mostly persuasive in persuading you there's no urgency about anything: All that stuff about Americans sweating and straining for the most distant horizon is his way of saying you can go back to sleep for another couple of decades.

If we hadn't been assured by The New York Times that this man is the Greatest Orator of All Time, there would be something offensive in the leader of the Brokest Nation in History bragging that we're not the guys to shirk a challenge, however grueling and demanding it may be, no sirree. The salient feature of America in the Age of Obama is a failed government class institutionally committed to living beyond its means, and a citizenry too many of whom are content to string along. Remember Peggy Joseph of Sarasota, Florida? "I never thought this day would ever happen," she gushed after an Obama rally in 2008. "I won't have to worry about putting gas in my car. I won't have to worry about paying my mortgage." Is Peggy really the gal you'd want to hike a steep hill with?

In Speechworld, nation-building can be done through flatulent rhetoric. In Realworld, nations are built by people, and in America the productive class is battered and reeling. Obama wasted a trillion dollars on a phony stimulus that stimulated nothing but government, and wants to try it one mo' time. That's what yokes "nation-building" near and far. According to the World Bank, the Western military/aid presence now accounts for 97 percent of Afghanistan's GDP. The bit that's left doesn't function, not least because it doesn't need to. How can, say, Helmand develop an economic base when everybody with a whit of sense is making massively inflated salaries as a translator for the Yanks or a security guard for some EU outreach project? When the 97 percent revenue tide recedes with the American withdrawal, what's left will be the same old 3 percent ugly tribal dump Afghanistan was a decade ago. It will leave as little trace as the Obama stimulus.

The sheer waste is appalling, immoral and deeply destructive. In Kandahar as in California, all that matters is excess: It's not working? Then you need to spend more. More more more. What does it matter? You're not spending anything real. America would have to find 15 trillion dollars just to get back to having nothing in its pocket. But who cares? As long as we're united in our commitment to excess, no CBO debt-GDP ratio graph is too steep for us to take to the next level, and no horizon – 2060, 2080, 2104 – is too distant to serve as a plausible estimate for significant deficit reduction.

In Realworld, political speeches would be about closing down unnecessary federal bureaucracies, dramatically downsizing or merging others, and ending make-work projects and mission creep. The culture of excess that distinguishes the hyperpower at twilight would be reviled at every turn. But instead the "highly persuasive" orator declares that there's nothing to worry about that even more government can't cure. In Speechworld, "no hill is too steep, no horizon is beyond our reach." In Realworld, that's mainly because we're going downhill. And the horizon is a cliff edge.


The Real Culprits

How the Democrats nearly destroyed the economy.

By Mona Charen
June 24, 2011

History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it. — Winston Churchill
There is history — a chronicle of human events — and then there is perceived history. So often, the two are wildly at odds.

In 1963, a popular Democratic president was assassinated by a Marxist named Oswald, who had actually defected to the Soviet Union and returned to the U.S. with a Soviet wife, was an active member of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, and had attempted to assassinate a right-wing general named Edwin Walker earlier in the year.

Yet those who write history found these facts inconvenient. They created a different history in which the “atmosphere of hate” in the southern city of Dallas, Texas, led to terrible political violence. In other words, it was political conservatism that led to Kennedy’s assassination. This perceived history was recycled as recently as the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. ABC’s Christiane Amanpour, interviewing Jean Kennedy Smith, noted that the Kennedy assassination was “eerily relevant” and asked Kennedy to evaluate the “political atmosphere” in the country today.

Starting just a few years after the Kennedy assassination, American liberals began to consider anti-Communism a kind of mental disorder. Hostility to Communism was akin to racism, sexism, and other character flaws. Reagan’s description of the Soviet Union as an “evil empire” cemented liberal suspicions that Reagan was a dangerous buffoon. Yet starting in 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell, liberals began to find their anti-anti-Communism embarrassing. And so they created a perceived history — one in which the Cold War was a time of consensus, a time when, as former senator Bill Bradley put it, “We knew where we stood on foreign policy.”

More recently we’ve witnessed the creation of a new historical narrative about the financial crisis of 2008. The perceived history, eagerly peddled by liberals and Democrats, is that the crash of 2008 was the result of Wall Street’s greed. It was unregulated capitalism that brought us to the brink of financial meltdown, the Democrats insisted. And they codified their manufactured history into a law, the Dodd-Frank Act, that completely avoided the true problem.

It’s both surprising and gratifying therefore to report that a great revisionist history has just been published by none other than a New York Times reporter, Gretchen Morgenson, and a financial analyst, Joshua Rosner.

In Reckless Endangerment, Morgenson and Rosner offer considerable censure for reckless bankers, lax rating agencies, captured regulators, and unscrupulous businessmen. But the greatest responsibility for the collapse of the housing market and the near “Armageddon” of the American economy belongs to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and to the politicians who created and protected them. With a couple of prominent exceptions, the politicians were Democrats claiming to do good for the poor. Along the way, they enriched themselves and their friends, stuffed their campaign coffers, and resisted all attempts to enforce market discipline. When the inevitable collapse arrived, the entire economy suffered, but no one more than the poor.

Jim Johnson, advisor to Walter Mondale and John Kerry, amassed a personal fortune estimated at $100 million during his nine years as CEO of Fannie Mae. “Under Johnson,” Morgenson and Rosner write, “Fannie Mae led the way in encouraging loose lending practices among the banks whose loans the company bought. A Pied Piper of the financial sector, Johnson led both the private and public sectors down a path that led directly to the credit crisis of 2008.”

Fannie Mae lied about its profits, intimidated adversaries, bought off members of Congress with lavish contributions, hired (and thereby co-opted) academics, purchased political ads (through its foundation), and stacked congressional hearings with friendly bankers, community activists, and advocacy groups (including ACORN). Fannie Mae also hired the friends and relations of key members of Congress (including Rep. Barney Frank’s partner).

Reckless Endangerment includes the Clinton administration’s contribution to the home-ownership catastrophe. Clinton had claimed that dramatically increasing homeownership would boost the economy; instead, “in just a few short years, all of the venerable rules governing the relationship between borrower and lender went out the window, starting with . . . the requirement that a borrower put down a substantial amount of cash in a property, verify his income, and demonstrate an ability to service his debts.”

Reckless Endangerment utterly deflates the perceived history of the 2008 crash. Yes, there was greed — when is there not? But it was government distortions of markets — not “unregulated capitalism” — that led the economy to disaster.

