Friday, August 28, 2015

What six years of ‘reset’ have wrought

By Charles Krauthammer
August 27, 2015

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a statement in the Kremlin on Wednesday. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/Associated Press)
On September 5, 2014, two days after President Obama visited Estonia to symbolize America’s commitment to its security, Russian agents crossed into Estonia and kidnapped an Estonian security official. Last week, after a closed trial, Russia sentenced him to 15 years.
The reaction? The State Department issued a statement. The NATO secretary-general issued a tweet. Neither did anything. The European Union (reportsthe Wall Street Journal) said it was too early to discuss any possible action.
The timing of this brazen violation of NATO territory — immediately after Obama’s visit — is testimony to Vladimir Putin’s contempt for the American president. He knows Obama would do nothing. Why should he think otherwise?
● Putin breaks the arms embargo to Iran by lifting the hold on selling it S-300 missiles. Obama responds by excusing him, saying it wasn’t technically illegal and adding, with a tip of the hat to Putin’s patience: “I’m frankly surprised that it held this long.”
● Russia mousetraps Obama at the eleventh hour of the Iran negotiations, joining Iran in demanding that the conventional-weapons and ballistic-missile embargoes be dropped. Obama caves.
● Putin invades Ukraine, annexes Crimea, breaks two Minsk cease-fire agreements and erases the Russia-Ukraine border — effectively tearing up the post-Cold War settlement of 1994. Obama’s response? Pinprick sanctions, empty threats and a continuing refusal to supply Ukraine with defensive weaponry, lest he provoke Putin.
The East Europeans have noticed. In February, Lithuania decided to reinstate conscription, a move strategically insignificant — the Lithuanians couldn’t hold off the Russian army for a day — but highly symbolic. Eastern Europe has been begging NATO to station permanent bases on its territory as a tripwire guaranteeing a powerful NATO/U.S. response to any Russian aggression.
NATO has refused. Instead, Obama offered more military exercises in the Baltic States and Poland. And threw in an additional 250 tanks and armored vehicles, spread among seven allies.
It is true that Putin’s resentment over Russia’s lost empire long predates Obama. But for resentment to turn into revanchism — an active policy of reconquest — requires opportunity. Which is exactly what Obama’s “reset” policy has offered over the past six and a half years.
Since the end of World War II, Russia has known that what stands in the way of westward expansion was not Europe, living happily in decadent repose, but the United States as guarantor of Western security. Obama’s naivete and ambivalence have put those guarantees in question.
It began with the reset button, ostentatiously offered less than two months after Obama’s swearing-in. Followed six months later by the unilateral American cancellation of the missile shield the Poles and the Czechs had agreed to install on their territory. Again, lest Putin be upset.
By 2012, a still clueless Obama mocked Mitt Romney for saying that Russia is “without question our No. 1 geopolitical foe,” quipping oh so cleverly: “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.” After all, he explained, “the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”
Turned out it was 2015 calling. Obama’s own top officials have been retroactively vindicating Romney. Last month, Obama’s choice for chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff declared that “Russia presents the greatest threat to our national security.” Two weeks ago, the retiring Army chief of staff, Raymond Odierno, called Russia our “most dangerous” military threat. Obama’s own secretary of defense has gone one better: “Russia poses an existential threat to the United States.”
Turns out the Cold War is not over either. Putin is intent on reviving it. Helped immensely by Obama’s epic misjudgment of Russian intentions, the balance of power has shifted — and America’s allies feel it.
And not just the East Europeans. The president of Egypt, a country estranged from Russia for 40 years and our mainstay Arab ally in the Middle East, has twice visited Moscow within the last four months.
The Saudis, congenitally wary of Russia but shell-shocked by Obama’s grand nuclear capitulation to Iran that will make it the regional hegemon, are searching for alternatives, too. At a recent economic conference in St. Petersburg, the Saudis invited Putin to Riyadh and the Russians reciprocated by inviting the new King Salman to visit Czar Vladimir in Moscow.
Even Pakistan, a traditional Chinese ally and Russian adversary, is buying Mi-35 helicopters from Russia, which is building a natural gas pipeline between Karachi and Lahore.
As John Kerry awaits his upcoming Nobel and Obama plans his presidential library (my suggestion: Havana), Putin is deciding how to best exploit the final 17 months of his Obama bonanza.
The world sees it. Obama doesn’t.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Bill Buckley Gets Bigger Over Time

