Saturday, December 14, 2013

Funeral Spice

Relish the accidental comedy in a humorless world. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Today's Tune: Johnny Folsom 4 - Folsom Prison Blues

Today's Tune: Eleanor Jones and Johnny Folsom 4 - I Still Miss Someone

Concert preview: Show pays tribute to Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline

December 12, 2013

The Johnny Folsom 4, a Johnny Cash cover band, will play a Johnny Cash-Patsy Cline tribute show at Southland Ballroom in Raleigh. (Willa Stein)

Read more here:
David Burney didn’t intend to front a Johnny Cash cover band. “It’s something that just happened,” Burney says while calling from his Raleigh office.
While delivering an array of covers with his prior band, the Swingin’ Johnsons, Burney, 57, and his mates tossed in some Cash songs.
“The Cash tunes went over very well,” Burney said. “Some people came up to me after the show and said, ‘you sound like Johnny Cash’ and one thing led to another.”
Burney put the Johnny Folsom 4 together five years ago. The band, which will perform Friday at the Southland Ballroom as part of a Johnny Cash-Patsy Cline tribute, enjoys performing the Man in Black’s material.
“It’s so much fun partly because it’s so varied,” Burney said. “We go back to Johnny’s early years. We have a blast with the classic Sun Studio material and go all the way up to his American Records days.”
Toward the end of his career, Cash signed with American and Sony honcho/producer Rick Rubin urged the icon to record covers of contemporary artists, such as Soundgarden, Nine Inch Nails and Tom Petty.
“The American material he recorded is some of my favorite Cash songs to do,” Burney says. “He absolutely owns (Soundgarden’s) ‘Rusty Cage.’ It sounds like his song. I love doing Petty’s ‘I Won’t Back Down’ like Johnny did it.”
The Folsom 4 also render some Gospel tunes as well. “Johnny recorded some great Gospel numbers,” Burney said. “We’ll do some of those and some songs Johnny sang with June Carter Cash. Thankfully Eleanor Jones joins us, and she sings just like June Carter Cash.”
The Folsom 4 draw from a 90-song list of Cash tunes. “That way it’s not the same every time we do a show,” Burney says.
The Raleigh-based band plays about 20 times a year, since each member of the group has a full-time gig. Burney is the CEO of a design company; guitarist David Gresham is a firefighter; bassist Tom Mills spends the day as a programmer; and drummer Randy Benefield is a dentist.
“It’s a great outlet for us,” Burney says. “We get to play to a varied audience. It ranges from college kids to seniors. The thing that’s great about it is you never run into anyone who doesn’t like Johnny Cash. He really hit it with that boom-chicka-boom sound. It’s basic and primal and it connects with everyone.”
Just don’t expect Burney to ever try to look like Cash. “I wear black but I have facial hair and I have some gray hair,” Burney says. “We don’t go for the Cash look. We go for the sound.”
Unfortunately, Burney never experienced Cash live.
“I had the chances to see him but unfortunately never did,” Burney says. “I might not have seen him, but I get the opportunity to sing his songs whenever we play, and that’s not a bad thing at all.”
Read more here:

Obama the oblivious

Political Cartoons by Lisa Benson
In explaining the disastrous rollout of Obamacare, President Obama told Chris Matthewshe had discovered that “we have these big agencies, some of which are outdated, some of which are not designed properly.”
An interesting discovery to make after having consigned the vast universe of American medicine, one-sixth of the U.S. economy, to the tender mercies of the agency bureaucrats at the Department of Health and Human Services and the Internal Revenue Service.
Most people become aware of the hopeless inefficiency of sclerotic government by, oh, age 17 at the department of motor vehicles. Obama’s late discovery is especially remarkable considering that he built his entire political philosophy on the rock of Big Government, on the fervent belief in the state as the very engine of collective action and the ultimate source of national greatness. (Indeed, of individual success as well, as in “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”)
This blinding revelation of the ponderous incompetence of bureaucratic government came just a few weeks after Obama confessed that “what we’re also discovering is that insurance is complicated to buy.” Another light bulb goes off, this one three years after passing a law designed to force millions of Americans to shop for new health plans via the maze of untried, untested, insecure, unreliable online “exchanges.”
This discovery joins a long list that includes Obama’s rueful admission that there really are no shovel-ready jobs. That one came after having passed his monstrous $830 billion stimulus on the argument that the weakened economy would be “jump-started” by a massive infusion of shovel-ready jobs. Now known to be fictional.
Barack Obama is not just late to discover the most elementary workings of government. With alarming regularity, he professes obliviousness to the workings of his own government. He claims, for example, to have known nothing about the IRS targeting scandal, the AP phone records scandal, the NSA tapping of Angela Merkel. And had not a clue that the centerpiece of his signature legislative achievement — the online Obamacare exchange, three years in the making — would fail catastrophically upon launch. Or that Obamacare would cause millions of Americans to lose their private health plans.
Hence the odd spectacle of a president expressing surprise and disappointment in the federal government — as if he’s not the one running it. Hence the repeated no-one-is-more-upset-than-me posture upon deploring the nonfunctioning Web site, the IRS outrage, the AP intrusions and any number of scandals from which Obama tries to create safe distance by posing as an observer. He gives the impression of a man on a West Wing tour trying out the desk in the Oval Office, only to be told that he is president of the United States.
The paradox of this presidency is that this most passive bystander president is at the same time the most ideologically ambitious in decades. The sweep and scope of his health-care legislation alone are unprecedented. He’s spent billions of tax money attempting to create, by fiat and ex nihilo, a new green economy. His (failed) cap-and-trade bill would have given him regulatory control of the energy economy. He wants universal preschool and has just announced his unwavering commitment to slaying the dragon of economic inequality, which, like the poor, has always been with us.
Obama’s discovery that government bureaucracies don’t do things very well creates a breathtaking disconnect between his transformative ambitions and his detachment from the job itself. How does his Olympian vision coexist with the lassitude of his actual governance, a passivity that verges on absenteeism?
What bridges that gap is rhetoric. Barack Obama is a master rhetorician. It’s allowed him to move crowds, rise inexorably and twice win the most glittering prize of all. Rhetoric has changed his reality. For Obama, it can change the country’s. Hope and change, after all, is a rhetorical device. Of the kind Obama has always imagined can move mountains.
That’s why his reaction to the Obamacare Web site’s crash-on-takeoff is so telling. His remedy? A cross-country campaign-style speaking tour. As if rhetoric could repeal thatreality.
Managing, governing, negotiating, cajoling, crafting legislation, forging compromise. For these — this stuff of governance — Obama has shown little aptitude and even less interest. Perhaps, as Valerie Jarrett has suggested, he is simply too easily bored to invest his greatness in such mundanity.
I don’t write code,” said Obama in reaction to the Web site crash. Nor is he expected to. He is, however, expected to run an administration that can.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Income "Inequality"

December 12, 2013

Political Cartoons by Eric Allie

In a December 4 speech, President Obama declared income "inequality" to be "the defining challenge of our time."
It is time for me to come clean; to own up to a dark secret I have been hiding most of my life. It is embarrassing to admit it, but I suffer from income inequality.
Yes, there are hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of people who make more money than I do and it has affected my life in ways too numerous to recount.
Starting with my first summer job as a bellhop and kitchen worker at a hotel in Maine when I was 14, I kept records of the amount of money I earned. The ledger records that on a really good day I made as much as $8 in tips. The hotel owner paid me a salary of $20 a week, but included a small room in the basement and all the food I could eat. He made more money than I did.
In the early '60s, as a copyboy at NBC News in Washington, my take-home pay was less than $100 a week. Everyone else, including, I suspect, the janitor, made more than I did.
When I finally got on the air as a broadcast journalist, my NBC check stubs were far less than the withholding on David Brinkley's paycheck. I still bear the scars from this income "inequality."
When I was 37 I made $25,000 a year and took public transportation to and from work. Many others, including most of the people I interviewed, made far more money than I did. Some of them had cars and drivers to squire them around Washington.
Was it "fair" that these people were richer than I was? Absolutely, as long as I had the opportunity through education, risk-taking, experience and hard work to eventually make more.
President Obama and some leaders in the Democratic Party appear to want us to accept a false premise: that if I earn more money than you, I "owe" you some of my money to make things "fair." This might be true if the amount of money available were fixed, but it is not. The communist philosophy is similar to this way of thinking: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need," is the slogan popularized by Karl Marx. In other words, mutually-shared poverty with just enough to barely sustain everyone, not an avenue out of poverty with hope as the mode of transportation, hard work as the fuel and success as the destination.
Income "inequality" is a part of the greed-envy-entitlement philosophy promoted by liberals who want to addict more people to government and entice them to vote for the party that is effectively buying their loyalty. And now they want to extend the 99-week limit for unemployment benefits, which has the potential to enable those people who are unwilling to look for a job.
Today, we have a tendency to punish the successful and subsidize the unsuccessful. It used to be the reverse, which motivated more people to become, if not a success, then at least self-sustaining. There was a time when Americans would have been ashamed to take, much less ask for, anything from their fellow citizens. If you were able-bodied, asking for help from the government was regarded by a previous generation as moral weakness.
Today, the attitude promoted by the income "inequality" crowd is one of victimization. Poor people are told they are victims because successful people have stolen from them what is rightfully theirs.
Envy, greed and entitlement are not the things that built America, or sustained her through numerous wars and a Great Depression.
The concern should not be how much others make, but how much you can make if you apply yourself and adopt the values embraced by successful people.
Those who make what I once earned and think they can never earn more are being told a lie. Realizing this is the first step to improving one's income and one's life.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Pattern developing for President Selfie

