Saturday, August 12, 2017

Korea and the Democrats' Deep Psychological Fear that Trump Is Right

August 11, 2017

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One of the unspoken 'indications' in the medical sense of the ever-metastasizing Trump Derangement Syndrome is that the sufferers have a deep conscious/unconscious fear that Trump is right. What if the man they have excoriated unremittingly as a barbarian-racist-xenophobe-homophobe -misogynist-nitwit turns out to have been on the correct side of a fair number of issues on which they have failed, sometimes miserably, for decades?  Talk about personality disintegration — it would be hari-kari meets the Wicked Witch of the West. Well, emotionally anyway.

The current North Korea crisis is a perfect case in point. Susan Rice — has this woman no shame — took to the pages of The New York Times to inveigh against Trump for "bluster" regarding the NORKS.  The integrity-challenged former national security adviser was far from alone, however. Virtually all Democrats and their local media minions plus a good swatch of Republicans (including repellently vengeful John McCain) criticized the president for the same thing — using blunt language to counter the crazed dictator in Pyongyang when Trump should have been "diplomatic."

This although almost any grown-up not comatose knows that "diplomatic" language has been employed by the U.S. ad nauseam for that purpose for the last twenty-five years through three administrations with no discernible impact whatsoever. Indeed, "abject failure" would be an accurate characterization of our diplomatic policy vis-a-vis the NORKS.  If you view this video of Bill Clinton extolling his administration's "successful," diplomatically-achieved nuclear deal with Pyongyang back in 2006, the word "nitwit" does come to mind, but it's not about Trump. Here's Madeleine Albright in another glorious moment of diplomatic achievement with Kim Jong-un's dad Kim Jong-il laying on the splendor in Pyongyang Stadium before signing some meaningless agreement whose import is known only to Dennis Rodman.

How do you spell hornswoggled?

Of course, George W. Bush didn't do much better and Barack Obama — who evidently hid the North Koreans' development of mini-nuclear warheads for several years from the sensitive ears of the American public, only to leave us in the disastrous situation we are in today —  was considerably worse. This is the same Obama who pushed through the still mysterious Iran Deal handing the NORKs' best friends the mullahs enough cash to run rampant in Syria. Soon thereafter Barack reneged on his pledge to prevent the use of chemical weapons by that very country's leader. Sense a pattern?

And yet it's the "blusterous" Trump who is supposed to be the problem.  Actually, he's the one left to pick up the pieces of an American reputation in tatters.

Perhaps what we need is a little bluster. It's an old technique and a sound one — good cop/bad cop. It was played out well by Nixon and Kissinger when Henry went to Beijing to negotiate with Mao and Chou. Kissinger threatened to let his "madman back home" (Nixon) loose unless the Chairman cooperated and made a deal. It worked.

Now we have Trump, Tillerson, Mattis and McMaster playing various levels of good cop/bad cop. They are even reportedly working the backchannels in the old diplomatic game. Let's hope they learn from the past and do it better this time. Color me skeptical because without a serious military threat, I doubt the Chinese will listen.

Did I say Chinese? Of course, I did, because they are the true audience for what is going on. Mr. Kim is a whack job sideshow. The Chinese are the ones with the power to do something and stop a conflagration. And, like the Democrats and the Never Trumpers, they may be more afraid of Trump than they let on. Unlike Obama, he has shown he is not afraid to use force — and he did that while having dinner with Xi Jinping. Friday night he is supposed to be having a chat with Xi.

By now we may all know what happened — at least the part the leakers deign to tell us — but we do not know what will happen. The facts on the ground have yet to be revealed.
What has been revealed, however, is the psychology of those attacking Trump on this matter. They fear that they will be revealed as having been fools for the last twenty-five years — and indeed they were.

Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of PJ Media.  His latest book is I Know Best:  How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If  It Hasn't Already.  Follow him on Twitter @rogerlsimon.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

No, We Don’t Need An Iran-Style Nuclear Deal With North Korea

The fact is, we had an Iran-style nuclear deal with North Korea, and now Kim Jong Un has nuclear weapons. North Korea should be a cautionary tale.

August 10, 2017

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has reportedly ordered his missiles be ready within 12 months from December 2016 (Reuters)

News that North Korea has successfully miniaturized a nuclear weapon that can fit onto an intercontinental ballistic missile, as the Washington Post reported Tuesday, has prompted much speculation about what we should do about it and who’s to blame.

One idea floating around is that we need an Iran-style nuclear deal with North Korea—and that if we’d had one, we wouldn’t be debating the merits of nuclear versus conventional war on the Korean peninsula, President Trump wouldn’t be blustering about “fire and fury,” and Pyongyang wouldn’t be publically mulling a ballistic missile strike on Guam.