By Scott Porch
August 17, 2015
In the late ’60s, NBC and CBS were the most-watched TV networks and ABC was a distant third. (“It would have been fourth, but there were only three,” former NBC exec Richard Wald once joked.) For its coverage of the 1968 presidential election, ABC’s news operation lacked a high-wattage name like Walter Cronkite at CBS or David Brinkley at NBC. To liven up its convention coverage that fall, ABC seated conservative William F. Buckley beside liberal Gore Vidal and waited for sparks to fly.
And, wow, did sparks fly:
Vidal: “The only pro- or crypto-Nazi I can think of is yourself.
Buckley: “Now listen, you queer. Stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I’ll sock you in the goddamn face, and you’ll stay plastered.”
That exchange, which would be considered over the line on Fox News or MSNBC today, was on live television. In 1968! “It’s the one time it happened, the one time he lost his cool,” says Sam Tanenhaus, the former editor of the New York Times Book Review who is writing a biography of Buckley. “He regretted it for a very long time.”
The Daily Beast recently caught up with Tanenhaus for a wide-ranging conversation about appearing as a talking head in Best of Enemies—the new documentary that looks at Buckley and Vidal's 10-day debate—as well as the status of his long-gestating Buckley biography, his years at the New York Times Book Review, and his thoughts on John Updike, Robert Caro, Garry Wills, and other major literary figures of the last half-century.
How’s the biography going?
I told the publisher, Random House, that I would get it to them in 2016, and that’s the plan. The reason I left the Times was so that I could finish it.
You left the Times last year, right?
I left in mid-December when they did the last round of attractive buyouts.
And you had already been writing for a while then, right?
Omigosh, yes. I signed the contract for this a long time ago. Sometimes people will ask when the manuscript is due, and I’ll say, “It’s due in June, but I’m not sure what decade.” [Laughs.]
Has Buckley’s significance changed over time?
Buckley gets bigger and bigger over time as his uniqueness becomes more apparent. People who remember him—even if they didn’t like him back in the day—who were piqued by him for one reason or another, now remember him nostalgically. It happens to all these great figures, especially conservatives. People hated Barry Goldwater until there was no Barry Goldwater left and they became Goldwater idolaters.
But you have another thing going on with Bill Buckley, which is that people of a certain [younger] age have no idea who he was; he means absolutely nothing to them. And that shows you how quickly time moves and how fast the past recedes. The fact that Bill Buckley is not remembered by almost everyone is kind of mind-boggling.
How do you tend to order Buckley’s roles in your head—TV personality, then political thinker, then author?
You take those three things and try to find the throughline. He is the intellectual architect of the modern conservative movement. He was not the greatest conservative thinker. He probably was its best sentence-by-sentence writer. He was a maestro on television. He more or less invented the contemporary debate show. Though if you watch episodes of Firing Line, they’re almost Monty Python parodies; everyone is so polite and genteel. There was a wonderful eccentricity that he had and that he brought out in his guests.
He was a columnist. He told me once that if you published all of his columns in book form, it would add up to something like 25 books. So author, television personality, columnist—sage and mentor. He mentored two important political figures—Goldwater and then Reagan.
And you knew him, didn’t you?
I interviewed him many times over the years. I lived in Tarrytown, New York, and I would drive over to Stamford, Connecticut. He divided his time between Stamford and Manhattan, but Stamford is where he liked to be. That’s where the boat was, and he had these beautiful views of the Long Island Sound. I would go to his house, and we would go to a restaurant nearby that he liked. I remember asking him at his house about his relationships with Goldwater and Reagan. He said, “They came to me.” And that was really important to him. Bill wasn’t a braggart by any means. He just wanted to be clear that he had not sought their approval or friendship or alliance.
He was the founding editor of an extraordinary magazine, National Review, and I’m writing on that now. It’s a really remarkable piece of history. He created it to educate political actors and promote political ideas at their most lucid and workable—not conservative theory but ideas— and to be a home for intellectuals who were on their own in the McCarthy era of the mid-’50s. He gave them a place to think and talk and engage in a truly viable, modern conservatism. It was important for him for National Review to be truly independent rather than Republican. We tend to think of them as identical now, but they were not in the mid-’50s.