Obama's personality cult lets no photo op go to waste

By John Kass
December 10, 2013

President Barack Obama, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, and Denmark Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt take a selfie at the memorial service for the late South African President Nelson Mandela. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)

There are many ways to remember President Barack Obama's appearance at South Africa's memorial for Nelson Mandela.
Some may remember Obama as Mandela's spiritual son, our president riding on his own soaring rhetoric at that stadium, wrapping himself in Mandela's mantle, dreaming of the father of the new South Africa.
And others will seize on Obama shaking hands with the executioner of Cuba, our president bowing to Raul Castro just as he once bowed to the lords of the Chicago Democratic Machine before beginning his climb.
But those images — Obama riding on his magic rhetorical carpet, reaching for dreams of Mandela, or his clasping of the right hand of Fidel Castro's demonic brother — are about politics.
But there's another image from the memorial that defines Obama. It has nothing to do with ideology.
A news photographer captured the president sitting with the prime ministers of Great Britain and Denmark. He has a cellphone in his hand. The three of them are grinning.
First lady Michelle Obama sits off to the side, somber, dignified, as the world remembers Mandela. Yet next to her like some goofy adolescent who hasn't yet been taught how to behave properly at a memorial service — her husband — is snapping a memorial to himself.
President Selfie.
That's what he's being called now, and it blew up on the Twitterverse. It's not the most compelling photojournalism in history. But it is clear, and as pointed as a pin.
Obama and Denmark's Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt extend their arms, hands on the cellphone, to take the self-portrait. British PM David Cameron leans in. They're as bubbly as school kids ordering a happy meal.
Why would a president take a selfie at a memorial for Mandela? Because it wasn't about Mandela.
It was about Barack.
And isn't it always about Barack?
Earlier, Obama sauntered through the crowd, shaking hands, waving, welcoming the love bath they gave him. He wasn't mourning as much as he was campaigning for adoration, a man determined to receive his due.
And then came the presidential selfie.
It fits into a pattern, of almost uncontrollable presidential selfieism.
A few days ago, when Mandela passed away at 95, Obama's media managers tweeted a photograph. You'd think he'd tweet a photograph of Mandela. But it wasn't of Mandela.
It was of Obama in Mandela's former prison cell, the president having gone to the prison because he couldn't get that photo op he wanted with the ailing South African during Obama's $100 million African vacation.
Obama as Mandela.
And then there was Obama as Rosa Parks.
To commemorate Parks, who 58 years ago this month defied racists who wanted black people to sit in the back of the bus, Obama released another tweet.
Not of Rosa Parks. But of Obama, sitting on the bus by himself, Obama Rosa.
"In a single moment 58 years ago today, Rosa Parks helped change this country," said the presidential tweet.
Yet there was Obama on the bus alone. It's all about Barack.
His social media managers should be sent to Guantanamo for feeding this electronic cult of personality.
There are no Obama selfies from his earlier life in Chicago, the pre-messianic Obama, the man who would later promise to hold back the oceans and heal the planet with a wave of his lips.
I'd have loved a selfie of Obama and his real estate fairy, Tony Rezko, as they stood on the lawn in front of Obama's dream house in the Kenwood neighborhood. That was the home that Rezko helped him get, in a deal that the president confessed was a "boneheaded" move.
Just think of what he might have tweeted at the time, there on the lawn with Tony, wearing khaki shorts, polo shirts and Sox gear:
"The Tony Rezko I know realized I really wanted this house. And he was right!"
And what about tweeted pix of Obama voting "present" all those times in the Illinois Senate, or one of Obama on bended knee before then-Senate President Emil Jones, asking to be made a U.S. senator.
Or selfies with former Gov. Rod Blagojevich or former Mayor Rich Daley or Boss Mike Madigan.
Ah, such tweets, such tweets. They'd be worth the price. Sadly, the Twitterverse back then was nothing like the one today.
Besides, Twitter deals in only 140 characters, and Obama's speech at the Mandela memorial was a tad longer.
It dripped with peace, as Obama told the world that Mandela's death should prompt self-reflection. He said he often asks himself: "How well have I applied his (Mandela's) lessons in my own life?"
"We too, must act on behalf of peace. ... The questions we face today — how to promote equality and justice, to uphold freedom and human rights, to end conflict and sectarian war — do not have easy answers. … Nelson Mandela reminds us that it always seems impossible until it is done."
The man who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize without accomplishing anything except demonstrating competence in raw politics and rhetoric forgot a few things.
He forgot those killer drones he sends down from the skies. And he forgot the fact that he would have bumbled us into another war in Syria had not the American people stopped him.
But it's not all talk with the president. There's that picture from the stadium, and he's grinning.
President Selfie.
Twitter @John_Kass

