Saturday, December 08, 2018

Review - Bruce Springsteen on Broadway: What the Netflix version has that the stage doesn't

, Asbury Park Press
December 7, 2018

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The Netflix version of "Springsteen on Broadway" might be even better than the Broadway version.


The song “Long Time Coming” is performed and only rarely did attendees of the hit “Springsteen on Broadway” get to see it live. It was not played in the show except for the few times when play co-star Patti Scialfa wasn’t there.

It’s included in the filmed Netflix version of “Springsteen on Broadway,” which premieres 3:01 a.m. EST on Sunday, Dec. 16. If nothing else, its inclusion is worth seeing even if you’ve seen the play live. 

More: Bruce Springsteen on Broadway: A magical run comes to a close

“This is the final days of Patti’s first pregnancy. I receive a surprise visit from my father at my home in L.A.,” says Springsteen in the introduction of the song. “My dad, never a talkative man, blurted out, ‘You’ve been quite good to us’ and I nodded that I had, you know. He says ‘I wasn’t very good to you’ and the room just ... stood still.”

The Boss starts to tear up. He wipes his eyes. The exchange is taken directly from his memoir, “Born to Run,” and it’s one of the most moving in the book.

Frankly, it’s a surprise that it wasn’t included in every performance of “Springsteen on Broadway,” but here it is in the Thom Zimny-filmed Netflix version, and the story is better for it. It serves as the perfect denouement of the relationship between Bruce and his father, Douglas Springsteen, who passed away in 1998.

It closes the narrative started in “My Father’s House” earlier in the play.

“To my shock the unacknowledgeable was being acknowledged,” Springsteen says. “If I didn’t know better I would have sworn an apology of some sort was being made.

“And it was.”

“Here in the last days before I was to become a father, my own father was visiting me to warn me of the mistakes he had made and to warn me not to make them with my own children.”

Douglas, at that moment, sought to free Bruce from the “chains of his own flawed behavior.” 

“It was the greatest moment of my life with my dad and it was all that I needed,” Springsteen says.

“Springsteen on Broadway” didn’t need the “Long Time Coming,” or its introduction, but its inclusion makes a sublime work of art even better.

More: Bruce Springsteen: Hope to tour 'soon' with E Street Band but not in 2019

Zimny films the music play, which features Springsteen reciting passages out of his book and performing his songs on acoustic guitar and piano, largely unobtrusively. There are no attention-grabbing fast cuts, jarring angles or extreme close-ups. He pulls back, and lets the spray of Natasha Katz’s lighting set the mood. Desert yellows for “The Promised Land,” deep reds for “The Rising.”

“Springsteen on Broadway” is the story of working class kid from Freehold who grew up next to a church, loves his parents but has a difficult relationship with his father, loves rock ’n’ roll but has trouble making it because his Jersey Shore is the “(blanking) boondocks!”

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He surmounts the challenges, and finds love and fulfillment with wife and bandmate Patti Scialfa. Zimny does wonderfully frame the Bruce and Patti songs, “Tougher Than the Rest” and “Brilliant Disguise,” finding at mid-range the artistic and heart-struck interplay between the two artists and lovers.

If you attended the play, you might notice that the audience for the Netflix shoot, which was an invited crowd, to be a bit quieter, a bit more subdued than the normal crowds at the Walter Kerr Theatre. Applause for the E Street Band members names that Springsteen mentions seems a bit less spontaneous.

The Netflix version was shot over two performances in July. As such, “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” which replaced “Long Walk Home” on June 19, is included. The filmed version clocks in at about two and half hours, longer than the two-hour length of the play when it debuted on Oct. 3, 2017. Lines were massaged and jokes coaxed a bit over the months, which extended the running time.

More: Bruce Springsteen at Stand Up for Heroes: 4 songs, 2 duets and 2 naughty jokes

Oh, it’s very funny. The Boss can tell a joke.

Take the audition for a music bigwig at the Student Prince in Asbury Park in the early ’70s.

“I got off the bandstand, the guy walking up to me and looked me in the eye, shook my hand and said, 'You guys are the best unsigned band I’ve ever seen,'” deadpanned the Boss. “Then he slept with my girlfriend and left town.”

“Springsteen on Broadway” is leaving town. The last performance is Saturday, Dec. 15. A soundtrack will be available from Columbia Records on Friday, Dec. 14. In 2019, Springsteen will be working on “various recording projects” but there will not be a tour with the E Street Band in the new year, according to a statement he released on Dec. 4.  

“Springsteen on Broadway” was an extraordinary experience. It now lives forever.