Buckley had an accent that always sounded to me like Thurston Howell from Gilligan’s Island. Was that a blueblood accent? The Groton lockjaw?
It’s so funny. There were 10 Buckley children—so nine siblings and Buckley—and a few of them sounded exactly like him and the rest didn’t. He talked that way, his brother Reid, his sister Patricia, and his sister Jane spoke that way. They had all been educated at boarding school in England in their teens. What you don’t hear—did you grow up in the South?
I did. Near Nashville.
Do you hear any of the South in Bill?
Not really. Do you?
His mother was from New Orleans, and his father was from deep southern Texas. They were Southerners. I maintain—and you’ll probably say I’m totally wrong about this—that if you listen really closely to Bill, you’ll hear a kind of drawl. He was raised in Connecticut with a family of displaced Southerners. His father had planned for them to be in Mexico; he was an oil wildcatter who got driven out by the revolution and lost a fortune. Bill spoke Spanish before he spoke English. His voice was very animated. In person, his features and his voice had a lot of swoops up and down the scale. He was a Connecticut guy, which I’m discovering now as my wife and I have just moved to Connecticut. In Best of Enemies, he and Gore Vidal sound a lot alike.
Best of Enemies is about Buckley and Vidal at the 1968 conventions. Was that when most people learned who Buckley was?
No, he was already famous. He had run for mayor of New York in 1965, and it was a really fun and fascinating campaign. I wrote a piece for the New York Times Magazine about it in 2005, which was the 40th anniversary of that campaign. That campaign really put him on the map, and Firing Line came out of that. During the mayoral campaign, there was a newspaper strike. As they were approaching Election Day, there was basically a news blackout. The television stations had debates, and Bill was the star.
He was a great debater. Best of Enemies does not show him at his best as a debater, because he kind of got ambushed by Gore Vidal. Bill’s idea was to have an ideological argument, and he was really funny. He kind of made John Lindsay, who was a really charismatic guy, look like a stiff. Right after that in 1966 came Firing Line. Bill was on every Sunday, and he became the conservative that liberals loved to hate and were fascinated by. He was funny, he was smart, he had the giant vocabulary, and he was incredibly quick. He was getting more national attention than Reagan, who was running for governor of California at the same time.
What was it that Vidal called Buckley that got him so upset? Crypto-conservative?
Noooo, crypto-Nazi.
Right, crypto-Nazi. What did Vidal mean by that?
Crypto really means secret, like a crypt. In that exchange, Bill had made some comparison with student protesters and the Viet Cong, and Gore turns it around and says Buckley was a crypto-Nazi. The backdrop of this was the Chicago convention in 1968, which was a nightmare. It was a police riot—one of the lowest moments in modern American life. I’m old enough to remember it; I was 12 watching it with my father on TV. You saw protesters getting beaten and gassed. It was a very intense time, and that debate was about that particular moment.
And Buckley’s response where he says, “Now listen, you queer,” is the most unglued I’ve ever seen him.
It’s the one time it happened, the one time he lost his cool. He regretted it for a very long time, and I think I mention in Best of Enemies how Ted Koppel later interviewed Buckley, and Buckley was visibly stunned. He said to me right after, “I was sure they had destroyed that tape.” There had been a big lawsuit [over this article]. Bill had sued Esquire and Vidal, and it got very complicated. To Vidal, it seemed like more of a big joke. When they turned the camera off, Gore said, “We gave them a pretty good show tonight, didn’t we?”
When did you meet Buckley?
I had known him from the previous book I wrote, Whitaker Chambers: A Biography, about Whittaker Chambers. Buckley had helped me a lot on that book because Chambers, who had been involved in the Alger Hiss case, was kind of a hero and friend to him. So I met Bill around 1990.
There are two quotes that are frequently attributed to Buckley. One is the “standing athwart history yelling ‘stop.’” What was the context for that?
That’s really interesting. It’s in the publishers statement for the very first issue of National Review, which had the cover date of November 19, 1955. It was then a weekly journal; now it’s a fortnightly—which is a useful term that no one uses anymore—every other week.
Only at Wimbledon.
Exactly. It’s so useful, though. You say “bi-weekly” and “bi-monthly,” and nobody knows what you mean; you say “fortnightly,” and it’s very clear what it means. A lot of Bill’s vocabulary was very baroque like that; people thought he was very show-off-y. Buckley was a very precise writer and speaker. He said exactly what he meant, and that was very true of the statement about “standing athwart history.” That was the statement announcing the arrival of the National Review.