Mona Charen is a nationally syndicated columnist. © 2011 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

Rory McIlroy proves he’s a U.S. Open champion all his own

The Washington Post
June 19, 2011

BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 19: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland poses with the trophy after his eight-stroke victory on the 18th green during the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

Even before Rory McIlroy formally won the U.S. Open at Congressional, doffing his cap and raking his fingers through that rampant black hair as he accepted the roars as his due, the comparisons had started: How does he measure up to Tiger Woods? Where do his numbers stack up, historically? What champion of the past does he most resemble? But the more relevant point is that he doesn’t particularly remind you of anybody. He’s not a copy, there’s no hint of imitation in his game or his demeanor. He’s a newly minted brand, a McIlroy.

“To get one out of the way early, you can always call yourself a major champion,” McIlroy said. “And hopefully in the not-so-distant future I’ll be able to call myself a multiple major champion.”

The thing about a great is that there is only one of him. One Ben Hogan, one Jack Nicklaus. They change the swing, change the flight of the ball, change the concept of how to play to win, and stamp their own personality on the game. McIlroy is only 22 years old, but he promises to do the same. Over four days in Bethesda as he set a fistful of Open records en route to a 16-under-par 268, McIlroy combined an aura of superiority with an embraceable man-of-the-people air — and that’s a unique and welcome combination. Have we ever seen a player with his combination of youth, craft and approachability? I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a new champion who doesn’t treat the world as his spittoon.

McIlroy sketched out a discernible if young identity in his habitual baby blue shirt and white cotton pants: one of easy, ambling brilliance. Throughout the muffled, humid four days at Congressional, he played with a stalking rhythm, hitting a succession of high, soft irons that sent wedges of turf flying in the air.

“When you’re swinging well and you’re that comfortable, everything just seems quite rhythmical, anyway,” he said, “even the way you walk and just your whole thought process, everything just seems to go quite well.”

There was something palpably low-tension about him; you had to look closely to see the power in the meaty forearms and shoulders beneath his shirt. He wielded his driver so powerfully and accurately that it was obvious why friends on the European Tour nicknamed him BMW, because he is “the ultimate driving machine.”

He distanced himself so completely from the field, he seemed to be in a different tournament. He hit 62 of 72 greens in regulation, the most in a U.S. Open since the statistic has been tracked. His countryman Graeme McDowell left a note on his locker that said, “What golf course are you playing?”
McIlroy had one guy to beat: himself. His ball striking was so pure it made other players — even great ones such as Phil Mickelson — seem like coarse hackers. His play was so recognizably great, yet also indelibly his own, that other former greats couldn’t help marveling over it.

“He never hits a bad shot,” NBC’s Johnny Miller said. “Playing against him, a guy that hits it that perfect and that far every time, it’s almost demoralizing. You look at how he strikes the ball, and you wonder if it made Mickelson want to throw his clubs in the water.” Or better yet, Miller, added, “maybe caddie for him.”

Another part of his golf personality that became clear was how deliberately he plays. He was fast but never hurried. He didn’t agonize over club choice or waggle. He didn’t overthink, or overwork. “He showed that he knew how to play the last two days with a big lead,” Nicklaus said. “Not only did Rory know how to play with a big lead, he played it confidently, played it smartly, and he never put himself in position to be in trouble.”

His sureness was a result of his trust in that sweet swing, which experts agree is the best they’ve seen in generations. It’s the same swing he learned as an 8-year-old and finished tinkering with by the time he was 14. Early on, McIlroy arrived at a fundamental truth: If you want to do something uncommonly well, don’t copy others. “No imitation is going to be as good as an original,” as the Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee put it.

According to McIlroy’s lifelong golf teacher, Michael Bannon of the Bangor Golf Club in Northern Ireland, McIlroy was tempted just once to model himself after another player. He was 13 when Bannon caught him trying to imitate a Tiger Woods follow through. Bannon told him to quit it. “Why don’t you just swing like Rory McIlroy,” he said.

His personality seemed as easy as his swing, which accounted for the depth of affection he received from the American audience. From the first hole on Sunday when he sank a six-foot birdie putt to make it apparent he intended to seize the trophy, the galleries chanted for him, “Ror-ee, Ror-ee.” By the par-3 10th hole, where he blazed his six-iron right over the flagstick and backed the ball up to three inches, almost holing out, the galleries were uttering a steady deep-throated noise, “Roar-eee!! Roar-eee!”

Off the course, he was generous with his galleries, conversational and steadfastly real. “He’s very courteous, well-mannered and gives people time,” Bannon said.

His agent Chubby Chandler said, “He remembers to thank his Mom.”

Will that change, as he becomes a calibrated public brand, and perhaps even commodified within an inch of his life? His friends doubted it. He still lives in the village of Holywood, his home town just east of Belfast, where he dates a university student he has known since his school days. He owns a six-room house, where he stocked the garage with a Ferrari. He was looking forward to returning to the village to celebrate with his family and mates, who on Sunday night kept the Holywood Golf Club bar, which used to be managed by his father Gerry, open and serving late. “With everything going on my account as well, probably,” he said.

He has the usual preoccupations for a guy his age who has become staggeringly wealthy. After he shot a 65 in the first round of the Masters in April, he was asked what he talked about on the course with his playing partners Rickie Fowler and Jason Day. “Cars and boats,” he admitted.

None of this is to say he is ordinary. Just that, as Padraig Harrington observed, McIlroy may be well equipped to deal with the extraordinary success that seems to be his future.

“He’s 22 years old and this is indeed his destiny,” Harrington said. “So I think he’s well prepared for it. You know what, I think he’s got very good balance in his life. So I don’t think this is going to be too earth shattering for him.”

Today's Tune: Keith Richards - Gimme Shelter (Live)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ban the Burqa

By Pamela Geller
June 22, 2011

Back in November, I reported on a burqa'ed Muslima in Australia, Carnita Matthews, who was charged with making a false complaint that used the Muslim victimhood card in her defense. "All cops are racist," she charged -- what race? Covered from head to toe in a burqa, with just a slit through which to see, the Muslima claimed that a police officer had tried to tear off her burqa.

It didn't happen. Matthews was charged with making a false complaint to police. And the judge, Magistrate Robert Rabbidge, saw through her claim right away, describing her lie as "deliberate, malicious and ruthless." Rabbidge added: "There is not a shadow of doubt in my mind, beyond a reasonable doubt, that she knew that the complaint she was making was false."