Chris Jordan: Twitter: @chrisfhjordan

Review: The Boss gets even more intimate in Netflix’s ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

December 7, 2018
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Since October 2017, Bruce Springsteen has been singing his songs and telling his stories, five nights a week, in one of the most intimates venues he has performed in since becoming a star in the ’70s: Broadway’s 948-seat Walter Kerr Theatre. But the film of the show, which will debut on Netflix Dec. 16, feels even more intimate.
Obviously, it lacks the jolt of excitement you get from seeing a performer such as Springsteen in the flesh, and hearing the music as it’s being played, in front of you, in the same room. But director Thom Zimny compensates by filming much of the show in extreme close-up.
You can see every line and crease in Springsteen’s face, and notice every slight change in his expression. You’re right with him, every step of the way, in a way that you aren’t, even in a theater as small as the Walter Kerr. You hang on every note, every beat, every deliberately delivered story. And so, it’s ultimately a slightly different but similarly fulfilling kind of experience.
If you’re reading this, I assume you know the basics of the show already: 16 songs, including both greatest hits (“Born to Run,” “Dancing in the Dark,” “Thunder Road”) and less widely known gems (“The Wish,” “My Father’s House”), with simple piano, guitar and harmonica backing. Patti Scialfa sings and plays guitar on a two-song segment, “Tougher Than the Rest” and “Brilliant Disguise,” but other than that, Springsteen is alone on the set, which has a brick wall in the back and is pretty much empty except for the instruments and some equipment cases.
Following the lead of Springsteen’s 2016 autobiography “Born to Run,” “Springsteen on Broadway” basically tells the story of Springsteen’s life, from boyhood to maturity, with long monologues between many of the songs. I’ve seen only one of the shows live — a preview, in October 2017 — but can say that the show changed substantially from when I saw it, to when the Netflix special was filmed (in front of invitation-only crowds on two nights in July).
Some lines were cut out; other were added. The stories grew and evolved, as you would expect them to. There are two songs in the special that were not in the show I saw in 2017 (“Long Time Comin’,” and “The Ghost of Tom Joad”), and one song that I heard then (“Long Walk Home”) is absent.
My main criticism of the show, from 2017, remains: The first half of the show is extremely powerful, with lots of vivid stories about Springsteen’s childhood and young adulthood. In the second half, though, the stories get more perfunctory, the mood more philosophical, the autobiographical elements more sketchy. The subject matter, as on “Land of Hope and Dreams,” is more abstract. “The Rising” is performed without any introduction at all.
The second half is still great, but not as stunning as the first half is, with its richly detailed portraits of Springsteen’s mother and father, and the Freehold that he grew up in, and his early days as a struggling musician.
The tone is often somber, but occasionally very funny as well, as in this description of the difficulties Springsteen faced as an aspiring rock star who happened to live in the New Jersey “boondocks”:
I’ve already played in front of every conceivable audience. I’ve played firemen’s fairs, midnight madness supermarket openings. Drive-in movies, in front of the concession stands, in between films. I’ve played … coffeeshops, bowling alleys, trailer parks, roller rinks, VFW halls, CYO canteens, the Elks lodge, YMCA gymnasiums, hockey rinks, county fairs, carnivals, high school dances, weddings, fraternity parties. Bar mitzvahs! Soul revues! Battle of the bands! Sing Sing Prison! And Marlboro Psychiatric Hospital! Send me your murderers and your maniacs, and let me entertain them, all right? That’s what I do.
That’s all true. It’s all before I was 23 years old, and I’m frustrated. I listen to the radio, and I think I’m as good as that guy, I’m better than that guy. So why not me? Answer: Because I live in the fucking boondocks. … There is nobody here, and no one comes down here. It’s a grave. There was no Jersey, Jersey, Jersey Shore, Jersey Almighty shit. I invented that!
Before me, Jersey was Jerserkistan. Jerserkistan! One of those little -stan things that nobody knows a fucking thing about. And New York was a million miles away. …
So who was gonna come to the Jersey Shore, to discover the next big thing, in 1971? You’re correct. No-fucking-body. …
I had one shot. My girlfriend at the time did me a great favor, brought a guy who had a successful recording band down to the Student Prince … in Asbury Park to discover us. We got up on a little stage, in a club that fit 150 people. It was about half full. And we played for this guy like we were at Madison Square Garden, with everything we had, all night long. We played five sets, from 9 p.m. till 3 a.m.
At the end of the night, soaked to my bones, I got off the bandstand. The guy walked up to me, he looked me in the eye and shook my hand and said, “You guys are the best unsigned band I’ve ever seen.” Then he slept with my girlfriend and left town.
That’s the end of that story.
The last “Springsteen on Broadway” live show will be on Dec. 15. The two-CD Springsteen on Broadway soundtrack album will be released on Dec. 14, and “Springsteen on “Broadway” debuts on Netflix at 3:01 a.m. ET Dec. 16, and will remain streamable there, indefinitely.