The Search for Nuance about Nelson Mandela — as the World Celebrates His Legacy

Posted By Ron Radosh On December 10, 2013 @ 2:59 pm In Uncategorized | 2 Comments
Mandela with Castro, in Matanzas, Cuba in 1991. / FELIBERTO CARRIE (GAMMA-RAPHO VIA GETTY IMAGES)

As South Africans mourn the passing of Nelson Mandela, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find any honest and balanced assessments of Mandela’s legacy. Indeed, particularly on the broadcast media, including Fox News, it seems to be all accolades with nary a word of criticism.

Instead, you have many sites by liberals condemning conservatives for their view of the African National Congress back in the 1980s, during the Reagan years. At the New Republic, Isaac Chotiner [1] argues, for example, that conservatives viewed their struggle through the prism of the Cold War, and hence thought nothing of backing apartheid because that government was our ally against the Soviet Union.  Liberals like Chotiner argue that the ANC had to take allies where they found them. Yet their struggle was moral and should have been supported then by the United States.

The Cold War, he argues, “prevented many of the people fighting it from viewing Mandela in anything but Cold War terms.” How, he asks, could anyone even think of the apartheid regime as part of the Free World? The Cold War, he writes, “didn’t require anyone to wear these blinders.”

Strangely, but predictably, Chotiner does not ask why Nelson Mandela and the Communist leadership of the African National Congress — which was controlled completely by the South African Communist Party — did not see any contradiction between their own calls for sanctions against the regime (as well as requests for international solidarity) and their support of the most brutal and repressive Communist regimes and leftist tyrannies, including Gadaffi’s Libya and Fidel Castro’s Cuba.

The issue was raised in the New York Times by former executive editor Bill Keller, in a column [2] titled provocatively: “Nelson Mandela, Communist.” Acknowledging that Mandela was probably both a Party member as well as on its ruling Central Committee, Keller, unaware that the SACP had acknowledged his membership proudly a few days earlier on its own web page [3], asked a simple question: “Does it matter?”

Keller answers his rhetorical question the following way: People say one thing, but party platforms and ideology are often ignored. This, he says, is what the pragmatic Mandela did. Conservatives who harp on it are engaging in “gleeful red-baiting.” The truth, he writes, is that Mandela “was at various times a black nationalist and a nonracialist, an opponent of armed struggle and an advocate of violence, a hothead and the calmest man in the room, a consumer of Marxist tracts and an admirer of Western democracy, a close partner of Communists and, in his presidency, a close partner of South Africa’s powerful capitalists.”

In other words, he was a man of contradictions. His alliance with and membership in the SACP was simply a “marriage of convenience,” in a movement with few friends. He was able to receive money and arms from his Soviet and Chinese comrades for their “feckless armed struggle.” Despite ideology, when push came to shove, the pragmatists and the realists won out.  Mandela emerged from prison a changed man, who brought reconciliation to his native land that could have erupted in civil war, and both avoided bloodshed and gave his backing to South African capitalists who could have been his enemy.