Matthews, predictably, played the race card, saying: "You look at me and see me wearing this and you couldn't handle it. All cops are racist."

Her lawyer claimed that Matthews had been a victim of mistaken identity. Because who really knows who was under that burqa? Only Allah can say for sure. But Rabbidge would have none of it. Matthews is the one who lodged the complaint against an officer, and signed a statement to that effect. Police prosecutor sergeant Lisa McEvoy said: "Her signature on that affidavit coupled with the signature on her driver's licence is exactly the same."

Matthews was found guilty, and was sentenced to six months in prison. Yet despite the indisputable evidence against her, the burqa'ed civilizational jihadist appealed -- and this past week, she won, all the while remaining inside her cloth coffin. A new judge, Clive Jeffreys, bought her claim of mistaken identity, and said that because she was wearing a burqa, there was no certainty that Carnita Matthews was the same woman who falsely accused the police officer. Jeffreys contradicted Rabbidge, saying: "I am not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that she made the complaint. Even if I was satisfied that she made the complaint, I am not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that it was knowingly false."

The Muslims expressed their gratitude for this in their usual way: it was an ugly scene. Australia's reported: "More than a dozen Muslim supporters linked arms and began chanting 'Allah Akbar' as they stormed out of Downing Centre Court with Mrs Matthews concealed behind them. Tempers rose and they began jostling with police after several members of the group attacked cameramen." Matthews' dhimmi lawyer Stephen Hopper explained: "They are obviously happy with the result and are expressing it in a way that is culturally appropriate to them."

Attacking cameramen: "culturally appropriate" for Muslims.

Supporters and Carnita Matthews (in burqa) appeared at The Downing Centre Court. Source: The Daily Telegraph (Australia)

By the way, the full face veil is not in fact a religious mandate in Islam. The bottom line is that Muhammad said Muslim men should shroud their chattel head to toe, but not cover their face and hands. Thus it is clear that any woman who covers her face entirely is making a political statement, not a religious one.

And that political statement should be illegal. The Elizabeth Smart case should be the catalyst for such legislation; at a time when her face was plastered on posters everywhere, Smart's captor covered her up in a burqa and escaped detection for nine months. We have seen the weaponizing of the veil: in 2007, Afghan authorities caught a woman who had hidden a bomb under her burqa and was about to carry out a suicide jihad mission. We have seen the use of the veil to commit crimes, escape detection, and even to kidnap and rape young girls and keep them hidden. Many terrorists, criminals, and fugitives have taken advantage of our spinelessness in facing the enemy. Burqas are frequently worn to conceal explosive vests.

In a horrific incident in May 2008, a hero was killed in the line of duty: Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski, a Philadelphia police officer and father of three children, was shot dead by three bank robbers. His dying words were "tell my wife I'll miss her." He was 39 years old. The killers wore what the local press at the time called "Muslim garb" -- that is, burqas. Their faces were concealed. No one could even tell if they were men or women.

Put Carnita Matthews in jail. And ban the burqa.

Pamela Geller is the editor and publisher of the Atlas Shrugs website and former associate publisher of the New York Observer. She is the author of The Post-American Presidency.

John McCain’s never-ending war

By George F. Will
The Washington Post
June 22, 2011

Elevating the fallacy of the false alternative to a foreign policy, John McCain and a few others believe Republicans who oppose U.S. intervention in Libya’s civil war — and who think a decade of warfare in Afghanistan is enough — are isolationists. This is less a thought than a flight from thinking, which involves making sensible distinctions.

Last Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” McCain warned that the GOP has always had “an isolation strain.” He calls it “the Pat Buchanan wing,” which he contrasts with “the Republican Party that has been willing to stand up for freedom for people all over the world.” Rather a lot turns on the meaning of “stand up for.”

Between wishing success to people fighting for freedom and sending in the Marines (or the drones), there is as much middle ground for temperate people as there is between Buchanan, a sort of come-home-America conservative, and McCain, a promiscuous interventionist. When asked his response to those, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who say there was no vital U.S. interest at stake when the Libya intervention began, McCain said: “Our interests are our values” and “our values are that we don’t want people needlessly slaughtered by the thousands,” as Moammar Gaddafi seemed to threaten to do, “if we can prevent such activity.” Under the McCain Doctrine, America’s military would have just begun to fight, and would never stop.

Americans are, however, war weary — which is a good thing: What kind of people would they be if they were not? U.S. involvement in the Second World War lasted 1,346 days. U.S. fighting in Afghanistan reached that milestone six years ago (June 14, 2005). America is fighting there, in Iraq, in western Pakistan, in Yemen and in Libya. Where next? Under the McCain Doctrine, wherever U.S. “values” are affronted — and those who demur from this global crusade are isolationists, akin to those who, 70 years ago, thought broad oceans and placid neighbors guaranteed America’s security from Hitler and Japan.

Is Jim Webb an isolationist? Virginia’s Democratic senator, who was Ronald Reagan’s secretary of the Navy, discusses Libya with a trenchancy that befits a decorated Marine combat veteran (Vietnam) and that should shame reticent Republicans:

“Was our country under attack, or under the threat of imminent attack? Was a clearly vital national interest at stake? Were we invoking the inherent right of self-defense as outlined in the United Nations charter? Were we called upon by treaty commitments to come to the aid of an ally? Were we responding in kind to an attack on our forces elsewhere, as we did in the 1986 raids in Libya after American soldiers had been killed in a disco in Berlin? Were we rescuing Americans in distress, as we did in Grenada in 1983? No, we were not.”

McCain, however, says we must achieve regime change in Libya because if Gaddafi survives, he will try to “harm” America. This is always the last argument for pressing on with imprudent interventions (see Vietnam, circa 1969): We must continue fighting because we started fighting.

Sen. Lindsey Graham — Sancho Panza to McCain’s Don Quixote — says “Congress should sort of shut up” about Libya. This ukase might make more sense if Congress had said anything institutionally about Libya.

Although Barack Obama’s shifting reasons for the Libyan war are as risible as his denial that it is a war, some conservatives seem to regard it as “a splendid little war.” That was Ambassador John Hay’s description (in a letter to Theodore Roosevelt) of the Spanish-American War. McCain has frequently expressed admiration for TR, the only president who was an unvarnished imperialist (see Evan Thomas’s book “The War Lovers”). McCain’s bellicosity is, however, at least less obnoxious than TR’s, which represented a toxic strain of early 20th-century progressivism — a cocktail of racialism and political Darwinism.