'Jihadist Psychopath' Unveils the True Threat

December 6, 2018
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In his important new book Jihadist PsychopathJamie Glazov gets to the bottom of the predominant mass delusion of our time: namely, the delusion that Islam is a religion of peace.
Following the lead of the mainstream media and most politicians, millions of us still buy the argument that jihadists have misunderstood and hijacked their faith. Millions of us have learned reflexively to view critics of Islam as racists who hate all Muslims. Millions of us are programmed to point out, when necessary, that Muslims, too, are victims of Muslim violence and that other people besides Muslims have done naughty things. Millions of us compliantly parrot the claim that terrorists are acting out of economic despair. And, of course, millions of us dutifully insist that, far from acting on the tenets of their religion, Islamic terrorists are, in fact, reacting to bad things we’ve done to them.
In sum, despite the mountains of evidence to the contrary, millions of us buy the lie that Islam is thoroughly benign and that the overwhelming majority of its adherents are powerless victims. We embrace this lie, furthermore, even though Islam is an existential threat to us and our infidel loved ones.
This self-delusion about Islam can take extreme forms. Glazov mentions the Norwegian activist Karsten Nordal Hauken, whose main response, after being anally raped by a Somali migrant, was to feel profound guilt over his rapist’s subsequent deportation. Then there’s the Israeli soldier who, while touring U.S. colleges, was asked by a professor how many Palestinian women had been raped by IDF members. He said none, to which the professor triumphantly replied: “You IDF soldiers don’t rape Palestinians because Israelis are so racist and disgusted by them that you won’t touch them.” So it is that Westerners manage to exculpate Muslim rapists while demonizing Israelis for not being rapists.
The pattern, as Glazov notes, goes to the very top. Under President Obama, training sessions for counterterrorist officials were scrubbed clean of anything negative about Islam—which is like refusing to teach oncologists about cancer. Both Theresa May and Angela Merkel responded to last year’s Ariana Grande massacre in Manchester by professing astonishment that anyone could do such a thing—this after years of bloody jihadist attacks all over Western Europe.
All of which leads to the $60,000 question: how did we end up like this? How is it that so many of us continue to buy into this suicidal mentality? Why do we robotically recite these dangerously counterfactual mantras? What ever happened to common sense and the instinct for self-preservation?
And what about the Muslims who plan and commit—or, at least, cheer on—jihad? What’s going on in their heads? Yes, most of them were raised to believe that God wants them to kill and conquer the infidel. But surely most of them have been exposed along the way to other religions, other ways of thinking, and have even met infidels they weren’t necessarily inclined to slaughter. They’re still human beings, after all. Why haven’t they ever challenged the brutal imperatives of their childhood faith?
Those of us who have been reading and thinking and writing about Islam for years have been living all along with these questions. We’ve spent a lot of time scratching our scalps, shaking our heads, and throwing up our hands. We know, of course, that the answers to these questions have to lie in the realm of psychology. But not until Glazov came along with this book did any of us have anything approaching coherent and convincing answers to these vital questions.
At the heart of Glazov’s contribution is his perception that, first, the behavior of jihadists and their avid Muslim supporters is remarkably consistent with the way in which the psychiatric literature describes the mentality of psychopaths; and, second, the behavior of Western infidels who’ve been trained to swallow and regurgitate all the pretty lies about Islam is remarkably consistent with behavior of individuals who unknowingly get manipulated and exploited by psychopaths. (By the way, Glazov doesn’t distinguish between psychopaths and sociopaths, a distinction that is not of major importance to the purposes of his book.)
It’s a fascinating insight, and in the course of developing it Glazov quotes widely and usefully from Islamic holy books, from Muslims and ex-Muslims, and from a range of experts on psychiatry and on Islam. As he moves from one aspect of relentless Islamic deception and of Western self-delusion about Islam to another, he cites relevant observations about the ways in which psychopaths operate and about the nature of psychological susceptibility to the wiles of psychopaths.
For example, Glazov quotes clinical psychologist Mary Stout’s observation that “when we are confronted with sociopathy,” we “are afraid, and our sense of reality suffers. We think we are imagining things, or exaggerating, or that we ourselves are somehow responsible for the sociopath’s behavior.” Note how perfectly applicable this is to the way in which many Westerners respond to an act of Islamic terror. Yes, the terrorism itself scares us, but the idea that the perpetrators were seemingly ordinary people who had no personal grudges against their victims and who were simply following the tenets of their religion—a religion that may count our neighbors among its adherents—is also frightening to contemplate.
You might think that in the wake of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao, among others, we would be able, in the year 2018, to accept the reality of ideology-driven mass murder. But no; for many of us, the idea still seems to beggar belief. Surely, we think, there must be some other explanation. Surely no religion teaches the butchery of innocents! Surely those nice-seeming Muslims next door can’t be cheering on this savagery! Surely we can’t be so much more virtuous than they are: even to allow such a thought to cross our minds would be un-Christian! Hence it’s harder for many in the West to accept the plain and ugly truth about Islam than it is to echo the lie that Islam is peace and that Muslim terrorism is, in some sense, our fault.
Muslims make it easier for Westerners to come to this conclusion by adamantly refusing to apologize for terrorism, by denying categorically that its roots lie in the Koran, by making a spectacle of worrying less about the real victims of real terrorism than about the possibility of anti-Muslim backlash, and by insisting that Islamic terrorism is a desperate, last-ditch response to some infidel action or other.
As with psychopaths, jihadists and their supporters always paint themselves as the victims. Glazov quotes ex-Muslim Ali Sina: “Islam is the religion of permanent victimhood. Victimhood justifies revenge. If you are a Muslim, jihad is prescribed on you against those who oppress you. This oppression need not be real. It can be as imaginary as perceiving insult on your belief. Criticizing Islam is consequently perceived as oppression and therefore, Muslims feel compelled and justified to take their revenge.”
And Westerners by the millions buy this victimhood claptrap. After the 2016 Orlando terror attack, notes Glazov, Time magazine cast the perpetrator as the victim, “because he allegedly had been bullied by his coworkers. Time failed to explain why no other human being in America who had been bullied didn’t go on to perpetrate the worst terrorist attack in America since 9/11.” After the 2016 New Year’s Eve rape spree in Cologne, Germany, that city’s mayor blamed the attacks on the victims, “suggesting that they had asked for it” and vowing “to make sure that women would, in the future, change their behavior, so as not to provoke Muslims to sexually assault them anymore.”
Psychopathy is not just about fake victimhood, it’s also about deception generally—chronic, manipulative lying. So is jihadist Islam: “In his quest to subjugate non-Muslims,” writes Glazov, “the Jihadist Psychopath has his obvious weapon of violent jihad, but he also has an equally—if not more—powerful weapon in his arsenal: the ploy of deception . . . . Islam is, at its very core, a religion/ideology rooted in deception.” Allah “proudly refers to himself as the greatest deceiver several times in the Qur’an. If Allah is the father of lies, it becomes understandable why Islam teaches that lying is an obligation for Muslims if it serves the benefit of Islam.”
Glazov has much more to offer, and it all makes extraordinary sense. The result is the most valuable kind of work—one that takes on a life-or-death enigma and, with force and elegance and rock-solid credibility, explains the previously unexplained. This is an exceedingly important book because the enemy we face today is not just Islam but the crippling mentality in regard to Islam that Glazov so deftly dissects in these pages. If we fail to learn from what he has to teach us here, we stand little chance of overcoming this mentality and, thus, of overcoming our enemy. And rest assured: if we fail to overcome it, it will surely overcome us.