Middle East scholar Andrew Exum tweeted Tuesday, “It sure ain’t perfect, but you know who North Korea is making look really good right now? The Iran deal.” Last month over at Foreign Policy, Jeffrey Lewis sarcastically noted that, “If you like North Korea’s nuclear-armed ICBM, you are going to love America walking away from the nuclear deal with Iran.”

His point of course is that scuttling the 2015 Iran deal, as Trump has repeatedly promised to do, will lead to another North Korea. By that same logic, striking an Iran-style deal with Pyongyang is the best we can hope for at this point. Robert Litwak, director of international security studies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (and the author of a book with the now-seemingly obsolete title, “Preventing North Korea’s Nuclear Breakout”) made precisely this argument back in May: “The template for preventing a North Korean nuclear breakout that could directly threaten the United States is the Iran nuclear agreement.”
The problem is, we had an Iran-style nuclear deal with North Korea, and now North Korea has nuclear weapons.

A Brief History Of North Korea’s Nukes

North Korea signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1985, but it had been working on nuclear weapons for years. After ’85, it evaded inspections from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) until, under mounting pressure, it declared in 1993 that it was withdrawing from the treaty. North Korea then began removing fuel rods from its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, which would yield enough plutonium to make a bomb.
That prompted President Bill Clinton to negotiate what was known as the Agreed Framework, which North Korea and the United States signed in 1994. Basically, it froze Pyongyang’s nuclear program and replaced its plutonium reactor with two light-water reactors. The United States agreed to supply the North with a half-million tons of heavy fuel oil every year for heating and electricity generation.
The Agreed Framework had some striking similarities to the Iran deal: it wasn’t a treaty and therefore didn’t require ratification by the Senate, it was focused almost exclusively on curbing North Korea’s pursuit of a nuclear bomb, and it was to be overseen by an international body.
In theory, the Agreed Framework rendered the Yongbyon reactor harmless for eight years—until the deal collapsed because Pyongyang was caught cheating. In practice, North Korea began developing a secret, underground uranium enrichment program at Kumchangri as early as 1996.
In 2002, when the George W. Bush administration called out North Korea for violating the Agreed Framework, North Korea angrily acknowledged it, then announced it was withdrawing (again) from the NPT. That prompted the six-party talks, in which the United States, China, Russia, Japan, and North and South Korea tried to work out a new agreement. In October 2006, while the six-party talks were still painstakingly underway, North Korea detonated a nuclear bomb. The talks dragged on until April 2009, when North Korea announced it was withdrawing from negotiations, resuming its nuclear program, and kicking nuclear inspectors out of the country.

Making The Same Mistake In Iran We Made In North Korea

So what went wrong? How did North Korea wind up with a nuclear arsenal despite the myriad incentives and decades-long international efforts to prevent them from getting one?

I asked David Albright, the president of the Institute for Science and International Security, and a renowned expert on nuclear proliferation, and he told me the fundamental mistake in the Agreed Framework and the six-party talks was that the United States didn’t insist on robust IAEA inspections of military sites to get to the bottom of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and ensure they weren’t cheating.
“Once North Korea knew they could get away with it, they began to cheat,” says Albright. “They had no intention of letting the IAEA inspect military sites.”
According to Albright, the big mistake we made in North Korea is the exact same one we’re making in Iran: not letting the IAEA do its job. North Korea expelled the agency and promised it would get to come back, but that never happened. To get North Korea to agree to a deal, the United States never insisted on a robust inspections regime that included allowing the IAEA access to military sites.
That’s exactly what we did in negotiating the Iran deal; IAEA inspections of military sites were excluded to preserve the agreement. Much like the Clinton administration did with Pyongyang in 1995, the Obama administration created a dynamic whereby U.S. negotiators were scared to push for the inspection of military sites out of fear that Tehran would say “no” and the deal would collapse.
“We’re making the same mistake because we’re scared of failure and war,” says Albright, recalling that at the time of the Agreed Framework, U.S. negotiators were casting the IAEA as the villains, saying the agency was going to cause a war. “The United States should have insisted that the IAEA be allowed to do its job.”
It’s hard to overstate the importance of inspections. The six-party talks ultimately fell apart because the Bush administration insisted on robust inspections, and that’s when North Korea walked away.
There’s one other important way the Iran deal mirrors our failed negotiations with North Korea: it’s predicated on a strict timeline that assumes too much. The Iran deal guaranteed a sunset on the arms embargo after five years, inter-continental ballistic missiles after eight years, and certain nuclear conditions after ten years. In a similar way, the Agreed Framework contained a built-in timeline. North Korea would come clean, allow for robust inspections, then get the nuclear reactors that had been promised.
In both cases, the timelines were based on certain assumptions. The belief in 1994 was that North Korea would never actually agree to all the provisions in the deal, but the assumption was that the regime of Kim Jong-il wouldn’t even exist by 1998—North Korea would by then be finished as a hostile communist power. The Obama administration’s assumption was that by the time Iran is capable of going nuclear, it will be reformed by “moderates” like President Hassan Rouhani and be a responsible member of the international community.
None of this is to say we shouldn’t try to negotiate with hostile regimes like Iran and North Korea before resorting to military options, or that Trump should completely walk away from the Iran deal in its entirety. But anyone arguing that North Korea’s nuclear capabilities bolster the case for the Iran deal doesn’t realize the similarities between U.S. efforts in both countries, or the reason our deal with North Korea ultimately fell apart.
“It’s not a model to follow,” says Albright. “The North Korea example of kicking can down the road is recipe for failure.”
John is a senior correspondent for The Federalist. Follow him on Twitter.