Regarding Libya, McCain on Sunday said, “I wonder what Ronald Reagan would be saying today.” Wondering is speculation; we know this:

When a terrorist attack that killed 241 Marines and other troops taught Reagan the folly of deploying them at Beirut airport with a vague mission and dangerous rules of engagement, he was strong enough to reverse this intervention in a civil war. Would that he had heeded a freshman congressman from Arizona who opposed the House resolution endorsing the intervention. But, then, the McCain of 1983 was, by the standards of the McCain of 2011, an isolationist.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Not Stealing Palestine but Purchasing Israel

by Daniel Pipes

Zionists stole Palestinian land: that's the mantra both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas teach their children and propagate in their media. This claim has vast importance, as Palestinian Media Watch explains: "Presenting the creation of the [Israeli] state as an act of theft and its continued existence as a historical injustice serves as the basis for the PA's non-recognition of Israel's right to exist." The accusation of theft also undermines Israel's position internationally.

But is this accusation true?

No, it is not. Ironically, the building of Israel represents about the most peaceable in-migration and state creation in history. To understand why requires seeing Zionism in context. Simply put, conquest is the historic norm; governments everywhere were established through invasion, nearly all states came into being at someone else's expense. No one is permanently in charge, everyone's roots trace back to somewhere else.

Germanic tribes, Central Asian hordes, Russian tsars, and Spanish and Portuguese conquistadors remade the map. Modern Greeks have only a tenuous connection to the Greeks of antiquity. Who can count the number of times Belgium was overrun? The United States came into existence by defeating Native Americans. Kings marauded in Africa, Aryans invaded India. In Japan, Yamato-speakers eliminated all but tiny groups such as the Ainu.

The Middle East, due to its centrality and geography, has experienced more than its share of invasions, including the Greek, Roman, Arabian, Crusader, Seljuk, Timurid, Mongolian, and modern European. Within the region, dynastic froth caused the same territory – Egypt for example – to be conquered and re-conquered.

The land that now makes up Israel was no exception. In Jerusalem Besieged: From Ancient Canaan to Modern Israel, Eric H. Cline writes of Jerusalem: "No other city has been more bitterly fought over throughout its history." He backs up that claim, counting "at least 118 separate conflicts in and for Jerusalem during the past four millennia." He calculates Jerusalem to have been destroyed completely at least twice, besieged 23 times, captured 44 times, and attacked 52 times. The PA fantasizes that today's Palestinians are descended from a tribe of ancient Canaan, the Jebusites; in fact, but they are overwhelmingly the off-spring of invaders and immigrants seeking economic opportunities.

Against this tableau of unceasing conquest, violence, and overthrow, Zionist efforts to build a presence in the Holy Land until 1948 stand out as astonishingly mild, as mercantile rather than military. Two great empires, the Ottomans and the British, ruled Eretz Yisrael; in contrast, Zionists lacked military power. They could not possibly achieve statehood through conquest.

Instead, they purchased land. Acquiring property dunam by dunam, farm by farm, house by house, lay at the heart of the Zionist enterprise until 1948. The Jewish National Fund, founded in 1901 to buy land in Palestine "to assist in the foundation of a new community of free Jews engaged in active and peaceable industry," was the key institution – and not the Haganah, the clandestine defense organization founded in 1920.

Many wars over Jerusalem: Emperor Titus celebrated his victory over the Jews in 70 A.D. with an arch showing Roman soldiers carrying off a menorah from the Temple Mount.

Zionists also focused on the rehabilitation of what was barren and considered unusable. They not only made the desert bloom but drained swamps, cleared water channels, reclaimed wasteland, forested bare hills, cleared rocks, and removed salt from the soil. Jewish reclamation and sanitation work precipitously reduced the number of disease-related deaths.

Only when the British mandatory power gave up on Palestine in 1948, followed immediately by an all-out attempt by Arab states to crush and expel the Zionists, did the latter take up the sword in self defense and go on to win land through military conquest. Even then, as the historian Efraim Karsh demonstrates in Palestine Betrayed, most Arabs fled their lands; exceedingly few were forced off.

This history contradicts the Palestinian account that "Zionist gangs stole Palestine and expelled its people" which led to a catastrophe "unprecedented in history" (according to a PA 12th-grade textbook) or that Zionists "plundered the Palestinian land and national interests, and established their state upon the ruins of the Palestinian Arab people" (writes a columnist in the PA's daily). International organizations, newspaper editorials, and faculty petitions reiterate this falsehood worldwide.

Israelis should hold their heads high and point out that the building of their country was based on the least violent and most civilized movement of any people in history. Gangs did not steal Palestine; merchants purchased Israel.

Mr. Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and author of Miniatures (Transaction Publishers).


Mark Steyn on America
Tuesday, 21 June 2011

HAPPY WARRIOR from the June 20, 2011 issue of National Review

Looking north into Saskatchewan from the Whitetail, MT border crossing. - Photo: Mike Stebelton/Daniels County Leader

To be honest, I quite liked Obama’s “moat with alligators” crack. And, as it happens, the United States is building a moat on the border. The northern border, that is.

I’m not just referring to the literal trench the government has been digging along the 49th parallel, above which hover unmanned Predator drones keeping Americans safe from the Waziristan of the north. I’m talking about a kind of psychological moat. In the border towns of Derby Line, Vt., and Stanstead, Quebec, where the frontier runs through the middle of the Haskell Public Library and the Predator doubtless hovers over the Nonfiction A–M shelf, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has put barriers across residential streets and introduced a new “zero tolerance” policy.

Zero tolerance of what? Illegal immigration? Terrorism? Not at all. Be their guest. Instead, both Derby Liners and Stansteaders, with generations of cross-border marriage and commercial ties, now find that just going about their daily business is a national-security threat. Last year, the Derby Line pharmacist Buzzy Roy strolled a few yards up Church Street to buy a pizza on a Saturday night, as he has done on many an evening his entire life. When he returned, U.S. authorities charged him with illegally entering Canada, tossed him in the slammer, and fined him $500 — which he’s refusing to pay. “Local Man Jailed for Crossing Street,” as a Vermont paper reported it.