Friday, December 07, 2018

George H.W. Bush and the Failure of American Foreign Policy

December 6, 2018
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Amidst the lavish praise for the late president, George H.W. Bush, allow me to offer a contrarian view.
As we learned from the funeral of the non-president, John McCain, the leftist media has rarely met an ineffective Republican politician they didn’t want to celebrate when he passed, no matter what they’d said about him during his time here on Earth. In the interests of “bipartisanship,” “comity,” and “civility,” the years the dearly departed moved among us are seen retrospectively as a kind of Golden Age, when Republicans lost graciously to the designated Democrat, whether as a first-time candidate or (even better) a defeated one-termer sent packing so the Democrat Restoration could be implemented, and the natural order of American politics restored.
In the case of Bush the Elder, however, Poppy’s defeat at the hands (sorry) of Bill Clinton was not only fully deserved—the man was a natural non-politician up against the best campaigner of his generation—but actually welcome. Not only did he—read my lips—betray the legacy of Ronald Reagan in his electorally fatal decision to welsh on his “no new taxes” pledge, not only did he cut the legs out from under the Reagan Revolution by calling for a “kinder, gentler America,” but he also egregiously mishandled the Gipper’s most important legacy: the defeat of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War.
Don’t argue with me: I was there. I was in Dresden in February of 1985 when Erich Honecker denounced the “Star Wars” missile defense program at the behest of his Soviet masters; I was in the USSR (Leningrad) when Chernobyl blew up in April 1986; I was in Berlin, sledgehammer in hand, when the Wall toppled in November 1989; and I wrapped up my sojourn in the East Bloc during the summer of 1991 in Moscow, just a week or so before the attempted coup against Gorbachev.
The fall of the Berlin Wall was a Teutonic version of the Liberation of Paris—a citywide party that at first no one could believe was actually happening, but minus the pretty French girls and the popping bottles of champagne. The mood was exhilarated but somehow somber, as if in recognition of the momentous things all were experiencing. The East German Grepo (border police) handed over pieces of their uniforms—I have somebody’s hat—and shook hands with their West German brethren. As great holes gaped in the wall, Germans peered through at each other and saw, sometimes literally, their brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, and even their parents.
A couple of months later, I was in Budapest, standing upon the Fisherman’s Walk with some local friends. We were on the hilly Buda side of the Danube, looking east toward Pest and whatever lay beyond. The Hungarians, whose bravery in opening the border between Austria and Hungary and allowing thousands and thousands of cooped-up East Germans across has never been properly celebrated, had already abolished their Communist government (fittingly, on October 23, the 33rd anniversary of the 1956 uprising) and were transitioning from a “Peoples’ Republic” into the Republic of Hungary.
What a contrast my friends, a married couple, presented to the joyous Berliners! When I asked them what was wrong, the woman said to me, “We are afraid the Romanians are going to invade us.” I replied that that was ridiculous, that Communism really was finished this time, that the Americans would never allow such a thing—and then I caught myself. What guarantee did I have that that was true?
Which brings me back to George H.W. Bush.
Here is Bush reacting, if that’s the right word, to the opening of the German borders in an impromptu press conference in the Oval Office as the Wall was falling:
Q: This is a sort of a great victory for our side in the big east-west battle but you don’t seem elated and I’m wondering if you’re thinking of the problems –
A: I’m not an emotional kind of guy. But I’m very pleased…
Cautious, diplomatic, pedantic (“the Helsinki Final Act”)—this was classic Bush, a man who prized “stability” over everything else and did all he could to maintain the status quo. Why this should be surprising is unclear. Bush had been Director of Central Intelligence at the end of the Ford Administration and like most DCIs, and the agency in general, had evolved a modus vivendi with the KGB and the other enemy intelligence services. Each side knew where the boundaries were, and nobody actually wanted a “final” victory.
The last thing Bush wanted, or could handle, was the sudden collapse of the postwar bipolar world. His disgraceful “New World Order” speech came on March 6, 1991, even before the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the end of the Soviet Union. With its chilling echoes of Hitler’s “New World Order” speech of 1941—which White House functionary approved that phraseology?—it made clear where Bush’s sympathies lay.
With order.
This temperamental lassitude was precisely what was frightening my friends. Here the end point of America’s postwar foreign policy had been reached—the end of the Soviet Union was a foregone conclusion now—and instead of welcoming this development, Bush reclined back into the world of the Helsinki Final Act of 1975—which, when you stop to think about it, was the only world he knew, or in which he was comfortable.
Bush has been praised posthumously for his “handling” of the collapse of Communism, but the truth is, he and his secretary of state, James A. Baker III, completely mishandled it in the years to come. Even as the USSR itself died on Christmas Day 1991, the U.S. had already failed in taking advantage of the political and economic situation in Eastern Europe: instead of swooping in with an initiative that would have made the Marshall Plan look niggardly by comparison, we instead left the region to the tender ministrations of capitalistic “advisors” such as George Soros who, like Tammany’s George Washington Plunkitt, “seen his opportunities and took ’em.” A profile in The Guardian notes:
Soros’s primary concern was the communist bloc in Eastern Europe; by the end of the 1980s, he had opened foundation offices in Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and the Soviet Union itself. Like Popper before him, Soros considered the countries of communist Eastern Europe to be the ultimate models of closed societies. If he were able to open these regimes, he could demonstrate to the world that money could—in some instances, at least—peacefully overcome oppression without necessitating military intervention or political subversion, the favoured tools of cold war leaders.
Soros set up his first foreign foundation in Hungary in 1984, and his efforts there serve as a model of his activities during this period. Over the course of the decade, he awarded scholarships to Hungarian intellectuals to bring them to the US; provided Xerox machines to libraries and universities; and offered grants to theatres, libraries, intellectuals, artists and experimental schools. In his 1990 book, Opening the Soviet System, Soros wrote that he believed his foundation had helped “demolish the monopoly of dogma [in Hungary] by making an alternate source of financing available for cultural and social activities”, which, in his estimation, played a crucial role in producing the internal collapse of communism.
Say or think what you will about Soros, nobody can deny that the Hungarian-born plutocrat has always had an eye for the main chance. Had the United States done even half of what Soros did, especially in the former Soviet Union, Vladimir Putin would not be the new czar of all the Russias today.
Missing opportunities, however, is the story of the Bush family—George W. Bush certainly missed his after 9/11, but that is a story for another time—which is just one reason why the senior Bush was turned out of office after a single term. Which raises this question: if, as the MSM would now have us believe, Bush was an exemplary president, how come Bill Clinton was sitting in the front row at his funeral?
-Michael Walsh is a journalist, author, and screenwriter. He was for 16 years the music critic and foreign correspondent for Time Magazine, for which he covered the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. His works include the novels As Time Goes ByAnd All the Saints (winner, 2004 American Book Award for fiction), and the bestselling “Devlin” series of NSA thrillers; as well as the recent nonfiction bestseller, The Devil’s Pleasure Palace. A sequel, The Fiery Angel, was published by Encounter in May 2018. Follow him on Twitter at @dkahanerules