The context is that this is a time when conservatives like himself were not being much listened to. It was 1955, the aftermath of Joe McCarthy’s fall. Bill had written a book about Joe McCarthy and was quite close to him. McCarthy was the litmus test and lightning rod for that period’s intellectuals; you either hated McCarthy or you defended him. What that did was spotlight how marginalized Bill Buckley and his small cohort of conservatives felt at that time. They felt there was no place for them—that they were essentially shut out of the debate because they had defended McCarthy.
One of Bill’s great insights that had originated in his first book, God and Man at Yale, which he wrote in his mid-20s after he left college, was that the battles were cultural, that the liberals dominated the cultural debate. Conservatives still make that argument today. In the Obama years, conservatives probably have some grounds for saying it, but even in the years when conservatives dominated the cultural and social controversies, conservatives would say that the liberals controlled the media. That originated with Bill Buckley.
What about the other quote, the one about the Boston phone book?
He said, “I would rather be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phonebook than by the faculty of Harvard,” which is a really brilliant thing to say. It’s really a statement about democracy and knowledge. Actually, I’ll tell you and nobody else knows this, he originally wrote, “I’d rather be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Garden City Long Island phone book,” but then he changed it because Harvard’s in Boston.
He also has a really famous quote from his campaign for mayor of New York. Someone asked him what he would do if he won, and he said he would demand a recount. That’s fantastic.
Do you have a sense of whether Buckley had a better time in the ’60s or the ’70s?
I think Bill was really at home in the ’60s. Many of his friends were liberals like Norman Mailer. Buckley’s closest friend on the left was probably John Galbraith, and he was great pals with Murray Kempton. Kempton and Buckley were both ’50s guys waiting for the ’60s to happen. The ’60s were more antic and anarchic, and that’s really where Bill Buckley was at his best.
The ’50s were boring for him. If you look at commentary and essays from people on the left like Irving Howe and Harold Rosenberg, they hated the consensus, can’t-we-all-get-along ’50s as much as Buckley did, and they often sound alike. Consensus was in its day a word for conformity. The ’60s unbuttoned all of that and unleashed all of these intellectual ids like Gore Vidal and Bill Buckley, who were born in the same year. Bill became a favorite on college campuses because he would say anything, which appealed to the ’60s sensibility.
What about in the ’70s?
The ’70s were also a good time for him. The ’70s don’t really become the ’70s until after Watergate, and that’s when Bill was really becoming a bestselling writer. His sailing books and his novels really took off in the ’70s, and the television program was successful. He was never a huge Nixon fan—Nixon was not really a conservative in Bill’s view—but Bill didn’t really care much about politics. He was more interested in his sailing and his friends and the socializing.
I spent many hours with Bill, and he only talked about politics when I asked him about it. He said, “I only do politics for money.” That’s Firing Line and the column and that sort of thing. The ’70s were a really prosperous time for him. He sailed across the Atlantic and wrote a book called Atlantic High. His spy novels were bestsellers. He had a good time in the ’70s.
You have a lot of material. Are you sure it will be a single volume?
If you sat in my office here, I have two file cabinets. I do it the old-fashioned way; I like paper. I have a table set up adjacent to my desk covered with folders. I have bins with thousands of pages in addition to the file cabinets and more behind me, you wouldn’t believe it. And there’s more to go. He did so much on so many fronts, that it’s hard to keep it all in one’s head. That said—no. I can’t do two volumes.
Robert Caro had an exchange with [his editor] Bob Gottlieb back in the day at Knopf when Caro was writing The Power Broker. The original manuscript for The Power Broker was enormous. He said to Bob Gottlieb, “What if we do two volumes?” And Gottlieb said, “I can sell one book about Robert Moses. I can’t sell two.” It’s up to me to find the best throughline. That’s my job as a biographer for a reader to get as much of the story and the multiple fronts that Bill operated on. If I can’t do it in one volume, then it’s just a great big flop. You know, the greatest of all modern biographers—everybody’s hero—is Richard Ellmann. He did James Joyce in one volume, he did Oscar Wilde in one volume, so it’s got to be doable.