The Shameful Blackout of Thomas, Sowell and Williams

By Larry Elder
August 10, 2017

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Clarence Thomas, who grew up in Savannah, Georgia, was confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1991. He is the second African American to sit on the high court.

Clarence Thomas, one of nine members of the Supreme Court and the second black to ever join the Court, is not in the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. Asked to explain Thomas' absence, the chief spokeswoman for the Smithsonian said, "The museum's exhibitions are based on themes, not individuals."

Yet the museum plans to add a popular local D.C. television news broadcaster. The museum's founding director, Lonnie Bunch, said the broadcaster "symbolized that it was really important that America was changing and his presence was a symbol of that change." And Thomas, raised in poverty to become only the second black to sit on the Supreme Court, is not "a symbol of that change"?

Left-wing blacks -- and that's the overwhelming majority -- feel that black conservatives like Thomas do not just have different or wrongheaded or illogical views. Thomas' views, to them, damage the black community. Never mind that most Clarence Thomas-haters could not identify a single case Thomas decided with which they disagree.

One line of attack against Thomas goes as follows. Thomas "took advantage" of race-based preferences to get into college and law school, but then "turned his back on those behind" by arguing that such preferences violate the 14th Amendment.

What these critics assert is that but for race-based preferences, Clarence Thomas would likely be working the deep-fryer at McDonald's. Assume, for the moment, that but for race-based preferences, Thomas would not have gotten into the particular schools he attended, College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, and Yale Law School. But in America thousands of colleges and universities, from community colleges to Harvard, accept students of varying abilities with financial assistance readily available. Surely the driven, hardworking, academically oriented Clarence Thomas could have and would have found admission into schools matching his skills and ability.

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Economist and author Thomas Sowell was a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University

Here's another problem with race-based preferences. Studies document a disproportionately high college-dropout rate for minority students admitted with lower test scores and grades than their peers selected without preferences. How is this mismatching of value to the "beneficiary" if it leads to a higher dropout rate, with the frustrated student giving up and leaving school in debt? The student often blames his failure to succeed at this high level on unfair, if not racist, professors.

The African-American Museum's discrimination against Thomas provides just one example of the black anti-conservative bigotry. Here's another. Every year, the black monthly magazine Ebony lists its "Power 100," defined as those "who lead, inspire and demonstrate through their individual talents, the very best in Black America." Each year Thomas is conspicuously absent. Apparently, as a sitting black justice on the Supreme Court of the United States, Thomas does not "lead, inspire and demonstrate ... the very best in Black America."

Ebony not only excludes Clarence Thomas but also shuts out prominent conservatives Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams.

As for Sowell, he's only an economist and writer whom playwright David Mamet once called "our greatest contemporary philosopher." Sowell, who never knew his father, was raised by a great-aunt and her two grown daughters. They lived in Harlem, where he was the first in his family to make it past the sixth grade. He left home at 17, served as a Marine in the Korean War, graduated magna cum laude from Harvard, earned a master's degree at Columbia University the next year, followed by a Ph.D. in economics at the University of Chicago.

Sowell, at 87, authored some four dozen books (not counting revised editions) and wrote hundreds of scholarly articles and essays in periodicals and thousands of newspaper columns. In 2015, Forbes magazine said: "It's a scandal that economist Thomas Sowell has not been awarded the Nobel Prize. No one alive has turned out so many insightful, richly researched books." Yet, thanks in part to the Ebony shutout, many blacks have never heard of him.

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Walter E. Williams is an economics professor at George Mason University

How does Ebony justify excluding economist and writer Walter Williams, former chairman of the economics department of George Mason University, where he still teaches? Raised by a single mother, he lived in Philadelphia's Richard Allen housing projects. He served as a private in the Army before earning a bachelor's degree at a state university, followed by a master's and a Ph.D. in economics at UCLA. Williams has written a dozen books on economics and race, including the inspirational "Up From the Projects: An Autobiography," and was recently the subject of a documentary about his life.