I’m always impressed by the federal government’s lack of proportion. When you’re the brokest nation in the history of the planet, it would help to be able to prioritize. But it’s understandable that, once you’ve gotten used to spending a fifth of a billion dollars every hour that you don’t have, it’s hard to stop. Under the Obama “stimulus,” another Vermont crossing at Morses Line was allocated $5 million for an upgrade that would have paid for eight lanes of traffic and a two-storey facility including a fitness center for CBP officials. In contrast to the Saturday-night pizza traffic in Derby Line, the Morses Line crossing averages two cars an hour. That would leave six lanes for CBP officials, weary of the fitness center, to bowl in. It would also require the confiscation of the Rainville family’s adjoining hayfield, forcing them to sell a family farm that would no longer be viable. Like Buzzy Roy, they fought back.

There were no plans to upgrade the Canadian port of entry. When the story broke, I thought you could hardly ask for a more poignant image of hyperpower bloat than Uncle Sam’s eight-lane two-storey CBP behemoth sitting opposite Her Canadian Majesty’s one-room shack. But Whitetail, Mont., went Morses Line, Vt., one better. The Whitetail border crossing sees fewer than five cars a day. So, naturally, the Washington spendaholics announced it would be getting an $8.5 million stimulus upgrade, the better to serve those 30 vehicles a week. Simultaneously, Ottawa noticed the crossing was attracting fewer than five cars a day. So they announced its closure. You can’t get more stimulating than an $8.5 million border crossing to nowhere. And surely there too is a poignant image of the West at twilight: an exit facility, but with nothing on the other side.

Why is Washington cracking down on all these Canadians? Janet Incompetano, the Homeland Security supremo, says it’s a celebrate-diversity thing: A light footprint on the northern border risks giving the unfortunate impression to our Mexican friends that Washington does not consider all foreigners to be equally sinister. As we’re often told, we need Mexicans to come here to do the jobs Americans won’t do. And we need Canadians to come here to hire Mexicans to do the jobs Americans won’t do. Even as CBP is barricading off Derby Line streets from Quebecois pizza, the village gas station is Canadian: Irving. South of the Vermont border, from Richford to Enosburg Falls to Swanton, the small-town bank is “America’s Most Convenient Bank®,” TD Bank — as in T for Toronto, D for Dominion. Every single dam along the Connecticut River is owned by TransCanada. A couple of years back, I ordered a woodstove from Vermont Castings, because its very name conjured something appealingly small-town and hand-crafted around which Howard Dean and I might while away long winter nights playing strip-plaid poker. But the authentic Vermonty stove arrived from Mississauga, Ontario, in a crate marked CFM Corp. Oh, well. Only the other day, Vermont’s biggest electric company was sold to some guy in Newfoundland. Or as the Valley News reported it: “CVPS Agrees to $700 Million Sale in Another Canadian Takeover.”

I wonder what all these Canadian banking, oil, and utility magnates make of the increased border scrutiny when they venture south to buy up a new subsidiary or two. Whenever I fly back from Bermuda to Boston — a trip one could have made with a mere driver’s license until a few years ago — the CBP agent takes a new photograph of me and another set of fingerprints. Occasionally, I wonder how many sets of Steyn fingerprints even the U.S. government needs. Perhaps one day, like those Andy Warhol images of Marilyn, there’ll be enough Steyn fingerprint sets to mount an exhibition at MoMA.

Yes, it’s difficult to reform the entitlements. But almost everywhere you stand in this great land there’s world-beating government waste staring you in the face. Crossing the border a few weeks back, I found myself at an intersection of two lightly traveled rural roads in upstate New York: There was a blinking red light, a “Stop” sign, a “Stop Sign Ahead” sign, and, for good measure, a left-side “Stop” sign, too. And, not for the first time, I reflected that that was four times as many traffic-control devices as one would see at a comparable junction almost anywhere in the developed world. There, too, is a sign of the times: A spendaholic nation has more and more “Stop” signs. Because we can’t stop.


Canada plans to close border crossing north of Whitetail -

Napolitano may make deal to keep both sides of Whitetail border crossing open -

Unknown Caravaggio painting unearthed in Britain

The painting, an intimate depiction of Saint Augustine dated to 1600, was found by a dealer in a private collection

By Dalya Alberge
The Guardian
Sunday 19 June 2011 19.17 BST

A Caravaggio painting of Saint Augustine has been found in a private collection.

He altered the course of Western art with a completely new approach to light and form, yet barely 50 works created by Caravaggio during his 38 years have survived. Now scholars claim that one more, a previously unknown painting, has been discovered in a private collection in Britain.

The oil on canvas depiction of Saint Augustine, an expressive, mature work dated to around 1600 – when he was 28 – is to appear in print for the first time in a book on Caravaggio produced by Yale University Press.

A leading scholar, Sebastian Sch├╝tze, professor of art history at the University of Vienna and one of the book's co-authors, called the work a significant discovery.

He said: "It has never been published. What looked like an anonymous 17th-century painting revealed its artistic qualities after restoration."

The painting fits in to Caravaggio's oeuvre around 1600, when his style was sculptural and monumental, with powerful movement and emotional expression.

Overlooked in a private collection, where it was considered the work of an anonymous hand, documentary evidence has now been unearthed to support the attribution.

Although covered in old varnishes and repaints, its potential was spotted by Clovis Whitfield, a British art historian and dealer with a track record in discovery.

The painting can be traced to one of Caravaggio's most powerful patrons in Rome, Vincenzo Giustiniani. A Saint Augustine of similar dimensions – 120cm by 99 cm – is recorded in his 1638 inventory.

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) was a revolutionary among artists, revered by masters through the centuries for his radical use of light and dark – chiaroscuro – and the theatrical biblical narratives he painted directly from posed models.

One of the west's most innovative artists, his use of light was as innovative as the Renaissance development of perspective.

But his was a tempestuous life blighted by violence, brawls and trouble with the authorities. He killed a man, either over a woman or a tennis match, and died in mysterious circumstances, although scientists last year used carbon dating and DNA checks on his likely remains, excavated in Tuscany, and found extreme levels of lead poisoning, possibly from the lead in his paints.

Another leading Renaissance scholar, David Franklin, director of the Cleveland Museum of Art and co-author of the book, said the Saint Augustine discovery was important because it is totally new.

He said: "Even the composition had not been recorded in other copies. Often a [lost original] composition is known from copies but not this one."

He added: "What's interesting is that it's a rather conservative image. Maybe that's why it hadn't been known.

"It shows a side of Caravaggio perhaps that is not as drastic and antagonistic as usual but where he was working very closely with Giustiniani to try to create a much more quiet image of a saint."

He described the Giustiniani provenance as "compelling". The painting remained in the Giustiniani collection until sold in the mid 19th century.