What was your job like when you were the editor of the New York Times Book Review?
I was a manager in part, and then also a colleague. The Book Review has a handful of extremely skilled and seasoned preview editors. They’re the ones who look at the galleys when they come in. The sheer number of galleys is dismaying and alarming. I tell authors that they’d never want to set foot in the New York Times Book Review because you’ll see the galleys—the advance reading copies—in little dumpsters. That’s how they come in, and that’s how they go out.
How did you decide what books to review?
You can only review 1 or 2 percent of the books published each year, so we would do a triage to see which books are not going to be reviewed at all. We didn’t do self-published books, though that’s changing a tiny bit under Pamela Paul, my handpicked successor, if I may say so. We didn’t do reprints. We didn’t do reissues. We tended not to do university press books, which was kind of a shame, but there just wasn’t much space to cover more than a few. Many, many worthy books will not be reviewed.
My job was to meet with editors. The preview editors would have made the judgment on the books they thought we should send out for review, and then we would discuss who should review them. I would be involved in deciding what books would go out for review and helping decide who the reviewer should be. Often the preview editor would have someone in mind. I might have another suggestion, which was always collegial. The best part about the job was the collegiality. I also did the podcast, which was one of the early books podcasts.
Do you miss doing the podcast?
I do. It’s the thing I miss most. I really enjoyed interviewing authors and editors and the books reporter at the Times, whoever it happened to be—Motoko Rich, Julie Bosman, and now Alexandra Alter. We did it every week, and it was quite popular, and it still is. Pamela Paul does a great job. I was a guest on the podcast earlier this year for a review I did on Saul Bellow, who is a particular interest of mine.
You know, with a laptop and a $20 microphone, you could actually start another podcast.
[Laughs.] I don’t have the time! I have to get this book written, and I have been writing a lot more than I thought I would since leaving the Times. I’m doing something for The New Republic. I do a column for Bloomberg View. I have been writing some for a British publication that I really like called Prospect. I like translating literature and politics there for a non-American audience; you really have to think through things that you’d otherwise take for granted. I did a piece for Prospect on Obama, which was an against-the-grain piece saying he was a major president, which I think he is. I’m writing something now for Prospect on Pat Moynihan and have written on Philip Roth and John Updike.
You have a pretty broad interest in 20th century politics and literary history.
I was born in 1955, so I entered my twenties during the ’70s. That’s when my sensibilities were formed. When I was a kid I read Fitzgerald and Hemingway like everyone else. The term I think of it as is “mid-century”—from the ’30s through the ’70s with emphasis on the later decades. The ’50s were fascinating, and all those figures like Bill Buckley who were bored by them made that decade interesting as a starting point. I’m interested in the fiction and especially the criticism from the period—Lionel Trilling, Edmund Wilson.
And Garry Wills, who may be the greatest public intellectual of our time. I interviewed him for the book, and I wrote a profile of him. He was the most brilliant protege of Bill Buckley, who then became a defector. Bill used to say that National Review was a finishing school for apostates. Garry Wills wrote for National Review, Joan Didion wrote for them, John Leonard, John Gregory Dunne, Renata Adler, Arlene Croce—these really, really important figures all wrote for National Review at one time or another. I like the intersection of politics and literature. That’s why I’m interested in people like Chambers and Buckley. I’m interested in intellectuals who become people of action.
And you’re still writing on authors like Updike and Bellow.
For me, Updike and Bellow and Roth are giants now; they were writing when I was young. My copy of Updike’s Rabbit Redux is the copy I got when I was 15 or 16 through the Book of the Month Club. It’s the only book I ever had signed by an author in all of my years at the book review. We did a long video interview with him for the website. Those figures to me are very large and important. I think of them almost like family, and some of them are still working. Bob Caro is still working. Gay Talese is still working. I saw Garry Wills at the Aspen Ideas Festival a couple of weeks ago, brilliant as ever. Those figures are really important to me.