His Party membership can be explained simply by the fact that the Marxist-Leninist group was the only political group that allowed whites, blacks, Indians and mixed-race people as members.

What Keller ignores, as do others, is that Mandela not only accepted the Party positions, but used its strength to turn the once non-violent ANC to terrorism, as well as to an alliance in which the worst left-wing tyrannies were endorsed and supported. Mandela himself welcomed Fidel Castro with open arms, calling him upon his release from prison the leader of a country that “stands out head and shoulders above the rest…in its love for human rights and liberty.”  This about a country in which political opponents were regularly tortured and starved in the most brutal prisons, and in which many prisoners received and served far longer sentences in prison than Mandela himself.

After his release, he welcomed Muammar Gadaffi to South Africa, calling him a comrade and praising his dictatorial regime as a land of freedom. Libyan exiles protested and pleaded with Mandela for his support, telling him that his backing of Gadaffi was an insult to the “thousands…who are still in the jails of the tyrant, subjected to torture on a daily basis for asking nothing more than what you and the people of South Africa have asked for: to breathe free in our own land.”

Mandela responded by saying that the internal conditions of these countries were their own business, and any interference from other nations was a violation of their sovereignty. Somehow, the very acts of solidarity he asked for from the West were wrong when victims of human rights violations by leftist regimes requested the same kind of support he and the ANC expected during the years of apartheid.

No one has made this point better than Michael Moynihan at the Daily Beast [4], who writes:
For a man imprisoned for his political beliefs, he had a weakness for those who did the very same thing to their ideological opponents, but were allowed a pass because they supported, for realpolitik reasons, the struggle against Apartheid. So Mandela was painfully slow in denouncing the squalid dictatorship of Robert Mugabe. He was rather fond of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro (it won’t take you long to find photos of the two bear-hugging each other in Havana) and regularly referred to Libyan tyrant Muammar Qaddafi as “Brother Leader of the Revolution of the Libyan Jamahariya.” It was on a return visit to Robbin Island, when Mandela, as president, announced with appalling tone deafness that he would invite both Castro and Qaddafi to South Africa.
Moreover, during the years of armed struggle, the ANC ran brutal training camps in which scores of young blacks were purged as unreliable, and tortured and then burned to death in the chosen method of the ANC — necklacing — the term used for putting them in rubber auto tires and setting them afire. It was for this reason that even Amnesty International refused to give him the status of “political prisoner,” as a critical report [5] in  conservative Catholic magazine Crisis points out.

As author Timothy J. Williams writes in this magazine, the record of South Africa today is also Mandela’s legacy:
Mandela did, however, leave behind another socialist nightmare in the making. With their motto of “liberation before education,” the ANC has proved itself completely incapable of governing, and South Africa is sliding into chaos at an alarming rate. Since 2004, South Africa has experienced almost constant political protests, many of them violent. Activists like to refer to the nation as the most “protest-rich in the world,” which, along with prison camps, is the only type of “riches” a socialist nation can produce. The nation is staggered by unemployment, corruption throughout all levels of the police, military, and civil service, and ubiquitous, inescapable crime. Life in South Africa is far more dangerous, especially for blacks and women, than it was under Apartheid. With about fifty murders a day, the nation is now among the undisputed murder capitals of the world [6], most of these crimes going uninvestigated.
“The astounding estimates of other violent crimes, including rape, are almost impossible to believe,” Williams adds. “But only the truth of such figures could account for the fact that the private security business in South Africa is the largest in the world [7], with over a quarter-million private security guards in a nation of under 53 million.”