It will appear in Caravaggio and His Followers in Rome, to be published next month by Yale University Press in association with the National Gallery of Canada.

Private Clarence Clemons memorial features Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, other E Streeters’ tributes

By Shannon Donnelly
Palm Beach Daily News Society Editor
June 21, 2011

A man carries a photo of Clarence Clemons that was used in Tuesday's memorial service.(Bill Ingram/AP) Below, Bruce Springsteen and his wife Patti Scialfa leave the service.(Brandon Kruse/AP)

As last wishes go, Clarence Clemons’ was a doozy.

He asked Victoria, his titian-haired fifth wife, to scatter his ashes at a cherished spot in Hawaii and to do so with “all of the special women in his life” – including his previous wives.

Victoria, speaking at her husband’s memorial service at the Royal Poinciana Chapel on Tuesday, told 150 friends and family members – including three of the four ex-wives, who were seated near her at the service – that she would do exactly that.

Clemons, saxophonist for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band and a resident of Singer Island, died Saturday from complications of a stroke he suffered a week earlier. He was 69.

The private, by-invitation service was a bit late getting started due to a last-minute rehearsal for the performers, including Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne and the E Street Band.

Clemons’ brother, a career Marine who is now an ordained minister, sat at the altar next to the Rev. Robert Norris.

Springsteen, playing solo, offered a softened, almost tender version of Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, the song that recalls his first meeting with Clemons in an Asbury Park bar on a snowy day.

Springsteen went on to eulogize his friend – breaking down only once, when describing that first meeting – as a man not only big in stature, but big in heart and spirit.

He said Clemons was hardly the uncomplicated man many thought him to be.

“Clarence was a man of unconditional love, but his love came with a lot of conditions,” he said, drawing chuckles and murmurs of agreement from many in the assemblage. “He was a complex guy … an ongoing project. But when you were in his presence, it was like being in a sovereign nation.”

In addition to the gospel song Take My Hand Precious Lord and a thundering version of How Great Thou Art by the chapel’s organist, the music included a mournful saxophone solo of Amazing Grace performed by Clemons’ nephew.

The service ended with a rollicking, upbeat – except for the perpetually morose Browne – rendition of You’re a Friend of Mine, Clemons’ 1985 hit with Browne, performed by Springsteen, the E Street Band and Browne.

A private reception in the chapel’s fellowship hall followed the service.

Among the mourners were Eric Meola, who took the iconic photo of Springsteen and Clemons that became the cover of Born to Run, and Dr. David Dodson, Clemons’ physician.

Clemons, nicknamed “The Big Man” because of his 6-foot-6 frame, was born Jan. 11, 1942, in Norfolk, Va., the grandson of a minister.

In addition to the E Street Band, Clemons performed with the Grateful Dead, the Jerry Garcia Band, Ringo Starr’s All Star Band, Aretha Franklin, Roy Orbison and Browne.

He also had his own band called the Temple of Soul.

In addition to his wife, nephew, and brother, he is survived by his four sons Clarence, called Nick; Charles, Christopher and Jarod; and a sister.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

An Appreciation: Clarence Clemons

By Randy Lewis
June 20, 2011

I've been listening to and going to see Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band for more than 35 years now, but it wasn’t until after word came down Saturday of the death of group member Clarence Clemons that it hit me that in all that time, I’ve never given much thought to Clemons’ sax playing.

That’s not to say I didn’t long recognize his central role in that exceptional outfit, his place as musical foil and compadre-on-the-road-of-life for the band’s leader, or that I never appreciated his inestimable contributions to so many cornerstone songs in the band’s long and deep repertoire.

The revelation of Clemons’ passing is the crystallization of how the signature blazing sound of tenor sax work never spent much time in my head—it always went straight to my gut, my heart, my soul.
I never met the man, but through countless Springsteen shows I’ve witnessed, along with the legacy of the band’s recordings, like so many other music fans I considered Clemons and the rest of the E Street Band to be part of my extended family, brothers in musical arms.

Springsteen himself, guitarists Steve Van Zandt and Nils Lofgren, keyboardists Roy Bittan and the late Danny Federici (and, early on, David Sancious), bassist Gary W. Tallent and drummer Max Weinberg each at various times have left me in awe of their mastery of their instruments in a way that Clemons never did.

I’m a sax player too, and like Clemons, I’ve been playing since I was a kid. There have been a lot of players I’ve admired over the years (Lester Young, Stan Getz), many I’ve been daunted by (Charlie Parker, Don Menza), but none I ever felt more of a spiritual bond with than Clemons.

In part that’s because he came not out of the school of jazz that has produced so many technically astonishing players, but from the school of “honkers and shouters”: R&B and soul sax players such as Big Jay McNeely, Sam “The Man” Taylor, Lee Allen, Junior Walker and Clemons’ original role model, King Curtis. As others have accurately noted, Clemons was the E Street Band’s looming connection to the African American foundation of rock music that was so influential on all the band members.

The wondrous thing about Clemons was that everything he played, in solos or accompanying his bandmates, was astonishingly simple from a technical viewpoint, which surfaced in the’70s in striking (and, to me, welcome) contrast to the more sophisticated styles of the likes of Tom Scott and David Sanborn, who were ever-present in studio sessions at that time and since.

Sometimes, as on “Cadillac Ranch,” Clemons would essentially mirror the song’s melody or main guitar riff; in others, “Born to Run” and “Jungleland” being sterling examples, he fashioned indelibly melodic parts that became essential limbs of songs without which they’d be crippled.

In “Badlands,” Springsteen sang of the yearning for something beyond the meager rewards of ordinary life: “I don’t give a damn for just the in-betweens/Honey I want the heart, I want the soul/I want control right now.” When Clemons enters the conversation after Bruce’s guitar solo a few seconds later, he conjures up the sound of the heart and soul unfettered by earthly worries, all in the impossibly short space of eight bars.

More than once, Clemons’ solos were positioned at the end of a song, rather than stereotypically in the middle, Springsteen’s tacit acknowledgement that having expressed himself in words, Clemons’ job was to express the rest of the feeling that couldn’t be contained in words. Think of “Thunder Road” after Springsteen sings “It’s a town full of losers and I’m pulling out of here to win” and Clemons answers with a bristling ascending melody that pushes the lyric into the clouds.

The first track I wanted to hear after learning of Clemons’ death on Saturday was “Sherry Darling,” from “The River.” For me it’s his perfect expression of unbridled joy, and it’s hard not to think that Springsteen dreamed up this rock tango in large part just to give Clemons an excuse to blow so happily. Whenever I hear it, my spirit dances, even in situations where my feet must resist.