Robert Spencer
August 27, 2015

(Getty Images)

“Curt Schilling’s tweet comparing Muslims to Nazis is even worse than it sounds,” howled Max Fisher in Vox – one of the many voices this week screaming for Schilling’s head for transgressing against America’s new and unwritten, but nonetheless frightfully draconian, speech codes.
Fisher professes ignorance of the perp’s illustrious career, semaphoring that he is a good Leftist elitist, ignorant of Schilling’s brutish, bourgeois athletic achievements: “Curt Schilling, whom Wikipedia informs me is a former baseball star and current ESPN commentator, sent a tweet on Tuesday that seems to have emerged straight from the internet nether-void of racist email forwards.”
“Racist”? Schilling tweeted a graphic that read, “It’s said only 5-10% of Muslims are extremists. In 1940, only 7% of Germans were Nazis. How’d that go?” So where is the “racism”? What race are “extremist Muslims”? What race are Muslims in the aggregate? What race is Islam? Or did Fisher mean that Schilling’s tweet was racist against Germans? 
Fisher compounds this muddled thinking by doubling down on the false claim in his headline, that Schilling likened Muslims to Nazis: “The argument here is pretty clear, even if the numbers are pure nonsense, but just so it’s not lost: Schilling is saying that the religion of Islam is akin to Nazi Germany, and that the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims are responsible for the actions of a tiny minority of extremists in the same way that Nazi-era Germans were complicit in Nazi crimes.”
Actually, Schilling’s tweet does neither of those things. It likens not the religion of Islam, but “extremist Muslims,” to Nazis, and it doesn’t say a think about all Muslims being responsible for the crimes of Islamic jihadists. And Fisher’s woolly logic is typical of the firestorm that has engulfed Schilling, as he has been removed from ESPN’s coverage of the Little League World Series and is being pilloried everywhere. Schilling himself is repentant and apologetic, but it may do no good: he may be facing more punishment, and is taking a beating in the mainstream media for being “insensitive.”
But what exactly is so offensive about his tweet? Is it that he compared “extremist Muslims” to Nazis? Surely that can’t be it. The Islamic State hasn’t murdered six million Jews, but surely would if it could, and meanwhile its gleeful bloodlust, sex slavery, terrorizing of non-Muslims and all the rest of it make the comparison reasonable.
Or was Schilling “insensitive” for daring to suggest that peaceful Muslims aren’t doing much to rein in their violent coreligionists? Well, let’s see. Last month, Muslims in Ireland held a demonstration against the Islamic State. How many Muslims showed up? Fewer than fifty. And in October 2014 in Houston, a rally against the Islamic State organized by the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) drew the grand total of ten people. In August 2013 in Boston, about 25 Muslims rallied against “misperceptions” that Islam was violent. About the same number showed up in June 2013 at a progressive Muslim rally in Toronto to claim that their religion had been “hijacked.”
And back in 2005, a group called the Free Muslims Coalition held what it dubbed a “Free Muslims March Against Terror,” intending to “send a message to the terrorists and extremists that their days are numbered … and to send a message to the people of the Middle East, the Muslim world and all people who seek freedom, democracy and peaceful coexistence that we support them.” In the run-up to the event it got enthusiastic national and international publicity, but it ended up drawing about twenty-five people.
Contrast those paltry showings to the thousands of Muslims who have turned out for rallies against cartoons of Muhammad or against Israel. Here are some headlines from the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo jihad massacre of Muhammad cartoonists in January 2015:
But given a chance to show how Muslims overwhelmingly reject “extremism,” only a handful show up.
So Fisher and the other Leftists gleefully stomping on Schilling’s professional corpse today should explain how exactly he was offensive or insensitive (aside from having been a member of the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks and 2004 Boston Red Sox). ESPN should restore him to active duty immediately, but it is much more likely that they will force him to issue a groveling apology first, or just fire him outright.
The savaging of Curt Schilling is disquieting proof of what I’ve pointed out many times over the years: that anyone and everyone who dares to speak a word against jihad terror will inevitably be mauled in the public square, and charged with “racism,” “bigotry” and “Islamophobia” – despite the fact that everyone, including the leading Muslim groups in the U.S., are supposed to be against jihad terror. Schilling, unprepared for the onslaught, backed down immediately, thereby reinforcing the usefulness of this firestorm as a tactic. 
The ultimate goal is to inhibit all criticism of jihad terror, so that the jihad imperative can advance unimpeded. We’re well on the way there.
 Tags: ExtremeIslamMuslimNaziRadical

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Today's Tune: Ryan Adams w/ Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires - Jacksonville Skyline (Live 2015)

Gangsta Rap’s Grim Legacy for Comptons Everywhere

A hit movie about the rap group N.W.A. is a reminder: Glorified thuggery poisoned poor black communities.