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Fake Praise for GHWB: Where Were Media When He Needed Them?

By Larry Elder
December 6, 2018

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As with the passing of former President Ronald Reagan, the media are in full praise mode following the death of former President George Herbert Walker Bush. Where were they when the one-term President needed them? In Reagan's case, even his haters grudgingly acknowledged the overall success of his presidency. As for Bush 41, the media's praise of Bush's "grace" and "class" serves to indirectly to attack President Donald Trump by showing the contrast between the two Republicans' styles and characters.

But what did much of the liberal media think and say about Bush at the time?

When Bush announced his intention to seek the presidency in 1988, a Newsweek cover story showed the former New Englander navigating a small boat -- get it, he's elite -- with the caption "Fighting the Wimp Factor." Wimp? Bush joined Navy on his 18th birthday, serving in WWII as the Navy's second-youngest aviator. He flew 58 combat missions, was shot down by the Japanese and was rescued by an American sub.

When he ran in 1988, his resume included almost seven years as Reagan's vice president, two terms as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, director of central intelligence, head of the Republican National Committee, ambassador to the U.N. and de facto ambassador to China, in addition to being a decorated WWII fighter pilot. President Barack Obama was apparently unimpressed: In 2016, he said, "There has never been any man or woman more qualified for this office than Hillary Clinton."

Despite Bush's mind-numbingly impressive credentials, he somehow found himself tagged as insufficiently macho. In 1997, Evan Thomas' Newsweek wrote: " Bush suffers from a potentially crippling handicap -- a perception that he isn't strong enough or tough enough for the challenges of the Oval Office. That he is, in a single mean word, a wimp." The year before, Republican pundit George Will called him a "lapdog." A Washington Post editorial now praises Bush. Yet neither the Post nor The New York Times endorsed him for president in 1988 or 1992.

In fact, during his presidency, The New York Times aided and abetted the narrative of an elite "out-of-touch" patrician. During the 1992 election year, the Times ran a front-page story about a President so clueless about the life of the average American that he was unfamiliar with the supermarket checkout scanner. But the story was fake. A National Grocers Association systems analyst, the man who showed Bush the scanner, said: "The whole thing is ludicrous. What he was amazed about was the ability of the scanner to take that torn label and reassemble it."

Black Democrats like Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., called him "racist." In 1992, Waters said: "(Bush) is a mean-spirited man who has no care or concern about what happens to the African-American community in this country. I truly believe that."