The exclusion of people like Clarence Thomas, Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams explains why there's no serious discussion in the black community about government dependency; school choice; the damage done by high taxes, excessive regulation and laws like minimum wage; and why blacks should rethink their allegiance to the Democratic Party.

The failure to acknowledge conservative blacks is a failure to engage their ideas, to the detriment of the community. This is not merely an injustice to them: It is an injustice to all Americans.


By Ann Coulter
August 9, 2017

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President Trump with Senators Tom Cotton (left) and David Perdue discuss immigration reform, August 2, 2017. (Photo: Andrea Hanks/White House)

The current issue of Newsweek (yes, it's still in business!) has a picture of President Trump sitting in a recliner, with snacks and an iPad in his lap, pointing his TV remote at the viewer, blazoned with the headline, "Lazy Boy." 

Liberals only wish. 

Last week, the president joined Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) to announce legislation that would make seminal changes to our immigration laws for the first time in more than half a century, profoundly affecting the entire country. 

The media have chosen not to cover the RAISE Act (Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment). This bill is their worst nightmare. 

Instead of admitting immigrants on the basis of often specious "family" ties, the bill would finally allow us to choose the immigrants we want, based on merit, with points granted for skills, English proficiency, advanced degrees, actual job offers and so on. 

Most Americans have no idea that we have zero say about the vast majority of immigrants pouring into our country. Two-thirds of all legal immigrants get in not because we want them -- or even because Mark Zuckerberg wants them -- but under idiotic "family reunification" laws. 

The most important provision of the RAISE Act would define "family" the way most Americans think of it: your spouse and minor children.

Unfortunately, that's not how the Third World thinks of "family." In tribal societies, "family" means the whole extended clan -- adult siblings, elderly parents and brothers-in-law, plus all their adult siblings and elderly parents, and so on, ad infinitum. 

Entire tribes of immigrants are able to bully their way in and, as legal immigrants, are immediately eligible for a whole panoply of government benefits. Suddenly, there's no money left in the Social Security Trust Fund, and Speaker Paul Ryan is telling Americans they're going to have to cut back.

At some point, American businesses are going to have to be told they can't keep bringing in cheap foreign labor, changing the country and offloading the costs onto the taxpayer. But that's not this discussion. Business owners want cheap workers -- not the disabled parents of cheap workers. 

In a sane world, merely introducing such an important bill -- with the imprimatur of a president elected on his immigration stance -- would force the media to finally discuss the subject they have been deliberately hiding from the public. 

Has Trump personally endorsed any other legislation like this? He harangued congressional Republicans on Twitter to pass some Obamacare replacement, but he never endorsed a specific bill. 

But, you see, there's a reason the media don't want to talk about immigration. 

With a full public airing, Americans would finally understand why recent immigrants seem so different from earlier waves, why income inequality is approaching czarist Russia levels, why the suicide rate has skyrocketed among the working class, and why all our government benefits programs are headed toward bankruptcy. 

As Stephen Miller, the president's inestimable speechwriter, said, some legislative proposals "can only succeed in the dark of night" and some "can only succeed in the light of day." This is a light-of-day bill. 

So, naturally, the media refuse to mention it, except to accuse Miller of being a white nationalist for knowing hate-facts about the Emma Lazarus poem not being part of the original Statue of Liberty. (It's the Statue of Liberty, not Statute of Liberty, media.) 

They ignore this bill so they can get on to the important business of Trump's tweets, who's up and who's down in the White House, and Russia, Russia, Russia. 

According to my review of Nexis archives, there was only a single question about the RAISE Act on any of the Sunday morning shows: Chris Wallace's last question to his very important Republican guest. Unfortunately, his very important Republican guest was amnesty-supporting nitwit Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who sniped about Trump employing foreign guest workers at Mar-a-Lago. 

However that may be, guest workers have absolutely nothing to do with the RAISE Act, which, as Miller heroically tried to explain to clueless reporters, concerns only green-card holders, i.e., lawful permanent residents -- not guest workers, not illegal aliens and not a poem Scotch-taped onto Lady Liberty in 1903. 

At least the media aren't deluded about the popularity of their position. Discussing immigration is a total loser for them. They know what they want is not supported by anyone. 

Low-wage workers don't want hundreds of thousands of low-skilled immigrants being dumped on the country every year. Employers don't want the deadbeat cousins of their cheap workers. Americans on public assistance don't want foreigners competing with them for benefits. Boneheaded Scandinavian communities that welcomed refugees don't want to turn their entire town budgets over to various foreign tribes. 

In a recent Numbers USA poll of voters in 10 swing states with vulnerable Democratic senators up for re-election next year, only 22 percent of respondents thought immigrants should be allowed by right to bring in "family" other than spouses and minor children. 

Make the senators vote, Mr. President! 

Donald Trump was elected president, beating the smartest, most qualified woman in the world, by proposing to put Americans first on immigration. This bill makes good on that promise. 