For similar reasons, the instrumental “Paradise By the C” was always a much-anticipated concert highlight when it was a regular part of E Street Band tours of the '70s, with its swinging echoes of Gary U.S. Bond’s “Quarter to Three,” itself a Springsteen staple on the road that always gave Clemons room to exercise those ample lungs of his.

And those lungs? Bruce sang in “The Promised Land” about the twister that would “blow away the dreams that tear you apart/blow away the dreams that break your heart”; with his sax in hand, Clarence was that twister.
How or whether the E Street Band can continue without him is unknown. When Neil Young’s longtime steel guitarist Ben Keith died last year, Young estimated that there’s about 70% of his repertoire he feels he can’t play without Keith there at his side.

It’s not hard to imagine Springsteen feeling the same way about attempting “Born To Run,” “Jungleland,” “Prove It All Night,” "Badlands," “Rosalita” and so many other songs with all the E Streeters except the Big Man along.

The band has continued after the loss three years ago of Federici, so maybe there’s a way to do it, but it will take a lot of thought. Scratch that. Considering who we’re talking about, such matters should be left entirely to the realm of feeling.

A brotherhood loses its Big Man

By Dan DeLuca
Philalphia Inquirer Music Critic
June 21, 2011

Listening to Born to Run over breakfast in the wake of the death of saxophonist Clarence Clemons, who died Saturday at 69, brought me back to when I first started going to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band shows during The River tour in 1980.

Back then, Springsteen concerts were so long that they had to be broken into parts. There was an hour-plus first set about pushing back against social and economic restraints in pursuit of your own identity. Then came a second, celebratory set that lasted even longer, followed by an epic encore when "Jungleland" and the "Detroit Medley" would really take the roof off the Spectrum.

It's Clemons' "Jungleland" performance, building to an operatic crescendo before settling back into a wounded world where poets "just stand back and let it all be," that tops lists as his most memorable solo.

I can't argue against that, though I've got my own list of standout moments by an instrumentalist whose playing was never excessive. There's the Greasy Lake scene-setting lick in "Spirit in the Night," not to mention the battering-ram riffage that busts out in "Night," and the uncharacteristically jazzy tooting that takes "Dancing in the Dark" home.

When I remember those 1980s shows on The River and later, the Born in the U.S.A. tours, it's not "Jungleland" but "Thunder Road" I think of first. And it's not only the majestic wail of Big Man sax that carries Bruce and Mary away from a town full of losers in the climax to that first set. It's also the image of Springsteen running from right to left, and getting down on his knees to slide into Clemons' awaiting arms. At which point the Big Man plants a big, wet soul kiss on the lips of his Boss, in a potent image of the deeply affectionate bond that's also reflected in Springsteen's eyes as he gazes at Clemons on the Born to Run cover.

"I fell in love" is how the guileless, five-times-married Clemons described in his 2009 memoir, Big Man: Real Life & Tall Tales, what happened in 1971 when he first met Springsteen outside the Asbury Park bar the Student Prince. Springsteen doesn't put it quite that way, but in the origin stories he has often told before "Growing Up," it's the addition of Clemons that readies the band to take on all comers. "The change was made uptown, and the Big Man joined the band," is how "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out" puts it. "From the coastline to the city, all the little pretties raise their hands."

A lot of great rock-and-roll bands boil down to the often clashing personalities of two members: Lennon and McCartney, Jagger and Richards. It was never that way on E Street. Instead, the vibe is familial, with the leader able to turn to one foil and musical consigliere, in Steve Van Zandt, and another, in the charismatic, crowd-pleasing Clemons.

For the last 35 years, Clemons was the only black musician in an otherwise all-white band that has striven to talk about the whole of American experience. (For a short time in the 1970s, three African American musicians lived on E Street, when David Sancious was on keyboards, and Ernest "Boom" Carter, who played on "Born to Run," sat on the drum throne.)

The 6-foot-4 Clemons' presence didn't mean that Springsteen succeeded in reaching a sizable black audience. Even in 20,000-capacity arenas, it has often seemed there were more African Americans onstage than in the crowd. But in 2011, interracial rock bands are still rare, and without making a big deal about it, the E Street Band has always looked a little bit more like America than most of its cohorts.

The brotherhood that is a key part of the E Street Band's appeal hasn't always been indivisible. In 1989, Springsteen broke up the band in hopes of pursuing an alternative musical direction he never quite found.

Long before the band broke up, Springsteen's vision had shifted. And as his musical palette became more "rural" than "urban," as he put it on 2010's The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town documentary, there was less call for saxophone.

There were still signature solos - from "Darlington County" on 1984's Born in the U.S.A., or "Waitin' on a Sunny Day," from 2002's The Rising - on which Clemons could let rip with that fat tone that owed so much to 1950s R&B honkers like King Curtis. But long stretches on stage found Clemons biding his time, waiting for his next Big Man moment.

That didn't make him any less essential to the E Street experience when the band got back together in 1999, and other than the guy from New Jersey with the microphone, the larger-than-life sideman who was introduced as "The King of the World" or some variation was always the most popular person in the room.

Throughout a pretty much nonstop tour from 2007 to 2009 that he said was "pure hell," Clemons was beset by health problems. Particularly since organist Danny Federici died in 2008, there's been concern among fans about how long Clemons would be able to continue touring.

Now, his death has E Street nation in mourning - and given new resonance to Springsteen songs like "Blood Brothers," "If I Should Fall Behind," and the 9/11-inspired gospel lament "My City of Ruins," in which Springsteen sings, "Without your sweet kiss, my soul is lost, my friend / Tell me how do I begin again?"

The statement Springsteen released Saturday night would seem to indicate that the band will go on. "He was my great friend, my partner, and with Clarence at my side, my band and I were able to tell a story far deeper than those simply contained in our music," the 61-year-old Springsteen said. "His life, his memory, and his love will live on in that story and in our band."

Let's hope that the E Street Band will go on, and that somehow, the shows will continue to be great. But without Clarence Clemons, they'll never be the same.

Contact music critic Dan DeLuca at 215-854-5628,, or @delucadan on Twitter. Read his blog, "In the Mix," at


Musical world mourns Clarence Clemons

By Jeff Miers
June 21, 2011

It’s one of those moments in popular music that seem to transcend the music itself.