Bush stood accused of racism for "using" the infamous Willie Horton ad that ran during the 1988 campaign, even though his campaign had not produced the ad. Furthermore, the issue of his opponent Michael Dukakis' Massachusetts furlough program was first brought up by Dukakis' Democratic rival Al Gore. Under Dukakis' program, Horton, a convicted murderer, committed rape while out on furlough.

Bush, pressured by Democrats and some in his own party, broke the famous pledge he made at the 1988 Republican convention: "Read my lips. No new taxes." NBC News' Andrea Mitchell now says "breaking that pledge showed the character and resolve of the man." Similarly, Newsweek's Thomas now calls the broken tax promise an act of "courage." But asked in a 1992 press conference whether he considered breaking the pledge "the biggest mistake" of his presidency, Bush said, "Well, I don't know about the biggest, but yes ... I'm very disappointed with Congress." At the 1992 Republican convention, he apologized for breaking the pledge. James Carville, Clinton's lead campaign strategist, called it "the most famous broken promise in the history of American politics."

Did reporters reward Bush for his tax concession? Hardly. A poll of Washington, D.C., reporters found that, in 1992, 89 percent of them voted for Bill Clinton. Only 7 percent voted for Bush.

In October 1992, according to Investor's Business Daily, over 90 percent of the economic news in newspapers was negative. At the time, the economy was well into a recovery, on its 19th consecutive month of growth. Yet much of the business news was sour. In November 1992, Bill Clinton won. That month, only 14 percent of the newspapers' economic news was negative. As recently as 2012, a PBS documentary repeatedly insisted Bill Clinton inherited an economy in "recession." In fact, the GDP in Bush's final quarter grew 3.8 percent.

When son George W. Bush won the presidency in 2000, mom Barbara Bush expressed surprise. "You're not going to like this," she said, "but my gut feeling is that all the media is against George, Republicans, any Republican." Indeed. From that very media, currently fawning over a man they now call a "statesman," George Herbert Walker Bush deserved better. Much better.

The Bigotry Inherent in American Progressivism

From Hegel to Woodrow Wilson, its philosophy has always led to the dehumanization of others.

December 5, 2018

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Woodrow Wilson
Toward what do the progressives of today believe they are progressing? The chances are more than good that they have no idea. Somehow “progress” means greater equality, greater understanding, greater tolerance, greater peace, and greater evolution. Somehow. But it’s never entirely clear how. In almost every sense, modern progressives mean that anything they deem good is progressive while all else is not just wrong but evil.
Is there an actual end to the progress of progressives? Is there a threshold of equality that must be crossed, one that would at least allow us to claim victory? Is there some utopia just around the corner, achievable in some viable way?
I will not walk with your progressive apes,
Erect and sapient. Before them gapes
The dark abyss to which their progress tends—
If by God’s mercy progress ever ends,
And does not ceaselessly revolve the same 
Unfruitful course with changing of a name
— J.R.R. Tolkien, “Mythopoeia”

Just as the progressives of today have no real sense of where their progress might or should lead, they have even less sense of their origins. Progressivism, as understood in the last several centuries, originated in the thought of the Prussian philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) and his contemporary Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762-1814). As with all Prussians and most philosophers, Hegel’s and Fichte’s thoughts were complex and varied, not easily reduced to a quick soundbite or even a few sentences. Still, the progressive understanding of them is surprisingly simple. Drawing their own ideas from—and frankly distorting—the ancient wisdom of Heraclitus, the two Prussians believed that life moves forward through the struggles of societal forces. The forces that dominate most aspects of society, Fichte labeled the “thesis.” Those who opposed those forces, he called the “antithesis.” In their struggle—through and by which neither would wholly win—emerged a third thing, the “synthesis.” The synthesis, once arrived at, quickly became the thesis, opposed by a new antithesis. And the cycle started all over. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