There's a reason the media won't discuss it. If Trump were smart, he'd talk about nothing else. 



Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Today's Tune: Glen Campbell - These Days

Today's Tune: Glen Campbell - I'm Not Gonna Miss You

Glen Campbell's Alzheimer's battle added a heroic coda to a pop-country star's life

By Randy Lewis
August 8, 2017
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(Getty Images)
I witnessed up close the ravaging effect that Alzheimer’s disease was having on Glen Campbell in the later years of his life. This was in 2011, when I interviewed him at his Malibu home shortly after he’d gone public with his diagnosis.
At that point, although his short-term memory was failing rapidly, he was in fairly good spirits, and his sense of humor was fully intact.
But even little points he wanted to make turned into a struggle. His brain was no longer responding with the kind of dexterity that his fingers and voice had done in making him a bona fide pop-country star in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.
Campbell, whose death at 81 was announced Tuesday, rode a long string of pop hits that began in 1967 with John Hartford’s “Gentle on My Mind” and continued with Jimmy Webb’s “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” and more Webb songs (“Wichita Lineman,” “Galveston”), all of which led to his breakout success as the host of “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour.”
Yet that day, when I asked how he perceived the effect of this pernicious disease, his response shifted from astutely analytical to frustratingly forgetful.
“I’m fine,” he said at first, as we sat at the counter in his kitchen, his wife, Kim, seated near him. “It’s just sometimes days are better than other ones.”
A moment later, he added, “It hasn’t affected me in any way. In fact, I don’t even know what it is. Who came up with that?”
When Kim reminded him —“Your doctor,” she said — he shot back, “Well, he’s probably wrong.”
In other situations he liked to quip, “I don’t have Alzheimer’s. I have part-timer’s.”
In fact, Campbell had been experiencing the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s for years before he and Kim chose to let the world in on the news.
At that time, they said they wanted fans to know what he was up against, because he wished to continue performing as long as he could, but didn’t want people thinking he’d relapsed on his sobriety if he forgot lyrics or repeated a joke he’d told a few minutes earlier.
That revelation made me rethink another interview I’d done with him a few years earlier. This one I cited for years as one of the most disappointing of my career.
Then, Campbell had released 2008’s “Meet Glen Campbell,” an excellent album in which he applied his endearing boy-next-door tenor and phenomenal guitar technique to a batch of recent-vintage songs by artists such as Tom Petty, Green Day, Velvet Underground, U2, the Replacements and other left-field (for him) sources.
I’d gotten little other than “yes,” “no” and “I don’t remember/I’m not sure” responses from him. I left the interview wondering why he’d even bothered, since he seemed more focused on getting to the round of golf he said was awaiting him.
In retrospect, I could understand that he was already impaired to an extent. But no one knew that yet — not even him.
In the 2014 documentary “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me,” directed by actor-filmmaker James Keach, there’s a scene where Campbell and his wife travel to Washington, D.C., to lobby on behalf of greater federal support for increased Alzheimer’s research funding. The disease figures to affect millions more as the baby boomers move into what are supposed to be “the golden years.”
In an interview with former President Clinton — one of Campbell’s fellow Arkansans — he suggested that despite the millions of records Campbell had sold and all the fans he’d entertained over half a century, his greatest legacy might turn out to be his advocacy for those with Alzheimer’s. Clinton praised the singer and guitarist for using his own difficult experience to put a public face on the cruelly degenerative disease.
A big part of what made Campbell’s journey so unusually compelling is the way that music allowed him to stave off some of the worst effects of Alzheimer’s much longer than many.
That’s because it’s said that music resides in a part of the brain that the disease doesn’t fully invade until its final stages. Thus, even when he was forgetting the names of his children, or little details like what he ate for breakfast, he could still summon lyrics to songs he’d sung hundreds of times over the decades.
Even more impressively, with apparent effortlessness he could still spin out magnificently complex guitar solos requiring highly intricate brain-muscle-nerve communication.
That element of his 2012-13 Goodbye Tour was reassuring to fans who remember the signature guitar style that he honed to perfection as a studio professional working in Los Angeles in the ’60s with other session pros who came to be known as the Wrecking Crew.
His chiseled good looks and down-home Arkansas humor allowed him to emerge from the relative anonymity of studio work to become a TV and recording star through his CBS musical variety show “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour,” and a long string of pop-country hits such as “Gentle on My Mind,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman,” “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Southern Nights.”
Throughout his career, like so many celebrities, he also battled substance abuse and found himself more frequently on the cover of supermarket tabloids than Billboard or Rolling Stone in the 1980s and ’90s.
But following a humiliating arrest for “extreme drunken driving” in Arizona in 2004, he got sober and returned to recording, delivering some of his best work since the ’60s and ’70s, beginning with “Meet Glen Campbell” with producer Julian Raymond, who also shepherded “Ghost on the Canvas” and collaborated on writing songs that addressed what Campbell was going through physically, mentally and emotionally.
The poignancy of his slide into Alzheimer’s certainly figured into several industry nominations and awards he received for his 2011 album “Ghost on the Canvas” and for Keach’s documentary, which generated an Academy Award nomination for the song “”I’m Not Gonna Miss You.”
In that number, he sang, “I'm never gonna hold you like I did/Or say ‘I love you’ to the kids/You're never gonna see it in my eyes/It's not gonna hurt me when you cry.” Elton John called it “not only the best song nominated; it’s one of the most beautiful songs of all time.”
When I spoke to Keach about working with Campbell on the project, a work that didn’t flinch from sharing what he was like on some of his bad days, he spoke in admiration of the singer’s bravery in letting others in on what he and his family were going through.
"Here's a guy, an iconic musician, who was faced with having to hang up his guitar, his career is over,” Keach told me. “But instead, he says, ‘I ain’t done yet. I'm going out to show what this disease is’ because he wants to change the conversation. He writes the song with Julian, records it, sometimes a line at a time, sometimes a word at a time, and he wins a Grammy and gets nominated for an Oscar.
“If that ain't a hero,” Keach said. “I don't know what is.”
Glen Campbell, we’re all gonna miss you.