By Jason L. Riley
August 25, 2015
For two weeks the top box-office draw has been “Straight Outta Compton,” a meandering biopic about the rise and disintegration of the Los Angeles-area rap group N.W.A., or Niggaz With Attitude. N.W.A. helped popularize “gangsta rap” in the late 1980s, and even this hagiography can’t hide the fact that its legacy has endured to the detriment of poor black communities.
The most prominent members of the quintet were Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and Eazy-E, and they distinguished themselves from other rap acts mainly through relentless, jarring profanity. Materialism and braggadocio were already rap staples, but N.W.A. added heavy doses of sadistic sex, misogyny, gun violence and all-round thuggery. Typical are the lyrics to a song on their second album that invoke gang rape of a 14-year-old “preacher’s daughter.”
“Straight Outta Compton” not only doesn’t dwell on N.W.A.’s glorification of self-destructive behavior, anyone appalled by it is portrayed as a racist or a square. The film is more interested in presenting the rappers as authentic voices of decent young black men in poor communities who are regularly victimized by police. Still, the viewer can’t help but notice that our protagonists regularly engage in criminal behavior, dress like gang members in areas infested by ruffians and defy the police who suspect them of being up to no good. Their problem is not that the cops harass them but that the cops interfere with their lawbreaking.
In one of the film’s early scenes, designed to illustrate the kinds of experiences that shaped the rappers’ upbringing, a young Ice Cube is riding home on a yellow school bus when a group of gang members pulls alongside in a sedan. Some of the kids on the bus start shouting out the window and playfully flashing gang signs at the men in the car. The gang members respond by stopping the school bus, forcing their way inside and putting a pistol to the head of one of the teenage taunters. The scene suggests that the biggest bane of the black community isn’t the police officer but the black hoodlum. Yet Ice Cube and other gangsta rappers would go on to great fame and fortune penning lyrics that claimed the reverse.
In short, these rappers specialized in pushing a vulgar nihilism that has poisoned urban America for decades and retarded upward mobility. The enemy was social order and anyone who promoted it, from parents to teachers to cops. “You walk into a fourth or fifth grade black school,” Chuck D of the rap group Public Enemy told a newspaper in 1991, “I’m telling you, you’re finding chaos right now, ’cause rappers came in the game and threw that confusing element in it.” Orlando Patterson, a Harvard sociologist, also noticed the change. “Before rap, dance-hall lyrics were harmlessly erotic, something I could listen and dance to with my daughters,” he told an interviewer in 1992. “Rap lyrics, as you know, are incredibly brutal . . . There is a horrible sickness here.”
Twenty years ago, sharp social critics like Martha Bayles and Stanley Crouch took others to task for indulging or playing down this celebration of delinquency instead of denouncing it. “Too many irresponsible intellectuals—black and white—have submitted to the youth culture and the adolescent rebellion of pop music, bootlegging liberal arts rhetoric to defend Afro-fascist rap groups like Public Enemy on the one hand, while paternalistically defining the ‘gangster rap’ of doggerel chanters such as Ice Cube as expressive of the ‘real’ black community,” wrote Mr. Crouch.
But that type of criticism was in the minority and ultimately lost the day. Scholars like Harvard’s Henry Louis Gates Jr. would argue that gutter rap verse comes out of a black American tradition that enriches our language and culture. Cornel West, in his familiar mix of Marxism and gobbledygook, once described rap as “primarily the musical expression of the paradoxical cry of desperation and celebration of the black underclass and poor working class.” And Michael Eric Dyson credited rappers with “refining the art of oral communication.”
Today, gangsta rap is no longer edgy or even very controversial. It can only be described as mainstream. On a 2013 track, Jay Z, one of the country’s richest and most popular rappers, name-checked a convicted drug dealer and hit man who terrorized the Washington, D.C., area in the 1980s. Lil Wayne, who specializes in rapping about drug-dealing and gun violence, has more entries on the Billboard charts than Elvis. In 2010, President Obama told Rolling Stone magazine that both rappers were on his iPod.
Mr. Riley, a Manhattan Institute senior fellow and Journal contributor, is the author of “Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed” (Encounter Books, 2014).

Bestselling author William Kent Krueger still has passion for writing, every single day

Even after awards for “Ordinary Grace” and the Cork O’Connor series, William Kent Krueger gets up every morning and writes.


For years, writer William Kent Krueger has been writing his books in St. Paul coffee shops – for a long time at the St. Clair Broiler, and now at the Como Park Grill in his new neighborhood.