If you don’t trust Williams’ account, read the frank article [8] in TNR by reporter Eve Fairbanks, who lives in and reports from South Africa. While the media at Tuesday’s memorial report on how everyone in South Africa loves Mandela and what he did for them, Fairbanks reports the truth:
People are deeply, deeply disillusioned with the leaders who’ve followed Mandela, both official African National Congress politicians and emotional leaders like Mandela’s offspring. Mandela’s relatives seem to have bucked his example entirely; some have banked millions [9] in mining, an industry against which the apartheid-era ANC railed against as the heart of South Africa’s satanic injustice, while others havecashed in with a reality TV show [10]. The allegations against the politicians in actual office are more troubling. The country’s second democratically-elected president, Thabo Mbeki, was bitterly criticized for denying South Africa’s AIDS epidemic. Mbeki’s successor, President Jacob Zuma, was prosecuted for both rape and racketeering; he was acquitted of the former, and the latter charges were dropped on technicalities, but recently a huge scandal [11] around taxpayer-funded upgrades to his massive home dominated the papers until Mandela’s—for Zuma, very propitiously timed—death. Daily, the whole black political class is accused in the media [12] of corruption in the awarding of government contracts and greed in treating itself to swanky vacations and flashy vehicles. “They were heroes,” one of the students standing beside me on the police line mused grimly, “but then they started buying cars.” As they buy cars, economic growth has slowed, basic education has fallen into disrepair, and inequality has deepened. This fall, The Economist concluded in a cover package [13] pessimistically titled “Cry, the Beloved Country” that South Africa “is on the slide both economically and politically” and that the ANC’s “incompetence and outright corruption are the main causes.”
Fairbanks dares, in a liberal publication, to point out what you will not hear on TV and radio by the mainstream press, and asks this tough question: “Great leadership involves building a political culture that mirrors your virtues. Can a leader truly be considered great if those who come right on his heels are terrible?” Praising Mandela for honesty himself in the post-apartheid government, she nevertheless concludes that “Mandela didn’t do enough to actively establish a culture of honesty, selflessness, and good conduct in the government he founded.” She adds that  Mandela also “vigorously defended an ANC leader named Allan Boesak who was accused of embezzlement, even directing his Minister of Justice to make a speech supporting Boesak. (Boesak was soon convicted and sentenced to six years in prison.)”

You wouldn’t know much of that by our media reports, which celebrate Mandela as if he was a saint, and which really amount to self-glorification and their desire to identify with the old opponents of apartheid. So Kudos to Eve Fairbanks for her courage in daring to spoil the party by telling some of the uncomfortable truths the regular media does not let anyone know about.

Yes, Nelson Mandela deserves credit for helping South Africa avoid a civil war, for not creating an all-black racist government, and for creation of a commission that allowed those who had engaged in unconscionable acts to atone for their crimes and that created the structure that allowed the society to move on. One must also remember that the collapse of the Soviet Union — its main benefactor — did a lot to prevent the country from becoming an African version of the old Stalinist state. With the Soviets not around to back them into becoming another “people’s democracy,” there really was no option around but to allow capitalism to continue.

Yet if one takes the case of its most likely next president — Cyril Ramaphosa — one can see the corruption that allowed the former left-wing socialist union leader to become one of the wealthiest businessmen in the country. As in Russia after the fall, where the former Communists grabbed the wealth of the nation for themselves, leading ANC and Communist leaders did the same in South Africa.

In 2012, the ANC directed police to shoot down striking mine workers in cold blood — something that the ANC in the years of the “liberation struggle” would have never tolerated from the apartheid regime. Thirty-four miners were shot in the back and killed, and 78 others were seriously injured. Ramaphosa, the former head of the mineworkers union, called the strikers guilty of “dastardly criminal conduct.”  He is widely regarded as the man who was responsible for the police response to the strike. When ANC leaders now own the mines, they have a different set of standards.

In honoring Nelson Mandela, let us not forget his easily discovered “dark side.” To ignore it is to fail to understand why South Africa is in such trouble today.
(Thumbnail on PJM homepage created using multiple [14] images.)

Article printed from Ron Radosh:
URL to article:

URLs in this post:

[1] Isaac Chotiner:
[2] column:
[3] web page:
[4] Michael Moynihan at the Daily Beast
[5] critical report:
[6] among the undisputed murder capitals of the world:
[7] is the largest in the world:
[8] frank article:
[9] banked millions:
[10] cashed in with a reality TV show:
[11] huge scandal:
[12] accused in the media:
[13] cover package:

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Joe Torre, the most important manager in Yankees history, earns well-deserved spot in Hall of Fame

From Brooklyn to the Bronx and, now, Cooperstown. He was a borderline Hall of Famer as a player, but his stint as the Yankees manager, winning four World Series in five seasons, puts him in baseball's Hall of Fame.