Saying Goodbye to the First Good Ol’ Boy of American Pop

By David Cantwell
February 19, 2015

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Credit: Lisa Lake/Getty Images

Glen Campbell’s “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” a Best Original Song nominee at this Sunday’s Academy Awards, begins with piano chords that evoke, and then countermand, the pulse-quickening piano that opens the singer’s best-known recording, “Rhinestone Cowboy.” A pop-and-country chart-topper forty years ago this summer, “Rhinestone Cowboy” bemoans the “load of compromises” and other obstacles that stand between people and their star-spangled ambitions. The song’s specific goal is pop celebrity, but the music invites us to insert our own out-of-reach American dreams, and to sing along with a chorus that, obstacles abruptly forgotten, is pure success, all anthem. By contrast, the heavy, exhausted piano that begins “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” is stripped of any brightness or optimism, as Campbell, who in 2011 was given a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, acknowledges that he will soon be unable to recognize, or even to recall, the people and life he’s loved. Hence the heartbreaking refrain: “I’m not gonna miss you.”

After decades in which he was more likely to gain attention for struggles with alcohol and drug addiction than for his music, and after a period of country-music exile in Branson, Missouri, in the nineties, Campbell began inching toward a late-in-life second act with his 2005 induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Three years later, he released a well-regarded comeback album, “Meet Glen Campbell.” A farewell concert tour, documented in the 2014 film “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me,” provided him poignant victory laps. “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” from the soundtrack and co-written by Campbell and his producer Julian Raymond, won a Grammy for Best Country Song earlier this month. It’s a moving coda to a major career—one that many critics have only just begun to fully appreciate.

Glowing takes on Campbell’s genre-bending recording career are more common than they used to be, but they’re belated. In the late sixties and early seventies, Campbell was ubiquitous, frequently guest starring on TV variety series and hosting his own, “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour,” for four seasons. He acted on the big screen in 1969’s “True Grit” and, less memorably, in 1970’s “Norwood,” and his hit singles were a constant presence on multiple radio formats. He won an armful of Grammys. In 1968, he was the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year.

He was not admired by critics. Campbell’s emergence as a country-pop star coincided with the rise of rock criticism, just then codifying around a clutch of aesthetic rules-of-thumb, now known as “rockism.” These rules include a preference for “authenticity” over artifice and an overriding admiration for rebellion and masculinity. Campbell, who wrote none of his iconic hits, and who favored studio-perfected pop arrangements (with orchestral backing, no less), was typically dismissed as middle-of-the-road by critics—when he wasn’t being ignored altogether. Not one of his albums from that time was reviewed in Rolling Stone, for example, and in the 1979 edition of that magazine’s record guide, the only Campbell albums to receive higher than two (out of five) star rankings were his several greatest-hits collections. Those were awarded three stars.

Most of today’s critical trends are breaking Campbell’s way. The notion that what’s in the middle of the road can be inviting and necessary, rather than inherently inferior to what’s edgy and on the edges, is increasingly accepted as common sense. Crossover country acts are nearly as likely to inspire serious critical discussion as eye rolling. More and more, it is understood that you can’t tell the story of American popular music without Glen Campbell.

Campbell was making significant contributions to that story for years before most listeners had ever heard his name. Born into a musical family outside tiny Delight, Arkansas, in 1937, he moved to Albuquerque to play guitar in an uncle’s country swing band when he just fourteen, and by 1960 had made his way to Los Angeles, where he became an in-demand session guitarist while simultaneously trying to launch a solo career.