The moment comes during Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s “Jungleland,” near the song’s coda, at the tail-end of one of the most “novelistic” songs in all of rock ’n’ roll. Springsteen’s tale of beautiful losers desperate to make more of themselves against tough odds—the sort that are inherited from previous generations and all too often handed down to subsequent ones—seems to throttle full-bore toward an apex, when Clarence Clemons puts the saxophone’s mouthpiece to his lips and simply explodes with the only notes that matter.

In this deeply emotional yet musically economical series of tones, you can hear all of the frustration, passion, rage, hope and Romanticism that define the lives of the characters in Springsteen’s songs. It’s simply a profound piece of musical drama.

Clemons died Saturday, following complications resulting from a stroke suffered a week previous. He was 69. He’d been ailing for a while, due to hip and knee replacement surgeries, but that didn’t prevent him from signing on for the E Street Band’s most recent tour — one that saw “the Big Man,” as he’s known to the E Street Band’s legion of followers, taking the stage for a transcendent show at HSBC Arena in November 2009.

The immediate aftermath of Clemons’ death found a galaxy of artists — from U2’s Bono to former Guns ’N Roses guitarist Slash; from Coldplay’s Chris Martin to members of the pop-metal band Def Leppard — offering tributes to the man via their websites, through Twitter, or during concert engagements. (According to, Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder learned of Clemons’ passing during a solo set in Hartford, Conn., on Saturday evening, and promptly dedicated “Better Man” to the saxophonist, changing the song’s chorus to “Can’t find a bigger man.” On the same night, U2 concluded its set in Anaheim, Calif., with Bono’s dramatic, unaccompanied recital of the entire “Jungleland” lyric. Even jam-band nonpareil Phish paid tribute over the weekend, with a roughshod but heartfelt “Thunder Road.”)

Not surprisingly, the most poignant remembrance of Clemons came from his musical partner and “soul mate” of 40 years, Bruce Springsteen.

“Clarence lived a wonderful life,” Springsteen said on his official website.

“He carried within him a love of people that made them love him. He created a wondrous and extended family. He loved the saxophone, loved our fans and gave everything he had every night he stepped on stage. His loss is immeasurable and we are honored and thankful to have known him and had the opportunity to stand beside him for nearly forty years. He was my great friend, my partner, and with Clarence at my side, my band and I were able to tell a story far deeper than those simply contained in our music.”

This last bit of Springsteen’s note is most telling, for Clemons’ gift seemed to have as much to do with the traits of integrity, loyalty and commitment as it did with his sax playing. The E Street Band always offered as a subtext to its very existence the notion that rock is a communal experience, one that can welcome ideas of brotherhood, endurance, decency, and even unconditional love. Clemons embodied this conception of rock ’n’ roll community.

When Springsteen first erupted from New Jersey in the early ’70s, Clemons’ role in the band was a pivotal one — his deep early R&B influences rooted the E Street Band in a stirring blend of soul and rock ’n’ roll, and in concert, Clemons was Springsteen’s visual and musical foil. This version of the band peaked, appropriately, with the breakthrough success of the “Born to Run” album, its LP sleeve photo of a leather-jacketed Springsteen leaning on Clemons’ shoulder now considered one of the most iconic images in all of rock.

As Springsteen’s music changed — largely abandoning the raucous, New Orleans “second line”-style horn codas, ramshackle sense of swing and Van Morrisonesque soul-folk in favor of a lean, taut, song-centered approach — so, too, did Clemons’ presence within that music. He seemed to accept a more limited and orchestrated role in the E Street sound with grace and good cheer, and if his playing was more specifically composed and less improvisational, it was no less powerful and eloquent.

“Like all of the greatest musicians, he redefined his instrument,” says Gary Zoldos, longtime Springsteen fan and singer with Buffalo rock band the Pillagers. “He did for the saxophone what (the late Who bassist) John Entwistle did for the bass guitar. Nobody played like Clarence, and nobody sounded like Clarence, and you could tell that it was him from the very first note.”

Among those contributions, it is likely that the “Jungleland” coda looms largest, but Clemons provided dozens and dozens of Springsteen’s songs with emotional heft, well-placed color and texture, and visceral excitement. Early on, he brought a smoky elegance to “Spirit in the Night”; led the band through soul-rock masterpieces like “The E Street Shuffle,” “Linda Let Me Be the One” and “Thundercrack”; and translated the rugged dignity of the unrepentant narrative within “Badlands” into a torrid burst of notes.

“To get some sense of how important Clarence Clemons was to Bruce Springsteen’s early career as an artist, you have to flash back to the mid-1970s, when the scrawny, charismatic Springsteen played poete maudit to Clemons’ siren of R&B romanticism,” says The News’ Poetry Editor R. D. Pohl.

“Take the stunning live 1978 You Tube version of ‘Jungleland,’ (from the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, N. J.) featuring the 3- minute signature solo that would forever establish Clemons as one of rock ’n’ roll’s greatest sidemen.”

Local jazz promoter and author Bruce Eaton recalls his initial exposure to Clemons as an eye-opening experience.

“Back then, in 1973, there was no Little Steven Van Zandt — Bruce and Clarence were it,” recalls Eaton, who booked Springsteen and the Band to perform at Hobart College while Eaton was a student there.

“Clarence played so much back then — he was really the primary soloist, and it was immediately apparent that he was a huge part of the sound, the vibe, the spirit and the image of theEStreet Band,” Eaton said.

It is indeed difficult to imagine an E Street Band concert without Clemons flanking Springsteen and blasting out the immensely thick-toned, long notes that helped define some of the most significant and enduring rock music of the last 40 years. Indeed, the rumor mills are already churning out the idea that Clemons’ passing spells the end for the band.

“From the first time I saw him, back in 1973, Clarence was always bigger than life,” says Bruce Moser of Buffalo’s Could Be Wild Promotions.

“He was an iconic figure on stage, and he was also the spark plug of that band. Clarence helped re-establish the saxophone as a prominent rock ’n’ roll instrument during a time when it was considered unfashionable. The sax parts played a huge part in the way those songs were received by people. The fans loved him so much. He’s just not replaceable. TheE Street Band was able to carry on after (keyboardist) Danny (Federici) died (in 2008), even though he was truly missed. But without Clarence, there really is no E Street Band.”

It should be noted, however, that Springsteen concludes his clearly anguished online tribute to Clemons with these words.

“His life, his memory, and his love will live on in (the story told by our music) and in our band.”

Rest in peace, Big Man.