This cycle of thesis-antithesis-synthesis was given the shorthand of “progress” and its advocates “progressives,” and it quickly dominated Germanic thought in the 19th century. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels especially coopted the idea.
Two things, however, must be noted. First, Progressivism very well might not have succeeded without the scientific idea of evolution re-emerging in the 1840s and 1850s. Darwinian evolution weaponized “progress,” giving it something quantifiable and endowing it with a staying power (one is tempted to write “endowing it with virtue,” if it were not such a perversion of virtue) that remains as strong to this day.
Second, whatever the intentions of Marx and Engels, the Left never had a monopoly on Progressivism. As the Germans adopted the idea early in the 19th century, the Anglo-American world did so with equal enthusiasm in the 20th century. Progressivism is really, at heart, pre- and trans-political. It is a theory of history and anthropology, not of politics. Deeply conservative men such as Harvard University’s Frederick Jackson Turner embraced the progressive vision of history. Whenever I teach students its meaning, I find they learn best by looking at the simplified version offered by Turner. “In this advance, the frontier is the outer edge of the wave—the meeting point between savagery and civilization,” Turner wrote in 1893. Then in rather poetic language evocative of every great western to be written for the silver screen during the following century, Turner explained:
This perennial rebirth, this fluidity of American life, this expansion westward with its new opportunities, its continuous touch with the simplicity of primitive society, furnish the forces dominating American character. The true point of view in the history of this nation is not the Atlantic coast, it is the great West. 
In Turner’s progressive history, Europe serves as the thesis, Indians as antithesis, and Americans as the synthesis.
One need not limit this analysis to the 19th century. Modern neoconservatives such as Francis Fukyama have embraced the progressive vision of history just as readily as had Marx and Turner. Progressives have come to dominate academia, churches, the media, and especially politics. Woodrow Wilson might have been America’s most left-wing progressive president, but his ideas were not significantly different from those of either George Bush, not only in foreign policy but domestic policy. Both the Americans with Disabilities Act and the No Child Left Behind scream progressive, each placing what should have been dealt with privately and locally in the hands of Washington bureaucrats.
Yet even the most objective view of the progressive vision of history should give any intelligent and humane person pause. First, the progressive vision demands conflict. That is, in its understanding, history is made up of winners and losers. This flies directly against the long tradition of republican and Judeo-Christian thought that calls for the “common good” of the res publica, not the greater good of those who might be victorious. In the greater part of the Western tradition, at least up through the writings of Nicolo Machiavelli, the most important intellects recognized the flaws or fallenness of man, noting that power must be divided and guarded against. The progressives, wittingly or not, embraced the idea that those with established power should be taken down by others with power, thus creating a third and new power, itself soon to be the establishment and challenged. As such, the guiding force of society is might, not justice. In the res publica, ideally, each gives up some of his rights and treasure for the benefit of the whole. Thus, while each suffers some, the whole benefits mightily. No such rules or restraints govern the progressive vision. Truly it is a comparative: the greater good, not the common good. Power thus replaces love.
A second problem, very much related to the first, is that the progressive vision of history demands a victim. In the Marxian vision, it is the class enjoying dominance. One should not, therefore, be surprised to see mobs of Soviets dismantling mansions and executing the inhabitants. Even in the gentle vision of Turner, one readily sees how the Indians serve only one purpose in history: to turn Europeans into Americans. It’s as though generations and generations and generations of Indians existed only to give purpose and meaning to the European invaders. One can see what Gary Larson would do with this: a multitude of bored Indians hanging around Plymouth Rock, eagerly awaiting the coming of the Year of Our Lord 1620. One can see too how the murder of America’s original inhabitants could be easily justified.
As it happened, America’s first active progressives emerged from the annual Lake Mohonk conferences, sponsored by the “Friends of the Indian.” These do-gooders—almost all the children of evangelical ministers and almost none of whom had ever met an actual American Indian—believed in true progressive fashion that they knew how to make the Indians into “humans.” Their stated goal was horrific: “to kill the Indian to save the man.” Such friends one should avoid! They supported the reservation policies, the often forced Christianization of Indians, and the willful theft of Indian children from their biological parents. These latter they would send to East Coast boarding and trade schools, forcing them to “Americanize.” The most infamous of these schools was Carlisle Industrial, its cemetery full of the suicides of Indians who had been made to live neither in the world of their parents nor the world of their captors and who had escaped both only through death.
The progressives did not just target American Indians though. They also hated (and that word is not too strong) black Americans, Jewish Americans, and Catholic Americans. As Woodrow Wilson’s supporters put it, they wanted to “yank the hyphen” out of hyphenated Americans. He called the hyphen a dagger, ever ready to be wielded against the nation. Should it surprise anyone, therefore, that President Wilson not only segregated the U.S. Navy (it had always been desegregated, even in colonial days), but that he also segregated all federal offices and bureaucracies in Washington, D.C.?
Tellingly, it is impossible to separate Progressivism from racial and religious bigotry, especially in the United States. Eugenics and social engineering come directly from America’s progressives, who firmly believed in a lily white, Protestant America. One of progressivism’s most famous scholars—a man who supported and received the support of Teddy Roosevelt as well as Woodrow Wilson—was Edward Alsworth Ross, author of the wretched The Old World in the New (1914). “In this sense it is fair to say that the blood now being injected into the veins of our people is ‘sub–common,’” Ross asserted. “To one accustomed to the aspect of the normal American population, the Caliban type shows up with a frequency that is startling.” After analyzing the faults of each immigrant type—from Scandinavian to Sicilian to Jew—he lamented:
The overlooked that this man will beget children in his image—two or three times as many as the American—and that these children will in turn beget children. They chuckle at having opened an inexhaustible store of cheap tools and, Lo! the American people is being altered for all time by these tools. Once before, captains of industry took a hand in making this people. Colonial planters imported Africans to hoe in the sun, to “develop” the tobacco, indigo, and rice plantations. Then, as now, business minded men met with contempt the protests of the few idealists against their way of quote “building of the country.” Motors of prosperity are dust, but they bequeathed a situation which in four years wiped out more wealth than 200 years of slavery had built off, and which presents today the one unsolvable problem in this country. Without likening immigrants to Negroes, one may point out how the latter-day employer resembles the old-time planter in his blindness to the facts of his labor policy upon the blood of the nation.
As disturbing as Ross’s views are, they are the essential beginning of Progressivism. From its beginning, whether intentional or not, Progressivism has been racist and bigoted. Yet such results are true to its theory. If all history comes from conflicts over power, the losers will always be dehumanized. Crazily enough, the modern progressives have done the same thing, yet whereas once our history was written by the victors, it is now written by the victims. Neither is healthy for a stable, just, and free social order.
Bradley J. Birzer is The American Conservative’s scholar-at-large. He also holds the Russell Amos Kirk Chair in History at Hillsdale College and is the author, most recently, of Russell Kirk: American Conservative


By Ann Coulter
December 4, 2018

Image result for willie horton ad

The press in America is even worse than we imagine. We sense that they're biased and stunningly incompetent. They are those things, but so much more. Our media's version of the news is mathematically and precisely the opposite of the truth. 