No one is truly ordinary, of course. But it would be easy to be fooled by William Kent Krueger.
To look at him as he sits in the front window of the Como Park Grill — tapping at his laptop, sipping his coffee — is to see someone who could be any guy in any coffee shop anywhere. He wears a khaki ballcap, a faded denim shirt and a neatly trimmed beard, and when he glances up, his blue eyes are merry and gentle. He looks like a nice guy. He is a nice guy.
But observers cannot see inside his head: They can’t see the steely determination that drives him, or the dark thoughts of betrayal, conspiracy, kidnapping, rape and murder that fascinate him.
“When you’re a writer, you’re always looking for conflict,” said Krueger, known to his friends as Kent. “It’s conflict that drives great stories.”
Krueger sees conflict, or the potential for conflict, everywhere; it is his stock in trade. He is the author of a string of mysteries starring Cork O’Connor, a private detective who lives in a remote town in northern Minnesota. Over time, Cork has survived blizzards and Lake Superior storms, tracked down bad guys, rescued a baby, encountered a beheaded dog, lost his wife in a plane crash, nearly lost his son to a shooter, been shot himself. Through it all, he has been at odds with himself, his Irish half not always in sync with his Ojibwe half.
Yeah, conflict.
“Windigo Island,” Krueger’s 16th novel (and 14th Cork O’Connor book), will be published Tuesday. It is the mystery of a young Ojibwe girl whose body washes up on an island in Lake Superior and whose friend has disappeared, and it delves into the world of the sexual trafficking of young teens.
Krueger’s last five novels have made the New York Times bestseller list and sell all over the world. (His seventh novel, “Thunder Bay,” is called “Roar of Blood” in Japan.) He is just “a few good months away from selling his 1 millionth book,” said his publicist, David Brown of Atria Books, to whom Krueger has dedicated his most recent book. He is tied with Louise Erdrich for winning the most Minnesota Book Awards — five.
But his heart belongs to his 2013 stand-alone novel, “Ordinary Grace” — not a Cork O’Connor mystery, but a quiet coming-of-age story set in southern Minnesota during the summer of 1961. It won several national awards, including this year’s Edgar Award for best novel, and became the favorite of book clubs and “one community-one reads” across the country.
It’s the book that was pushing inside Krueger for years, trying to get out.
That steely determination
Krueger was almost 50 when he sold his first two books, “Iron Lake” and “Boundary Waters,” in a bidding war. That heady success (“one of the most exciting moments of my whole writing career,” he said) came after 15 years of diligent, daily work.
“I served a very long apprenticeship,” he said.
For those 15 years, Krueger got up early every morning, walked two blocks to the St. Clair Broiler (then his neighborhood coffee shop) and wrote for precisely one hour and 15 minutes.
“At 7:15 I closed my notebook, paid for my coffee, and went outside, because at 7:20 a bus would pick me up and take me to the university where I worked,” Krueger said. “I did that day in and day out.”
Over those 15 years, he had some modest successes. He sold some short stories, won a Bush artist fellowship, giddily quit his job to write full-time — and fairly quickly went back to work. But he kept writing, arriving at the Broiler every morning as they unlocked the doors at 6 a.m.
“I was able to establish discipline, but I became aware of the fact that I was doing a great deal more,” he said. “I was feeding myself. I was feeding that artistic hunger in me.”
Now 64, he makes his living writing books. He is a popular speaker, and his book tours take him all over the country. But he still gets up every day at the crack of dawn, walks to the coffee shop and writes. He writes when he’s on vacation, and when he’s on book tours. He writes for four hours on weekdays, two on weekends.
“I’ve seen him at conferences,” said Gary Shulze, co-owner of Once Upon a Crime Bookstore in south Minneapolis. Between sessions, Krueger isn’t socializing — “he’s in the nearest coffee shop, typing away. He doesn’t take a break. He works his butt off.”
No ordinary book
That discipline is what allowed Krueger to write “Ordinary Grace,” a novel he had been thinking about for years.
“The summer I was 13 years old is a summer I have always remembered extremely well,” he said. “I wanted to go back and recall that summer.” He also wanted to write a story “that would allow me to explore more deeply questions for a spiritual journey.”
“Ordinary Grace” is told by a narrator named Frank Drum who is looking back on the summer he was 13. (“Frank is the me I wish I would have been,” Krueger said. “Frank doesn’t follow the rules. I was a Boy Scout.”) The story hinges on several deaths that happened that summer and the repercussions for Frank and his family.
The process of writing the book was unusual for him. “I always think the Cork O’Connor novels out pretty much completely before I begin to write them, so I know how they begin and how they end,” he said. “I didn’t do that with ‘Ordinary Grace.’ The story just rolled out of me. I just followed it. I would come here in the morning not having any idea what I was going to write that day, but just believing that whatever it was was going to be right.”
He worked on it for three years, carving out time between writing Cork O’Connor mysteries. He had no contract for the book, which he found liberating. “I would write whatever I wanted to write. I was doing something that I was so compelled to do.”
The reviews were almost entirely positive. The Detroit Free Press compared it to “To Kill a Mockingbird”; the Star Tribune praised its deep characters; the Washington Post said his “elegy to innocence is a deeply memorable tale.”
Has its publication changed Krueger’s life? His approach to writing? Nah. He still gets up early, walks to the coffee shop, writes for hours.
He is working on a companion book called “This Tender Land,” which is set in the same place, and he thinks there will be a third book, but he doesn’t yet know what that is. Meanwhile, he has a contract for at least one more O’Connor book and hopes there will be more. “I have no intention of abandoning Cork,” he said.
But “Ordinary Grace,” he said, “freed me. I don’t have to write only Cork O’Connor novels now. I’m liberated. I can write whatever I want to write.”
Every morning. Starting at 6 a.m.

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