By Mike Lupica
December 9, 2013

Don Zimmer, Joe Torre and Mel Stottlemyre
Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer, manager Joe Torre and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre watch the action from the dugout bench during Game 1 of the 1996 World Series against the Braves. (Lynn Johnson/SI

The baseball Hall of Fame, which honored no players last summer, felt like the Hall of Fame again on Monday when it was announced that three of the great managers of all time, Joe Torre and Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox, were all voted in together, almost by acclamation. Torre won four World Series, La Russa three, Cox one. But we will celebrate Joe Torre, out of Brooklyn, N.Y., first and loudest around here today, because he is ours.

He comes out of Brooklyn and out of the ’50s, and by now you know that he was at Yankee Stadium when Don Larsen pitched his perfect game against the Dodgers in 1956. He was mostly known as Frank Torre’s kid brother in those days, Frank Torre out of St. Francis Prep who was a rookie with the Milwaukee Braves in 1956.

“You knew you were seeing history that day,” Torre said of Larsen’s perfect game. “But what you really thought about was getting down on that field yourself someday.”

Then he was a kid catcher with the Braves, beginning a long enough and honorable enough career that you could look at Joe Torre, Braves catcher and then Cardinals third baseman, and think you were watching a Hall of Fame player. He nearly had a lifetime batting average of .300, was an All-Star catcher four times and an All-Star third baseman twice and hit .363 in 1971 with the Cardinals, 230 hits that year and not one of them cheap because he always ran like he was carrying a sofa on his back.

They will remember him in Milwaukee and Atlanta and St. Louis for the way he played the game. But baseball – and history — will remember him for what he did when he finally did make it down on the field at Yankee Stadium; when he became the most important manager the New York Yankees have ever had, more important than Miller Huggins or Joe McCarthy or Casey Stengel, and not just because his Yankees won their four World Series at a time in baseball when you needed to get through three rounds of the playoffs to win it all.

Torre did not just win. He won with an old-fashioned thing called grace. You couldn’t hate Torre’s Yankees, not the way people used to hate the Yankees, because who could hate a gent like Joe Torre?

When he was with the New York writers in Florida on Monday he was asked what George Steinbrenner meant to him and Joe Torre said, “He made my professional career. I played for 18 years, but the only thing that meant anything to me was the World Series.”

Of course he had the horses. A horseplayer like Joe Torre knows you have to have them. He had Jeter and Rivera and Pettitte and Posada. But once Torre’s Yankees started winning, the New York Yankees were bigger than they had ever been, more popular than they’d ever been, eventually were drawing four million fans a year to the old Stadium.

He was No. 6 of the Yankees, and if that number isn’t finally retired this season on a fine summer afternoon at another, newer Stadium, then they should turn the place into even more of a shopping mall than it already is.

Torre’s Yankees never got him another World Series after a Subway Series in 2000 that he appreciated and understood better than anybody in town. They lost Game 7 against Arizona in the bottom of the ninth in 2001, then they didn’t go three games to one up on the Marlins when they had the chance in 2003 and then the whole world knows what happened against the Red Sox the next October after the Yankees were ahead three games to none.

Finally he was managing the Dodgers – the Brooklyn kid doing that — at the end of his career, thinking he would make it to one more World Series with them. Now he and La Russa are both working for Major League Baseball, are at the winter meetings this week talking about instant replay, both of them still honoring baseball with perspective and intelligence and love of the game, doing that again Monday, the day when they both had tickets punched to Cooperstown.

La Russa talked Monday, and eloquently about how Torre taught everybody how to win and also how to lose. They used to say the same about Jack Nicklaus, who won 18 major championships but also finished second 19 times, who lost with great style the way he won with great style. Torre was like that, exactly.

There are so many moments to remember with Joe Torre, so many times he showed you a kind of grace you either have or do not. Maybe the one I remember best is the walk I took with him down the hallway at the old Stadium, from the Yankee clubhouse down to the Marlins, after Game 6 in 2003, after Josh Beckett had shut the Yankees down and won the World Series for his team, and his manager, old Jack McKeon.

“I know how much this means to him,” Torre said that night, walking on old ruined catcher’s knees, “because I know how much it meant to me.”

There have been others who managed the Yankees and won. Not one of them was more important than Torre was. A good day in baseball Monday morning. No, make that a great day. The Yankees were Torre’s Yankees one more time. The kid from Brooklyn, from the cheap seats that day watching Larsen, finally makes it upstate to Cooperstown.  

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