The death and burial of George H.W. Bush is only the latest example. 

In the puffery and revisionism that accompany funerals, the man who gave us David Souter, an unnecessary war, tax hikes he promised not to impose and the Americans With Disabilities Act (aka The Destruction of Small Libraries Throughout New England Act) has been elevated to saintlike status. 

But the one incident the media decided to excoriate Bush for was, in fact, his finest moment: the Willie Horton ad. 

If we let the media get away with this, they will have once again redefined what constitutes acceptable discourse in America and cemented the notion that our political process should never be soiled by such a campaign ad -- the one thing Bush got right in his entire public career.

Far from representing the "low road," the Willie Horton ad was the greatest campaign commercial in political history. The ad was the reason we have political campaigns: It clearly and forcefully highlighted the two presidential candidates' diametrically opposed views on an issue of vital national importance. 

Bush's opponent, Gov. Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts, had championed a self-evidently insane criminal justice program that provided prison furloughs to first-degree murderers. 

One of the murderers let out under Dukakis' program was a career violent criminal, Willie Horton. In 1974, Horton sliced up a 17-year-old convenience store clerk, Joey Fournier, in Lawrence, Massachusetts, after Fournier had already handed over all the money. He then stuffed the boy's corpse in a garbage can. That wasn't Horton's first offense: Years earlier, he'd been convicted of attempted murder for stabbing a man in South Carolina.

No sane person would have allowed Horton to take a breath of free air again. 

Horton was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, which was the maximum possible penalty, inasmuch as Gov. Dukakis had vetoed the death penalty. The whole idea of sentencing first-degree murderers to life without parole is that they are never supposed to be let out of prison. But under the weekend furlough program lustily promoted by Dukakis, Horton was released. 

On April 3, 1987, months after running away from his most recent furlough, Horton broke into the Maryland home of Cliff Barnes and his fiancee, Angela Miller, and waited for them to return. When Barnes got home, Horton lunged at him, dragged him to the basement, tied him up, and spent hours torturing him, slashing him and jamming a pistol butt in his mouth and eyes. He told Barnes he planned to hang him and watch him die. 

Five hours later, Barnes' fiancee came home. Horton left Barnes bound and gagged in the basement, went upstairs and repeatedly raped and beat Miller, as Barnes listened helplessly from the basement. 

Twelve hours after he had first encountered Horton, Barnes managed to escape. When Horton realized Barnes was gone, he stole the couple's car and led police on a high-speed chase before finally being captured -- again. 

The Maryland judge who sentenced Horton refused to send him back to Massachusetts, saying: "I'm not prepared to take the chance that Mr. Horton might again be furloughed or otherwise released." 

Image result for willie horton ad

The following year, Michael Dukakis offered himself up to be president of the United States. 

Dukakis was directly responsible for Horton's release -- as well as the release of hundreds of other murderers, many of whom went on to commit similarly heinous crimes. Even Dukakis' own Democratic legislature in liberal Massachusetts had tried to reverse a state Supreme Court decision granting furloughs to first-degree murderers. 

But the Greek homunculus vetoed the bill. 

When Horton's survivors Barnes and Miller tried to meet with Dukakis after their ordeal to ask him to rescind the furlough policy, he refused to see them, arrogantly announcing, "I don't see any particular value in meeting with people." This marked the first time the media supported a politician's refusal to meet with victims of one of his policies. 

What could be more central to a presidential campaign than an ad highlighting how Bush would handle criminal justice issues versus how the elected governor of Massachusetts was at that moment handling them? 

Liberals' response was to accuse Republicans of racism because Horton was black, knowing full well that the GOP would have given everything it owned for him to have been white. But it was too important an issue to ignore just because the poster-boy for Dukakis' insane crime policies happened to be black. 

Bush's ad was so "racist" it never even showed Horton's picture. Instead, white male actors were shown passing through the "revolving door" of criminal justice. 

(An independent group unconnected to the Bush campaign produced an ad seen by 16 people showing Horton -- appalling the press by using his mug shot, rather than his First Communion photo as prescribed by The New York Times' standards and ethics policy for black criminals.) 

Liberals smugly cite Bush campaign manager Lee Atwater's deathbed apology for the Horton ad. Yes, he hoped for a nice obituary and didn't want his kids teased at school, so he said whatever his captors wanted him to say. (By the way, it didn't work.) 

Just like Atwater, the reporter who won a Pulitzer Prize for her articles on Horton disavowed her own reporting, after going through the media's re-education camp. 

You don't have the right to "apologize" for something you did that's not factually incorrect. 

The Horton ad was the highest, best form of political campaigning, serving to illustrate stark differences between the candidates on an important policy issue. People should have won awards for that ad. Instead, it became one of the stops on the left's Via Dolorosa of Racism. Idiot Republicans are ashamed of it, thinking the best response is to say: Al Gore brought up Horton first! 

Yammering morons don't have any argument against the ad, other than feigned outrage. You're seriously defending the Willie Horton ad?! 

Yes I am! It demonstrated that Michael Dukakis should have never been anywhere near a position of power, least of all, the presidency. What's your argument against it?