If Campbell had arrived in California a few years earlier, he might have tried to make it as a straight country act. If he’d shown up a couple of years later, after the British Invasion, he might have turned rock. Partly because he arrived between these eras, he wound up doing a bit of everything. In 1962, he scored a minor country hit with “Kentucky Means Paradise,” a dobro-driven twanger that he cut with the Green River Boys, a bluegrass group. In 1965, he scored a minor pop hit with “Universal Soldier,” a folk-rock protest song written by Buffy St. Marie. In between, he was a Beach Boy, filling in on tour after Brian Wilson suffered a breakdown and left the road. He was in the house band for the germinal pop TV series “Shindig!” All the while, he was a member in good standing of what became known as the Wrecking Crew, a loose lineup of first-call L.A. session musicians who were the backing band on the 1964 rock-and-soul movie “The T.A.M.I. Show,” and who played, more famously, on hundreds of the decade’s most indelible hits. Campbell played acoustic or electric guitar on records so singular and widely beloved that to name each recording artist in question would be redundant: “He’s a Rebel,” “Strangers in the Night,” “Good Vibrations,” “Everybody Loves Somebody Sometimes,” “Viva Las Vegas,” “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’,” “California Dreamin’.”

Campbell’s gift for doing it all and doing it well, so valuable as a session musician, at first proved a stumbling block to clarifying a distinctive sound and image of his own. But his versatility was a problem only until it became his solution. The breakthrough came in 1967, with John Hartford’s “Gentle on My Mind.” Campbell’s version of the song was an arresting synthesis of everything he’d been doing all along: country, folk, and pop rock, plus songwriting that was unmistakably post-Dylan. It wasn’t a smash. But it possessed broad-based appeal—its brand of romantic (and womanizing) individualism and its hurtling acoustic arrangement struck a chord with rockers and middle-of-the-roaders alike—and it stuck around. When it was re-released the following year, it cracked the pop Top 40 and inspired covers by everyone from Elvis Presley and Dean Martin to Aretha Franklin. When Campbell’s CBS variety series débuted, in early 1969, “Gentle on My Mind” was its theme.

By that time, Campbell had released a pair of far more successful singles, “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” and “Wichita Lineman,” followed quickly by a third, “Galveston.” All three songs were written by Jimmy Webb and contained contributions from Campbell’s old Wrecking Crew pals, and all three made more or less simultaneous débuts on the national pop, country, and adult-contemporary charts. That last format was named “easy listening” at the time, but the musical and emotional worlds of these records are anything but—anxious, dissatisfied energy quivers about their every note. Check the nervous-tick lick (from the bassist Carol Kaye) that opens “Wichita Lineman.” Mark the bombing raid (from the drummer Hal Blaine) that concludes “Galveston.” Webb’s characters here are ordinary middle Americans—a husband leaving his wife, a blue-collar guy at work, a young soldier in Vietnam—and they all feel trapped. They are trying or hoping to get somewhere better (with fingers crossed that somewhere better even exists), and fear that they aren’t equipped for the journey.

These and so many other Campbell hits—“Dreams of the Everyday Housewife,” “Where’s the Playground Suzie,” “It’s Only Make Believe,” and “Rhinestone Cowboy,” among others—identify as rural and Southern, but with strong middle-American appeal, hopeful but deeply melancholy. “Sadly Beautiful,” as a Paul Westerberg song from “Meet Glen Campbell” suggested.

The essential thing on all of these recordings is Campbell’s voice. Straight through to his last recordings, Campbell sings with a strong, rangy tenor that manages somehow to be both ordinary and remarkable: even when we’ve listened to that voice for decades, there remains something a bit indistinct about it, but in a way that feels more universal than faceless. On the rare occasions when we know he’s singing about his own life, as on the grim silver lining of “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” the effect reaches beyond himself toward an anxious American audience—particularly, in this case, toward those baby-boomer fans who have aging parents and who aren’t getting any younger themselves. “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” lets Campbell do once again what, at his best, he’s always done: worry intensely about what his audience is worried about.

Campbell doesn’t twist notes much on that performance. He never has, and throughout his career, when he’s gone for the big finale, he seems to be under-singing, a bit down even when he’s up. Like the bluegrass and country music he grew up loving, and like Roy Orbison and Brian Wilson (two of his vocal heroes), Campbell’s great strength as a singer is his tone. High and lonesome.

We won’t hear his voice again. Tim McGraw has been tapped to sing “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” at the Oscars. But Campbell’s uptown-down-home persona—a broad-smiling, handsome man specializing in decidedly unsmiling songs—established a pop-country type that persists. Campbell is grinning and game, and a little blue. He enjoys big cities but is not entirely at home there. He appreciates Dylan, but he absolutely loves Hank Williams—and he’s content with his choice, most of the time. Before Burt Reynolds became a major film star, before Waylon and Willie crossed over, before “The Dukes of Hazzard,” Garth Brooks, and Blake Shelton, there was the sad and beautiful Glen Campbell, the first good ol’ boy of American pop.

  • David Cantwell is the author of “Merle Haggard: The Running Kind” and the co-author of “Heartaches by the Number.”

Today's Tune: Glen Campbell - Wichita Lineman

Glen Campbell: a universal voice who defined American manhood

By Michael Hann
August 8, 2017
Image result for glen campbell
Glen Campbell may have died after 60 years of making music, recording until well after the onset of Alzheimer’s, but for many people his career boils down to a handful of singles, recorded in a scant few years at the tail end of the 1960s and the start of the 1970s – particularly the three Jimmy Webb songs he had huge hits with: By the Time I Get to Phoenix, Wichita Lineman and Galveston.
But what songs. They are the anchor of his canon, but you would certainly addRhinestone Cowboy, written by Larry Weiss, John Hartford’s Gentle on My Mind, plus a couple of lesser Webb songs, Honey Come Back and Where’s the Playground Susie. After that it’s down to personal taste. He was, really, the perfect artist for the greatest hits album, for the collection that allowed you to cut through the schmaltz and sentiment to the artistry.
Campbell was canny enough to know that the “town cycle” was his ticket to greatness. He reunited with Webb repeatedly down the years – in 1974 he released Reunion: The Songs of Jimmy Webb, with Webb himself playing piano; Webb was the orchestra conductor on the 1977 Royal Festival Hall show that was released as a live album, and whose tracklisting provides a telling insight into Campbell’s musical mind, with showtunes, rock’n’roll standards, Jacques Brel numbers and Beach Boys songs alongside the pop country hits. In 1988 Webb supplied eight songs to the Light Years album, and that year the pair recorded a live duo performance that was finally released on CD in 2012.
But let’s go back to the “town cycle”, because those are the three songs most people will be returning to when they hear the news he has died, not least because they’re songs that ache with loss. Webb’s writing is peerless, of course – he never bettered these three songs – but they wouldn’t be half so good without Campbell’s delivery. Because he wasn’t yet an established part of the MOR firmament, he could still convince as an everyman, and these were very much the songs of an everyman – filled with wistfulness, regret and the truest of all emotions, but the one least frequently expressed in love songs, ambivalence.
By the Time I Get to Phoenix is a staggering achievement for both Webb and Campbell: Webb had written a song about a man whose actions are, in any accounting, poor to the point of awfulness. He has left his partner in the worst possible way – he’s pinned up a note and walked out, and then driven, east along the freeways, to Phoenix, Albuquerque, Oklahoma. He knows she be calling until the phone rings off the wall; he knows she’ll be crying herself to sleep. He just doesn’t care, or not enough – as far as he’s concerned he tried to tell her he didn’t love her, she just never listened. It’s the kind of story you hear in a pub and think, “What a tosser.” Campbell manages to make you empathise with the jilter.
Wichita Lineman might be an even greater achievement, 16 lines that capture an entire existence, without drama or fuss – just a man alone on the vast, empty plains, fixing the overheard telephone wires and letting the passage of his life drift through his mind. The line that gets picked up on is the couplet near the end – “And I need you more than want you / And I want you for all time” – which I hear people hail as the perfect summation of love, but which to me seems something sadder and more profound. It is need, more than want, that defines the narrator’s relationship; if they need their lover more than wanting them, then naturally they will want them for all time. The couplet encompasses the fear that those who have been in relationships do sometimes struggle with: good God, what happens to me if I am left alone? It’s a heartstopping line, and no matter how many thousands of times you hear the song, no matter what it means to you, it does not lose its impact.
The final town song, Galveston, was intended by Webb as a Vietnam protest song. But Campbell didn’t see it that way. In 1965 he had recorded Buffy Saint-Marie’s pacifist song Universal Soldier, and somehow managed to convince himself that he wasn’t singing pacifist lyrics while doing so, insisting at the time that “if you don’t have enough guts to fight for your country, you’re not a man”. Webb had written a song about a man dreaming of escape from war, of a return to a place where no one is shooting; Campbell, by contrast, sang of a man who was at war for the sake of the town he loved, a change subtly made by a minor lyric change. Where Webb wrote “I put down my gun / And dream of Galveston”, Campbell sang “I clean my gun / And dream of Galveston.”
That doesn’t diminish him, or make him less of an everyman. The world does not see the world through the eyes of Hollywood liberals, and Campbell was as true to one half of America – his half – as Webb had been. In those three recordings, Campbell did as much as anyone to capture American manhood at a time of change: insecure, uncertain, committed to nothing, but searching for something more. You’ll be hearing those three songs a lot in the next few days; I doubt you’ll get tired of them. That’s how great they are.